Building Up Again

Over the most recent holiday period, I celebrated a couple of milestones regarding my... what do you call this? Entertainment? Youtubing? Broadcasting? Whatever it is, I've been doing it for a while. I'm swinging towards entertainer, because it's something I've always wanted to do but for one reason or another get knocked back. Entertaining people is good fun, I enjoy putting a smile on your faces, even if it's only a temporary moment of joy.

We're getting off track. Milestones. I celebrated 7 years of being on Twitch, which amusingly enough coincides with Team Tuxedo's 7th birthday. Team Tuxedo, for those of you that don't know, originally started of as a gimmicky label a small group of friends attached to ourselves. Seven years on it's become a larger small group of great friends and just hearing the words "Team Tuxedo" fills me with a sense of pride, I've been onboard since day 1 and I've watched it go up and down, and my friends along with it.

Once my YouTube channel started to take off, I thought using the team name would be a great way to say thank you to those friends who'd helped me grow my own channel. It originally consisted of myself and Watson690 when we played Minecraft in tuxedo-skinned avatars, then we recruited a guy who hates labels - the little metal goth boy with metal in his soul, Tort333. After that we invited A02034040 to the party.
After that it's a little fuzzy as to the order, but Sceptical Squirrel was the first "fan" to cross over from fan to friend(thanks Tort, we're stuck with the four-eyed prick now), Warrlokk reached out to me through my F1 videos(we used to game together on a website called Pitwall) and he brought his friend Mr Kris Viking along to play too. Mirtai(my other half) and Whipstitch(Squirrel's other half) gatecrashed the party, we had a German invasion in the form of the Pastafarian and then there were the collaborations with people we though had potential to join us as team members. I grew. The others grew. Team Tuxedo was growing as a brand which only served to help us all out in a happy circle.

However, it all came crashing to a halt.

It all came with one single moment - the integration of Google+ onto YouTube.

My channel growth had just crossed 1,600 subs and the numbers were rubbing off on everyone else. I was just beginning to let myself believe that not only could I make YouTube work as a career for me(and scratch that massive itch to entertain people) but I could drag my friends along for the ride too, and help them make some money too. That all ended overnight with Google+. The integration of the unwanted social media platform(which would ultimately fail) was so tightly woven into YouTube's coding that it broke the algorithms for a lot of people with differing results.
For my channel, my videos disappeared from sub feeds and I was no longer being recommended to viewers on their video listings. My channel stayed at 1,604 subs for over 12 months despite my best attempts at networking and advertising, because the YouTube platform itself held me back.

It didn't matter in the end, as a fan click-bombed the adverts running on my videos. They say it was fraudulent activity and banned my AdSense account without any right to appeal, and as we all know with YouTube it's almost impossible to get in contact with an actual human. It took about 3 years but I finally managed to contact one, to which they told me to pretty much suck it up, not gonna happen - not getting my AdSense back, I was a naughty boy without any evidence of my encouraging people to click on adverts, which is also against YT T&C.
Eh, at this point I was beyond caring - I'd long since given up on YouTube as its constant altering of algorithms meant my channel was getting even less exposure. Real Life was a thing(Mirtai had started to get ill) and so my enthusiasm for YouTube was on the wane. But I had to try and at least get closure for the subject in question or else it would be constantly nagging at me that perhaps I didn't try hard enough to fix that particular situation.

So, closure on the YouTube part of my life. I learned a lot of valuable lessons, developed my time management skills quite nicely, relearned Photoshop and taught myself some basic video editing. I'd made some great friends, most of which are still in my life now.
Which brings me nicely into the next part of my ongoing journey to entertain people. I still wanted to put on a show, and this is when Mirtai - who has been unbelievably supportive of the whole video-making-schlick since pretty much day 1 - suggested that it would be a shame to let my gaming computer and related equipment go to waste and my sitting around twiddling my thumbs was a sign I was missing putting on a show, so why not try out livestreaming more regularly than celebratory occasions?

She had a point.

So off we go again. And thanks to the YouTube adventure, I'd already built up a solid base of friends and fans who'd follow me to Twitch. I tried to stream as often as I could, playing with stream schedules before eventually settling on a Sunday format. I'm not a high energy gamer, I'm laid back and chilled so that became the main theme of a Sunday evening whether it be Euro Truck Simulator 2 driving around in Matilda(oh yeah, we're still going there), building in Minecraft on The Dreylands or any other game you can think of. I always preferred the comments section on YouTube because that's where I could really interact with people, so having a chat window open while streaming gave me instant gratification; I was talking with people, live, and gaming in real time without worrying about editing!

It seems that the love for making videos on YouTube for the rest of Team Tuxedo died at around the same time as my own motivation. We all helped each other out, and once I stopped it kinda sucked the life out of that side of the team. I think everyone got quite burnt out from that particular journey, and I can't say that I blame them - but intact the core of Team Tuxedo remained, a solid group of friends from across the globe. I drifted in and out as Real Life took priority(we have one rule in Team Tuxedo, pretty much - Real Life Comes First) and for months, only Kris and Lokk really kept the Skype(and eventually, Discord) server alive. If you're reading this chaps, it didn't go unnoticed.

I'm trying to go somewhere with this, but it's a hell of a lot to process that I've not really put on paper before, and events of the last couple of days have made me realise just how unbelievably lucky I am to still have a bunch of friends that are still willing to help me out.
I've been dreaming up new ways of developing the growth of my stream, and currently the number 1 question I get on my channel during a stream is "do you have a Discord?" So eventually I bit the bullet and have been working on something.
But then it struck me. All this help I've been getting, and what do I do in return beyond saying thank you and putting on a show? I can't afford financially to pay anyone for their help(Watson690 created the Team Tuxedo Bot that myself and Tort use during a stream; Squirrel and Mirtai do a brilliant job moderating during my streams and supporting me on social media; Menoetia has been massively brilliant with building up the public Discord server that is still being worked on; to name but four people) and the vibe I get seems to be that thanks and a good show is gratitude enough.

The author of this blog, yours truly, is very unbelievably lucky. So many people have helped me out before, and are going to do it all over again. I'm paranoid as all hell that Twitch is going to bite me in the ass before long, but I've got 6 regular subscribers - and one of which is a person I don't really know! I'd completely forgot that aspect of supporting me, so thank you again guys and gals! And anyone reading this thinking "I'll sub to you when I can afford it," don't stress it. Real Life Comes First. There's better things to spend your money on than a once-a-week stream that lasts between 2 and 3 hours.
In addition, I have a solid moderator team that doubles as tech support for my hardware and software issues and arguably the best cheerleaders out there.

I have nothing to offer but my most sincere gratitude, guys and gals. I feel incredibly guilty knowing we're off on another adventure and it could go wrong again, but reading the chat and seeing everyone have a good time during a stream makes the guilt worthwhile. Sometimes it feels like people think I set up Team Tuxedo with Watson just to rope people into doing things for me and that I'm using them for selfish purposes, and it does genuinely keep me up at night. But then a Mirtai or a Squirrel will remind me that nobody's being forced to do anything, they all volunteered to help out before I'd asked for the help and they were all capable of telling me if they wanted to stop.

So we're at the end of this blog. I started off with the intent of writing up about how hard it's been to get back into making video-based content once again, but actually the only hard part was deciding to start. With friends like these, anything is possible.

Parting shot: if you can't accept a delay with the release of a video game, you're a part of the problem.

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