Interactivity through Consensus: Best Practices for Polling and Voting in Extensions
One of the easiest ways to introduce audience interactivity into your game is layering a voting system on top of the in-game decisions you’ve already designed. Gameplay includes countless decisions from loadout to dialogue choices. Since Twitch chatters consider themselves the greatest gamers in existence, why not tap their unlimited well of knowledge and skill to aid streamers in getting through your game? Games can be enhanced by voting in myriad ways with dramatic impacts. We’ve watched Twitch audiences decide to off an NPC key to the game’s story.
Poll: a set of choices displayed to a viewer to choose from.
Voting: a form of data aggregation that collects user choices in a poll that you offer.
Vote: a piece of data, unique to each viewer
Section One: What Types of Polls Can I Run
Narrative and Dialogue Control
Polling can be used to pass narrative control over to the audience. With this type of feature, the audience would be making the dialogue choices for the story-driven portion of the game. The game becomes a cooperative experience between chat and the streamer. With that much control over what is happening in the stream, the audience is far more likely to engage and stick around. For the streamer, it creates moments of drama with their audience based on how they’re voting. Dialogue gives audiences the ability to impact in-game: relationships, deaths, alliances, and more.
Rewards and Challenges
Another way to use polling is to have the audience decide on what rewards or challenges the streamer is going to face. For example, in a roguelite game you could allow the audience to decide which randomized reward is given to the player or which type of upgrade they select during a run. Audiences can also vote on whether a streamer takes a challenge to get an additional boon; an example being taking on an additional large enemy wave to get increased damage. The idea behind this feature is that the audience will be interacting with the streamer directly by making the gameplay harder or easier. With a close attachment to how the streamer is feeling based on their agency in deciding the streamer’s gameplay, that streamer is much more likely to see highly engaged audiences.
Loadouts and Character Selection
Where rewards and challenges focus on what happens during gameplay, this type of polling helps determine how the gameplay plays out in advance. Having your audience select which type of character or which character out of an array shapes gameplay for a short or long period of time. Deciding at game onset will create an in-game audience-influenced character selection that exists permanently. Doing so in a fighting game can put a streamer who typically plays rogues and put them in the less expected bruiser class.
Those are just a few of the ways to use polling in your game. But despite all the different ways to use polling, implementation is actually the trickiest aspect. There are a lot of questions about HOW to use polling, whereas what to use it for seems much more obvious. How long should I run a poll? How frequently should polling occur? Let’s cover that.
Section Two: Best Practices
Keep the Number of Options Low
First things first: keep the number of options low. Keep in mind that you’re trying to keep gameplay going. While it might be interesting to pick from 55 different powerup options, pairing that list down to 3-5 will make it a lot easier for people to digest.
Give Streamers Control of the Poll Settings
Give streamers settings options. Not everyone is going to want to have all options for interactivity turned on all the time. Give people options to turn it off, delay it, only have it pop up when prompted, etc. The point is don’t put people on rails unless they ask you to do it, because you’re still going to get blamed for the derailment either way.
Make the Poll UI Incredibly Obvious for Viewers
Center of the screen, obvious timer, big font. This might seem obvious and if it does, congratulations to you. The biggest reason people will have to not vote is that they can’t (technical reason) or because they didn’t know it was happening. You can’t do anything about Twitch’s technical limitations, but you can make your poll obvious. If you want viewers to engage, make it as easy as possible for them.
Keep Voting Top-Level and Impactful
Keep it top level. People don’t wanna get bogged down in the minutiae of voting on every little thing in the game. Big stuff? Fun stuff? That’s where you want to focus your polling.
Make the Voting UI Look Different From Your Game UI
Differentiate between your Game UI and your Extension UI. It might sound like a good idea to make your extension look EXACTLY like your game, but this will be confusing for viewers. Instead, create a variation on the theme. Use some of the same colors or textures, but make them different enough that one couldn’t confuse it for something in the gameplay itself.
Word Count Technical Specs
Technical Specs: Keep the prompt under 200 characters. Under 100 characters is even better. Keep answer entries to below 50 characters, otherwise people won’t be able to read the prompt and the answers within the confines of your timer.
Poll Length Technical Specs
Your timer needs to be at least longer than 5 seconds to account for stream delay. Any shorter and it likely won’t pop up in time to collect live results from the audience. We prefer to have votes last “xx” seconds for the best user experience.
Section Three: Vote Types
At this point, we’ve gone over where to set up polls and best practices for the streamer and viewer to engage with polls. Now, how do you want the audience to vote? We tend to use two methods:
Single vote: each audience member gets one vote. This allows an audience member to vote once on their preferred poll option with the plurality vote winning. Chaos Voting: allows each member to vote as many times as they can within the allotted voting time. This allows voters to spam as many votes as possible and distribute their votes within multiple poll options.
Ultimately, polling is a tool you can use in many different ways to get audiences engaging with your game. All of which are enhanced by the ease and rapidity one can add this feature to their game with the power of Muxy’s tools.
Go to our docs to get started developing your poll today: https://docs.muxy.io/docs/voting