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My Ideas for the Twitch VOD System

By 1 January, 2018 No Comments

This is something that came up over the holidays. I spent Christmas eve with my relatives and all my cousins do watch Twitch in some way, some more than others. The coverstation steered towards Twitch and time—that naturally brought the conversation to Twitch VOD’s. With that the inconvenience and clunky User Experience that is presented once you want to dig into it.

Time is Important

Twitch has a VOD system—this is a true statement. It’s equally true to that Twitch has a bad VOD system. It is at it’s core archive footage that makes less sense when it’s located in a live envoirment.

Twitch Clip Timeline Replay

Chat Replay

While Twitch have implemented things like Chat Reply to give you that same “feel” that a live broadcast would. It just isn’t the same.

“But it’s dope that you can watch a broadcast on your own time!” It is! I’ve done so myself a few times. However I tend end up skipping through a lot of stuff to try and find a good spot to start. Not only that due to there not being possible to be any back and forth between me and the broadcaster OR between me and other viewers—and at times it ends up being a lot of dead air.

In talking with my cousins the conversation ended up around time. We don’t have unlimited time to sit through dead air. However we understand that when it’s live there is dead air. But a VOD isn’t live so the understanding is now a broken promise.

A lot of streamers instead put together highlights from the week and push that on YouTube. Or they push out clips on social media in general—or why not a combination of both. However from a streamer perspective editing is expensive. If you do it on your own you might have to learn video editing and then you have spend time actually editing instead of working on your channel. Sure you can pay someone to do it, however that’s not free either. For a larger streamer it makes sense to have someone else do it, since that’s not something you should have to worry about. For small streamer the first option might be the best and worst at the same time, since you can’t really afford to spend that time (you might work or school etc.) on learning and doing edits.


So What Can Be Done?

The main inconvenence with Twitch VOD’s is that they’re pretty much archive footage with the same amount of timeline as a 1-10 minute YouTube video or Clip. That make it really hard to navigate when it is a 6–8 hour long stream. Even with the addition of thumbnails in the timeline (they’re not perfect) you will most likely still struggle to get to that perfect spot.

Twitch Clip Timeline

Not even Zeke finds searching the timeline amusing…

There’s already a pretty decent thing in place however it’s usage is very limited. What I’m talking about is that you can see the moment where the streamer switched to a different game. Of course that’s a manual change but is automatically registered by Twitch as a change. In most case that isn’t the most functional thing since streamers have tendency to play one or maybe two games in a 8 hour long sitting.

Still, we can use this idea to build something better.

Twitch Clips

Twitch Clips can be really powerful. At the end of this year we all got to see that Twitch had automatically put together a clip show of your most viewed clips from the year. It was a cool little way to showcase what had happened through out the year in a particular channel. Twitch clips are great in the way that they are ranked by views. It gives the viewer a great insight into what your community likes and what might an interesting VOD to check out. Are you starting to see where I’m going with this?

On a DVD or BluRay you have chapters that you can switch between. This is a great feature that does allow you to quickly find a particular scene that you had in mind. Or we can go to book and look at bookmarks or in your browser with those bookmarks. These are all ways to quickly save you time to get to specific place. In the firs one you don’t set them yourself but they hint at where something might start. You get to the right content quicker in all cases. Still with me?

This is a super simple concept—unsure how hard the implementation would be, but when someone creates a Twitch Clip and it get’s over a specific amount of views (specified in the streamer dashboard) it ends up on the timeline.

It’s a very simple system but it allows things automatically populate depending on popularity of the Twitch Clip. Another benefit is that this dosen’t have to end once the broadcast is over. It will populate until that Twitch Clip or saved VOD no longer exists. This is as close as you can get to a video editor that don’t have to know editing or that you have to pay.

Hovering over a node with a Twitch Clip with more than 100 views.

Hovering over a node with a Twitch Clip with more than 100 views.

What this does for the user is that they get a great overview over where there might be interesting content. You get a little node that tells you the name of the clip and if you click on that node the timeline jumps to that section of the timeline and starts playing the VOD.

What if there’s more than one Clip for a specific time? There needs to be some sort of comparison between the time codes (and we already know that a Clip can’t go over a certain amount of time). That information can also show up in the node as a “x-amount of clips was created here”.  Additionally this data can be used to create nodes so that a node shows up once a clip has been made in the same space more than x-amount of times. Equally to views it show that there’s interesting content at that time.

Hovering over a node with time that's been clipped more than thrice.

Hovering over a node with time that’s been clipped more than thrice.

Manual Timeline

Of course all of the above should also be possible to manually—both entry, removal and adjustments. Still the focus should be on the automatic aspects that provides both a service for the viewers and the streamer.


Lastly, you might have seen that in Overwatch and Hearthstone streams it’s possible to see certain metadata—or as Twitch calls it Deep Metadata.

Hearthstone metadata:
– Game play, non game play, Pack opening
– Hero (class, name, type, adventure)
– Game mode: Casual, Ranked (exact rank), Arena (number of wins), Tavern Brawl (number of wins for Heroic)

Overwatch metadata:
– Game play, non game play
– Hero (ability, name, role)

This is another way that you could create nodes on a timeline. If/even there are changes to these (and these are all automatically changed with computer vision technology). It adds a node to the timeline. Right now there’s only these two games but imagine as the system grows more and more games gets added.

Final Thoughts

Of course the main course here is the Twitch Clips idea. It’s what I’ve been thinking about since putting it out there in front of my cousins on Christmas Eve. I have no idea where it came from, since I hadn’t been actively thinking about it before that, but since then it’s been processing in the back of my head.

I think that saving time for both viewers and streamers is an important aspect of the user experience for the Twitch VOD system. I also know that a system like this would do exactly that.

Today is the first day of the new year. I wanted this article out there as the first one for 2018. Let’s see if Twitch, or any third-party project, are able to implement something like this before the end of the year.

First article of the new year! If you liked this article share it around with friends or why not get it in front of  Twitch staff. I really wanted to throw this idea/concept out there and see what happens. Never be afraid to share your ideas it will only make them better!

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