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Oct 21 2011

/Query Comedian and Salamancer

Lazar 'Comedian' Jovic & Eric 'Salamancer' Smalley, TF2's shoutcasters!On Sunday, 9 October 2011,  competitive Team Fortress 2 (TF2) for South Africa (S.A) changed forever.

The final match for the 16bit TF2 Face Off competition was shoutcasted by two of the most well known shoutcasters in Team Fortress. The attention we received from viewers globally added to the excitement and overall adrenaline as vinTage took on the undefeated and notorious Masters of TF2CSA.

I am proud and privileged to present an interview with these two interesting and resourceful gentlemen!

Meet Lazar ‘Comedian’ Jovic  and Eric ‘Salamancer’ Smalley.

Fact file: Comedian

Comedian has played TF2 from launch day (he bought his Orange Box at a game store), and got into competitive TF2 almost immediately. You can get him to do anything if you promise him a pancake,  (likes: PC gaming and pancakes, dislikes: a lack of pancakes).  He has a strange fascination with small dustbins, was interviewed by KritzKast, ( read more about Kritzkast here and visit them on YouTube here)  and during that interview, the strain on him during shoutcasting was compared to the energy used by a porn star when performing.  He has spent over 1596 hours on TF2 and owns 52 hats. He has great difficulty to give short shout-outs and he is just discovering what it means to have some sort of social life.  He was the head of TF2tv (read about him and his team’s incredible achievements here). Currently this able and passionate gentleman is part of the team at VanillaTF2, where his job description involves Stream Director, technical, open mic, and co caster.

“Every fibre of your body has to love what you’re doing, or you doing it wrong.” – Lazar ‘Comedian’ Jovic

Comedian’s gaming background.

Lazar 'Comedian' Jovic

“My parents were refugees from the Balkan area (Tuzla), so I didn’t start with video games until about 1996-1997.  In the beginning it was mostly MS-DOS games like Soko-ban, Lemmings, Jazz Jackrabit, Doom, Wolfenstein 3D and tons more. I kept playing MS-DOS games until about 1999 when my dad got a new PC. I started playing Red-Alert and Half-Life, which are my two favourite video games of all time.  My dad was more into Lara Croft and other platforms, but I kept with Real-Time-Strategy (RTS) games (mostly Command and Conquer games).  I played many of the Half-Life mods (mostly Day of Defeat and Counter Strike 1.3 and upwards.  My first game that I put a lot of time in online was Battlefield 2142, I had saved up money to get a new PC, and got BF2142 to go with that.  I put many, many hours into that game, still one of my favorite multiplayer games of all times.  Sadly, the competitive scene for it was never really strong and it was on its last legs when the Orange Box came out.  I then started playing TF2 and haven’t looked back.”

Fact File: Salamancer

This mysterious dark horse lives in Houston and keeps a saxophone in his closet (he played for a jazz band in his high school days).  He went to Cinco Ranch High School and to the Indiana University.  He is currently working for Chevron, and is busy with his masters in Business Administration. In that sense he resembles every gamer every where who keeps him/herself busy with a paying job while he/she waits for home time to jam some games 😉  He is a self-labeled intellectual and nerd and it catches him by surprise whenever he gets some attention from the ladies. He doesn’t accept steam invites and is slow to get angry, except when talks move in the direction of economics mixed with politics. Currently he is the young upstart for eXtv where he shoutcasts TF2 top matches with the aim to bring high quality and an overall exciting entertaining experience to his audience. He also runs SalTV, a series of TF2 shoutcasts on YouTube with new content every day.

Salamancer’s gaming background.

Eric 'Salamancer' Smalley

“I started out on a SEGA Genesis and graduated to an N64, playing some old PC games (such as X-Wing) along the way.  I got into Massive Multiplayer Online games (MMOs) such as EVE Online during college when my friends weren’t around to play Smash Brothers or Guitar Hero.  And oh by the way, I can play through the majority of Dragonforce including the intro on expert, so college time well spent right there.  Once I picked up Team Fortress 2 I realized that PC games could actually be fun (yes that is a knock on MMOs) and haven’t really bothered with EVE since.”

Team Fortress 2.

Lola: What is it about TF2 that made you want to play this game instead of other games? (Why is it your game of choice?)

Comedian:  “I have always been a big fan of the Valves games. I was instantly sold on the aesthetics of TF2, I loved the classes and it was fantastic playing a game where you had to use your brain to get an edge over the opponent, instead of winning purely because you saw the enemy or got a lucky headshot when spraying your weapon (I was never really any good in Counter-Strike).”

Salamancer:  “I used to play MMOs and other Role-Playing Games (RPGs) and never really got into shooters.  While I was “busy” playing EVE, I picked up TF2 when a friend told me he was getting into it.  When I discovered that hey, video games could be fun again, I dropped the MMO scene altogether!  TF2 far outshines any other FPS I’ve ever played for sheer fun value, at least for me.”

Lola: What is your favorite class and why?

Comedian:  “I cannot choose between the Pyro and the Spy. The Pyro is a great class due to the airblasts and the instant-kills with the Axtinguisher, I love topping the scoreboard with that. On the other hand, you have the Spy, where you have to watch where you go, where you unclock, what ammopacks you grab, who you want to stab, who to disguise as, and of course, the Fancy Fedora.”

Salamancer:  “I do like the Medic for competitive situations when I want to play a very cerebral game. However, for sheer visceral pleasure, Demoman is the most fun.”

Lola: What sets TF2 apart from other games, what does it offer players that they wont find elsewhere?

"Comedian, One of the most recognizable names in TF2 competitively.' KritzKast

Comedian:  “TF2 is easy to play while just having a massive amount of fun. It’s not impossible in other Shooters, but from my many hours in Battlefield 2142, Battlefield Bad Company, Call of Duty 4 (COD4), Counter-Strike, etc. I have often found myself frustrated, because of some idiot killing me purely because he got a tiny bit lucky. In TF2, you can get killed over and over again, but still have fun, (try to punch people in the face with Bearclaws!). Furthermore, in the competitive sense, it’s not 100% about deathmatch (not that it is in any game, but even less so in TF2). In TF2 it’s a lot about how you position yourself, if you make sure you push when you have a man/uber advantage, making sure to get an edge over you opponent, etc.”

Salamancer:  “More than the constantly changing gameplay, or the perfect balance of silliness and seriousness in competitive play, the TF2 community sets it apart.  When I went to the ESEA LAN, the TF2 players were everything that the Counter-Strike (CS) players weren’t – mature, friendly, and fun to be around.”

Lola: Do you think TF2 has reached its ceiling, or do you see the game continuing to grow in the future?

Comedian:  “Competitive wise, I think it still has a massive player base that never tried it, or instantly disregard it because they view competitive TF2 without any fun.  This is a misconception in my opinion.  Regarding the overall player base, I don’t think it will rise much unless Valve starts pushing the game more aggressively, this includes the competitive scene.”

Salamancer:  “That depends on the players.  Tons of people have fun playing TF2 every day on various servers.  I think the growth path that Valve is pursuing will probably keep the game’s player base increasing for a few years, but a lot of it really is up to the players to go out and tell their friends.  There’s no better salesman than a TF2 player who’s having a fun time.”

Lola: In South Africa TF2 falls far behind in popularity as the game of choice. What advice can you give us to promote it as a sought after game to play?

Comedian:  “This is a hard question to answer, I have seen many people disregard TF2 purely because of its graphics, its cosmetic items like hats and the massive amount of guns. I think inviting teams to do something like the Free-to-Play (F2P) invitational tournament we had. You take a Medic, assign them to a team of Counter-Strike players and have them play a bit of TF2 under some good guidance, this might be the way to go for SA. This way they see the vanilla game and get to respect the beauty and competitive atmosphere that is so wonderful in TF2!”

Salamancer:  “Without knowing how many SA servers and players exist, I’d have to say YouTube videos and word of mouth are probably your best bet.  Having some SA community “videographers” take recordings (STV demos, first person demos, etc) that show how much fun the SA servers are is a great way to start.”

Competitive TF2.

Meet 'Salamancer the Entertainer' on Facebook

Lola: You have shoutcasted for the best teams and top competitions in the world. In your opinion, what makes a team exceptional?

Comedian:  “I don’t think that there is one solid, magic ingredient, that you need to become the best team. If you would put me against a wall with a gun to my head to force an answer, then I think I’d pinpoint it on that you need a solid team that works really well together.  Everyone in the team must be playing it not with a ‘hey f*ck it’ attitude, but because they love playing together.  The team must have the 1 goal, to become the damn best team that has ever seen the light of day.”

Salamancer:  “Discipline and teamwork.  At the top level of TF2, all the teams have great players with top-notch individual DM and game sense.  What makes teams like (formerly) EMG or Epsilon truly great is their teamwork and their ability to execute some complex tactics.  A team that can quickly and strongly recover from losing their medic and 2 soldiers to an enemy uber without even losing one point is one that’s probably played together a lot and has things planned out.”

Lola: Since the Free-to-Play update there has been a great influx of new TF2 players. Have you seen any impact because of this on the competitive scene?

Comedian:  “Not yet, I think it will take a few more months for these teams to start playing competitive TF2.”

Salamancer:  “Not in any significant sense yet. There hasn’t been enough time for players to get really good at the game.  I’ve seen people who’ve picked up the game since it went F2P do well in competitive Highlander mode, for instance, but nothing approaching the div3 or ESEA Open level yet. What I have seen is a slow increase in players interested in how competitive TF2 works. I hope to bring more of those viewers into the competitive scene by providing lots of competitive coverage on YouTube in the form of high quality VODs.  A newer player might see some awesome moments in a game where a Medic gets some clutch ubersaws to win a point, or a sniper gets a 4-kill pushing into last.  That introduction to the highest levels of TF2 can make them think: “These guys are pretty awesome, I wonder if I could do that?”

Lola: What do you think is the best way to encourage public players to get into the competitive side of TF2?

Comedian:  “Take these new players and guide them slowly into the wonders of competitive TF2.  Don’t go: “oh just go lobby and have fun'”, but take this one guy, mentor him, introduce him to whatever class he likes (as long as its Scout/Soldier/Demoman/Medic), and guide him into a low level mixed match.  Guide him into what to do and why to do it. Lobby in my opinion, is devoid of the things that make competitive TF2 so bloody awesome, like having team communications, working together and having a sense of fun.  Pickups instead is just 12 players playing with the competitive classes having barely any fun at all.”

Salamancer:  “There are a lot of approaches.  New player mixes with semi-pro players can work really well; highlander tournaments and leagues are good fun and more competitive than normal pub games, while giving players a chance to play any class.  Personally though, I think to get competitive TF2 bigger, we simply need more sponsors and prizes at high levels.  That can only be achieved through viewership as sponsors and advertisers want their name to reach a wide audience.  So to grow that competitive scene, my goal is to increase the viewer counts not just of my channel, but of everything related to competitive TF2: VanillaTF2, eXtv, and more.”

Lola: How is the competitive scene doing at the moment in Europe and America?

Comedian: A gamer through and through, balls to bones ;)

Comedian:  “I would say that on the top level, competitive TF2 is the strongest in Europe it has ever been.  There are of course some silly teams folding, but overall, dayum. Not so sure about North America, Australia and South America, I don’t have enough hours in the day to keep myself properly up to date.”

Salamancer:  “I believe it’s growing in both.  Some Americans may disagree with me, since the playing field in ESEA Invite seems to be narrowing.  However, there are tons of up and coming teams in Intermediate- and Open- that could be the next big thing, and I see more and more players making the leap from pub play or Highlander into low level 6v6 and beyond.  In Europe, there seem to be more sponsors, but fewer cash prizes.  That doesn’t stop European teams from looking amazing, though!  My opinion is that TF2 is on the cusp of some big competitive scene growth.”

Lola: From your point of view, what is the main role of each class in 6v6?

Comedian:  “There is no cookie cutter format that works for every team and for every map, but lets give it a go.  Scout: protect the flanks and annoy the enemy from the side.  Don’t be too aggressive, keep it low until the enemy is weak and then move in to clean up the weak classes. The”clean up crew so to speak.”  Roaming Soldier: Keep pressure on the enemy team.  Provide a platform where your team can push up to with better positioning than the enemy.  Make sure that the enemy is under pressure and punishing the small mistakes the opponents make.  Pocket Soldier: keeping the Medic alive, doing massive damage with lots of health when the confrontation happens.  Demoman: securing chokepoints and the main damage dealer in any push.  Medic: staying alive as much as possible.  Healing all the classes, countering the enemy uber and directing the flow of the game.  Auxiliary: surprising the enemy and causing them to make the wrong move when pushing in.”

Salamancer:  “It does depend on the team, but a typical team looks like you’d expect.  The Scouts play flank defense, assault screening, recon and cleanup. The Demoman is pure damage output and zone control.  The Medic keeps his team over-healed and survives until the uber is ready.  Then comes the decision with his heavy classes and when to use that uber.  Finally, at least for Americans, the two Soldiers have quite different roles.  The Pocket keeps the Medic alive and healthy and decides when to be aggressive and when to retreat.  The Roamer, on the other hand, should never take heals from the Medic, instead looking for the perfect moments to cause chaos in the enemy ranks.”

Lola: Strategy plays a bigger role in competitive TF2 than individual player skill. What is your opinion on this statement?

Comedian:  “I agree, that has all to do with the fact that a single player can do very little against a team who has better positioning, a manpower advantage, or an uber advantage. Even if you have the best player in the world, you cannot do anything on your own against the enemy team, (aside from the occasional stickytrap, bombing in soldier, headshot, backstab or backcap).  If you push in as a team, if you know where you want to hold your position, if your scouts flank in just the right moment, if your two Soldiers go aggressive exactly when they need to and the Demoman puts just enough pressure. wow, that is just pure magic.  It’s an orgasm for the the eyes and the ears. Even a team who has lesser deathmatch and lesser individual skill, if they can join forces with proper teamwork, if every players actions are an extension of the team, not individual actions, then you can see the most wonderful TF2 around.”

Salamancer:  “At most levels it’s not true.  It’s only when the players are very even in skill – and at a very high level of skill – that strategy becomes important.  At the highest levels of TF2 with, say, Epsilon or the team formerly known as EMG, they know that their tactics and strategy really matter, since 1 on 1 at that level is almost a coin toss in most cases.  However, a team in Div 4 or ESEA Open trying to use tactics/teamwork to make up for a lack of individual skill can only get so far in the face of a beast Scout or Soldier who can consistently get 3-4 kill streaks.”

Lola: The TF2 competitive community abroad has grown tremendously just by the massive amount of competitions you host. Give us a few examples of the most successful competitions you have hosted.

Comedian:  “VanillaTF2 does not really host competitions, but back in TF2TV we have hosted several editions of the TF2TV Teamgasm. These days you have a whole bunch of various competitions being hosted by fantastic people; you have Alberts TF2cup, the excello cup, the team Dignitas Ailienware cup, the lo-fi offclass cup, the CommFT highlander cup, the la competiTF and Angel’s ultiduo cup.  The ETF2L Monday Night Madness cup, a BBall cup, the list kind of goes on and on. While some of these cups have prizes, it’s not necessary to have prizes at all in my opinion. The only reasons these cups exists are because there are people who want to host them, that’s it. Albert’s cup is the prime example of this, he just does it because he’s a massive baller.”

Salamancer:  “I haven’t hosted any yet.  The first one I’ll be hosting is the SalTV 3v3 Cup coming up on October 23rd, and I’m learning quite a lot about how to host an event.”

Lola: What are your future plans for the TF2 competitive scene that you are involved with?

Sal, entertainer, gamer, musician and model ;)

Comedian:  “While I sadly missed the opportunity of getting to a TF2 LAN in Moscow in early November, I am going to be doing my very best of getting to most European TF2 LAN events in the coming year.”

Salamancer: “Keep shoutcasting!  I’m also trying my hand at tournament organization, with a 3v3 KotH tournament happening for North America on October 23rd.  Basically whatever I can do to help grow the TF2 competitive scene given my limited time and shoutcasting skills, I will do!”

TF2 South Africa.

Lola: After seeing us play, how do you perceive the standard of TF2 gameplay in South Africa?

Comedian:  “I am always a horrible person to guage the skill level, but I would say it’s about at Div 3, or low Div 2. You have solid deathmatch, but lack in positioning, push timings and overall game sense.”

Salamancer:  “I’ve heard from the comments that neither of the teams had played together for very long, and I thought that showed.  The tactics and coordination fell a bit short of the highest levels in the US or Europe.  That said, the players’ individual skills did look strong.  SA could certainly play with the big dogs if the community were built up more and teams could keep their rosters consistent (also a problem in Europe and North America).”

Lola: What adjustments would you make to our gameplay? (Yes, we heard Comedian, KRITZ).

Comedian:  “While I know it’s not the perfect way to go, I find it very interesting to see teams that ALWAYS push at 100% uber.  Building uber constantly, making  sure they have 6 man up and then pushing.  If the enemy was building as well, fine, uber vs uber, if the enemy forgot to build, huge advantage.  A blanket statement like that will of course never be really accurate, but hey, why not try this sort of super aggressiveness out?  Overall though, making sure that the positioning of the players is correct is one of the most important things in TF2 in my opinion.”

Salamancer:  “Keep it slow and controlled, and practice coordinated pushes more.  Have the flankers watch the flanks when they need to; don’t dive in one at a time to gain the dubious benefit of killing the medic while losing 3 players; retreat more when things look risky.  If nothing else, a good retreat can cause the enemy to overextend, sending their players to you piecemeal!”

Lola: In the SA TF2 community the huge skills gap between players/teams usually causes teams to break up after each competition. What would your advice be to us regarding this?

Sal doing his soldier impression

Comedian:  “That’s a hard question to answer.  Competition is always going to be one of the key points for teams to improve, two teams that constantly push themselves to the mettle make it so that both players play a lot better and stick together. If you could get more teams, competition would be stronger, and thus you would have more teams sticking together.”

Salamancer:  “Having never played on a long-term competitive 6v6 team, I don’t know.  There needs to be some sort of incentive to build up the lower level players on a team to that higher level, whether that’s just friendship among teammates or a common goal of flying the team out to a LAN event in Europe or completely dominating S.A.”

Lola: We’ve not been able to sustain a growing clan base in S.A, could you advise as to how to go about in obtaining that?

Comedian:  “Like mentioned above, introducing teams from other games into TF2 with invitational showmatches.  If you could bring in teams that love the game after that, awww yeeaah!”

Salamancer:  “There are a lot of components to growing a competitive environment and I don’t know how many of them SA has fully developed.  A well-established league with decent rules is necessary to foster the scene.  That league needs to build its public image and promote the players and competitive scene to the rest of the competitive gamers out there, both through big tournaments and eXciting (dammit, eXtine) match coverage.  The teams and league should also be courting sponsors to provide some level of support, whether it’s tournament prizes or something else.  Beyond that level of generality I can’t say I’m really qualified to comment.”

Lola: You’ve run an extremely successful TF2 website yourself and you are part of the team at Vanilla TF2. Looking at our own site, what advice can you give us on improving it?

Comedian:  “TF2TV’s website and VanillaTF2’s website work have had almost none input from myself. I just like websites that are simple, straightforward and with as little as possible clicks to go from the front page, to wherever you want to go.  I’m a firm believer that every single click that a user has to do that for can be removed, it will be a better user experience.”

Salamancer:  “The site looks like it has the necessary infrastructure to host competitive TF2.  The best improvement may be through promotion and inclusion of more users.”

Shoutcasting.

'I love my Kung Fu movies and that was good Kung Fu!" Comedian on Kung Fu taking out the Master team on Granary, 16bit TF2 finals.

Lola: Is TF2 the first game you started commentating on, or were there other games you’ve shoutcasted for?

Comedian:  “I started casting with TF2 and even then I kinda stumbled into it.  In ten years when TF2 finally dies because TF3 is out, I might switch, or if I find a different game that I fall in love with (quite unlikely).”

Salamancer:  “I never shoutcasted anything officially.  I first discovered that I enjoyed it while playing EVE.  A friend organized a very small tournament and I provided commentary.  As far as getting any sort of attention for my casting, TF2 is definitely the first, and I’ve only been shoutcasting for two months now.”

Lola: Why do you prefer to shoutcast TF2?

Comedian:  “It’s the game I love and play the most. It wouldn’t make sense to cast a game you aren’t 100% dedicated to, or don’t love with all your heart.”

Salamancer:  “I don’t really want to shoutcast something I don’t know.  I do know TF2 – I don’t know Battlefield, StarCraft, or Halo competitively very well.  Each of those probably has its own unique shoutcasting angle that makes it fun, but with TF2, the nonstop action and cartoon silliness make doing play-by-play a very enjoyable experience.”

Lola: How do you prevent yourself from being biased when you shoutcast?

Comedian:  “Haha, it’s impossible to stay 100% unbiased, but I guess the key is to just love TF2 and care about getting a good match as opposed to caring about who wins.  The times that I have been biased was usually towards weaker teams, because I want them to win and create an upset.”

Salamancer:  “That’s pretty simple for me.  I don’t want anyone on any team to really dislike me, so providing balanced coverage of each team is necessary.  I also tend to view anyone better than me at competitive TF2 as an awesome human being, which also makes it easy since I’m so terrible at the game.”

Lola: You have had unparalleled success in shoutcasting. What do you contribute this success to?

Comedian:  “The right time, the right place and with the right team. When TF2TV started I happened to be on the same mumble (granted, we were in the same team and friends), with The Pledge and d2m.  These two were f*cking awesome.  In the first days of TF2TV I didn’t do much, but I guess I was the most passionate of them all.  I started streaming, did a bit of casting, just putting pretty much all my free time into TF2TV. I do honestly believe that if anyone would have put in the same effort as I had, with the team that I had, they could have been at the same position I am in now. I guess this keeps me going every day, not assuming that I got where I am by being a lazy bastard, gotta work hard for it :D.”

Salamancer:  “Talent, passion and free time.  I’ve always had a knack for public speaking, presenting and some analysis.  Putting that into shoutcasting TF2 is easy provided I have free time to do it.  With work and a weekend Master’s program, I do sometimes feel stressed, but if I can find an hour or more per day to do a shoutcast then :D.  It’s one of the most fun things I can do with my time, so that’s not stressful at all.”

Lola: What are the things you look for in a player to name him/her MVP?

Comedian shoutcasting TF2 finals Insomnia Gaming Festival

Comedian:  “I’m so bad in naming an MVP, I never know who to pick.  I always try to go for a combination between the ‘wow factor’ (i.e. has someone done some amazing stuff during the match) and the overall impact of that player in the match. I’m pretty sure I make the wrong call 75% of the time though!”

Salamancer:  “I’m kind of a chump in this regard.  I tend not to think too much about who’s doing the most work for the team most of the time.  When the VanillaTV casters ask me “who’s your man of the match,” it’s often just the first name that comes to mind.  Who got a few kills or did something interesting.  Of course, with 12 players on the field, we can’t watch everyone and sometimes miss very crucial plays – especially if those plays don’t show up on the kill feed.”

Lola: What was the highest number of people tuning into a shoutcast, for what competition and teams was it for?

Comedian:  “I think we have had over 4 000 people tuning in during the F2P invitational, which would be the peak. Sadly, I was away on vacation during this match :(”

Salamancer: “For me personally, I have a couple of videos with ~10,000 views.  At least one is highlander, another is 6v6.  Those games and their shoutcasts were entertaining enough that each one was linked to reddit.com/r/tf2 at least once (twice in the case of the highlander game), which generated a lot of publicity.  For eXtv, and possibly all of competitive TF2, the biggest viewer count I think we’ve had is ~2000 concurrent viewers and at least a hundred thousand total views.  Duder and Shadowpuppet were casting those – the recent ESEA LAN coverage – and were frontpaged on twitch.tv!”

Lola: What has been your single longest run in Shoutcasting?

"Sal joined up with eXtv when Duder accidentally left the door open one day." eXtv

Comedian: “maxlan was 14 hours casting, almost non-stop casting with ThePledge from like 12-2pm till I think 4am, and then grand finals at 9 or 10am.”

Salamancer:  “4 hours doing the Alienware Cup just this past Sunday.”

Lola: Any embarrassing moments in Shoutcasting you can share?

Comedian: I woudnt really know what my most embarrising moment would be in shoutcasting. I really dont mind looking like an idiot, since, well, I am! When shoutcasting I am more myself then when I’m around most people. I shout, have fun, and if I say something stupid, well, who cares! Saying that though, I have said some things I regret, especially in the beginning days of TF2TV. I said some stuff on the podcast we ran (TF2 talkings) which I would (and have) slapped myself for saying. Its not embarrassing stuff, rather it was more mean stuff, being over critical which the people did nt deserve in any shape or form. Oh, wait! Now I remember! The one thing I am embarrassed about is at i43,Ii managed to drop some cake on my VanillaTV shirt, which left cake stains on there for during the grand finals, on the upside, the cake was delicious!

Salamancer:  “For the CommFT tournament recently, I was told there would be a game between EMG and Area 51, but that Area 51 had roster troubles and would be using subs/mercs.  At the scheduled time, I logged into the STV relay and saw that a game was starting, so I began shoutcasting it.  It was actually EMG’s warmup scrim – we completely missed the actual Area 51 game!  Talk about embarrassing.”

Lola: What tips do you have for aspiring shoutcasters?

Comedian:  “Even if you don’t have the best casting voice, if you put in the effort, if you work hard, no matter what anyone says, you’re doing an awesome thing.  People will tune in to you over time. It’s not always going to be easy, but it will be a lot of fun!”

Salamancer:  “Grab STV demos, pull up fraps, play TF2 in 1080×720 windowed mode, and start recording the game and your mic.  Upload the videos to YouTube and show them to your friends.  Submit them to sites like reddit, VanillaTF2, CommFT or TF2CSA .  Basically just start doing it!  My attitude when I started was: I’m going to start putting out as much content as I can and even though I know I’ll make a lot of mistakes, I can use the comments and feedback to improve.  If your viewers know you’re improving from cast to cast, a lot of mistakes will be forgiven!  Beyond that, you need to make sure your microphone is good, your voice has good variation to match the excitement of the match, and your camerawork is adequate.  I had to really force myself to slow down my finders on WASD when I ran camera, because it’s a completely different beast to actually playing the game.”

Gaming in general.

"I'm the best person for the job cause I have hardly any social life." Comedian

Lola: The gaming scene in South Africa is far behind the rest of the word. From your point of view, how can we grow and mature as a community as well as educate our public on the gaming community?

Comedian:  “There has to be a sort of unified goal within the community.  I am pretty darn sure that everyone within the European community wants for TF2 to become bigger, for the events to become grander, for the prize money to become larger. Something else that has got to be the case is having a community that is open to new players, that is friendly and welcoming to newlings.”

Salamancer:  “I’d go with the day[9] / nerd chic approach.  Sure, we’re nerds.  Yes, we love playing video games competitively online. And it’s great!  It’s fun!  We meet tons of interesting people, really enjoy our hobby, and hey, we think you’d enjoy it too!”

Lola: The general view of the South African  public is that gaming is a waste of time and there is no future in it as a career option. How do you feel about gaming being a viable option as a career?

Comedian:  “Gaming does not have to be a viable career for most people to accept it, or for it not to be a waste of time. Gaming does a lot of things that are applicable in real life, being a clanleader learns you about teamwork, leadership and management. In the position that I am in I have been working with so many diffrent people, gotten over my horrible shyness and learned so, SO, many things! Anyone would be kind of stupid to say that you can’t learn fantastic stuff from gaming, which can help you out greatly in real life.”

Salamancer:  “I’d agree that it’s not a career option for the majority of people, same as art.  A select few get really good at it in very popular arenas and can make a living by streaming, winning prizes, or getting sponsored/salaried, but in TF2 that’s not the case right now.  Even in StarCraft II, which may be the world’s largest and most lucrative gaming scene at the moment, it’s not terribly difficult to count the number of players who count gaming as their sole source of income.  But does all that mean it’s a waste of time?  Of course not!  First, time spent doing something you love is never wasted.  Most people simply have to set aside their gaming time so that they can still have a job, a family, etc and enjoy the games when they plan on it.  Second, more game developers and sponsors are recognizing eSports as a real conduit for nerd-champions to show off, and they’re tailoring their games around the spectator experience.  Just like in athletics, it can be very tough and cutthroat to actually make a living, but for those who can, it’s silly to tell them they’re wasting their time.”

Lola: Securing prizes for competitions have been near to impossible for tf2csa. What advice can you give us on how to better secure prizes for our tournaments or entice companies to sponsor us prizes?

Comedian:  “I’m not exactly good with this kind of stuff, so I don’t really know.”

Salamancer:  “These companies want to see a return on investment, no matter how small that investment is.  If a company fronts something as simple as 6 mousepads for the winners of a tournament, they want their name to be mentioned a lot in the coverage, and they want there to be coverage with lots of viewership.  How do you get viewership?  Get shoutcasters!”

Lola: Outside of offering staff salaries, how do you get people to commit and work together on growing a gaming community?

Comedian:  “Hahahaha, staff salaries, you must be crazy! I wish we got paid for the things we do :).  Growing a community, any community at all, is about having a group of people who are dedicated, inspired and loving the game.  If you have a foundation as strong as that, people will join and continue to improve and strengthen the foundation.”

Salamancer:  “Some people don’t really commit for too long on things, and you have to roll with that.  The way eXtine runs eXtv, he looks for people with passion for the game and a skill set to fill a need.  He also makes very sure to publicly acknowledge people who’ve done work for the community, especially if they aren’t shoutcasters.”

Lola: You have poured your life into gaming. Why do you love doing this and for how long do you see yourself continuing to do so?

Comedian:  “I get to talk to amazing people, I share my passion on air day-to-day.  I do shoutcasting which I just absolutely love to do.  I get to go to LAN events and meeting fantastic and awesome people, what’s not to enjoy about this?  What’s not to airkick and airguitar about?  If possible, if I could get payed for this, I’d do it until I drop dead.”

Salamancer:  “Do you need to ask why I love gaming? 😀  Accounting and finance are boring.  Macroeconomics is frustratingly political.  Games, on the other hand, are wicked fun.  Since I have skills in all three of those and only one of them is actually enjoyable, I’d love to stick with competitive gaming and shoutcasting for as long as I can keep my voice from giving out!”

In closing.

Sal with Kellner and Blackbeard, his lifelong companions

Lola: Will you shoutcast for TF2 SA again?

Comedian:  “Yeah why not.”

Salamancer:  I took his enthusiastic Get shoutcasters!” reply on my question as to how involve sponsors as a definite yes!

Lola: Where can people get hold of you?

Comedian:  “You can find me in #vanillatv on the quakenet IRC server.  My email addy is lazar@vanillatv.org or add me on friends at http://steamcommunity.com/id/Comedian_pancake/ (though my list is always pretty full.”

Salamancer:  ” Salamancer.tv@gmail.com is my email address.  I don’t accept requests on Steam, but my Steam group is http://steamcommunity.com/groups/SalamancerTF2 and from there you can find my Facebook, twitter, twitch.tv and YouTube channels.”

Lola: Any shout outs?

Comedian:  “I want to give my deepest shoutouts to ThePledge and D2M, without those two, there would not have been TF2TV, and without TF2TV, I wouldn’t be here. Every staff member from TF2TV with extra shout outs to Krimson, Hildreth, Sheridyn, and shox.  Everyone at VanillaTF2, with extra shout outs to Leftism, Torden, Trell, and Seriouscat. The lads at KritzKast, especially Agro and Tempest (for wagonweels!). Pretty much everyone from the UKCS community (I won’t give extra shout outs because that would be too many names).  My teammates at .flac. My old teammates from team Stinson; Revan, Dusty, alfa, Taimou, Sigh, MajorPimpsa and cubista.  Old teammates from the Vertex Crocodile Training School; Feer, Warmaster, Joey!, cgs, candy, and snyppis. The Epsilon partyvan and everyone in it; Fisshu, slick, F2, Extremer, Cube, Sneis and Jh.  Then there is everyone I met at LAN’s; Rinta, lord benjamin, rubikon, datenshi dunc, darn, admirable, skyride, chaplain, sunshine snookums, jimmybreeze, Tapley, CUBE, BoneS, beta, arx, dejackal, hazaa, greg, numlocked, flushy, mike, Qun, nvc, skeej, dauk, nmx, canFo, ipz, saemzi, AND EVERYONE ELSE I FORGOT (I’m so sorry!). Random shout outs go to ashkan, jake (from the jake’n’bake stream), sal (from saltv), eXtine (from eXtv), duder, parable, trent, keekerdc, fishstix, opsunfragga, DeNeusbeer, exfane, arie, martn, from the auz/nz community, OnionS, wm, seeker, rynocerus and jambi.  Then there’s warden,  bufallo bill, [HOP]Durk, [HOP]AK47 and m0re.  I am so sorry if I forget anyone. but this list is already about 3 times longer than the rest :D”

Salamancer: “A really big one to the players and organizers of the SA cup that I casted!  Keep on building that competition!”

From the tf2csa team: On behalf of TF2 fans everywhere we would like to give a special shoutout to TF2tv. Today they celebrate their 1 year anniversary! We thank you for all your passion, effort and hours of casting and coverage that you have given us.  We wish everyone that was part of TF2tv all the best in whatever gaming ventures they find themselves in.

Lola’s note.

KritzKast the TF2 Podkast

If there is one thing that brightens my day and inspires me, it’s passion.  Spending time with these two incredible men has inspired me to just.keep.going.on.  Armed with only a pancake, a few mates and an idea to improve TF2 coverage, Comedian established TF2tv and a few years down the line he is still doing what he loves with equal passion, shoutcasting TF2. Salamancer’s passion for TF2 will probably cause him his job and he will still be shoutcasting till his dying breath.  Our South African TF2 community has always struggled: be it to host competitions, sustain clans, develop the website, manage the personalities and many other things. Most of the time the obstacles loom like mount Everest and the team that has to climb this baby is barely a handful (♥ you RazerFox).  If just a fraction of our community would let go of their ego’s and take up some passion we would ride this beast into victory.

Thank you Comedian and Salamancer for being who you are, for sharing what little time you had left in your day to do this ‘Never Ending Interview’ 😉 and lastly for giving us a taste of professional shoutcasting, may there be lots more! Respect.

P.S. Duck TF2 avatarA big thanks to Duck for crafting the awesome TF2 shoutcaster image! Just goes to show, he’s got awesome skills other than pegging us TF2ers to the wall with the Hunstman!

 

10 comments

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  1. Lola

    Special thanks to Lolita for doing editing and being so patient. Likalota for all the epic motds and putting the time in to make sure eveything is up to std. I really appreciate both of you a lot.

  2. Lolita

    This was the longest article I’ve ever read from start to finish … and I loved it! well done and awesome read.

  3. Razerfox

    Superb interview!! (e-hugs Lola)

    Thanks for your time Comedian and Salamancer :)

    Great work Lola, Lolita, Likalota and Duck! You guys deserve some cake :P!

  4. Heckers

    Huge interview crits you for 9999999999.

  5. acrobat

    Epic interview with tons of info to digest, especially around how to grow the competitive scene.

    Already looking forward to next shoutcast from Comedian and Salamancer – may you frequent the SA digital shores many times in future!

  6. Henners

    My Crab hat is famous!

    1. Lola

      epic hat is epic

  7. Razerfox

    Check out Comedian’s AMA (Ask Me Anything) at Reddit
    http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/lk09s/iama_competitive_tf2_shoutcaster_who_started_with/

  8. Space

    Really hope we get hear these guys again

  9. KunG Fu

    Awesome interview Lola! :)

    Lots of Thanks for your time Comedian and Salamancer.

    Was a great expierence! Tons of FuN!!!

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