I’ve previously talked on my blog about lessons I’ve learned through streaming that I’d learned through trial and error. (Psst… here and here!) One thing I didn’t talk about there, however, was how valuable a tool a streamer’s chatbot can be when used well. When I visit someone’s channel, I like to watch not just the streamer, but their chat. More often than not, I see a bot just quietly pinging away about “please support the stream” and “join my Discord” at regular intervals. That’s an underutilized tool. Let me give you a couple ideas on how you can vary your chatbot commands to increase its utility within your community.
There are so many great chatbot options out there on the market right now. Nightbot, Moobot, PhantomBot, Stream Elements’ bot… the potential abounds. Personally, I use Streamlabs’ chatbot (the one formerly known as Ankhbot, not their new cloudbot).
Now, I’m not going to tell you which chatbot to go with; most will do a fantastic job and you should pick the one that works best with your setup. There are certain types of chatbot commands to keep in mind, however, when setting up your bot. Keep in mind that some bots may not have the framework for all of these commands, so if you are still deciding which chatbot to go with, look into which of these it is able to do.
Channel Information Commands
These are almost a no-brainer. You don’t want to have to answer the same three questions over and over again, so let your bot do the heavy lifting! Commands like Twitter, stream schedule, and Discord can get your viewers connected to the correct places in the fastest times. This also means you need to keep an eye on these commands to keep an eye on. Should any of your basic information change, you need to keep things up to date in your chatbot. Basic “call/response” commands like these are super easy to set up.
It’s also often handy to add commands that reference the specific stream your audience is watching as well. These are things like “uptime” or “timezone” which refer specific information about what is going on with the stream. The availability of some of these functions is going to vary by chatbot provider, so check your bot’s user manual.
User Information Commands
These are commands that pull from Twitch itself to give a user information about themselves. Often these are commands overlooked by streamers, letting the channels that have them stand out. Commands that inform them how long they have been following your channel or when they created their account look super slick. These tend to require a bit of outside API work; I did a quick Google search to discover how to set up mine.
Here is where the fun begins. Common call outs, reactions, and more are super easy to set up as commands. Sadly, setting up one with your channel’s custom emotes would require buying your bot a subscription each month, BUT you do have a lot of options when it comes to making the bot reflect your community.
For example, while playing though my Mass Effect series, my chat quickly learned I am very bad at remembering to reload my weapon. So the reload command was created to “yell” at me every time I was sitting at low ammo.
One fun way to get these is to open up chatbot command suggestions to your community, either as a loyalty reward or as a general submission form. If you do this, though, I suggest you weed out unused commands once a year or so, as many times the list of commands gets very long and certain commands aren’t getting used anymore. On the other hand, some of the weirdest commands might get used surprisingly regularly. Work with your audience to determine what they want to have to use.
Randomized Response Command
This goes one beyond the basic “call/response” functionality of a chatbot command, and how to set it up may vary between bots. Look into whether or not your chatbot has the ability to select a line from a list of options. One way to work this out is by having the bot read from a file on your hard drive. A bot hosted entirely in the cloud might not have the ability to pull this off, but read your user manual! There are some good things in there!
The most basic randomized response command would be a magic 8 ball type setup, where the command returns a random answer for a yes/no question. However, you can use this in interesting ways to vary mundane responses. For example, the “reload” command I mentioned before could be spiced up by having a variety of response messages, all essentially meaning the same thing. Use your imagination to come up with something clever.
Almost everyone has seen a stream with some sort of death counter on it. Most bots have at least one counter style variable baked into their system to create a death counter with ease, but others allow for a variety of counters to be set up. For example, I have a counter for whenever my cat is seen or mentioned on stream. It’s a simple thing, but it works well to keep people involved.
By making the commands for the counter available to your moderators or your chat room at large, you make the audience feel much more involved in your stream. Just be sure that you set up a timeout on the command or a strict system for using it! Otherwise the counter could be flooded with triggers all at once and throw off the count!
Bonus Points: A Points-Based Command Setup
This last big one is a much more complicated concept, but if you can work it out, it really works out well for a community. Much like Twitch’s Channel Points, doing some sort of points-based system for your community that the community has some control over is a lot of fun. However, it does take some manipulation to make it work out.
For my channel, I used my chatbot’s built-in points system, but turned off all the automatic points gain, rewards, etc. I just wanted it as a data storage system upon which to build my commands. From there, I built a series of commands to add, remove, and view individuals’ points. This let me set up a system of points that was entirely controlled by my audience. Since my channel tends to have a lot of bad puns, we refer to it as “grounding.” The lower your score, the better you supposedly have been that month. Because the points are viewer based, multiple people can agree and ground a person at a time. At any given time, you can check the leaderboard to see who has been the most grounded that month. It’s a badge of honor, so to speak, and people love grounding each other for bad puns.
There are so many clever ways you can make your Twitch chatbot more unique to help keep your chat engaged and make your job as a streamer easier. Put some time aside and see what sorts of commands you can come up with for your community. Do you have a unique command you are really proud of? Have a really cool idea and don’t know how to set it up? Let me know! I love hearing about chatbot ideas and sharing concepts.