Our latest creator interview features Belannaer, a creator from Finland, who has a heavy focus on strategy, simulation and management games.
What’s your handle and what does it mean? What is its origin?
I’ve been Belannaer online now for about 23 years now. My hometown ran youth centers and one of the clubs there was for computer related stuff with a really amazing person who ran it. He taught us everything about computers from putting hardware together to simple programming and making web pages. One of the things he showed us was IRC and we had to make a nickname for it. My family had a Finnish hound called Bella so I picked that but then made a bit more “fantasy” name as I was into role-playing games as well. Then later I got into Warhammer and found out that there was a character with same name and it blew my young mind.
How long have you been creating content? What is your primary platform now?
I’ve been making content in one way or another for almost 2 decades. I helped to run an online game (MUD) for almost 16 years and then moved on to streaming and making videos about 4 years ago. Twitch is my primary platform now with some YouTube on the side.
You put a significant amount of effort into being a Steam Curator, why is that? What benefits do you see for participating in that program?
I was fortunate to see the Steam Curator pop up right when it started and thought “why not?” and just made a group. Since I mostly play building, management and strategy games I thought it would be a good idea to theme the group like that as well as I noticed that a lot of other groups weren’t themed and were mostly just “what I happen to like” lists. I had started YouTube some time earlier and decided to try out making some review videos to go with the curator recommendations. The group instantly took off super fast and I was like “oh crap people actually like and respect what I have to say. I need to actually put some effort into this.”.
It nicely compliments the other content creation as I play the games first on my stream and then do an in-depth review afterwards for YouTube and link it to the curator group. It has been beneficial for me in a numerous ways that would have not been possible for a content creator of my size, especially couple years ago. In last year or so especially it has started to bear fruit.
Firstly it gives extra visibility for both Twitch and YouTube channels. Getting exposure is very difficult and being on the front page of Steam is not a bad way to do it at all. Secondly it has allowed me to network with game developers, publishers, PR and other content creators. This is something I have worked hard on myself using the “big curator group” as a way to get my foot-in-the-door and then work on from there. Thirdly it has made me into “new media”, which has allowed me to work as traditional press online and in events such as Gamescom, which would have not been possible otherwise.
Any thoughts on the Curator Direct program that Valve recently implemented?
The new curator changes are a really good step in the right way from Valve but there is still a lot to be improved in it. The Curator Direct allows developers and publishers to directly offer games to curators and it’s been awesome addition for the couple months it’s been active now.
It has made my life a lot easier in many ways. Being currently the top 19 curator on Steam with specific genres I get a lot of offers through it. Many of them are games that I’ve been looking forward to cover, so getting them directly offered to me instead of having to find and contact people about it is great blessing. I get a lot of other games too but I have turned down vast majority of them as they aren’t fitting for the group.
It’s not a perfect system though. For example it does not allow two-way communications, or really communication at all. Games just get offered to you with a message but there is no way for me to reply to that message unless they provide contact info in it or I find their contact information myself. So it’s hard to ask questions, provide feedback etc. These messages also don’t get saved when you accept a game and I have several times already regretted this as I wanted to reference the message and contact the publisher/developer through the info they provided.
In general I think it’s very great system and I think more content creators should create their own curator pages. Firstly it allows you to review games and create a portfolio for yourself of what kind of stuff you cover and it allows sponsors/developers/publishers/viewers to instantly see what you do as content creator. Secondly when requesting keys you can link your curator group and ask for them to offer the game to you through the curator system. It instantly verifies you as being you and inside the curator system you will never actually see any key code or anything. The game just gets added to your Steam library so there is no risk of losing, selling or anything happening with the key.
What genre of games do you mostly play? Do you have a favorite that you play off stream but not for your audience?
As I mentioned above I mainly do building, management and strategy games but I do sometimes step outside of those genres as well every now and then, like recently I did Dark Souls 3 on Sundays and I plan to do more variety stuff on weekends like Switch games.
Offstream I don’t play as much as I would like to but when I do find some time I like roguelikes and metroidvanias a lot. Games like The Binding of Isaac and Slay the Spire are great for couple quick runs to wind down. I also like playing games like action RPGs when I’m tired after the streams and just want to run around a bit and blow up monsters without having to think too much about it.
How did you find Woovit?
I think I originally saw some chatter about it on Twitter by some other content creators and took a look at it and thought “Oh it’s another one of these key distribution sites” and kinda ignored it. Then soon later several people (like 4) from TriplePoint sent me an email about it and I was like “oh” and signed up immediately.
What is the best game you’ve discovered through Woovit?
I’d say Antihero, it totally flew under my radar and was surprisingly nice. There has been really amazing games on Woovit that I would have requested if I hadn’t already gotten them through other contacts.
Any piece of advice or knowledge bomb you would like to drop for your fellow creators?
You are your own greatest asset and greatest enemy. Only you can improve or make your content worse. In the end you are on your own and no one else is going to help you until you have put the work in yourself first. So don’t fret about numbers and what other people do, just you do you, try out new things and always try to be your best and stay positive.