We're continuing our series of interviews with community streamers by publishing an interview with KittenCatNoodle who is well-known not only as a streamer but also as a creator of Path of Exile lore videos.

Hi KittenCatNoodle, thank you for taking part in the interview! Please introduce yourself.

Hey! Thanks for the opportunity! I’m KittenCatNoodle, but I go by Noodle. The name’s a pun for the “whole kit and kaboodle,” the KittenCatNoodle. I grew up on Nintendo games, mostly every Zelda game, particularly Majora’s Mask. I’m a big fan of great stories in games, like Witcher, Divinity, and of course Path of Exile. I grew up in Washington State, now in Oregon, just living the dream as a nerdy cat lady who gets to play video games all day.

How long have you been streaming for? How did you get into it?

I’ve been streaming for just over 4 years now! Which is pretty crazy. I got into it because I had an IRL friend who would stream. I didn’t even know what it was, but I went over to hang out one time and play games, and she asked if I would mind if she streamed. It was super fun, I loved the interaction, and a few months later I decided I wanted to try it! I started out with retro games and some crafts. I really like giving public speeches. I’ve always wanted to do Ted talks. I’m weird like that. Streaming was this exciting combination of video games, which I was already doing in my spare time, and getting to “perform” and meet people.

What can people expect from your stream? What kind of schedule do you follow?

My stream is mostly about community interaction. I’m always happy to answer questions about the lore, builds, anything really. I like to make weird builds and push the limits of off-meta skills and items through the content, but while I’m doing that my primary focus is on having fun and chatting with people. I feel like we’ve built a really fun and supportive community there. In fact, two of my good friends who hung out in my streams, AphelionPoE and Arkaynan, are now streaming PoE as well!

I start my stream at 5pm PST, usually 3 to 5 days a week, almost always Monday through Wednesday. I do work part time on top of streaming, as well as making the videos, so my schedule is a little crazy. You won’t catch me on Thursdays. That’s about as sure as I can be with my schedule!

You are well-known in the community as a creator of the videos about Path of Exile's lore. Where did your desire to create such series come from?

The first 2 years of my stream, I played the game like most people do - I got through the content. I would sometimes read bits of dialogue and catch things that seemed weird, so I’d ask chat, “What’s up with that?” And they would yell at me to actually read the lore and do a full “lore playthrough” of the game. I did, and I was super interested in learning more. There were so many crazy story beats and ties that I hadn’t noticed or put together before taking the time to slow down and actually read all the dialogue and environmental lore.

I tried to look up videos about the lore and realized there weren’t many, and they weren’t as in depth as I’d want. When I nerd out on something, I go full throttle. I want to know every bit of information I can about good stories. I feel like the world of PoE is so large, that trying to condense the whole “story” into one video just doesn’t do it justice. I decided to start my own series, for my own interest, and to fill this void I’d found.

How much time goes into making your typical video, from concepting the video, to writing a script, to making the final edit?

That really depends on the video! Now I have a lot of footage I can pull from, but if I have to get new footage for a video, it can take a lot longer. I’d say I usually put about 10-20 hours into conceptualizing and writing the script, and then editing the video can be anywhere from 15-40 additional hours. So I guess it’s anywhere from 30-80 hours. If there’s in game dialogue or flavor text I’m directly referencing, that’s easy to put together. It’s the parts with conjecture or explanation that I have to wrack my brain to find footage for!

What was the most challenging part of creating these videos?

Well, the first videos were pretty self-explanatory, going through all the story acts. After that, I tackled leagues or people that I was most interested in. But there’s times when I want to cover a topic, Synthesis league in particular, that I don’t have footage for and can’t find enough stuff to reference from. I would say the most challenging part is finding topics that I can research enough about to feel like I can retell it in a compelling way but also have enough reference to make an actual video!

Also, there are so many interconnected bits and pieces in the lore. For example, Act 3 has its own story, but is also a huge lore dump. You learn more about the Purity Rebellion, and all the major characters, and how that led to the most recent cataclysm. Then you start thinking about the Fall of the Vaal and that cataclysm, and the connections between Malachai and Doryani. Then you want to think about the connection between virtue gems, the Beast, and our own journey through the game. But then, who is Grigor? And now you want to talk about the Ezomytes. Creating linear story threads and deciding what to include in a video, when there are so many interesting tangents I could go on, can be difficult. I have to edit myself a lot so that I’m compiling a cohesive story that logically builds on itself without giving into the temptation to explain every connection to other lore. My videos still end up being long!

When did you first get into Path of Exile?

When I started streaming, a friend got me into Diablo 3. It was pretty fun; I hadn’t actually played many ARPGs before that. I actually found a reddit thread about free to play computer games, and someone suggested Path of Exile saying it was “like Diablo 3.” I was like, alright, let’s try that! So I tried it out and actually got raided by CuteDog, so I had a lot of people watching me struggle through my first playthrough. It was pretty hilarious. I always like to go in blind for games, but Path of Exile was an extra challenge in that regard. My first Dominus fight, I had no idea there was a second phase. Chat was so good about not spoiling it either. I’m just sitting there looting, while demon bug Dominus rises in the background. I was horrified! It was a struggle, but I actually enjoy that. And as soon as I realized how open the build creation was, I was hooked. That was actually a month after I started streaming, so in November 2016.

What one thing caught your attention in the beginning and what one thing kept you coming back?

Definitely the build creation. Almost every game, if you choose a character class, you’re given guard rails on how you can advance. Let’s say you’re a Witch. Ok, you can be ice, fire, or necrotic. And once you choose that, here are the 5 skills you can do. Realizing that this was a game where I could make any combination I wanted was so liberating. You want to be an unarmed melee Witch and punch things? Go for it. No guarantee it will work, but you can try to make it work, and that’s what I want to do. I love looking for weird or unconventional interactions between items, skills, and the passive tree, and making something that feels new. The constant updating and balancing of skills, Ascendancies, and items means there’s almost unlimited potential builds to be created!

Are there any highlights from your time playing Path of Exile that stand out in your memory?

Being featured on Build of the Week was probably one of the most exciting moments. Especially because Bex peppered in some hilarious references to RuPaul’s Drag Race, and it really made me feel like I had been seen and appreciated! Miss…Vanjie! I know that’s the kiss of death for a build’s functionality, but it was a peak for me, in that I had made a good “new” build and senpai noticed me. Granted, I think many people saw the patch notes for Incursion league and also made the connection that buffed Arc and new trap supports would be insane. I also made a build that threw traps that made totems that flame dashed. For some reason that one didn’t make it to Build of the Week…but I got it all the way to maps. Definitely stalled out by yellow maps.

Then recently being acknowledged on the first “answering your lore questions” post was exciting, because lore has definitely been my focus recently! I’ve always wanted to find a niche in PoE. Since I don’t always go for “meta” builds, being the “god tier” gamer wasn’t really something I wanted. I’ve hit some milestones along those lines: got a Demi in Turmoil November 2017, and I’ve gotten to level 100, but I really wanted to find something unique that I could contribute, and that fit my style. I think the lore videos have done that, and having GGG recognize my work really solidified that I’ve found my niche.

Is streaming your full time job? If so, what were you doing for work prior to streaming?

I streamed full time for a few years, but it’s a bit unstable for my taste, so I do it part time now to take off the pressure for me or people watching the stream to support. Before streaming, I worked at Microsoft and then Amazon, so basically the stereotypical “tech person in Seattle” jobs. I got to work with HoloLens at Microsoft, which was awesome. I presented HoloLens to potential developers before the product was released, and also wrote all the scripts for the presentations. My main presentation was our collaboration with NASA, taking pictures from the Curiosity Rover and making a mixed reality recreation of the Mars journey so far. Then I worked at Amazon corporate, no holograms involved, sadly. I started streaming while working at Amazon. Currently I do contract work on the side, helping build websites, software, I even edited a book recently. Generally, my work has focused on organization, writing, and presentation, which I think manifested into streaming and creating lore videos.

Do you have any advice for people who are looking to make their own career out of streaming?

The first thing I’d advise is, if you just play video games for fun and to relax, you don’t want to do streaming as a “career.” To be successful, you have to be consistent, you have to be proactive, you have to find something unique, and you have to be positive. For me, that last one was the hardest part. I have pretty constant anxiety, and the pressure of seeming happy when I wasn’t in a good mental place was tough. People watching would be worried, because I have an expressive face, and that just makes everything tough. You’re providing a product, in a lot of ways. If you’re not having fun, it’s hard for people watching you to have fun.

The other thing is, unless you get really big, it’s not going to be reliable. Some months I would make a lot, and I’d be so excited. Other months I wouldn’t even make enough to cover rent. The fluctuation of streaming, especially if you’re specialized in playing one game, is hard. It was hard for me not to take less successful months personally, like, why am I not making enough money? What more can I do to make money? And I also hate asking people for money. It felt like it got to the point where I’m just relying on the same people to support me, and I didn’t want people to feel pressured or like they “had” to give me money. Honestly, in my opinion, twitch doesn’t do enough to support streamers financially. Subs give you emotes, so that’s some incentive to support. But there’s not much incentive to get bits, and supporting streamers directly with donations is obviously the best for the streamer. But the ad money from twitch, and the incentives for subscribers, just isn’t enough.

Listen: if you want to stream, do it for fun. If you want to make it a career, do it when you have the time to absolutely focus on being consistent, and make sure you have a plan for how you’re going to stand out. You’ll also need to network, but genuinely. Hang out in other streams. Figure out what about THAT stream makes you want to come back, or support them. Try to separate your personal worth from your success in streaming if you do decide to try full time. It wasn’t for me. I love streaming, and I wanted to keep it fun, for me and for my community. I’m always so grateful for the support I receive, and I’ve still got an amazing community that’s here for me, but the pressure of being positive and being online “all the time” was too much. Most streamers aren’t going to make even minimum wage for the number of hours they put into their work. It’s a lot of behind the scenes work too. Try it out, but there’s no strict path to success, and even when you’ve reached “success,” it’s a turbulent ride.

You're one of the cast on the 'Baited Expectations' podcast. Could you tell us a bit about your experience there?

Yeah! It’s been so much fun. It was piebypie’s idea, and we wanted to bring a new perspective to PoE podcasts. I think we all bring something unique. At first, I wasn’t sure if I should be on it. I struggle with thinking I have valuable things to say and add, but I guess now that I have taken a deep dive into lore, I can definitely add to the discussion in a way others might not know about. I was already friends with everyone on the podcast, me and pie even got to hang out at a Twitchcon! I think our relaxed vibe, chemistry, and different specialties in the game makes the podcast super enjoyable and different. I’m really glad I decided to do it. Some of our highlights are definitely the various rants we’ve had to each other, it’s just a blast. I still get nervous before every podcast though!

Are there any up and coming streamers that you'd like to shine a spotlight on?

I already mentioned AphelionPoE and Arkaynan, but other streamers that I watch are Sefearion, Nizmat, Amycat, SuitSizeSmall, Octavian, PerrythePig, and Mairian. Of course, I’ve got to give a shoutout to my Baited Expectations crew piebypie, Brittleknee, and Velyna. I don’t really think of them as “up and coming” so much as “fun PoE communities I hang out in.”

What hobbies or interests do you have outside of streaming?

I used to be really into drawing, so I’ve been making some silly paint doodles for some of my friends which has been fun. I also have a D&D campaign going, maybe going to be 2 soon, so that’s fun. I used to make perlers, little plastic beads you put on peg boards and iron together, and actually made a few PoE flasks out of them. Had to stop doing that because my cat, Sunday, is a plastic fiend and would walk all over them or try to eat the beads.

How has your life changed from before you were streaming until now? What role has streaming played in that transition?

I’ve always been a performative introvert. What that means is, I love giving performances--I like presentations, acting, singing, the like. But I do get drained from social situations, and my normal pace is pretty relaxed and low energy. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t have much to say about what’s going on in my life, but you ask me what I think about Game of Thrones season 8, and I will go off for hours about all the ways the story should have ended, all the plots and character arcs were dropped, what they did to my boy Bran… Anything that I’m passionate about, I can talk about, and I love sharing knowledge with people. I think the best way to live is to always be curious, and to never stop learning.

For me, streaming was this perfect balance between controlled social situations and getting to interact with people who were as passionate about a subject as I am. In my normal life, I like to find people who are also nerdy and inquisitive, and that can be harder to find IRL. But streaming is this perfect platform where you can say, “I’m interested in this particular subject or game” and then find an entire community who you can chat with. It’s helped me be confident in my own interests, things that some might think are too niche or goofy, like build creation and lore. I grew up feeling that enjoying video games wasn’t cool, especially as a girl. I realized when I started streaming that I hadn’t even told any of my college friends that I liked playing video games, which is absurd, considering I was basically addicted to WoW in college.

Streaming helped me become confident when meeting new people about what I like. If they don’t like it, that’s totally fine! And it’s also helped with my imposter syndrome, where it’s hard to feel like anything good you do is actually your own creation. Now I can definitely say, look at this video I made. Isn’t that cool? I mean, I spent hours decoding the Harvest release of Harbinger items, and I LOVED it. Absolutely loved it. Felt like a detective. And now through streaming there’s a bunch of people who can help confirm that, hey, that nerdy thing you like? I like that too.

What is one thing you think every Path of Exile player should hear?

The most important thing to know is that Arakaali and Sin had a very steamy relationship in her Temple for years. Ok, there’s maybe one other thing. I think the most important thing people should hear is that it’s a game. Sure, it’s a game where you can be super competitive. It’s a game that you need to study to really understand the mechanics if you want to push the hardest content or create the best builds. But how YOU like to play the game is completely valid, because it’s about having fun.

When I first started streaming I had a lot of people tell me that I should play HC, because no one wants to watch people playing SC. While I totally respect people who play HC, it makes me mad. I seriously have no chill when a character I’ve worked hard to create dies. Especially since I like to make my own builds, I want to be able to test it against all the content and see if my creation succeeds. About 75% of the time, the build can get through all the basic content. 50% can get through all the content, but maybe specialize in clearing or bossing specifically, and the other 25% are absolute banger builds. And that’s what brings me joy in PoE: figuring out this new or weird build that is able to smash through the content. If you don’t like creating builds, and want to play a meta character that will get you through everything in HC, awesome. If you want to struggle your way through the game on a meme build, awesome. If you like SSF, awesome. It’s a game. Play it how you want!

Do you have any projects on the horizon you'd like to talk about?

I’m working on some other videos, going to dive into some older content like Breach or the Pale Council. I’m helping some other people with lore-based projects, so look out for those; Mairian is creating a PoE Advent calendar, and DadBodGaming is going to make a jeopardy-like PoE game for charity soon. Other than that, my big project is getting Sunday some buttons that will speak words when pressed so she can start communicating with me. Have you seen Billi speaks? That’s definitely my most pressing project right now.


Thanks so much for the interview! If you'd like to follow KittenCatNoodle, you can do so on Twitch, YouTube and Twitter.
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