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LeadingMan

Let's Learn: The LP FAQ

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Welcome to AE's Let's Play Forum.

This FAQ is based off our collective experience, and as such it'll continue to grow and change.

:excl: STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION :excl:

Rules/Guidelines:

Please wait a decent amount of time from a games release before LPing it, I don\'t have a specific timeframe here, but it's a bad idea to rush out and LP a game, especially since a lot of people won't want to watch it for fear of spoiling a game they might enjoy or have plans to pick up and experience soon. You don't need to be first.

Don't post something that you don't like. For example if you have a part in your video where you say "Man, this sucks I shouldn't have done this..." Don't. If you die over and over for 10 minutes, cut it out of the video. It's not entertaining to watch someone die over and over. The goal of an LP is not showing off your own skills, but instead you're showing off the game and hopefully making people want to play it along with you.

If you can, try to think of ways to bring people into the involvement of the game with you. Guest stars, allowing other people in the thread to make decisions for your character. Allowing anyone to play a level. An emphasis on the "Let's" in Let's Play makes the whole thing more exciting for everyone.

FAQ:

I'm not very funny. Should I try?

Sure! If feel like you want to participate by creating an LP, please do. There's some learning involved, but it's a fun process and allows us all to reminisce in new and interesting ways. Besides, no one said you need to be funny. There are many ways to narrate.

Such as?

Funny - Try to keep it upbeat and comedic. This can be really hard to do alone, even using a script. It's often better to have someone else join you.

Informative - Calm and less humorous, often less talking and letting the game do more speaking for you, but interjecting with interesting tidbits that most people might not know.

Subtitle - Some games don't lend to vocal commentary and often subtitles make the game seem better and allow the games atmosphere to fully speak for itself. A lot of horror let's play's tend to be subtitled, for example.

Screenshot / Text: Large games like RPGs tend to have a lot of text for the player to read, and they may not be the best candidate for a video let's play. Instead playing through the game and taking screenshots of the party's conversations and important moments to highlight the story and a brief description of the gameplay may work better. A 10 minute video of someone pressing the fight button to kill dinosaurs trying to level up in FF6 isn't the most interesting thing in this world.

What games should we Let's Play?

Anything that you feel passionate about and believe can make interesting. Your goal should be to present the game in a way that makes people excited to see or play it. On the other hand, some games aren't fun, and it can be fun to watch someone ripping the game apart as well. Just be careful to keep your audience interested either way.

What type of Let's Play have you seen before?

Video - Very common nowadays. Play the game and record it, with commentary.

Image - More common for large RPGs or text heavy games. Images are used to show the party conversation and important moments in the plot / battles.

Text - Let's Plays of text adventures can be done with the the audience participating in the game giving commands for you to enter. Some of these can be really interesting.

Book - There are several choose your own adventure style books with epic plots that I've seen people LP with the people in the thread responding with choices of outcomes.

Creative - Some people have even created their own stories and LP'ed them with audience participation. That way everyone is involved in something they've never seen before.

When should I end my video?

This is entirely up to you, or how long your host can handle. If you're using youtube the answer is at 10 minutes. If you're using any unlimited service then end it when you feel comfortable. Whether that be after a mission, after an objective, or even at a hard deadline like 30 minutes. It's really up to you.

What are the different ways to add commentary?

Typically there are two separate ways to comment. Live and in Post Production:

Live means a live audio stream recorded while you're playing. This stream may still need to be edited once you finish recording to remove breathing and gulps and such, but the majority of the content is delivered live while playing the game.

Pros: Unintentional comedy often occurs in the spur of the moment. Making something you planned to say can be a lot harder than yelling "Holy screaming dancing shitcomets" at the right time without intending to. Live commentary also brings the viewer into a feeling they're experiencing the game alongside you.

Cons: If you fuck up you either have to rerecord, edit the stream down, or live with it. Live commentary can also be much more difficult as you have to balance recording the game and speaking clearly and intelligently. This is more than some can manage.

Post commentary is added after the game is recorded watching the replay of your previous performance. You have a choice doing post commentary to acknowledge this is happening by saying things like "Watch what I did here" or you can act along with the video as if you were playing it live, giving you the ability to focus entirely on your commentary and not the play of the game.

Pros:

Cons:

What's the best way to record my LP?

Always take the path of least resistance. Your tools may limit you in certain areas. For example, trying to record console games often requires additional equipment like a gamebridge or a dvd recorder. Using additional tools like a gamebridge can cause you to need to reformat the video, use filters to increase brightness and visibility and other issues. Often times the simplest path is the best.

Older games (console/pc): Try using emulators and fraps first. If fraps doesn't work camtasia often will. Emulators will skip a lot of the interlacing issues recording off a console can cause, and considering your computer generally has more horsepower than an old console, the emulator will often produce better results. Even PS1 games often record better through an emulator.

Newer console games (Wii, PS3, 360) it's likely you're not going to find an emulator to record and will need an alternative solution. The first step here would be to try to record a PC version of the game with fraps. The PC version will likely record better and with less effort needed. The less steps between you and the final product will almost always have better final results.

Technical Stuff:

--Creating an LP--

--Recording Tools--

Fraps:

Camtasia:

Hypercam:

Roxio Media Import:

Virtualdub:

--Audio Editing--

Audacity: Can edit and layer audio. Also has an awesome autoducking feature to make the game volume quieter as you comment.

--Encoding--

Windows Media Maker: Only outputs into .wmv and may add some filtering to the final product, but it at least allows you to choose your bitrate and final file size.

Virtual Dub: One hell of a program, can handle compression and many other editing effects like level adjustment cropping, so on so forth.

Mediacoder:

Things to know about encoding:

Bitrate

File Size

Codecs

--Video Hosting--

Youtube: Has a 10 minute limit. A lot of people don't like the community.

Viddler: No time limit. Original files can be downloaded to view in higher quality than in the flash players. Size limit of 500mb.

Dailymotion: 20 minute limit. Make sure you use the high quality option or videos may be hard to read.

--Image Hosting--

Photobucket: Free. May be killed if you go over bandwidth.

TinyPic: Some people have recommended it, don't know much about it. Not sure about the bandwidth.

ImageSocket:Hosts large images, and allows adult content.

--Recording Skype--

There are two basic ways to record a skype conversation:

Recording the convo:

Using a skype application like Pamela or Call Graph you can record an mp3 of the entire skype conversation. This however is subject to lag. If one person desyncs in the conversation you may have a difficult time fixing it later.

Recording separate ends of the convo and combining in an audio editor:

Have both people log into skype and record their own end of the conversation via Audacity. Once done, record as an mp3 and send to the person doing the editing. This allows to compensate for lag and often the recording quality is much clearer. It's just more time consuming.

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I'm doing things the hard(-headed) way and using a DVD recorder to record to video, then rip from the DVD and re-encode in Windows Movie Maker. I'll post the results once I have something worth showing. I found the "top 5 free video encoders" for anyone interested.

http://www.desktop-video-guide.com/top-5-free-video-editing-software-review.html

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So far, I'm meeting with a lot of frustration recording to DVD and then ripping to another format (like avi or divx).

VirtualDub does not accept my uncompressed .vob file. The best I've done audio-wise is .avi, and the best I've done video-wise is divx.

To quote Leading Man: "If you can record it via emulator, do it that way first. Emulator + fraps = great results.

My test case was Ghouls n' Ghosts on the PS2 Capcom Classics Collection. When I import videos into virtualdub, the finer details are lost, and there is occasional aliasing and distortion that VD's filters simply can't adjust for.

Just FYI for those of you who haven't LP'ed yet and can learn from my mistake(s).

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Just found out some news that might be interesting for LPers to know. Apparently Viddler is going to stop letting people download the source files to videos. You can still view and download the converted file, but after the next 25-30 days downloading the original source video won't be an option. Consider Viddler's notoriously crappy quality and we have yet another good reason to not use Viddler.

Thought I'd give you guys the heads up about that.

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