Trials and Tribs of LP

Cooking with GOG and First Subscriber

Skyrim Part 4

The Skyrim series reached an abrupt conclusion almost immediately after discovering and killing the first dragon. I attempted to show off my shout powers in a manner that didn’t hit anyone but they still were not amused and cut me down after a brief segment of me running and hopping away. I begged for my life and attempted to yield and just pay the bloody fine but it was all for naught. I think I’ll roll a new character and get to where I was before continuing the series. Until then the short 10 minute video is a monument to my prowess in video games.

Pre-Alpha DUSK

I watched Two Best Friends play the pre-alpha of Dusk (DUSK?) and I really wanted to give it a shot. It’s like Doom, Quake, and Duke Nukem had a threesome and popped this game out. Controls look smooth and the graphics look like garbage. Perfect. So I started chatting with their twitter handle and made a pretty solid case for them letting me do it.

1st-tweet-at-dusk

I got punted over to the head honcho himself and made my case but was ignored.

second-tweet-to-boss

So I did the only thing that I could do and made a cooking video. I sent him a link to show him what he drove me to.

third-passive-tweet-to-boss

He liked it. Asshole.

boss-likes-tweet

Game Over Gaming Cooking

So since DUSK was off the table I had to do something else. My buddy Austin got some directions on how to make a lemon garlic tilapia dish. He proceeded to burn/ruin the dish. Now I am an atrocious chef but I can at least make that. So after some nice whiskey I decided to make a cooking video for him to follow. I hate myself for doing it in portrait but my judgement was less than great at the time. It consisted of me attempting to cook fish one handed. It went about as well as you’d expect. I lost track of what step I was on and made sure that at least half the steps consisted of drinking more whiskey. So why not. I threw it on Reddit.

It is now my most viewed video. In a gaming channel. With zero editing and preparation. Awesome. As a result, I earned my first subscriber. I told him I would make sure he was immortalized here. So say hello to Mr. Smith.

john-smith

I quickly got some more subscribers after that. I’m pretty pumped about it and now also feel like I’m locked into drunkenly cooking and making videos of it. It wouldn’t be such a bad thing if not for the fact that it would probably drive Erica, the girlfriend, insane. I’m using knives on nonstick pans, spilling butter all over the stove, and creating a stack of dishes a mile high. It can only be healthy for the relationship. The path to stardom is fraught with the corpses of relationships… I must press on.

Killing Floor 2 Guide

It’s Halloween. I have shit kids knocking on my door and no candy to give them. I figure I’ll hole up in my room and play something at least semi in the spirit of Halloween. I picked Killing Floor 2. It’s an FPS where you have to survive 10 waves of “zeds”. They’re basically zombies but genetically engineered by a psychopath. You fight the psychopath at the end. It’s laced with heavy metal and gore so it’s great for therapy.

There are a variety of classes to choose from and you’re bound to find one that strikes your fancy. Mine is either support or firebug. Support runs around with a stupid amount of health and a shotgun. You can just about murder everything and get slow motion mode triggered constantly. Shotguns in slow motion is a thing to behold especially when the graphics are extremely well done.

Firebug is pretty self explanatory. You run around madly with a flamethrower and gently sprinkle everything in sight with napalm. So I figure I’ve put a bunch of hours into him and can be considered an expert. This means I have to write a guide to playing the firebug and run him through 10 waves with some commentary. Turns out I got a solid 7 rounds and only ever had one faithful teammate. Solid LP. Hopefully the guide I’ve written makes up for its deficiency. Might do a spread on each class. We’ll see what the response is like after I hit up the KF2 subreddit.

Happy Halloween.

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Second Recording Session Woes

You think you have everything set up and now you’re just cruising creating content. It’s a surefire sign that something is about to come along and make you waste several hours fixing. Today I woke up, nuked a cup of coffee, and sat down to bang out some more video. Looks like my laptop restarted during the night and closed everything I had open. Thanks Windows and your curse-ed updates. Bane of my existence. Probably the bane of everyone’s existence.

No worries. I fire up Audacity and get my mic all set up before doing some audio checks. Everything recorded sounds like a whisper and run through a garbage disposal. Like a quiet malevolent garbage disposal. What the hell. Reinstall the drivers. No avail. Switch to the Skullcandy headset because it only sounded quiet and tinny. Nope. Still quiet garbage disposal mode.

An hour or so of fooling around and restarting my computer happens upon a solution. Now I am not a good scientist so I didn’t exactly have a control variable. I was trying multiple solutions at a time and praying for it to work so it could have been either of these. The first change I made was to unplug my portable hard drive because it might be leeching too much power from the USB ports. (Queue the engineer popping in here and telling me that’s not how it works. At least I’ll get closure.) The second thing I did was switch which USB port I was plugging the mic into since sometimes USB ports don’t get equal amounts of power. In any event, one of these two things fixed my issue and I’m recording decent audio once more.

Issue fixed. Time to record. Now I’ve learned my lesson from Shadowplay. That being, don’t use Shadowplay. Instead I’m using Windows and making sure that my mic isn’t recorded in addition to the game audio. I bang out a good hour and forty-five minutes of video before calling it a wrap.

It was a perfect play through. I’m running Skyrim on the Expert setting with a small twist. Once I beat the first dragon I have to delete my character if I die. It adds a bit more investment into your character and makes you play a little more cautiously since you can’t just reload a save any longer. After defeating the dragon I head back to turn in the quest to the local Jarl and show off my sweet new dragon shout power. Nobody is amused by this as much as I am and I end up with a 40 gold bounty and everyone in the keep trying to murder me. I’m screaming, “It’s just a prank bro!” and attempting wildly to yield and just pay the damn bounty. I was unsuccessful and die valiantly. So much for Archduke Flufferbottom. Guess it’s time to cut apart what I have and get everything posted to YouTube.

Only there is one teensy tiny problem. I have all the audio but I only 59:59 of video. That’s strange. Maybe there are multiple files? Nope. Apparently, windows records an hour of gameplay and then will just stop without any indication at all. AWESOME. I guess Flufferbottom lucks out and gets a mulligan on this play through. Note to self: dragon shouts are not treated as pranks. Instead, it will mark you for instant death. YouTube prank channels are so misleading.

I hack together what I have and start getting it uploaded on YouTube. Lesson learned. Guess I’m going to have to relearn how to use Bandicam after all.

First LP Completed

Arrival of Snowball

The Snowball mic has arrived and boy is it sleek and also kind of Orwellian looking. It’s a jet black ball that sits on three prongs and has an ominious red light that glows when it’s plugged in. It’s like some martian tripod surveillance device. All I know is the damn thing better work. I plug it in, open up audacity, and give my best rendition of row row row your boat. She records like a dream and it’s at that point that I realize I have a voice meant for silent film. No matter how much you polish garbage it stays garbage. Just shinier. Oh well. Time to sally forth anyway.

Preparation for LP

I’m messing around before I notice a little tidbit floating through some gaming news sites. Skyrim Special Edition is supposed to drop at 5pm tonight. I would be a kid in a candy store if not for the fact that it costs $60. Luckily, Bethesda decided that just updating a games graphics and then re-releasing it for full price is a bad PR move so they are giving it away for free for anyone who owns all the DLC. I’m not one of those people but I could be… $25 on sale right now? Yeah alright. I’ve been meaning to get around to playing the DLC anyway. Well, one of them anyway. One basically turns your game into a domestic simulator complete with nagging spouse and shit kids that are somehow invulnerable to destruction. No thanks.

I don’t want to redo Metro 2033 so Skyrim came at the perfect time for me to LP. My favorite part is the irony here. Skyrim is The Elder Scrolls V. Both LP’s would be started thanks to Bethesda. Thanks Bethesda. Hopefully this one doesn’t turn out like such a hot mess. I’ll be able to replay a game I’ve enjoyed several times and get to check out the updated graphics at the same time.

While I’ve been upgrading in almost every area the one thing that I haven’t done was switch to a desktop. I have a 2013 Alienware 17 and she chugs along faithfully with my frequent moves and LAN parties. My Geforce 770m needed to get up to speed if I didn’t want to play the NEWLY ENHANCED SKYRIM on low settings. I’m sure that wouldn’t be the case but Fallout 4 still gives me nightmares. Time to learn about overclocking my laptop and if it’s even worth doing such a silly thing. A few hours later she’s boosted and purring happily at some stable levels.

afterburner

The LP

We’re off and rolling. I’ve played through Skyrim a bunch so I enlisted the help of 4chan to get a new character randomly generated. I got a Khajiit (cat person) Paladin with a drug habit and penchant for exercising evil from the land. Plus, the faction I need to follow is Dawnguard. Dawnguard is a faction added in one of the DLC for the game. This is perfect since I have no idea what happens in the DLC. I’ll get some practice in for the part I’m familiar with and then get to experience some new content once I figure things out.

4chan

While playing, it was harder than I thought to give good solo commentary and talk enough so it just wasn’t someone silently playing a game. I tried to come up with stories and share my own experiences a bit to brighten it up but I don’t exactly have an over the top personality to carry the day. Certainly not on the level of people like Pewdiepie or Markiplier. I powered through it and finished the first episode. Time to edit.

Editing

Syncing the audio is always an annoying task but it doesn’t take that long once you get it down. All you have to do is say “One, two, three” and then do something obvious in the game that you can find in your recorded video. Some people like to jump. I like to hit escape or some button that pulls up a menu. Match your audio and footage up and then just delete all the junk beforehand. It’s easy just not exactly the most elegant of solutions.

audacity-commentary

Ah, Sony Vegas 10 you are a cruel mistress. It’s not exactly a set it and forget it type of platform and it required a lot of tweaking before I could get it exporting anything. Then after about 3 hours of rendering my video it just spit out a “Error. Dunno what happened man but it’s not working. You probably messed up.” Thanks Sony. Three hours of rendering for a 30 minute video that ended up ultimately not working was a slap in the face. Some quick googling and it looks like Sony Vegas 10 is not great (or even feasible) for the 1080p content I wanted to push out.

No problem. Time to use my tried and true method of creeping on content creators I enjoy. This time I’m creeping on Spirit of the Law who does some pretty kickass and in-depth videos on Age of Empires II. I get they released a new HD version but the fact that the content is still so popular and dissected is amazing to me. He uses Power Director 12 for his content and I haven’t seen him bitching about it. Time to “learn” a new video editing software.

I lucked out and they were actually doing a free giveaway of their older software (aka PD 12) and had some newer stuff on a big discount. I’m on a budget so if 12 works for Spirit of the Law then it works for me.

Now I have an SSD and a HDD. I only use the SSD for core stuff and maybe memory intensive games like Skyrim or Civilization (load times measure in centuries). My HDD is a pretty respectable size so you can imagine my shock when PD 12 gives me a “Not Enough Space” error when I try to install it. Sure enough, 250 gigs of space has vanished. Most recent thing I was doing was dicking around with Sony Vegas 10 so let’s check my video files.

Turns out, Sony Vegas 10 didn’t actually fail at rendering my previous video. Instead it succeeded at pushing out a gigantic turd of a video weighing in at an impressive 250 gigs. 1080p blue ray rips that I’ve seen have barely been able to scratch the 20 gig mark. Despite its impressive girth it still managed to look like trash. Size isn’t everything folks.

Cleaned up that mess and got PD 12 up and running without issue. Works basically the same as Vegas 10 as far as editing content goes. Rendering and exporting is a breeze. You just pick what you’d like to render and the software does the rest. I did run into an issue where the preview screen just turns green. This makes it impossible to sync the game with the audio since that is your visual cue for lining things up.

pd12-normalNobody could tell me why I was getting this issue but apparently one of the solutions was to disable hardware acceleration. My understanding is that video editing software can utilize your GPU in addition to your CPU in order to render video. For whatever reason, allowing this was giving me a green screen issue. After the change, chopping the video up got a little slower. The program would have to think a bit before implementing the change I wanted. Not great but better than the other options I was faced with.

No other issues and the first part is live!

Skyrim Special Edition – Part 1

First Attempt

Disaster and a waste of several hours. I was playing around with Window’s Game Center and it had the option to record your mic, default is off. Shadowplay had no such indication. It just recorded. Easy peezy. I assumed this meant no hot mic and only the gameplay would be recorded. I was wrong. Audacity recorded my audio and Shadowplay recorded both my audio and my gameplay sound. So since they’ve been mixed into a Frankenstein(ian?) monster I had to figure out a way to potentially make it work. Stripping the audio out sounded impossible and a giant chore even if it was possible with the tools on hand. Maybe I can sync up everything so that my audacity audio perfectly overlays and drowns out my other commentary. Nope. Now I just sound like I’m a choir boy and singing my commentary. Or at the very least there is a spooky echo. Fuck.

Well I might as well check out how the audio turned out. At least Audacity didn’t hurt me… I’m quiet and tinny. Fooling around with the settings is of no avail. Apparently the Slyr headset is only good for Skype and Curse chat and not much else. Time to actually do research into audio recording equipment. SIGH.

The best way I’ve found to go about figuring out your equipment is shamelessly creeping on your favorite LP’ers. I’ve found the answers to my questions everywhere. Sometimes they have websites like this one where it is all listed because they get asked so much. Other times they answer random YouTube comments asking about it. Even more rarely, they might do an AMA on Reddit where they answer questions posed by Reddit’s user base.

My favorite LP group is Best Friends Play and after a little digging on Reddit it turns out they use a Snowball mic. $50 poorer and I’ve ordered a fancy new mic to help me record audio that sounds slightly better than hot garbage. It gets here Wednesday 10/26/16 and then maybe I can make some magic happen.

Until then this project is on hold and I’m out a few hours of my day figuring stuff out. Think I’m just going to scrap the Metro 2033 project. I’d have to re-record everything from the beginning and I’d feel fake redoing it. “Oh ha ha I made this funny comment last time that I’m totally making off the cuff this time around as well!” HA.

Until next time.

Setting Up

Baby Steps

Alright so first, I need a product. If you don’t have a product you don’t have anything to sell. In order to create a product I need tools. Which tools you choose can have a profound effect on how much hair you will be tearing from your scalp. Let’s take a look at our options.

Video Recording Software

I was going to go with my old school Bandicam license. Pretty sure it’s for life and I vaguely remember how to…. Nah I’ve completely forgotten how to use the thing. Let’s see what is new. The tech has had to have made some pretty big leaps since the last time I attempted something like this.

bandicam

First up is Shadowplay by Nvidia. Shadowplay. That sounds sexy. I have an(a?) Nvidia graphics card and all I have to do is hit some shortcut buttons and I’m recording. Seems like a piece of cake! I’m going to go with Shadowplay first. (Bad idea.)

nvidia-shadowplay

If that doesn’t work I can switch to Window’s Game Center. It’s stock with Windows 10 and apparently is built into consoles now. You, again, just hit some shortcut buttons and you’re off recording. Man this stuff has gotten way easier since the last time I wanted to do an LP. I’ll make this my backup option if Shadowplay doesn’t work out. (Also bad idea.)

Nifty windows toolbar for recording.

Nifty windows toolbar for recording.

Video Editing Software

So back in the day I had an old Sony Vegas platform. So I went and grabbed Sony Vegas 10 out of my bag of tricks and figured it was good back then and should work now. No further research required. (Further research was required.)

vegas-pro-10

Audio Recording/Editing Software

Audacity is most people’s tried and true open source platform for audio recording. It comes with a ton of tools. I haven’t the faintest idea how to use any of them but other people assure me that it is quite complete. Good enough. I didn’t even look around for other options. Audacity is my baby and would never betray me.

audacity

Mic

I learned my lesson and will not be using my laptop microphone. Instead, Erica got me a Skullcandy Slyr headset as an impromptu gift. It’s got a built-in mic. How bad could it be for recording some simple talking? (Apparently hot garbage.)

The Game

Metro 2033 is near and dear to my heart. It’s got some pretty spooky gameplay. It’s a post-apocalyptic shooter that takes place in the old Moscow metro tunnels that have been re-purposed to house the last of humanity. It has everything a kid could love: ethereal beings, mutated monsters, and aliens. Actually based on a Russian novel. They did a bang up job with the setting. I’ve already played through it so I can concentrate more on talking about the game than drooling over a first play though. Plus I visited Moscow over the summer so I can probably throw in some great commentary on the metro tunnels. You’d be surprised how much history they can squeeze into those tubes. (Like two or three fun facts. Apparently not enough to fill an entire let’s play with interesting content.)

Generally, you want to pick a game that you’ve played through before. It can’t have a ton of grinding unless you want to spend a ton of time cutting up your video. If you’re like me and have little video editing experience then the task seems herculean. A single long take and chopping it to pieces is about as brave as I can be here. So Metro 2033 is going to be my first attempt. Let’s get to it.

Background

Hello everyone. Welcome to the site. I’ve decided to LP games. For those of you aware of the trend then bear with me. LP stand’s for Let’s Play and typically involves someone playing a video game, recording their experience, and making live commentary while they play. I would almost consider it the lowest form of entertainment possible but that would be ignoring some of the comedic gold hosted on TLC. Then again, I’m not exactly a comedic genius and I’ve watched some of those shows so maybe glass rocks in stone houses.

Some of you may be asking, “Why now?” and that is a fair question. One that I am going to ignore for now and instead give you an overly long backstory which will avoid answering that question. I’ve been an avid gamer, much to my mother’s chagrin, for as long as I could remember. My father bought one of those horrid early 90’s ONE HUNDRED GAME COMBO discs and sat with me at the computer getting some of them installed. I was probably five. Objectively, they had to be terrible since nothing other than maybe jelly beans is any good in increments that high. Subjectively, I had a blast playing street fighter rip-offs until games like Starcraft and Red Alert graced the family computer.

Vintage 2002. I was 12 and installing Red Alert 2. Also pictured is a Diablo 2 case sitting on top of my cd case. Still have that CD case laying around. Doesn’t get much use since everything is digital now.

Soon enough my little brother was old enough to game and we were consigned to the basement playing Batman and Sunset Riders on the SNES. We played on a TV from a bygone era in which television sets doubled as furniture, were made of wood, and weighed a thousand pounds. It never moved for the 11ish years we lived in that house and I think it probably still sits there to this day. Stuck in the basement like some sword from Arthurian legend. Waiting for the day someone with the strength and, more importantly, the will to move it.

I got older. Started working. Went to college for history. Made friends with similar interests. Met a kid named Ben. Ben was bad a video games. Ben played bass. Ben mostly kept to himself but had some of the best wit you could ask for in a friend. So I grabbed him and decided to play up the awkward a bit. He’d play the game. We’d do the commentary. I’d handle the editing and posting. Thus “Uncomfortable Gaming” was born.

It went about how you would expect. Neither of us had experience related to anything required to make a successful LP. Arguably the only thing we had experience in was playing video games. That skill was only possessed by me but I was having Ben drive. Genius. First thing you need is a kickass intro video for all your games. Only problem was neither of us were artistically inclined nor knew how to operate video editing software. So like any sane human being, I used my webcam. Booted that sucker up. I held a piece of paper with “Uncomfortable Gaming” in sharpie on it and set to work. I sat and turned my head towards Ben while he slowly opened up his shirt to show off his pepperoni pizza to the world. It was beautiful.

It was pretty uncomfortable so we nailed that aspect.

Next, time to shoot an LP. We got a license with Bandicam so our screen recording software was taken care of. No watermarks on our products! Now for the audio. Audacity works and hell, the laptop webcam worked for our intro so why not the laptop mic for our audio? Let me tell you. That was some trash audio. Early 2000’s quality. Sounded like we were at the end of a long hallway yelling into a walkie talkie.

The only thing left at this point was to pick a game to play. We needed something exciting. Something that would grab the viewer right out of the gate. Something with great graphics and pizazz but could run on a second hand laptop… We settled on The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. For those who are unaware, this is an open world fantasy type game. It has a long boring intro that involves character creation. Once you’re done with that it’s not 100% clear cut on what you’re supposed to do next and you typically just wander around the swampy environment. The graphics aren’t exactly top quality but the content is what carried it. It just wasn’t the most exciting thing in the world to watch. Ben barely knew how to play a video game so even figuring out how to move around was a chore.

He wandered around a bit. Found some magical scrolls that let him jump super far. Proceeded to jump super far. Landed way way out in the ocean. The next 10 minutes of the LP were him attempting to swim all the way back to shore. Only to be eaten by slaughterfish (an enemy type) once he got to within sight of shore. We also never really messed with the brightness so the game was nearly impossible to see perfectly when you entered caves. I think we only ever published two episodes before the whole thing fell apart.

In a cave. You can really see everything that is happening quite clearly.

While that failed, I’ve grown older still and have never shook the desire to try again. So, I’ve got some time to kill and I might as well spend it killing in a game. I have fun writing about my experiences and I figure this is going to be equally froth with tribulation. That means it’s ripe for me to vent my frustration and share with the world my baby steps into the world of LP’s once more. Plus, god forbid anyone else want to do something like this. Maybe I’ll save them some hours of anguish.

-Arthur

P.S. This post is stickied at the top. If you want read from the beginning to the most recent post then scroll to the bottom and start working your way up.