I’ve been playing a lot of Nintendo games. Everything from Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate and Mario 3D World on the WiiU to Donkey Kong Country Returns and Pokemon on the 3DS. I’m buying up all the amiibos that I care to have and even trying to preorder a selectfew that haven’t come out yet. In fact I just preordered the Monster Hunter 4 Special Edition 3DS XL that’s set to come out on February 13th.
Damn it Nintendo. It seems like every time I start to feel like you guys are the bee’s knees you go and do something stupid to mess it up. #backwards #outoftouch
So. World of Warcraft. That game and I have a looong history together. In total I spent about 5 years of my life playing the retail version of that game. I started in late Vanilla in 2006 just a few months before the Burning Crusade expansion and played through the beginning of Cataclysm. I’ve leveled dozens of characters, played each class but rogue (ew), lead casual guilds, spent some serious quality time with the GF leveling human paladins, raided with the top guilds on my server, participated in exploration, and gained a butt ton of achievements after that feature was introduced.
Despite all my time and all the quality of life improvements over the years I found myself craving the same excitement of discovering things for the first time. I started hardcore exploration in an effort to capture the magic of discovering things for the first time … however due to the exploitative nature of exploration Blizzard seemed determined to nerf it at every turn. The way I quit wow was odd really: I bought Cataclysm, leveled to 85 and quit a week later. No real notice and no real reason. I just stopped logging on. Since then I’ve re-subbed a couple of times just to try to get that old feeling back but I can never stick around more than a week or so. Even the Hallows End event (that would be the Halloween themed holiday event) isn’t enough to keep me around more than a few days.
That was until I saw Smooth McGroove was playing Vanilla WoW last night. Yup. The Smooth McGroove that does all those AWESOME acapellas of great video game music. Somehow he was playing on a server that was only updated to WoW version 1.2.1 without the AQ gates open. Obviously he was playing on a private server but, you see, my understanding of private servers was that they were an unstable, buggy, and questionably legal. However, the server he was playing on was legit – or at least as legit as a private server could be. 1x experience rates, 1x drop rates, no stupid bonuses or free gear for donating, and the scripting for the server was supposed to be near perfect. Watching him run around vanilla Ironforge with his partially geared lvl 60 NE Hunter was enough to make me instantly download the client from the server’s website.
I would love all of you guys to join me! Here are the details:
All experience and drop rates are x1. This is the first private server I’ve come across that is truly “Blizz-like”.
Chat interaction is disabled until level 3. Just create your character and do some of the starter quests until you are lvl 3 and then you can whisper someone for a guild invite.
We are alliance side. Sorry hordies!
The guild that I’m in with Smooth is called Smooth McGuild. Simply message Whom, Sevein, Leahcimrak, Smoothling, or Killikili or an invite. ALL ARE WELCOME!
The server is based in Germany and serves a large mix of Russian and European communities. Smooth McGuild plans on upping the English speaking community during US play times.
Smooth McGrove says the guild will focus on on casually raiding all the vanilla content, doing some classic battlegrounds, world PVP, and leveling.
By the end of the stream last night the Guild was up to 38 members! I can’t tell you how cool it was to spend a couple of hours leveling in Coldridge Valley with a bunch of guildies doing the same thing. There is just something about taking the long walk from Anvilmar to Kharanos during a full vanilla blizzard (complete with amazing ambient wind sounds) that takes me right back.
Those of you who know me pretty well know that I tend to take this whole Youtube thing pretty seriously. That is, I like to analyze numbers, trends, and approaches to content. It’s just the way I’m wired – I love to analyze things. Naturally, I’ve always tried to In the past I’ve always thought that you needed to have an edge – an angle of attack for what you’re doing. With the gaming scene on Youtube (and to a lesser extent on twitch) so saturated, how are you going to get noticed if you are doing what everyone else is doing? So for the past six months that has been my focus. Gotta find my niche. Gotta have good quality content. Gotta be consistent. Gotta engage the audience. Gotta annotate, tag, network.
Turns out this approach is crap. Everyone is trying to find their niche. People making videos and livestreaming have probed damn near every orifice of video game content. Everyone has good quality video, audio, and commentary. Everyone’s grandmother can be consistent. Everyone says “comment, like, subscribe”. You think of it and everyone’s doing it. Surely there was something simple I was missing.
With this new push to really apply myself (last week not included due to Sony Vegas troubles …) I’ve been taking another long look at some of the people who I think have accomplished a lot both on Youtube and Twitch.tv. These are people I turn on to watch time and time again. Here’s a short list:
Swifty (specifically his IRL channel)
At their most basic level what do they have in common? I gone back through their old and new content and figured out exactly what makes them tick. I don’t know if I’ve found all the answers but I have found some similarities across the board:
They’re overwhelmingly positive.
They’re enthusiastic about what they do.
They give back to the community.
All these things are pretty basic but I think a LOT of people miss them when creating their content. Now that I’ve actually thought about it I can’t believe how essential each of these things feel when it comes to being successful making gaming content. IMO these are even higher priority than almost anything else a commentator can do.
In an effort to refine my thoughts on this I’ve decided to post a small series of thoughts on each of these points. Hopefully you’ll find some of this as thought provoking as I have. I’ll have a new post in a couple of days and will update this introductory post as I post additional parts.
It may be a little late to get on the resolution bandwagon (that and I really don’t believe in new years resolutions in the first place) but I’d like to make a change. The last six months I’ve felt like I just can’t keep up with youtube, livestreaming, the website, gaming – the whole thing. It all escalated to a nearly 6 week hiatus on videos. Hell I didn’t even game much outside of Planetside 2. Of course I’ve had good reason to vanish – myRL job is pretty unforgiving at times. I was tired, burnt out, the holidays, etc. etc. However, I was never happy with just up an disappearing. All my life I’ve pushed myself past a lot of obstacles and I’ve never let something like “being tired” ever get in the way of what I want to do before. Why should I start now?
Also, over the last six months, I’ve also seen people around me literally create entire jobs and careers on youtube and twitch.tv. Take for instance CobaltStreak (www.twtich.tv/cobaltstreak): he was able to start streaming Binding of Issac every day and, in less than a month had hundreds of regular viewers. In two he had a partnership. Finally, as of yesterday, he received his sub button (a process where viewers can subscribe to his channel for minor benefits but mostly to support him). In as little as 5 months he has put himself in a position to make livestreaming, playing games, and connecting with people his career.
So, instead of finding excuses I’m going to be getting after it. Here are the details:
5 youtube videos a week Friday through Tuesday: I’ve already started on this but it will continue for the foreseeable future. It may be more than 5 videos a week depending on what I need to get up but it won’t be less than 5.
New series and finishing old ones: That means the new Doom 3 BFG edition playthrough with Whitney, Terraria, Spelunky, Walking Dead. It’s time to get back to the good stuff!
1 website posting a week: Here’s this week but more will be coming up. I want this place to become a focal point of sorts. A place where you can get all the information about whats going on with me, my videos, my livestreams, and any events. The only way I can do that is by setting this place up with content!
Livestreaming … m0ar …: Now this isn’t something I can promise will happen every single day … but that is my goal. I LOVE livestreaming because it gives me a chance to connect with viewers. Take last night for example – All the livestream regulars and I discussed setting up a Minecraft server, books and being literate, and poop jokes. You just can’t get that kind of interaction through youtube and it’s something I want to do more of.
Daily Facebook and Twitter updates: Livestream times, new videos, cool links, and anything else I find interesting.
Now, to be clear, I’m not just trying to do this to make money. I make plenty for myself at my RL job and I’m relatively comfortable with what I’m doing. However, I would like to see what’s possible if I really applied myself to all of this gaming thing. In past interviews Day said he never started out trying to make a career out of his Starcraft coverage. He just did what he was passionate about and everything else kinda fell into place (including immortality … and the bitches …). Well gaming is something I’ve always been passionate about and here I have an opportunity to share that passion with people from all over the world. IMO I’d be stupid not to take this opportunity seriously!
I like Totalbiscuit. I mean a lot. I respect a lot of the work he does because I respect his morality when it comes to covering video games. He really does approach things in a way that honors the integrity of his journalist apporach. I think this is a good reason why so many people respect his opinion when he waxes philosophical on games and, in particular, people covering games. All this said however, I have to disagree with what I think he was trying to explain in his latest VLOG video: I do no think that Let’s Play content is lazy or a lesser form of entertainment IF it’s approached the correct way.
Don’t get me wrong, I totally know where he’s coming from. Hell, I get messages and comments from people advertising their LP content on my channel and I have only the smallest fraction of the viewer base that Total has. He is probably inundated with messages, comments, and twitter mentions either asking his opinion or straight up advertising their videos. I can also see that the vast majority of LP content on YouTube is … for lack of a nicer way to say this … really really bad. I don’t mean to sound elitist or mean – I have been in the same boat – but what some people try to pass off as content is exactly what Total described in his Vlog … or worse!
Does this mean that all LP content can be lumped into this same lazy category? Certainly not! Ian (Verbal Processing) and I have talked many long hours about the value of LP content as a method of channel growth and audience entertainment. We’ve both concluded that straight LP content (the kind where you press play in Fraps and then slap it on youtube) is exactly what Total is describing in the video above – LAZY. However, if one works to elevate the genre beyond the lowest common denominator, LP’s can become not just entertaining but quality videos that you can be proud of putting up on your channel.
So what can you do to elevate the genre? In my opinion the following can help:
Add an intro/outro – I’m not just talking about a user name splash screen or network moniker … I’m talking about a legit intro that encapsulates the whole series in 10-20 seconds. This gets the new viewer interested in your content right off the bat and reminds the repeat viewer where they’re heading. Changing the intro/outro slightly during a particularly long playthrough can help keep things fresh.
Cut repetitive parts – This is vital in keeping the overall pacing of the episode intact. No one wants to see you cut the same damn tree down over and over. I think I am still very guilty of leaving in parts of videos that detract from the overall quality.
Add a second commentator – I hate to pull the Yogscast card … but adding a second person to your commentary takes any video to the next level. It’s just so much more entertaining to listen to two or more people talk than just one.
Use editing effectively – Adding sound effects, music (with permission of course), and video effects to an episode can take a run of the mill video to the next level … just don’t overdo it.
Involve the audience – I’m guilty of not doing this as it can be quite difficult to implement naturally. Doing things like answering questions and selecting comments to be shown during the video can help involve the audience in new ways.
Finish your LPs – I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to this. I have several LP’s that, for various reasons, have been abandoned or I am no longer able to complete. However if you are able to complete a LP there is a good chance you will retain your audience throughout. I am now starting to advocate playing through the entire game (or portion of the game) before uploading any videos as this ensures that you will have consistent content production. This, in turn, builds viewer confidence.
Start with quality sources – this is pretty much a gimmie but having good video, audio, and commentary quality are all essential. No one wants to hear a microphone pop for 20 minutes and no one wants to listen to someone scream for 20 minutes either.
Of course no blog post would be complete without shamelessly plugging my own content … but I think that I am on the right track regarding the above points. Particularly my Jurassic Park: The Game, Terraria HARDCORE, and The Legend of Blackbeard’s Castle are all excellent examples of elevating the LP genre IMO. Here are some examples:
Jurassic Park: The Game
Of course I am in no way the authority on LPing … in fact I am still experimenting with different things to take my LP videos to the next level. However, I think many people would agree that using some of the above techniques can elevate the genre beyond what you usually see.
Now to answer Totalbiscuit’s question: YES! Please do more LP content on your channel. Once you set up a workflow for a series it becomes fairly easy to produce high quality and entertaining content in a reasonable amount of time. You can use this efficiency to post daily or semidaily videos that can be very popular with your regular viewers and generate a new angle of entertainment on your channel. If you are worried about meeting your quality standards then you, more so than most, should have the resources to raise the bar in terms of added value. LP’s (and Youtube in general) can be a lot like retail: it’s all about how much added value the salesperson (Youtuber) can bring to the customer (viewer) over the competition. You have the potential to blow the competition out of the water IMO.
Oh and one more thing: You and Jessie totally stole the Terraria split screen thing from Ian and I. ;p
Well sorry it’s been a bit since the last post – work has been keeping me pretty busy the last few weeks. With school starting again my department needs to serve a whole lot of students this year and it keeps me busy during the beginning and ends of semesters. Fortunately I’ve found enough time to post videos semi-regularly and I’ve even done a live stream or two. In case you missed it, I beat Super Mario World on the livestream!
Its taken a few weeks and I haven’t completed it 100% or anything, but was a lot of fun. I no have a few livestream regulars who come out every time I stream which is awesome. If you are one of those people, THANK YOU for the links, questions, and funny commentary. You guys are quickly making streaming one of my favorite ways of enjoying a game.
In other news:
Minecraft: Zelda Adventure has been a blast to play through so far. I’ve gotten through the fourth dungeon and man am I impressed with the detail of the mod. There are times where I honestly forgot I was playing a Minecraft mod and thought I was playing Zelda. Items like the boomerang and the spritework on the boss keys and chests really make this mod something else. (Click the cool picture to get to the playlist!)
Finally, I have just posted the last episode of my Capsized LP on my channel:
It’s been a fun ride and I really like how the game ended. For something that seems so simple, the game really added a lot of variety when it came to gameplay. There were so many different weapons to use (including the quantum WTF gun …) and each seemed to have it’s special uses in different situations. However, my favorite part of this game was definitely the physics. There is just something cool about playing a game in which you have some real control over your character’s movement but in interesting ways. Thinks like big jumps, grappling hooks, and jetpacks make one of the most boring aspects of gameplay – travel – much more fun. How many of you have wasted more than a few minutes just jumping around Mario 64? I know that I have spent hours just doing stupid stuff with all the different types of jumps available. Anyway, I have really liked Capsized and would totally recommend it to anyone. If you can pick it up on sale I would jump on it quick.
I hope you guys are having an excellent Monday! More fun stuff to come soon … as soon as work allows me.
Ok, let me explain … Sometime last week my channel passed 1,000 subscribers. I didn’t even realize it when it happened – one of my subscribers had to point it out to me. This is a huge deal for me. As I’ve described in previous posts on this site, I never really intended to do anything like a real Let’s Play channel when I first started. It was more of an experiment and to say that I’d done it. Now I get people chatting with me about my videos on League of Legends, people adding me on steam, and someone even bought me a steam game! All of this is new to me and I’m really enjoying ride. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in this just for the subscriber numbers/internet fame (although I’m not specifically opposed either ;p). However, what the numbers/comments/messages represent IS extremely important to me – they represent the support you guys have for what I do. When I see that support it really makes me feel like all the hard work I put into making the videos is worthwhile.
Anyway, I was thinking of ways to celebrate the 1,000 sub milestone and I can’t decide on one cool thing to do … so I’m going to do several things! The first is this video:
I’m also in the process of doing quite a few other things in celebration:
LP’s of Minecraft adventure maps (like the Super Hostile series)!
A few One Shots of Terraria adventure maps.
A contest video of some kind.
Perhaps some collab stuff with both Ian and a couple other awesome people!
Again, I want to encourage all of you to leave me some feedback on what you want to see both here and in the comments of the videos. I may not have the time to dedicate to the creation process that some of the big names do, but I’m sure I’ll be able to get to it eventually.
Thanks again for all your support guys! Your comments and the like make my day!
Hi guys! Sorry it’s been a while since my last post – I promise to make posting a semi-regular occurrence. A LOT of things have happened over the last week that I’d like to share:
Front Page on Terraria Online!
In the last two weeks I have been featured on the Terraria Online front page! Confuzzledyma has been kind enough to post two of my How-To Terraria Tutorial videos on the news feed of the website. You can find them here:
I’m glad that the boss guides were so well received! A big shoutout goes to Confuzzledyma and the TO team for showing me some support!
New Let’s Play: Terraria Intro
I hate having black bars around my videos. Because Terraria recorded in 800×600 resolution I had to photoshop some bars on the left and right sides of each video. While I like messing around in photoshop, I am by no means any good at it. I think the old bars look OK but they are definitely not as good as seeing a video in wide screen. However, last week the 1.03 Terraria update went live and it is now possible to record Terraria footage in widescreen on most normal resolutions! Time to create a new title intro:
This was actually a lot of fun to make. I was able to find the sounds from a royalty free source and all the movement was done in Sony Vegas. Overall, I think it turned out pretty good. Let me know what you guys think!
Sometime in the middle of last week I passed over 500 subscribers. In fact, as I type this now I have 574! This is largely due to the Terraria Online features discussed above. Still, it is AMAZING to me that so many people are enjoying what I’m doing. I really appreciate the support you guys are showing through the views, comments, thumbs, and subscriptions. Keep it up!
Anyway, I think that this will do for now. I have a couple of projects in the works so stay tuned for more info!
That’s it. I’m determined to become a youtube partner just so I can fix this damn thumbnail issue I’m having with my videos. Every few days it seems like one or two of my videos will loose their thumbnail and have the youtube default instead. The weird thing is that it seems to be different videos each time. Perhaps if I had the partner ability to upload a thumbnail for my videos I would have this problem.
In other news the Terraria Giveaway contest is now over!
The winner was AlphaKennyOne04. Yes I realized what that sounds like. Yes I loled. I’m glad some other people found it funny too. Unfortunately, there seems to be a bit of a problem with the gift code that I hope to have sorted out by tonight. Seems like the steam servers are a little slow today.
I’m already beginning to see a bit of what I’m calling “subscriber fallout.” I figured that I’d lose a few subscribers after the contest was over due to people just wanting in on the contest. For the most part I’m fine with this – hell I’d do the same. I’m just hoping that the vast majority of new subscribers stick around and start participating in the comments and whatnot. I feel really humbled by the turnout over the last week and I really hope to meet everyone’s expectations when it comes to my videos. Please, if you have any feedback let me know in a comment on my video.