Secret to an Epic Game Playthrough Recording

Having been addicted to gaming since the tender age of 5, and with all my experience and educational expertise on the aspects of media, language, journalism, and inst. writing, one thing I'm always confident on is that it goes without saying nearly no one does a better job at guides/walkthroughs than myself.

Years ago, I jumped on the bandwagon of committed gamers dedicating time and skill to the churning out of impossibly detailed, indexed, lengthy, good old-fashioned ASCII-garnished text guides/walkthroughs, faqs, and synopses. Like the games themselves, a great guide involves a lot of time, expertise, and work, but the challenges are all part of the fun to a writer.

Yet doing betas on certain users' drafts or having to improve on or make up for others' blatant mistakes was something I should've expected, but never could get over. Poor grammar and spelling, incomplete work, theories under the guise of certainties, to downright inaccurate or plain incorrect strategy and information - I never thought I'd see worse from anyone daring to label themselves a decent writer, let alone any kind of useful aide to the player.

So for the most part, I often find it necessary to publish elsewhere, create challenge works to amend for others' shortcomings, or take longer-than-necessary breaks in between new guide releases. Either way, I remain a constant player and die-hard fan of my chosen genres.

And there are those times running through a game seems tedious. Usually this is due only to the fact I've played the title 100 times and are only momentarily piqued by the prospect of revisiting a few fun and memorable aspects again. As a result, I'd gone into the habit of tucking away the box instead, to search out a different means of enjoying a familiar experience quickly, without the hassle of leaving my system on day and night, skipping out on sleep for the sake of needing that particular level reached before considering myself prepared to proceed, or putting in so much serious effort only to change my mind halfway through anyway.

This means I speak of, of course, involves the unfortunate experience of viewing video playthroughs.


Unfortunate, I call it, as the vast majority of my experiences in viewing these projects are wrought with more cringing, facepalms, and boredom than these bastardized game titles ever deserve. What I've beheld is probably a worse offense than the most pulled-outta-the-ass info you could ever find in a text guide.

Originally it was a means of entertainment, and at times, I still enjoy viewing a playthrough of a title I have sitting two feet away from me - except now, it's usually my own, thanks to the old challenging spirit in me causing a shift from simple text guides to both text AND video aids. Not for nothing, but apparently, peeps desperately needed it.

It isn't about showboating as much as some would like to think. It's more about principle, in a way. As a guide to the player you hold a certain level of responsibility, authority, and those looking up to you for said guidance have a level of expectation you just cannot fail them on.

As a result of which, I had devised a personal set of rules and requirements regarding these notions long ago, and although at the moment I seem one of few people to keep these things ever in mind, the result has come back to me tenfold, with readers, viewers, and casual gamers from everywhere clamoring for more. I never see this type of response for anyone with one or two exceptions, and don't think I have in over 10 years. These rules, mottoes, and staples of my work go beyond my signature and into serving as a tacked-on-profile reminder to others doing the same to prioritize before whoring for subscriptions:

1.  Get off your ass and invest in an HD PVR and video-editing systems.

I don't think I've placed a camera in front of a television set for capturing video since I was 15, and that was in the days before this technology, when we had VHS in our units at AV/TV classes.

Ergo, there is no fucking excuse to even hint that you consider yourself a playthrough recorder if you use this stone-age method for anything. Video should always be captured using PVR technology designed for gaming, to later be uploaded and edited. ( I've used Dazzle by Pinnacle Hi-Speed)

And if you're going with a PVR, always make it HD. Even if you don't watch HD cable, or don't seem to notice the difference between HD and Standard def., you will once you try it with your game recordings. The quality with HD is just outstanding, and is like night and day. Where Standard def. recordings are prone to noise, smaller captures, and uber-dark environments upon upload, HD will make it so the picture you and viewers see is the same as when you're sitting 5 feet away from your TV, watching this shit real-time.

And of course, for your viewers as much as yourself, you want to give the very best quality and experience possible.

2.  In video, you have a playthrough, not a walkthrough. 

A "walkthrough" is what we call those all-text projects used to guide a player - and have labeled them as such for decades now. They're a means for providing a step-by-step guide that may or may not involve uber-spoilers, and most importantly, can enlighten players without ruining the element of experience that comes with them seeing and hearing the game in question. You do not have the same thing by fucking up a game, recording it, and deciding to post it on a vid-hosting site under the label of "walkthrough".

If your purpose in jumping right to video is to aid the player, it's a good indicator real walkthroughs are foreign to you, and as such, you'll miss the fundamentals of what it means to produce a helpful and enlightened guide. Playing the game and recording it all while labeling it as help doesn't exactly walk a player through their own efforts and probably won't help them anyway - it only shows them your own strategy (or lack thereof) and ruins the novelty for newcomers. Therefore, if video is what you're doing, remind viewers it is mainly for entertainment purposes only, and suggest a text walkthrough for in-depth help before referring to your project.

3.  KNOW what the hell you're doing.  

Whether your aim is to provide entertainment, or to actually try and aid someone, the means are wasted effort when the ends showcase a severe lack of skill, knowledge, strategy, control, and familiarity. If you're going to take on the role of guide, in text or in video, it's your responsibility to KNOW the game inside and out, to the point where others would believe you made it your damn self. A guide should NEVER even be attempted unless you've run through the title at least two or three times, have obtained all available extras and secrets, left no stone unturned, are comfortable in your own personal and very feasible strategies, and have a finished product which acts as an exemplary showcase of skill in said game title, easily within the ranks of canon plays for anyone wanting to get a taste of what it's like to try it out.

4.  DO NOT fuck around.  

Leaving your character standing idle while you go use the shitter, forcing viewers to watch you re-organize your entire inventory, running all the way to a boss room only to turn around and put viewers through a 10-minute detour highlighting your return to some dead area to pick up a useless item, entire segments of your project being rendered meaningless since you actually recorded a death and have to start over at a -15 min. save point anyway...

These are unfathomable sins in the realm of vid recordings in gaming, and should never occur. If these few highlights are examples of what's included in your playthrough, kill yourself. You've just wasted more space on youtube, and pissed off a shitload of viewers.

It isn't enough to just use a PVR, you also have to use editing software to perfect your product. Going through the finished play once, twice, or more is necessary to ensure you've worked out all the kinks and can provide a seamless, unencumbered journey from start to finish. If deaths occur, eliminate them. If screwing with inventory or equippable items is necessary, but time-consuming and redundant, use a recurring indicator to alert the viewer: speed up that portion of the segment, do a fade-in/out, use a pop-up message over a black screen, anything.

5.  Never, EVER open your mouth.

Probably the most heinous of game playthrough acts, nothing - NOTHING - is more apt to annoy, enrage, turn off, and disgust a viewer than when you flap your fucking gums every second of the game. Whether it's a simple greeting or the sound of you blowing your snot, once any noise from your sorry ass is detected by the viewer, the entire project is a fail.

The second I try to check out someone's playthrough and hear anything - I immediately move on. Your endeavor is a bust, and it's not only due to the idea the viewer's experience is ruined - even if they've played the game 100 times - but because you have NOTHING to say that will help in any way, shape, or form.

After all, this is supposed to be the entire reason you call this poor run of the game a "walkthrough", right? Passing such a project off as a total start-to-finish aide already ruins the novelty and excitement factor... so why make it ten times worse by talking over it to begin with?

It's because 9 out of 10 times this poster has no fucking clue what they're doing anyway. If they had any skill the likes of which they could pass up the text explanation to jump right into a hands-on example, they would never need to speak on top of having it right there in your face.

And anyway, those 9 out of 10 times the speak normally has nothing to do with the game at all. Eating, drinking, belching, omg's, feigning surprise or horror at scenes, explaining what they do (as everyone fucking sees it anyway), chatting away like the viewer is a friend or worse, chatting with a friend already sitting next to you - is rude, annoying, retarded, gives no special or additional help, and ruins the atmosphere and concentration.

Besides, not myself, nor anyone else, cares about how well you think you can do at the game (100% of the time, these people are HORRIBLE at it), how confident you are in your horrible strategies, where you're from, what your name is, or any other pointless drivel you seriously believe anyone's gonna sit longer than 30 seconds to hear anyway. There's a huge parallel between horrible players and gum flapping in the first place, I've found... since as a cardinal rule, you either focus on your game, or you focus on your ego - and in every wasteful instance like this, there is NEVER both.

If you do find some extra words are necessary for clearing the air at any point, it's as simple as video editing. Place a few lines of text at the head or foot of your video, and keep them game-related - no omg's, mindless chatter, or space-sucking editorials.

Were all these pointers followed, any game recording would be a valuable and enjoyable experience for all who view. Unfortunately, good ones are so few and far between, it might be more entertaining to watch your 5-year-old nephew mess around on your console for a few hours, and watch him run around in circles through clouded and cracked sunglasses.

Watching these travesties grow in number monthly can be enough to give you an aneurysm, but remember there are a few out there that definitely know what they're doing. Seek the best out, and scorn the rest - just be prepared, you'll need a lot of scorn.
Uploaded 08/09/2011
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