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Saturday, June 06, 2015

Let's Play Civilization V as Shoshone - my first experience with Let's Plays

I've been watching tons of Let's Plays, and eventually I decided I'm going to give it a try as well.

The first series I've made is Civilization V as Shoshone. It's 25 episodes in (a few still uploading as I'm writing this), and will probably end up at 40-something.

Recording setup

I thought about streaming, but my upload speed is so awful (at most expensive BT option available) that I don't think I'd even be able to do 720p, and I really dislike watching console quality 720p, so I'm not going to inflict that on anybody else.

I tried a few things, and Open Broadcaster Software seems to be working well enough - I had to increase bitrate a lot from its default low quality settings, but video quality was very good from episode one.

Audio was a much bigger problem. I tried to record a few videos with headset microphone, and it was just awful. So instead I got this Auna MIC-900 USB microphone. And it took a lot of tweaking to get the setup right, audio quality in the first 7 or so episodes is fairly poor - first I had microphone sensitivity too high, so there was constant background noise, then volumes between microphone and different parts of in-game audio (especially ambient sounds like cows mooing etc.) were misaligned, so it was difficult to hear me at times.

I think from episode 8 onwards audio quality is fine as well. It's not super amazing, as there's some background noise like computer fans, and a few times you can hear random sounds like Hangouts message incoming beep (which I eventually figured how to turn off on all devices) or courier buzzing.

One thing I definitely don't want is any kind of facecam. I always found them horribly distracting, and usually there's not even any good place to put them, as all of screen is used for game interface.

The game

Civilization V is a game I have mixed feelings about. Then again, my feelings about games range from outride hatred to ambivalence, so that's probably good :-). I like so much of what they've done, but I was never happy about its happiness system, and how everybody felt depressed if you play anything except very tall game while prioritizing happiness over everything. There's also a bunch of minor things I wanted to change, like balancing social policy trees, and making civilizations more distinct from each other.

Fortunately Civilization V has Steam Workshop support, so it's very easy to install a bunch of mods, and I thought they'd fix all my problems. Unfortunately it turns out the mod I wanted most of all - extra luxury resources - conflicted with another mod I added, and in the end we're back to vanilla happiness mechanics I loathe. So I did what I always do, and modded the game halfway through by setting Warlord level happiness in otherwise King difficulty game. I'm not entirely sure if that was sensible or not.

Publishing videos

I haven't given that much thought. I just use my normal Youtube account (liked with my Google account), I made one playlist, and I just add videos to it as they get uploaded.

They get pretty straightforward titles, one line description, and autosuggested tags.

One thing everybody else is doing that I haven't figured out how yet is to upload a bunch of videos in advance and automatically release them once a day or so - it's really not practical for recording and publication to be in sync, especially if I want to watch the videos before publishing them.

I just use Youtube upload feature on its website, nothing fancy. Due to my horribly upload speeds, it's taking forever, but I'm not going to downgrade to 720p or do anything awful like that.

Future plans

I hope this Let's Play series is entertaining, but it's really mostly just a test to figure out all technical details. I'm not sure where to go from there. I'll definitely record a few more games - just not CK2/EU4, that takes forever, and a lot of time would be spent on alt-tabbing to spreadsheets and such.

I might record a few videos in Polish - it's weird how little I actually speak Polish these days.

One obvious thing to do is record some programming videos, but that would require a different setup, as I really don't want to program on Windows 7 machine I do gaming and recording on.

In any case, it's been tons of fun so far. I doubt any of the videos I make will ever be popular, but as long as I'm entertained and a few people watching them are entertained, it's all good.

Content ID bullshit

Oh yeah, and I already got into Content ID bullshit. Apparently 32 seconds of one 27 minute episode matches "Light Wave - Abaji" playing in the background, and that makes youtube put ads on that episode, with money to be paid to APM Music.

There's similar automatic claim on 3 other episodes for "Blackfoot Nights - Global Journey".

Fuck Youtube for this kind of bullshit. There's not one shred of proportionality here. Sadly they have sort of monopoly on internet video. Imagine if some site like let's say imgur had similar level of power over internet images, and Content ID'd them and then put ads on the images. It's not anywhere remotely reasonable, but monopoly is monopoly and we can't do anything about it, other than turn off all in-game music (which is already paid for when purchasing the game).

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