Monday, November 23, 2015

Getting started doing Let's Plays?

I originally intended to post this in a reddit thread on the subject, which is in reference to this article, but the longer a comment gets the less likely I am to post it on reddit.  So instead of it having the amazing visibility it would get if I had posted it on reddit, I am instead posting it here where it'll get zero visibility.  Go me.

I've been considering recording and uploading an LP or two to YouTube, just to test the waters, but there's so much that's necessary to do these days.  Regardless of your tone and style of commentary, you have to be ridiculously professional on the backend.  The copyright and content ID systems ensure that it's really just a matter of time until you get dinged for something and then suddenly, someone else is profiting off of your hard work.  Getting permission to put the content up, as the article I'm referring to (and linked above) sort of states, varies from publisher to publisher.  Nintendo is behind the times and will claim whatever you upload, most are okay with it, and the better publishers have a publicly available YouTube video policy.

Then there's equipment costs, both hardware and software.  I'm sure my headset (the Logitech G930) is good enough to get me off the ground, but I'd need to get a professional XLR microphone and audio interface if it actually takes off.  My computer is nowhere close to recent and would need to be essentially completely replaced with all-new hardware, monitors, and peripherals, which will run me a grand at the very least.  Then comes the inevitable face reveal and real life videos, so I'd need a decent 1080p video camera to record some face-time stuff, plus a decent webcam because people like facecams for some reason.

Software-wise, my understanding is you basically need all of the recording software options because some games just refuse to be recorded by certain ones, but not others.  Therefore, it's necessary to purchase Fraps and Dxtory as well as download OBS.  Then there's the video editing software, which is stupidly expensive because the companies producing it assume everyone is purchasing it for corporate-coffer-backed enterprise-level video production.  All of that, just to get in the door, and it makes me think twice even though I really want to do it.

Then, if/when I get established, there's travel costs.  LPers have set a precedent of being accessible to their fans at events.  I do attend one video gaming event yearly (MAGFest), but this would probably mean coping with the inanity that is trying to get a badge for any of the PAXes even though they sell out within minutes of going on sale.  Ain't nobody got time for that.  Organizing meetups is another thing, and while I'm familiar with event staffing from my 9 years staffing MAGFest, I know nothing about event organization.  Then there's the rather large brick wall of me being an introvert with social anxiety.  Large gatherings exhaust me, and being around a lot of people I don't know who won't leave because they're there because I'm there kind of terrifies me.  Working through the social anxiety will make me a more fit person, yes, but the introversion is still a blockade.  I can keep up a fa├žade, but there will be hell to pay in the days afterwards.  I also know this from attending MAGFest, where I basically go full extrovert for four days, and then spend anywhere from a week to a month recovering.

I've considered just streaming, which is an option, but I don't really watch random Twitch streams.  I only ever watch streams from people I know of from elsewhere (friends in real life, Mindcrack, etc.), and I don't particularly enjoy having to devote 5+ hours of my day to watching a stream that rarely takes a break.  Is watching random Twitch streams a thing that people do?  Just randomly browse Twitch and stumble upon new-to-them streamers?  Can Twitch even be "browsed"?  Basically, it seems to make far more sense to me to build up an audience on YouTube and then transition to Twitch, even though I don't want to have an abandoned YouTube channel just sort of sitting there gathering dust and content ID claims.

Finally, there's finding my audience.  As I've stated, I'm an introvert with social anxiety.  Self-promotion basically isn't my thing.  While there's still a lot of demand for Minecraft videos, the market for those is incredibly oversaturated and you'd need an absolutely amazing never-before-seen twist to make your LP stand out from the rest.  I enjoy myself some JRPGs and racing games, but nearly all of the titles I enjoy in those genres are on console, so go back up to the hardware costs and add in a capture card and any necessary adapters for older composite-only consoles.  I also enjoy games on older consoles a bit more than games on newer consoles, simply because the hardware restrictions meant developers had to be more creative to make their games look, feel, sound, and play the way they wanted them to.  I would want the channel to have a focus on older games, which is fine, and in the genres I'm comfortable with, which is also fine.  However, once I start uploading videos, naturally, I'm going to need to strike a balance between games I personally want to play, and games my audience would like to see me play.  I suppose that would just happen naturally, but I still feel like I'd desire a level of control over it that isn't actually feasible.

So basically, doing Let's Plays is a bigger undertaking than you might have expected.  It's not just a simple "get recording software and a microphone, record game with commentary, upload to YouTube".  The higher quality your production is, the larger of an audience you'll get, and it'll be easier to keep that audience, because that's the precedent that's been set.  You can't just pull a Cinemassacre and say "lol it's just web video does HD/widescreen even matter".  The quality of your production indicates how much you care about your production, and nobody wants to watch videos on a channel where someone's just pooping out videos left and right with no thought process involved.

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