Monday, June 24, 2013

Episode 73: Let's Play Videos

This is episode 73 of Roguelike Radio, on Let's Play Videos. Speaking this episode are Darren Grey, KawaiDragoness, Tom Birkel (aka GameHunter) and Eric Moran (aka belmarduk).

You can download the mp3 of the podcast, play it in the embedded player below, or you can follow us on iTunes.

Topics discussed:
 - GameHunter's roguelike Let's Play channel, with the recent amazing feat of playing 146 of the 2013 7DRLs
 - Eric's Let's Play series, including long series of ToME4 Let's Plays
 - Kawa's Let's Play videos, including her ASCII Dungeon series
 - Darren's ADOM and ToME4 videos
 - The aid of Let's Plays in getting into games that are otherwise hard to pick up quickly, in particular making roguelikes more accessible
 - Youtube videos as advertisement for games
 - How failing a lot in a roguelike is entertaining for a Let's Play video
 - The skill of picking up roguelikes and their mechanics quickly
 - The value of feedback for developers watching Let's Plays
 - Knowing the game vs going in blind, and the advantages and disadvantages of each
 - How much people tend to edit
 - The challenge of playing, thinking and speaking at the same time
 - Tools used: CamTasia, Youtube editing, Fraps, VirtualDub, ZDSoft, Bandicam, AVISynth
 - Livestreaming and live server play
 - Problems recording certain games and pet peeves on game options, resolutions, etc
 - The importance of making a game friendly to Let's Players, and of making a short video yourself to advertise the game
 - The trouble with recording ASCII
 - Some advice on things to avoid when recording Let's Plays and what to do well
 - Kawa has a neat idea: developers should do Let's Plays of their own games with commentary insights into the design process!
 - The superiority of roguelikes for Let's Plays (procedural content making every play unique)
 - More Let's Play and videos of roguelikes are needed, especially by devs!
 - The value of feedback

Join us next time on Roguelike Radio for more roguelike-y stuff!


  1. I LPed two of my own games (Encircled and Mutant Aliens!) at . For the same reasons as Darren, I declined to make any audio commentary - instead I went through immediately after upload and added annotations explaining what I was doing and why.

    A lot of ASCII games (ones that run in system terminal emulators) can have font sizes changed simply by changing the settings.

    You can do the same with libtcod games - simply replace the font image (normally terminal.png) with one of your own choice. As long as the characters are arranged in the same way, the library will have no problem reading them

    Simply scaling up the original image does a lot for readability, and there are a lot of alternative 16x16 fonts in the libtcod download.

    1. Some ASCII games (DCSS, Frozen Depths) make that easier than others (ADoM) - well, at least on Windows 7. I hadn't thought about replacing the font image for libtcod games before - I may have to experiment with that!

    2. Alas, I haven't found a way to get ADOM to look very nice in high resolutions. One option is to download the DOS version, play in DOSBOX, and experiment with the display settings in dosbox.conf. I haven't tried very hard to find good settings, but the terminal font in DOSBOX is a bit icky when scaled up.

    3. DOSBox is the way to go, lots of font options that way.

  2. Thanks for having me again! This was fun!

    Quick links of some of the LPers mentioned:

    ChuggaConroy plays Nintendo games, edits beautifully and does what I call "expert" commentary - linear games with metainformation about the game's creation from a fan's perspective
    Vechs develops difficult Minecraft custom maps and does developer commentaries on them. He also plays Towns and Mount and Blade Warband; and of minor interest to roguelike folks, did an ancient review of DoomRL from a keyboard-only gaming perspective
    RoguesWonderland has Rogue, Dwarf Fortress, DoomRL, Brogue, and you should bother her to play DCSS :3

    Hopefully we'll get that Sword of the Stars: The Pit episode to happen - we're having some trouble with scheduling, but hopefully we'll make something work.

  3. Excellent discussion, a lot of insight into Let's Plays and mindsets of Let's Players.

    Definitely a practice that should be looked into more often by people whether developers of games, basic players, and whoever else; it true is an open field for joining.

    A Big Thanks for this episode.

  4. -Fun TotalBiscuit fact---he's an old guard on some of the Roguelikes of yore, actually was QUITE a fan of Zangband if I remember his wistful recollecting correctly (Or maybe it was Z+, but still and perhaps explains a tad of why Dredmor jumped out to him as much as it did). Part of me wonders just how he would react if it ever somehow resurrected in a grand/modern style---same for a fair bit of the RockPaperShotgun folks as there was apparently just something about that variant in particular, maybe sort of a regional UK thing?

    -So glad to see the moment of truth for the Orc Breeding Pits was addressed---that was great!

    -Once the ADOM Resurrection is duly complete, I reckon the game will see a massive surge in interest and intrigue for LP endeavors given the new lore, quests, plot, graphical tileset, sound, etc.

    Quite a fun episode!

  5. Great episode!

    My only comments is about the "What don't you like about let's plays" section.

    As someone who only watches Let's Plays (and is a big fan), I have to say that I disagree with a lot of people's comments: Don't laugh, don't play with friends, don't play games that other people have played before, keep on subject, etc.

    I know that these are 4 people's comments condensed into one, but I disagree in that this whole genre developed naturally from people just wanting to play games and record them, and I think putting too much restriction on them is a little stifling and taking what Let's Plays are a little too seriously. These are just people playing games and talking about them, and if you don't like how someone's playing it there are literally thousands of other people to watch.

    I get that these were answers to a specifically asked question, but I guess this just would have been my answer if I was on the episode and you asked me :)

    1. I actually disagree with Eric here - which is why I said "I'm going to have to contrast you on this" and emphasized what I *like* seeing over what I *don't* like seeing. (Really, the only thing I don't like seeing is excessive awkward silence, and even then I understand as an LPer gets over the performance anxiety.)

      Many LPers are much, MUCH better when commentating with others cooperatively versus trying to do it alone - I see this a lot in the Minecraft custom maps community. (To wit, one of my favorite LPs is completely ridiculous/stupid to watch from a "good play" perspective, but is so hilarious it's worth it - OOG Legendary Failures. Be warned if you search it, the humor can get very inappropriate very fast, but still...worth it.) It's easier to hold a conversation than talk to yourself, after all, regardless of whether or not anyone wants to hear that conversation.

      The trouble with roguelikes though is that the vast majority of them are single player, and it's hard to justify having someone else there when you play alone. It would be interesting to have a co-op playthrough/guild of mmoRL or friends hanging out and playing Versus Time, though!

      Still, it's true, "color commentary" and off-topic chat isn't for everyone, and there are really great LPers who avoid it. But as I said, after a point people are watching for the commentator as much as they are for the game, and it's okay for LPers to relish in that if that's what they prefer.

    2. I'll just say that I enjoy LPs the most when they stick to the traditional style: exciting and relatively unique gameplay throughout with insightful commentary pertaining to the game and/or metagame. Doing that in a spontaneous format (i.e., unscripted and in one take) is extremely difficult to pull off and I doubt very much the extent of my own skill, even after a couple years' worth of practice. Even if I'm good on the mic, I have a long way to go if I want to pump out consistently good videos, to speak nothing of investing the effort to edit properly and maybe even make title cards or something.

      This isn't to say that I don't enjoy any game videos that get off track... I just don't particularly think of them as LPs. It would be like if you were watching a football game with sportscasters and they were barely focusing on the game and instead delving into how many ways you could kill someone with the ball, or where the fans got all those team gadgets from, or last Friday night at the bar, or any number of things. It could easily be entertaining with the right people... but I switched to that channel to watch the game. That's why, when I mentioned Game Grumps, I didn't want to include it as a "Let's Play channel" because it's not that at all, nor do the creators pretend that it is: it's a social event of two guys having fun, part of which happens to be playing a video game.

      This is entirely my perspective on the matter, however. When I want to play games with people, my focus is on the "play games", not "play with people". That's just who I am.


  6. I just turned 36, had a son 4 weeks ago and work a lot, have 2 dogs and together with my wife I have 4 horses.
    I used to be a gamer. Now I just don't have it on my list of priorities. :)

    Let's Play channels on youtube is a blessing for me. I can find old games which light that nostalgic flame and see them played and usually with humorous "narration", new games to keep รก jour with the goings on and weird games that I'd never would have come across otherwise.

    Thanks to Exoterius I tried Caves of Qud, thanks to MynameisnotLilly I replayed Fallout (1 & 2), thanks to jefmajor I could keep on with fortress mode in Dwarf Fortress and watch him die in adventure mode...
    Zemalf's Cataclysm LP is great and in general his slow phased thoughtful style is super sweet.

    Without "Let's Players" I'd miss a whole lot of 'gaming'. :)

    And this podcast is a regular on my commute to work, thanks a lot for that.

  7. NotEye has an ability to record videos. Compared to YouTube, it has the following pros and cons:

    (pro 1) no problems with compression (NotEye saves the game data, and the viewer renders the screens at full quality)
    (pro 2) viewers can change the NotEye settings (font, window size, even the graphical mode)
    (pro 3) other than NotEye, no extra software is required to record
    (pro 4) viewers can watch the video at their own preferred speed
    (pro 5) small file size (hopefully, I have not checked this)
    (con 6) the viewer needs to manually download both NotEye and the recording
    (con 7) no audio commentary (maybe something to work on in the future versions of NotEye, I don't know how hard would it be to add this)

    Anyway, since the upcoming graphical version of ADOM uses NotEye (although in the current prerelease recording works only with ASCII), it would be quite easy to overcome (con 6) by creating a server which allows sharing the recordings... I am not sure whether the ADOM team itself has resources for this, but it could be done by fans, at least.

  8. I agree with the speakers here about Game Hunter's ability to learn games quickly. He picks up in minutes things that have taken me hours to realise. It's quite a skill.

    I think one of the benefits of roguelikes for Let's Playing is that death often comes quickly, so (at least up the point that the player becomes very proficient) roguelikes lend themselves to an episodic format.

  9. YFW when Kawa tells Kawa to LP his own game.

  10. Hey quick q. Someone mentioned they liked the Chocobo roguelike.. did they mean the one for PS1 or for Wii?

    1. I wasn't on this episode but I say that all the time. And both versions really. But they're more about relaxed fun than deep tactical thought.

    2. Ah, which one did you like for the plot?

  11. Inspired by this episode, I just uploaded a Let's Play of my 7DRL:

    1. As have I! (And I feel guilty that Niall beat me to it :P)

  12. My pet peeve for let's players is people who respond to conversations in the game, usually trying (and failing) to make witty remarks about every line every character says.

  13. Oh gawd!

    Why didn't I "Let's Play" both Suncrusher and KlingonRL? I feel dumb.

  14. Great episode; it inspired me to do a Let's Play of my game Kerkerkruip:

    Many more will presumably follow. :-)

  15. i love lets play videos, if im not doing anything important, then im watching lets plays

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