How do I make a decent gameplay video?
May 18, 2014 6:34 AM   Subscribe

I've been working on a computer game for a while. Apparently, a whole lot of people use YouTube videos as the primary means to find out about games. This is utterly alien to me, so I could really use some advice.

  • How do you convince YouTube to choose a decent default resolution for your videos? I've uploaded videos at both 800x600 and 720x540 resolution, and YT inevitably downsamples them to 360p by default, which looks awful.
  • What kinds of tools should I use? I have access to Mac/Win/Linux machines with a slight preference for doing this on a Mac. I'm currently using fraps for video recording but I'm completely at sea about what to use for editing. I'd like to be able to cut the video, zoom in when needed, and arrange additional audio tracks on top.
  • Are there any conventions for promoting/tagging gameplay videos I should be aware of?
In general, I'm just pretty lost here. I am not a video-watching person. I want to take in information in written form. But a large chunk of potential players clearly feel completely differently.
posted by Zarkonnen to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'm only just diving into it, myself, but Lightworks has a free version. It's pretty Serious Business, so not sure how easy a step it would be for someone who hasn't used non-linear editors before (I'm biased -- cut my teeth on Premiere, various flavors of Avid, and Final Cut). For capture, a lot of people seem to be using Open Broadcasting System. It's nominally a streaming tool, but it also supports disk capture.

You may want to capture and upload at 720p or 1080p. I know you're rockin' the pixel art (I'm following your MFC thread), but I'd call HD a convention, even if it's a bit gratuitous in this case.

I'm not hugely involved in YT culture, and mostly when I watch videos, it's reviews/how-tos from fans, not developers promoting their own work, so I don't have a ton of helpful advice there. You might want to look at some other indie developers and see if you can extract what's working for them.

It does seem like one relatively common thing is to re-record the audio track after the video track. This lets you focus on getting each thing right in isolation, and lets you cut around "um, ah" and pauses in the audio without slicing up the video. I can see arguments for and against.

Get a good mic! The Blue Yeti and Snowball are both USB, easy to set up, and pretty good. You can get more specialized and maybe save some money buying lower quality a la carte, but the Blue stuff is very simple to use.
posted by Alterscape at 7:03 AM on May 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I do "Let's Plays" for YouTube. I use Open Broadcasting System and edit using Sony Movie Studio, which has a free 30 day trial but is $40 after that.

I recommend recording the video (and video sound) ahead of time, and then doing any audio commentary after the fact using a good mic and Audacity, which is free audio recording and editing software. Look into "autoducking" with Audacity, which will turn down the game audio when you are talking, but keep it loud and exciting when you're not.

As for content, I'm not sure what kind of game you're making but I think I would make a video displaying some of the game's non-spoilery highlights -- something with mechanics -- and a voice over of you talking about what the game is, why you decided to make it, and why people will enjoy it.

Keep in mind that YouTube is totally short attention span theatre. You are way better off making multiple short videos (under 10 minutes) than one long one.
posted by jess at 11:55 AM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Whaddya know, I actually put together a handy-dandy guide for recording game footage in Windows, for the use of my Arma group. Not all of it is relevant to you, but the recording guides should be of some help at least.
posted by Drexen at 8:22 AM on May 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

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