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LP guide for newbies

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We have created a basic guide to creating a Let's Play. Just remember that a good LP usually depends on the person along with the methods of recording, etc..

What is an LP, anyway?Edit

LP (Let's Play) is the practice of recording oneself playing a video game and making a running commentary on it. There are two types of Let's Play: the Screenshot LP, and the Video LP. LPs can be made using video or simply images along with text commentary. Most publish their LPs on public websites such as YouTube.

A LP is not simply a series of videos of a person playing a video game. The commentary is what separates LPs from simple gameplay videos. If you don't include commentary on your videos, then you aren't making a Let's Play, but rather a walkthrough or playthrough.

Selecting a GameEdit

See also: Games You Should Not LP

So, now you have decided to make an LP. The first thing you must do is decide what game to play. This is a tricky decision. If one were to ask twenty seasoned LP'ers what the best sorts of games to LP are, one would likely receive twenty different answers.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when picking a game, especially for your first Let's Play, is to pick a game you will enjoy. If it's your first Let's Play, a game you have passionately played at least a couple times will make a much better Let's Play than something you don't enjoy. For your first Let's Play, picking a game you already know by heart will make coming up with commentary for the game much easier for you.

Generally speaking, LP of games that are overexposed are discouraged, if only because people are bound to find someone else they enjoy more with the hundreds of people who have LPed the game before you. However, considering that basically every video game has at least 2 Let's Plays of it, you shouldn't let the fact that other people have played your game discourage you from Let's Playing it. Every person is different, so every person has the potential to bring something new with their commentary that other Let's Players haven't.

It is also discouraged to Let's Play games just as they are released. While it may be tempting to LP a game right when it is released to be "the first person to LP a game", this should never be your only purpose behind Let's Playing a game. In the LP community there is a general 3 month wait rule from a game's release before you start Let's Playing it. While no one is going to force you to follow this rule, there are good jusifications behind its existance. For one, this gives your subscribers a chance to play the game for themselves before you go spoiling the game for them, or force them not to watch or even unsubscribe from you until they finish the game. The second major reason behind this rule is so you can get to play the game for yourself and become familar with it. This will allow you do to have better commentary on the game because you actually are famliar with it. Obviously this won't work for blind playthroughs, but it is still worth keeping note.

Blind Let's Plays (Let's Plays of games you have never played before) should generally be avoided unless you have good improvisation skills and can come up with commentary on the spot. The reason is that it is difficult to come up with commentary on a game that you have little to no experience playing, as well as having a greater potential of missing key items in the game that many subscribers might frown upon. This is not a rule set in stone in the Let's Play community, but it is one to consider when wanting to record an LP of a game you have never played before.

In addition, one should avoid playing highly repetitive video games, such as MMORPGs or others that involve lots of "grinding," unless you are ready for serious editing. Few people will be interested in watching you do the same thing over and over. So if you do an LP of these sorts of games you better be prepare to cut and in rare cases speed up repetive actions.

When to cut and when to not is a skill you will develop over time so if you are feeling uncertain if a game is too repetitive or not, you might be better LPing a different game if it is your first one.

Recording VideoEdit

Q. What do I need to record games?
A:Before you begin, you are going to need software and hardware. If you are going to do console games, you will need to purchase a capture card with any additional equipment needed. A popular choice of capture card is the Dazzle DVC100, which suits most people that don't need to record in HD or simply want to start with something cheap. If you don't plan on doing console games, but rather PC games, then there are many software programs out there that do what you need. Here is a list:
  • D3DGear: D3DGear is very fast video game recording software for PC, it allows user to record video game to HD movie without slowing down game. D3DGear is perfect for LP because it also provides microphone recording feature. This is a paid program, but there is a trial version available.
  • NVIDIA GeForce Experience: Amazing and free, ShadowPlay allows the recorder to stream to Twitch and record. A recently added feature allows ShadowPlay to record something AFTER the player has performed a stunt, instead of the player manually starting the recording and performing the stunt.
  • LoiLo Game Recorder: LoiLo Game Recorder is a completely free game capture software for Windows PC. It is extremly easy to use, fast and with minimal performance loss. Additional to the captured game content, other audio (like Skype) is recordable as well. LoiLo Game Recorder comes together with a trial version of the video edit software LoiLoScope.
  • Fraps: This records high-quality video of 3D games. However, it is very system-intensive. A demo version is available for free, but it only records for 30 seconds and applies an unsightly watermark onto the video.
  • DxTory : This program is a lot like Fraps, in that you can record games. The better part about this software is that you can customize it more than Fraps. It runs around the same price as Fraps.
  • Camtasia: This program can record either your entire screen or a select area of it. It is also very system-intensive and requires a fast computer to avoid slowdown. This is a paid program, but there is a trial version available.
  • SMRecorder : This program is an easy to use laptop recorder that can record both desktop video and audio in AVI format. You can choose to not just record the screencast but also create a video from webcam and record sound from the attached device(s), e.g. michrophone.
  • CamStudio : This program can record either your entire screen or a select area of it. It very much like Camtasia but has a 2GB File Size limit on the recording files so for most people, this is not optimal.
  • Xfire.com: This is not just a video recorder but an all-in-one online gaming utility. It allows players to network with other gamers and gaming clans, record hours played, use a built-in web-browser without exiting a game, and much more. Oh, and it records video, too. It is completely free. Unfortunately, it uses its own video codec which is prone to bugging out inside of video editing programs. It also only works with a few hundred specific games.
  • ZD Soft Game Recorder: A simple video recorder that does not use up much processing power.
  • ScreenFlow: A screencasting program for the mac which is considered the 'Fraps' of the mac community. It is able to record desktop video and audio as well as webcam video and microphone audio simultaneously. It also comes with an in-built video editor. A demo version is available with limited features and a watermark. 
  • Hauppauge HD PVR: This is some of the highest quality hardware you can get for recording game footage, particularly for the PS3, 360 and Wii U, and has some great features such as being able record audio from a plugged-in microphone along with the footage and to livestream directly to websites such as Twitch. Relatively inexpensive ($180 at the highest), the newest version (and recommended for Mac users) is the HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition.
  • Open Broadcast Software: Really good recorder, mainly used for streaming, but can also record videos. Quality is the same as Fraps but it's completly free and files are not too big: a 20-minute video has around 500MB. You can also stream or adjust the quality of your recordings.
  • Elgato Game Capture HD: Another one of the most powerful capture cards you can get. It costs around £/$150. Unlike the HD PVR, the Elgato has HDMI ports, can record composite and component, and most of all... record PS3 games. The software allows for streaming to Twitch or YouTube and can record live commentary very easily.
Q. Alright, I found a recorder that suits my needs. What now?
A: Now that you've found your recorder, you will likely want to get used to how it works. Various tutorials exist on the internet on how to get the best out of your chosen software. When you've gotten the software set up for optimal settings for your set up, you should begin recording. Recording Methods

Recording AudioEdit

First of all, decide whether you want to do live commentary or post commentary, as it will likely affect your setup. Whichever one you decide, keep a good distance from the microphone, usually good distance would be when you don't hear your own breathing. Move the microphone above or below your mouth.

Next thing to find out is whether your video recording tool also records audio. If not, move your speakers close to your microphone so that it picks up the audio. If your video software also records the game's audio, then you may want to consider linking your console, if this is the type of game you are doing, directly to your computer to avoid unwanted sound from being picked up by your microphone. For post commentary, capturing from your TV is fine.

If the game audio is desynched with the gameplay, the best piece of software to fix this is VirtualDub, a free piece of software that will synchronize the game audio with the gameplay.

A good microphone is essential to the quality of your project, so don't spare resources to buy a decent one! After recording, don't forget to remove noise with a filter that you can find in most audio editors, like Audacity.

More Let's Play AdviceEdit

This playlist has a list of videos that offer useful advice for any new and upcoming Let's Players. The advice ranges from picking a game, working on your commentary, how to record your videos, getting recognition, and more.

This video (The Art of the Let's Play) by X shows his process of post-editing a LP episode. Has specially good advice on sound treatment

Choosing a Game to Let's Play

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