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  #1  
Old 05-15-2008, 01:13 PM
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Default Let's Play Tech Thread (Problems, Suggestions, etc.)

Any talk about emulators, image hosts, screenshot or video programs, etc. should go here.

Guides
A quick guide to encoding with MediaCoder

A basic guide to encoding with VirtualDub

Dealing with audio desync

Useful Programs
Camtasia is an excellent screen recording program that costs $300 unless you screw around with your PC's clock to keep the 30-day trial period going forever.

CamStudio is a less powerful recording program, but it's free, significantly simpler (and easier to use), and it does what it needs to. Also it's free.

MediaCoder is a very good program for recompressing video, plus it's easy to crop and resize.

VirtualDub is also an excellent program that can record video and then do things with that video, but it's not for people who don't know what they're doing (like me, half the time).

Audacity is a free program that makes recording and editing audio easy. It is good.

IrfanView is great for taking screen caps and doing batch recompression, cropping, renaming, etc. to pictures.

Last edited by Gredlen; 12-01-2008 at 11:53 AM.
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Old 05-15-2008, 01:14 PM
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Thank's for starting this thread. My run for Wonder Boy III is probably going to be the PCE/TG-16 version. Problem: I've never used any emulator for that system. Is there a recommended emulator - perhaps one that also offers video? I'm running Windows Vista.
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Old 05-15-2008, 01:18 PM
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This is a good thread to put this here where all potential LPers are likely to see it:

Doing a Let's Play is a LOT more work than you are expecting. No, no, even more work than that.

They're fun to read and fun to write, but remember you not only have to play [your favorite game], but you have to show it off, which might mean playing sections that aren't your favorite, or playing it in a way you're not used to, or in a way you're not familiar with. Compiling screenshots and doing the actual write-ups are no small task, either.

I don't want to discourage anyone (because I do want to see lots and lots of these, and maybe do more myself in the future), but I also don't want to see you start one without knowing what you're getting into and then abandon it.
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Old 05-15-2008, 01:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brickroad View Post
Doing a Let's Play is a LOT more work than you are expecting. No, no, even more work than that.
For me, I'm using it as an opportunity to expose folks to a (pretty good!) game they might have otherwise passed up. That makes any amount of work worthwhile!

(and yes, there will be some sequence-breaking involved)
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  #5  
Old 05-15-2008, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by djSyndrome View Post
(and yes, there will be some sequence-breaking involved)
Just so you know, this got the same reaction out of me as if you had said "Brick, it's time for your free ice cream sundae and lap dance!"
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Old 05-15-2008, 01:26 PM
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Yeah, you guys have been setting the bar pretty high with these LPs. I'd hate to see a decline in quality after such a strong start.
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  #7  
Old 05-15-2008, 01:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djSyndrome View Post
Thank's for starting this thread. My run for Wonder Boy III is probably going to be the PCE/TG-16 version. Problem: I've never used any emulator for that system. Is there a recommended emulator - perhaps one that also offers video? I'm running Windows Vista.
MagicEngine is a pretty great emulator, but it doesn't have built-in video taking aaand the full version will set you back about $23 unless you feel like donning the eyepatch. I don't know how Vista compatibility is, either, but there is a demo version you could try.

You might want to try Mednafen. I've never heard anything about it, but I don't keep tabs on the TG16 emulation scene. It's free, so it certainly couldn't hurt to give it a shot.

Since I'm planning on doing some video for my own LP, I've been keeping an eye out for good programs. I've heard good things about VirtualDub, but I'm still in the midst of trying it out for myself so I can't say much about it right now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brickroad View Post
This is a good thread to put this here where all potential LPers are likely to see it:

Doing a Let's Play is a LOT more work than you are expecting. No, no, even more work than that.

They're fun to read and fun to write, but remember you not only have to play [your favorite game], but you have to show it off, which might mean playing sections that aren't your favorite, or playing it in a way you're not used to, or in a way you're not familiar with. Compiling screenshots and doing the actual write-ups are no small task, either.

I don't want to discourage anyone (because I do want to see lots and lots of these, and maybe do more myself in the future), but I also don't want to see you start one without knowing what you're getting into and then abandon it.
I think a "How to LP" thread would actually be pretty great on its own.
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Old 05-15-2008, 01:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gredlen View Post
I think a "How to LP" thread would actually be pretty great on its own.
-Play the game, take screenshots of interesting and/or important things
-Sequence break if possible. This makes things more interesting to people who have played before.
-Write up posts
-Occasionally ask for direction from the peanut gallery
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Old 05-15-2008, 01:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gredlen View Post
MagicEngine is a pretty great emulator, but it doesn't have built-in video taking aaand the full version will set you back about $23 unless you feel like donning the eyepatch.
Whaaaaa? When I got a legitimate key via the Magic Engine site, they were only charging 10 bucks for it. Inflation must have hit them hard.

Quote:
Since I'm planning on doing some video for my own LP, I've been keeping an eye out for good programs. I've heard good things about VirtualDub, but I'm still in the midst of trying it out for myself so I can't say much about it right now.
From what I hear, VD is more of a video encoder and editor (at least, that's the major use I get out of it.) AFAIK, it's not a dedicated video capture app, though it can receive a streaming feed from other applications and re-encode on the fly.
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Old 05-15-2008, 01:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheSL View Post
-Play the game, take screenshots of interesting and/or important things
-Sequence break if possible. This makes things more interesting to people who have played before.
-Write up posts
-Occasionally ask for direction from the peanut gallery
It's not a bad format, but there is certainly a LOT more than can be done with an LP.
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  #11  
Old 05-15-2008, 01:49 PM
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Quote:
For me, I'm using it as an opportunity to expose folks to a (pretty good!) game they might have otherwise passed up. That makes any amount of work worthwhile!
That's the reason I'm doing mine. I just know for sure that my next one will be of a game that I can goddamn screencap without having to resort to a digital camera or cell phone (which means something that'll run under DOSBox or SCUMMVM).

Also: Try not to start writing when you're going to be out of town for a wedding a week later.
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Old 05-15-2008, 01:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gredlen View Post
It's not a bad format, but there is certainly a LOT more than can be done with an LP.
the civ one i'm planning is going to be wholly reader-driven, with explanation and asides from me as to why this or that decision was maybe not the best.
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  #13  
Old 05-15-2008, 01:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gredlen View Post
I think a "How to LP" thread would actually be pretty great on its own.
I could certainly write one if people want, but it would just be "how to LP like Brickroad" and would disregard all the different styles that are possible. Plus it's fun to see people come along and play with our preconceptions the way Loki is doing (I think his is my favorite one here so far).

I really think that as long as people know what kind of work is involved (hint: it amounts to more than "play your favorite game and talk about it a bit") they can make it a good thread. I don't even necessarily think "know your game inside and out" is a prerequisite, since it certainly can be made fun to watch someone bumble through a game their first time.
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Old 05-15-2008, 01:57 PM
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I was just explaining how I did mine. There's not much wiggle room for what to do in DW, but I've been pushing the boundaries pretty hard in regards to sequence breaking just to make it more interesting for everyone.
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  #15  
Old 05-15-2008, 02:02 PM
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I was just explaining how I did mine. There's not much wiggle room for what to do in DW, but I've been pushing the boundaries pretty hard in regards to sequence breaking just to make it more interesting for everyone.
Yeah, you're doing an awesome job, and it's actually a good example of a different style from mine. Someone pops up in your thread and is all "hey man get that sword first" and you're like "haha okay I'll try". That's good stuff. If someone had come up in my thread and been like "do the volcano before the sea shrine" I'd have ignored them, because I already had a plan and I wanted to stick to it.

I will offer this tip though: take WAY WAY WAY more screenshots than you'll actually use. Like, whenever something even remotely interesting happens, screenshot it. When you're in the habit of screenshotting everything, you won't miss anything. I've got something like 400 screenshots of FF1 on my hard drive now.

Related: if you use a gamepad, download Joy2Key (Google it for a link, probably) and configure it so your screenshot and savestate buttons (and maybe your pause/fastforward) are right there on the controller. Having "right bumper" be my screenshot button instead of F9 really smoothed things over for me.
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Old 05-15-2008, 02:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brickroad View Post
Related: if you use a gamepad, download Joy2Key (Google it for a link, probably) and configure it so your screenshot and savestate buttons (and maybe your pause/fastforward) are right there on the controller. Having "right bumper" be my screenshot button instead of F9 really smoothed things over for me.
I can't overstate how amazing this advice is. I'm definitely going to be using a gamepad for my LP so this will help a lot.
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  #17  
Old 05-15-2008, 02:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brickroad View Post
Just so you know, this got the same reaction out of me as if you had said "Brick, it's time for your free ice cream sundae and lap dance!"
Honestly, the image of receiving a lap dance from an oily, silicone-filled stripper while scarfing down a sundae (melting rapidly under those hot stage lights) makes me feel kind of pukey.
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Old 05-15-2008, 02:13 PM
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let alone receiveing a lapdance from djS...
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Old 05-15-2008, 02:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brickroad View Post
I will offer this tip though: take WAY WAY WAY more screenshots than you'll actually use. Like, whenever something even remotely interesting happens, screenshot it. When you're in the habit of screenshotting everything, you won't miss anything. I've got something like 400 screenshots of FF1 on my hard drive now.
I posted this link in PapillonReel's thread, but this is a potentially very useful piece of software: AnimGet
"Basically the program will take a screenshot of the active (focused) window every 10 milliseconds and compares it to the last one it has taken. If it has changed it will be saved."

It saves the images in bmp format, so it can fill up a lot of space pretty quickly. I have about a Gigabyte of images (~3000 files) from less than 2 minutes of gameplay. It does ensure I can always get the exact frame I want though.
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Old 05-15-2008, 02:15 PM
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let alone receiveing a lapdance from djS...
You're too kind. No, really.
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  #21  
Old 05-15-2008, 02:18 PM
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What would be awesome is if there was an option to, say, only trigger this program if you're holding a certain button. That would make it super easy to get frame-perfect screenshots of action games (it's usually not a big deal in RPGs) without filling your hard drive up with a million pictures of Mega Man 3.
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Old 05-15-2008, 02:19 PM
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Since this seems like a general help thread, lemme toss in my two cents:

1. It helps to know a game, but it isn't necessarily necessary to know it inside out. Or to show everything. No, instead, you should...

2. Make it interesting! Some of the best LPs I've read haven't even been strung together through screen captures. If all else fails, use the framework and setting of a game to do something off the wall and incredible. It happens, and when it does, it's brilliant.

3. When you can't do 2, then rely on audience participation. We like posting! We like posting about games! We even like playing games, sometimes cooporatively! This forum potentially combines all three, and that's why LPs are awesome. My Fallout thread (Which is looking to be further and further away) will be run based on the audience. Current examples also include Let's Play: Lone Wolf and Dragon Warrior. And let me throw the idea out of, say, Oregon Trail with forum members on the fording journey to Oregon. Just throwing that out there.

4. Please, please, please complete them. Especially if they get off to an awesome start. Or at least hand them off. Nothing sucks worse than a hanging thread.

5. Have fun. These are, y'know, games after all.
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Old 05-15-2008, 02:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gredlen View Post
You might want to try Mednafen. I've never heard anything about it, but I don't keep tabs on the TG16 emulation scene. It's free, so it certainly couldn't hurt to give it a shot.
I know nothing of its TG16 emulation, but mednafen is the best NES emulator for OS X that I've found.

Speaking of OS X emulation, I don't suppose anyone has any experience with the Atari ST, Apple II/gs, or Commodore Amiga emulators for it?

I'm trying to decide which version of Bard's Tale to play and while I have much nostalgia for the Mac version (and it includes some nice use of Mac interface stuff like menus and drag and drop), it looks like those versions all have really nice color graphics with animation and such so I may go with one of them.
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Old 05-15-2008, 03:06 PM
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Then of course you get games that are stiflingly linear like Mystic Quest, but you can counter that by turning the entire thing into a massive parody.
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Old 05-15-2008, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Red Hedgehog View Post
I'm trying to decide which version of Bard's Tale to play and while I have much nostalgia for the Mac version (and it includes some nice use of Mac interface stuff like menus and drag and drop), it looks like those versions all have really nice color graphics with animation and such so I may go with one of them.
I'd go for the IIgs version myself.
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Old 05-15-2008, 03:19 PM
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I don't know which OS X emulators to recommend to you, but:

Please, please, PLEASE!!! do the C64 or the Amiga version of The Bard's Tale.
Reasons: The Amiga version is the best-looking and best-sounding graphics-wise, and I don't know about the audio abilities of the Apple 2, so while the Apple and C64 version of the game are quite similar in the graphics department, I know the music of the C64 version rocks (nostalgically speaking).

You could even do animated screenshots for the battles and throw a few mp3 links around while your bard is making music. ;-)
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Old 05-15-2008, 03:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danowar View Post
I don't know which OS X emulators to recommend to you, but:

Please, please, PLEASE!!! do the C64 or the Amiga version of The Bard's Tale.
Reasons: The Amiga version is the best-looking and best-sounding graphics-wise, and I don't know about the audio abilities of the Apple 2, so while the Apple and C64 version of the game are quite similar in the graphics department, I know the music of the C64 version rocks (nostalgically speaking).

You could even do animated screenshots for the battles and throw a few mp3 links around while your bard is making music. ;-)
I was already planning on including mp3s (or midi files) of the bard's music every so often. Showing the animation would be cool, but I've never done animated GIFs before, so it might be too much work.

And with everyone recommending different versions, maybe what version I play will be the first piece of audience interaction.

Quote:
Originally Posted by djSyndrome View Post
I'd go for the IIgs version myself.
That's an awesome argument, though it is inaccurate about it being the last port since both the Mac and the NES versions came out later.
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Old 05-15-2008, 03:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danowar View Post
I don't know which OS X emulators to recommend to you, but:

Please, please, PLEASE!!! do the C64 or the Amiga version of The Bard's Tale.
Reasons: The Amiga version is the best-looking and best-sounding graphics-wise, and I don't know about the audio abilities of the Apple 2, so while the Apple and C64 version of the game are quite similar in the graphics department, I know the music of the C64 version rocks (nostalgically speaking).

You could even do animated screenshots for the battles and throw a few mp3 links around while your bard is making music. ;-)
The IIgs version is on par graphically with the Amiga and Atari ST versions, while the sound is a fair bit better.

The Apple // version was good - for the hardware. There's only so much you can do with six colors.
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  #29  
Old 05-15-2008, 06:34 PM
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Which image host is best to use?
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Old 05-15-2008, 07:22 PM
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Photobucket is pretty excellent. Free accounts get 25GB of monthly bandwidth (apparently; I checked my stats and the bar goes up to 100 and since pro accounts are "unlimited", I'm not sure why that's there).

I'd actually like to know how much bandwidth Papillon and TheSL have used up, since they have the biggest threads hosted on Photobucket.
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