written by Blain Newport on Wednesday, 16 March, 2011
Hey hey, kids! Not too much has gone on in blog. It'll continue to be slow for a week or so. I'm spending a lot of time reading about System Shock. I would like my video talkthrough of the game to be better researched than previous ones.
If you don't care about the walkthroughs, or Let's Plays in general, stop reading now.
Boring History of My Research Process
For Heart of Evil, I think I read the text file that came with it and a little bit of the author's web site (which was taken down during the walkthrough).
For Blood, I don't remember doing any research at all.
For Republic Commando, I got lucky and caught an interview with the game's director and lead designer Tim Longo that came out around that time. I think I poked around on Wikipedia a bit, as well.
For Gunman Chronicles, I also don't remember doing any research.
I think I did some research for Shattered Steel, but a lot of that was finding technical articles on how to get it running. :P
For The Witcher, I watched all of the Making Of videos that came with the game. I didn't even take notes.
In one sense, that was good. I'd rather the game did most of the talking. But there's often still plenty of room for trivia or anecdotes later. Almost every game bogs down / tries to fill time at some point. This raises the issue of...
Entertainment vs Documentary
The goals of entertainment programs and documentaries aren't mutually exclusive. Documentaries need to give the audience a reason to care about the subject matter, and good storytelling is key to that. But there seems to have been sort of an arms race in the Let's Play community to add pizazz to the videos. Some people have fancy animated intros with pictures of themselves in them. Some tell lots of jokes and use their best radio voices. Some videos even have four people sitting around commentating on recorded gameplay to give a sort of live forum discussion on the game as it's being played.
None of these things are "bad". The nice thing about the internet is that it lets everyone make and consume the content they most want to make and consume. Even if you want to see a playthrough of a PC only game like The Witcher, you've probably got half a dozen choices.
For me personally, adding pizazz is what game shows and bad video game networks do. If a section of a game is dull, I want the viewer to experience the dull. If it's a recurring theme, I'll fast forward or edit out the future dull bits, but I want to make Let's Plays that are about the games, warts and all.
That said, I saw an X-Com LP on the forum where forum members volunteered to lend their names to the game's notoriously short lived characters. Then they waited nervously to hear what happened as their namesakes were sent out on night missions to investigate downed UFOs. Whoever thought of that had a good idea, and if I liked strategy games, I'd steal it. :)