Create Your Own Video Game Commentary (Let's Play Series)
If you're a gamer who wants to show off your mad gaming skills, recording a Let's Play! series might just be the outlet for you. Or if you're up for it, how about doing a live recording of you playing Slenderman or Limbo? Show everyone you're not chicken and game enough to make it to the end.
How to Record Your Episodes
Before you can even start thinking about creating your own series, you're going to need some sort of video capturing device. If you're planning on playing a PC game, you'll need a software like Fraps to record your screen. If you want to use your Xbox or PS3, you're going to need a PVR to capture video and sound from your gaming console.
There is a certain amount of money you're going to have to throw into this hobby, so don't expect to start a gaming channel and make a lot of money from doing multiple Let's Play! series. It might be easier to try to get Machinima to sponsor you, if you're trying to use this method for monetary gain. So make sure you're following the right road.
Capture Your Gameplay
If you're playing a PC game, be sure to get some sort of recording software. The easiest one I've used, and the one used by a lot of people is called Fraps.
Recording from your gaming console will require you to purchase a PVR, similar to a DVR, but it allows you to plug into your gaming console and then record the footage. You can either then attach it to a laptop to record the files onto, get an external drive for the files to record onto, or you can get one that already had harddrive space onto it. A popular recorder is the Hauppauge pvr.
Record Your Commentary
In order to record your commentary, you'll need some sort of a microphone or you can use a gaming headset. You'll have to consider whether you want to record your commentary on a second audio channel, by itself, or if you don't feel the need to adjust your commentary audio levels, you can record it at the same time, and often with the same software.
Detailed Guides to Help You Get Started
How to Design Your Let's Play Channel on Youtube
Intro and Outros
One thing that will help your series become more series-like is to create an introduction animation, and outro to display your latest videos. While this is not a necessary step, it's something consider.
You can also use the annotations on youtube to make a link to your previous and next videos in the series so that people can easily find the video they want to watch.
Be sure to change your channel background. This will make it easier for people to identify what your channel is about if anyone happens upon it. If you know someone or know how to edit photos you can take screenshots and compile them into a backgrouns. You could also use it for your intro and outro.
If you're playing more than one game, it's a good idea to separate gameplay footage into their own playlists. This will help new viewers catch up and make it easier for them to see all of your videos for a specific game.
Do you look forward to videos being released on certain days?
How to Get People to Watch Your Series
Keep a Schedule
Releasing episodes on time, or regularly will help keep the attention span of your audience. No one likes getting into a game and then having to wait weeks to see the next part. Since a Let's Play! focuses on taking the viewer or walking them through a game, releasing an episode on time, will help the viewer keep up with what was happening in the previous episode. You want your audience to want to play with you, so don't leave them hanging.
How Long Should Each Episode Be?
There's no set time limit, but if you've been struggling to make a jump or solve a puzzle for too long, you may want to consider cutting or ending the episode until you know how to move onto the next part. Always remember that people are watching you, so remove any unnecessary "dead air" or places where the commentary drops off, or there's nothing interesting.
A good example is in Minecraft. If you're just walking across the desert for hours, consider cutting the episode until there's some action. Give your viewers a reason to come back for more.
It's sometimes easier to record multiple Let's Play! videos in one sitting. That way it's easier to stay on schedule and release videos on time and you won't lose interest only playing for 10-20mins at a time.
What Should You Talk About?
This runs along the lines of what do you find interesting? Some people find hearing the person talk about their life while they're playing amusing, others want tips and tricks. Either way, find what you like to talk about and how you want to play. You'll establish your gaming style this way and people will either like or dislike your style and watch you for that. First and foremost, create a series because you enjoy creating it, otherwise you'll run out of enthusiasm and lose interest.
Show People a Cool Trick
If you know a really cool trick, let's see it! It's enjoyable being able to watch someone play a game that you already have and seeing how they have played through the game. Some people may be watching to find out how to beat a certain level. This is especially true for games like Limbo, where people look up episodes or walkthroughs on how to get over a certain obstacle.
Consider naming your episodes to relate to that chapter or puzzle that you're on. That way, like in Limbo with it's chapters, you can name them in such a way that it'll be easy for people to look up to solve the puzzles.
Be Really Good or Really Bad
If you're really good at gaming, it'll be easier for people to like your videos because you'll attract an audience that is looking for a good gamer to watch. On the other hand, if you are really bad, there is also an audience for that. It's fun to watch people fail in games and, yes, even rage quitting is amusing to people.
Use Unique Formatting
Some people use their video editing software to make their videos stand out a little by having overlays on the video, a live webcam on screen, or other various graphics that help make the videos stand out.
However, if it doesn't fit the style, the main focus is the gameplay footage itself and of course the commentary. The others are just hooks that can be used to help entice people to watch.
Play With Friends / On Servers
Having guests who play with you or interacting with other people in your commentary can help with your series. It'll bring up the conversation, giving you another or possibly more people to banter with, and it will also bring another human into the experience, even if you are just playing on a server. It is not necessary though. There are plenty of engaging commentators who create Let's Play series without any other gamers.