Thursday, January 3, 2013

This is the big one

Those of you that are new here, welcome. This post is perhaps more for you than it is for my long-time followers, although I certainly hope they appreciate it too.

So, those of you that HAVE followed me for a while know that I've experimented a LOT with finding my 'niche' in internet video game criticism. I've dabbled in videos, I've dabbled in the blog here, but I've never found something that really grabbed a hold of me or even viewers/readers. I've always thought that there was something, somewhere that I could add to the discussion - I mean, the plan is to become a game designer. If I can't say something new, then is that the right plan? It certainly FEELS like it is, so SOME niche almost has to exist if I'm right.

I think this is it. This is my big plan, more fundamentally original and thus likely to succeed than any other - if I can get it off the ground. The idea is a video series not unlike Extra Credits, which is the show that really inspired me to believe that becoming a designer was really something that I could actually DO. Making games is one of those things that sounds like a fever dream, but Dan and James, and of course Allison and LeeLee (you guys are all awesome, by the way) made it seem possible. So thanks to them for that.

Back on topic. Connections and networking are one of the most important aspects in any industry, especially creative ones, and this is the lightning-in-a-bottle method of doing that ahead of time. (And I think I have it in the bottle. The problem is trying to figure out how to USE it) The only reason I'm pitching this as a video series instead of a blog post is an inherently selfish one - if you consider getting more people to watch it 'selfish'. Branding, recognition, and loyalty are all fundamentally easier for video content than text content, because humans are visual creatures. It also helps that videos do MORE than just text - they convey things through images, and words in both visual and audio form. It's a long established fact that more senses = more learning. The presence of Youtube is not a coincidence either, but I will also make transcripts available for those of you that don't like videos for whatever reason. No reason not to since it's going to be scripted anyway, and I will fight to make that happen as well as I can - even if it's just putting it in the description or if worst comes to worst putting subtitles/captions on the videos or putting it all on the screen at the end. (Like I said, last ditch scenario. I don't foresee that happening. Those last few miss the point of reading instead of watching, really :/)

The idea for the show itself is like Extra Credits in the way that many if not all of the episodes will be based on topics more fundamental than gameplay footage can accurately convey, and thus requires art of some form or another to be shown through video. (Yet another way of forming a brand. Look at Extra Credits! Or Zero Punctuation, or any number of animated videos...) That's a problem, and not the only one, but I need to finish explaining.

The TOPIC is game design. A lot of videos, including, yes, Extra Credits, often discuss game design, but it's usually either in context to a related issue, or for a specific game. (There ARE exceptions, some of which I can think of off the top of my head. They tend to be the most interesting for me. Again, not a coincidence) MY show would be JUST about game design. That's my niche. Quite a few people have already expressed interest, moreso than for any of my previous videos, series, or even individual posts. It's one of the reasons I'm so convinced this could be my big shot.

I'm going to give you an example so you know just what I'm talking about. The pilot episode, if I can make it, has to do with conflict, and how it's ESSENTIAL to designing a game. Every mechanic in a game has something to do with how the player overcomes obstacles. It's as fundamental a concept to games as conflict is in books. SOMETHING has to drive the player's play just as much as conflict drives a narrative, and it's an analogous situation. There's more to it, or there would be once I started fully writing the episode, but that's the main concept.

So that's the idea. But, as is inevitable with such an ambitious project, there are some problems. The first is the art. It HAS to be art, because it can't (or rather, I would vastly prefer) a video format, and showing gameplay A: Doesn't have enough branding (I MIGHT use clips, but probably not), and B: just doesn't work as well to explain the kind of fundamental concepts I plan on discussing. I can't draw, and I am not willing to risk this idea floundering because I'm fumbling around with new software I have no idea how to use, so getting an artist would probably be optimal. I DO have another possibility, but unless it works out I don't want to discuss it, because it drags someone else into the discussion without their permission.

The second is publicity. Finding a new show is HARD, and I want to make it as easy as possible to find my show. I have a possible idea here, and it's a fever dream, but again... it feels like it might happen. That idea is to join a major gaming network on Youtube. I won't tell you which, even though you might actually guess. I know it's extremely unlikely for an unproven youtuber to do that, but I may have a way around it and I HOPE my intensity and belief in this idea will help a lot.

I'm actively working on both these issues, and I'm hoping if this post gets spread around enough you guys can help me figure it out. I need help, and what better way to start a fanbase than to get people involved in creating the show? That's a large part of why Kickstarter and other crowdfunding (I won't forget rockethub!) works the way it does.

In any case, thanks for reading, new or old. I think I may be on to something, and I need your help to make it happen. Give me feedback, ideas, suggestions. Spread the word. Any content created for consumers is impossible without them - and the series itself is for you, not me. The experience and notoriety is just a bonus - I guess you could say the good thing for a wrong reason is still a good thing, right? I'll keep you posted, and I'll see you next time.


So, I've decided I'm going to make a pitch video ASAP, but I still want to get this right. There's a few avenues I can explore, including some that I can't until I go back to uni in a week or so. I MAY have found my solution for the art issue, which is the more immediate one - I need the pitch VIDEO and maybe even the pilot to make my official pitch to the network I mentioned. I'm going to spend the next week I have off trying random things and seeing how they work. One option is GIMP (freeware photoshop/paint) and Windows Movie Maker (or, better, some professional application like Vegas Pro), another is Flash, again if I shell out the money. (well, there's a trial for Vegas Pro and Flash that I can use for now) That's what I can mess with right now, and what I'll be spending the next few days doing. (Although I need a break, I've been running pretty much nonstop since I posted this originally) As always, I'll keep you posted.


  1. I got your tweet about this, but not your email. Can you re-send?

  2. Oh crap. Yes, yes I can. Thanks!

  3. Joining a major gaming network isn't going to happen if you have no content. Make a pitch video, make it good, get feedback on it and make it better, THEN pitch it to a major gaming network. Doing that shows not only what you can do, but that you have the drive to do it and are worth having on a team. Lots of people are convinced they have a good idea, but if you're going to draw comparisons to Extra Credits or Yahtzee, you have to prove you're at least en par with them in your content. Similarly, getting a fanbase is much easier if you have something for people to be a fan of. Throwing brands and marketing around won't help unless the brands represent something.

    Also if you're passionate enough about this, not having an artist won't stop you. Just make something and upload it. If it gets rejected, make something else that addresses the previous concerns. Your actual content should be communicated clearly enough the art is unnecessary anyway. Neither Extra Credits nor Yahtzee need to have visuals because their writing and content is clear enough without them. It's good that they're there, but they don't use them to make up for poor writing or communication.

    I wish you luck, but what you really need is to start working on this idea, rather than waiting for people's feedback on something that they haven't seen. That'll also have the added bonus of making it much easier to to convince an artist to work with you (especially for free).

    1. Okay. I see your point, but let me explain something.

      I came up with this idea LITERALLY in the middle of the night two or three days ago. I'm open to anything, but I personally think I have a CHANCE to skip the first step, so I'm trying. If I don't, I'll just have to do it the hard way.

      I'm exploring several different avenues, and all this advice is helpful. I really appreciate the advice, and I know what you're talking about.

      I'm not waiting. (entirely, anyway). I haven't shut about this at all since yesterday, I've just been exploring options.

      The real reason I posted this was because I wanted a codified thing SOMEWHERE because I'm so excited about it and I want to just be able to point people here. And then I just figured I might as well try to go all out and see if I can make it go viral. (I've stirred YOU guys up enough for sure ;D)