A Beginner’s Guide to Let’s Plays

Lets-play-some-games-l

So you want to start your own lets play channel? That’s good! That’s real good! You’ve more than likely already thought it over and have a very rough idea of what you’re going for with it. So where do you start? Well, we’ve got just the thing for you right here. We’ll cover everything you’re going to need to start our very own let’s plays.

We’ll start with the hardware aspect of it all.

HARDWARE

First thing you will want to do is look into the hardware that you will be needing. For a lets play you will need:

  • Capture card
  • Microphone
  • Computer of some sort
  • Headphones

Now depending on your setup you will want to try and get a capture card that fits into your current setup. The most common ones out there are Roxio, Happauge and Elgato. Each one having it’s own strengths and weaknesses as with every piece of technology out there, so really look into them and see what you think will suit you best. However, be prepared to fork out a bit of cash as they aren’t cheap. The cheapest for a HD capture card that I have seen is around £130.

Elgato Game Capture HD

As for a personal recommendation, I would have to recommend the Elgato Game Capture HD due to the exceptional software that comes along with it as well as not needing a external power supply. It has true bypass so there wont be any lagging or jumping on your TV.

Next is a microphone. There are a number of microphones on the market ranging greatly in price, you don’t need to go away and buy a studio quality condenser mic. It may sound great but remember it is just YouTube, as long as you have a decent quality mic you’ll be fine.

One thing that people will often overlook is a good set of headphones. So as not to have any background noise of the game you’re playing on your vocal tracks, you’ll want to be using a set of decent quality headphones. You can use any headphones you like but i’d recommend picking up a good pair as you’ll need to use them for editing your videos together.

SOFTWARE

For the software side of things, you’ll need the following:

  • Capture software
  • Audio recording/editing software
  • Image editing software (If you want to add custom thumbnails)
  • Video editing software

Capture cards these days all come with their own software making things super easy for you and not cost you any more than you’re already shelling out. They all support HD gameplay recording and will see you right every time.

There’s also the audio aspect which you can get free software called Audacity. This software will allow you to record your audio from the microphone absolutely everything you’ll need to record and edit your vocal recordings from amplifying your voice, to removing any noise that might be on the vocal track.

Next up is editing software. Some of the common ones are iMovie, Adobe Premier, Adobe After Effects and Sony Vegas. I’ve not had the chance to try Premier or Vegas yet, but experimenting with the various environments is the key to finding exactly what kind of video layout you would like to work in. Each one will allow you to do everything you would need to in terms of editing, so find one that is cheap, cheerful and easy to learn.

GAME SELECTION

Now that we’ve got you set up with your hardware and accompanying software, it’s time to make that all important decision. What game do I play first?

My advice for this would be to choose a game that you’ve played through at least once and that you thoroughly enjoy. That way you will have something to talk about during your commentary and you will also avoid the dreaded “Ehh.. What do I do? I’m stuck” moments.

What you SHOULDN’T do however is do a huge RPG that takes forever to play through, wait till you’re a bit more experienced and you get better at your commentary.

Overall, just choose one that you really enjoy and feel like more people should play!

At the end of the day though, we’re doing this because we enjoy it. We enjoy rambling into a microphone whilst a game kicks our ass. We enjoy sitting for hours just editing videos and wondering where the day went. So just have fun with it and see what happens.

And there you have it folks. A simple beginners guide to lets playing. In the next article we’ll cover some of the do’s and don’ts of commentating. I hope you’ve found this useful and at least get some use out of it!

[Written by contributor Declan McGeachey and Matthew Papayanopulos]