Spoiler Warning Update

By Shamus Posted Thursday Nov 11, 2010

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 307 comments

I mentioned last week that I’d pitched the show to the Escapist. Alas, it didn’t work out. It’s cool. The only regret I have is that it delayed the start of our Mass Effect series. It was actually a very educational look into the workings of video on the web. I’m happy.

But during the application process I had to look at how the show is doing compared to my other work. In terms of time spent vs. people entertained, it’s not doing all that well. Introspective navel-gazing follows:

We’re talking about the show again and discussing our frustrations. Josh has his hands on Adobe Premiere, which is letting him do things he simply couldn’t dream of before. (Aside from not crashing every five minutes.)

It’s become clear that one of the problems with our show is the length. We aim for half-hour episodes, and often we run to 40 minutes. Escapist aside, video hosts simply do not like long shows. Many have explicit length limits. (Like YouTube, which recently raised their limit to 15 minutes.) Others have softer limits based on filesize, which allows us to do half hour shows at the expense of video quality. Viddler lets us do it, but every episode comes with reports from viewers who had the episode cut off for them. Also their encode system often chokes on our stuff, which ends up eating a lot of Josh’s time.

The length of the show has been a problem from the start. Our first episode had over 3,000 viewers, and the most common complaint was “Nice, but I don’t have time to watch this.” We have about half that many viewers now and nothing seems to be able to change that. Among all my projects this one has the shortest reach, despite the fact that it’s video with a steady update schedule and popular subject matter. It’s usually easier to get people to watch video than to read a 989 word blog post. This should be a slam-dunk, audience-wise, and yet I think I’d have to say our show has a “cult” following. Given the time and energy going into the show and the easy access we have to a large audience, this show is not doing as well as it should. I like it. You like it. But that’s as far as it goes. None of our shows have really gone viral or been spread around outside of this site. I’m worried that the show is riding the coattails of my other work here instead of standing out on its own.

This lack of growth is especially troublesome given how much talent we’ve got. Even my least popular video from Reset Button is more than ten times as popular as the average episode of Spoiler Warning. Josh, Mumbles, and Rutskarn are all writers in one way or another. We’ve got a good range of ages, diverse gaming backgrounds (aside from our lack of consoles) and four distinct voices. We don’t quite have a professional shine, but in terms of editing we’re light years ahead of most web shows, even ones with far larger audiences. On top of that, Rutskarn has his own audience apart from anything I do here, and he brings them to the table as well. I’m not expecting that we should be some viral sensation, but right now there are an awful lot of folks who have this show staring them in the face twice a week and have no desire to even look at it. And of those that do, few share it. No, I’m not asking people to start spamming the world with Spoiler Warning links. If we were reaching our potential, you’d be doing that already.

Which is a long way of saying that I know some people will rage at pretty much any change we make to the format, but I think we can do better than we’re doing now. It’s probably good that The Escapist rejected the show. If we altered the show after being accepted, then everyone would blame them for “ruining” the show and “forcing” these changes on us.

Nothing is final, but we’ve been kicking around a few ideas. I think chopping the show down to the standard web-length of five minutes would be disastrous. But fifteen minutes might work. If we did a fifteen minute show every day of the week, we’d actually deliver an extra fifteen minutes of content a week. This would get us through games more quickly and give us a better shot at doing a few of the more esoteric games we’ve talked about. More people might be willing to watch if they could do so at 15 minute intervals instead of 30. And the show might spread more easily if it was hosted on YouTube. And we’d be able to have the show available in HD. And I think everyone would prefer it if Rutskarn participated by singing opera-style through the entire show.

The shorter encode times would make it less daunting for Josh to make custom credits for each episode, which were a popular but time-consuming feature. (And as I just learned recently, getting people to watch to the very end is an important virtue for a video. Those jokes at the end of every Zero Punctuation? Yeah. I don’t think those are an accident.)

I don’t know why I talk so much about the show here. Actually, I do. I’m dissatisfied with the show, and that means there are problems. Like with my videogame reviews, I think it’s more interesting to talk about problems that need solutions than to discuss stuff that just works. I don’t agonize over my essays or weekly column, because (aside from occasional bouts of writer’s block) those things just work. If I felt like Spoiler Warning was running as it should, you’d see more episodes and less of this insufferable Cloud Strife styled self-doubt.

Anyway, the plan is to launch the show on Tuesday.

 


From The Archives:
 

307 thoughts on “Spoiler Warning Update

  1. Shamus: I enjoy the 40 minute format. But 10-20 minutes would work just as well, might cut out some of the more pointless banter and polish the material. No raging from me if you cut it down!

    Also: Sid the Science Kid.

    1. MintSkittle says:

      I like the 40+ minute format myself. I’m also concerned if it’s even possible to do a mere 15 minutes with this style of show, especially if you do a cut-scene heavy game. You’d certainly never be able to pull it off with something like Xenosaga.

    2. Rutskarn says:

      Sid the Scene kid? Is that some sort of post-ironic internet mockery of gothic–oh, wait, sorry, read that wrong.

      Ahem.

      SID THE GODDAMNED SCIENCE KID I’LL SWALLOW YOUR SOUL YOU BRAIN-DEAD SMUG SON OF A

      1. Mumbles says:

        I like chips on mah pizza.

        Spicy chips.

        1. Amnestic says:

          I ordered a chip pizza from my local takeout once.

          It tasted of disappointment and failed expectations.

          Wait, are you talking about chips like crisps or chips like fish’n’chips? My pizza was chips of the latter variety.

          Shamus: “I'm worried that the show is riding the coattails of my other work here instead of standing out on its own.”

          That’s not the case, for me at least. I did end up watching it thanks to your works on the Escapist, but honestly I find the bi-weekly Spoiler Warning a more enjoyable experience than your Experienced Points/Stolen Pixels/Shamus Plays stuff. Not to say those three are bad in any way – if they were, why would I be here checking out more of your work? -, just that I prefer Spoiler Warning.

          I tried recommending it to my room mate but he sucks and wouldn’t watch it. :/

          1. Mumbles says:

            There was this TERRIBLE commercial we used to have to watch while recording Spoiler Warning that was about kids eating healthy. They’d interview little children that’d be like “I LIKE CANDY 8D” and then cut to some little girl biting into a whole green bell pepper. Anyway, so there’s this fat kid who’s like “I like chips on my pizza. Spicy chips.” And, I could not get over it. We’re talking like LAYS chips or hell maybe even Doritos. Who lets their kid do that? I’m the last person to give a lecture on good parenting (see like the third episode of Bioshock) but I SURE as hell wouldn’t let my little abominations of natural law eat chips on their goddamned pizza. That’s like putting frosting on a pound of fudge wrapped in bacon. WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE.

            So yeah. I used to rant to Ruts about it whether he liked it or not.

            1. Amnestic says:

              Oh right. So like, crisps then. Darned ‘murricans.

              No, over here (UK) some of the takeouts do this thing called a “London Pizza” which is basically just a basic cheese+tomato pizza with chips (Fries, whatever) bunged on top. I ordered one out of interest and, as I said, it tasted of disappointment, though to be fair I don’t really know what I was expecting.

              But yeah, crisps on top of pizza? What the hell, parents?

            2. krellen says:

              A local pizza place sells an enchilada pizza and a nacho pizza. Both come with bits of corn tortilla (thus, tortilla chips) as one of the toppings. The effect is perfect, and the pizza wouldn’t be the same without the chips.

              1. Mumbles says:

                But, I would never let a five year old have that. Especially if he’s already a fatass.

                1. krellen says:

                  It’s not a matter of what they eat, but how much and how often they eat it. Every day, maybe not. One slice a week, or a few slices a month? Not that bad.

                2. X2-Eliah says:

                  If the kid’s already fat, the parent has already failed, I thinks.. So crisps on a pizza is probably not the worst offender.

                  Besides, a pizza itself shouldn’t be given to a five-year-old anyway, crisps or no.

                3. krellen says:

                  Not necessarily true, X2-Eliah. I think pizza’s being unfairly maligned here; it’s actually a pretty good food, all things considered. Depending on toppings, you can get a pretty complete meal out of it, and it’s not like pizza is automatically unhealthy.

                  The friends of whose children I am an “Uncle” feed their children pizza every time I’m over there (because we get pizza when we get together), and since both are fairly underweight, it’s not an issue at all. Pizza, in this case, is a very good food to give them, because it’s a food they will reliably eat.

                  Obesity in the US is a problem largely created by portions, not by “what we eat”.

                4. Kaeltik says:

                  I’m with krellen on this one. It’s all about portions and physical activity.(See the nutrition professor who lost weight on only Mountain Dew and shrink-wrapped gas station food through portion control.)

                  My two-year-old will only eat fruit and appalling levels of cheese and starch, but he stays healthy and scrawny by 1) running everywhere, 2) taking a multivitamin, and 3) eating miniscule portions. He’s never been made to “clean his plate” so he eats only until he’s sated. Unfortunately for my waistline, I often end up cleaning his plate for him. Thanks for the completion anxiety mom and dad.

              2. Mumbles says:

                Also, oh my god krellen we started a pizza flame war. This kinda crap only happens in strong bad emails.

                1. krellen says:

                  I find being compared to sbemail a compliment.

            3. somebodys_kid says:

              “…frosting on a pound of fudge wrapped in bacon.”
              Am I the only person who thinks that sounds fantastic?

              1. Scott says:

                Heck no, your not.

                1. Stupidguy12 says:

                  Where can I get that? I want that.

            4. Felblood says:

              I prefer my bacon-wrapped chocolate with cheese, rather than frosting, but this is probably a matter of personal taste.

            5. some random dood says:

              Don’t go to Scotland. Just… don’t. Your brain would probably explode. There, they believe in deep frying stuff. Just about anything. Including pizza. Lightly battered, deep fried pizza. And if you wanted afters, you could have a Mars bar (in case that is not known outisde the UK, it is a chocolate bar wrapping nougar, hazelnuts, and some other sweet stuff). A battered Mars bar. A battered and deep-fried Mars bar…
              Don’t ask about the average life-expectancy of those North of the Border, in the big cities where this happens it *is* sadly lower than much of the rest of the UK!

              As far as the show is concerned, I like the half-hour format – it usually is enough to see progress in a game. However, I’m going to wait and see how the changes pan out for week or two before giving any of my (totally worthless) opinions/suggestions – be interesting to see how this goes.

              1. Jarenth says:

                I can confirm that deep-fried Mars bars (what you crazy Americans call Milky Way bars) are, in fact, deliscious. Especially with ice cream.

                Also really unhealthy, probably.

                1. krellen says:

                  Actually, a Milky Way, while produced by the Mars company, is slightly different from a Mars bar. Mars bars are actually hard to get here in the States.

                  A Milky Way is actually just caramel, nougat and chocolate.

                2. Someone says:

                  Bizzare. You can easily find both in my neck of the woods.

                3. krellen says:

                  US Mars was discontinued in 2002, and only recently reproduced. Walmart (where I do not shop) appears to be a major distributor.

                4. Ateius says:

                  Here in Canada, we have Mars bars, but they consist of what you call a “Milky Way” – nougat and caramel wrapped in chocolate. There are no hazelnuts involved, though they do make a version with peanuts called a Snickers.

                5. SomeUnregPunk says:

                  Deep fried butter bars.

                  Or even just go get a stick of butter, roll it in shredded chocolate bar or sugar and it tastes exactly like cookie dough.

                  I suggest exercise before and after eating this thing though.

            6. Jarenth says:

              Hmm, whole green bell pepper.

              The most important meal of the day.

              1. Mumbles says:

                Red bell pepper? Sure. I love those. I’ve never had a raw one, but if worst came to worst I’d try it. But green taste like ass if you don’t cook them with other foodstuffs.

                Also I kept picturing the host of Iron Chef.

                1. Jarenth says:

                  When working with raw bell peppers (what we call ‘paprika’ where I’m from), spring onions and/or carrots, I will always much a few bits during cutting.

                  They’s jummy.

                2. X2-Eliah says:

                  AH! So It’s Paprika they were talking of.. Bell peppers – first time I heard of that name.

                  And yeah, a nicely grown paprika is not a bad snack at all.

                  And dear God, don’t say they deep fry even those!

                3. Jarenth says:

                  You really shouldn’t ask questions like that if you don’t want to know the answer.

              2. Avilan says:

                In fact, Swedish kids are eating less candy for the first time n years, and a lot of kids has listed bell peppers as their favorite vegetable. Especially the red ones of course since they are sweeter.

      2. evileeyore says:

        Rutskarn makes a good point.

        While I prefer the 30-40 Sid lengthed episodes, cutting them to 10-20 Sid lengths might help to bring in the Short Attention Span Theatre crowd.

        1. Newbie says:

          This comment left me for dead. I was on the floor laughing for 10 minutes. You sir deserve all of my cookies…

    3. Grag says:

      I agree with the change in length.

      The only thing stopping me from watching, though, is I haven’t played ME, ME2, or Bioshock. I plan to.

      And I have little ones, so I play games slowwwwwwly

      1. Joshua says:

        Same for me. I can’t say I’ve really given the show a fair shot since I haven’t played any of those games and don’t really have any desire to.

    4. Mersadeon says:

      I like the 40 minute format, and I think 10 minutes would be a very bad idea. 20 minutes would be a good compromise, I think. 10-15 would feel to short, I think. But on the other side, an episode every day would be nice. Hm. So, in the end, I think 20 minutes would feel right, at least for me.

      Edit: Why am I using “I think” so often today? Oo

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        I have my reservations about the new formula, in particular I don’t know if the length will be enough to get the specific geeky kind of humour we’re having here running, but I’m not really gonna bash it until I see it. I know that on certain days the length of the episode made me postpone watching until later in the week, having it daily, or even 5/7 would be awesome. Also, while I have a certain mistrust for youtube (the 15 minute limit is pretty solid so no way to actually stretch the episode a bit to avoid cutting in the middle of a scene… though I think there is some kind of “director” status or something for that…) the high quality could actually make some of the dialogue readable. In other news: yay for the possible return of custom credits!

  2. mumakil says:

    hey twentysided
    Look at spoilerwarning
    Now back to me
    Now back at spoilerwarning
    Now back to me
    I am not spoilerwarning. I am getting cut in half.
    now look down
    back up
    Im giving you praise for a job well done
    Everything is possible when u watch Spoilerwarning
    Im on a Blog

    :) jokes aside while i like the show as it is hd quality and moar of the good stuff per week just makes me so happy

  3. Irridium says:

    I enjoy the long episodes. It allows you to get through quite a bit and its entertaining.

    However I guess I wouldn’t mind shorter times. I could always just wait for the week to end then watch all of them back-to-back.

    So long as you keep up the silly banter, I’m happy. Keeps the show from getting boring.

  4. SolkaTruesilver says:

    Good luck!

    On that note, I still am halfway through the FO3 playthrough. 30 minutes not on youtube are a pain to watch.

    Oh, and I HATE the system of comments. Which are very nice, but I can’t read them all without a VERY careful cursor progression leading to the comment expander. And then, only if I put the cursor originally on the comment, which is impossible if I am within 1 minute (+ or -) of the comment. And then, I completely lost track of what you guys were saying/doing.

    1. Someone says:

      Seconded for the comment system. I used to stop and rewind the video every 15 seconds to try and catch them, now I just ignore them.

      1. BenD says:

        Thirded for comments. I watched the eps on Viddler and if a comment went by that I kind of wanted to read, rather than try to catch it in its ridiculously short-lived bubble (or worse, expand the bubble for long comments, pain!), I’d do a ‘find’ on the webpage for whatever words I noticed in the comment, bop down to the comment and read it, then flick back up to top of page to continue the video.

        I guess that means I cared about the comments. Which I did. But I also care that they were such a bloody hassle. ;)

    2. Andrew says:

      I like them, but think they were implemented wrong. They’re good for quips, one-liners, and other short messages that rely on timing (read: humour). For some reason though, Viddler insists that ALL comments be presented this way, turning the larger, more in-depth ones into annoying, time-consuming distractions.
      Ideally, you should be allowed to make either normal, YouTube style comments (read after the video, with linked reference to the part it’s addressing), or the ones currently used by Viddler – with sensible character limits for each. At the very least, there should be an option to only have shorter comments be displayed automatically.
      Oh, and it’d be nice if there was some sort of minimum time interval between popup comments- as is, there are way too many instances where people are “talking over” each other (which, when it coincides with the SP crew also talking over each other, makes for a cluster-fudge of near-epic proportions).

  5. RTBones says:

    Interesting analysis. For me personally, I enjoy the 40 minute shows. If I have to trade, though – I’ll take the 15 minute shows if it means y’all will give me one a day. :)

  6. Alastair says:

    I agree with the length issues. I watched the first couple, but I found I really didn’t have time to watch 30 to 40 minutes of video all at once, and I had problems with the video hosting service that made it difficult to watch half and come back later.

    I enjoyed listening to you guys, and watching you play, but the length and the hosting were barriers preventing me from getting into the series.

    If you shorten each episode to 15 minutes, I will definitely start watching again.

  7. CTrees says:

    Cloud Strife!?!?

    ZOMG NEXT GAME IS FINAL FANTASY SEVEN I”M CALLING IT NOW!

    (apparently I don’t know what to do with myself when I get a day off work…)

    1. MintSkittle says:

      FF7 did have a PC release, so it wouldn’t be completely out of the question.

      1. Ian says:

        An incredibly buggy PC release, yes.

        It’s a minefield, really. I think the translation might be a bit better (it’s based on the later International release, not the original US PSX release; about the only thing you miss out on is them saying “shit”), but the game itself is a wreck. Certain parts will crash, guaranteed, if you try to play it without community patches on an NT operating system. Even with the game being as stable as I could make it, I had it randomly crash on me.

        Oh, they also left the debugging symbols in the executable. Very sloppy (though it did help to empower hackers).

        Strangely enough, it does seem to run more solidly under Vista/7 than it does XP, but that could very well be caused by a change in drivers or hardware; I don’t know for sure. The game is generally playable, but your mileage will definitely vary when it comes to how long the game stays running without spontaneously combusting. I’ve run through it from start to finish before (on Windows 98, at least…). Honestly, if they did plan to take on FF7 for Spoiler Warning (I can’t see it happening, honestly, especially if they insist on not using cheats to cut back on the grinding), they’d be much better off going with a PSX emulator. That said, I don’t see that happening, because if you don’t have a console to extract the BIOS from (not to mention the means to plug a GameShark Pro into your PC) it’s definitely not going to be a legal way to play it.

        The quality of FF8’s PC port is a major improvement over FF7’s. Better yet, the game really doesn’t require you to grind like FF7 does. If they ever plan to do a jRPG, that’s the only one that I can see working without taking a ludicrous amount of time.

        1. Klay F. says:

          Yeah I tried playing the PC version of FF7 and after I got to the second disc there was a cutscene that refused to play because it was corrupted and crashed the game. I looked online for a fix, But the supposed fix for it didn’t work in the slightest. I never got past that cutscene crash.

          I’m thinking about taking the dive and trying it on an emulator. Though if Shamus does a Spoiler Warning of it, I won’t have to. :)

          1. Felblood says:

            To be fair, some of the cutscenes on the second disk can lock up the Play Station version. It’s a lot better than the PC version, but it can still get pretty frustrating, if you’re working on a timetable.

            Junion city and the Golden Saucer are save-often areas, no matter what your console of choice is, if your disks have any kind of wear on them at all. (Tip: If the music starts behaving oddly, or you hear big-band music, save. Save immediately.)

            Emulating a PS1 seems to cut down on this problem, since you can find some high quality disk images, and you don’t have to cope with the CD thrashing issues, but the fiddly legal issues might be prohibitive if you’re recording it, rather than playing by yourself at home.

  8. Jarenth says:

    Interesting look into the kitchen of web video making, thanks. I think you’re probably right Re: the jokes at the end of Zero Punctuation; Unskippable and ENN have these end-jokes as well, and while for Unskippable they don’t especially add much (I think), I’ll still watch the video until the end to catch them.

    I personally enjoy the longer Spoiler Warnings, because it means I can grab a soda and some snacks, kick back, and prepare to unleash some terrible comment-jokes on the unsuspecting audience. But it seems very probable that that’s exactly the problem for other people: you really have to reserve a good slot of time for Spoiler Warning, especially if you want to comment / read all the comments properly (which, as Solka mentioned, requires incredible mouse control to get right without pausing). So a move to 15 minutes might work better in that regard. Or it might not; only one way to find out.

    Anyway, Spoiler Warning is great, and it deserves all the success it apparently hasn’t been getting yet. Try what you must to make it work; as long as the core premise remains intact, you’ll always have us dedicated core viewers to fall back upon.

    1. Fnord says:

      Regarding the jokes at the end: for the FO3 videos you did have jokes of a sort, the “titles” you gave each person during the credits. I certainly stuck around to watch those, and I missed them when you standardized the titles for Bioshock.

      1. BenD says:

        Thirding the missing of customized titles.

        1. Zagzag says:

          I loved those so much, and the format change will be worth it if we get those back. The only problem I can see is that with a rigidly inforced 15 minute time limit on youtube we may only get around 10 mins of gameplay with the credits and the time at the beginning when not much is happening. I may also be hard to time the videos at 15 ish minutes, so they’ll probably just record several hours at a time and then cut it up into segments, so we may not loes the atmosphere that so many people like.

    2. Specktre says:

      I second Jarenth here on most of what he says.

      I enjoy the current length of Spoiler Warning, because I can kick back and get snacks, or whatever.
      SW is definitely one of those shows you have to set aside time for in the same why you do a weekly television show. And I really do enjoy Viddler’s comment feature (though I don’t personally use it), but I do see how it is a problem for some people. If there are a lot comments when I sit down to watch, I find that I tend to actually pause or rewind (or both) the video to catch comments of:
      Paragraph length,
      Comments commented on by others,
      A cluster of comments in a very small area (which I’ll admit are a little annoying),
      Then of course–all of the above.

      I rarely ignore them, it’s my OCD nature.

      Anyway, going for shorter length episodes might be what’s needed. Or not. I’m confident you guys will figure out what’s best in the end.
      This show is great, I enjoy every episode, and it’s a ruddy shame it’s not getting the success it deserves.
      But it might be time to experiment and see what works best.

      The best of wishes to the Spoiler Warning team.

    3. Lalaland says:

      I’ll second Jarenth’s comments too, I really enjoyed the longer format but I can understand your frustraton with the poor return (in terms of view stats) for the effort everyone is putting in. I love the half hour review format but if the hosting site supports creating playlist or some such so that the videos chained seamlessly then really there’s not much in the difference.

  9. Silemess says:

    I’m one of those who tried watching Spoiler warning and just wound up not getting sucked in. I’ve been reading your blog for years (and obviously lurking for the most part), and Rutskarn’s blog since the start of the year.

    I don’t know what to say that will help out. The premise seemed good, I’ve watched similar things and the usual LPs. I know half of the people on it and I enjoy their work. I’m familiar with most of the games, so its not a risk of not understanding it. I do actually enjoy having something that runs longer, instead of suffering from a short attention span. So it surprises me that I find myself not enjoying it.

    While watching Bioshock, I must have tuned in at a poor time. There were some good jokes as the PC gets his powers for the first time. But it seemed like the episode was more about rants and gripes than jokes and I decided it wasn’t enjoyable. The episode of Fallout that I watched was far more enjoyable on average, but I wanted to take the controller away from the rabid chipmunk wielding it and scold them that the rest of us don’t like being tossed about when we’re not the ones in control. Not fair, given that it’s a shooter and you need to be able to assess the area and make sure you’re not about to be savaged by the NPC hiding in the corner. The original Mass Effect just seemed slow, nothing bad sticking in mind, but nothing good either.

    To repeat myself, it surprises me. I really do think this is something I would enjoy. Judging by the picture posted not long ago, it may be that I’m just missing a key piece. It may be that I’m late to the party and just watching the video of it instead of feeling like I’m participating in the party.

    *shrug* If I figure it out, I’ll post another comment at the relevant point. Sometime soon, I’ll give ME2 a try and see how it works out.

    1. RPharazon says:

      I had much the same problem. I’ve been reading Twenty Sided for… I lost count. I’ve been reading Rutskarn’s blog for at least a year. I enjoy the personalities and thoughts of all of the people within the series. I can even tolerate Josh. Kind of.
      I enjoy long video LPs. I’ve gone through maybe hundreds of hours watching video LPs. Most of those hours have been through the viddler service, as weird as that may seem.

      However, maybe I’m spoiled with the Freelance Astronauts. If you don’t know them, look them up. The NSMBWii LP will get you to their typical style, but their Majora’s Mask and Master Quest LPs are glorious.

      I think the main difference with them and you Spoiler Warning folk is the interplay between you all. Even though the Freelance Astronauts have the advantage of mostly being on an actual, physical couch, their dynamic still works when they have to do it via Skype.

      They mostly play together, all playing the same game, but as we saw with Master Quest and Majora’s Mask, even with Maxwell being the only player, there can still be a great dynamic and interplay between them all. The fact that they’re playing single-player games isn’t a major obstacle to their entertainment.

      However, my main beef with the series is what Silemess pointed out. Whereas the Freelance Astronauts have in-jokes, running gags, talk amongst themselves (not even about the game at times), and just generally have a fun time as friends. Whether or not they’re being entertaining is not one of their concerns.
      However, the Spoiler Warning crew is a bit awkward. There’s no real in-jokes, you rarely call Josh out on being an abysmal player, and the entire thing feels like an extended rant against the game, while you’re playing it. You point out the fun things, but you then immediately point out its foils. Listening to a group of people rant while playing games is not my idea of fun times. Yes, these games all have shortcomings, but don’t make the entire series focused on these shortcomings. It should be 80% fun, 20% rant, not the other way around.

      The format also makes this particular problem more noticeable and pronounced. If you’re going to rant and gripe, I’d rather prefer 6 20-minute blocks, not 3 40-minute blocks. I like the ranting and griping, but I get tired of it.

      Maybe I’m not your audience, but I’m fine with that. Just my two cents about the layout of your series. I wish you all the best, anyways.

      1. Galad says:

        I don’t know, I’ve always found there’s something about Shamus’ .. tone? diction? both? .. not sure..that makes it enjoyable to listen to him ranting. It’s like an invisible disclaimer of sorts – “I really don’t wish to offend anyone, but I’d like to point the following flaws..”. I can identify with Josh’s ranting, in the not-very-frequent cases that it happens, Mumbles has a sweet voice, and Rutskarn doesn’t rant, he makes witty jokes and horribly delightful puns at the expense of the games the crew plays.

        Then again, take the above with a grain of salt since I have more or less no way outside of video LPs put on the Internet to enjoy most of the games made in the last 5 or more years :(

        1. Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

          Talking about Mumbles’ voice.

          Anyone else notice in one of the early Bioshock episodes when Mumbles says in a cheery voice “and I’m Mumbles” and it takes a fraction of a second longer than usual for Shamus to start talking? I listened to the part a couple of times and it always felt like Shamus was caught off guard by the tone.

          “What? Someone is cheery in Spoiler Warning?”

          It would’ve been even better if there’d be a video of all of them at the same time and Shamus would’ve happened to look around as if he were going “where on earth is that strange sound coming from?”

          1. Sigilis says:

            He was probably concerned that Mumbles would get out of it with her appreciation for Bioshock intact. Its a good thing she eventually caved.

            1. Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

              I prefer my “shocked by a happy sounding person” explanation.

      2. Andrew says:

        This more or less perfectly describes why the episodes sometimes feel like a drag for me to watch.

  10. Smirker says:

    Personally, I quit watching a while back not because of the content or quality – but time and environmental constraints. Typically, the best opportunity I have for ‘surfing’ is on my lunch break at work. When I’m home, I’m busy with wife, kids, honey-do lists, errands, daily household chores or finally actually PLAYING a little.

    It’s MUCH easier and more acceptable for me to simply read some articles on the web while at work than it is to do video.

    1. albval says:

      This is the reason I’m not watching SW. I can read your blog at work (don’t tell anyone), but putting on on headphones is right out if I want to look productive and keep my job:-)

      At home I can spare max fifteen minutes of time between making food for the kids and preventing them from killing each other. And when I finally would have 30+ mins to spare watching a game, I’ll rather be the one playing myself.

      1. Rowan says:

        Plusplusplusity++. Even though I have a job where I can watch a few minutes of video every now and then there’s no way I can justify watching 40 minutes of it, even broken into few minute segments. And if I’m at home and actually have time to sit back and enjoy TV I’d rather do it with my wife on the sofa, not sitting in front of the computer.

        1. Rustybadger says:

          Yep, ditto. I love the format of SW, and it’s entertaining as hell, but I just don’t have 30-40 minutes of uninterrupted time to kill that way- and when I do (which is maybe once or twice a week), I have to admit SW loses out to Big Bang Theory and Chuck. I know, I know- I’m gonna get flamed to hell for that, and it’s no reflection on the SW crew’s talents: I just don’t play any of the games they go on about (no broadband connectivity with which to play online), so while entertaining and funny, I can’t escape into it like I can with some other shows.

          However, if I could torrent a copy of the show to watch offline in bits and pieces, THEN I’d watch it faithfully. I grab all my shows when I’m at work (where I have 20Mbps synchronous) since I can’t even buffer YouTube properly at home- and Viddler’s worse than YouTube for streaming overhead.

          So yeah, my two cents’ worth: Either shorten the format to 12-15 minutes, or post a downloadable version as well. Also – and I’m gonna harp on this often, I think – start a Kickstarter fund to get you guys some good gear. This thing is SO much easier if you have the right tools and don’t have to hack everything each time you produce and episode. You don’t need much, but there’s stuff that’ll spank those niggling little issues down and let you concentrate on the joy of production. I teach a broadcasting class at high school, and one of the things that will kill the joy in my students really fast is having to MacGyver stuff to do a simple task that could be fixed with a bit of cash.

    2. Daimbert says:

      Same here. I can read anything, anytime … but I can’t watch video at work because I have no sound. Also, reading is at my pace, not yours, so if something isn’t appealing to me I can skim it, while paying a lot of attention to what I like.

      I know that video is the wave of the future, but the main reason I’ve never even looked at Spoiler Warning is because it’s video.

    3. Zekiel says:

      For the record, this is why I’ve never tried Spoiler Warning. I simply don’t have time to watch a 30-min video in a lunchbreak.

      But to be honest even with shorter length I don’t watch videos that often really – as Daimbert says you can’t skim-read a video.

      Plus I tend to play games about 5 years behind their release and don’t want to be spoiled for Mass Effect or Bioshock!

      So actually that seems to be 3 reasons…

    4. kmc says:

      I’m much the same way. I really only surf at lunch break or after work just before I leave my desk, and while I do have sound, I can hear my boss sneeze in his office down the hall, so I really can’t watch anything with subtle or necessary audio. Once a week I feel safe in closing the door and getting away with Zero Punctuation, but I can’t get in more than that, really.
      On the other hand, I also haven’t really felt the urge to watch SW for some reason, even though I’ve always been a huge fan of your projects, ever since about halfway through DMotR. Therefore, changing SW to get me to watch is like making games for non-gamers.

  11. Kel'Thuzad says:

    I would say separate each episode into 2 or 3 parts and put up a playlist on youtube. To be honest, I had no idea what viddler was until you had a show on it and even now I know viddler as “that thing that spoiler warning uses.”

    As some others have said, I don’t think viddler’s comment system works with large audiences. Either I have to pause and look at every comment or ignore them.

  12. Stupidguy12 says:

    I have watched every episode of spoiler warning, and this came as a shock to me to discover that it’s not doing so well. 15 minute episodes would be okay if done every day.

  13. Clint Olson says:

    For what it’s worth, I’m one of those people who feels like he can’t watch the show because it’s too long. I watched about two thirds of the first episode, and that’s it. The problem with video is that, unlike text or audio, it pretty much requires you to be devoting your full attention to it if you want to get the most out of it. Text and audio-only are both decently easy to multiplex into a busy multitasking day. Video, not so much.

    I do watch Unskippable and Zero Punctuation, but that’s mostly because they’re bite-sized chunks that I don’t feel bad taking out of my lunch break.

    Clint

    1. Jon Ericson says:

      For both Fallout 3 and Bioshock, which I haven’t played, I watched maybe a third of the Spoiler Warning video content and listened to almost all the audio content. Generally, find I can leave it running in a background window until someone says, “What just happened?” Then I rewind about 30 seconds to see.

      I don’t feel like I miss too much this way (especially Pipe Dream+, I mean Bioshock). If the show ever shifted to a game I’ve actually played or one that involves more reading, I might be forced to watch a lot more of it.

  14. EmmEnnEff says:

    The longest web show episodes that I watch are those of the Day9 Daily (Where Day9 spends about an hour on his stream talking about Starcraft 2. 4 days a week.)

    And even then, I’m really appreciating what you’re doing with Spoiler Warning, Shamus.

  15. Jeremiah says:

    The 30-40 minute episodes have definitely been the main reason I haven’t watched many spoiler warning episodes. I’ve probably only watched a half dozen episodes in their entirety. And maybe a couple dozen more I sort of skimmed through.

    I don’t know if I’d watch a 15 minute episode 5 days a week, but I’d probably watch at least 2 or 3 of them for sure.

  16. Craig says:

    I for one would be completely all aboard with the idea of not necessarily changing the format of the show itself, but perhaps breaking up the episodes into segments that could well fit on Youtube or other viewing pages. The Let’s Play Archive does this often with (from what I can perceive)a decent amount of success. This way, viewers can choose to either watch the whole thing back to back, or take it a portion at a time without necessarily losing anything in the experience.
    Whatever you choose, however, I’m looking forward to your continued Spoiler Warnings. They make a very nice highlight for my week.

  17. Integer Man says:

    Keep up the openness.

    Your facts surprise me. I don’t dispute them, they just surprise me – they’re my favorite feature of your site (after DM of the rings brought me in).

    I do prefer the longer videos since it adds the immersion and gives me more time to get accustomed to and enjoy your bantering. It’s also nice to consume things twice a week instead of every weekday.

    Glad it’s staying here. Hope whatever changes you make work well and make you happier with your content and production process.

    Your comment about the importance of watching to the very end makes me curious. Care to elaborate on why that’s important?

    1. Viktor says:

      +1 this^. Watching a video is more of an effort for me than reading a blog post, so when I do it I want to get 30-40 minutes out of it. Breaking it up into segments that are all posted same day would work better for me than doing daily posts.

      1. KremlinLaptop says:

        Pitching in to say I agree with all of this, it’s why I generally have a problem with commercial tv shows that run 25-45 minutes and will prefer most non-commercial tvshows that run 60 minutes, because… well it’s better? I like to invest my time in something.

        It’s why I’ll usually wait several weeks with ZP and then when there’s a backlog of say four or even six ZP videos I’ll watch ’em in a run.

    2. Shamus says:

      I’m not sure, other than it seems to help attract advertisers. “Hey, 95% of all viewers watch all the way to the end.” Maybe this is related to end-of-show ads? I have no idea. The more I learn, the more I am aware of how insanely complex marketing is.

      1. SolkaTruesilver says:

        Why not simply create segments of episodes? You know, you keep your 30 minutes episode format, but you split it in 3 different videos for those who can’t sit for the whole shebang. You still get people to watch the movies in its entirely.

      2. Integer Man says:

        And here I thought marketing was all about beer. ;-)

        Sir Shamus, I promise to watch to the end, including the first commercial.

        You know, I think I started watching near the end of season 1. I never saw the majority of your take on Mass Defect 1. Will have to go back and watch that some day. You guys doing Fallout 3 cemented my love for the series.

      3. Andrew says:

        I think it’s to measure how many people honestly watched the show, and didn’t click it by accident or, as is often the case, watched a small portion of it, before deciding it wasn’t really their thing. The distinction shouldn’t really matter to advertising companies, but it does provide a more accurate sense of how many actual “viewers” there are. Of course, it might also just be a silly way of doing things that carried over from TV advertising.

      4. BenD says:

        I’ve been told (in my marketing-adjacent work) that people who watch a whole show are more likely to sit there and watch commercials at any point in the show. They aren’t DVR-skip-fastforwardy folks or, in web terms, ad-blocky folks, I guess. They’re also more likely to be tuning in next week if they didn’t get bored halfway through this week, so that says something about your viewerbase being likely to grow (or at least maintain) rather than shrinking.

      5. Soylent Dave says:

        I’d’ve thought it was more to do with direct promotion – if you give me a reason to watch the credits (i.e. make them entertaining), then I’m more likely to read them and remember who you are, what your website is called, who your sponsors were and possibly even come back next week (all the more likely now I’ve remembered the name of your show and your website).

        Incidentally, do you really find that ” It's usually easier to get people to watch video than to read a 989 word blog post”?

        Just because I found the opposite back when I was blogging regularly – although of course that was a couple of years ago now (so youtube & co. were a bit more primitive), and I had a much smaller audience than you do (~3000 uniques at my most popular, so still a definite niche); I’m not disagreeing inasmuch as I’m just being genuinely surprised.

  18. Jamfalcon says:

    I like the sounds of shorter episodes. These days I often only have two hours of free time on weekdays, so I usually don’t want to give up a quarter to half of it watching a video, no matter how good it is.

    That said, I still won’t be watching ME2 as it comes out even with shorter episodes, since I haven’t played it yet, but I plan to within the next few months.

  19. Ross says:

    The length, to me, is an issue, but not the primary reason I don’t watch Spoiler Warning. I can *play* FPS games (or the RPG variants thereof). I cannot *watch* FPS games being played by others without feeling the need to vomit from motion sickness, whether it’s a video on my screen or my daughter playing XBox in the living room. Just can’t watch it when I’m not the one controlling it. Same goes for cars. Fine driver, awful passenger.

    A shorter length format would help me get through individual episodes. Just as importantly, the HD would help, since watching low res motion bothers me far more than high res does.

    1. Katesickle says:

      I’m in a similar position, only I have trouble watching AND playing FPS games. I’ve found that not maximizing the screen is helpful, but I still can’t just sit there and stare at it. I usually work on chainmail or something while listening to the show, and just glance up periodically. On the upside, the odds of me ever getting addicted to Minecraft are pretty slim since I can’t play for more than 10 minutes at a stretch.

      So far the only SW I’ve watched is the Bioshock one because it’s the only one I have no desire to play myself. The other games all interest me, so even though it will be ages before I get around to playing them I don’t want spoilers.

  20. Unbeliever says:

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but to me, watching videos and reading blogs are two completely different experiences.

    If I’m bored, and have lots of time on my hands, maybe I’ll surf Youtube. Say, once a month or so.

    But when I’m reading my daily blogs, I’m taking in material at my own pace. Skimming, rereading, bouncing from one blog to the next. I am *NOT* about to interrupt my flow by suddenly stopping and watching a half-hour (or even 15-minute) video. It would throw me off-balance.

    If I run into a “must-see” type of video while reading my blogs, preferably 5 minutes or so, I may lock that tab, read everything else, and come back to it later. But it needs to really grab my attention.

    A video SERIES — where even after investing so much time, you need to KEEP DOING IT on a REGULAR BASIS to reap the full benefit? Meh. I watch enough TV already…

    On the other hand, given how much WRITING you do — and how awesome it is — the fact that you occasionally produce content I’m NOT interested in, is hardly of any importance…

    1. silver says:

      Agreed – the pacing difference is one of the two reasons I’ll READ an LP but rarely want to WATCH an LP.

      (The other has to do with sound and noisy neighbors and switching headphone sources from computer to TV. 99% of the time, I run the computer with no sound).

  21. Shrikezero says:

    I haven’t watched any of Spoiler Warning to date. Too long. Workblock. Rather read.

    That said… A shorter, easier to access version? I would probably be much more inclined to watch. Especially considering the obvious devotion other folks here have for it. 15 min I can fit inbetween evening family stuff. 30-40 not likely. I don’t watch most TV for this very reason.

  22. Mark says:

    For my own part, I’ll sooner read a novel-sized blog post than watch even the shortest of video updates. It’s a matter of format, not time. Something I can consume at my own pace while multitasking is ideal, and video, podcasts, or anything else that requires me to pause my music, or even just ask for my undivided attention, is more likely to be passed over. Which kind of puts me irrevocably beyond your target audience, now that I think about it.

    If you can make shorter, more regular segments work, though, you’ll probably improve your viewership, at the ost of increased editing time.

  23. Skip says:

    To be honest, for me, the choice between watching even a 5 minute video and reading a 989 word post is a no-brainer. I’ll take the text every single time. Why? because most of my blog reading comes from grabbing time in 30-60 second chunks between doing other things. I hit build, or start a regression test, or something, and I’ve got a minute in which my dev environment is busy but I’m not. So I can read the first 2-3 paragraphs of the thousand word opus, decide if I’m interested, and if it’s only a maybe, I can skim down towards the middle or end, then go back to work. Internet video? The opening credits have barely run by the time I have to get back to work.

    So absolutely the only time I’m going to see something like that is if someone says, “hey, you should watch this, especially the section starting at 8:14” and in that case I’m going to fast-forward to 8:14. Unless that’s disabled, in which case I still won’t watch it.

    So for me, creating internet video or podcasts are, to me, just a way to spend more effort to reduce your audience size.

  24. Meredith says:

    Cutting the length would definitely make them easier to watch, for many reasons. Perhaps the show would also be served if the four of you chose a topic for discussion ahead of time, something along the lines of “oh, this episode will start quest x, let’s talk about character y who you meet in a minute”. It would give the episodes more focus. I’m not saying there’s no room for spontaneous jokes or comments, but watching the BS SW I sometimes found the interesting points got lost in the noise.

    1. Riesz says:

      I like the show, but I do agree that it needs a bit more focus. As much as I enjoy the banter and rants, I think the show could stand some editing. When you notice you have just gone off topic for ten minutes or there’s a long hike coming up with no interesting scenery, maybe just cut that part from the video in post. A more focused approach either by editing or by coming up with talking points beforehand would allow you to cut down the length of the episodes, which seems to be what most people have trouble with.

  25. King of Men says:

    I would be very happy if you dropped Spoiler Warning entirely and did something else. Video is the slowest way to transfer information, with the possible exception of chiseling out Babylonic cuneiform and sending it back in time to be discovered by archeologists twenty years from now. I can read at four or five times the speed of listening to someone speak. I’m disappointed every time I drop by here and see that the new post is just another video.

    Of course, I’m not paying you anything, so you should feel free to ignore me entirely and do what you like doing. :)

    1. Rutskarn says:

      Well, it’s about the information that’s being transmitted. Spoiler Warning is four different people commenting on a live feed of images. The old saw about an image being worth a thousand words stands–it would be far more cumbersome to describe each scenario, line of dialogue, combat sequence, and glitch than it would be simply to demonstrate it. Even if you had a trained journalist condensing it down as much as possible, it’d be less efficient to write than simply record, whatever the effect on the reader.

      Plus, a video lends itself to a slightly different type of commentary, which is what Spoiler Warning delivers. Not saying you have to like it, necessarily, but it is something that can’t be done well with text.

      1. azgarth says:

        speaking of live feeds, would it ever be possible to do an actual live show?
        one playing, the rest of you guys commenting vocally, and a chat channel on the side for those watching? something livestream?
        it wouldn’t work for most games, but for something like TES, new vegas, or some other openended game it might.
        people watch artists draw something through streams like that, surely this would be much more interesting?

      2. LintMan says:

        The old saw about an image being worth a thousand words stands

        Many of your viewers can (or already did) play the game themselves, so the added value you guys provide is really in what you have to say. So it’s more about spoken word than images; much lower bandwidth than reading.

        Even if you had a trained journalist condensing it down as much as possible, it'd be less efficient to write than simply record, whatever the effect on the reader.

        Recording might be more efficient for you guys to do as the creators, but it’s way less efficient for the viewers, which I think was King of Men’s point.

        1. Rutskarn says:

          Point is, it’s not a direct translation of, “We get rid of the hour and a half of Spoiler Warning recording time and you magically get a series that can convey that amount of detail and insight more efficiently.” Actually, going off my production times, that translates to, “You get two pages of making jokes about radiant AI.”

    2. Shamus says:

      You don’t like Babylonic cuneiform either?

      Man, there goes ANOTHER project idea.

      1. xuberfail says:

        This is the sort of spontaneous hilariousness that makes spoiler warning awesome.

      2. Ingvar says:

        I much prefer Futhark runes implemented on granite. If you could re-do Spoiler Warning using that as a delivery vehicle, I’d be right on it (or, at least, very impressed). Oh, I prefer Older Futhark, there’s more of them.

      3. Irridium says:

        You should do something in Sanskrit.

        Bitches love Sanskrit.

        1. Sigilis says:

          Somehow, I do not think that is Shamus’ target audience.

          Hieroglyphs, ‘nough said.

  26. Grant says:

    I’m in the “I can’t watch them because they are too long” camp. Shorter, daily segments wouldn’t help that because it would basically be the same time commitment, just a little more spread out. I would probably make time for a “best of Spoiler Warning” or something like that, though.

    It is okay to do things for different audiences. I would bet that the lack of enthusiasm has less to do with the quality and more to do with the fact that people generally have disproportionately higher quality standards for things that consume large amounts of time or money, even though they might be objectively worth it compared to shorter/cheaper things. That’s part of the reason why they always try to sell cars in terms of monthly payments instead of a huge lump sum.

    I do wish you luck with this project, of course, even though I’m unlikely to have a chance to enjoy it. :)

  27. Riesz says:

    I recently started watching Spoiler Warning and I’m just getting to the Bioshock series. I actually enjoy the longer format, because it allows me to get a snack and a drink and just relax for a while.

    The main reason why I didn’t get into Spoiler Warning before is that I felt compelled to start at the beginning. When there’s three whole series with dozens of episodes each lasting at least half an hour staring you in the face, it’s easy to get daunted. Just dropping into episode 3×15, for example, just does not seem like a good idea. By that time you will have missed a lot of the plot and discussion, plus you won’t understand half of the jokes. I mean, Spoiler Warning really grew on me over time especially with the recurring gags such as the drinking game or Reginald’s various addictions. Dropping into the middle of season three or four would just make me feel disorientated, I imagine.

    So yeah, not sure how that could be solved exactly, but I would like to emphasise that I really enjoy the show and the current format (though I wouldn’t object to a change of pace) and hope you’ll keep doing it.

  28. rbtroj says:

    I’m going with the argument that Spoiler Warning is just too long. None of your other stuff takes 40 minutes to consume (far, far less, in fact), yet they are all equally delicious, if not moreso.

    I also agree with an earlier commenter who said that the format isn’t as convenient for him as your writing and cartoons. Like him, once I get home I don’t really have time to myself so the time I do get I am not likely to spend reading blogs or watching web videos.

    1. Galad says:

      In that case I would like to wholly recommend you episode 6 of the last season of SW, the one discussing Bioshock. The one that spawned the almost meme-like ‘bees’ gag :D

      1. Nyaz says:

        I still can’t play Bioshock without hearing Mumbles voice going “BEEEESSSS” in my head.

        1. Scott says:

          I can’t think of anything related to Bioshock OR bees without Mumbles’ ‘BEEEEESSSSSS’ playing in my mind over and over. It’s marvelous.

  29. Nick says:

    Length is definitely the reason I’ve never bothered to tune into these before, also I guess the concept doesn’t hugely appeal to me – I enjoy Unskippable, but I’m conscious that it’s scripted and well condensed for my enjoyment.

    It could well be that I would start watching the smaller length stuff as it’s a more forgiving gateway into trying this sort of video. So yes, the idea probably has merit

  30. Zombie Pete says:

    Reasons I’m not watching (regularly, anyway):

    1. LENGTH (but you know this already). 15 or 10 minute segments would be better. And they don’t have to be every day. A few times a week would be fine.

    2. SPOILERS. Yeah, this should be obvious. I watched FO3, because I’ve already played it. Perhaps I should’ve played the others by now, but haven’t gotten around to it — but I remain hopeful.

    3. ENTERTAINMENT VALUE. Maybe smaller chunks would fix this, maybe not. You guys are witty, don’t get me wrong, but the average episode doesn’t stand up to Unskippable or Zero Punctuation or an old MST3K for the time you’re asking me to spend. You mentioned you’re all writers, so maybe that’s what you should be doing. The MST3K/Unskippable format works for a reason: they’ve spent the time coming up with the wittiest comments they can, and the chaff is edited out. More difficult and more time consuming, I know, but perhaps that’s the way you should go if you what the show to be more than a fun pastime and reach a larger audience with your talents.

    Just my two gp/credits/caps.

    1. SolkaTruesilver says:

      I agree with your #2. When I said I am only halfway through FO3, it’s because I haven’t played ME yet, and I didn’t wanted to spoil it.

    2. Rutskarn says:

      Well, it’s not really an MST3K situation. We’re not camping around trying to come up with the cleverest jokes, necessarily–it’s more of a commentary and criticism series that has jokes thrown in.

      That’s actually a misconception we run up against a lot, and is probably a problem with how we’re presenting the show. That’s one of the things we want to fix when re-launching.

      1. Zombie Pete says:

        No misconception on my part. I know it’s not an MST3K situation. I was suggesting you might consider making it more of one. Add commentary and criticism, but make it more polished and better paced.

      2. Ash says:

        That's the problem right there. People watch Let's Play type series to chill with their proxy friends. They read reviews and editorials for criticism. And there's a good reason for that; to deliver criticism in a Let's Play you're always going to have to be fighting the medium.

        Let's go with an example: for your next review, instead of writing it like you normally do, you instead write steadily and consistently for the six hours (or whatever) it takes you to finish the game you're reviewing. You then check this wall of text for grammar, maybe add a few transitions, but don't really alter it beyond that. You don't snip any redundancies. You don't expand on or better explain any of the points that need it. You don't arrange your points so they flow better. You just post it.

        Now, what are you going to prefer reading; the normal review, or that wall of text? In the time it would take me to watch half of a Spoiler Warning season, I could read my way through the last twelve game review/critique series on this site. There's a reason the majority of Let's Play are 85% goofing around, 15% serious talk, and not the other way around.

        1. Rutskarn says:

          I see your point, and to a degree I sympathize, but I still think there’s a niche for what we’re delivering–a casual, four-person dissection of a game with humor and criticism in roughly equal amounts. It’s the couch comparison: sitting around with friends talking over a game.

          I get that it doesn’t have quite the same appeal as an Unskippable series, but it probably has more reach than we’re getting right now.

          1. xuberfail says:

            And thats the problem. You are delivering to a niche.

          2. Daimbert says:

            Hmmmm. That might be one of the issues right there: people sitting around talking about games don’t normally “dissect” them. They mix joking about it, joking about each other, criticizing it, and doing the “Whoa, that’s cool!” moments.

            Maybe instead of it being too freeform, it’s actually too scripted; you all generally know the games and know what you want to say, so it doesn’t come across as a conversation that we all get to share in as the friend listening in the corner, but as someone else already said as simply criticism of the game.

            Maybe it would help if you guys hadn’t generally played the games you were doing, so that you’d get more surprises and not really know what to say, and then it’d feel more like a conversation instead of just a video dissection.

            But, then, what do I know? I don’t even watch them, and wouldn’t if you did take my suggestions [grin].

            1. Felblood says:

              Gamers don’t dissect games, but game designers do.

              Whether deliberately or not, Spoiler Warning is a show that dissects games, essentially a show where game nerds talk about a game from the perspective of game nerds, in a tone and format that is mostly only of interest to other game nerds.

              This is pretty different from Shamus’ style when he works alone, where he manages to make the brutal vivisection of a game approachable to the common game consumer, who has no training or investment in the matter under discussion.

              Punchier editing would help solve this, and also cut down on the episode length, but I think the solution is to come at the root of the problem. If Spoiler Warning is going to go mainstream, it needs to speak to a more diverse audience, which means a fundamental change in the way it’s hosts improvise their dialogue.

      3. Tizzy says:

        I watched all of the FO3 series and I enjoyed it, but I still feel like there was a lot of not so interesting moments. I already feel like games have a lot of filler moments, filler enemies, but it’s more easy to overlook when you’re playing yourself.

        Now I know you edited out a lot of stuff, especially inventory drudgery. But a possibility to consider would be to make the videos more “vignette” like and less like a continuous playthrough: “now we’re paying a visit to Three Dog”, “We just crossed the desert and we’ve run into a place called Little Lamplight”.

        It may not actually be what you’re looking for, especially since you may end up editing out some of the more critique-able aspects of the game, and it may mean re-thinking how the commentary would work as continuity would be more of a problem. But I think it may be worth considering at least.

    3. Sean Riley says:

      I’m going up with all three of these reasons, including the last one. Even DESPITE Rutskarn’s disclaimer below.

      To be brutally honest, the show is too long to watch sitting in a not-wholly-comfortable office chair, it demands you either not care about spoilers or have already played the show, and it’s… well, it’s just not entertaining enough on a per minute basis. That’s just the nature of the beast with a Let’s Play video. You will have down-times and up-times. It’s not that your Let’s Play videos are bad, it’s just that Let’s Play videos are… well, I think ill conceived.

      By contrast, I EAT UP Shamus’s Let’s Play text columns since I can read ’em at my own pace.

      1. Daimbert says:

        Let’s Play texts also allow for creative interpretation, since all you need to do is grab screenshots and you can actually change the story all you want, as long as it generally follows the game. That’s harder to do in video.

        1. Felblood says:

          Bad Let’s Plays can do that, sure, but I’ve never seen one that held my interest once it diverged past a certain degree.

          The best Let’s Plays are like BoatMurdered or Shamus Plays, recounting the events truthfully, but through a perspective lens, with lots of clever writing filling in the gaps, but not actually countering the flow of the in-game narrative.

          You can play with the pacing a lot, and omit unimportant details, but once you get away from the game you were writing about, you generally descend into the realm fan fiction, and all the pitfalls it brings with it.

          Perhaps that horrible X-Com LP I read has biased me in this matter, but I’m pretty sure this is a good rule of thumb to base your reading decisions on.

          1. Someone says:

            The one with the ghost? Oh yeah, I liked it but some parts were just awful.

          2. Daimbert says:

            The sort of thing I was talking about was, in fact, what Shamus does in Shamus Plays. Even that sort of perspective taking is really hard to do with video.

            Recaps a la Agony Booth or what Chuck at sfdebris does for Star Trek lend themselves well to video because all you’re doing is talking about what’s on screen. Good “Let’s Plays” … not so much.

  31. jdaubenb says:

    Shortening the episodes might make me actually watch your videos instead of hitting the “play”-button and doing something in another window.
    To me Spoiler Warning is more of a podcast, probably because up to now I have already played most games you are showcasing. (Or the game was System Doom 3.)

    I know it would probably seem like a huge waste to you, but something podcasty, open-discussion like with a picture stream might work. For me at least. ;)

    1. Sigilis says:

      Okay, that seems easy enough…

      Go check the old episodes of Spoiler Warning, they should now satisfy your demands for podcast like voice communication accompanied by a ‘picture stream’ updating at around 24 Hz. I think you’ll like it a lot.

  32. Celdur says:

    Maybe you should look to difrent places with difrent audiences,
    people that go to http://lparchive.org/LetsPlay/ want to see a letsplay for example.

    And maybe the new http://www.blisteredthumbs.net/ could host your show.
    Pretty much every show on there is way longer than it should be >.>

    Anyway, i really like spoiler warning, its one of the few lets play series that i can really stick with and watch, without it growing old.

    1. Galad says:

      *shakes fist* Goddamn you, mysterious netizen..I survived tvtropes. None of them put a grip on me, I always closed the tab when I got the info I needed to follow the convo that referred to a certain trope. But THIS! This is a rickroll on a wholly new level..all the games I’ve only heard of, and never have been able to play for one reason or another at my fingertip…

      See you when I get old…

    2. Aulayan says:

      I second Blistered Thumbs, several of them regularly go 15-20 minutes, and some people on the parent site, That GUy With The Glasses, go up to 30 minutes on some occasion. Check them out.

    3. Noumenon says:

      I agree with Galad — that is an awesome site that has me watching tons of Lets Plays that are better than what I find on YouTube. I especially like the FFX walkthrough (I wonder if Spoiler Warning would work better with all the people in the same room laughing like that than over the phone) and the Doom 2 Master Levels walkthroughs by a single very sarcastic man.

  33. Gavin says:

    I make and watch Let’s Play’s and here is a breakdown of the different ways we run our LP’s:
    Recording Style:
    1) Record for as long as you play then split it into 15 minute episodes. Each episode is previous_part_no+1. Other’s number based on sessions, e.g. S1E5 for the fifth 15 minute period in the first session.
    2) Run a stopwatch and after every fifteen minutes say “see you next time”, wait 2 seconds, say “welcome back, last time we were shooting people” and keep going.

    Release schedule:
    1) Release each batch of episodes in one go, so your viewers will get a dump of (e.g.) 5 episodes every Monday.
    2) Release each episode every time_period (e.g. weekdays) so your viewers have something new every day.

    Make sure to put everything into a playlist.

    That’s about it really. I always thought you guys were lost on Viddler. Come hang out with the cool kids on Youtube.

  34. asterismW says:

    Add me to the “would rather read” category. The only time I read your blog is at work, where I can’t watch any of the videos. And at home, I simply don’t have time for a 30 minute show. I don’t even have time for a 15 minute show, especially one that I have to watch daily in order to keep up with what’s going on. I’d like to, as I think your show would probably appeal to me, but I simply have too much going on. I enjoy watching Unskippable and LRR, but I agree that cutting your show to 5 minutes would ruin it. So, while Spoiler Warning just doesn’t work for me, I agree with the general census that smaller bites would probably appeal to a larger audience, as well as posting the videos on YouTube. Whatever you decide to do, good luck.

  35. Entropy says:

    Personally, I like the 30-40 minute episodes. But then I’m a weirdo with nigh-on infinte spare time. I like the fact that watching a Spoiler Warning, I kill a significant amount of time. Longer the better I say.

    Still, I realise I am not a majority, and can live with a shorter more regular format. Especially if it is daily.

  36. Sekundaari says:

    I don’t mind the delay that much, I used it productively. By watching the first Mass Effect season.

    I do think I prefer the ~30 minutes episode (not sure until I’ve seen the 15min version), simply because it takes time to get the gameplay and conversation going. Also, many interesting discussions benefit from the longer time to think about them. And I fear editing the periods of silence out would make the show feel much more artificial to me.

    Some people here have suggested simply splitting an episode into two or more pieces and uploading them on Youtube. This feels like the best solution to me, with the large audience, HD and the benefits of the longer show.

  37. Telefon says:

    Shamus I pay attention to literally nothing else you do besides Spoiler Warning, so here’s anecdotal evidence at least that not everyone watching is riding on the coattails of… whatever else it is you do.

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist being a dick but it is mostly the truth. Not only are your regular followers apparently not into Spoiler Warning, I’d bet there are actually plenty of loyal Spoiler Warning followers whose interests don’t really gel with the rest of the site.

    1. Fnord says:

      I’d add to this opinion. In fact, Shamus’s other stuff piggy-backs on Spoiler Warning for me.

      When you were doing DM of the Rings, I checked that, then read the other stuff you’d done since I’d been here last. After DM ended, I checked back from time to time, but gradually lost interest. Your other stuff is interesting, in a way, but for whatever reason it doesn’t bring me back. There’s a lot of interesting stuff on the web. I’ll check it if I’m here, but I don’t visit your site for it.

      Like DM of the Rings, Spoiler Warning brings me to your site.

  38. Falcon_47 says:

    The problem with a 30 min show is that nowadays the internet as so much to offer and you can do so much that anything over 10, 15 min tops its gonna feel lika a bit of a time waste. No matter how much you like something, during that time span you could be watchin 3 other stuff you like equally.
    I personally don’t mind the time span of the episodes but i’ve found myself going more and more times recently to youtube and losing SO MUCH of that time just watchin my subscrition channels, let alone other stuff I would watch (namely this show).
    It’s just my opinion and i’ll still find time in the future to watch spoiler warning, but i just think a lot of other ppl think like me.

  39. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I think the main problem is that lets plays as a whole arent that popular.For someone to watch a lets play of a game,they have to either have played it,or dont ever want to play it,and on top of that to care about it as well.Which limits the audience a lot.Everyone wants to watch/read a review or a spoof,whether theyve played the game or not,whether they care for it or not.If the analysis is good,or if the humour is good,it wouldnt matter what game you pick.With lets play,that is not so.

    And,as Ive said once before,spoiler warning is the only lets play on the web I can watch.I do occasionally watch some lets play,but thats only for games that I have finished,but missed some secret,and dont want to go all the way back to check it out.

    1. Blanko2 says:

      woah woah woah. lets plays arent POPULAR???
      dude.
      there are right now, from memory, four sites dedicated SOLELY TO LPS
      freelanceastronauts.com
      chipandironicus.com
      letscrosby.com
      protonjon.com

      not to mention this: http://forums.somethingawful.com/forumdisplay.php?forumid=191
      a subforum, just for LPs on a site that some might say is big.
      so dude, LPs are popular. you just gotta do em right.
      youtube lpers generally dont, cuz they just go for perfect runs or crappy lines.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        So?Compare that to reviews and spoofs.From memory I know of dozens of sites that do reviews and just as many comics based around spoofing games.

        1. Blanko2 says:

          and that means that its not popular, somehow?
          takes a lot more work to do a good LP than to do a written review or a comic.
          not everyone is willing to put in the effort of getting recording software, setting it up etc etc.

          now you can still say its a niche market, but its the internet, the exact niche that that fills is the one that generally uses the internet more.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Nope,it means its less popular than other stuff on games.

    2. Soylent Dave says:

      I think Let’s Plays are generally targeting the same (niche) market as reviews and parodies, actually.

      Which is two kinds of people:

      1. People who have played the game in question, and want to see what you think of it (whether you’re reviewing it, or taking the piss out of it)

      2. People who are thinking about playing the game in question, and want to see what you think of it (whether you’re reviewing it etc.)

      You can split the niche a bit between people who want ‘serious’ commentary, or just want to laugh at the game – but you probably won’t find too many people interested in reading a review, or watching an LP, or watching a parody, who haven’t played the game in question and have no interest in doing so. But it’s still the same niche (and niche markets can still be pretty huge, especially on the internet).

      (cue army of people saying that they watch LP despite not fitting into either category – you’re exceptions. I posit that you’re a minority and you don’t affect the niche much)

      1. Blanko2 says:

        i dont think that holds, a lot of people dont want to do either and just like the LPer.
        you are really just underestimating LPS as a whole. a LOT of people just like to see an LPer suffer through a bad game (alone in the dark 5, for instance) or play a game where they can just grief their friends.
        or even just show off a game that they think is cool

        1. Soylent Dave says:

          You’re quite right – ‘playing a notable game’ (whether it’s notable because it’s really good or because it’s really bad – I’m guessing the latter would be more popular, because people are sadists…) would definitely a third reason to watch an LP – or read a review, for that matter – which I completely disregarded.

          (and you’re also right to say that LPers (along with reviewers) will eventually build up a fanbase who enjoy their output regardless – but I’d imagine that they’re few and far between (and you still need a reason to watch the first LP, or read the first review))

          I still think it’s the same target market as reviews and parodies, though. It is worth bearing in mind that niche markets can still be massive (e.g. there are millions of FPS gamers; there are billions of people who aren’t even gamers. FPS gaming is a niche; it’s still a shitload of people)

  40. Matt K says:

    For me, I tend to read this site at work and so I can easily open an article (which costs a minuscule amount of bandwidth for me) and if I need to get back to work, I can always pick back up later.

    For videos, my work has a bandwidth limit per month. It’s pretty high but streaming 40 min videos is both a lot more time I’m not productive and occasionally I’ll have to reload the video thus eating into my bandwidth. It would actually be easier if I could just dl the video at home and watch during my commute in (no internet but ~3 hours where I’m just sitting around).

    Just some thoughts since the few episodes I have seen I’ve enjoyed.

    EDIT: To follow Daemians point, I probably won’t watch this season since I want to play ME2 but don’t have time to play yet (FONV).

  41. Khizan says:

    The videos are just too long for me to ever be interested in them, really. I just don’t have the time to be able to spend 30-40 minutes watching a video game rant, and when I do have the time, I’d rather be playing a game than watching you guys play it.

    And once you miss an episode, you’ve got an hour or more. So you skip that one. And then you’re looking at a movie’s length of time just to catch up. A movie’s length of time spent watching a few guys play a game and bitch about it, that I could be spending playing a game or watching a movie.

  42. Nathon says:

    I read pretty much everything else you do but ignore the Spoiler Warnings. Personally, I’d much rather read 10,000 words than watch a 10 minute video. Assuming your writing has attracted more people like me, maybe it’s just that the large community you’ve built here selects against the video-watchers. That could help to explain the less-than-expected viewership.

  43. Nick Bell says:

    I am in the camp of “anything Shamus writes is better than the best possible video.” If you needed to cut any single thing from your million projects, Spoiler Warning would be it for me.

    As for the decrease in watching, my main complaint is that you keep doing games I have already played. In fact, every single game you have done so far is something I have beaten at least twice. I don’t really want to watch you play something I have already played. If I am going to spend 30 hours watching you guys in a game, I want something new and fresh. Ideally, I want you to play a game I’ll never play. Giantbomb’s Endurance Runs of Persona 4 and Deadly Premonition are prefect examples.

    I would also like something that is new and fresh for you guys as well. I think the commentary would be far better if you all started from scratch. I have never gotten too far into any of the Spoiler Warnings, so maybe this gets better, but you spend a lot of time talking about the game as a whole, rather than the moment in the game itself. I don’t need to watch videos to hear your general opinions on Bioshock or Mass Effect. You have written fantastic posts about them already. I would rather hear your opinions as they formed organically during the game.

    1. Nihil says:

      I happen to subscribe to every single one of these points.

  44. NonEuclideanCat says:

    I’m sure someone has already mentioned this, but you should consider getting an account at the Something Awful forums and talking to people there. Let’s Play actually has a pretty huge following and a lot of people would be more than happy to help with your show if you post in the Sandcastle asking for it. Heck, if viewership is an issue, make threads for your LPs there as well as posts here. You’ll pull in a lot of traffic from there.

    I currently have RSS feeds on 26 different Let’s Players, most of whom regularly put out videos in the “approximately 30 minutes in length” category. Heck, a lot of LPers actually apologize when they put out a video that’s under ~25 minutes in length.

    It can be done, you’ve just gotta know where to setup shop. The Let’s Play subforums are basically the grand HQ of this whole craze, so you really should make yourself known there. We don’t bite, really (unless you’re really awful, but you guys are great). But seriously, I and thousands of other goons (our community name for members of the SA forums) have individually consumed thousands upon thousands of hours watching LPs, not to mention the time spent making fanart for them and taking about them on the forums. The proverbial “consumer base” for Spoiler Warning does exist, and it is enormous. You just have to go to it, Shamus.

    1. xuberfail says:

      I do think that marketing the show to more willing audiences will help alot

    2. Blanko2 says:

      also, the let’s play forums on something awful are free to browse, links follow to the sandcastle (where they discuss LPing tactics) which is frequented by some of THE GREATEST LP’ers KNOWN TO MAAAAN! (Proteaus4994, ChipCheezum, among others)
      http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=2993270&userid=0&perpage=40&pagenumber=1
      not that useful unless you have an account but still enlightening.

      and the tech forum, wherein lie the dark wizards of the internet. they get about to doing some spiffy things, i dont know how much theyd be of help to you, though, but they do mention some hosting things which will be of interest, at least:
      http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3022910

  45. Brett says:

    I’ll just say this: Spoiler Warning is the main attraction of this site for me at this point. Whatever changes get made to the series, please don’t be too quick to give it the axe.

    The 15-minute idea sounds fantastic for a number of reasons- more options for video hosting, better appeal for people with busier schedules, more frequent video releases, etc. One major problem though: most modern games like the ones you guys give the SW treatment are not designed for 10-minute jaunts at a time. Heck, I think you can spend that much time in Mass Effect’s dialogue trees without even seeing gameplay. If you could find a way to shorten the vids to 10-15 minutes, then great, but if you’re keeping those custom credits (which were a big plus, by the way) then it might hurt the quality if you spend the whole episode looking for a good place to stop. 40 minutes was a bit much to watch in one sitting, but I did anyway because it gave you guys time to get into some deep conversations and really take in significant segments of the game, which was good for flow (until it got monotonous, like with the end of Bioshock).

    Basically, there’s a whole lot of ways this series could be changed for the worse, but I’ll trust your judgement on this one. As long as Spoiler Warning is still around in some capacity, you can mark me down for the ‘happy with the series’ camp.

    1. Veloxyll says:

      The advantage about 10-15 min eps done daily is that it’s not so critical they find a good place to stop, they can drop cliffhanger endings on us during the week since there’s another episode coming up tomorrow (and, through the magic of video they can record the whole episode in 1 sitting and then cut it up).

      Looking forward to seeing what new things Spoiler Warning: ME2 brings us!

  46. Taellosse says:

    for what it’s worth, I’m one of those lost viewers. I watched faithfully throughout the Mass Effect series. When you started Fallout 3, I kept going (despite never having played the game), but started to fall behind, often watching episodes several days late, until finally I stopped altogether. I skipped Bioshock completely.

    The episodes are, indeed, just too long. I don’t generally have 30-40 minutes I want to spend watching something like that. My lunch hour at work is generally taken (by the Daily Show and Colbert Report, for what it’s worth), and it’s not the sort of thing you can view in bite-size chunks like webcomics or blog posts, as a breather between work tasks. When I’m at home I’ve got TV and games and news and chores to fill my time (not to mention sleep and a wife).

    I’d probably pick it back up again if the average episode was only 15-20 minutes long. Though I’d be fine if you posted it 3 days a week instead of 5. That’s maybe a small net loss of content from 2 30-minute episodes, but I’m afraid I’d probably fall behind again and stop if it was daily.

    Anyway, unless things have changed since I stopped watching, I suspect that a lot of the episodes could do with some editing to cut out more of the dead air when no one has anything interesting to say or the player is doing something boring (especially both), and that will likely take extra work over what’s being done now.

    1. Peter H. Coffin says:

      How do you cut out “dead air” of a live feed? I mean, there’s still the actual game play going on.

      1. BenD says:

        The live feed is only a part (and I suspect a small part) of the viewerbase; the rest of us watch the episode after the fact, days or weeks later. So the live feed can be a messy, slow behemoth and people who want to be there to see it can see it; the final product, however, could (and by some arguments should) be a masterpiece of editing: sleek, fast-paced, entertaining.

        Essentially, the difference between watching a good comedy TV show (are there any of those? Let’s pretend so, for the sake of this example) as its ‘live audience’ and watching it at home on the TV.

  47. simmuskhan says:

    I think it’s a good idea, I mean, if you like sitting down to watch 40 minutes or so, just watch them in a batch at the end of the week, right?

    If you playlist them on youtube, that sort of thing is super easy.
    So you’re essentially adding functionality for people who like short clips, not really removing anything for people who like longer vids.

    It’s funny, I’ll sit and watch half a dozen 10 minute “let’s play” (minecraft at the moment) videos on youtube while having skipped over longer videos elsewhere because I “didn’t have the time”, even though I ended up spending longer!

    So you may end up getting “catchment” watchers with the shorter clips.

  48. neothoron says:

    I’ll have to put myself among the “used to watch when it was about ME1, but not anymore”.

    My personal reasons:
    * I have been personnally busier.
    * I watched ME’s playthrough because it was a game whose reference was fresh (because of ME2), and I watched that playthrough instead of replaying it. On the other hand, I did not really connect with either BioShock or Fallout 3 because I have not played these games very much.

    I don’t really believe that having these games in 15 minutes instalments will do much for me (I am even busier than before) – though, having it on youtube may augment the chance that I could watch these after a while. (It would be easier to browse the videos on youtube than on this blog.)

    NB: I am curious as to what you are going to do with comments. Will you disable them, or make the bold bet of forming an island of quality youtube comments in a sea of garbage?

    1. Someone says:

      I dread to imagine the flamewars that might emerge if SW ever gets on YouTube. The stupid from the comments there will probably splash over and contaminate Twentysided as well!

      1. Andrew says:

        Interestingly, if the comments section of Shamus’ posts on the Escapist are any indication, it actually goes the other way. Something about the atmosphere Shamus’s established for this site keeps the comments section friendlier and more thoughtful than I previously believed was possible for an open forum on the internet.

        1. acronix says:

          You haven´t been around Youtube´s comments, have you?

        2. Someone says:

          The Escapist forums have nothing on YouTube. The gigantic audience, relative anonymity and lack of moderation make it, quite possibly, the stupidest place on the internet, and that, my friend, is saying something.

          Even if you posted a video showing paint dry or flowers grow, you can bet both your kidneys that within about 9 minutes it will start a 16 page flamewar between Europeans, Americans, homosexuals and Halo fans, complete with comparisons to Hitler, gratuitous swearing and the level of ignorance and illiteracy you would not have imagined possible.

          Since Spoiler Warning is all about tearing into various mainstream sacred cows and picking out all of their flaws, big or small, the sheer amount of rabid fanboys it might attract boggles the mind. And then the haters will show up. And then someone will notice that the SW crew mostly consists of PC gamers and start The Console Wars all over again…

          And before you know it, the comments on Twentysided turn into “lol u suk at rewiwin gaems, michel bay rullz lol die fags lol” garbage.

          So yeah, it might be a small problem.

  49. LassLisa says:

    Two factors have kept me from the series – length and misery.

    Length: I can’t watch video while doing other things. I can read while at least pretending to do other things. There are a few videos that get exceptions made for them – cute things my friends send me, ZP when I remember, the daily drop because it doesn’t need sound – and getting under half an hour would be a big step in making it feel worth my time to watch at least the occasional episode.

    Misery: I watched a little bit of the Mass Effect one, and pretty much my only take-away was “wow, they really think this game sucks, what the hell? I had a lot of fun playing it, but they don’t seem to be.” I don’t know if the recent ones have followed the same structure, certainly Mumbles’ additions sound fun (BEEEEES! hehehe I would watch the Bioshock ones just for that if they were shorter) but it seems like everyone who talks about the game talks about how much they’re based around ripping apart games. I enjoy that if it’s funny and a bit self-deprecating a la “stop shooting meeeee” but that wasn’t the feeling I got from the mass effect one – I felt like you wouldn’t be playing at all if it weren’t for the video series, and watching people suffer is not one of my hobbies (also don’t like reality TV).

    Of course not having watched any recently I guess that means “too long, and bad advertising”? So if they were shorter I’d definitely give it another try.

  50. X2-Eliah says:

    Hmokay, let’s see how the 15 minutes/more episodes turns out.

    Honestly – it sounds fine from where I’m looking, as long as you guys don’t turn this into a “10 minutes / week” show, I’ll be happy :)

  51. Someone says:

    Sorry to hear you couldn’t monetize the show Shamus, maybe it is for the best, as the Escapist seems to have a slightly different audience.

    I know Rutskarn managed to find a way to profit from his videos, but you probably know it already.

    I love Spoiler Warning, I am one of those people who come here every Tuesday and Thursday to obsessively mash F5 waiting for the next fix to come out (and then waiting for it to stop being private). It’s interesting, it doesn’t look forced, like a lot of other stuff out there, and the comments regularly spawn great discussions you won’t find anywhere else on the internet.

    That said, I think I would prefer shorter episodes every day of the week, don’t really have a problem with longer episodes but it would be nice to always have something interesting to watch.

  52. Vegedus says:

    As someone who tunes in at best occasionally, I agree with the shorter length, thing. It’s like with indie games: 10 $ is a snack prize, there’s no qualms about spending it on something that might be bad, whereas you can agonize a lot over spending 50 bucks. Similarly, I’m not shy about spending 10 minutes watching some random video, even if it’s not always in my taste, while with 40 minutes, I actually have to ponder and decide on whether I want to spend that much time on something.

  53. Samkathran says:

    I’m sorry to hear that things are not going so great for our dear Spoiler Warning. I had no idea that the half the initial audience has dropped off since you started. If you also count people like me who joined in later (Fallout 3 in my case), then it seems like a lot of people just couldn’t stick with it :(

    I guess I’m a bit of an anomaly with this whole LP thing. I actually generally dislike them, and I haven’t seen shows like Unskippable and the other stuff out there. They tend to be purely for humor, and it never attracted me because I already have friends who I can joke about video games with. What I don’t have, however, are friends who want to talk about the mechanics and design aspects of the game. That’s what drew me into Spoiler Warning, you guys actually get into the quality of the game in addition to the funny stuff.

    In any case, it certainly sounds like change would be for the best. I too would have a hard time justifying time spent towards a relatively big series like this if the audience was smaller than what I drew in for less time consuming projects. From the comments I’ve read so far, it sounds like shortening the episodes to 15 minutes and getting on YouTube would earn back a lot of old viewers, as well as open the doors for many new ones. Combine that with Josh having more freedom for editing the video and the other ideas you had for cleaning up the show from last week, and I think you end up with a vastly improved Spoiler Warning that will attract a much bigger audience.

    Here’s hoping for the best. Good luck! :)

  54. Factoid says:

    Here’s a bit of armchair quarterbacking about why I think the series doesn’t hit its full potential. And this is coming from a fan of the series.

    I think a lot of the commentary is great. It tries to be insightful and funny and is generally successful, but it struggles tremendously under the weight of keeping everything moving forward.

    You’re all so concerned with run length and episode counts that you don’t give yourself permission to indulge in areas where the commentary can be full and rich. So you end up giving equal commentary time to both the interesting parts of the game and the boring parts of the game.

    Have you thought about trying a one-off experiment with pre-recording your gameplay and then going back to do commentary afterwards? Kind of like a director’s DVD commentary track.

    You could also edit the video so that it’s not a continuous playthrough, but just the chunks that are worth talking about.

    1. Jon Ericson says:

      I like it!

      Here are some advantages off the top of my head:

      * The player can be an equal to the other commentators. So often Josh’s comment are a) swearing at the game, b) prepping us for something cool he wants to do, and c) swearing at the game when something cool fails to happen. It used to be funny.

      * Reduced interrupts when person A is detailing a game’s flaw and person B comments on something cool/stupid/odd that just happened. Person A can just what until an elevator or something to start their exposition.

      * Commentary and game play could be synced up.

      * Game crashes and such would not have to interrupt the conversation in quite so terminal a way.

      I also imagine it would simplify the recording setup as a bonus.

      1. Kdansky says:

        It would allow a ton of editing to happen, which I think is the primary issue with SW, that it lacks strict editing and cutting out of boring things.

  55. Robyrt says:

    Here are my 2 cents:

    1. Cut the end credits and the starting lag. I always close the browser before Spoiler Warning finishes, and I don’t think I’m the only one. It sounds like this means I don’t appear on your viewer count. You don’t need two sets of credits, and I’d rather keep the opening ones because they remind me whose voice is whose.

    2. Do more off-screen playing. You never have anything interesting to say when Josh is grinding through an area after dying twice, so just cut it altogether and replace it with a title card or super-speed. Same thing with the tenth Pipe Dream minigame.

    3. 15-minute episodes are a good start, but 10 might be even better. I usually check Twenty Sided over breakfast and Spoiler Warning makes me late for work, so bite-size chunks would be much appreciated.

    4. More non-griping commentary. It’s fun to hear you tear into various sacred cows, but after a few minutes of nonstop abuse I lose interest. Random funny stories, appreciation for good bits, inside jokes – all of these add some spice to what is otherwise a long stream of invective.

  56. Brian says:

    My take is admittedly useless…I’ve never watched a full Spoiler Warning. I’ve been interested…intrigued…I’ve watched a few minutes here or there. But I just can’t commit to sitting down for 30+ minutes of it, and I’m sure there are plenty of people like me. In addition, I’m a latecomer to the PC game…game, so I haven’t actually played any of these games, and thus feel like I wouldn’t “get” it. But that’s me speaking from a position of ignorance.

    I’ve also read/watched/loved pretty much everything else you’ve ever done. If you chopped it down to 15 or even 20 minutes, I’d probably be watching it religiously. By which I mean I’d really mean to watch every one, and I’d feel guilty when I inevitably missed half of them.

  57. Chris says:

    Since the more “traditional” video methods are not working so well, why not go bleeding edge with the HTML 5 video tag? All you really need is a decent file host for it to work (i.e. not the same place that hosts the WordPress part of this website). WebM support is just beyond the horizon: Chrome currently supports it, and beta versions of the other browsers do too. For broader support in the short-term, while WebM gets rolled out, you could use Vorbis.

    If affordable hosting is unable to handle the load for a newly released video, first release it by BitTorrent and once all the hardcore followers have had their fill (a couple of days?) you make it available as normal on the web with the video tag.

    1. X2-Eliah says:

      Torrent?

      Please, no.
      I don’t want to muck around with extra software to play a video.. It’d be like.. Using Steam for a single-player game?

      1. Chris says:

        Then you’d be one of the people who waits a couple extra days before it’s available as a normal web video.

  58. Cloverhook says:

    Obviously, it’s going to be impossible to please everyone. I love the 40-minute episodes, because I can just hit play and watch/listen as I work on other stuff. I guess 15-minute episodes would work the same way, but they’d fill less time. If we get a video every weekday, for instance, then sure, I can play one each day while I work on papers and such. But that’s just fifteen minutes, so if I want more background entertainment, I’m going to have to find something else to augment it.

    Of course, I could always just wait til, say, friday, and watch them all back to back. The problem there, of course, is the interruption of having to find the link to the next video, hit play, let it buffer, etc. It completely breaks the flow.

    That’s all fairly specific to just my work-style though. Reading the comments, it’s obvious that a move to shorter episodes would work for some, but not for others. So ultimately, you have to go with what feels best to you.

    My only other worry is that, with shorter episodes, more time is going to be spent on that winding down period, where someone says something like “Aren’t we getting close to the end of our time?” and the push is on to find a stopping point. That’s easy in a 40-minute time-frame… There’s bound to be a decent point to pause the action somewhere in that segment of the game. But with shorter episodes, it’s going to be harder to find those pause points. In ME2, for instance, 15 minutes can be composed of just one dialogue — especially if there are delays in choosing options while you guys discuss things. And, in reality, you’ll only get maybe 12-13 minutes of actual show… You have to factor in the intro and outro times.

    Wall of disjointed text aside (I’m doped up on nyquil, so sorry if I got ramble-ish), my gut feeling is that 15 minute episodes will lack the depth of discussion I’ve come to enjoy with Spoiler Warning.

    1. Peter H. Coffin says:

      Getting through the conversation trees within the allotted time-frame occurred to me too. Especially in light of the times during the ME series where they were dealing with the Citadel and most of an entire 30 minute episode would deal with the lead-up to a conversation, the conversation, then going through the door unlocked by the conversation. That may be just the pacing ME happened to have and it may never be the same with another game, but we’ll have to see how it plays out.

  59. quicksilver_502 says:

    personally i just wasn’t entertained when i watched them. i don’t mind a bit of critiscim of games but constant, constant attacks on the game, which is often pretty decent really, gets wearying. however, they have said that thats kinda the point. i’m not the audience for this show, which is fair enough, but i just thought i’d throw that out there as an explanation of why at leats some people aren’t watching.

  60. PurePareidolia says:

    I’m a fan of the long episodes, but the 15 minutes a day format is something I could get behind, or even just split the episode in half and have them up on the same schedule.

    Now, while I have tried linking people to it, I don’t think I’d do more linking if it was better (bearing in mind it’s already my favourite part of the site) – I don’t tend to link a lot of videos regardless.

    Still, the Freelance Astronauts do 10-15 minute segments and manage to get a good amount of dialogue in, so I’m all for this change.

  61. Brandon says:

    I have to admit that the length is a huge barrier to me for getting into it, but also the game selections.

    So far you’ve done.. Mass Effect, Bioshock, Fallout 3, and now Mass Effect 2?

    I’m sure you have many interesting things to say talk about during each of the games, but I’ve already sunk a ridiculous sum of hours into all four of those games (save perhaps Bioshock, but I still have completed it). Unfortunately, I don’t feel it’s a good use of my time to watch the games that I’ve already played and beaten over and over, being played with commentary. Even at only say, 45 minutes a week, it adds up to something much larger over time, and since it’s already stuff I’ve already experienced (minus commentary) it just doesn’t seem like a good use of time.

    So what I’m saying is, I guess the commentary just isn’t enough to pull me in. I might be more inclined to watch if a game was featured that I hadn’t played (And most likely only if I had no intention of playing through it myself ever).

    1. BenD says:

      I am just the opposite! I watched the F3 SW because I’ve played gobs of F3 and I had faith I’d ‘get’ the jokes and references. Sadly I can’t assume the same for ANY of the other choices.

      1. Daimbert says:

        That, then, would be a problem: with a video Let’s Play, you shouldn’t have to worry about not getting the references because they should be on the screen. There’s no point in doing a video with the gameplay if the conversation isn’t about what’s on the screen.

        A text Let’s Play could very much have that problem because it summarizes and doesn’t show everything, but a video shouldn’t. At least, not as much.

  62. Ben says:

    Like a few others have said, I’ll take text over video any day, no matter the length. It’s partly because the text doesn’t require consistent, undivided attention, partly because I read faster than most people speak, and partly because I get to set my own pace. The result is that I’ve read just about everything you’ve written on this site in the last three years, but only watched maybe five of the videos you’ve posted in that same time (including the short Saturday morning stuff).

    Obviously Spoiler Warning isn’t going to capture me as a viewer no matter how you modify it, and I would never suggest that you try to change it for me. I simply enjoy the rest of the site and skip over the noisy pictures.

  63. Groboclown says:

    While reading this, I had a thought that might change the scope of the LP a bit.

    To me, the Spoiler Warning worked best when the gang was commenting on the story of the game while it’s being played, and deconstructing it. Commenting on the combat got old really fast.

    Now, in some of the LPs you did, Josh would have a bunch of numbing nonsense work to do, and you’d do a bit of a fast-forward during those bits. I actually really enjoyed that.

    So what if the format was changed up a bit to having Josh (or whomever) record a playthough, then have an LP on the pre-recorded playthrough, so that the small stuff can be skipped? It would lose some of the spontaneity of telling Josh to do things, but that never worked well anyway because of the voice delays that inevitably crept in.

  64. Blake says:

    If you cut them in half I might be able to start watching them again.
    I got a decent chunk into your Fallout 3 videos then stopped because I just don’t have a spare half hour in any given day.

  65. Yashas Bharadwaj says:

    I’ve been visiting this blog everyday for about four months now and I never watched a single episode of Spoiler Warning till the one about TF2. It wasn’t because of the length of the video( I didn’t even know it ran for half an hour). It was because I didn’t want any spoilers about a game that I planned to play at some point of time. I prefer to play the game first. I watched the TF2 video because I didn’t plan on playing it and man, that episode got me hooked. So maybe you guys should cover more esoteric games like Deus Ex or System Shock 2. I missed all of them and maybe you guys showing it will suck me into those games as well. You don’t have to play through the entire game. Just the earlier parts as mentioned in this post would be sufficient. In fact, that would be better because that way, people can go play them if they like it and if they don’t, they’re not stuck watching a game they don’t like. The length or frequency of the episodes isn’t amajor concern, i think.

  66. Jay says:

    I have to say I am always torn whenever there’s a new SW up, because everything else on the site can be had in bits and pieces. I can read a little of an article, do a little work in another window, then come back to the article later, but i can’t do that with the videos.
    Whenever a SW comes up, i have to think about when I’m going to have time to have it on in the background while i work. I rarely watch more than 5 minutes of it for a full 30 min episode, but enjoy listening to it and can flip over whenever something sounds like its worth watching.
    I really think going to 15 minutes or less is definitely a move worth making. Especially if it means the show gets a little tighter. Maybe coming in with an agenda within the episode, with all 4 of you having a sense of what’s coming would allow you to make salient points, but also ramble a bit and joke around, and not have to worry about lulls in the conversation or the on-screen action.
    Also, more of Josh getting flat out pissed. Its always funny to hear him cuss in frustration!

  67. Fizban says:

    I like the longer episodes myself, but I’d gladly trade them for daily shorter episodes, especially if it’ll help the show.

  68. Neil Polenske says:

    I think the issue is multifaceted and with no clear solution to any of it, which is obviously a problem.

    1) Length.
    Now yes, an obvious improvement – at least in regards to gaining a wider audience – is shortening the eps to the proposed 15mins. This also means doubling the length of episodes. And I think that’s a big problem. Games are long. A short game is considered eight hours. That’s 32 episodes, and you guys have a penchant for games that aren’t that short. Sustaining entertaining commentary on one issue for so long is going to get tiring regardless of how interesting you make it. The fact you’ve done as well as you have so far speaks to your skills in maintaining an audience.

    2) Content
    However you did fail with this last Bioshock run. This game was actually quite short compared to Fallout, but it was a slog to get through for the sole reason that you didn’t have enough to say. While this speaks more to the game’s faults, it doesn’t matter to the audience. You were doing the same thing over and over again while occasionally the plot would offer some meat for you to chew, but for the most part, this last SW was a dry desert. It was particularly excruciating during the last stretch after Andrew Ryan kicks it. Which exposed the final weakness…

    3) Josh
    Conan Shepard/Reginald Cuthbert were quite an entertaining pair of scoundrels in ME/F3. RC never should have followed you under the sea. He didn’t belong there and I can’t fathom what made you think it would entertaining to do so. Watching the spastic mouse movements was nauseating even after you ‘fixed’ it in the early episodes and it became quickly apparent that this wasn’t so much a problem with the mouse, but the way Josh was playing the game. I understanding it was a ‘roleplay’ of an ADHD man-boy, but Bioshock’s main selling point was it’s atmosphere, which can’t be soaked in if the camera is always flailing about. It also meant that because he wasn’t willing to ‘break character’ we had to spend the last half of the game watching him run into bullets until respawning in a vita chamber. Then we had to watch it over..and over…and over again. We get it, the Vita chambers break the game. Can you STOP showing us this example already.

    It’s a simple matter. It was a new game, you should have played a new character, one that was appropriate for the setting and gameplay mechanics provided. You didn’t and the consequences were a last half that I didn’t enjoy so much as endured.

    1. NeilD says:

      I wouldn’t say that I fully agree, but I will say that for me, the worst part of the Bioshock SW was watching Josh getting his ass kicked all over Rapture by Big Daddies for minutes at a time. And doing it with the agonizingly slow grenade launcher, all the while cursing out the crossbow as a useless weapon with a slow reload time.

      Four or five trap bolts in a row + one pistol shot = one dead Big Daddy in less time than it takes to read this post. On the other hand, that might have made Big Daddy encounters too uninteresting for the show, but I never heard them cite that as the reason for not doing it.

  69. Varewulf says:

    I’ve loved Spoiler Warning since the beginning. It’s the closest thing to a TV show I regularly follow. I’ve tried recommending it to a couple of friends, but from what I’ve gathered they haven’t become regular viewers, sadly. :( Maybe the updated format will help, and I hope so. Spoiler Warning deserves to be big. ^_^

  70. NeilD says:

    From what I can see — and this has mostly been covered above — it’s the combination of length and content that are the issue. I want to say “focus” instead of “content”, but it appears to be kind of the point of Spoiler Warning that there is no particular focus, beyond the game itself.

    To elaborate, I think this explains why Reset Button proved more popular — each episode is about something specific, and every second of video and every line of dialogue was in service of that topic. It’s an article with visual aids, and you write interesting articles.

    Similarly, if you did go the MST3K route (and I’m not saying you should), there would be a focused effort to fill the time with a specific type of humourous content.

    By not focusing on anything in particular, an episode of Spoiler Warning provides a haphazard mix of: keen observations on the art of game design; scathing indictments (and, it must be said, occasional praise) of the gaming industry and the corporations that comprise it; hilarious moments of unexpected gameplay mayhem; running gags for that “insider” feel; not to mention the simple straightforward presentation of the gameplay and content for the mildly interested. Plus, I’m sure, several other things I haven’t thought of.

    The upshot of all this is that it makes it kind of hit-or-miss whether there will be anything of interest to a given viewer in a given episode, and how much time there will be between points of interest. I think more people would be inclined to invest the time if they felt assured of a higher entertainment:time ratio.

    Me, I’m a fan and I’m watching them all, but I admit I do occasionally find it hard to schedule the time. For me, 20 minutes is about right — which just means that sometimes I watch it in two sittings.

  71. Ramsus says:

    Well it works for me either way. If shorter episodes means more overall time wasted….*ahem*…well spent on Spoiler Warning then I’m all for it. Though you really must have Rutskarn sing through at least one entire episode. I’m hoping for something with a lot of fish puns.

    Personally I really enjoy the show for what it is. The blend of complaints, Josh dying, commentary on things done right or somewhat right, Josh dying, humor, and Josh dying really work well for me.

    I’ve so far found my problem with getting others to watch it is that I usually end up wanting them to watch some episode in the middle to illustrate a point I’m trying to make. I’m not really sure if the issue is that they don’t want to watch random episodes of something they’ve never seen before or if they just aren’t watching out of spite so they can ignore my points.

  72. Talby says:

    Never watched Spoiler Warning, it’s one of the only things on this site I have zero interest in.

  73. Kornel says:

    *
    The following is my personal opinion (although I am trying to back it up with some arguments)

    Lets start with a big bang, the show (spoiler warning sw) is bad. And I don’t mean boring or mediocre it’s bad plain and simple (and I watched all of them, the reason being I’m a Shamus fan boy, I read/watch/listen to everything that has any connection to that godlike creature ;) ). Why?

    Long, unnatural, disturbing pauses. Just listen to the opening “Hi ‘m Shamus (long disturbing pause and sort of click in a background?) I’m Josh (yet another LDP and CINB?)” and so on. I’m willing to bet gold against peanuts (polish expression ;) that more than half of people that didn't watched entire video stopped after the opening and it is only getting worse.

    “And they kept apologizing to each other if they bumped” that is what you do exactly. You generate lot of LDP because You interrupt each other and then all of you wait (quietly) for someone to speak up
    The “pilot” is concentrated on playing (although he sometimes forces him self to say something which is either uninteresting (because he needs to concentrate on playing) or breaks the pace of game and that leaves the rest of You without feed for commentary. Oh that reminds me…

    You are to concentrated on game play. I know it is about “two guys (and girl ;)on a couch playing together and having fun”. But if you want to keep the conversation flowing and feel natural you shouldn't be afraid to talk about all kinds of subject (game is just an excuse for You to hang out and spent some time together)
    Humor is just not there and when it is there it feels forced. Honestly I think that none of You (maybe except Mmumbles) was created for this kind of show (especially You Shamus). I Can almost hear that You “write” the words in Your head prior to declaiming them (yeas declaiming not saying). Your other videos are good because you can prepare text in advance (and You are a great writer) but still they would be better if someone else would read your text

    No amount of time tweaking can fix any of the above I’m afraid. I do hope that this post is useful somehow because I really love your work and I don,t want You to become full time programmer ;-) I want more of your blog/SP/XP whatever :-)

    *Sorry for my bad (terrible? outrageous?soul crushing?) English. I’m not a native speaker and I have few occasions to speak yet alone write in English

    1. Jon Ericson says:

      Outrageous, but in a good way. It made me laugh the way You capitalize “You”. ;-) I have a pretty diverse vocabulary, but I had to look up “declaiming”. Yes, it is a real word and it fits. Well done.

      Your point about interruptions is spot on. The worst is when one person starts saying something interesting and profound, is interrupted (normally by something trivial), and never gets back to it. Arg! Of course I’m the guy who is annoyed with the original Shrek movie because Shrek cleans wax from one ear (to make a candle) and NEVER CLEANS THE OTHER ONE! And Lost had the worst ending in the history of entertainment.

      1. Kornel says:

        Than yOU for a gentle reply ;-). Reading my post for a third time (when it was to late) almost crushed my soul so yOU are just being extra nice, admit it ;)

        (note to self: ALWAYS read for the third time what you have written and take an extra care (4th time?, Google search some expressions?) if it is in foreign language)

  74. Steves says:

    Oh dear.

    I am going to do something I *never* do, ever, and comment without reading the previous 2 pages worth of ’em and just tell you what I think.

    I HATE 99% of video on the web. I don’t hate movies, or cool animation, or anything that actually benefits from being a series of moving pictures, but I expect ‘Spoiler Warning’ does not qualify as one of those things (hilarious snarky commentary on video games…that is your schtick, right?), and, after the first 5 minutes of the first one I will happily admit I just scroll past anything with ‘Spoiler Warning’ in the title now.

    I like to READ what you write, and, like many others, I adore your comics, though I would say the screen shots you spend so much effort on are really just the set-up for the gag most of the time, and, well, here’s me just voting for more awesome writing & affectionate cynicism if possible, assuming you are still reading…

    I will go back and read the rest of the comments, but you know, Warcraft…and I entirely blame you for that too!

  75. Greg from St Paul says:

    I’m a regular reader who has no interest in watching the show, and there is no time limit that will entice me to check it out. I can’t think of anything more boring than watching other people play video games.

  76. Kdansky says:

    I will give you a rundown on why I don’t (or just rarely) watch it. It’s not the length: I watch a day[9]-daily daily. Those are nearly a full hour. But they are insanely fun, and he’s got the following to prove it: Six thousand live viewers, and a multiple of that afterwards. And all these people are competitive Starcraft 2 players, which is a rather tiny target audience to begin with.

    It’s the quality.

    – When Josh plays an FPS, I get motion sickness in seconds.
    – The video quality is not that good, so it’s a bit blurry. The same goes for sound quality, it’s just not that easy to understand. And then there is stuttering, mumbling, bumping into each other, talking over each other, awkward breaks and so on which makes listening quite tedious. I do compare it to Fear The Boot, which is probably the best edited Podcast on the planet, and I’m being harsh, but it’s the truth. FTB recently stated that they cut away about 30% of what they record during editing. For SW, that is very difficult to do with audio and video sync issues. But it also shows how much garbage the viewer has to suffer through: 15 minutes out of 45 are better spent watching ads.

    But the most important thing: It’s just not that funny. It’s “average internet video content” (which isn’t a high praise to begin with), but it’s stretched out brutally. Bioshock and Fallout were incredibly boring, ME just standard boring. Instead of going from A to Z without much preparation, you might want to only show select pieces, and cut away all the boring parts in between. The same five splicers getting shot repeatedly was getting stale while playing, but when you can only watch it passively, it’s hell. It doesn’t need to be four times shorter, it needs to be four times denser with interesting content. I’d recommend playing everything on easy, to get the repetitive gameplay out of the way. That’s also an issue with the games chosen: They are insanely repetitive and therefore uninteresting to watch, plus nobody can say something interesting about the blandness on screen, which results in dead air to boot. From time to time I watch another episode, but I always turn them off midway because I get bored.

  77. Amarsir says:

    One of the things I like about you Shamus is that you understand your audience. I don’t watch these because they’re too long and I don’t feel that riffing has sufficient joke density (compared to scripted material). And you get that.

    May I suggest one benchmark I’ve found myself using for videos? I end up asking myself if it would be worth listening to without seeing the screen. That justifies me putting it on while multitasking. If I can follow and be informed/entertained with only rare glances at the screen, it’s a winner.

  78. saj14saj says:

    Speaking for no one but me, I love many of your blog posts, and some of the linked essays. But I don’t watch web video, ever. It isn’t your video stuff, it is all web video. I am not that patient. On the other hand, thoughtful written word content is priceless.

  79. Wolfwood says:

    15 minutes everyday! yes please. :D

  80. kaljtgg says:

    I love the show is it is Shamus, and I would love it if it were longer, I hate short videos simply because of the way I watch videos on the net, a game in one screen and the video in the other. But if you do make it shorter please let there be one thing you don’t change. Please never start cutting out your discussions, even if its completer off topic.

  81. Mistwraithe says:

    Add me to the list of people with next to zero interest in Spoiler Warning. I tried watching once or twice early on but it just didn’t work for me. I think the key reasons are:

    1. I don’t like watching videos in my internet browsing time. Text is SO much more digestible and faster. Like many my browsing is at lunch or in small chunks and length of time to get entertainment is critical.

    2. And they were such LONG videos. However even if you made them shorter they would probably need to get down to Zero Punctuation length in order for me to watch them due to #1 above.

    3. They aren’t amusing/entertaining enough for me. Obviously they are for some people so please don’t take this as flaming! But for me they just don’t have enough laughs per minute (as someone put it). So even if you got them down to 5 minutes you would still need to get them up to Zero Punctuation level of laughs per minute for me to watch them.

    Unfortunately I suspect this means I will never be a Spoiler Warning fan no matter what you do.

    My gut feeling is that your writing style is both witty and sophisticated and therefore Twenty Sided has (in very broad stereotypical terms!) attracted a lot of comparitively well educated professional type readers who are interested in the subject matter. These sort of people don’t have a huge amount of time and as I pointed out above videos and Spoiler Warning in particular take a lot of time.

    I think this more than anything is probably why Spoiler Warning isn’t watched by all that many of your reading fan base.

  82. Ham08 says:

    I haven’t watched most of your Spoiler Warning episodes because they are of games that I do not care for, or they are of games that have been out so long that I am no longer interested. ***Maybe you should pick a popular game that just came out and strike while the iron is hot?*** On the other hand, despite having played Mass Effect 2 when it first came out almost a year ago, I would still enjoy watching and listening to your play through with a female Shepard because Jennifer Hale is just that awesome. Word!

    SUGGESTION:

    Weekly D&D Session: Dungeons & Dragons has held its popularity for decades, but many folks can no longer get together and play with their friends for various reasons. I am willing to bet that a great many folks would love to relive that experience vicariously through you and your team. I imagine you could draw quite a crowd with a weekly D&D session game. You could divide a 5 hour weekly session up into 20 fifteen minute segments and release four per weekday on Youtube. You’ll have to get the word out, include proper keywords in your articles about the game session, submit pages to google search engine, submit to reddit and other quality link sites, post a regular blog on gaming websites, post comments on other D&D Youtube channels, post on message boards, etc. That’s a Webmasters job. Caution: Camera work and audio must be given great care.

    I suggested this the other day in comments section of your “Full Disclosure” article, but I am not sure if you had time to read it. Further details are found in my comment, here.

    1. NeilD says:

      Oh hell, yes. A broadcast (audio or video) of a D&D session, followed by a post-game analysis and behind-the-screen look at the ideas and mechanics that went into it (that last may have to be done without the players), would be fantastic. I guarantee me and my current DM would be regulars viewer/listeners.

      1. Ham08 says:

        Great idea. Maybe the last video of the session or group of videos could consist of DM Commentary to sum up that portion, give analysis, maybe teach or provoke thought, and entice the viewer to come back for more. I would prefer video recording though, since there are tons of audio sessions on the net, already. Not to mention the fact that video offers a better opportunity for Shamus and company to monetize their efforts with short ads here and there (maybe one per 15 minute video?).

        If you check out the comment I made in Shamus’ “Full Disclosure” article, you’ll find directions to Youtube channels with videos that give a perfect example of what I am suggesting.

        P.S. Also, you made a great comment above about “focus” and “content”. I agree.

        1. NeilD says:

          Thanks! I will definitely check out those links.

    2. Anaphyis says:

      “Maybe you should pick a popular game that just came out and strike while the iron is hot?”

      God no. Having someone bumble around in a game is only fun to watch if there is an expert among the commentators, giving hints and pointers. Someone bumbling around and 3 other guys with as little experience is a pain to watch and listen to.

      But I second the D&D idea.

      1. Ham08 says:

        I don’t want to watch someone bumble around, either. They should know how to play the game before recording and they should try very hard not to look like a fool and waste people’s time, as entertaining the audience is paramount. Passion, excitement, fun, and laughter (infectious emotions, but don’t go over the top or fake it) are more important than criticizing even though the later is still quite necessary.

        Considering the great number of titles being released in poor state that are not worth the money, I have found myself always checking Youtube for game-play of titles that I am interested in before I make the purchase. Many times the commentary is so entertaining that I watch the entire LP(Let’s Play) even though it has already convinced me to make the purchase. Naturally, if I enjoyed the commentator’s efforts I look for more videos from the same person or group, subscribe to their channel, and recommend it to others.

        In addition, many folks do not possess the willpower to resist watching an LP because they are overly excited about a new game coming out. Many others might not have the time to invest playing the game themselves and turn to youtube, while others may not have the resources to obtain the title upon release and therefore have no choice but to watch videos. These folks are frantically searching for more of what they are so consumed and enthralled with.

        Consequently, as time goes by people start to lose interest. When I say “strike while the iron is hot”, I mean that they should record an LP of a popular new release because the greatest number of folks looking for such content are waiting to be entertained. If their team is good enough, they’ll continue to grow their audience and thus the chance of monetizing their efforts through advertising also grows.

  83. Zak McKracken says:

    My two cents: try targeting the show more towards people who don’t know the game, and make it easier to follow the in-game plot. Or maybe also explain game mechanics more. Or both …
    I watched the Mass-effect shows (because I was really interested) but felt like I was probably expected to know the game already, so after the first two Fallout 3 episodes I stopped, because I was not _that_ interested in the game.

    I’m aware, though, that I might not represent the average member of your target group. Haven’t played a game for too long … *sob* …

  84. TehShrike says:

    I’m glad to see this post and get an update on how things have been going with Spoiler Warning.

    I watched the first run, but just don’t have time to watch videos longer than 10 minutes (unless I allocate movie time in the evening).

    When I watched the first episodes, I would do it while reading webcomics and catching up on my feeds.

  85. flameofdoubt says:

    By committing time to a single episode of Spoiler Warning I feel I get more out of it than If I watched 6 Zero Punctuations back to back, and I’d go away from one feeling fulfilled, where the other would just leave me wanting more.
    Bearing in mind that the whole problem here is the length of time it takes to watch different shows, I see the choice in situations where time is short as either going away unfulfilled from a short, finished video, or going away unfulfilled from a long, unfinished video, and if I pick the longer video I know there’ll be more to watch later.

    I’d prefer for the longer runtime to stay, but clearly a lot of people who do come here have problems with the length, and if the audience just isn’t big enough then I’ll have to settle for not getting my own way, and I’ll still get to watch Spoiler Warning, and potentially more of it per-week than usual, so I can’t really complain.

  86. krellen says:

    I watch Spoiler Warning for three main reasons:

    1. I have ample time at work to kill (I work a help desk and call volume is sporadic.)
    2. I like hearing what Shamus, Rutskarn (and as of BioShock, Mumbles) have to say about the game.
    3. There is no three.

    I would likely watch it even if only number 1 was true, though I did stop watching the ME1 season because I hated watching Jerk Shepard. However, there are aspects of Spoiler Warning that I think are weak:

    1. Viddler. The encoding and compression it requires degrades the quality of the game to near incomprehensibility (knowing the source material can fill in holes, but it essentially makes viewing unknown games all but impossible.)

    2. Still Viddler. On top of that, the presentation of the comments and their volume have simply reached a point where they’re no longer fun. Seeing (and making, when I used to be able to) a few witty (or insightful) comments here and there was nice, but now it seems like everyone (or at least the dozen to score of people that like commenting) has to lend their two cents, and it’s no longer really adding to the experience, but detracting. Too many cooks and all that.

    3. Josh. I actually like Josh’s commentary when he makes it, and the posts he’s made, sort of like the “substitute host” for the Shamus Young show, have been good posts, so it’s not Josh himself I object to, but his play-style. I appear to be in a minority among the viewers on this, but I just don’t find Josh’s play-style (both the twitchy movement and the aggressive and “Renegade” behaviour) enjoyable to watch. I’m not sure how much my opinion on this meshes with others that don’t watch, however.

    Just to re-iterate, because re-reading it makes this point sound a bit too personal, I think what I’d really like to see is less of Josh playing, and more of what Josh thinks about what he’s playing.

    4. Telecommunication. We actually do this a lot where I work, so I see a lot of it, and I’ve also noticed a growing trend of it happening even in professional uses (cable news, etc.), but when a group is together in person there are visual and sometimes audible cues given out to indicate someone wants to talk, and interruptions are less common. But when you take out that visual, or introduce a delay in response, cross-talk becomes much more common and points get lost in the shuffle. I wish I had a solution for this, but I really don’t. Even when we’ve got full video back-and-forth, we still have this problem.

    So, there’s that. I really don’t feel that comfortable speaking up about free entertainment, but since you think there’s a problem that you brought up here, you probably want a host of responses to help you codify in your mind exactly what you think is off, so here’s my contribution.

    1. Jarenth says:

      While I personally enjoy Josh’s jerk playstyle (as it gives me a chance to see story developments and sidequests I myself would never take — I’m too much of a goody two shoes), I’d like to add my vote to wanting to hear more of Josh’s comments. What often happens now is that you guys are talking about something while Josh is quietly focused on the game in the background, and while I understand why this happens, it’s still a shame.

    2. Nidokoenig says:

      If you watch some of the early Mass Effect videos before Randy started playing, Josh was aiming for a neutral good approach, then they switched, and the team seem to have assimilated the chaotic stupid playstyle since then. I think part of the reason for this is that the good path tends to be the intended path and the most cohesive, so if you’re going to critique a game’s story, dialogue and characterisation, you’re going to have much richer opportunities to piss and moan about/constructively criticise the evil path, than you are if you go through the good path.

      I never actually took evil paths in games before seeing Spoiler Warning, aside from the occasional quest that gave me the choice of being evil or not doing it, aside from always killing the first drug dealer in Fallout 2 so I could clear out the Den on my first pass. It just seems so often that evil is about destroying resources and harming your own selfish interests. Spoiler Warning showed me that, while this is more or less true, it can also be funny as hell.

      As for cutting down on cross-talk, surely there’s some sort of program out there somewhere that sends a visual cue that someone wants to talk? Like, Mumbles presses a button and Shamus and Rutskarn see a little bee icon on their screen so they know to give her some dead air. Then the only problem is Josh not being able to see this, since he’s playing the game fullscreen, but it cuts out a lot of the cross-talk.

      As for not hearing enough of Josh, what if they played the game hot seat style, with a different host each episode(or every half hour, whatever)? Then instead of having people explain what they usually do to deal with such and such an enemy, we see it next episode.

      1. Shamus says:

        The problem with cross-talk is latency. You know those odd pauses at the start?

        Hi everyone, I’m Shamus…

        […]

        […]

        I’m Josh…

        […]

        […]

        I’m Rustkarn…

        Yeah. We don’t do that on purpose. That’s us speaking as soon as we hear the other person stop talking.

        At the start of the show, we do a latency test to make sure we’re not too far behind the video Josh is streaming. He runs forward, and we all say “boom” as soon as we see him move.

        I see him move, and I say “boom” instantly. A second later, Mumbles says “boom”.

        Mumbles sees him move, and she says “boom” instantly. A second later, she hears me say “boom”.

        Josh takes a step forward, and three seconds later he hears Mumble and I both day “boom” at the same time.

        There’s just no way to hold an unscripted conversation like this and have it flow 100% naturally.

        I think a lot of shows are done with the hosts in the same room, which solves this problem.

        Note that I’m not talking about network latency. This happens when we all have a ping of less than 50ms. It’s just that compressing audio, jamming it through the server, and decompressing it on the other end takes a bit of time.

        1. krellen says:

          Yeah, we get that with our telecommunication here at work all the time. Like I said, it’s a problem, but I don’t think anyone has found a solution yet (and if you do, Shamus, I don’t think you’ll have to worry about having a job again. Just market that puppy.)

        2. Nidokoenig says:

          Ah, but what would the latency be on the visual cue idea? As in, it’s just flipping the toggle to show the icon or not. I get what you’re saying about latency for audio, I’m just trying to think of a way round that would have as close to no delay as possible.

  87. ooli says:

    You should consider having someone in the show that never played the game.
    He may then ask interesting question during the game, or you may tell interesting stuff explaining the game to him. Anyway it may put some dynamic into the show.

    You may also consider having a way to not speak while someone else speaking (Yeah i’m looking at you Josh :o), but that just cause english is not my mother tongue and 2 peoples speaking at the same time is a pain to understand.

    Good luck with your quest for viewers.

  88. Eathanu says:

    Frankly Fallout 3 was just really boring to me without Randy being the one playing it. I was hoping he’d be there to take the reigns for Mass Effect 2, but it looks more like he just wasn’t into the show than any lack of time or whatever. Either way, in my case, the fun guy left so I stopped watching.

  89. Gandaug says:

    Very interesting. I personally wouldn’t mind a change to 15 minutes episodes. There were many times I’d have to just pause a video and come back to it later. I’d also love to see you get away from Viddler. So much hate for that site. The “comment directly in the video” thing was cool, but not cool enough to warrant all of it’s issues.

    This isn’t the first time I’ve seen it mentioned that YouTube has a 10 minute limit on videos. If that’s so then why do I see longer videos sometimes?

  90. Peter H. Coffin says:

    Krellen’s got a lot of the same points about my personal experience with the show. I dig the long format. I watch all of the episodes. All the way to the end. The 30-40 minute format suits me well because that’s the length I take for lunch. Brew up another pot of coffee, make a couple of sandwiches while the video buffers up over my slightly asthmatic internet connection, then my brain gets to not think about SAS and SQL for a while. Best lunches of the week, usually.

    As for why, it seems that my reasons for enjoying the game picks are completely different than pretty much every other comment. I play very different games from the ones shown here. I play Yohoho Puzzle Pirates and Railworks, Animal Crossing and Persona. Radically different kinds games from the games that are played on the show. I think I even own Bioshock and Fallout 3 but never “got into” them, and consequently completely sucked at them. So, through the show, I get to experience the games that I’d otherwise have absolutely no patience for. (“But, dude! You play Animal Crossing and you think these things try your patience? And you’re willing to spend like ten hours a month just watching someone else play the game for you?” Never said I wasn’t an odd one, did I?) This way, I get to at least understand how these kinds of games should be played, with at least one style. Even the TF2 thing was fascinating from a learning standpoint because suspect I’d kinda suck at that one too, and getting to observe closely and get 30 minutes of advice on How To Be An Effective Spy might mean I’d suck less when I get around to trying it. (Heck, you could probably do a whole series, one for each class, changing off players to those that like the different class.)

    I’d really love a little more resolution and a little less compression, though…

  91. DaveMc says:

    Speaking for myself (and four other randomly-chosen people on the Internet, who are unaware that I’m speaking for them), I’d be more likely to watch 15 minute bursts than 40 minute videos. But what would make me *very* likely to watch would be the ability to download the videos and watch them on a portable device. I rarely have time to watch even a 15 minute video while I’m at a network-connected computer, but I have a long commute and I’d happily watch a 15 minute video podcast (as the kids call it).

    Have you considered the podcast route? It has the potential to reach a large group of people, and if you do catch on, you’d have a lot of room for growth, through things like iTunes and Podcast Alley. I have no idea what determines who catches on, but positive reviews and good comments would no doubt help, and people from around here could provide those, giving you a leg up on most series, that start with no existing fan base.

    (My apologies if comments 75 through 127 all suggested this same thing. I skimmed past them in my eagerness to chime in.)

    [EDIT: Bah. I just visited the iTMS, and there’s already a podcast called Spoiler Warning. Still, you probably would need only a slight name change to distinguish it. “20-sided Spoiler Warning”, or “Spoiler Warning: A video game experiencextravaganza”. Only better than that last one.]

  92. somebodys_kid says:

    I make time for Spoiler Warning, so whatever length you choose will suit me.

  93. BenD says:

    At 15 minutes you could be on Youtube. On Youtube, things work better for more people, have better reach, blah de blah… basically, I think you’d get more of the bang-per-buck you’re looking for.

    Also, no one says you have to play for 15 minutes and post it. Play for 30 minutes, do some editing, and post that. One of the best Fallout 3 eps was the one that had eleventy billion (I may be estimating) minutes chopped out in the middle, with ‘please hold while beatings occur to improve morale’ type statements overtop of pleasant elevator music cut in amongst short segments of Josh hacking ineffectually at a Tesla coil.

    Not that, uh, you should seek to get waylaid by game challenges every episode, but if it should happen to occur… yeah, that was pretty much the best way to go about it. I’m still showing people that clip and pointing them to the 14 minute mark.

    Which… says something, I suppose, about length.

  94. ClearWater says:

    I like the show, but I always have to find the time to watch it. With a 15 min show that would be easier, so for me a shorter length would be good.

    I like the idea of Rutskarn singing space opera style throughout the show.

    1. Robyrt says:

      This is possibly the first time I’ve heard someone refer to “space opera” to mean, literally, “an opera where the characters are in space.”

      1. Nidokoenig says:

        “In space, no one can hear your puns”

  95. porschecm2 says:

    Well, I’ll freely admit; the reason I haven’t been watching is completely due to the length issue. I just don’t feel like setting aside 30-40 minutes at a time to watch a gaming playthrough, fascinating though it may be. So your new 15 minute episode plan would be awesome. I think I’d watch those.
    Although, you’re doing ME2 right now, which I’m currently playing through myself, so I won’t watch them until I’ve finished my own game, so as to avoid unnecessary spoilers.

  96. Anaphyis says:

    You should go with 20 minutes, it’s a standard for TV broadcast for a reason. Long enough to get the ball rolling (without that specter of having to switch to another video lurking in the shadows) and not too long for viewers to be afraid of a huge time commitment.

    You could host the whole thing on Blip and get a small revenue stream from that considering that you already have decent fanbase. It would make it easier to download the videos and watch them on a portable device too, Viddler sucks in that regard. Youtube might provide you with a wider audience but you’ll also have to deal with Youtube’s paranoid filters, much more trolls, the ability of said trolls to shoot down a video and you have to share that wider audience with a bazillion other LP’s.

    Viddler’s only distinguishing feature are the comments and as pointed out before, no one really reads those. On the downside you have one of the worst performing video host bandwidth-wise on the web.

    Also, what is your setup for recording the commentary at the moment? I’d guess Josh plays and the rest of you is watching the thing through a stream and someone is recording the Skype (or whatever) stream. Consider having each commentator record his or her own sound input individually on top of that and sync up those recordings in post. You’ll achieve a *dramatic* improvement in the sound department and really sound like you are in the same room for just a few minutes worth of extra work. Plus you could easily deal with some of the more egregious instances of cross-talk. And normalizing the audio level between commentators so everyone is on the the same volume level. Having to change volume everytime because someone is loud while another one is hard to understand is a pain.

    This might be a minor gripe for some but right now most of you sound like you’re talking through tin cans, which bugs me especially because improving it is that easy to achieve.

  97. Dude says:

    I think, format and hosting issues aside, you need to pick a game that you just outright like and maybe have one or two niggles with as a whole. I loved your Fallout 3 playthroughs even though they were mostly a massive dump on everything that is wrong with the game–but that’s possibly because of that Crowning Moment of Awesome (reverse pickpocketing Three Dog) and other small moments of awesome game breaking.

    But your Bioshock playthrough was–how should I say this–a bit of a downer, mate.

    Don’t get me wrong, we’re all expecting that episode where you guys sing along with Mordin in ME2, but if it’s mostly going to be about pointing out its flaws (of which there are many, and of which you have pointed out enough already), well, pick another game! Amnesia maybe. It’s six hours but why not? Or Minecraft. You gotta do a Minecraft episode. Yep.

    Or, heck. System Shock 2. Show the people who’ve never played it why it’s king.

  98. Joel D says:

    I think you’re spot-on with shortening the length. I really like the concept of Spoiler Warning, but I don’t have time to watch half an hour of other people playing video games (especially if that means less time for me to play video games :p), but I can work with fifteen minutes. I think this is a good idea.

  99. Anaphyis says:

    And another thing: Don’t be afraid of non-sequitur, don’t be afraid to talk about stuff not specific to the game. Mix it up a bit. Game criticism is fine and all but you cannot spend the entirety of the videos on that or it’ll get stale and petty pretty damn fast. The worst part of the Fallout 3 videos was the “oh, well THAT shouldn’t be here after 200 years” gripe over and over and over again.

    1. Nidokoenig says:

      In defence of repeating the gripe, it’s like “Yahtzee’s Like God Of War But” stamp. Talking about it get old because it itself has gotten old. Also, if you look at pictures of the immediate area around Chernobyl, it looks like Fallout 3, but greener, to the extent that it looks like they did all the research that showed them that the Capital Wasteland would be lush and verdant, the deliverately decided against it.

  100. thebigJ_A says:

    Don’t you know how to get more viewers? It’s easy, you just need to show some skin! Make sure Rutskarn’s midriff is exposed from now on. The viewers will come flocking!

    1. Nidokoenig says:

      Dude, that’s creepy. Have you seen photos of him? He looks about twelve. On the other hand, video games and shota would get a few billion views from /v/…

  101. MadCat says:

    Having been introduced to Let’s Play and the like from Somethingawful’s boards, I have to voice a little bit of skepticism at a shorter format for Spoiler Warning, particularly if you’re going to do the kind of games you’ve been doing.

    From my memory of Mass Effect 2, for example, which is about the only game you’ve played that works in a compartmentalized format, each of the missions take easily 20 to 30 minutes to complete, more if you want to chat with people on your spaceship afterward.

    I just don’t want the show to end up like this. http://www.youtube.com/user/Quadraxis14#p/c/32C594E33E0369AB/2/WDEMSjaLGYU

    Also, I know it’s tons of work, but if you really want to work on enlightening us about a game, try taking a note from this guy.
    http://lparchive.org/LetsPlay/Trespasser/

  102. LintMan says:

    I checked Spoiler Warning out a few times, but don’t watch for many of the same reasons already stated:

    – Watching video feels like too much continuous/focused time commitment, compared to reading an article – even with a lengthy one it feels like less of a commitment. (I don’t listen to podcasts either for the same reason). I generally put off or avoid watching any video over 5 min or so long even though I wouldn’t blink at reading a 10000 word article.

    – The Spoiler Warning concept seems to be mainly about a bunch of buddies chatting/griping/joking while playing a game. But a good portion of the time is essentially watching someone else play a game, and unless it’s my actual real-life friends playing on my couch, I’d usually rather just be playing a game myself than watching someone else.

    – You guys can be entertaining, but it’s sparse value; the insights/jokes/etc are off-the-cuff rather than thought out and finely honed like they might be in an article, Stolen Pixels, etc. This is why the MST3K comparison keeps coming up: that best episodes of that show were *packed* with nonstop jokes. Without that, MST3K was basically just you watching a really terrible old movie.

    – To put it another way: I’m often interested in what other gamers have to say about games, but I’d much rather consume that as a few paragraphs or pages of thought-out written text than as several hours of listening and watching them play the game.

    – Given all of the above, I doubt I’d be watching a shortened 15 minute version of Spoiler Warning. I’d vastly much prefer to see a return of Shamus’ long-form multi-part reviews. Sorry. I don’t mean any offense by this. The show is fine for what it is; I’m just explaining why I don’t watch.

  103. Torolf says:

    I’m not really your target audience, but I’ve been following your blog and all your other work since DM of the Rings, except for the video stuff. I don’t watch video; not sure why. I don’t really watch TV or movies, either. However, those times that you’ve had transcripts of the video, I do read those.

    I hope that cutting your video down to 15 minutes works out for you, but I really think you need to be aiming closer to the 5 minute mark.

  104. Cybron says:

    I love pretty much everything you do, Shamus, but I still find myself putting off spoiler warning regularly just because watching it feels like a chore. It demands the viewer’s attention for 30 minutes straight. There are also numerous times where the video just feels like it drags, comedic downtime if you will. Makes the whole thing a bit daunting to slog through.

  105. Luke Maciak says:

    For the record, I absolutely love the show. I watch it religiously, and I did recommend it to several people in the past. It has this unique perfect blend of frightfulness and hilarity. It always puts a smile on my face and I always make time for it.

    That said, the length does impact how and when I watch it. Since in most cases a show runs for 30-40 minutes I usually have to set aside a chunk of time to watch it. Sometimes it means that I simply won’t have time to watch it the day you publish it here, but leave it for the next day or sometimes even the weekend.

    That said, I kinda like the length. When I play it I know I’m in for a 40 minutes of solid entertainment. :)

    If you decide to cut it down to 15 minutes I won’t complain though. As long as you keep making these things.

    I leave you with this though: Spoiler Warning is a series with a strong story arc. The individual episodes usually don’t make sense outside the full season. The conversations you have in each episode often refer to previous conversations in episodes that came before. It is hard for someone to jump into the series mid-season – which is probably why these things don’t go viral that easily. You can’t easily post a link to an individual episode on a message board or on Reddit because it usually doesn’t make much sense out of context. I have no clue how could you fix it though – the show just is what it is.

  106. Velkrin says:

    10 minute episodes eah? I can see it already.

    Episode 1: The introductory cut-scene and movie.
    Episode 2: The Tutorial.
    Episode 3: The Tutorial Part 2.

    Episode 15: Probecraft

    I don’t have a problem with a change in the duration I’m just wondering how it will work with the mandatory cut-scene/movie/Octproberfest.

    Before I forget, a little note for Josh: In the unlikely event you were unaware you can cut the loading time of the elevator transitions down to about 1/3 of their time by going into task manager and setting the affinity of ME2 to a single core. I’m not sure how it will affect your recording setup so don’t blame me if Rutskarn’s hair catches on fire.

    1. Blanko2 says:

      oh my god are you serious?
      that was the chief reason i put off playing mass effect so many times, i couldnt stand the loading times on the ship.
      i.. i… i dont know what to say anymore.

      1. Velkrin says:

        I don’t know if it would work for ME1, but it definitely works for ME2. Cut my loading time from about 30 seconds per elevator trip down to about 7. Heck, sometimes it doesn’t even complete the loading animation because it loads too fast.

        Just go into Task Manager -> Processes tab -> ME2.exe (or whatever) -> Right Click -> Set Affinity -> Unclick everything except your choice of CPU (I use CPU 0).

        I had to use google to find out how to reduce the elevator time since it was driving me mad. There’s a reason my Sheppard didn’t bother to get fish.

        1. thebigJ_A says:

          You should set the affinity to any core OTHER THAN 0. Then set everything else to 0. That way, you have only Mass Effect on that core, and nothing else. If you set ME to 0, that core is still going to be doing other calculations.

          This is actually the only way I can play Dwarf Fortress. That game eats processors for breakfast.

    2. Robyrt says:

      Generally you want the recording software on a different core than the game anyway, so hopefully Rutskarn has this working already :)

      I’m trying to think of how you could make loading SLOWER by spreading it across cores. The only thing I can think of is bad loading code that requires the entire game object to be passed between threads regularly…

  107. Mr. Wizard says:

    How about four 15 minute videos Monday-Thursday, and then on Friday you cut together a five or less minute highlight video of the best moments from the week, or stuff that was cut from the videos earlier in the week, like said during the setup or stuff that was cut for time. If there is one thing I know the internets like, its short goofy videos.

    Case in point: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvdf5n-zI14
    9 seconds
    1 MILLION VIEWS

    1. Mumbles says:

      I am inclined to agree with this highlights reel thing. Not just because Mr. Wizard is a gentleman and a saint, but because this right here is one of my favorite things on the internet:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndmk-WpHKP0

      Of course, this is multiplayer. But, you get the idea.

    2. malcolio says:

      I’ve been a long time fan of this site since part way through DM of the Rings, but I thought I’d chip in with a comment for once: Mr. Wizard’s idea of having short 15 minute videos followed by a highlights video at the end of the week sounds brilliant to me. It kinda keeps everyone happy, those (like me) who like the premise of the show but can’t devote that much time to watching a 30 minute video, to those who prefer the length and couldn’t watch a shorter version.

      Plus you could always have the highlights version be only viewable on the Escapist, which means that if fans of it want more they’ll be coming in droves to your blog.

      Otherwise though I agree with what many have said already: the idea is great but the length is too long for the subject you’re tackling. As you said, “Josh, Mumbles, and Rutskarn are all writers in one way or another,” so maybe it’s best if you write up your ideas for an episode first, so you’ll have a good conversation going through the episode, rather than the somewhat hit-and-miss improv you have going now.

      Anyway, that’s just my thoughts. :)

    3. Andrew says:

      I support this notion. Not only would it be very helpful for people who just don’t have the time to watch the full episodes, but it’d do wonders for showing people who quit early what they’re missing out on. Also, the amount of “demo-reel” quality content you can scrape together from the weeks episodes would be a good indicator of when you’re hitting problems.

      I understand that this show is discussion first, comedy second, but if you’re looking for more viewers, it’s worth keeping in mind that good jokes often make for the best first impressions.

  108. Phill says:

    I’m just repeating what other people have said, but felt like throwing my hat in to the ring (and since as we all know, the plural of ‘anecdote’ is ‘data’…)

    1) I would much rather read things than watch a video. As with many others, I tend to read this site at work in odd moments while something is compiling, or on a tea break, or my brain needs a time out from what I’m working on. Being able to skim-read a page or a paragraph, or pay however much attention to it I want to is good. Video doesn’t work like that. One site I read used to publish a short daily article, which I read. They then changed the format to a 3-5 minute video every day, and I’ve basically given up on it.

    2) Length. The number of times I have 30+ minutes to sit down and watch someone else play a game is pretty small, and I’d rather be doing something else instead. While it isn’t a huge technical challenge to stop watching after ten minutes, and come back later and re-start the video from the right point, it is enough of a hassle that I can’t be bothered.

    3) Content. There isn’t enough content per minute to make it worth putting up with 1 and 2. Once you’ve made 1 pipedream reference, then next 10 become increasingly redundant. Plus the amount of time actually spent talking about what is happening in the video is relatively small, making the video content itself rather unnecessary. A large fraction of what is said is completely divorced from the video, meaning that it could instead be written (and be more accessible and tightly edited) instead. The only time you need video is when you are discussing what is happening right now in the video, and felt like it was about 10% or less of the time in the ME2 spoiler warning (which I started watching to see what these videos were, and had to fight to make myself watch to the end – and I still skipped one or two).

  109. Johan says:

    Hmm, I’m at home for about 20 hours every day, so I usually have time for a 30 minute episode and then some, but I guess with a commute +day job with a boss looking over your shoulder, a 1/2 hour episode could be a bit much. I just hope Youtube doesn’t screw you over. I’ve seen videos removed for the most hilariously of incompetent reasons.

  110. SatansBestBuddy says:

    Hmm…

    Well, no, I can’t read all these comments before posting my own, so forgive me if some of these things I mention have already been covered, but in the interest of making a better show, here’s what I don’t like about it:

    1) TIME: I’m a college student trying to get a degree, so my free time is pretty much gone right now; I haven’t seen a new episode since the beginning of October or so, and even posting this message is taking up time that I could be using on one of several projects I need to get done (or maybe sleep). However, that’s my problem and why I, specifically, haven’t been watching, so other people might not have this same problem.

    2) QUALITY: I’m a big fan of the Let’s Play over at Something Awful, who have been doing it for years and gotten it down to an art, so I’ve been spoiled by a number of things they do better, first and foremost being video quality.

    With every episode of Spoiler Warning, I fullscreen the video, then I un-fullscreen it, then I fullscreen again, then I un-fullscreen it and try zooming in until I find the right compromise between horribly blurry/artifact laced and barely watchable; so, yeah, your videos are all pretty damn ugly, sometimes to the point where I can’t even see what’s going on.

    This sucks, cause I’ve seen LP’s done in HD quality for hour long episodes on Blip, so I know you guys can do better, it’s just a matter of finding the right formula of mp4 encodes and video hosting service.

    3) PLANNING: There is none, or at least, it doesn’t feel like there’s any. I’m not saying every single step or every single word you say during the course of an episode should be thought out in advance, but still, most times it feels like you’re all going into an episode completely blind, with nothing to talk about until something catches your interest.

    Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t, and I feel like simply having a list of topics everybody brings in that they feel like talking about would help drive conversation and keep it more focused than it has been.

    I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but your most popular pieces are also very focused pieces, concentrating on one part of a subject, and maybe bringing some of that focus into this series would help matters.

    4) CHOICE OF GAMES: You guys have got this odd idea in your head that watching 10 hours or so of a game that is really popular and everybody has already played is somehow the “best” way to make an LP.

    I say *pffffftpht* to that.

    We all already know the game you’re talking about, inside and out, so we’ve all already talked about it with friends, covered it’s flaws and it’s greats, maybe even played it a second or third time, so having to sit through it AGAIN, only this time with other people talking about it rather than you and your friends, isn’t the most interesting option available, particularly when your method of playing and talking about it (very casually) is exactly how we’ve all already played and talked about it.

    In short, for most of us, this show is repetitive of the experience we’ve all already had when we first played the game, so going through it all again is a prospect most people aren’t interested in at all.

    There are other things I could mention, but like I’ve said, it’s been a while since I’ve seen an episode, so I can’t say what has and hasn’t improved, but these are the points that I recall the most easily as bugging me about this show.

  111. Ingvar says:

    I’ll have to join the (pretty small, from the looks of things) crowd that goes “I really don’t care, as I don’t watch Spoiler Warning”. It’s video content and to watch video content, I need to leave my primary browsing environment, for another computer.

    I guess I could install suitable players on my primary environment, but I haven’t, because I find that a lot of the things that suitable players enable (moving ads and the like) is contra-productive, so I don’t want a player in my primary environment.

    But, I suspect that (by and far) I am in a very small minority and I say that if you enjoy making SW, by all means make SW as you see fit (and/or you believe that the actual audience enjoys) [NB: that’s a collective “you”, rather than a “you, Shamus”].

    1. Ingvar says:

      As an experiment, I sat through 75% of the first episode of “SW:Fallout 3”. Currently sitting through episode 1 of “SW:Bioshock”.

      I have some technical critique, if you’re interested (with possible recoomendation), but my major beef (and the reason I stopped after ~30 minutes of “SW:Fallout 3, Ep 1”) seems to have resolved itself.

  112. TheBritish says:

    I know this might seem like a stupid reason, but the main reason why I tend not to watch the show every week (I bunch up my views for a few weeks until I have a few hours free) is just because, unlike Youtube, I can’t get Viddler on my phone :). Most webseries, like the ones on the Escapist or the ones on Youtube, I only find time to watch because I can pull out my phone at any time and watch them, scrubbing through to halfway if I was interrupted :)

    I also prefer the longer format and I think you’d have trouble cutting it down to 15, but, c’est la vie :)

  113. Shinan says:

    The reasons I don’t really watch these are partially for spoiler reasons. Though I did play through Mass Effect and I did watch three or four of the Mass Effect episodes.

    But the real reason is the length. Not actually the length of an individual video but the knowledge of the entire length of all the videos put together.

    The way I’d be more likely to see the videos is if they were recorded like now. Then cut together to form the “best bits”. Of course the trouble is that that increases the workload by an insane amount.

    Though to be honest I haven’t watched since Mass Effect so I don’t actually know if there’s cutting these days. But the fact is that the couple of videos I did watch (I also watched the initial Bioshock one. I’m not done with Bioshock but I’m far enough that I thought it’d be safe to watch the first episode) had a lot of not-quite-as-interesting bits.

    Maybe release it as now. Then later do an abridged version with the best bits (maybe best bits chosen by the hardcore audience). Having it downloadable as a video podcast (for those tiny-screen devices) probably wouldn’t hurt either because although this is a video thing. 90% of the time you’re happy with the audio alone. Only going occasionally to see where exactly you are in the video or when you comment on some especially striking visual. That’s my cents in the bag. And I obviously didn’t read all 200 comments before writing this so I’m probably repeating what someone else said already.

  114. Milos says:

    I don’t mind if the show switches to a shorter format. People who prefer it longer could just wait a few days and watch few episodes at a time. Although my concern is whether the change will do what you intend it to. By that I mean: SW episodes aren’t always the most content-filled stuff out there. There are stretches when there isn’t much happening in game and’t it’s just you 4 ranting on about stuff that might not even be related to the game. Now obviously everyone who keeps coming back here likes that but if it happens that a stretch like that covers a whole, now shorter, episode – it might not look so attractive to a person that stumbles upon it. Either way, do whatever is easier for you as I’m sure you will at very least keep the present audience.

  115. albval says:

    In my previous comment I mentioned time as the main reason I don’t watch SW. The other thing that relates to it (but what I forgot to mention) is language. As English is not my native language, I have to devote extra effort (and time) to actually understand what you guys say. I can read English quite easily, but listening spoken English through bad speakers is a very different matter. I might not be alone with this issue, knowing how geographically wide audience your blog has

  116. JimminyJoJo says:

    Ever think of applying to write for PC Gamer, Shamus?

  117. Chris says:

    Wow.

    A post about how you don’t have enough viewership followed by eleventy-gazillion comments.

    It’s clear you have a strong, loyal fanbase of readers who care enough about what you do to take the time to add input. I think it’s because of what you do so well: WRITE!

    Even your comics — like the DM of the Rings, which pulled me into this site — are simply visual additions to the great writing.

    I’m not a FPS player, but I’ll read your articles about them because of the entertaining, informative, and enjoyable writing.

    Watch a 30-40 minute video of a FPS being played? With no script? With 3 others so the input from you dropped to only around 25%?

    Sorry, but: Nope — not gonna happen.

    So I guess I echo much of what the others commented (and yes — I read them ALL, and it took more than enough time that I could have watch a SW video):

    — They’re too long

    — They’re too hit-or-miss with content. There’s not enough editing to bring the ratio of Tasty_Morsel:Inane_Filler up to anything resembling quality entertainment.

    — I dont care for the games or even the genre enough to wade through watching someone else play

    — Not enough Shamus, and what there is isn’t him doing what he does best.

  118. Felblood says:

    Okay, confession time. Without Spoiler Warning I probably would have finished Fallout 3, and never played Bioshock.

    I was under the impression that Fallout 3 was going to get better, later on, and you convinced me that it simply wasn’t for me. It was nice to get to see the epilogue DLC without having to play through the game first, because I never would have seen it, otherwise. Ever.

    I had completely written off Bioshock as pretentious psuedo-philosophical drivel, and left my brother’s copy entirely alone, until I started into your show on it. After the first episode, I played through the whole game, and then watched the rest of the show. Is is pretentious psuedo-philosophical drivel, but it is even more fun than it looks, and it looked like a lot of fun.

    The TF episode mostly just reminded me why I hate that game so much, but they can’t all be grand revelations that alter the course of my gaming, and shape all my future purchasing decisions.

  119. Blanko2 says:

    shamus, josh, rutskarn, mumbles.
    all of you need to watch a few episodes of Freelance Astronauts Lp’ing
    that is how a group Lp should be. loud, impractical, full of technical errors, but still immensely fun (usually).
    this is not to say that i dont like your stuff. except i guess i dont anymore, really. i watched all the ME ones and the FO3 ones and i watched some of the bioshock ones and then you lost me. and you lost me during the part where, from what i read in the posts, you guys were still having fun with the game.
    maybe bioshock was a bad choice, maybe you need to do a game that none of you guys have played ever. go in not knowing if its good or bad, not having a pre-planned “im going to gripe about the story” thing. just see if you like it, if you do, great, if it sucks, better!!
    that way we get the best of both worlds, editorial on the game design and such AND reactions to novel material.
    plus you guys have the added bonus that youre pretty good at just improvising what you talk about so yes! seems a recipe for disaster!
    but the good kind of disaster, the one where it brings you together and you all sail off into the sunset or something.
    (lots of essays from me on this post, geeze)

    1. Zak McKracken says:

      I think I like the idea.

      (also, the TF 2 stuff was cool. My only problem with that was that either I have become so alienated from FPS games or TF is so much faster than what I usually played (CS, that is) that after half of it my stomach couldn’t take all the shaking and turning and rapid movement)

  120. Strangeite says:

    Here is my take as to what is wrong with Spoiler Warning.

    I will admit that until a couple of days ago, I had never watched a Spoiler Warning. It just never seemed my cup of tea. However, I have been reading Twentysided since before my children were born, so I wanted to give it a shot. I watched Mass Effect.

    I believe the biggest problem is that there is not a clear focus as to what you are trying to do. If you are trying to do comedy, it is WAY too slow and the timing is not right. If you are trying to do reviews, the format doesn’t lend itself for someone that hasn’t played the game. If you are doing a walk-through, then there is too much fluff.

    Basically, I am saying that Spoiler Warning seems to be wearing too many hats. At the same time. With each on top of the other.

    If you guys are having fun, keep doing what you are doing. If you are wanting to expand to a larger audience, then I would suggest that you focus on your goal. That may mean that you need to rethink the entire format.

    Anyway, just my two cents. I appreciate all the great entertainment you send down the tubes my way. Thanks.

    1. Shamus says:

      You know, I was just wondering the other day, “Hm. Haven’t seen a comment from Strangeite in a few months. Wonder if he stopped reading?”

      Thanks for the feedback. It’s interesting to get it from someone new to the series but old to the site.

      We’ve gotten a lot of really insightful suggestions in this thread. Alas that most of it is directly contradictory. But even this is valuable. Even if we can’t point in one direction and say, “This is what people want”, we can at least see what things are important to them.

      1. Strangeite says:

        Nope. I still read all your stuff, but since I don’t play video games and I am not a programmer, the opportunities to provide a comment that actually furthers discussion are limited.

        I would be lying if I didn’t long for the days when you (and by extension) the Twentysided community discussed a wider range of topics, i.e. RPGs (table top), anime, DRM-rants, movies, etc. But I certainly understand that you have a finite amount of time and must prioritize on where you make money.

  121. wootage says:

    Just wanted to throw in my .02 on why I generally don’t watch Spoiler Warning lately. It’s not you all, nor the show, nor the length (although I will also throw in that Ruts seems to have the perfect length going with his Dark Messiah LPs). It’s the game. I’ve just no interest in your recent choices.

    So as the saying goes, it’s not you. It’s me :)

  122. Atarlost says:

    Oookay. I think your real problem is that Bioshock was just terrible source material. You’re guaranteed to lose your text only audience doing video. You’re also guaranteed to lose those who care about spoilers.

    I think shortening the videos would hurt your signal to noise ratio. If you could get your videos on a service that lacks terminal adds that might be worth it if having the videos watched to the end is important. I almost always stop Spoiler Warning before the end because I don’t want to see another of Viddler’s terrible adds. The only other web video I watch with any regularity is SFDebris, which lacks terminal adds and I let that run to the end.

    I don’t think shorter videos will make custom credits easier. You’d need five a week instead of two.

  123. Moriarty says:

    It is both hilarious and depressing when a show like spoiler warning gets turned down by the escapist, while they decide to run a show of some people dropping things and filming it with a slow-motion camera.

    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/daily-drop

    1. Jeff says:

      I would totally watch that. In fact, I’ll check it out now!

      1. Moriarty says:

        nah, most of their videos are boring. I mean they have “Dice” and a week later they show “Polyhedral Dice” woohoo.

        Altough “Strong Beer” and “Koosh” are exceptions, the falling beerdrops and the way the koosh behaves while falling is kinda awesome.

    2. Jon Ericson says:

      Come now… that show is brilliant. And it has in spades what Spoiler Warning lacks: focus. (Except when some bit of shrapnel flies too close to the lens. Har!)

      If I remember the original “pitch” of this show, Shamus mentioned that it was intended to be easy to produce. Ah here it is:

      I made a big deal about starting “another project” but this one requires very little time. Josh handles the editing and uploading, so all I have to do is show up and run my mouth.

      It seems with this season, he’s decided to put more effort and time into the show. Trying to sell it to someone like The Escapist makes a lot of sense. But Spoiler Warning is a tough sell. How is it any different than any of the thousands of Let’s Play shows available around the net? To be honest, the only draw I have is that it features Shamus Young. It’s a celebrity-based show with a not-terribly-famous celebrity. Pass.

      Game Informer has a similar show, Replay, that features a handful of guys playing games. Unlike Spoiler Warning, it has a broad appeal because focus is on giving a taste of a wide variety of games. For the most part the format is fixed: 30 or so minutes, play a sample of the game and ending with Replay Roulette where they sample a “random” (usually bad) game. With only a short time to talk about the game, the guys have to be very focused on it. When they do longer format shows, the focus remains intact somehow. I feel like Spoiler Warning actually covers the games less well despite having many, many more hours to talk about it. The Team Fortress 2 show was much better in that respect. I feel like I understand the game pretty well despite never having played it.

  124. Rod says:

    I would much rather read a 989-word blog post than watch a video. With text, I can quickly skim the first paragraph to decide how interested I am, then spend the appropriate amount of time to either read it in depth, skim the rest, or move on. With a video, I don’t really know what I’m going to get, and I have to sit there for 2 minutes to determine whether I should turn it off, hope it gets better, or give it my full attention. And if I do like it, I have to watch it in real time, rather than absorb it at my own pace (which could be either faster or slower). Plus, watching a video means interrupting the music I’m listening to.

  125. Jeff says:

    If I have time to sit there and watch a video, that’s time I could be watching real TV, or playing a game myself.

    I do read LPs, but the only ones that are interesting are the ones that tell me things I didn’t know – LPs are best when they’re both entertaining and informative. For example, a secret area I didn’t know about, or how a certain mechanic works. A game I’ve never found the time to play is a plus – as it lets me play vicariously.

    Regardless, if I have the time to sit there and focus on a video of a game, I could be actually playing the game instead.

    There’s also the pacing Rod mentioned. With a 3000 word post, I can read in bursts, do something else, load something in the background, and it’s entirely conforming to my schedule.

  126. Avilan says:

    My vote is for 20-ish minutes. 10 minutes is too short, I think.

  127. Leviathan902 says:

    I don’t comment here often, but I have been coming here for over a year and I do visit the page probably twice a day Monday through Friday. I feel compelled to voice my 2 cents.

    Notice the days in the previous paragraph? I’m at work, I might have a few minutes of down time or I want a break or something, so I flip over to a few gaming sites I frequent and peruse news/articles etc… with this blog being my favorite. I do this to enjoy my hobby vicariously when I can’t engage with it myself.

    Unfortunately, it’s for this very reason that I am precluded from watching Spoiler Warning. I don’t have a solid block of 30-40 minutes at work to devote to watching it. If I’m at home, I have other things to do: spend time with the fam, cook, clean, whatever. When I get my precious free time, I’m going to spend it actually playing the game, not watching someone else do so.

    Am I a representative sample? Probably not, but in a similar vein, I suspect that for a lot of your readership/viewership, if they have 30-40 minutes to devote to gaming that’s what they’ll be doing, not watching a video of it.

    So in summation: for me personally, a 5 minute video would work far better from a viewing standpoint, not sure how it would work from a production standpoint.

  128. Gary says:

    Well, I have to admit, I’ve only watched one or two episodes. Not for lack of interest. In fact, I’m quite interested, but I usually don’t have that kind of time to devote to a video.

    I just watched the Team Fortress one, and I kept checking the time left.
    Not that it wasn’t interesting. (Though I think a bit of streamlining could be done with the material) I just don’t usually have time for hugely long videos.

  129. LB says:

    The fifteen minute episodes sound like a good idea.
    Plus, Mass Effect 2 has so much going on that it will be a lot more watchable than endlessly beating splicers in Rapture, or trudging through sewers in Fallout 3.
    (The warehouses of mercs will give just the right amount of time for discussion between plot scenes)

    For the sake of my two cents (or pence) as a viewer, I just tend to have Spoiler Warning on as background when I’m playing games or doing other stuff.
    I can’t help but wish you could edit around the dull stuff or commentary lulls – maybe be more podcast-esque.
    But I am aware that’s difficult to do without really jarring editing.

    Then again, I’ve never liked video LPs anyway. So maybe I’m not the ideal audience here.

    Oh, and after the first episode of a ‘season’, please skip the name introductions.

  130. Jabrwock says:

    I could compare this to the UnSkippable “Let’s Play” of Legaia 2.

    10-15 minutes at a stretch works, even when it’s “couch discussion” of what’s going on rather than condensed and edited.

    1. X2-Eliah says:

      Ironically, I would point to that Let’s Play with a big sign of “how not to plan release schedules!”

  131. GhostBoy says:

    Many of the LPs that are done on Something Awful, who if not invented the concept then at least repopularised it a few years back, aim for 20 minutes. It’s conventional wisdom there, that 20 is a happy medium between betting shit done in the game, and not taking too much of peoples time at a time. Say what you will about SA, but at least standards are pretty high and you get told if you go below them in no uncertain terms. Lots of people like to watch these things in their lunchbreak, and few have hourlong lunchbreaks.

    So I’d say 15-20 minutes will work out just fine for you guys. One request: If you go for 15 minutes to host on youtube, please provide them as a public playlist, so you can just set them to cook if you have time for more than one.

    Also there are a lot of rather bad LPs on youtube, but I’m sure you superior quality will set you apart. I would recommend you still provide alternative hosting (such as Viddler).

  132. utzelgrutzel says:

    […] but right now there are an awful lot of folks who have this show staring them in the face twice a week and have no desire to even look at it
    Hey, that’s me. Although I watched two or three of the Mass Effect 1 shows and liked them, I never bothered with the rest. It’s just my crappy connection here which means I have to preload the whole video for 20 minutes or more, and it might still stop and need to load again before the end. So it’s the running time for me which nearly doubles, including the preloading when I can’t do anything else on the net. I guess 15 minute episodes will make me watch it.

    But I’ll move quite soon anyway and get a ludicrously fast connection there. I can watch the older episodes then, and will do so on an idle day.
    And of course the option for higher quality will be great then. Bring it on :)

  133. Xpovos says:

    I must not be in the target demo for this. I hate web video as a prime content, except in rare cases. I love your blog, but I tend to skip right past Spoiler Warning. Ok, forget ‘tend’, I skip it. This isn’t because it isn’t good, or funny. It’s partially the subject matter. I’m the wrong type of gamer, I’m not a shooter. Mass Effect has no interest for me. Fallout 3? Nope. All of these games you are playing are shooters. Sure they’re hybrid shooters, but I’m they’re still shooters–Ok, so I’m not sure about Bioshock. Is that a shooter? It’s enough off my radar that I don’t know. I’ll assume it is.

    I recognize Yahtzee’s work as very amusing. And it fits a niche. And I can get a game review that I can appreciate, and trust, too. But even in that, I don’t go out of my way to watch it even irregularly, I go out of my way to not watch it. It has to be linked and re-linked, and be on a subject I’m interested in to warrant my watching it.

    Why do, I avoid video? Why do I skip past Spoiler Warning, and why will I continue to do so, even a Spoiler Warning on (insert my favorite game here)?. Some of the reasons are ones you hit on. 30 minutes? No way. Even 15 is going to be an absurdly hard sell. Others you didn’t. Videos are noisy; videos are slow. I love text. Text is silent and I can read text very fast. I can write text very fast. Speech is not just slower, it’s way slower. Yahtzee’s characterstic style here really helps, but even that isn’t enough. My entertainment quotient per minute has decreased substantially, while my bandwidth consumption skyrocketed. And if I am on something less than broadband, we’re back the slow issue. Videos are distracting/unable to be distracted. When I’m reading a blog post I can ‘leave a marker’ do something else and come back. A video has a pause button, but it’s immersion is at a different level. Video too has technological issues. That’ll go away over the coming years, but for now, it’s still problematic. I really hate having Flash installed, and avoid using it whenever possible.

    The videos I do watch are almost all on YouTube. I’ll watch most of your Saturday movie posts. I’ll watch something of technical impressiveness. I’ll watch movie trailers. In a sense, I’ll watch whole programs that are reasonable length, or advertisments for something. I’m just not interested in ‘television’ serials. It took you 28 episodes to Let’s Play Fallout 3. That’s a lot of work, and I appreciate your effort. But I can’t get behind doing a lot of ‘work’ myself to watch it. I’d rather read 15 segments of Star on Chest over again.

    Ok, done ranting now. Hopefully, even though I’m not in that target demo, you’ll find something useful in here to help you make your program better.

  134. Chris says:

    I’m glad you’re going back and rethinking this show. I’ve tried to follow it, but I just can’t make the time commitment. Plus watching someone play a game in real time just makes me think about how much I’d rather be playing a game myself. I like the spirit behind what you’re trying to do, and I think you’re all more than capable, but as an entertainment product it needs work.

  135. Blanko2 says:

    okay. i went and read all the comments. well the ones that had ideas as to fixing the show and heres what i found (prepare for wall of text):

    MAIN GRIPE THAT YOU ARE FIXING ALREADY:
    too long. there are people that like the length, though.
    my suggestion: make 30 min episodes, host them on blip (which is really good and pays you, too) then chop them in half and put that sucker up on youtube. (this means you will have to be a lot better at time keeping)

    JOSH PLAYING STYLE:
    jerking the mouse around gives people motion sickness and doesnt show off the game enough.
    also reginald cuthbert is not always the best playstyle choice, according to some people (ie: didnt fit in in bioshock)
    my (dickish) suggestion: lower mouse sensitivity
    other suggestion: think about what sort of playthrough you want beforehand

    HOST CHEMISTRY:
    there were a few comments on how you guys dont seem to mesh so much.
    probably a good part of this is the voice chat, which isnt the best medium. another part of it is that you guys need to each find your center and run with it. rutskarn -> consistent funnyman, shamus -> dissector of game elements, mumbles -> a little of both(? im probably wrong on this, havent watched a lot of episodes with you in them, sorry), josh -> player/straightman
    my suggestion: Josh’s playstyle is not the butt of enough jokes. this needs rectification!
    other suggestion:
    do post-commentary, makes it easier for everyone to talk
    other other suggestion: lay out points of interest in the game beforehand

    GAME CHOICE:
    the games you pick are too spoileriffic/too boring.
    maybe you guys need to pick games that arent just fantastically popular with your audience.
    there was a suggestion that you play more recent games, this is a bad idea because vidhosts dont like that, aaaand theres even more spoilers.
    suggestion: PLAY RE5, its RIPE for commentary and it would be awesome if you could get someone to COOP it even (this just popped in my head, just now) the point is, play a game that people in your viewer list would not like to play, show them something new!

    LOW RES VIDEOS:
    some people mentioned this, it could be due to encoding or recording
    suggestion: if its recording, play it at a lower res and capture it fullscreen.
    if its encoding, the somethingawful LP tech support thread has all sorts of ideas on that, if they can fix it easily, so can you.

    FOCUS:
    the series cant decide if it wants to be a serious deconstruction of the game or a joke filled show. (i disagree, sort of)
    i think the show has not found a happy medium between the two yet since it is a difficult line to straddle as it is oddly shaped.
    suggestion: lay out points of interest beforehand

    anyway, i hope this helped somehow, i dont agree with all of these points, but i just tried to lay out anything that i saw in the comments twice. i probably missed some things and misinterpreted some others, but also i didnt want to make this twelve miles long. well, hope you guys read this and find something that helps take the series to its full potential

  136. SomeUnregPunk says:

    I tend to watch an LPs of a bunch of different games made by a guy over at http://www.majorslack.com.

    His videos are currently ten to twelve minutes long. He releases a bunch of them slowly over a week’s times. Levels or missions are broken down into parts…. for example: 1 of 3 or 1 of ten. In that way you still release long segments but broken down into bite sized morsels for us little people.

    Quality doesn’t matter to me. your videos doesn’t need to be in HD, it just needs to be clear. I also understand that if you place the videos in HD, then one of you will probably have to quit his day job to the extensive more work you’ll have to or buy several dozen terabyte hard-drives. This is not to say that you do not present clear quality videos. this is just in response to the bunch of perps that want HD videos.

    I think the reason your still hitting a niche crowd is because your conservations doesn’t seem interesting enough combined with whatever game your playing.

    I understand that you have problems with game choice either from:
    1. Being able to actually record the game or
    2. Whether the game is interesting enough for you all to converse about it during game-play.

    Maybe the group commentary type of LP thing is just old hat. Maybe you gotta to try for something different… for example JewWario from http://jewwario.blogspot.com/ did a LP of FatalFrame at night, in the dark. It was both hilarious and oddly disturbing at watching him get scared over a game. It was a different type of LP.

    Or something crazy like watching each one you trying to beat one level of IWBTG while the rest comment… no wait… that may cause a murder to happen. Forget I suggested a game.

  137. brashieel says:

    Not a whole lot of great importance to add, but I’d like to say that I’ve watched the whole series to date, and I liked the current format. The longer episodes helped generate the “friends playing a game” atmosphere you seemed to be going for, and I liked not having everything broken down into tiny ADHD tolerant pieces.

    Still, I get that your viewership on this thing is staying stubbornly small, and that this isn’t the idea. But I hope you don’t retool it too completely. Chop down the episodes a bit if you need to, but please don’t resort to YouTube length. That would take something away in my opinion.

    But whatever you do, thanks for the (relatively) free entertainment.

  138. Khizan says:

    Edit, edit, edit.

    To use Fallout New Vegas as an example, we don’t need to watch you guys trudge across the wilderness, nor do we need to watch you guys kill every mook in the game. Show us that stuff early on, so we get an idea for scale and when things are fresh. It can be cool to see “OH NO RADSCORPIONS” when you’re level 3. When you’re level 16 and breezing through all the combat, we don’t really need to watch it all.

    That kind of thing adds length without adding a great deal of value. There’s a lot of stuff that’s fun to play. There’s a lot of stuff that’s fun to watch a friend play. There’s a lot less stuff that’s fun to watch somebody else play while his friends talk about it.

  139. Mr. Son says:

    Aw, it makes me sad hearing you talk about shortening the show. I generally prefer longer shows that let me listen/watch something in the corner of my screen while I go about my business. Shorter shows mean having to stop what I’m doing more often to find and start up another video. If it were possible (I understand it’s not, just saying), I’d love to see your shows expand to 2-hour long grind sessions.

    I’ll keep watching, I’m just disappointed a little.

  140. X2-Eliah says:

    Maybe this has been mentioned, but – do you really have to play a game to it’s end?

    Make X episodes, enough so you show the game properly, analyze/deconstruct it as much as you like, joke wild about it, but stop somewhere where it starts to drag out (maybe make an extra recap episode of the good points in the game fromthenon), and start dong another game.

    Watching Bioshock after the big reveal was indeed a bit unnecessary – if only to show how the game fell from it’s grace.

  141. Louis says:

    Honestly, I think the concept itself needs a little work. The idea is to be a mix of amusing chatter, technical discussion, and reaction to gameplay, in the manner of a bunch of friends on a couch watching someone play a video game.

    Question- how many people here ever actually sat around and watched someone play a single-player game? When I was with my friends, we did multiplayer. Discussions of single-player games were done in school, work, and other moments when we were away from the game itself. Hence, I have no nostalgia or interest in the format of the show. A funny LP would be more interesting, or else a focused essay/video on specific points. A 20-hour series talking about a single game just ain’t grabbing me, no matter the episode length.

  142. kerezteny says:

    15 minutes sounds great. i watched all of mass effect’s, and was really into fallout 3’s, but i found it hard to sit still for 30 minutes, especially since viddler comes with a few problems of its own, and i stopped watching after a few episodes. 15 minutes on youtube, once a day? shoot, that sounds ideal.

    really looking forward to seeing your commentary on me2.

  143. ag says:

    While I enjoy the rest of the site and I watched a couple of episodes, it just didn’t grab me to be honest. I don’t have much time to spend on gaming, and I’d rather spend it playing a game myself than watching someone else play it. The fact you cover relatively old games probably doesn’t help either – I have a stack of games I have yet to even touch so its very unlikely I’m going to spend 10-15 hours of my time watching someone play through something I was finished with over a year ago. The opinions are amusing, but I can get those in a few blog posts which take far less time to consume

  144. RCN says:

    There’s only one hole in this plan.

    A wide, gaping, insufferable hole.

    Not always you get to a save point every 15 minutes…

    Wait a second, I’m talking about the PC! In the PC, magic happens. You can stop at any time you damn well please! You don’t have to look for checkpoints (or at least, you shouldn’t be looking for checkpoints).

    Oh, sorry. I guess this post is pointless then. It’s just that I’ve been watching a FFX let’s play and sometimes it takes the hosts about an hour to find a savepoint.

  145. Zagzag says:

    Something to bear in mind about viewing numbers: I’ve watched your reset button videos multipl times because they are shorter than a whole season of SW which I would probably only watch once or twice in the same time period that I might see Reset Button five or six times.

  146. halvhir says:

    So I came back to this after watching up to your anniversary episode in the Mass Effect 2 season (as I’m sure has been done before by now, but I’m not scrolling through 100+ replys) and the first thing to strike me is that if you haven’t brought it to the Escapist again yet, you totally should.

    The video quality has skyrocketed and you guys have clearly found your stride. The Amnesia video was heavily cut and pieced together, of course, but it’s the funniest damn thing I’ve seen all month. And with the format changes and the polish you’ve added to each episode, I really think it’s primed to explode as soon as you get more exposure. And advertising it writes itself; “MST3K as a Let’s Play, 15 minutes at a time”.

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