on Jul 8, 2012
Spoiler Warning is a videogame commentary series. A “Let’s Play”, in the vernacular. The intent of the series is to watch a game and hold an unrehearsed conversation between hosts of various ages and gaming backgrounds. But you know that already. See the official page for the full episode listing. If you’re looking to know more, then here you go:
The best way to contact us is to send an email to diecast@ shamusyoung.com.
The show was launched in 2010, long before the current Let’s Play conventions were nailed down. While the big popular LP performers today are one or two person teams focused on comedy, we seem to have developed a more “long-form critique” approach, and our cast is usually four or five people. Most LPs exist to show you the game, but we start with the assumption that you’ve probably seen it and are looking to discuss it. (Or hear it discussed.)
To date we’ve published over 500 videos on our YouTube channel, with an average length of about 25 minutes each. That means we’ve produced over 208 hours of “entertainment”. That’s longer than the combined network runs of Star Trek the original series and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Josh is our designated driver. He’s the one to play the game, stream it to the rest of us, record the footage, and edit it into an episode. We usually record three episodes at a time on the weekend and then post them during the week.
We refer to our play-through as a “season”, although they obviously aren’t tied to years the way seasons are in American television.
I know how it is. You love a game, so you’d like to see us cover it on the show. But be careful what you wish for. Our format really does tend to accentuate the negative, and you may find yourself watching a show that makes you really mad. The most common complaint we get is, “You’re just looking for stuff to nitpick!” That’s not really true. What we’re looking for is stuff to talk about, and conversations about flaws are generally longer and more complex than conversations about stuff that’s good.
You can suggest games for us to cover if you like, but the process is insanely complex:
- We don’t want to cover games that are too old. Nothing against old titles. We all have old games that we love. But the audience for that sort of stuff is pretty niche and we don’t want to make a show nobody will watch. Also old games are a pain in the ass to record. (See below.) And they have a lot of reading. (See below.)
- We don’t do console games, simply because of the technical complexity it would add to the show. (See below.) As of Summer of 2014, we’re experimenting with getting equipment that might make console games a possibility. Wait and see.
- We favor games with both story and gameplay, because there are only so many conversations you can have about one or the other. I love blasting psychos and sorting loot in Borderlands, but WATCHING someone shoot psychos and sort loot for six straight episodes between story beats? That’s torture, and that time will end up filled with bitching and moaning.
- Games with a lot of reading are out. The occasional note might be okay, but if a lot of time is spent reading (like in Gone Home) then it’s a bad fit for the show. It’s pretty hard to read the game and listen to the cast at the same time. And it’s pretty goofy if the cast has to keep stopping their conversations to read so they can follow along. And finally, things that are perfectly readable in a game might be hard to make out when jammed into a YouTube window or viewed on a smartphone.
- Multiplayer games probably aren’t a great fit. It’s pretty hard to critique a game, have a conversation, and play it at the same time. Multiplayer is good for the “griefing and goofing around” type shows, but that’s not our strong suit. In the past, multiplayer games end up with us just playing the game and not talking very much.
- We each have our own preferences, and so anyone in the cast can veto any game. Rutskarn won’t put up with Far Cry 3. I won’t sit still for Dragon Age: Origins. Mumbles is really not keen to do The Witcher. Josh isn’t interested in the Arkham games. We have a massive list of exceptions and vetoes like this, and finding titles that survive group veto can be tough. We might drop one cast member for a single season if everyone else is really into it, but usually vetoes are contagious and once someone shoots down a game the rest of us aren’t eager to leave that person behind.
Producing the show involves a terrifying Rube Goldberg chain of shaky technology.
The cast gathers in Vent for voice communication. We also use Vent to record the audio. Josh fires up the game and streams it to the rest of us using a private streaming server. We watch the show on a five second delay, so sometimes you’ll notice a bit of a pause between the moment something happens and the moment when we notice it. (Obviously this doesn’t apply to Josh, who is seeing the game realtime.)
Aside: We used to use Twitch, but early in 2014 Twitch changed their service so that all video was broadcast on a 45 second delay. This is ridiculously long and made it impossible for us to discuss what Josh was doing, since he was always reacting to things we wouldn’t see for the better part of a minute. He would shout “DID YOU GUYS SEE THAT?” This would both interrupt and stall our conversation. We couldn’t go back to what we were talking about. And we couldn’t comment on what he was doing. And Josh couldn’t very well wait until 45 seconds after something happened to comment on it, because by that time he would have moved on and he already has enough to worry about. Basically, Twitch is now completely useless.
Once we’re all watching the stream, Josh also records the show using Fraps. (He can’t use the footage he’s streaming to us, since that stream is reduced in quality and compressed to hell.)
We record a single gameplay session about an hour long, which is later divided into 20-minute segments to give us our three episodes.
Once we’re done recording, Josh can export the Vent audio. Then he combines it with the gameplay footage from Fraps in Adobe Premiere.
Shamus is the one to photoshop the various title cards. He’s also in charge of the clock, so when an episode runs long for no reason it’s usually his fault.
The name “Reginald Cuftbert” was devised by Rutskarn, when we were trying to come up with the least appropriate name for our character in Fallout 3. This happened in the episode appropriately titled: The Birth of Reginald Cuftbert. We set out to dress and behave as absurdly as possible, which began our tradition of wearing top hats or bonnets. Since then, we’ve given our characters a variant of this (Regina Shepard, Reginald Fluffburt) whenever we run into a game that lets you choose a name. Also, the spelling of the name changes often (Cuftbert, Cuffbert, Cuftburt, etc) which became a running joke when we had to watch our own show, ON the show, to see how we’d spelled it in the past.
Josh used to say, “Stop shooting me.” when he was being annoyed by in-game enemies while we were trying to have a conversation. He actually QUIT doing this because he didn’t like that it was becoming a catchphrase. (He hates fun and joy.)
Shamus has a long-standing habit of walking up to corpses in videogames and saying, “You okay buddy?” in a concerned tone. He’s brought this habit along with him to the show. Yes, he knows its only funny to him. No, he can’t really stop doing it.
The rest of the cast pretends that Ludonarrative DissonanceWhen the story of a game is in direct conflict with its mechanics, such as when a cutscene shows your character is weak or confused but the gameplay remains unchanged. is Chris’ catchphrase. It’s not really, but it is a topic that comes up often in the kind of story-heavy games we cover on the show. Chris isn’t even a huge fan of the term. But it’s become a tradition to make a big deal when it pops up.
Rutskarn is sort of notorious for puns. This is funnier when you consider the context. He majored in English in college and is a professional writer. So when he drops a pun it’s sort of like a chef preparing you a bowl of Cheetos, or a ballet dancer twerking. The Joke isn’t the joke, the joke is that the joke was made by someone who should hate the joke.
Mumbles is always in favor of situations that might involve BEES! or cannibalism. She’s also in favor of murdering every single character we meet in all games, but NEVER in favor of killing animals. Do not test her on this.
Josh is often called the “bug whisperer” because of the unusually high number of bugs we encounter in our episodes. Partly this is due to unconventional playstyle. (We tend to favor less-used mechanics, less-chosen dialog options, and unexpected or absurd character behavior.) Partly this is due to the unreasonable things his computer is being asked to do. (See above.) But mostly it’s because Josh really is the bug whisperer.
If all of this isn’t enough info for you, you might want to check out the TV Tropes page for our show, which records our activities in far more detail then we ever could.
Thanks for watching!
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.