A Let’s Play is a recording of someone playing a video game, usually with commentary also being provided by the person doing the recording. It sounds weird, but it isn’t all that different from watching a sporting event on television. I do it for fun, and because I enjoy watching Let’s Plays.
If you are interested in getting into Let’s Playing and want to know how to do it, or want to know how I do it, this is where I will explain all of the things I know.
Technical Issues and Art
There are two very different aspects of LPing that I have been asked about, and they require largely unrelated skills. Technically speaking you need to be able to figure out how to record a video game, record your voice (at least), somehow join the two together at appropriate levels, and then upload it. The better you are at the technical aspects the better the end product will look and sound.
The artistic side is more difficult to provide exact guidelines on since it is a bit more subjective, but it is also important, so I will talk about at least a few of the details I get questions about.
This is going to be primarily how I have solved the problems of LPing, but there are lots of other ways of going about things.
How I Record Let’s Plays Now
I have a PC I custom built a few years ago, but it is nothing special. I am picky when it comes to computer components so a custom build is pretty much the only way to get the PC you want at a reasonable price. It’s also pretty easy to do. If you want to know more about PC building I recommend Tom’s Hardware. Other LPers that are good don’t use custom hardware, so this is entirely optional. You just need to be able to run your games smoothly.
I use a Blue Spark. There is a USB version of the microphone out there, which I attempted to use, but the one I purchased was defective so I returned it and got one with an XLR output. I then purchased a small Behringer Xenyx 502 which the microphone plugs into, and then a basic RCA to 1/8″ audio converter so it can plug it into the microphone input slot on my PC’s motherboard. The Behringer works as a glorified cable converter, but also powers the microphone (some fancier microphones require something called Phantom Power to work, which is a fancy way for saying they work like pretty much every other electronic device, and require electricity), and allows me to adjust the gain on the microphone (“gain” is douchebag speak for what is more or less “input volume”).
This is a relatively expensive setup. If you are just getting into LPing I recommend one of my older setups.
The Capture Card
I use an Avermedia Live Gamer HD to record off of consoles. Now that the PS4 and XBox One have their own streaming support this is less necessary, but for Wii U games and older consoles that have an HDMI output, this card is great. There are ways to hook it up to record off of your PC but when I did this my operating system was sometimes a little confused, and the audio quality that was captured wasn’t great. But it is totally great for capturing consoles, so if you want to LP a game that can’t be emulated or played on PC this is a decent option. A lot of people like El Gato products, and Avermedia has a lot of other options to try as well.
If I am capturing with the Avermedia card I use the software it came with, which is pretty good. If I am capturing from the PC I use Open Broadcaster. In the past I have used FRAPS, Camtasia, XSplit Broadcaster, and a few others. Just use Open Broadcaster. It is free, and I like it better than the others by a large margin.
The Artsy Stuff
Just make the sort of LPs you want to watch. Watch what you make after you are done recording and see if you succeeded. Repeat.