Looking Back on “The Demo World” (SGZ Plays MC #1)

So this might end up being a series of posts on my blog where I talk about various videos that I have made. Or it could just be a one-off thing. Who knows? I sure don’t right now. I just started writing this initially as an updated description for the video on YouTube and a certain other site that you’ll hear about soon… but anyway, here’s my thoughts on “The Demo World”, the first episode of my main Minecraft let’s play series.

This picture pretty much sums up the episode in general.

Ah, the first episode of SuperGeniusZeb Plays Minecraft. This was the first video I ever uploaded to the SuperGeniusZeb channel on YouTube, and my first time doing a let’s play of a game in which I spoke. Back then, I had basically no experience doing this sort of video. All I had ever done before in terms of gaming videos were silent recordings (not even text/caption overlays) of LEGO Legends of Chima Online & LEGO Minifigures Online, which in hindsight weren’t very interesting at all, except as historical footage of those games, both of which have been shutdown. This was my first real attempt at a traditional let’s play.

And being a first attempt, it wasn’t really that good. I mean, it could have been worse… but it also could have been much better. Since making this first episode, I’ve learned a lot about making gaming videos.

For one, I’ve learned that if you aren’t talking at the moment, you better be doing something interesting or using timelapses and cuts. This episode has a lot of moments where I’m not talking, and all I’m doing is walking around and placing/breaking a couple blocks.

Another thing I learned was to close the door to my room when recording, in order to reduce the chance of background noise from other people in the building ending up in the audio of my recording. Telling everyone you’re about to record is also very important and something I really wish I had done when making this episode.

In terms of editing, this first episode has almost none. There’s the episode title overlaid on top of the end of the intro, the cross-fade of both of those into the first recording, a messed-up clock wipe to the second recording, the To be continued… text and fade-out at the end… and that’s it. I didn’t bother to edit out anything, and because of that, this episode is both full of boring moments and much longer than it should be.

I’m currently working on a sort of “special edition” of this episode – I’m basically cutting out all the really boring stuff, turning some parts into timelapses, and adding some text overlays for the purpose of correcting some incorrect info I said, adding some fun bits of trivia, and introducing a bit more humor into the episode. The original version will remain on YouTube, of course. I intend to do this for most if not all of the early episodes of SuperGeniusZeb Plays Minecraft, with the goal of trying to make these earlier episodes more enjoyable to watch, and closer to the same level of quality as the later episodes. Of course, I can’t fix everything about them, but at the very least I can try to make them better than before.

On another note, it’s kind of fun to notice just how much I was planning ahead in this initial episode. I had not yet come up with the specific idea of the Update-o-Matic, but I did know that I wanted to make version updates big and intentionally over-dramatic events. I also had plans for some other things as well, some of which have yet to come to fruition even now. You know that weird moment where I rhetorically ask what kind of series this would be and then answer with “everything”? That was a bit of a weird way of saying that I wanted the series to be both a normal let’s play (like most of it has been for the past couple of years) and also have story elements and stuff that you would expect to see in a series like Zisteau Plays Minecraft… which was actually one of the series that inspired me to make this one, along with Etho Plays Minecraft and Stampy’s Lovely World. So far, the closest thing to story elements in SGZ Plays Minecraft has been the Update-o-Matic shenanigans, but I’ve been planning a lot more than just that… there’s been some subtle hints in a couple of the episodes to one of these other things, but I won’t spoil just what. You’ll just have to wait and see…

In case you were wondering what tools I used to make this first episode, I used Fraps to record the video and VSDC Free Video Editor to edit it.

I probably wouldn’t recommend using Fraps today since it costs money and OBS, a free (libre) and open-source app for both livestreaming and recording, can do the same job for free and it runs on Linux and macOS as well as Windows. Windows 10 also has the Xbox Game DVR feature built-in, so you can use that to easily record stuff as well. Both OBS and Xbox Game DVR can record UWP apps and record the entire screen, whereas Fraps is limited to stuff rendered using DirectX or OpenGL that isn’t run in a sandbox like UWP.

I also wouldn’t recommend VSDC Free Video Editor. It’s been a long time since I last used it, but when I was using it, it would crash constantly, and I was always saving my project every couple of minutes in case of a crash. (Actually, maybe the constant crashing was part of the reason why the earlier episodes didn’t have as much editing done on them as the later ones.) It was also pretty limited in what it could do. These days, I use Kdenlive, a free (libre) and open-source app that is a lot more stable, has a lot more features, and runs on not just Windows, but also macOS and Linux.

Looking back, I wish I could have done better with this first video. But I also understand that making this video and the ones that followed were the practice that I needed in order to get better. I was able to look back on the episodes, figure out what I did wrong, and try to do better on the next one. To me, this episode serves as a reminder of just how far the series has come, and also how far I’ve come. I’m definitely not as good at video production as I wish I was, but I’m a lot closer than I was when I made this first episode, and I hope I will continue to learn and get better as time goes on.

I don’t know how many people watch SGZ Plays Minecraft. There might not even be any. But for now, I will keep the series going regardless, in the hopes that it will entertain people. To all those who have watched the series, or any of my videos for that matter, and to all those who have provided feedback, whether it be a detailed comment or just a simple like/dislike… thank you.

This has been SuperGeniusZeb, and I will talk to you again in the next video… or blog post. 😉

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