Just a few days ago I was thinking out loud about playing to a schedule. And my bemusement/jealousy of those that can do it consistently. I toyed with the idea of picking up some small element of this myself as an experiment. And now, here we are.

I think I’ve found something that can work even with my typical need to rebel against structure in my gaming. The idea simply being to play one ‘episode’ worth of content each weekend. Probably on a Saturday, but the accompanying post I’ll let go on a Monday (my time)1 giving me some flexibility in the ‘schedule’.

I’m still going to count this very much as an experiment, though. Similar to Krikket’s ‘Play to Satisfaction’ concept for gaming — I’m explicitly giving myself permission to drop this whole thing should any feelings remotely similar to resentment for the time or perception of too high an opportunity cost arise. So we’ll see. In the meantime though, while it lasts I’m also looking at recording the game sessions.

In large part to give me something to refer back to instead of taking notes while playing, but also because hey, why not? Uploading something to YouTube again could be fun!

Encountering Some Issues…

Although… Yep. This process hasn’t exactly been trouble-free just yet. Everything is complicated a hundredfold by my super ultrawide (5120×1440, 32:9) screen. Did you know most video formats actually can’t have a pixel width (or height) of over 4096?

I didn’t. Until I tried to actually do it.

The first recording session defaulted to halving my output to 2560×720. Combined with an underspecced bitrate and suffice to say… It didn’t look particularly good.

First Take, once uploaded to YouTube. It looks even worse in fullscreen.

My next run I instead scaled to the maximum I could while maintaining aspect ratio: 4096×1152.

This looks amazing locally — but YouTube (so far) displays it just as poorly as the original recording even with a much higher bitrate also being specified. However, this isn’t conclusive yet, as HD (I assume in this case 2K since 1080@60 is already available) and 4K resolutions are still processing.

Second Take, on YouTube. Maybe it looks a little better from the higher bitrate, but still not where I’d like it to be. Although as noted, at the time of writing this post — 2K/4K resolutions are still processing.

All this to say — I have some things to work out, thus the prologue post today rather than Part 1. These video quality issues are one, but also I learnt a few things from throwing together the rough thumbnail image (set as the featured image of this post)!

For example, putting the episode or part number down in the lower right is a bad idea. In most places where the thumbnail is visible, the length of the video is displayed over the top.

For another, the super small form factor these thumbnails are often viewed at mean your text has to be a large portion of the image and high contrast to boot.

I’m 100% certain all these things are YouTube 101 for anyone who has done even a cursory degree of research. I’m just surprised I’m here learning any of these things as I never thought I might someday be uploading anything remotely like this.

So far, I’ve been pretty avoidant of actually narrating the video — in part due to the New Zealand accent and in part simply not wanting to do it while the family as around with the frequent interruptions and background noise that would result.

I’m not sure yet how much I’m going to worry about voicing over the videos. I know that preferably they should be… But then one must also consider I’m only really doing them as supplemental material to the posts here. One of the main things I started out wanting to do with the video was to make short gifs, like this:

This is from Take 2. But on take 1 I most certainly did not *cough* drop down hitting R2 (heavy attack) and completely whiff the aerial drop attack. Oh… You saw it on the video I linked? D’oh.

Although as you can see — these don’t come out particularly well with my current process. I would much rather be able to natively load them here rather than relying on a player. With that player, I can’t expand the size or even have it centre correctly as requested. Not without digging into some code at least, which I have nil appetite for at the moment.

With how many of the problems here are stemming from the super ultrawide resolution, I think the simplest answer might just be to play in a 21:9 or even all the way back to the more ‘standard’ 16:9 window. I’ll have to give it some more thought and experimentation over the week. Worse come to worst, can always just go back to static screenshots too. ;)

The Game Plan

I’ve never finished Dark Souls 1. In fact, I’m not even sure I’ve cleared past the first major boss (I’m not counting the Asylum Demon in the starting area).

But I have done that starting area, a bit of exploration around Firelink Shrine and most of the first Undead Burg area in the past. Not for a long time though.

So take 1 had a certain amount of character to it that was lost in running it again so soon for take 2. The whiffed drop-attack I mentioned above being one amusing example. Heck, that fight in general was rougher in take 1. I still beat it in one try but it took a few chugs of Estus whereas take 2 while still not perfect was over in no time at all.

I think if take 2 still ends up having poor quality, on take 3 I might try to emulate some of that feel. Maybe. I’m of mixed minds about this. I’ll just have to see what feels right when I go to play it.

In any case! The plan was to complete the asylum and do the initial exploration of Firelink Shrine in part 1. Basically, reach the point where I’m ready to head up to the Undead Burg and stop. Within Undead Burg there are one or two bonfires I remember where I might stop depending on how long it takes me to get through it. If I’m really speedy I might do the first boss in part 2 as well, but I expect that to be more likely a part 3 thing.

Beyond that, I have no idea!

The only other thing I know is I’ll be playing this cleric build. Every Dark Souls game is a little different in how they handle stats, poise, dodge rolls, etc. So I’m making a concession in the way of following a build rather than making my own.

However! I won’t be following a walkthrough more generally. Or at least… I don’t intend to. If I get really stuck I’d rather use a walkthrough than stop. But majority of the time? No walkthrough.

So… That’ll be exciting. ;)

Footnotes

  1. Although I’m already breaking schedule and sending this one out Sunday evening.

Naithin

Gamer, reader, writer, husband and father of two boys. Former WoW and Gaming blogger, making a return to the fold to share my love of all things looty.

2 Comments

Jeromai · March 22, 2021 at 1:32 pm

Some of it is Youtube being Youtube, I suspect. I seem to recall some ill-fated experiments myself, on a normal resolution monitor, where the immediate playback looked terrible. It takes a couple days to process the higher resolutions for playback, and I think even then, they give less established channels lower priority/bandwidth to support higher res.

For what it’s worth, both videos look OK to me on an iPad, but I had to manually change the resolution from 360 to 720, and there are the humongous black bars on the top and bottom one would expect trying to fit super-wide resolution into a less wide format.

If the aim is mass appeal, perhaps consider recording in a window or the central part of the screen, sizing to a more mainstream resolution.

If the aim is to share some of the superwide experience (any notable effect on the Dark Souls experience?), then black bars are going to be part of it.

    Naithin · March 22, 2021 at 2:09 pm

    Shortly after posting this, the Take 2 video finished processing and allowed for 1440p and 4K resolutions to be played. And this definitely looked better but I think I still need to further bump up the bitrate I record at, and switch from Variable Bit Rate back to Constant Bit Rate.

    The videos will take up more space on the HDD while I work with them, but I can make this work for 30m-1hr sessions without issue even with recording to the SSD.

    And actually, if I do drop the screen resolution back to something more standard — this size should come down again.

    As for the aim? Sort of neither… Although don’t get me wrong, I absolute wouldn’t say ‘No’ to a mass of subscribers, the main aim is to use the video as a supplemental tool for the blog. So just being able to play in my screen’s native resolution would be great!

    But as a supplement, the main ‘story’ as it were will be told here, but for anyone who wants to see it, that would be an option too. Plus as noted, extracting gifs from it would be excellent — although I haven’t food a good solution for this yet.

    I might have to make my clips in a video editing tool and then upload those. Gfycat which I used for the example in this post took full size video no worries, but I’m not exactly enamoured with the webp format it outputs to and the limitations of that.

    All that said and done — the main deciding factor for Dark Souls Remastered at least, is that the menus are utterly borked at 32:9. Despite the rest of the game handling it very well. Sooner or later it will become a problem though, so I think this alone will get me back into a 21:9 or even 16:9 resolution.

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