Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year Resolutions

So today's the last day of the year and I'm still questioning whether or not I'll survive the year.  I just can't get rid of this nasty cough.  Oh well.  This cold/mono/whatever has really whipped my ass.  I got sick the week of Thanksgiving and I've been sick ever since, to varying degrees.  It's the cough and extreme tiredness/exhaustion that I'm having the hardest time with.

But the sun keeps coming up and life goes on.  And tomorrow is a new year.

With a new year comes New Year Resolutions.  I make them every year, but I don't always complete them.  Some last almost the whole year.  Some are forgotten or given up on before the end of January.  Either way, I like setting goals.  It's fun and gives me an idea of what I want to accomplish in the next 12 months.

For starters, I have a lot of games.  854 to be exact.  And that doesn't count my PC games, just console games.  I have a really good inventory system.  I kind of have to with all those games.  Of all those games 435 are Xbox, Xbox Arcade or Xbox One games.  Of those 435 I don't have any achievements in 167 of them.  That's 38.39% of games with no gamer score.  So one of my New Year Achievements is to get at least one achievement in all the games I own.  That's a lot of games to play.  I'm pretty sure I won't be able to get an achievement in all of them.  I know, because I've tried in some of those games.  Either way, I'm going to try.

Speaking of gamer score I think I want to get my gamer score at or above 40,000.  I currently have 32,637 and I hope to get a couple more tonight before the new year rings in.  That means I have to get 7,363 in 12 months.  That's an average of 614 points a month.  I think that's very doable.  Especially if I'm going to be playing a lot of games.  I know a lot of people don't care about achievements and gamer score, but I like to see what I've accomplished in the year besides just knowing I spent X amount of time playing video games.  Besides some of those achievements might be hard to get.

I'd also like to complete (i.e. get to the end credits) of 12 games.  That's one a month.  Might be doable, but it will take some effort and planning to achieve.  I'm not sure what those games might be, but I know that a couple of them should be Summoner (PS2), Jedi Outcast (Xbox), Super Mario Sunshine (GameCube) and Final Fantasy VII (PS) since those were the games that started this blog way back on March 2nd, 2007.  That's a long time . . . 8 years exactly . . . and I still haven't finished those games.  I have noticed that since I started my YouTube channel I've finished several games.  That's promising.

The games that I'm the closest to finishing are:
Fable III
Final Fantasy XIII
Gears of War Ultimate Edition
Lost Odyssey
Psychonauts
Rayman Origins
Tomb Raider
Final Fantasy Tactics (PSP)

I think finishing these are doable.  I wonder what other ones I can finish before the end of the year.  Is there any games you'd like me to play and finish?  I'm taking suggestions for my channel and for my New Year Resolutions.  Just name something in the comments and I'll let you know if I've got it.  If not, I might be able to pick it up.  I did get a lot of games through Xbox's sale the last 2 weeks.  Not that I needed more games.  But they were cheap and I video games are so much fun.

Do you have any New Year Resolutions?  If so, let me know in the comments.  Maybe there will be something we can work on together.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Double Fine December

So way back in September when I was filming my videos for October I planned on playing Stacking for the month of December.  You see, Costume Quest was made by Double Fine and Stacking is also a game made by Double Fine.  And there's an achievement in Costume Quest for finding a small nesting doll in a cave and a message pops up about Stacking.  In the Extras section of Stacking there's also reference to Costume Quest.  I knew these two games were done by the same developer, but I didn't know the other game I had planned for December was done by them as well.

I've wanted to go back and play Psychonauts and finish it for a long time.  Since my memory cards were stolen I would have to start over from scratch.  But that was okay because it had been a long time since I played that game. 

Unfortunately, I was playing scary or Halloween games for October (I thought Psychonauts would fit in well, but I didn't have the time for three games that month).  For November I had already planned on playing military themed games in honor of Veteran's Day.  So the earliest I could post videos of Psychonauts would be December.  It didn't really strike me as a "December/Christmas" type of game but I was going to do it anyway.

Unfortunately I got really sick at the end of November (still am) and my ability to shot videos ahead of schedule was pretty much squashed.  When December started I didn't have any videos recorded and I didn't have much of a voice to do so.  But the show must go on, right?

I filmed the  first episode of Stacking and moved on to Psychonauts.  I was filming that episode on Thursday which was the same night the Video Game Awards show was on TV.  While I was playing away apparently there was an announcement that Double Fine is going to crowd fund Psychonauts 2.  Yeah!  Of course I didn't find this out until the next night when I was trying to edit the video and check up on all the news I've missed that week (it's been very busy at work). 

Perfect timing right?  I didn't have this planned out other than to put up videos of Psychonauts in  December because that was the first available month to do so.  And it wasn't until I started filming that I noticed Psychonauts was also made by Double Fine.  So this month is more timely that I had planned and is a Double Fine month of videos for my Youtube channel.  I don't think I could have planned that out any better.

If you want to contribute to the making of Psychonauts 2 (and why wouldn't you) you can check out their fundraising here: Double Fine's Psychonauts 2 funding.  If you want to follow Double Fine on twitter they're at @DoubleFine.  Check them out.  And you can check out my Double Fine videos on my channel here: Pengwenn's Youtube channel

Monday, November 9, 2015

Things I've learned about myself from YouTube

I've been meaning to post this for awhile, but things in the real world have gotten out of hand for awhile and things are just now getting back to normal.  It's amazing how doing several jobs at the same time can wear you out.

In addition to my business review of starting a YouTube channel, I've done a personal review as well.  I've wanted to see how this new venture has been affecting me, good and bad.  There's been some surprising things I've learned about myself in the process.  Let me share them with you (in no particular order).

1) I sigh a lot.

It seems I sigh a lot while I'm recording.  I'm not really aware of it, but I hear it when I do the editing.  I've been trying to consciously think about NOT doing it but that makes me self conscious about other things and then I start fumbling my words.  I have adjusted my gain on the mic and maybe my sighing won't get picked up as often as it has in the past.

2) I say "dude" "guy" "all right" "seriously" and "no no no" a lot.

Sometimes when I listen to myself while I'm editing I think I'm in an old '90s stoner movie because I say "dude" and "guy" and "seriously" a lot.  I sometimes sound like I'm stoned too.  I don't know where I picked up this verbal ticks and even I find them annoying.  The problem is I don't know that I'm saying them until after I've said them.  I don't usually think about what I'm saying before I open my mouth.  These words just come out naturally.  I don't want to try and change them because I think that would make me sound pretentious.  I want to sound natural so I guess you'll be hearing a lot of "dude", "guy", "all right", "seriously" and "no no no" a lot.

3) I say "thank you" to AI characters (only sometimes sarcastically)

Like they really have a choice about helping me out.  They're programed to do specific things.  But sometimes I struggle with them not helping me out, so when they finally do, I thank them.  I guess thanking someone is a good things, right?  Unfortunately I also use "thank you" sarcastically too.  When someone (human or AI) does something not very helpful I thank them sarcastically.  That's just me.  I can't hold it back.  I sometimes get a smart mouth on me.  I use to control it better when I was in school because I didn't want to get in trouble, but I'm finding it slips out more often when playing video games.  Let the natural sarcastic asshole in me come out.  Sorry, I don't think there's anything I can do about this.

4) I make a weird clicking noise with my lips sometimes

I don't know how to explain this.  It's not a lip smacking, or teeth sucking noise, but it's not much different.  I usually do this when I first start talking, especially if I've been quiet for awhile.  I'm not even consciously aware I'm doing it at the time, but I hear it in the editing.  I've adjusted the gain on the mic so hopefully it won't pick it up as often.  Even though I'm not consciously aware that I'm doing it I think I haven't done it as much since I've become aware of it.

5) It's hard working two jobs.

Because I'm treating this like a second job I take everything I do seriously.  I started to keep track of time spent doing things and it's been eye opening.  To render, sync, save, edit, resave, compress and upload to YouTube a video that ends up roughly 30 minutes takes about 3 hours to do.  That means if I post a video five days a week it takes 15 hours just to edit and upload them.  That's not counting filming time.  I typically try to keep the filming to 45-50 minutes before ending the recording.  Some have gone longer.  Some shorter.  In the process of editing, I take that 45-50 minutes video and get it down to as close to 30 minutes as I can without losing continuity of the game.  So to make 5 videos in a week I need to film for 5-6 hours.  That's my Saturday in a nutshell.  Sunday is editing as much as I can.  The rest of the week is more editing or filming depending on what I need at the time. 

That means I spend about 20-30 hours a week on making content for my YouTube channel.  That's on top of my 40 hour a week job, laundry, cooking, cleaning, paying bills, real life crap, etc. that I've got to do.  At times it's exhausting.  I'm not getting paid to spend all that time doing this and I'm okay with that . . . for now.  I'm learning so much and it's so much fun to do.  Right now what I sacrifice if I need more time is sleep.  Which leads me to . . .

6) I'm sleeping a lot less since I started my channel.

I was typically getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night.  Even though that was enough sleep sometimes I woke up tired.  Now I'm up editing until 11:30pm or 12am before finally calling it a night and slipping in between the sheets for some shut eye since I have to get up at 6am for work.  Except I can't shut my brain off.  I miss writing and being creative and the editing process on my videos is filling that void in me.  Because of that my brain starts reeling when I edit.  I think of all the possibilities and my juices start to flow.  By the time I need to go to bed my brain is in full gear. 

I've tried everything I could think of to shut my brain off so I can get to sleep, but so far nothing has helped.  I'll lay in bed until 2:00 or 3:00am before my body is finally so exhausted my brain doesn't have a choice but to power down for the night.  This means that I'm only getting 3-4 hours of sleep a night.  You would think that I would be dragging myself around the next day at work.  But I'm not.  Oh sure, my ability to come up with the quick answer is a little bit slower, but I get there eventually.  Physically I feel fine.  Mentally I'm just a little bit slower than normal.  And all this lack of sleep hasn't caught up to me by the end of the week.  I usually only get an extra couple of hours of sleep (5-6 hrs) on the weekend from what I get during the week.  I don't know if this lack of sleep will eventually catch up to me and rear it's ugly 3-headed monster at me and pound me in to oblivious sleep like Rip Van Winkle, but so far it hasn't affected me and I feel fine.

7) I'm not as depressed as I once was.

Every now and then in my life a wave of darkness seems to come over me.  It usually comes when I start thinking that I'm not where I want to be in my career, my life or my relationships.  The darkness threatens to overwhelm me but it usually passes within a couple of days or a week or two.  I've learned to embrace the darkness instead of fighting it.  That seems to help it pass much quicker than it would otherwise.  Like a fleeing summer thunderstorm.  It comes in menacingly, dumps a bunch of rain all over you, but that moves out and leaves everything fresh and new behind in it's wake.

Ever since I starting my channel I haven't noticed those coming thunderstorms.  I don't know if that's I'm just too busy to think on those things that trigger the depression in me, or some other reason.  I do know that I'm very happy doing everything for my channel, even if I find it exhausting at times.  It's playing the games, the process of editing and making something and seeing that finished product out there in the world that I really enjoy.  I don't care that I'm not making any money off of YouTube.  Yet, that's all the stories you hear about is some YT celebrity striking it rich where reporters wonder why.  I don't care.  The process makes me happy and that's good enough for me.

Well, those things are just some of the stuff that I've learned about myself since starting my YouTube channel.  There's more I could tell you, but I've bored you enough so far.  It's been a fascinating experiment for me and I'm glad I'm doing it.  And I'll continue to do so for a long time, I hope.  If you're interested you can find my YouTube channel here: Pengwenn's YouTube channel.  I hope you have as much fun watching as I've had making the videos.  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

My start up business 6 month review

When I sat down and finally decided that I was going to do something about starting a YouTube channel, I made the conscious choice to treat it like a business.  More than a job, because that's just what you do to pay the bills; this would be treated like a start up business.  Now, that doesn't mean I started doing things with making money as my top priority, which is what people generally think of when someone starts a business.  Making money off of my YouTube channel has been the farthest thing from my mind.  And it's something I'm not even remotely interested in at this time.  I was looking at taking this seriously and handling it professionally and in a timely fashion.

I very easily could have said that I was going to start doing YouTube as a hobby.  You know, "I'll post a video whenever I feel like it".  I didn't want to do that.  I also didn't want to make promises that I couldn't keep.  I was going to get serious about this, but I was also going to have fun with it.

So, before I even started I sat down and a made a plan.  It was a 3 pronged attack.  I didn't put this plan together on a whim.  I actually thought about it for several weeks before I committed anything to paper.  I'm very careful about things.  Especially setting goals . . . and starting a business.

Prong #1 of my attack was titled: Physical/Equipment/Hardware.

I sat down and started to make a list of all the physical things I would need in order to start capture videos for YouTube.  This part of the plan was the easiest and the one that I was the most familiar with and most ready to execute immediately without too much research and preparation.  Before I could even start to capture videos I needed the equipment to do so.  I already had the consoles to play games on and capture from, but I needed a capture devise.  In my research of capture devises I settled on the Elgato HD 60.  The only problem with that was that I also needed to get a new TV (one that had HDMI inputs) and a new computer.  These were extra expenses I probably wouldn't have thought of if I had just jumped into this without a plan.

Getting a new TV and laptop can get expensive.  And it was.  But the benefits for things beyond capturing were worth it.  But I had to plan ahead and make sure I had the money to get the items I wanted.  But also to get the best that I could afford.  Is there better out there?  Absolutely.  Could I have afforded them?  Nope.  What I got has been very good, although storage space on my laptop is sometimes lacking.  File management is an almost weekly thing.  External hard drives are on option, but I'm back to saving up for the things I want.  This is a business.  I'm trying to be responsible.

Once I had all my equipment in place I could start working on prong #2.  Software/Social media.

The hardware is great but it needs software to help it run and work.  Same goes with starting a YouTube business.  I had to do a lot of research when it came to this part of my plan.  Software is so much more selective according to personal taste and function that it gets overwhelming to me at times on picking a specific program to do a specific thing.  With the extra expense of a new TV and computer I didn't have the money to get some of the software that I really wanted to get.  I still don't have the funds but I'm saving up for them and hopefully I'll get able to get them soon.

One of the things I wanted to get was video editing software.  Unfortunately with no funds left for development I had to settle with what I could get for free.  That was Movie Maker software that came free with my laptop.  If you've been watching my channel since the beginning you'll know that I was having a lot of audio problems while I was recording.  I bought, tried and returned several microphones before I finally settled (somewhat unhappily at the time) on using Audacity to record audio knowing I'll just have to spend extra time syncing up the audio and video file before editing.  Not the solution I was hoping for, but I had to make it work.

I think I have.  But I still have lots to learn.  I've tried to spend some time learning Audacity and Movie Maker so I know what I'm doing and hopefully learn to do it better all the time.  It hasn't been easy.  I did searches for "how to" videos online and most of them haven't shown me anything that I hadn't already figured out for myself on my own.  I know there's still a lot I don't understand and/or use that I could, but I'm getting there.

But no all of prong #2 is software related.  I have a Twitter account.  I've had one since 2009.  But I really wasn't using it.  No particular reason either.  I just didn't think about it when I wanted to say something.  That was what this blog was for.  I followed a bunch of people (that list grows and shrinks as I find new people and/or drop people I don't like anymore).  I just never been one to communicate in 140 characters or less.  I'm not an emoji child.

Starting my attack on prong #2 meant I needed to get on Twitter more and use it.  This has probably been the hardest part for me.  I'm not an extrovert by nature.  I'm not a complete introvert either.  I can be very extroverted but usually only with my close friends.  With strangers it's much scary.  And I've have to keep everything within that 140 character limit.  If you've read this blog at any time you know I can be a bit wordy at times (this time included).  I like being able to explain myself.  My thoughts and ideas are brief so why should my communication be as well?  I think I'm falling down on the job as far as this is concerned.  I'm getting better.  But I'm not where I want to be at this time.

The other part of the "social media" aspect is this blog.  My blogging hasn't been consistent.  Ever.  I've set goals to do it X number of times a weeks.  But when I force myself to sit at the computer and type something up when I have nothing to say things don't go well for me.  But hopefully you've noticed that I have blogged more than I have in the past.  There's room for improvement, but I think I'm getting better.

I'll go into prong #3 at a latter post.  That's a whole other story that hasn't written itself yet.

So, why am I telling you this?  Because it's my 6 month review for my new business.  And while it's my start up and I'm doing this for myself right now (more on that later), I still hold myself accountable for the content that I put out.  And you're my friends, so I think you should know my thought process on this whole thing.  When I tell people what I'm doing on YouTube they just don't get it, unless they're a gamer.  And forget about talking about this with my family.  Parents just don't understand.

Even though I don't have the views or subscribers right now, I'm not worried about it.  I'm just trying to make content that I love and enjoy.  Hopefully that will come across in my videos.  And hopefully other people will find it and love the same things that I do.  Will I get better at it?  I hope so.  Will more people watch?  I hope so too.  This has been a whole eye-opening experience for me.  In good ways and bad.  But don't worry I'm going to blog about that too.

So what do you think about my new start up business?  Have you seen any of my YouTube videos?  How did you find them (hint: you can find my channel here  )?  What do you think.  You can leave me a comment here, or you can leave me a comment on one of my videos.  That would be nice.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Double goose eggs, really?

So I was playing a couple of new games recently.  Nothing serious, just trying to dink around in some games to get a feel for them.  And I got a couple of achievements in the process.  But they weren't worth anything.

The first game I tried out was Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes.  It was free to Gold members on Xbox One so I thought I'd give a shot.  It's been a long time since I've played a Metal Gear Solid game.  I've been thinking of trying to play the whole series for my YouTube channel but that would take forever.  Plus there are a couple that I'm missing in order to complete the series.

There was also a couple of achievements highlighted for that game and one of them was to start the game within the time frame that that achievement was active.  So I did.  I started the game and the achievement popped up.  But there was no gamerscore tied to the achievement.  Bummer.

So I put in another game.  One I've played before, but not on an Xbox.  Abe's Oddysee for the original PlayStation was remade for the PlayStation 3 (and probably the PlayStation 4) and was now available for the Xbox One.  It's now called Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty. 

I played this game on the PlayStation and I wondered how it would translate to the Xbox One system and controller.  For starters, it looks stunningly beautiful.  I was blown away with the upgraded graphic and how smooth things were.  So blown away that I pulled a level to open up the floor before I realized that one of the Mudokans I was suppose to rescue was sitting on the trap, scrubbing the floor.  Oops.  Which is exactly the name of an achievement that popped up.  But it also wasn't worth any gamerscore.

What's the point of having "achievements" where you actually have to do something and achieve something if you don't get rewarded for doing it?  I'm not saying turning on a game and pressing the start button is worthy of an achievement, but if you're going to have it in the game, give me something for it.

And I know there's an achievement for rescuing all the Mudokans in a level and that's worth something.  Why can't accidentally killing one be worth something too?  If you give points for doing that you might have gamers actually feel sorry that they failed and got someone killed.  They might try even harder to save everyone the rest of the game.

There were a lot of these types of "no gamer score" or "stupid actions" achievements in the beginning.  Developers weren't sure about achievements and how gamers would react to them.  But hey guys, it's been awhile.  We all know what achievements are and what they mean.  People are obsessed with increasing their gamerscore (present company excluded of course, but you're not buying that are you?).  Developers, you can do better man.

I got both achievements in about 10 minutes of each other and that double dose of goose eggs were enough to turn me off of those games for awhile.  I will play them.  But right now I want to play games that reward me for playing them.  Is that so much to ask.

Friday, September 11, 2015

I'm in Dead Space

I totally forgot something.  I only remembered it as I was playing a game.  I'M IN DEAD SPACE.  At least my name is anyway.  My gamertag is Pengwenn but all my friends call me Peng.  And that name can be found in Dead Space.  And there's an achievement tied to the name and all.  I haven't unlocked it yet, but I'll be sure to let you know when I do.  Here's a little screen shot of Dead Space with Issac lovingly looking at my name that I took from my gameplay.  The video will be up in October for my Halloween/scary month of video games.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

September YouTube schedule

So, now that Lego Star Wars is complete I can finally focus on some other games.  The problem is I'm not sure exactly which game to focus on.  For completing the story or earning all achievements/trophies.  So for the month of September I'm trying a few games out.

I'll still be playing and posting Rayman Origins.  I think I'm getting close to the end on that one so I want to see it through.  Those videos will continue to be posted on Thursdays.

For Monday's I'm posting some Dark Cloud videos.  This is an old PS2 game that I had almost finished before my stuff got robbed.  I loved the game so I would really like to see if finished (even though there are no achievements or trophies to earn).  This can be a really long game and I don't know if I want to tie up Mondays with this game for a very long time.  We'll see how it goes and if anyone watches those videos and says anything.

For Tuesday's I'm posting Halo videos.  I have a confession to make about Halo.  I've played Halo in the multiplayer a lot, but I've never completed the campaign in any of the Halo games.  So . . . I thought this game might be a good one to keep myself on track and finally finish the campaigns in all the Halo games.  Kind of like what I did with Lego Star Wars.  This too might take a while but at least I can finally say I've played them.  Even though I own all of the versions for the first Halo game I am playing the one in the Master Chief Collection on my Xbox One.  It looks pretty.

On Wednesdays I'm trying out some Prototype 2 from my PS3.  This isn't a game that I would normally pick up and play but it was a free PSN download a while ago and I tried it and liked it.  It's vastly different than any type of game I've played so far.  And while I'm loving the game I'm having a hard time going back to it.  I can't seem to remember the controls and I fumble around trying to do things that came naturally the last time I played it.  I just might need more practice in the game.  This is one I'm not sure if it will be a full play or not.  I'll have to wait and see what people think before I decide.

On Fridays I wanted to do something special, but I couldn't decide what . . . or exactly which game.  I'm going to do "Final Fantasy Fridays" and post videos from Final Fantasy games.  The problem is I can't decide which Final Fantasy game to play.  I like so many of them.  I want to finish FF X-2 because I'm curious about the story because I've finished FF X.  But I was almost finished with FFIX when my stuff was stolen and I REALLY liked that game so I want to finish that game.  Plus, I really like Final Fantasy Tactics and FFVII is a game that started this whole blog so I should really try to finally finish that game.  Maybe I'll rotate and do a different game per month.  We'll see.

As for October, I've got some Halloween inspired games that I'll like to post so anything that I post in September might take a break for awhile.  I hope you don't mind, I'm just trying new things out here.  I'll keep you posted.

Is there any of those games that interest you?  Have you played any of them yourself?  What game would you like to see me play instead of those?  I'll take suggestions.  If I don't have the game I might be willing to go out and get it so I can post videos of it on YouTube.  Just let me know in the comments.  And check out my YouTube channel to watch me play games, die (a lot) and generally make a fool out of myself.  That's me.