Life as a YouTuber, Rants and raves

Adventures in sound: My ongoing struggle with audio fidelity

Steady on, because this post is not really about adventure games per se. It’s about audio, specifically the challenges of recording clean audio, and it gets a bit technical. So if you don’t give a shit about microphones, audio devices, gating, compression, and whatever else goes into that stuff, you’re best off reading something else. I’ll get back to talking about adventure games next time (probably).

Not an insignificant amount of people who are watching my Let’s Plays on YouTube have noticed that my audio setup is not the greatest in the world.

Me mix good audio.

Specifically, there is an omnipresent hiss in my commentary audio, which — although barely noticeable when you’re listening to it on speakers — becomes very irritating when listening to it with headphones.

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Life as a YouTuber, Rants and raves

Playing Space Quest III with digitized sound effects

Maybe you’ve noticed: I’ve started playing Space Quest III on my YouTube channel.

In the first episode, I talk about how Space Quest fans playing on an MS-DOS PC were jealous of those playing on an Amiga, because the Amiga people got to enjoy the game with digital sound effects.

Most famously, being able to actually hear Roger actually speak the words, “Where am I?” in the intro (even though the line is actually in a thought bubble, but never mind that).

Turns out that the MS-DOS version actually did ship with all the digital sound effects in the game code. They were in the game files when the game was released in 1989, and they are still in the game files if you buy the game on GOG or Steam today.

What it didn’t ship with was a working SoundBlaster driver.

UPDATE: Well, actually, it did … sort of.

Since writing this post, I’ve had a few people tweet me to tell me they did hear the digital sound effects when they played the game back in the day. That was quite surprising, as I was under the impression that the SoundBlaster driver for the game was just faulty regardless of circumstances.

Turns out, the SoundBlaster driver does work, but only on specific cards, and only with specific settings. Here’s one chap who got it working on an official Creative Labs brand SoundBlaster 8-bit card with IRQ 7:

But let’s continue, anyway, because for most people, it didn’t work.

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Life as a YouTuber, Rants and raves

Joint commentary videos – a step-by-step guide

One of the things I’ve been looking to do on my YouTube channel is more collaboration efforts. I loved doing the YouTuber Roundtable videos, but I also want to actually play more games with friends.

Inspired by the joint playthrough of Simon the Sorceror with SomeGuy (which has since been deleted, sadly), I decided I wanted to try something similar. I decided on Star Trek: The Next Generation – A Final Unity as the first game to try out joint commentary on, because my good pal Joe recently did a podcast episode on it, preceded by a video. Since it’s a game with a lot of minor branching paths, however, I invited Joe to be co-commentator on my playthrough of the game where I tried to do everything exactly right (that is, get all the pats on the back that Starfleet can give you).

“Who’s a good boy? You are! You’re a good boy!”

As opposed to a normal Let’s Play, where, aside from a bit of editing, you’re pretty much done with it when you’ve stopped recording, doing these joint commentary videos is a bit more work. The upside of it is that, at least for me, it gives me a good backlog of content that I can schedule to go out, thereby freeing up some time to work on other projects. Joe and I just did our commentary for the first half of the game this weekend — a two-hour session that will be split into four episodes.

If you want to know how to go about it, here’s a handy step-by-step guide on how to do your own joint commentary videos.

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