Have you ever dreamed of making a YouTube channel accompanying your indie game making endeavor? Boy, do I have some experiences with that…
After all, how hard could it be?
I have been keeping a YouTube channel for over 4 years now, I have created and published 16 clips about making my first game, Extreme Commuting.
This whole adventure made me realize a few things, some of which I have been warned about by some smarter people even before I started.
You might think, that having a video channel or blog will be a fun activity to let off some stYou might think, that having a video channel or blog will be a fun activity to let off some steam after a long day of making games. You might also think this can be a nice outlet to show off your progress to people who care about game development, and a platform to discuss your design approach and gather feedback.
You consider it an excellent opportunity for introducing a bit of marketing into your little hobby. After all, making people interested in your projects can bring you the buzz every game needs, the publicity, the community’s interest, maybe even the hype, that turns small projects into billion-dollar enterprises.
And we all know how good small developers are at marketing – not very.
You might also think, that with some practice, the channel can become an income source on its own. After all, good youtubers can earn enough to make a living making videos, sometimes supported by patreon donations.
I can manage…
Before I started, I presented my idea to an investor, a serious businessman. Not as a business proposal, I just got an occasion to discuss my idea with a business person.
He heard me and asked me one question:
Can you find the time to make games and YouTube movies in the same spare time?
Back then I went into full defensive mode and tried to convince him, or rather myself, that I can manage it.
Now, after four years I know, that I was overly optimistic.
First of all, you have to learn how to make YouTube videos. And when you finally get a hang of it, you observe how the trends change, and your videos look old and obsolete by now.
And you have already spent a lot of hours learning your software and creating the content.
Well, doesn’t matter, now you know how to make the videos.
Still, making every single video costs you time. Hours of time.
You have to create a script
You can do without a script, if you want this kind of impromptu style. It’ll be kind of easier, but will need a lot of cutting. I scripted my videos, that gave them more structure. But making a script usually took me about 2-4 hours.
You have to make the recordings
You can use your phone or you can buy a good, pricy camera. No matter what you choose, at some point you will have to record the thing. And it will take you a while!
You will have to overcome your shyness barrier and record yourself. You will make errors, stutter and keep forgetting the lines. You will make a lot of takes and when it’s done, you will find out that you had some dirt on your face and you have to record it all over again.
But when it’s ready, you will find the goddamned camera wasn’t set to record!
You have to record your screen
After all, you want to show slips where you work in your game making software, or just show your gameplay to the people. Not that easy, you will first need to select a good screen recording software, and this is a problem on its own.
Some software can’t record audio, some software only records in a particular resolution.
Some other software is very costly, and some other will only save to a format that your video editing software can’t read.
Then, when you find the best screen recording software, you record a few times, because every time you forget to set some option and the video turns out black or a single frame or something. Then, when you get it right for once, it crashes when you hit ‘save’, and you can start this whole pleasant exercise all over again.
You have to edit the whole thing
Let me be frank, if you really want to do it, buy Vegas or some good editing software. I was using Blender’s video editing capabilities, and it was a horror. Blender is for making 3D stuff, it’s not a dedicated video editor, and that is really what you want.
Now, even if you have a proper video editing software, you still have to learn how to use it.
It will take you a couple of hours and even then, every video will take you a while to produce.
A 10 minute clip usually takes me about 8 hours to make, if I have all the footage.
I have to prepare the sound in audacity, remove all the noise. Then I have to cut the footage, set up all the pieces in the right order, include screen videos, images, add transitions, captions, music, render and watch it a few times, correct errors and then…
You have to publish the video
Then you have to create a YouTube entry for your video. You have to upload the clip, add title and description, some tags and you have to create a video icon. If you want to support other languages, you have to create subtitles and a translation.
You have to do it in your spare time
If you’re like me, you have your day job and your hobby of making games. So the game making and the video making are both squeezed into the tight gap called ‘your free time’.
And you might not realize, that the same gap is also occupied by ‘your private life’.
You know, you work for 8 hours, sleep for 8 hours and you get your 8 hours of so-called free time. In that 8 hours of free time you can do whatever you want, which usually entails:
– preparing meals and eating,
– carrying out important stuff, like doctors, or bills, or taxes,
– taking care of your family life,
– taking care of your hobby.
So, your hobby isn’t the 8 hours, it’s just what’s left after you take care of more important stuff. You have to consider that!
It’s just a matter of creating a process…
You think, that maybe when you get a hang of it all, it’ll become simpler and you will make the videos faster. That wasn’t the case for me. I usually had to switch my focus between making games and making videos, which made it all even harder.
Also, some things don’t get simpler – you will always have to spend time on making the raw footage, you will always need to do the video editing.
So, how about the benefits?
Let me get this straight. My channel wasn’t very good.
Maybe if you did it right and invested more effort into making a good channel, you would get the benefits I described in the beginning of this article.
But, then again, would it mean you had to invest less effort into making good games?
All my life I wanted to make games. I don’t really remember dreaming about making youtube channels.
Don’t get me wrong, publishing the videos and interacting with the community was fun as hell! The opportunity to exchange thoughts with other enthusiast, discuss my game and learn about theirs was very enriching. But there are other ways to achieve the same result. Like just making games and publishing them.
It’s the classic example of having too many goals in life. After a while of making both games and videos, I realised, I was angry at myself for not making games when I was making videos, and for not making videos, when I was making games. This is not a way of life I dreamed of.
When I think about my reasoning for creating a YouTube channel, I think the main reason was to start earning money on my games and create a business out of it. After all, if you make enough money, you can quit your day job and make games full time.
I want to make games, not videos!
Back then I thought you need money to do what you like.
So, to get the money, I started doing something, that turned out I didn’t like.
I don’t enjoy making YouTube videos. I mean, it’s fun and all, but it’s not what I want to devote my life to!
Basically, I was doing something I didn’t like, so that some day I get enough money to do what I like.
Now, after the 4 years, I understand I can do what I love and I need no more money than I already have! And I don’t have to achieve anything with my life, I can just play with it, as if I was a main character in a sandbox game:-)
I will now spend my days doing what I like, making games and uploading videos only when I have something really important or funny to show, like a new game prototype or a trailer.
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