Category Archives: Games for big kids

Making videos and other bits and pieces

It’s been an odd week, with lots of rain and too little sleep, but I have been fairly productive. First up is my latest how-to video: ‘ESO – how to build a pointy wall’. It’s quite a long video so I don’t expect anyone to watch it all the way through!

The reason I’m showcasing this video is because of the new skills I’ve learned using VideoStudio Pro 2021, my video editing software.

The first thing I learned was how to create short, animated visual directions. The video below is only a few seconds long and demonstrates what I mean about a ‘visual direction’:

The animation is created from within VideoStudio Pro 2021 using the Painting Tool. I can see this tool getting a lot of use once I start making how-to videos for self-publishing.

The second thing I learned was how to manually fade the background music in and out. VideoStudio Pro 2021 has a feature called ‘Audio Ducking’ which is supposed to make the music go quiet when there’s narration on the video. The feature is okay, but I wasn’t too impressed with when it decided to raise and lower the volume of the music. So I went looking for a manual solution and found one. 😀

The blue track is the music track, and the purple one is for narration. When I’m talking, I want the music to be very soft, but when there’s a gap in the narration, I want the music to swell. The section of the tracks I’ve circled in red is one of those gaps. As you can see, the white line showing the volume of the music goes up – i.e. becomes louder – while I’m not talking.

To make VideoStudio Pro display the audio controls, press the icon circled in red below:

Controlling the volume of the music manually is a bit time-consuming and ‘clunky’, but I think the end result is much better.

In case anyone is interested, the music was created by Peritune, a Japanese composer who writes lovely, non-jarring music that compliments my videos beautifully.

And last but not least, I’ve just made my new Youtube ‘handle’ :

I’m not quite sure how the handle is actually supposed to work, but apparently in time, it will be used to personalise the URL of my Youtube channel. A small thing, but Indies have to grab their branding where they find it!

It’s Sunday here in Melbourne, and for a wonder the rain has stopped so I’m going to do a garden promenade with the animals.

Have a great weekend,
Meeks


PC deep clean and a new video

I didn’t intend to deep clean the inside of my pc today, but it was starting to overheat a bit, and the fans were becoming a little too loud, so I dragged out the paint brushes and the vacuum cleaner and got stuck into it. Now I’m knackered. If anyone wants to know how to clean their own desktop pc [can’t do it to a laptop] you can find the post here.

One reason I had to reduce the noise of the fans [in the pc] was because the microphone was starting to pick them up when I recorded my latest how-to video. That’s the one down below:

The how-to is for gaming, but I’m slowly honing my skills for the creation of self-publishing videos. The one above may look simple but the editing was brutal. I stopped counting the snippets of video at 50 and didn’t count the voice-over and overlay snippets at all. I did, however, learn how to make my own circles and arrows and overlay them on segments of the video I wanted to highlight:

Unless anyone particularly wants to hear the -cough- dulcet tones of my Aussie accent, leave this one for the gamers. 😉

Time for a long delayed breakfast,

cheers,
Meeks


Why, and how, to use the Youtube video editor

I’ll start with the ‘why’. Once you upload a video to Youtube, any changes you make will require that you:

  1. delete the original video, and
  2. upload the new, updated video

Why is this a problem? Because any views or comments you get on the old video will be lost.

The only exception to this is if the changes you want to make are minor. In that case, you can use the in-built Youtube video editor to make small changes to the existing video.

What kind of changes? Let me show you in this 4 minute, how-to video that I created:

I decided to have a little fun with the ‘speaking bits’ so used one of my gaming avatars to ‘animate’ the boring bits. Ahem…

In the example shown, the ‘tail’ of the video was too long. The tail is the bit right at the end which is where you want to display end screen information:

These ‘elements’ encourage viewers to see other videos you’ve created, or subscribe to your channel. The last thing you want is for viewers to switch off without seeing more of your content.

So the end screen elements are very important, but they can only be added after you upload your video. This makes getting the timing right a bit of a challenge. I’m sure professionals know precisely how long to make the ‘tail’ of the video, but I always seem to make them too long.

According to my research, end screen elements need to be on-screen for a minimum of 5 seconds. Anything less than that and they simply don’t appear. The maximum time they can appear is 20 seconds, so you need to find the sweet spot and time your ‘tail’ to match.

After much messing around, I finally got my end screen elements to appear just after the ‘blow kiss/goodbye’. And I had to use the method shown in the video to do it. 🙂

And finally, this is the video that made me scoot down this rabbit hole in the first place:

I’m having a lot of fun creating these gaming walkthroughs, but I’m also learning the skills I’ll need once I start making how-to videos in earnest.

cheers,
Meeks


ESO player housing: Moon Sugar Meadow

I completed this house some time ago, but my video capturing and editing skills have only just caught up. This video includes a number of new features, including a soundtrack:

I still have a lot to learn but I now know how to use the ESO in-game camera a bit better. It doesn’t matter how good your editing skills may be if the raw footage is poor quality.

On the video editing front, I’ve learned how to:

  • Cut and splice the video footage with still images to create a smooth flowing visual narrative,
  • Focus on important images using freeze frame,
  • Narrate the important ‘bits’,
  • Add a ‘soundtrack’ to help tie the whole thing together.

I’m particularly proud of the soundtrack as I was just experimenting, and it worked. lol

For anyone who’s interested, I recorded roughly ten minutes of video just for the background music. Then I took the video into VideoStudio Pro 2021 [the software I use for editing] and ‘split’ the audio out of the video. This left me with just an audio track. I then added the audio track to the completed video.

What all that means is that the video is made up of three layers:

  • the edited video [complete with sound effects like bird calls and footsteps],
  • the voice over narration, and
  • the music soundtrack.

Once my skills improve a bit more, I hope to be able to create how-to videos and maybe, one day, a trailer for my books. That’s all in the future though. For now, I’m still on a massive learning curve. Thanks for coming along for the ride. 🙂

cheers,
Meeks


Dieselpunk House – Anpire

I love building things in ESO, and I think I’m pretty good at it, but this house – built by Anpire – is beyond exceptional:

Not only is the building itself incredible, but the ‘cinematography’ is brilliant as well, and the laid back, jazzy music suits the build perfectly.

cheers,
Meeks


ESO, Lion’s Cradle and Bandicam

The video above is the first part of an ongoing walkthrough of a house I built in Elder Scrolls Online, ESO for short. This house is probably the most ambitious thing I’ve built in-game, and you’ll see why when I show you what the original looks like:

Thank god a friend hadn’t built anything on her version of the house yet so I could get a ‘before’ video.

As you can see, the estate appears to be quite small, with just a single room house, a below deck area and a wide deck out front. But…this house has the best view of any house in ESO. So I built out [from the fence] and down as far as the envelope would allow.

In coming videos I’ll show views from the new areas so you can see how much extra space you can make by building out. For my money, Lion’s Cradle is an unsung gem.

And now a bit about the process of creating these videos in the first place. Let’s just say it’s been fraught. In the last three days I’ve tried out:

  • Shadowplay video capture [nVidia GEForce Experience]
  • Democreator [Wondershare]
  • Movavi Gecata
  • OBS
  • Bandicam
  • and Ease-Fab video converter

Shadowplay uses the nVidia graphics card [if you have one] to create great videos, but because they’re created with variable framerates, I couldn’t upload them to anything. It may be possible to make them compatible with Vimeo etc, but I couldn’t work out how, so, no go.

Democreator I couldn’t get to work, can’t remember why. Again a no.

Movavi was okay but I simply don’t have the money to buy software that I may only use once in a blue moon. So, no.

OBS…this is open source software and the most popular app around at the moment, but I had major problems with it. For starters, my operating system [Win 7] is not supported by the app, but I read that I could still use it. So I tried. I could get a screen capture going, of sorts, but the hotkeys didn’t work so I had to record manually from within the app. As a result, I had junk at the beginning and the end. Also I couldn’t get it to record in mp4. So then I tried Ease-Fab to convert it to mp4 but the result was…ick.

And finally, I tried Bandicam. Almost fell off my chair when it worked first time, straight away. I had to experiment with different resolutions, but I think the ones in the videos above are a reasonable trade-off between quality and size. Plus my pc is oldish so it’s not that great with super high resolution.

If you’re using Windows 10 you’ll probably find that most of these apps work better simply because your pc is likely to be more powerful. But…if you use Win 7 like me, it’s nice to know that we still have options.

And finally, to salve my conscience, I have to say that learning how to do all this will come in handy as I try to create video tutorials. That, however, is still some way off as I need equipment and a video editor, none of which I currently have. But knowledge never goes astray, right?

Have a great weekend,

Meeks


ESO and my digital house

I’m trying hard not to think about what’s happening in the US at the moment so here’s my version of a distraction – in-game house building, with pics!

But first, a bit of info. about what I mean by ‘in-game housing’. Probably the best way to describe it is to say it’s like playing with a 3D dolls house except that your digital character is the ‘doll’.

The motivation for wanting such a 3D house is similar to what drives us to buy houses in the real world. My character may not be able to ‘live’ in this house, but she can still enjoy it. Plus, let’s be honest, having a house is a bit of a status symbol because you have to work for it. The same applies to in-game housing. You have to pay for it by performing ‘work’ in the game. The house can also be filled with ‘special’ things that can only be gained by performing some hard-to-do task or event. And finally, players like me who love crafting can also do a lot of DIY to personalise their ‘home’.

My in-game character[s] aren’t rich by player standards, but because I’m a Master Crafter and gather most of the materials I need, I can ‘build’ things I would otherwise not be able to afford. So think of me as a DIY-er. 🙂

So, on to that house! First up is a ‘before’ pic of the base housing I’ve been working on:

Click the image to get the fullscreen view. Click the ‘back’ arrow to return to the post.

As you can see, it’s just a tiny little house on a smallish block with a big fence all around it. What you can’t see is the beautiful view on the other side of that fence. It was that view which kickstarted my design for the house and block.

This next pic is of the same place, from much the same angle, but this time there’s a ground floor extension on one side of the original house, and a three storey extension on the other:

Same house with a radical make-over

I literally built all of that new stuff with my own two, digital hands. Well, I did use the available components but in rather unexpected ways. The secret is to see objects as shapes rather than as ‘functions’. Thus, for example, I used two ‘leant-to sheds’ to create a peaked roof on the three storey extension. And when I couldn’t find wall components of a certain size, I fudged them by using stone ‘tables’ instead.

I won’t bore you with how I made everything, but I will use the block editor’s slideshow feature to take you through the house, room by room. This is going to be pretty graphics heavy so if the pics take an age to load…I’m sorry!

I like this slideshow feature, but it would be even nicer if you could click on one of the pics to get a full screen view, as you can with ‘normal’ pics. Next time I’ll experiment with the ‘gallery’ display.

And because my favourite view is hard to see, I’ll repeat it here so you can click on it:

which leads to the roof…

Hope you enjoyed my little tour. If anyone wants to know how to create a similar slideshow, please mention it in comments, and I’ll put a how-to post together for you.

cheers,
Meeks


ESO and the kitchen sink…

I promise, this post will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen before! Mwahahaha…

– serious face –

One of the things I love about ESO [Elder Scrolls Online] is the powerful, and very flexible housing system. All my gold goes on recipes for housing ‘furniture’. But while I can make a great looking bath tub, complete with steam rising from the water, there is no recipe yet for kitchen sinks, or bathroom sinks for that matter. And don’t get me started on the lack of loos!

Ahem. In an odd twist, the very lack of a kitchen sink has generated more innovation amongst ESO housing enthusiasts than just about anything else I can think of. And I’m obsessed as well. 🙂

The video below [not mine!] shows how to create a couple of kitchen sinks from other ‘things’. When you smoosh these things together, you get some amazing results:

Smile. 🙂

Meeks


Augmented Reality [AR] game set in Melbourne

As a gamer and denizen of Melbourne [Australia], how could I resist this New Atlas article about an AR game set in the city I love?

‘The game is the first in the True Crime Mysteries series by indie studio 10Tickles, helmed by husband-and-wife team Andy Yong and Emma Ramsay. The couple are both fascinated by true crime, history and the city of Melbourne itself, and so set out to build an augmented reality experience that tapped into all three.’

You can read the entire article by clicking the link below:

https://newatlas.com/games/true-crime-augmented-reality-game-misadventure-little-lon/

cheers

Meeks


A naughty weekend in Warrandyte

No! Not that kind of weekend…;) This kind of weekend:

The lighting effects are truly glorious in Elder Scrolls Online, and they inspired me to create classically inspired interiors for my in-game house. That involved finding recipes, gathering ingredients and finally crafting beautiful items like:

…the goblets and knick knacks you can see displayed on that shelving.

I also splurged and bought a very expensive recipe for a glass goblet and some ‘food’. In this last screenshot, you can see my wedge of cheese, the bread platter, and some kebabs. Dinner chez moi. 🙂

I loved the player housing in Final Fantasy XIV, but the housing and control in ESO are an order of magnitude better. Harder to master, but I think the effects speak for themselves. And yes, I did spend a lot of time playing this weekend. But I also spent a lot of time, and most of my energy mowing. I literally did not have enough oomph left over to write. Today, though, I will make up for lost time.

cheers

Meeks

 

 


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