After months of gestating in my head and exhaustive preparation, I’m super excited to announce my new YouTube project, Retro Flashback! I’ve been jonesing to get this out to the world for a while and the day of my final(?) live stream for Extra Life seemed like the perfect time to maximise synergies.
So, what’s this all about and why should you care?
After finally getting a turbulent few years of my life normalised last year, I got bit by the creativity bug. I wanted to make something that I could use to apply my kind of scarily large knowledge of video games to in a unique way. I also have some knowledge of video editing thanks to a freelance client of mine and while I’m certainly no expert, I know my way around the process well enough. The problem is, there is already a massive excess of video game related content on YouTube and good chunks of it that are very good and have large audiences as a result. Just throwing my voice into that chorus (especially when I’m to say the least unskilled in comparison) didn’t seem to be the best thing to do.
Then I noticed that aside from some game play footage and the occasional Let’s Play, there’s a serious dearth of retro game coverage on YouTube. I’m a huge retro gamer and I used to be a pretty serious collector at one point before I went too far down the rabbit hole and got myself into some pretty serious debt buying rarer stuff at inflated prices. I actually ended up selling that collection (mostly at a loss) both to help right my financial ship and also to teach myself a lesson about excess. Nonetheless, my knowledge of and enthusiasm for retro games is pretty substantial and I thought this would be a great opportunity to put that to use.
The show gets its primary inspiration from the likes of TotalBiscuit’s WTF Is… series and Giant Bomb’s quick looks. They idea is that the personalities do first impressions of usually new games. It’s a simple formula, just them talking over captured game play footage but they bring a lot of informative and unique discussion. Their videos are not Let’s Plays, which is generally just someone narrating themselves playing a game with no insight or in some cases, not talking at all. I don’t really care for that and I wanted to do something more interesting. That’s when Retro Flashback was born. The idea is that I will do a similar style of presentation to the shows I mentioned before but discussing not only what the retro titles are about but also what made them good (or bad), why people should (or shouldn’t) seek them out and how they can do so.
I was listening to a podcast a while back and in discussing some other topic, the hosts got off on a tangent about how gaming discussion is starting to change. For the first time in history, we have a generation of young people who didn’t grow up with some of the most iconic titles from the beginning of mainstream video game culture. Up until this point, everyone not only knew what Super Mario Bros. was, everyone had played it at least once. That’s not so much the case any more. Obviously, you don’t have to know everything about the history of video games to be able to appreciate them but I thought it would be really neat to do something where people who are deep into this hobby but never had the chance to experience its beginnings could see some of what it was like and hear someone who was there talk about the roles many of these older titles had in what we play today. The tag line for the show is “Showcasing gaming’s roots for a new generation” and that’s what I hope to accomplish with it. My hope is that I can encourage more people both young and old to go back and experience some of these iconic titles for themselves or at least learn something valuable about them.
Giant Bomb is actually kind of doing something like this with their Encyclopedia Bombastica series but that’s cool. I hope to do my show more regularly but even if not, there are a lot of older games out there so I think there’s room for lots of participants. Plus, the Giant Bomb guys are awesome. I have no restrictions on what types of games I will cover or what systems I will cover them on so expect to see a wide variety of things from both old consoles and computers. So far, I only have capture setups configured for NES and Super NES and it’s actually not as easy to do as each one has its own unique quirks but I’m confident I can get everything working with the tools I have at my disposal. You will notice that a lot of the videos will be in 480p. This is because most older games are in 480p (often 360p) and there is literally no benefit to encoding at the more demanding 720p. Trust me, I tested it. When I do captures of updates retro titles from consoles and the like, I will be encoding at 720p where it fits.
I do not take direct requests for what games to cover because I have no specific coverage plan and am going to talk about what I like at the time. However, I’m maintaining and ever-expanding list so I welcome people to submit ideas both here and in the comments on YouTube. I know what YouTube comments can be like and should the show get popular, I know I can’t avoid them turning into what YouTube comments often do but I’m going to hold myself to a policy of only dedicating a set amount of time to reading and answering comments and only responding to the intelligent ones. Some people like TotalBiscuit like to engage with the idiots but I have neither the time or energy to deal with those people. Your comment doesn’t have to be praise or agreement and I welcome all feedback so I can improve the show but if you can’t comment intelligently, don’t expect a response.
It’s also worth noting that I have no experience doing this. My editing skills are competent but minimal and I have no vocal training. Currently, I’m just using a Razer Carcharias headset mic which sounds OK but not great but I do have plans to upgrade to a Blue Nessie microphone once they go on sale. Just in practising for the series, I’ve improved my commentary skills a lot but I have a long way to go. I’m doing this series as much for the challenge as the fun so the journey’s going to be half the experience of it. If you find my commentary not to your liking, that’s cool. I encourage you to leave suggestions for how you think I can improve and then check back a few weeks later so see if things have maybe changed. I’ve been polishing this for a while but the one piece of advice every YouTube personality has offered is that you need to eventually just put your stuff out there and iterate. So that’s the plan!
I hope to do a couple of episodes of the show a week but that’s only my goal, not a guarantee. I’ve spent the last couple of months coming up with a streamlined production method that should allow me to crank them out quickly but I also have a day job, a side business, a girlfriend, two cats, a dog, and a desire to play a lot of newer games too so depending on my free time, it could be more or less. I also have terrible upload speeds at home which require me to take the videos into work to post them, though I hope that will change soon and with it, that I’ll also be able to do some live streaming stuff as well. My eventual hope is that I will be able to monetise these videos, either directly through YouTube (though I hear that’s really tough when you use captured footage) or by maybe securing partnership with a network at some point. Unlike TotalBiscuit and others, I have no desire to make a full-time career out of this. I think it would be cool but also incredibly risky and I’ve lived a risky career life for too long so I’m happy with the stability I have now. Making money from them is secondary though, for me this is about the challenge of doing it and also what it can hopefully bring to those who want to learn more about where gaming came from. It’s an important subject and I hope I can contribute to a greater understanding of it for some people.
So yeah, that’s my more in-depth explanation of Retro Flashback. I really hope you all enjoy the videos and again, I welcome any and all feedback, as long as it’s given intelligently. Below, you will find a shorter video version of the intro as well as the first episode which is of Code Name: Viper for the NES. Enjoy everyone, I can’t wait to show you more!