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Stoney
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icon Why DROD doesn´t appeal to the masses (+2)  
As you can see by my Registration Date i´m lurking for quite some time around here. Back then i stumbled over DROD via some Blog Posting i think, i´m not quite sure anymore to be honest.

While not being the best DROD player (yeah, i pretty much suck and am still working to complete JtRH ;) ), i enjoy the work put into this little game. The game is lurking on my harddisk, and i continue to play a few rooms, or torture my brain over one room, whenever i feel the need to put the thinking cap on. I love to have a good challenge, and DROD provides this very well.

Over the time i´ve tried to interest a few people into the game, and partially succeeded with it. (A friend of mine even immediately placed an order). I´ve also written a short sum up of the Game in my Blog, and advertised it into Adventure Boards i use to lurk around in. However, the public interest in this game seems to be quite thin, and i kept asking myself why, because, lets face it, you Guys did a really fine job here. The purpose of this posting is NOT to make changes to the game, because i think actually it´s perfect as it is now, but to discuss the gamers nature nowadays.

1. Difficulty

I think one thing is the "though love" you can have with these games. They are very difficult and i guess they are above the average of what the masses of gamers want to invest these days.

Ironically, this Difficulty is what really sets this game apart of every other game developed for the masses, and its this Difficulty that i´m looking for. I enjoy having a challenge, but as it seems, players nowadays just use to use walkthroughs to browse through whatever they get on their harddrive. They want to have a Hint System and all this kind of sissy crap.

2. GFX

The second thing that probably puts the casual player off, is the GFX. While i myself embrace those hand drawn 2D Sprites, the Masses are suckers for this 3D Mumbo Jumbo.

You know, maybe the DROD Games are kind of like listening to Jazz or Avantgarde/Alternative Music. They are not for everyone, they are not intended to be for everyone, but the target audience just loves em even more, because it´s really what they want to have delivered.

Maybe we love DROD because this games are not anything like the highly overhyped 3D Games these days.


[Last edited by Stoney at 08-09-2009 10:15 AM]
08-09-2009 at 10:02 AM
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NiroZ
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icon Re: Why DROD doesn´t appeal to the masses (0)  
If 3d is all the rage, why are flash games so popular?

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08-09-2009 at 10:06 AM
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Stoney
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quote:
NiroZ wrote:
If 3d is all the rage, why are flash games so popular?


It´s a good point, but the usual flash game does have an entire different audience i think. They are popular among this audience because they can be easily played in a browser on an regular Office Computer (OS independant) without the hassle of an installation, i´d say. I´ve seen some guys wanna port some DROD Holds into Flash, i welcome this idea. It might turn some players towards this game.

The Guys and Girls at Amanita Design (Samorost 1/2) have also decided to choose this path. Their newest game, Machinarium (Point&Click Adventure), will be shipped as a Flash Version aswell. Can´t wait to see it. :)

[Last edited by Stoney at 08-09-2009 10:27 AM]
08-09-2009 at 10:22 AM
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NiroZ
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Considering myself as a specimen, I play both flash games and 3d games. And knowing all of my friends, they do the same thing. So I'd say its the same people. Having said that, flash games are typically more lightweight, and convenient.

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08-09-2009 at 10:27 AM
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Tim
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icon Re: Why DROD doesn´t appeal to the masses (0)  
quote:
Stoney wrote:
Maybe we love DROD because this games are not anything like the highly overhyped 3D Games these days.

I think you've refuted that premise already. You said already that:
quote:
Ironically, this Difficulty is what really sets this game apart of every other game developed for the masses, and its this Difficulty that i´m looking for. I enjoy having a challenge
You love DROD because it's difficult, and I suspect also because it doesn't appeal to the masses.

As for the question why DROD isn't fun to play in 3D, there's an interesting discussion in a different thread. But before I point it out, perhaps you can download and play a demo from here first:

http://www.tlkgames.com/index.cgi?prg=jeux_un&lang=gb&qui=12&tCGV

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08-09-2009 at 04:15 PM
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Dischorran
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I think you just described Nethack too. I wonder what it would take to push a few Roguelike players this way; seems like there should be a good deal of overlap. Aside from making DROD cost the same as Nethack, that is.

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08-09-2009 at 04:55 PM
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Briareos
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quote:
Dischorran wrote:
Aside from making DROD cost the same as Nethack, that is.

Well, I guess DROD:AE already costs the same, and the graphics are of similar quality... :D

np: Tosca - F*** Dub (Auinger Mix) (F*** Dub)

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08-09-2009 at 09:59 PM
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zex20913
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I kind of like thinking of DROD as elitist. This turns out well on the forum, where if you play it, you're awesome.

I do go around punching people in the face if they scoff at it, though.

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08-09-2009 at 10:19 PM
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Jatopian
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quote:
Dischorran wrote:
I wonder what it would take to push a few Roguelike players this way;
We'd have to downgrade the graphics, add a ton of unintuitive secret mechanics, stop fixing backtracking issues, and create an atmosphere of sneering at people who use labor-saving devices like "serpent clocks" and "checkpoints" and "backswiping".

Also, the dev team would have to start thinking of everything.

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08-10-2009 at 04:18 AM
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Dischorran
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quote:
Jatopian wrote:
We'd have to downgrade the graphics, add a ton of unintuitive secret mechanics, stop fixing backtracking issues, and create an atmosphere of sneering at people who use labor-saving devices like "serpent clocks" and "checkpoints" and "backswiping".
Yeah, I guess we'd need bring in something like aumtlich beams forcing Stalwarts to turn clockwise into bombs, or maybe some obscure way to manipulate or even kill Slayers. And then make sure to disable unlimited undo.

Oh wait.

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08-10-2009 at 06:14 AM
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Jatopian
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Yeah, see, the kind of people who'd seriously use advanced Slayer manipulation are exactly the kind of people we don't want.

You're welcome to get over the Stalwart thing, though. That's perfectly reasonable.

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[Last edited by Jatopian at 08-10-2009 04:42 PM]
08-10-2009 at 04:41 PM
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zwetschenwasser
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quote:
zex20913 wrote:
I kind of like thinking of DROD as elitist. This turns out well on the forum, where if you play it, you're awesome.

I do go around punching people in the face if they scoff at it, though.


I think the same. But why doesn't anybody recognize classical music anymore? :-(

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08-12-2009 at 01:13 AM
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Dischorran
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zwetschenwasser wrote:
I think the same. But why doesn't anybody recognize classical music anymore? :-(
Try me. :D

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08-12-2009 at 02:18 AM
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Rabscuttle
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quote:
me wrote:
I suspect there's an arms race going on between designer and player in both cases too. If designers know that players are using certain tools, techniques or tricks, then they can create situations that are challenging even if you are using those tools (and near impossible if you're not)
Appealing to the masses is making sure you give the masses the easily palatable stuff (at first). (I might expand on this in the relevant thread.)



This thread is relevant/recent enough.
(this rant also ended up longer than I thought it would be. It also ended up being kind of a rant)

If you want to appeal to the masses, you have to make things as easy as possible for the masses. Once people are hooked, then they are going to be more disposed to spend time, effort (and hopefully money). But before that, you need to make it as easy as possible for someone to experience and enjoy the game.

There are two things that I think stand in the way of drawing someone into the game.

The first is that you have to download the game to play it. Ever since flash (and increased speed) became ubiquitous across the net, I am extremely resistant to downloading stuff. I used to download games to try out all the time - within the past couple of years I can probably count the games I've downloaded on one hand (maybe two). Downloading takes time. Downloading takes up space on my computer. Downloading has the risk of viruses or spyware. Downloading I can't do if I am procrastinating at work or using someone else's computer.
A browser game I can just open and play. If I don't like it, I just close the page to be rid of it.
Games that I have downloaded fall into a couple of categories.
* I'm already invested in the franchise (DROD:RPG, the Penny Arcade game)
* I've played an online version (PopCap)
* It's been highly recommended. (Hexahop, Curator Defence, TotS - sheesh, those first two are from forum posts from 2006)

In short, the bar that must be reached before I'll download a game is much higher than it used to be. So! I am all for the flash-drod plan. Get something that people can play in one click and more people will play it.

----

The second barrier is the effort required to find good beginner to medium level holds.
Say someone downloads the demo, plays the three or four levels of puzzles and enjoys them. I just did that to remind myself what happens. Once you finish the demo there is little to no indication of what you can do now other than buy the full version. (I didn't see anything, anyway)

But what does someone do next? Say their interest is peaked to try to play some more. They have to find out what holds to play next. How do they do that? They hopefully reach the forum or the main caravelgames page.
- There are currently 358 holds on the holds page. They are not all of the same difficulty, they are not all of the same quality and there is too much choice to choose, and sorting doesn't help. (The top ranked holds are not beginner-friendly and the easiest holds are mostly not very good.)

- Or, they could try finding the answer on the forum. Then they need to sign up for an account and ask what to do next, or try to find out someone who has already asked the question. And then hope that the holds suggested are of the appropriate level (and not snake manipulating, stalwart spinning, slayer slaying rooms that the hard core fans love)

You are going to lose people at the point where they think the demo is over.
You are going to lose people at the point where they need to leave the program to find new content.
You are going to lose people when they need to find where the holds page or forum is.
You are going to lose people when they need to sign up for the forum when they don't want to.
You are going to lose people when they pick a hold and it is too hard or not fun
You are going to lose people when they take someone's suggestion and that suggestion is too hard or not fun.

Sure, these things are not that terrible individually but little inconveninces can add up and I can't see a reason for not making things smoother for people.

My suggestion:
Make an official list of holds that new people to DROD should play. These holds should be good quality, not require in depth knowledge to solve and an engaging story is a plus. It doesn't matter if non-official people make the list, Caravel has to own it.

Use this list! The best thing would be to include the holds with the demo. i.e when you go to "Change Location" there should already be options there to keep people playing. The extra holds won't have speech and custom graphics so they shouldn't overly increase the size of the demo.

OR make a page on the caravel site with just these holds on it. Something along the lines of "I've finished the demo. Now what? --- Well, if you're not quite ready to buy the full game, then try out some of the hundreds of holds that the DROD community have made. You can import these into your game like this *description* Here are the holds we recommend *insert list*
And make sure that there is a pointer to that page from the demo.

But make sure the page is on the caravelgames site and not on the forum. Definitely include a link to the forum - but the 'what now?' page should be separate - for one, this will make the page permanent, and secondly it will appear more official.
As opposed to something some random guy is blathering on about in a forum post.
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08-20-2009 at 07:35 AM
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Mattcrampy
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icon Re: Why DROD doesn´t appeal to the masses (+2)  
Don't underestimate the graphics - these days, most of my foruming is on a retro games forum that loves difficult, 2D games, and one of their biggest problems with DROD is that the 2D graphics aren't particularly eye-catching compared to the stuff they love. DROD shares a lot of similarities with a NES game called Adventures of Lolo, so they get the concept, but they just find the game kind of ugly.

Part of this, I think, was Erik's personal design philosophy -- he wasn't fond of breaking the purity of the grid, which I found made for rooms that look a little boring. I'd love to see lots more cosmetic variance, but that really pushes the art requirements up to get it looking good across the game. There's been a trend recently to use 3D in games that play out in 2D specifically to reduce animation and technological requirements -- it's very easy to make things rotate and do animation blending and moving the camera to emphasise depth and lots of other tricks to make a really pretty 2D game if you're working with polygons.

Some of it is also that the game is truly very hard - I once explained the Master Intellect room to them and the first reply I got was how they'd never be able to wrap their head around the game. Some of them there relish that sort of challenge, and I don't have a problem with challenge so long as it's not arbitrary, and you're not really going to get past that.

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09-28-2009 at 05:30 PM
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bateleur
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icon Re: Why DROD doesn´t appeal to the masses (+1)  
quote:
Rabscuttle wrote:
Once people are hooked, then they are going to be more disposed to spend time, effort (and hopefully money).

I'm unlurking specifically to disagree with you! Lucky you, eh? :D

I discovered DROD via the world of Indie Gaming where it's highly regarded, immediately bought the first game (King Dugan's Dungeon?), completed it across the next week and haven't played any DROD since despite enjoying it a lot.

Why? Because with so many games available now I seldom want to spend my time playing something very similar to a game I've played before. Even before I'd got to the end of the first game my attention was waning a bit. The puzzles were still good, but I was no longer getting much out of solving them.

So my answer is this: DROD doesn't appeal to the masses for the same reason that Chess doesn't - not enough interest and variety for most people's tastes.

On the plus side, for those people who do value the depth of an experience over diversity DROD is pretty much second to none!


[Last edited by bateleur at 10-20-2010 04:10 PM : No longer require notification]
09-28-2009 at 05:33 PM
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DanielFishman
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icon Re: Why DROD doesn´t appeal to the masses (+1)  
Have you tried any of the user-made TCB holds? King Dugan's Dungeon has, as you've noticed, a relatively limited set of game elements. The City Beneath, however, has a multitude of game elements (indeed now, more people complain about an excess of things to remember than a lack of variety). It might be a good idea to play through the TCB demo, to get used to some of the new elements first, though.

Also, the entire KDD was built by only a couple of architects - other architects have very different styles. And, now, it's one of the easier holds, which probably contributed to the feeling of 'sameness'.
09-28-2009 at 10:39 PM
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bateleur
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quote:
DanielFishman wrote:
Have you tried any of the user-made TCB holds?

I haven't - and I shall take that as a recommendation.

But still, even if I assume you're correct and DROD is surprisingly diverse it's not as though there are any other puzzle games for which I play endless variants of the same game. So even assuming that DROD is so good that I would benefit from doing so, it's nonetheless an obstacle to the game's wider success. Quite apart from anything else, I appear to need helpful people on forums to prod my DROD playing career back to life, where ideally the game itself should motivate continued play (perhaps newer iterations do?).


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09-29-2009 at 07:43 AM
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Blondbeard
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Yes, that is a problem, and we have discussed that. The idea of a "starter pack", an oficial hold, including some of the best user-made holds have been discussed. Personaly I think that there's no way that the oficial holds can compete with some of the user-made holds, and I'm particulary fond of pure "lynchpin rooms". Rooms including a perfectly logical, but still non-obvious trick. If you know the trick the room is almost trivial to solve, otherwise it's impossible.

[Last edited by Blondbeard at 09-29-2009 07:51 AM]
09-29-2009 at 07:50 AM
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Snacko
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icon Re: Why DROD doesn´t appeal to the masses (0)  
That idea has been relegated to a possible update to the JtRH demo to include a few full user holds.

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09-29-2009 at 07:59 AM
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Tim
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Rather than wait ten years before seeing that idea in fruition, I'd suggest you to read the following:

Beginner's Guide to DROD
Re: The Holds Canon

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09-29-2009 at 10:32 AM
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There's another related idea I'd like to throw into the mix. When you have a hold of beginner-to-medium difficulty made for the purpose of pulling in newcomers, maybe you should have a walkthrough or a Let's Play of the game on YouTube or such-like.

The reason is that sometimes just seeing a game in action and the elements come together is worth alot more than walls of text and doesn't need the person to be willing to download, install and then try the game, it just puts it up front for them to see. The way I try to show people DROD is to explain the game elements to them but it usually involves me gushing and not really getting the idea across because as far as I know, short of handing them the game, there is no other way to do it. If I could just show them a video of someone playing the game and maybe narrating over it, that would be a far better sales pitch than what I could do.

I saw on mrimer's YouTube page that he has the trailers for DROD games but trailers aren't enough. For one thing, if it's like with me, I'm automaticlly suspicious of trailers because I get the impression they're removing any and all flaws to sucker me into something. The other is that it doesn't show enough gameplay. But making a decently written hold with maybe some voices (optional) and a narration by the player as to what they need to be thinking or trying to do (also optional) can be a better way of showing what the game really is about,more than a trailer ever could.

It's just a suggestion. I know *I* sometimes just look for games on YouTube in a vain attempt to get something and if I tyed indie or Puzzle game and got this, I'd be ecstatic.

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06-18-2010 at 05:32 PM
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Jatopian
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YouTube in particular wouldn't be a good idea, due to bad video quality not going well with DROD's relatively fine resolution, and due to YouTube being full of idiots. But the basic idea there is sound.

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06-18-2010 at 06:16 PM
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Rheb
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quote:
Jatopian wrote:
YouTube in particular wouldn't be a good idea, due to bad video quality not going well with DROD's relatively fine resolution, and due to YouTube being full of idiots. But the basic idea there is sound.
Well post the vid in HD on youtube and get it linked to from a bunch of other sites.

First you'd need the vid though...

Edit: BTW, I really like this idea as well.

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06-18-2010 at 07:36 PM
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When you have a hold of beginner-to-medium difficulty made for the purpose of pulling in newcomers . . .

We have easy holds. We also have good holds. But do we have any holds that are easy and high-quality? Early KDD might work, but at the same time it might not show enough of the game, especially as it stands today. What hold shows off a good number of features at a bearable pace?

When I looked for videos of Tendry's Tale on youtube, I found a couple which played through the first two levels of the demo, and I could hardly have been less impressed. Fortunately I got the demo anyhow. My point is, I think there should be some explanation along with it to clarify not only the game elements, but what relevant decisions are being made (meaning the hold chosen shouldn't be too easy). The last thing we want is to make an impression of 'ooh... guyy is kilng stuf...'. That would appeal to some people, but not to those who would ultimately like the game.

Any hold suggestions?

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06-18-2010 at 08:32 PM
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Rheb
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quote:
Penwielder wrote:
Any hold suggestions?
Simon's Dungeon.

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[Last edited by Rheb at 06-18-2010 09:55 PM]
06-18-2010 at 09:55 PM
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Smitemastery 101?
06-19-2010 at 06:18 AM
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I like the idea of a Let's Play.
There are actually some of DROD:AE, which doesn't look to bad, graphics-wise. The guy doing the one I watched was quite funny and easily infuriated. He got up to level 5 or something without realising how checkpoints worked.

How does one record gameplay, while recording speech?


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06-19-2010 at 12:45 PM
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icon Re: Why DROD doesn´t appeal to the masses (0)  
quote:
Jacob wrote:
How does one record gameplay, while recording speech?



Record both with separate programs, and then combine them in a movie editing program. I think.

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06-19-2010 at 12:58 PM
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Briareos
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icon Re: Why DROD doesn´t appeal to the masses (+1)  
quote:
Jatopian wrote:
YouTube in particular wouldn't be a good idea, due to bad video quality not going well with DROD's relatively fine resolution

Last I checked YouTube went all the way up to 1080p, which should be enough for DROD if it's enough for something like Farbrausch's The Cube...

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06-19-2010 at 01:20 PM
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