Sunday, September 25, 2011

Exsanguis, Video Encoding

You probably want to know what Exsanguis did after he got to level 10. Well, he decided to see what life's like at level 20. He even recorded some snapshots of his adventures. Here's the youtube playlist.

Do you remember this guy? That's Exsanguis at level 5. He sometimes loses against mobs of his level and has no chance in hell against more than one mob. Same for Exsanguis at level 4 or 6.

Now have a look at this guy. This is Exsanguis at level 20. He tanked all the four dungeons of his level once. (I tanked, because I didn't want to wait 45 minutes each time.) Now, think of this: Who plays the more hardcore game? The new player at level 4-6 or the advanced player at level 20?

Remember, Exsanguis didn't do any BGs. He doesn't wear any heirlooms. He never had rested exp. He didn't belong to a guild, which had 'supported' him with an exp bonus. He never learned any profession, which award advantages and exp nowadays. He never used the auction house to buy better equipment. He certainly didn't enchant his equipment or used any potions.

Now imagine Exsanguis wanted to complete the level 14 quests he suspended to run each LFD once. He is in for some very mind-numbing experience that doesn't even reward him in any way but with the story. And even though that story has become better, it's not that good.

Level 4-9 were fun. Maybe even a bit too hard. Playing perfectly it should be possible to beat two mobs, I think. LFD-tanking is arguably fun. Unfortunately there aren't enough dungeons to level up to max without repeating dungeons many, many times. And it's only fun for tanks anyway. A mage at that level drinks more than he casts when he encounters a tank like Exsanguis. And a healer is finding himself doing damage unless the tank overpulls all the time. Am I going to continue playing Exsanguis? No, thank you.

WoW's reputation as an overly trivial leveling game is absolutely correct. But not for a new player. WoW's leveling is only trivial for advanced players of level 10 and especially level 20 and higher. For low level players WoW is actually pretty difficult. The notion that Blizzard wants to dumb WoW down to appeal to new players is therefore either wrong or assumes that Blizzard spectacularly failed at dumbing down.

About the making of these videos:
I used Fraps and Virtual Dub. Here are a few screenshots:

I use the standard settings of the codec and control the quality and thus size of the video with H.264 single pass crf=23.0. crf=0 is lossless and crf=51.0 is the lowest quality I can use. I have WoW run in a window at 1280x700, which equals youtube's 720p. I tested recording my native 2560x1600 resolution and while it was technically possible, it doesn't make a lot of sense to upload such a thing to youtube. I would have to downsize it and that results in hardly readable text and generally a worse quality. The cutscene with Sylvanas is actually 1920x1080=1050p. It was feasible because there was not much motion going on. However, if you watch the 1050p version on youtube at 720p it looks significantly worse than a native 720p. It also doesn't make a lot of sense for watchers who don't have a 1050p screen. According to my blog's statistics that's still the majority.

I also tried recording to a 32GB USB 3.0 stick, instead of the HD raid 1 that is also used to load the game. If USB 3.0 would actually work as promised that should get rid of any stuttering. Unfortunately it doesn't. At 1280x700 that isn't a problem anyway. But at my native resolution I would probably have to turn the raid into a raid 0 or just dissolve the raid for two different HDs. Alternatively I could use the SSD, but SSDs become slower the less free space they have available and also don't live forever. So I don't want to use it for raw, unencoded video data that easily grows to 100GB in size.

Since I am completely new at video making I had to learn a few things. Theoretically you could transfer a very high quality encoded video to youtube. For example CRF=10. But I don't have that kind of internet. 30 seconds are about 15 MB at my setting right now. Once youtube has the video it encodes it again. There's some loss happening there. If you uploaded a 1050p video at a time when youtube didn't offer 1050p videos, it would still be stored in the original version. Later, when youtube supported streaming of 1050p videos, it would just look at your original video and whether it was good enough for 1050p. If it is, youtube then offers the 1050p version, too.

Therefore, if I had an extremely fast internet, I could record at my native 2560x1600 and then encode it without loss, or a very low crf. Then I could upload those tens of GB to youtube. And should youtube, in the future, ever support 2560x1600, the video would automatically be offered at that quality setting. Alternatively, I could buy some space online and just offer my video for download there. This way I would circumvent youtube's second encoding which does still lead to some significant loss of quality.

1 comment:

  1. > hat wer reccount laufen :D ?

    Yes, I really miss the WoW community. :)