Saturday, November 4, 2017

Some speedrunning video recording practices I hate

I love watching speedruns. Quite often when I have played a game through I will search for the current world record speedrun of it, to watch it (which most often than not can be found on speedrun.com).

Sometimes (of course not always, but way too often), however, I find the video recording of the speedrun pretty much unwatchable. So much that I can't even watch the video.

One thing that can make the video almost unwatchable is abysmal video quality. As in, a video encoding bitrate that's way, way too low, making the video full of artifacts. The worst examples I have seen have so many compression artifacts due to low bitrate that at points it actually becomes hard to distinguish what's happening.

I do understand that in at least a few cases it may be due to the technical limitations of the computer and/or internet connection of the speedrunner. Not every person has a top-of-the-line super gaming PC with the latest bells and whistles, and a super-fast internet connection allowing him to stream the speedrun to twitch.tv at BluRay quality. Sometimes the PC simply is lower-end, and can't capture video that efficiently, or the internet connection is slow, and simply can't stream the video at high quality. I understand that. But that doesn't change the fact that it can make watching the video a pain.

Another, even worse flaw, is when the video lacks the original sounds from the game. I know this might sound trivial and perhaps even strange to some, but it just bothers me a lot when the video lacks sound (or the sound has been completely replaced or swamped by something else, such as custom music).

Here also there are situations where the speedrunner himself isn't at fault. Sometimes eg. twitch.tv will mute the soundtrack of the stream because of copyright reasons. There's little that can be done about that. Othertimes there might have been a technical issue with the recording or streaming which caused the soundtrack to become heavily broken, and thus the speedrunner just muted it. (Or perhaps the technical issue caused the stream not to have a sound in the first place, at least not from the game itself.) There have been examples of such speedruns I have encountered. Still, like above, this knowledge doesn't help much.

However, oftentimes the sound isn't lacking because of some technical issue, but because the speedrunner deliberately muted it, or swamped it with something else (such as unrelated music). In a way this is even more bothering.

These things often ruin the watching experience so much that I just can't watch. Which is a pity, since I love speedruns.

I know this is a nitpicky first-world problem, but heck, I created this blog precisely to rant about things like this, so you'll have to bear it.

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