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The BoardGameCaster

A blog related to the video show BoardGameCast in which Jesper "Mordachai" Edmark show full session of board games with commentary.

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To paus or not to paus - that is the question!

T Jesper Edmark
Sweden
Kristianstad
Skåne
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One of the most important parts of producing material for YouTube is to have consistency and regularity. Unless you have regular updates, keeping your audience is tough as you are expected to keep your announced schedule. When you, for some reason or another, can't keep your schedule you simply HAVE to tell your audience why. On that note:

BoardGameCast is a one man show (unfortunately?) and time is in limited supply. So far I have been able to keep my schedule, with a few delays as of late, but not without it taking a toll. Having released 13 episodes and with me going away to Lincon this weekend there is a natural opportunity for a break.

With the special interview episode season one of BoardGameCast has officially come to an end. But do not despair, season two will start in a few weeks time and will then keep the same schedule as season one (one episode a week). Season two will sport a new intro, better graphics (hopefully), great sessions and possibly (if I can arrange it) a few guest commentators.

This break between seasons will give me an opportunity to spend some time on gathering materia and create a buffer of edited photage so that I can avoid delays for as long as possible. I will also be able to spend some leasure time that isn't directly connected to the channel or the hobby.

I hope that I will be able to continue to improve my series and that you, as a viewer, will still be interested in the episodes to come in season two. Until then, I hope you have a nice spring and participate in some great gaming.

Jesper Edmark
aka
Mordachai

TL;DR I'm taking a short break between seasons, stay tuned for Season two! Or, as the famous quote goes: I'll be back!

A full episode list can be found here while the YouTube channel can be found here.
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Wed May 16, 2012 2:25 pm
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Limitations - of the monetary kind, or "Why BoardGameCast isn't Table Top"

T Jesper Edmark
Sweden
Kristianstad
Skåne
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So, you want to join in and start creating great videos for the board gaming community? I welcome you to the club, then! So would I!

So far I have produced 11 videos of mixed quality (from not-so-high definition with poor quality content to high definition, medium quality content) and something that is both easy and hard to see is what could be improved upon. Wil Wheaton has made it a bit easier to see what my show is lacking since he has taken up the same concept, although he has run with it another way (the actual budget-studio-filmcrew-celebrities way... no no, I'm not bitter...).
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Fri May 4, 2012 9:11 am
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Limitations - 'cause we don't want to end up like Ikaros.

T Jesper Edmark
Sweden
Kristianstad
Skåne
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Welcome to The BoardGameCaster blog.

When writing about limitations there are several aspects that can be focused upon. As a video creator (if I may call myself that after only doing 10 episodes), the aspects that are most interesting are the limitations of self and the limitations of monetary funds. The following text will handle the limitations of self.

I have found, over the course of the 3 months I have been working on this series, that there exists a definite limit on what I can demand of myself. I went into this project knowing that I would have to spend a lot of my free time working on this series, either planning, filming or editing. I was fine with that (and still is)! What I had NOT calculated on was the many ways small details can become large hurdles, consuming vast amounts of time. These small details is what has derailed my pre planned series schedule for the last two weeks.

The first example of such a detail is when I sat down with the editing part of the Ys+ session and started doing the graphics. The cutting had been done and "all that was left before recording voice over" (famous last words?) was to do said graphics. I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do graphics wise, so I thought that would be a simple task. I was wrong, oh so wrong! The small detail that derailed me was the fact that the red and green brokers had terrible contrast with the numbers on the stickers. While perfectly viewable at the table, trying to see the numbers on the resulting film was nigh impossible. Suddenly I had to add graphics that I had not planned to add, just so it would be viewable at all, and that took time I had not planned on.

At the same time I had just learnt how to do masking in Sony Vegas Pro 10 and wanted to apply that on the series. While the masking in the Ys+ episode is basic, to say the least, this was my first venture into that kind of visual effects, so that also took much longer than I had expected. The result? Quite good in my own opinion, but not within the time restraints that I had put on myself.

Another, maybe not as small, detail is that my microphone is very sensitive. If my significant other is sitting at her computer in the other room, her key strokes are registered by the microphone. This was something I had not counted on and it means that I can't go into recording the voice over immediately after all the editing is done. Instead, I have to wait until a time when my SO is away or sleeping, something I neither can't, nor want to, control.

This really only becomes a problem when I have not been able to "just do the editing already". If I could sit myself down two full evenings in the beginning of the week and do all the editing uninterrupted, then I would have the rest of the week to find a gap where I can record the commentary. This is where my limitations come into play. Scheduling the editing process would make it work like. Making it seem like work would take away some of the joy of making the series. I know I would end up abandoning the project all together, that is just who I am. So, I take short or long breaks, postponing the editing hours or to the next day, and suddenly it is saturday evening, the editing is still not complete and I have to hope that I will be able to find a gap on the sunday in which I can blabber away into the microphone.

Besides getting to know myself even further, this has taught me that maybe I should have listened to myself when I was deciding how often I would upload a new episode. My inner voice said once every two weeks, but of course what I ended up doing was to proudly proclaim that it would be a weekly series. Damn hubris! As has been said many a times: It is easy to be retrospectivly wise!

Mordachai
aka
T Jesper Edmark

Next time: Limitations of the monetary kind - Dreams vs. Reality

A full episode list can be found here while the YouTube channel can be found here.
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Mon Apr 23, 2012 3:51 pm
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Time, precious time - whenst art thou going?

T Jesper Edmark
Sweden
Kristianstad
Skåne
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Hello and welcome to The Boardgamecaster! My name is... you know, let's not waste more time!

Something I suspected, and can now confirm, is that creating video content is a time consuming business. First of all you need to get some content, but that is fairly straight forward since I'm likely to have put down the time for that anyway. Still, it takes some time to prepare the play area, set up the camera, check if the lighting is decent, curse about the lighting not being decent enough, decide to go through with filming anyway, do the filming, download the material onto a computer, clear the data from the card, lather, rinse, repeat. For a one hour episode approximately 2 hours of film is recorded, and 15 minutes spent on the other stuff.

Then starts the real time consuming work - editing. The material has been downloaded onto the computer and loaded into your video editor (Sony Vegas Pro 10 in my case) so you start going over the material to cut out all down time. This takes me, generally speaking, about 2-3 times the length of the clip, depending on how much must be cut out, ie. 4-6 hours of work. I could do this much quicker, but the end result would suffer.

Then it is time for either the voice over or the graphics. The graphics can take very little time or very much time depending on the game in question (Ora et Labora was fairly quick, Power Grid not so much, Ys... sigh) and my ambition level for the particular episode. Assuming a one hour episode this might take one hour or it might take six (I'm looking at you, YS..!).

The voice over took a lot of time in the beginning, but since I opted out on getting everything perfect it is now one of the quickest tasks. A one hour episode worth of voice over is created in about 90 minutes.

So, creating the raw video file - somewhere between 9-15 hours of work.

After creating the raw video comes the rendering process where the file is made into a regular media format. This takes about 8 times the length of the clip, so for a one hour episode about 8 hours. During this time I cannot use the computer for anything else. Usually I leave it to churn away during the night, since I won't be using the computer at that time anyway.

Once I have the media file I can upload it to Youtube. I have a good internet connection (not as good as I once had, but still very good), still this takes approximately 7-9 times the length of the clip (since my videos are in 1080p quality). So, that is 7-9 hours where I, once again, cannot use the computer, or the net, for something heavier than casual browsing. Anything that demands a steady connection is out of the question. I have a 10 hour work day on mondays though, and so does my SO, so that is the time I tend to use for uploading.

Finally, I can submit the link to BGG, add it to the episode list and do some information editing (there goes another 15 minutes) and relax... or start the work on the next episode...

If it takes so long to create, why continue? Because it is fun! And, as long as it continues to be fun, I will continue to create video content.

Jesper Edmark
aka
Mordachai

TL;DR - It takes between 9-15 hours to create an episode, approx. 8 hours to render it and between 7-9 hours to upload it. All in all - a whole lot of time!

A full episode list can be found here while the YouTube channel can be found here.
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Mon Apr 16, 2012 3:34 pm
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Conventions, a blessing and a curse!

T Jesper Edmark
Sweden
Kristianstad
Skåne
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Welcome to The BoardGameCaster blog.

I had planned to dedicate this blog entry to time in regards to making a video series, but that has to wait until next time. Instead, I will talk about conventions since I have just spent four days conventing (yes, it is now a verb) in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Conventions are a blessing and a curse to a gamer like me. It is a blessing since it gives gamers a chance to gather and meet like minded people outside of their regular gaming group(s). Some of the gamers that I most like to play with are people that I only meet once or twice a year at conventions.

Conventions also give the opportunity to give back to the gaming community. I have held gaming events at conventions for over 10 years now, and it is great when you have people coming up to you afterwards and say that they really enjoyed the event. For the third year in a row we held an event called "Die Ludo" (german pronounciation) at Gothcon, a game restaurant with posh staff helping the visitors find games and opponents, setting up games and explaining the rules to them if necessary. We had full tables throughout the conventions and probably could have used even more space than we did. The amount of appreciation we got for the event was great, which is why we have come back and held the events over and over.

One great part of conventions is the chance to play games that you have yet had the chance to try out. This year I got to play Kingdom Builder, Eminent Domain and Helvetia for the first times and they are all games I could recommend to other gamers. They all had a different feel to them, both in weight and mechanics, but I would gladly play any of them again.

However, for my part conventions also equals a stressful environment, ie. the curse part. Because conventions offer the opportunity to give back to the gaming community I have always felt the need to be on the giving side, not only on the recieving one. At this moment in time I can't go to a convention and be satisfied with just playing games, I feel the need to contribute. I usually end up planning and holding an event of my own as well as filling gaps as organizer of events that would otherwise have to be cancelled. This means that I spend alot of time before a convention planning and preparing and most of the time at the convention as an organizer. Sometimes this still gives me plenty of time to relax and play alot of games, but often this means I rush between one event and another, trying to help as much as I can. Food and sleep is pushed downwards on the priority list and as a result my body protests by not absorbing fluids. That is quite annoying, but I have learned to handle it. Still, it takes a toll and I'm usually exhausted by the end of the convention.

Either way, I can't keep away from the conventions, it is simply too much fun! It is something I recommend everyone to try out!

Mordachai
aka
T Jesper Edmark

Next time: Time... my precioussssssss! (this time for reals)

A full episode list can be found here while the YouTube channel can be found here.
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Tue Apr 10, 2012 2:50 pm
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Viewings, Feedback and My Little Contest!

T Jesper Edmark
Sweden
Kristianstad
Skåne
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Hello and welcome to The BoardGameCaster (ie. me)!

Today I’ll be writing about viewings, feedback and My Little Pony... erhm, My Little Contest (I’m not a Brony, sorry!).

I just released my 7th episode of BoardGameCast and I’m quite happy with the production value so far. It takes quite a lot of time to put an episode together (more about that next time) but I’ve found that now that I know the basics of the video editor I can do quite a lot with it.

Something I cannot directly influence, however, is how many people actually enjoy the show. I’ll be honest with you, in my naiveté I assumed that I would have reached more viewers by now, considering how big this community is. I have, at the moment of writing, 2250 total views. That is an average of roughly 375 views per video (the 7th episode has not been online enough to be counted here). While I understand that some episodes won’t be as interesting as others I still expected quite a lot more views than this.

Now, what am I doing wrong?

Well, maybe I’m just too impatient. I might simply need to give the BGG’ers a chance to discover the show. 2 months is not a lot of time for this kind of thing so word just might not have been spread. In that case patience is the key.

I guess that my concept could be flawed and this is the amount of views I should expect for this format. That would mean I spend quite a lot of time for the appreciation of a relatively small group of people. If this is the case I can either be fine with that and continue producing episodes or I can decide it is too much work for what it is worth and bow out. I still believe in the format though since it is something that I myself was looking out for before I started doing it myself, so I guess patience will give the answer here as well.

Maybe potential viewers are intimidated by the long episodes? Well, maybe, but isn’t this the same as other video series on games, just not split into several parts? I like to think that this way the viewer has the choice of watching the session in one go or split it up at their leisure.

Maybe I’m focusing on the wrong type of games? That would be a problem, since I’m less likely to focus on genres that I don’t enjoy myself.

No matter how valid these questions are, they are questions I ask myself when I look at the view count and the feedback I have received so far.

And on the topic of feedback:

Feedback for BoardGameCast has been quite limited. A few brave souls have entered fourth and given their praise or their critique through the use of various forums and comment sections. In my opening episode (episode 00) I stated that I appreciate any and all feedback the viewers can give me and this was, and is, for one, big, selfish reason - I need to know if I am on the right track here. While I mainly do this for the enjoyment of myself, without the enjoyment of the viewer I might as well put far less time into the episodes than I currently do. If we connect this to the question above, I would rather be putting the hours in for a viewer count of 200 if I regularly got feedback on what I was doing than producing for 2000 viewers that never wrote a thing. Right now, I’m still flying in the dark, not really knowing if what I’m doing is something that the viewers appreciate or not. All in all, feedback is more important than viewings.

So, what can I do go gain more feedback? Well, I have chose a path of least resistance - bribery!

Along with my 7th episode I announced a small contest where the contestants can win a small game in the $25-30 range. Part of the way to enter this contest is, and if you followed along in this blog you have already guessed it, to give me feedback on BoardGameCast. Nifty, eh?

Now, if you are interested in winning... err, giving feedback... head over to the episode list and click your way to episode 07. The entry deadline is set to April 9th 10am Central Europe Time (that would be 1am Pacific Daylight Time for comparison). I hope you have fun with the contest and wish you good luck!

Mordachai
aka
T Jesper Edmark

Next time: Time... my precioussssssss!

A full episode list can be found here while the YouTube channel can be found here.
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Mon Apr 2, 2012 6:41 am
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Introduction to The BoardGameCaster - It'sa meee, Mordachai!

T Jesper Edmark
Sweden
Kristianstad
Skåne
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Hello and welcome to The BoardGameCaster... the blog, not the show... erm, yeah.

Anyway, my name is Jesper "Mordachai" Edmark and I am the host of BoardGameCast. BoardGameCast is a video show with full sessions of board games in HD-quality, with the downtime cut out and with a running commentary by yours truly. I realease one episode a week and mostly cover Light Strategy Games (Euros).

This blog is meant to cover parts of the gaming and video making process that I cannot cover in the actual episodes. I hope that it will be informational and perhaps make more people aware of the show. Yes, I guess this is attention whoring but hopefully it is within reasonable levels.

This first blog post I would like to write about the thought process of idea to actual show. I covered part of this in my first episode, but it seems appropriate to start of my blogging career with this bit as well, so here goes:

If you have checked my profile page here on BGG you have noticed I have a rather longwinded text about my background as a gamer. I have been on the receiving end of the board gaming community for quite some time and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I have dabbled a bit in reviews and session reports, participated in strategy threads and been part of the games convention scene (in Sweden) for several years, but I haven’t given back to the community at a degree I myself find adequate.

Me and a few of my gaming friends have held an event at Gothcon, Sweden’s largest gaming convention, for the last couple of years and while discussing how the event could be improved upon for the upcoming Gothcon XXXVI the wheels in my brain started turning. What if one could do a board gaming version of the e-sports coverage? Live commentating board games, wouldn’t that be fun? It was presented as a wild idea and then left behind while we continued our planning.

The wheels kept turning, though, so I made a list of what I would need to be able to actually realizing the idea. The list seemed quite straightforward:

HD Camera, High Quality Microphone, Tripod (or rig), Lighting, Computer, Software, Projector, Two separate rooms, Cables, Internet connection (for streaming), Games, Gamers.

Money would have to be spent on the equipment, which was fine, and for the most part it looked actually doable. I started checking around for what I needed while discussing my ideas with people around me. I quickly ran into a roadblock though. None of the non-professional cameras had streaming ability, only older generation (!!) cameras could do this. A professional HD Camera with streaming ability would set me back at least $2000. That was quite disheartening. I was forced back to the drawing board.

How about web cams? The quality wasn’t good enough.
Doing the commentary while filming? It would restrict it to a play-by-play comments only (no strategy discussions possible) and still distract the players too much.

The only available option left was to look to a solution where I took streaming out of the equation. If I recorded the game and did commentary on the recording I would be able to produce part of what I first had set out to do. It wouldn’t be live commentating, but on the other hand I would be able to edit out all the boring bits, the non relevant table talk and the AP as well as do graphics to help the viewers not miss anything. But was it as interesting?

The last question became somewhat of a moot point when I spoke to my father and he told me that he had already bought me that High Quality Microphone we had discussed (should have known when I brought it up). Not doing something with the concept now would be wasteful so I went out and purchased one of the (non-professional) cameras I had scouted as well as a tripod. After some research I got my hands on a good video editor. Finally, I invited a few friends over and recorded a game of Puerto Rico. That recording eventually became BoardGameCast Episode 01. It is of lower recording quality than I have since used, but it was a good game to start with. And here I am!

Mordachai
aka
T Jesper Edmark

Next time: Viewings, feedback and information about the contest I will run next week.

A full episode list can be found here while the YouTube channel can be found here.
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Wed Mar 28, 2012 3:37 pm
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