My First Final Fantasy – DEBUG MODE

I’ve always been kind of curious about Final Fantasy. It’s been around for so long and seems to have been a lot of different things to different players over the years. Since I got my PS5 and re-upped my PS Plus subscription, I got access to Final Fantasy VII Remake – a shiny new version of (probably) the most talked about game in the franchise and decided now was the time to dip a toe into this series.

I know there are a lot of dissenting options that VII isn’t actually all that great. It sounds very much like a band that’s been around for a while with a divided fanbase that stopped listening after a certain point. The series evolving and changing every time seems like one of its strengths even if that means some fans fall off of it.

I tried to inject a little more humor and personality into the video than usual. I’ve mostly stuck to pure analysis in the past. There are a lot of people who mix humor and serious critique together well but I would be foolish to think that’s easy to pull off. Final Fantasy is often goofy though so it was appropriate to bring a little goofiness into the video, I think. And, as I said, I am not well versed in the series so I can’t do the kind of analysis I can with say, Batman… which I need to get back to soon.

On the production end of things, my workflow is continuing to evolve with 4K as the new standard going forward* – for the most part. There are some lingering older projects that have already been captured in regular old HD and I don’t foresee going back to re-capture the footage.

4K is easy. It’s just a lot of space and demand on hardware – but it’s very doable. HDR, on the other hand, is a massive headache. I may write a separate post or even make a video about a game capture HDR workflow at some point. Mine is still not perfected but it’s getting better… I think?

The Final Fantasy VII Remake footage in this video was all captured in HDR but the final video is SDR. I still haven’t figured out that last piece of the workflow to actually put videos out in HDR while still looking “right” in SDR. That’s the next step but I’m trying to keep some sort of pace for the video content. Only so much of the production time can go to researching the workflow.

Remake has a really nice HDR implementation, I think. And I was looking at HDR footage the entire time while I was editing which I then had to conform to SDR at the end. Tragic. Maybe next time… but probably not.

* If the video isn’t available in 4K yet, it’s because YouTube is very slow to process 4K versions of videos – at least for tiny insignificant little channels like mine.

Let’s Talk About PS5 – DEBUG MODE

Although the PS5 has been out since November 2020, they’re still hard to find and it’s still early days for the console. This is sort of a review, sort of a discussion about the PlayStation 5, some games, and the industry in general right now.

This was probably the most challenging and involved video I’ve done yet. The Nintendo Switch review was similarly complex, but this had a few more wrinkles to it.

To begin with, getting the console itself was tricky. I also wanted to do the video in 4K. Over the last couple of years, I’ve acquired the means to do this. I have a 4k camera, monitor, capture device, and now a 4K console. As of this writing, the 4K version is still processing on the YouTube backend. It’s been doing that for over a day now and there’s no telling how long that will take. But eventually this will be viewable in 4K.

4K 60fps video takes up a lot of space especially if you capture in a format that’s good for editing. All told, this project wound up being about 6TB of data. There was a ton of work to do – lots of games to capture, different versions of games, different modes, on-camera footage, and whole lot of graphics and supplemental material. It took much longer to edit than anticipated.

At the beginning, I also wanted to do HDR, but I abandoned that idea after some experimentation. HDR editing workflows are still too cumbersome and the amount of people who are actually going to watch a YouTube video in HDR is miniscule – especially when your channel has fewer than 100 subscribers (hopefully that won’t be the case for much longer!)

Bowser’s Fury review – DEBUG MODE

Two videos in just under a week? Crazy, right?

I wasn’t planning on making this, but as I played the Switch re-release of Super Mario 3D World, I realized I had *things to say* about the new Bowser’s Fury game that’s packaged with it. This video is mainly about my problems with the game but I do want to stress that it’s still a good time and that I appreciate the risks taken even if I don’t think they all paid off.

This video was a bit of an experiment to see how quickly I could turn out a video that I was happy with. The modern internet demands ever more content at a pace that’s detrimental to quality. I’m not willing to compromise quality that much or dedicate so much of my time to this channel to meet the whims of the almighty algorithm. Still, I think I might try doing more of these short reviews that aren’t as comprehensive or analytical as work I’ve done previously. As long as they’re an interesting central point, I think it’s worth it.

The Triumph of Hitman 3 – DEBUG MODE

I had fully intended for my next Debug Mode video to be the start of new series that I was fairly excited about. Then computer troubles struck and corrupted the footage I’d recorded for that game. That really took the wind out of my sails.

I intend to get back to that previous project, but in order to work on something completely different, I decided to do a quick video on Hitman 3, 2021’s first big release. A “quick” video soon bloomed into a month-long production. The final video is a celebration of the whole World of Assassination trilogy. If you’ve seen my best-of videos for 2016 or 2018, then you’ve heard me championing these games before. They really are pretty special but it’s a little hard to showcase them in a video like this. I think you really need to see someone play the game in realtime or try it for yourself.

Games of 2020 – DEBUG MODE

I almost passed on making a year-end wrap up video since I already covered several of the year’s big games in previous videos. But I do like this format even if nobody really watches. It’s a good way to cover a lot of ground in a relatively short time.

I actually made more Debug Mode videos this year than ever before… which is still not saying all that much. YouTube isn’t my job and it’s far from my only interest. Creating videos I can feel okay about putting out into the world is hard and very time-consuming. And although I keep entertaining the notion of doing shorter, more-focused videos that are a bit easier to produce, that hasn’t really worked out so far.

From what I understand, the almighty YouTube algorithm wants me to upload a 10 minute video every day. I don’t care who you are – there’s no way you can do that and not have the content suffer or lose your mind or both. Increasingly, I feel sorry for the people who are in that position. It’s often not about making consistently good stuff – but just about making stuff consistently.

Anyway, thanks for watching if indeed you do. Let’s all hope for a happy new year.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and The Mandalorian are backwards – DEBUG MODE

When I watched The Mandalorian last fall, the template for a video game version was apparent almost immediately. Around the same time, I played Jedi: Fallen Order which has so much story potential that a TV adaptation could be amazing. This video explains how those things could be adapted into the other medium.

I’ve had this idea for a while but with Mandalorian Season 2 on the way, a new Star Wars game just released, and rumors of possible Fallen Order DLC, this sure seems like a good time to talk about it since I missed the initial window.

Since the inauspicious conclusion of the “Skywalker Saga”, I’ve been really curious about the direction the franchise will take now that they got their nostalgia-driven movies out of the way. I hope Fallen Order and the Mandalorian are signals about the direction things are headed in because they’re both pretty solid.

The Realistic Escapism of Microsoft Flight Simulator – DEBUG MODE

The new Microsoft Flight Simulator is an amazing thing. It isn’t magic, but it is frequently magical. Rather than a more straightforward review or discussion of the game, I wanted to make something that was more of a general essay.

In a lot of ways, Flight Simulator transcends normal video games. It’s a way to experience a version of the real world – and realistic aviation if that’s you’re interest. Although I thought about getting a new flight stick (my ancient Logitech Wingman Attack 2 didn’t seem to be working all that well), I ended up being more interesting in touring the world than learning how to fly so the video is entirely “cinematic” – no UI or menus; no in-depth discussion of controls or options. That was a nice change of pace.

Above all, I wanted to put something out into the world that was positive, uplifting, and uniting. It’s been a rough year for just about everyone. Flight Simulator offers a bit of an escape from that while also allowing us to step back and appreciate how far technology has come to simulating and imitating the beauty of nature.

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The Last of Us Part II: A Story Worth Telling? – DEBUG MODE

Generally I’ve avoided discussing extremely popular things when the iron is hot. I do this gaming YouTube channel in my spare time “for fun.” Trying to keep up with people who do it “professionally” while still maintaining a level of quality that I’m okay with would be utterly exhausting. But I decided to try my hand at chiming in on the discussion surrounding The Last of Us Part II. We’ll see how this goes.

This was maybe the hardest script I’ve ever written for this channel. The game is long, sprawling, and very ambitious. It’s kind of difficult to talk about because there’s so much there and it isn’t laid out in the most straightforward way. I think I managed to make my points in the end but I’m sure I could have done a better job somehow.

This video ended up being a lot longer than I expected or intended and there’s still a whole bunch of stuff I didn’t touch on at all. I barely talk about the gameplay and, really, the gameplay is not why I played the game so it’s not what I ultimately wanted to talk about. The interesting things to me with this game are story structure, pacing, and when it chooses to reveal information to the player.

Going from Animal Crossing to this was a pretty big change of pace. It’s a super bleak game so while putting the video together was a good challenge, it wasn’t nearly as fun. Next up is something I think will be more fun – at least for me.

Why I Stopped Playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons – DEBUG MODE

Is it possible? Two Debug Mode videos in such a short span? Nay, three videos! What new devilry is this? Only the wild year that is 2020 could bring about such unprecedented events!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons one of the biggest game releases of the year and in this video I explain why I quit playing. I do like the game though – especially in the midst of all the insanity this year. It’s extremely well made and very inviting – it’s just got fairly major design issues that push me away.

This is the first video of the kind of new format I’d like to continue exploring – not a comprehensive review, nor a list, but a vehicle for me to talk about just a subset of things about a particular game that I find interesting. Maybe it’s a particular mechanic, the evolution of the series, or an analysis of the story. I have more videos in the works and I’m hoping there will be two more out before the end of the summer which would be a big deal considering the historical upload pace of this channel. Then I’ve got to get back to the Arkham retrospective because there’s probably going to be a new one of those out in the near future.

XCOM: Chimera Squad review – DEBUG MODE

This is the first single-game review I’ve done in five years (the Arkham Asylum video from last fall was more of a retrospective). I’ve shied away from doing traditional game reviews for a variety of reasons – mostly because I find that uninteresting. My current philosophy with the Debug Mode channel is to do videos on whatever sparks my interest – thus we have this Chimera Squad review/discussion thing.

I really wasn’t sure if I’d like this game. A lot of the changes sounded like love-it-or-hate-it kind of things. I haven’t looked into what the community’s reaction has been. While I’m not a hardcore XCOM player, I do like the series a lot and have been following it ever since Enemy Unknown back in 2012.