How to Record Your Video Games

The easiest and most popular way to record your own video game play.–PC Pitstop.

How to Record Your Video Games

by Marc Thomas for Daves Computer Tips

Do you ever see stuff on the net and say to yourself ‘I wonder how they do that’? I know I do all the time and usually when watching Youtube game walkthrough videos, because I’m a bit of a pussy really and it’s always handy to see how someone else manages to get past that tricky jump or puzzle, so I couldn’t help noticing the high quality of many of the videos. I also wonder at the upload size of the HD content and scratch my head wondering how they did it. Some uploaders will gladly tell you what software they use to record and edit if you ask, but generally speaking it’s a jungle out there in the Youtube comments section and nothing quite beats experimentation right?

Game recording software shouldn’t be confused with general screen capture software such as Windows’ own Snipping Tool, Snagit and others. Some, but not all screen capture software will capture gameplay, but it can be fiddly and most agree that specific game capture software does a far better job. The most important criteria being the software’s ability to hook into DirectX and Open GL, which are the APIs most commonly used in games, I.E. one or the other.

King of the Castle?

Without a doubt, one of the most popular and longest running programs for recording your in-game action is Fraps which has been around for over ten years and continues to deliver exactly what it says on the tin for the simple reason that it’s, well, very simple and lacking in any bells and whistles.

As you can see from the above image, which I captured using Snagit incidentally, the interface of Fraps is simplicity itself with four tabs across the top, with the most important personalisation features being the hotkeys for screenshots and movies, destination output folder, sound output and a few other choices that I never bother with. It’s important to note however that Fraps will always churn out a raw .AVI recording and it uses its own proprietary video codec, FPL1. I mention this because these two elements are what limit Fraps by its simplicity. You hit F8 and record say three minutes of gameplay and before you know it, you’re looking at a 6 Gb file size, which takes an awful long time to upload to Youtube and share with your friends.

I’ve been playing with game recording software on and off for years and whilst I’m no expert, the general view is to strive for small file size whilst retaining as much quality as possible. It used to be a total compromise and a juggling act between these two factors, but with the advance of sophisticated algorithms and codecs, the technicalities of which are way beyond me, the playing field has now levelled out somewhat.

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