WiNGSPANTT addresses TF2 Spy video questions

by WiNGSPANTT - 15 1590

“WiNG, where’s your next Spy Video? Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is cool, but we want to see you slicing up backs in Team Fortress 2. It’s been scientifically proven to feature better hats than Brotherhood!”


The Jackal represents everything that is right and wrong in gaming. Also, he loves oat bran muffins.

While I’m not one to argue with science, I thought I’d take some time to address this, since it definitely comes up pretty often. And, after all, I do owe it consideration since my oldest and loyalist fans first knew of my work from these TF 2 Spy Lesson Videos (let’s face it, none of you watched Life in a Game despite the spam ads).

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I’m going to resign from Spy videos, or that I’m going to stop playing Team Fortress 2, or that I’m going to use the keylogger installed on your computers to steal your Steam account and own all of your hats. First of all, that’s ridiculous: the keylogger only works on credit card numbers. Secondly, I’m not quitting TF2 or playing Spy or sharing my espionage misadventures with the world, willingly or otherwise. I’ve just needed time to evaluate what I’m doing with my videos and how to best serve the online gaming community…

Finding Footage

The first and persistent problem with consistently making Spy videos is that getting footage is not easy. Don’t believe me? Go on YouTube and watch some Spy videos. Once you’ve recovered from the initial shock, I’m sure you’ll agree you don’t want my work to end up like that.

Since I started making Spy videos, I have stuck to my initial plan to only feature full-round playthroughs. Unlike other classes, the Spy’s gameplay revolves around second-by-second situational audibles that require timing, luck, aim, finesse, and the eternal blessings of Artemis. While many Spies are okay with throwing together a frag video and calling it a day, I don’t find that kind of footage compelling, instructional, or ripe for dry comedy.

Even when everything goes right, I often end a round and realize I didn’t record it. Or that I did, but the footage isn’t actually entertaining. Or it’s entertaining, but there’s nothing new to feature other than making more jokes insinuating I’m on the precipice of a mental breakdown. And while that has its value, pushing that vein of humor can only lead to actual mental breakdowns, which I’d prefer to avoid if at all possible.

You’ve Learned Much, Young Padawan

The other problem, of course, is that with every video, there becomes less and less I can actually teach anyone about successful Team Fortress 2 Spy strategy. Anyone who’s watched all or most of my videos knows the basic and intermediate skills and tactics, after all. And advanced moves like stairstabs and Ambassador headshots can’t be taught; you just need to practice them. Hell, I’m not even that good at those things!

While I can certainly pump out videos for humor alone, it drags a bit when there’s nothing of substance to interject. You’ve seen and played the same maps thousands of times, and you know all the Spy’s weapons and gadgets. Unless/until Valve releases some more unlocks for the Spy, what is there to say? Get behind people and stab the shit out of them. While I do intend to do at least one more video with some more detail on the Spy’s Saharan Set, there isn’t that much to say. It can basically be boiled down to “You can now perform stalk-stabs” and “I fucking hate this stupid hat.”

The Rest of the Team

Of course, there’s also the option of delving into other Team Fortress 2 class strategies. My only problem is: who? I’m not nearly as skilled as many competitive players are when it comes to Soldier, Scout, or Sniper. I always enjoy playing Gunslinger Engineer or Pyro, but would anyone actually want to watch such videos?

Feel free to tell me, because I have no clue!

Time is Money

The final consideration is simply that video editing takes a lot of time. Hours and hours and hours. If I had realized how bad it was, I would have never really expected my pal Dan to do so much for Life in a Game on such tight deadlines for ScrewAttack. That said, I can only make a certain number of videos every week/month, and I have to decide what to make based on the footage I have. And in order to get good footage, I have to play lots and lots of rounds of each game, be it TF2 or ACB or Super Street Fighter 4. And all that has to be fit around my other responsibilities to Elle, to my career, and to my fish. These stupid silver mollies aren’t going to feed themselves.

While I don’t make money off of my videos, I do have to weight what’s valuable to both me and to my audience. I hope I’m doing a good job of that, and based on the fact that my first real Assassin’s Creed video was my highest-viewed page of all time in less than 24 hours, I’d wager that this has some potential. But unless Ubisoft plans to release constant updates à la Valve with Team Fortress 2, my guess is that I’ll exhaust that game’s strategic and tactical considerations in a month or three, anyway.

Then what will I do? Portal 2? Guild Wars 2? Pac Man CE DX?