We are Extra Credits. We make a Youtube series about why video games matter (and now a show about history, too!). Ask Us Anything!

We've been making a talking about why games matter since 2008. We released our 200th episode earlier this month and we also just announced a second show called Extra History this afternoon. We have a Patreon for it right here! http://bit.ly/EHPatreon

Oh! And we put together a Humble Bundle of Games You Might Not Have Tried that's running as we speak...Or type? http://bit.ly/ECBundle

James Portnow, Writer: http://i.imgur.com/4wd8uTp.jpg

Daniel Floyd, Narrator: http://i.imgur.com/WwDORvb.png

Ask us anything!

. .

EDIT: And we're done!

It's been about four hours now so I think we're going to call it for today. Thanks for all the great questions, reddit!

Comments: 750 • Responses: 30  • Date: 

KCDK755182 karma

You may have answered this question before, but why is there a voice changer for Daniel Floyd's narration?

JamesPortnow325 karma

The first episode was a student project for Dan. He was working on it at 3AM and decided he could either cut down the whole thing to make it exactly 10 minutes or just speed it up 10%. Since then we’ve just felt it fits the cartoon style (it feels super weird with Dan’s normal voice ; ).

EC_Dan254 karma

I have tested episodes with the normal voice. It definitely IS super weird.

StruckingFuggle26 karma

Any chance we can hear a sample of your actual voice?

EC_Dan54 karma

We have some panels on Youtube you can watch. I have also been a guest on a handful of podcasts with my regular voice.

motoko_urashima33 karma

I remember it had something to do with wanting to keep it informal, so they pitch-bended Daniel's voice up and played it a little faster to make it seem more cartoonish.

EC_Dan153 karma

There's that too. By having the narration come from a character rather than a person, I've found people are much more likely to focus on WHAT is being said rather than WHO is saying it. That tiny shred of abstraction goes a long way, I think.

corpiman170 karma

When Dan says stuff like "I think" or "I believe" or "I propose" or stuff like that does he mean as himself or those are the opinions of James as the writer, so my question is when is Dan refering to himself and when is he reading what James wrote?

EC_Dan201 karma

Haha yeah, that gets complex.

Since James writes the first draft of all of these scripts, they all tend to start out as just him referring to himself, things he thinks or his own experiences that inform the discussion. But, since I’m the one narrating the thing, it doesn’t always convert cleanly. It would be really clunky for me to be saying stuff like “James thinks...” or “James proposes...” for the entire episode.

The general formula I try to follow is:

-If it’s a statement of MY personal opinion, I attribute it to myself.

-If it’s a statement that’s more James’s personal opinion than mine, I’ll attribute it to him.

-If it’s a statement of belief or an opinion that we BOTH agree on, I’ll probably just attribute it to myself or BOTH of us to keep things flowing. So I’ll say something like “I think...” or “We think...".

-If it’s describing something James has done or an experience he’s had (something that would be really weird for me to take credit for), I’ll specifically attribute it to James.

That’s actually part of the reason we opted to do the second Game Addiction episode as a live action video with James being the speaker. Doing a whole episode in the traditional format with ME describing all of these personal experiences would have been really weird.

(edited for unexpected formatting)

RexMundane111 karma

Why is Daniel the only one who has arms, and at that, only when he's at the podium?

EC_Dan245 karma

The power of the podium confers upon me certain special privileges.

draw_it_now75 karma

Follow-up question; where can I get an arm-inducing podium?

EC_Dan156 karma

There is only the one. It was a gift granted by the Helium Lords. I forget what they wanted me to do with it, but it probably wasn’t this.

crispskittlez105 karma

How long did the two of you know each other before your work on Extra Credits?

EC_Dan147 karma

We actually started making those early episodes together LONG before we’d met. I got into contact with James via email early on after quoting him in one of the class assignments that would later be turned into the Extra Credits series that exists today. We coordinated via email for the longest time, finally met in person over lunch at GDC one year and mostly only hang out with each other at events like PAX or MAGFest. I recently moved to Seattle, so we actually live in the same city now and can meet to coordinate much more easily, but I’d still wager we have yet to spend more than a total of 48 hours in the same room.

The_Hectic_Glow84 karma

Wow, that's so weird... I always just kind of assumed you guys had been friends for a long time, and all lived and worked in the same place. I've been following you guys since your first video went up on The Escapist, so it's strange to have my entire image of how the show formed flipped on its head!

EC_Dan85 karma

I'm amazed we work together as well as we do. It really seems like this system shouldn't work, but hey. :)

postblitz33 karma

we work together as well as we do

You never had a falling out on some topic? Not like a fewd but enough to get your jimmies rustled.

EC_Dan61 karma

We tend to feel similarly about a lot of things. On the rare occasion that we do have a disagreement about something, we're pretty good at finding a middle ground.

madamerimbaud40 karma

I'm reading everything in your animated voice. It's wonderful!

EC_Dan73 karma

I have the Dan character as my avatar in Skype and I have been told that it is very disorienting.

evansjohnsen74 karma

What would you like visual artists/musicians to know about working with game designers that might make working together easier?

EC_Dan86 karma

Also, know that designers will often throw a new idea at you way later in production than you'd like, and it will probably be a GOOD idea that you wish you could have started implementing way sooner. Frustrating though it may be, it's just an unavoidable part of the iterative game design process.

PDFormat_SFW29 karma


Thanks for doing this AMA! Hopefully, I can see you at this coming PAX Prime. I loved your panel for Prime 2013.

I would like to ask: is there a topic regarding video games that you feel would be too controversial to make a video about? Is there something out there that you feel would just be too bogged down in flame wars and genuine hatred that you're not willing to make any sort of commentary on it?

JamesPortnow45 karma

No, but there are topics that it takes us a long time to address because we want to think them through and find a way to help create a constructive conversation instead of getting mired in the flame wars.

master_dimentio17 karma

Gonna piggyback off of Format's comment just because I have a similar question.

Has there ever been any topics that you've felt are too complex to fully cover on the show, or would just take up too much time in research?

EC_Dan25 karma

Generally, if we ever feel like a topic is too big to cover in a single episode, we’ll go ahead and make a multi-part series instead to give it all the time it needs. And certain scripts definitely take a much longer time to write than others. James usually has a dozen half-finished episodes in progress at any given time.

Erollore28 karma

Does James have any non-black shirts?

EC_Dan69 karma

I am told he owns one. I have never seen it.

Alphapet9026 karma

What's your biggest goal for your careers?

JamesPortnow85 karma

To leave this world a little better than I entered it...

EC_Dan128 karma

I was going to say high-fiving Tim Schafer, but James's answer is probably better.

pietromoleti17 karma

Dan, do you think that traditional animation could come back to mainstream feature films?

What do you think about Disney's Paperman, and do you think it's possible to see a whole feature film using that kind of software?

EC_Dan22 karma

I would LOVE for traditional animation to make a comeback. Most every 3D animator I know feels the same.

Paperman looked incredible and the tech they developed for it is extraordinary, but I don't expect we'll see a feature in that style for some time. The process essentially involves animating the film TWICE. It would be one VERY expensive, risky feature film. But who knows, they may refine the process enough over time that they're willing to give it a try. I'd love to see it.

pietromoleti13 karma

Dan, how hard was it to become an animator at Pixar?

Awesome work, by the way!

EC_Dan13 karma

VERY HARD. I was extremely fortunate that the Creative Director at Pixar Canada decided to take a chance on me. It was an incredible working experience.

Yutrzenika111 karma

Hey EC. So awhile back you guys used content in an episode of Extra Credits created by my friend for her own gaming website, without her permission, and without crediting her. She contacted you about it, but her request to have her content credited was ignored. What's the deal with that?

EC_Dan12 karma

Shoot an email to our extracreditz at gmail account! Or PM me if that doesn't work. Before we had Soraya helping us out with social media and stuff, James and I couldn't keep up with the flood of emails the show gets, so a lot more of them tended to slip through the cracks. Very sorry she didn't get a response before!

henkpoa10 karma

James, has anyone ever told you that you look a lot like Keanu Reeves?

JamesPortnow28 karma

EVERYONE! I totally don't see it, but seriously when I wear a long coat people ask me to say "I know Kung Fu".

EC_Dan28 karma

Someone makes the Keanu Reeves comparison in the comments of every single James Recommends episode and it amuses me to no end.

Srgnt_Fuk_Kuntz9 karma

Hey Dan, any chance of an animation in games topic?

EC_Dan11 karma

I've thought about it! I kind of want to spend some more time getting firsthand game animation experience before I attempt to write an episode on it. When I do, I'll probably be consulting some veterans as well.

paradox12169 karma

Hey, my name is Daniel and I met Dan at DBFH5 a few years back. You guys have inspired me more than anyone else to work towards becoming a game desginer even though my health continues to have issues.

My question: has the stress required to make the show every week ever almost eclipsed the joy you get in making it?

EC_Dan14 karma

Some days are definitely more exhausting than others. I’m working more hours in a week than I dare to add up, but it’s been super rewarding. It’s a pretty special thing to have a project like this that so many people enjoy. This kind of cool opportunity doesn’t come up every day. And, to repurpose a Brad Bird quote: Pain is temporary.

Rocksmithgame8 karma

Yo Dan, I want to learn how to animate. What are some helpful resources, and what are some animation tips of your own?

EC_Dan21 karma

The first thing I’d recommend doing is picking up a copy of Richard Williams’ The Animator’s Survival Kit. If there’s one book you use to learn the fundamentals of animation, it should be that one. Almost every animator I know has owned a copy at one point or another. It’ teaches everything in terms of traditional 2D animation, but all the principles apply to whatever kind of animation you plan to do. http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Animator_s_Survival_Kit.html?id=gZ02LRKOg_YC

If you want to go to school to study 3D animation, there’s a lot of good programs you can look into, but I highly recommend the Animation Mentor online school. It’s exceptional. http://animationmentor.com

Lastly, study other animation, study movement in real life and learn some acting fundamentals. Practicing life drawing doesn’t hurt either.

Eltraz8 karma

What's the most difficult or time-consuming part of making an episode of EC?

EC_Dan21 karma

Definitely the art. Even with the super-simple art style we use, creating the art for a full length episode takes many hours. These days, we give Scott and LeeLee two weeks per episode. Allison, art machine that she is, somehow managed to maintain a rate of one episode per week for a YEAR before we realized that this was insane and brought in a second artist to alternate weeks with her.

SeaMoosi6 karma

I hope this isn't buried in comments, but I've been watching your videos for years now. I love Extra Credits, and Extra History was one of my favorite side-series you guys have done. I'm glad to see you're looking to do more of it!

My question is: has being on the development and design side of gaming made it difficult to approach new titles with a "clean slate?" In the same way I wonder if football refs can watch games without staring at the stripes, I'd like to know if you have difficulty turning off the designer mindset.

EDIT: Also, please do the Three Kingdoms or Han Dynasty era of Chinese history. Actually any era of Chinese history would be pretty cool.

EC_Dan6 karma

It certainly does affect our perspective, but I think it's for the better. Being able to speak from a place of firsthand experience about industry issues, game design practices and such adds a lot of value to the show, I think.

Raptorattacks6 karma

Would you rather fight 100 Duck-Sized Horses, or 1 Horse Sized Duck?

EC_Dan9 karma

I can't think of a horse-sized ANYTHING I'd want to fight...

RocBane6 karma

Back in 2013 there was a Emerald City Comic Con panel that had you guys listed as showing up. We all waited but no one came, nor was any announcement made that you weren't coming. What happened?

EC_Dan16 karma

We actually had NO idea we were invited to the con. Nobody on the EC team was there. We got a lot of emails that day asking why we hadn't shown up for our panel and everyone on the team was asking each other "We had a panel? Where?"

I have no idea how that miscommunication occurred, but we're very sorry to anybody who went expecting us to be there!

FyreFlu4 karma

How do you have time to do anything between full time jobs and a YouTube channel that releases well-thought out videos so frequently?

EC_Dan4 karma

A lot of the time we don't. Between the day job and EC work, I'm usually working on SOMETHING between 8am and 1am (and then sleeping). I don't get nearly the time to play games, watch movies and keep up with TV shows that I'd like, but getting to make something like this is a special opportunity and I don't want to waste it. I'll have plenty of time for that other stuff later.


Homeless_Hobo4 karma

Hi, big fan here. Is the Extra history show going to be like the Rome episodes you guys did?

EC_Dan4 karma

Yep! A lot like those.

CraftingMan3 karma

There are a bunch of references to your musical interests (You meaning the narrator), is there anywhere we can hear your work?

EC_Dan5 karma

I actually released a bunch of remixes on OverClocked ReMix under the handle "sephfire". They aren't great.

TWICEdeadBOB3 karma

as far as the production of the show goes how much say do Dan and James have over the visuals? do you help with story boarding, layout or color choices? Have there ever been any shots you've out-right rejected and why?

EC_Dan4 karma

I've played a big part in helping to establish the look of the show and designing a lot of the art assets we use. Allison, LeeLee and Scott have contributed a lot of their own personal touches to our style as well.

We've occasionally given specific art notes on certain episodes if the art wasn't communicating something we needed it to, but we rarely have time to do a full "storyboard, layout, color pass" process. We have to work pretty efficiently to get an episode done every week.

thisguy493 karma

I love your show. My friend got me into it when you first started it years ago on youtube.

My question: What inspired you to keep doing it and are you ever worried you will run out of ideas?

EC_Dan2 karma

Part of why I started making these videos is because they're the kind of thing that I would have loved to watch (and there weren't nearly as many shows like this back then).

As for running out of ideas, we've certainly touched on a lot of the major topics over the years, but I don't see us ever running out of stuff to discuss, especially given how rapidly the game industry shifts and changes. Games are in a completely different place than they were five years ago. I bet they will be in a different place five years from now as well.