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A year or so ago I was browsing the /r/fallout subreddit. I saw someone use the acronym “MATN” and asked what it meant. I was told that it stood for a YouTuber going by the name Many A True Nerd. I looked into the channel and found what would become a regular source of entertainment for myself.

Many A True Nerd is a YouTube channel run by a man who only goes by “Jon.” Jon has been putting out video gaming content for a couple of years now. His channel has a large focus on Fallout games—Fallout: New Vegasin particular—but there’s also a wide variety of other titles showcased throughout the channel’s history.

There are many people who make Fallout-based video content online, but Many A True Nerd is special in that the gameplay runs tend to have a focus on interesting rulesets such as “No Kill” and “Kill Everything.” Perhaps the most interesting of these runs is the “You Only Live Once” ruleset, which is a more extreme version of permadeath. The player has one life bar that can never heal, so any damage is permanent for the duration of the run. No healing is allowed. If the damage accumulates to the point that it would have killed the player, the run has failed.

I’ve a few interviews under my belt at this point of varying lengths. I’ve since taken the time to reach out to people who I think would be interesting to talk to, and Many A True Nerd was one of them. I was immensely delighted to find that Jon was quite happy to take time out of his day to do an interview with me.

I enjoy writing in general and I’m quite happy to have the privilege to be able to write about video games and technology for TechRaptor. Pre-release coverage of games, industry events, and insider information are all necessities of the job that double as very lovely perks for someone who loves video games as much as I do. But my conversation with Many A True Nerd has been, in all honesty, the first time that I’ve been genuinely surprised (and pleased) at what I had uncovered. You have some idea as to what you’re getting into when you play a game for review purposes or head off to some industry event. My talk with Many A True Nerd revealed a man that was far, far deeper than I ever could have expected as someone who has religiously watched his Fallout content and many of his other videos for over a year now.

This interview in particular ran a bit longer than most. The transcription of the interview was nearly 20,000 words. That’s not just the longest interview that’s been done by myself (or anyone else at TechRaptor)—that’s the longest piece of writing I’ve done for this site, period.

Furthermore, there has been very little in the way of cuts. One of my interviews will typically have anywhere from a third to half of the conversation not make it into the final product. These are typically slip-ups, such as reveals of confidential or incorrect information, unrelated banter, or a question that fell flat or didn’t quite have a satisfactory answer. There was almost none of that in my conversation with Many A True Nerd.

In consideration of its length, my interview with Many A True Nerd has been split into four distinct parts. This first part will involve discussion about Jon’s YouTube channel in general, classical history, violence, language, and a myriad of other subjects that cannot be justly summarized in a single sentence. I do hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

If you’d like a good primer on Many A True Nerd, I feel that the 2014 Channel Trailer will serve this function well. Give it a watch if you like to get an idea of who Many A True Nerd is and what he’s about. The interview continues below.

TechRaptor: What made you decide to start putting videos up on YouTube?

Many A True Nerd: It’s a question that I’ve been asked before. I’ve never come up with an answer that I personally am satisfied with in some regards. I think a lot of the best YouTubers in terms of their origin stories have like almost full-on superhero origin stories. There’s proper kind of Greek tragedy in them. The sense of, you know, they just dropped out of university, they just lost their job, they were going through a terrible time in their life and YouTube was there and they found something that meant they were hugely successful and it’s turned their life around. I sadly don’t have anything quite as dramatic as that. It was simply the case I’d been watching YouTube as a viewer for years and years and years. I think I got into watching YouTube and started watching it more than I watch television from probably 2006-2007 or thereabouts. I had just been kind of a passive viewer of [YouTube] for years and years and years. But then the trend of YouTubers, of Let’s Players, and so forth started to rise in that period and somewhere around 2012 or so I started enjoying some of those Let’s Play channels. But it took me until 2013 to actually think, “You know what, that looks fun. I might just kinda do that.” The exact weekend I first recorded was a weekend when Claire just happened to be away and I just thought, “You know what, I’m at a loose end for a weekend, I haven’t got any plans, so I will just try doing this thing that I watch other people doing online and see if it’s kind of fun and interesting.” About a month later I put together a couple of things I thought were fun and interesting. Claire and I had made a couple of videos together. And we just kinda thought, “You know what, we’ll just put this up.” It was just for our friends. We just wanted to kind of, you know, e-mail a few of our friends who we liked and just thought, “Hey, we made this thing. We think it’s quite funny. You might like it, too.” And we just kind of… went from there. And then about three years later we’re still doing it. That’s just it really. It was a case of I watched other people doing it, I enjoyed it, and I thought, “That looks like it might be fun.” And three years later it’s still kind of fun. And that’s pretty much it. There’s sadly nothing more dramatic or destiny-fulfilled to it than that.

Firewatch Vertical InterstitialTR: I have to say you have to be the first person I think that’s ever answered a question of that type by alluding to the literary concept of drama and tragedy. That’s definitely to your credit. [And this] leads into my next question, why did you decide to go for a degree in Classics? And although I kind of have an idea of what that is could you please explain what Classics are to the uninformed in your own words?

MATN: Classics is the ancient cultures. Classics technically can cover a wide variety of cultures right to the very earliest bits of proto-history that we’re really just piecing together the very tiniest scraps that we know about – Mesopotamia and before. And the very early Indo cultures. Right through to kind of… what’s the latest point you’d probably call Classics? I bet some Classics would go right up to the fall of the Byzantine empire so you’ve got a period of like 2,000 years or more. I was a very, if you like, classic Classicist which is I studied Latin and Greek and specializing in Hellenistic literature. I studied Greek literature and I did some Roman history as well. As for why I did it, I’m afraid it boils down to some fairly simple things like I was good at it and I enjoyed it. I kind of thought, “You know what, probably the best thing I can do in terms of deciding what to dedicate three or four years of my life to studying is to decide what I’m good at and what I enjoy. If you’re not gonna enjoy it you might not be able to last the course for three or four years and if you’re not good at it you’re not gonna get a good result out of it. You need a certain baseline level of ability. And I should also explain in the British education system you do specialize quite heavily. I know there’s a lot of education systems around the world where university degrees are like baccalaureate systems where you’re still quite a generalist even at university. British universities you specialize quite a lot so you just have to pick like a small number of things you’re really good at and just do exclusively those. I didn’t really know where they were gonna go which is good ’cause they never went anywhere. They were pretty much as useless as I ever would have predicted.

TR: I didn’t want to say it …

MATN: They’re useful in pub quizzes! It’s incredibly useful in pub quizzes. And also if you’re watching University Challenge and want to look smart. Very often Classics questions come up on University Challenge which is a TV show we have in the UK which is like a quiz show.

TR: [America’s] equivalent is probably Jeopardy.

MATN: Occasionally, the odd question about Latin and particularly about ancient gods does show up in pub quizzes quite a lot so it can be a useful skill set for then. But other than that, no, completely literally useless. It was merely a thing I was good at that turned out okay. So you know, I can’t complain.

TR: So unless you’re going for a career as a professional pub quizzer, it might not have the best career prospects. In America a lot of people go into college—or as you would say, university—with the expectation of, “This is all about getting a good job.” You took it from the more academic perspective of, “What am I interested in? That’s the stuff I want to study.” Did it cross your mind at any point during your studies how [Classics] is going to help [you] with a career or anything like that?

MATN: [sighs]

TR: Or were you too busy learning about ancient Greece to even care about that?

MATN: Looking back, [it] was probably grossly irresponsible that I didn’t [do] enough career planning when I was at university.

TR: [laughs]

Breaking from tradition, Many A True Nerd played a game set after a nuclear attack called 60 Seconds.

Breaking from tradition, Many A True Nerd played a game set after a nuclear attack called 60 Seconds.

MATN: I was very lucky that I stumbled across not a bad career after I left university. It was not particularly well planned out. I just kind of felt like if you worked hard enough to go to a pretty decent, well-respected university and you work hard enough there to come out with a pretty decent high-up degree it doesn’t really matter what it’s in because there will be someone out there that’s willing to say, “You know what, that’s a young person just entering the work force who’s demonstrated they’re smart and they have the ability to learn.” Then they’ll give you a chance and they’ll think, “I can train that person”. Maybe I approached it from the other side of [the idea that] you could [specialize exclusively] in studying something at university that’s very salable or you could say, “I’m going to specialize in doing something I know I’m so good at even if it’s not vocationally useful it will possibly still lead to a good career because it demonstrates I am smart and can learn.”

TR: Many A True Nerd dropping some serious life advice for the youth. I gotta say as an American listening to you speak on any subject so far, it’s like listening to a David Attenborough documentary almost. It’s just very verbose. “Ah yes, I studied Greek and Latin.” The only Latin I [have memorized] is stuff like my personal motto “Si vis pacem parabellum”. Are you familiar with that? Are you up with your Latin enough that you can translate that?

MATN: Bellum is war, pacem is peace, Si vis… Okay, so, “If you wish for peace, prepare for war.”

TR: Yes, wow. Completely accurate. I am genuinely impressed. Completely unknown skill to me, you can translate Latin in realtime! Probably not a marketable skill but certainly really cool! That’s one of the things I’ve always found interesting from an American perspective about British people [in] the way that they’re treated here culturally. In our entertainment it goes one of three ways: Mary Poppins chimney sweep, evil British villain, and then there’s the really smart British person. Just naturally of course it lends towards that stereotype a bit.

MATN: I think that’s actually one of the reasons why the British… no one in Britain minds the fact that in American films British people are cast as the baddies. The reason we don’t mind is because the archetype that shows up in films over and over and over again is the British person – the baddie – is always way more intelligent than the hero. So basically we just take it as a backhanded compliment.

TR: [laughs]

MATN: Which is [that] British people are super smart. We build the death rays. We build the moon lasers. We’re the ones that put together the organization that infiltrated and took down the government. Sure, you got one muscley guy with a gun who is able to burst in and shoot us all at the end but we clearly did the planning. We were the superior ones in that situation. You just [got] lucky at the end there.

TR: Now to be fair, stereotypes all have some degree of truth in them. And you guys did kind of do the whole evil empire thing for a couple hundred years. Not exclusively, [mind]! The Portuguese, the Dutch, the Spanish—everybody had their hand in trying to grab up as much land as subjugate as many peoples as they could. But the British were exceptional at it in my opinion.

MATN: True. That was a while ago though. I feel like we should be forgiven at some point.

Tharsis was one of many titles aside from Fallout tackled by Many A True Nerd on his channel.

Tharsis was one of many titles aside from Fallout tackled by Many A True Nerd on his channel.

TR: [laughs] Of course we do. We do indeed forgive you. Or at least I do. One of the things here that I think America and Britain both share in common is taking the piss out of the French. I understand there’s a difference between [the] lighthearted stuff and then there’s the people that are serious. “Oh man, the French are so useless.” I’m like, do you realize that if it weren’t for crazy people like The Marquis de Lafayette who basically stole a boat and said, “Yeah, I like kicking British ass so much I’m gonna to America and do it for free with a bunch of my friends just because” and if it weren’t for the French fleet and the French lightfoots coming and helping us out [we probably would not have won the Revolutionary War.] We call it the Revolutionary War, what is it [the British] call it? The Independence War? Or something like that?

MATN: We don’t really call it anything to be honest. I don’t know if like there’s an ongoing embarrassment a couple centuries on. It’s just something that’s never taught in British schools. We just don’t talk about it.

TR: That terrible business with the colonials.

MATN: One of the things… oh yes, of course. This is something that Claire (who’s French) found hiliarious. She once kind of mentioned in conversation, “Oh yeah, and then you know there was the bit about the French conquest.” I was like, “The what?” “The French Conquest.” “What do you mean The French Conquest? The French have never conquered Britain.” “Yeah, the French Conquest. 1066.” “That’s the Norman Conquest!” “Well, what’s the difference?” “Well, it was the Normans.” “They were just French. They’re just Northern Frenchman.” “No,we didn’t get conquered by the French. We got conquered by the Normans.”

TR: Oh, you’re getting a little bit semantic there.

MATN: Exactly! I hadn’t realized it until she pointed it out to me! That basically we’ve created an entire educational system – we’ve completely re-branded this entire little bit of our history because we don’t want to admit there was a period of our history where we were completely taken over, subjugated [by], and never kicked back out the French. British culture was subsumed into a subset of French culture but we don’t want to admit it. So we just never call it the French Invasion – we call it the Norman Invasion. And the French, they call it the French Invasion ’cause they’re quite proud of it! [laughs]

Jon attacks a giant enemy crab for massive damage in Faery: Legends of Avalon.

Jon attacks a giant enemy crab for massive damage in Faery: Legends of Avalon.

TR: Let me continue, so here’s a bit of a more difficult one. Do you think you could please explain your obsession with somersaults?

MATN: With somersaults…?

TR: Yes, you know. “Flip! Flip! Flip! Flip!”

MATN: Ah!

TR: [laughs]

MATN: That is entirely based on, well… people sometimes ask me why do I not swear on the channel very much.

TR: That was about to be the next question.

MATN: The reason I don’t swear on the channel very much and substitute in words like flip is well… There is not one person in the world that will ever complain to you and say, “You don’t swear enough. I don’t enjoy your channel ’cause you’re not swearing enough on it.” That’s not really a thing that exists as a preference. Whereas there are people in the world that will actually say, “I didn’t actually enjoy this. I couldn’t watch it with my family. I couldn’t watch it with so-and-so because you swore too much.” If you can take one position and you don’t exclude anyone whereas if you take the other position you exclude some people I’d rather just take the position where it’s as inclusive as possible so I’m not putting anyone off. I don’t think by not swearing that much I lower anyone’s enjoyment hopefully. I swear more freely if I’m on someone else’s channel like if I’m doing livestreams with someone else.

TR: Aha, so it’s your own channel.

MATN: It’s more like channel rules that I kind of enforce on myself. I swear a lot more if I’m on a different one. If I’m on someone else’s livestream [people] comment like, “It was really weird hearing you swear. That was so odd.”

TR: To be fair, I watched all of You Only Live Once New Vegas. You do occasionally slip up. I think you said some stuff that would probably only make sense to a British person. I think it was “cocking bollocks” or something [like that]?

MATN: “Cocking” I use a lot ’cause it sounds like it really ought to be swearing but it’s not even a real thing. “Cock” can’t be used as a verb so it doesn’t really exist.

TR: Here’s something that I found interesting. I’ve personally experienced some video game servers [that] would be family-friendly servers where they’re like, “We would prefer that you have no [bad] language because a kid might be playing this.” Which I can understand. But let’s take Fallout as an example—you’re literally seeing people being blown to pieces and dismembered. I’m not saying this is where you’re coming from, mind, but it’s like “Really, you’re concerned about [swearing] and you literally are firing a rocket at somebody and they’re exploding into like a million pieces and there’s blood everywhere.” And the swearing’s on your mind? I’ve always found that a sort of disjointed thing. And I suppose it does mildly apply to you. You just don’t want to leave anybody out. Wouldn’t you say Fallout generally should be skewed more of a teen and adult audience? Wouldn’t you think generally that particular game would maybe perhaps be less family-friendly and it may not be as necessary to restrict your language as much as you do?

MATN: Arguably, yes. It’s an interesting question. It reminds me of a quote from [South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut] which is “horrific deplorable violence is okay as long as no one says any naughty language.”

Fear Equation Vertical InterstitialTR: That would encapsulate it, yes.

MATN: Maybe I’m feeding into what I’ve detected about American cultural preferences for what is or isn’t okay ’cause that’s where a large part of my audience is. So maybe that’s kind of part of it. You’re right that arguably it’s probably being watched primarily by older people anyway so it doesn’t matter so much. Personally I find the violence in Fallout pretty cartoony anyway. In terms of limbs flying off everywhere.

TR: Sure, of course.

MATN: It’s like an Itchy & Scratchy cartoon if you like. There are games that I look at and just think, “That’s… that’s kind of gross.” I don’t enjoy and I don’t play anymore the new kind of Mortal Kombats since they’ve gone down this weird route of [getting] all the fatalities [to go] into X-Ray mode to actually show someone’s spine [snap].

TR: Yeah, I watched a [Fatality] compilation video. That was a mistake…

MATN: I know that’s kind of the point of the [Mortal Kombat] franchise and the whole thing that franchise is known for is the fatalities. They’ve got to [do] something to keep it shocking. But I don’t enjoy it anymore because I find it too gross and I don’t really enjoy that sort of thing. I find the violence in Fallout to be comic [and] cartoony. It’s larger than life. And in Fallout 4 that’s gone even more because they’ve made the blood really bright red. It’s almost halfway to Borderlands cel-shaded in the violence. It feels a little bit distant from real-world violence. Enemies get flung around, physics hits them, their limbs go flying off different directions with blood fountains spurting. It doesn’t feel real to me. It feels like a cartoon. I don’t see it as too much of an issue.

TR: Okay, that’s fair. My next question would be [this]: Where does the name “Many A True Nerd” come from? ’cause it seems very interesting to me. I can’t think of any logical jump that would be like, “Oh, that makes sense that that’s the name.” So, I guess you’d have to explain it.

MATN: It comes loosely from a line that’s assigned to [Geoffrey] Chaucer but it’s spurious which is the old idiom “Many a true word is spoken in jest.” The idea that there is truth in comedy. Originally it was designed in a very kind of mathematical way. We wrote down a few words – geek, nerd, words like that – and we looked up those words in a rhyming dictionary and we took down all the common rhymes for them. Then we took all those rhymes and we looked them up in an idiom dictionary to try and find idioms that contained words that could be swapped out for greek or swapped out for nerd to come up with a short pun. We came up with two in the end. We came up with “Word to the wise” being swapped out for “Nerd to the wise” and “Many a true word” to become “Many A True Nerd”. That one just came off the tongue a bit better and we just liked it a little bit better for a couple of different reasons so that was the one we went with. Plus, if I recall correctly someone had already got “Nerd to the wise” on YouTube or Twitch or something. I think someone had already got that. It hadn’t been updated for three years or something.

TR: But still…

MATN: We liked “Many A True Nerd” anyway. But it’s kind of based on this line of Chaucer, “Many a true word is spoken in jest.” The actual Chaucer obviously isn’t that. Chaucer is slightly more impenetrable English than that. But that’s how it’s typically modern Anglicized if you like. It was a really old statement that reminded me of something in a play by Aristophanes from my Classics days which is I think the earliest comedy he’s got actually, the earliest surviving one – The Acharnians. The main character Dikaiopolis comes on stage to address the audience directly and speak to them about the affairs in the city in Athens. And he says, “Do not be upset with me, citizens, if I talk to you about serious matters in a comedy for comedy knows justice, too.” It just kind of struck me as therefore this idea. This idea that you can be entertaining but you can find a lot of truth while being entertaining. While you’re taking the mick out of something and while you’re prodding and prying and making fun of it you can often come to the truth of things. I liked that as a sentiment. So kind of from that, the idea of “Many a true word” becoming “Many A True Nerd” just kind of stuck and I just liked the idea of it being – it felt very inclusive to me as well. This idea of it being “Many”, like it being “everyone”. This idea of anyone can be a nerd if they want to be. It’s just something that anyone can do through any mechanism. There isn’t just one way to do it. ’cause I think at the time we were coming up with it, it was roughly at the same time the first big wave of the fake fake geek girl thing was doing its rounds on the Internet. That was about the same time as that. So we kinda liked the idea that it felt really inclusive and basically it was a way of saying “There are many ways to be a nerd. There is not one true way. There are many ways.” There was just a lot that I felt was kind of packed into four words that rolled off the tongue very nicely.

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime was one of many games that Jon played in co-op with Claire on the Many A True Nerd channel.

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime was one of many games that Jon played in co-op with Claire on the Many A True Nerd channel.

TR: I honestly didn’t expect your answer to be that in-depth. Do you suspect at any moment that if someone from your family were to read this and were like, “This is what you use your degree in Classics for?” Do you think that would happen at all? [laughs]

MATN: Oh, they’d be thrilled I was getting some use out of it.

TR: [laughs] I expected it to be like, “Oh well, you know, it’s from this thing” but you’ve packed so much into a name [and it] makes so much sense to me. It’s really quite eloquent on your part. My next question relating to “Many A True Nerd”: in my research, I found something I didn’t quite know about. I found out you own manyatruenerd.com and I noticed you have a website but it’s for all intents and purposes not really updated anymore. I guess my question would be what was the plan [for the website] and what happened with that?

MATN: The website actually existed slightly before the YouTube channel. At the point where we came up with the name I suppose another part of the name was it wasn’t supposed to be – originally – it wasn’t gonna be just gaming. It was going to be much more varied and encompass everything. Again, the idea of “many”. Originally, the idea was Claire had an interest in setting up more of a general interest geek blog that would have sections on TV, film, gaming. I think the old template of the site still reflects that.

TR: It does indeed.

MATN: Her business was that, and I said to her – because I’d been thinking for like a year before that point – “It might be fun to do a YouTube thing. How about I run the YouTube channel of the same name? And I’ll focus overwhelmingly on gaming but equally we’ll get you involved in that and you’ll do things do.” And indeed in the very earliest days of the channel there was stuff that wasn’t gaming on it as well.

TR: Yeah, I noticed some journalist stuff like [convention] coverage and things like that. A few videos.

MATN: There was talk of that sort of thing, absolutely. We were thinking about it being a bit more varied in that regard. The thing is, it just of… as things do, some things work, some things don’t. As time went on the YouTube channel started to gain a little bit of momentum whereas the site itself while it gained some momentum it was much slower. And you yourself will be very well aware, doing things like interviews, transcriptions, editing, publishing, for a one man operation like Claire was running it that’s flipping time consuming.

TR: [laughs] Oh boy, yeah.

MATN: To be running a full blog by herself that was supposed to [be] a general interest news blog for geek affairs. We were able to get quite a few people who were very kindly contributing articles to us but the process of editing and publishing and everything and then getting those articles out into the world and trying to figure out where to get them featured and stuff like that was incredibly time-consuming.

TR: It is.

Many A True Nerd plays many games, but Jon seems to have a fondness for classic Rare games such as Jet Force Gemini (pictured), Banjo Kazooie, and others.

Many A True Nerd plays many games, but Jon seems to have a fondness for classic Rare games such as Jet Force Gemini (pictured), Banjo Kazooie, and others.

MATN: It was very slowly getting places, but it was something… Claire has a lot of interests. She also writes fiction for example. She was doing other things as well. So in the end, we agreed that actually it was better that Many A True Nerd focus on the gaming side because my side was gaining a bit more traction. I was enjoying it. I don’t probably have quite as diverse a range of interests as Claire does. I tend to find one thing and really go head down deep into it. At some point – I can’t remember exactly when it was – the control of the Twitter moved over from Claire to myself and it became solely in service of the YouTube channel. And the [subreddit] was always exclusively about the gaming. The site’s still there and Claire and I have talked it about it before. We’ve kind of agreed that we do at some point want and need it to be refreshed to serve the channel. Exactly what we’ll do with it I’m not 100% sure. It’s kind of one of those questions that hangs over things. There’s a couple of big projects I want to kind of do to refresh the channel now I’m doing it full time. That’s on the list but it’s probably the one that’s not gonna happen imminently.

TR: What got you so involved in Fallout? I do want to make it clear because a lot of people would probably know you as “the guy who does the really interesting Fallout plays,” but you do do a wide variety of other games. But Fallout does seem to be your main bread and butter. So what got you so involved in the series?

MATN: The obvious starting point is Fallout: New Vegas is my favorite game of all time. That stands up to the test of Fallout 4 – I’m already very confident that Fallout 4 is not going to dethrone Fallout: New Vegas as my favorite Fallout game and indeed my favorite game of all time. When you’ve got a favorite of all time and it’s a game where there’s a lot of freedom, a lot of replayability, it opens up a lot of doors. It’s also a franchise I think – especially this last generation of [Fallout 3] and especially New Vegas – that has some of the most interesting and greatest degree of flexibility and thus replayability that you can find. I don’t think I’ve found much more flexibility and replayability in any game I can think of more than in Fallout: New Vegas. It is a remarkable achievement, especially considering the time frame that Obsidian made it in. A remarkably short time frame from the point when they were given the Fallout 3 engine to start working into the point at which it was published. It is a monumental achievement what they were able to do with that.

TR: How disappointed are you [that] they never finished the Legion campaign [in Fallout: New Vegas]?

MATN: It’s somewhat disappointing, but you know. Maybe live and hope that at some point maybe they’ll be given the Fallout 4 engine to do something with that.

TR: One could only hope.

MATN: We live and hope that they basically make something new set on the West Coast with the Fallout 4 engine. Who knows what they shall do next. It just basically boils down to a combination of that [it’s] simultaneously one of my favorite games and it has a unique degree of flexibility and replayability that means it can be pushed to its limits of what is possible in that game insofar as the absolute limits of both surviving and playing it with the absolute greatest level of expertise you can versus absolute pacifism versus absolute… what’s a noun that means “psychopathy”?

TR: Sociopathy? I think “Kill everything” would fit best under “misanthropy.”

MATN: Misanthropy! Just straight up misanthropy. Most games when you try and break from the path will just shove you back onto the path that the game wants you to be on. New Vegas is one of those very few games where if you just keep pushing further and further away from where it wants to be it kind of rolls with the punches and lets you do it. And I can’t think of any other game that comes close to doing that and gives you that much freedom.

TR: I would be remiss if I didn’t bring this up—I do believe you’ve said you’ve played [The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim] to some degree, correct?

MATN: Yeah. I’ve put quite a few hours into Skyrim.

TR: Now, have you played Oblivion or Morrowind?

MATN: I’ve played a little bit, but not much.

TR: In Morrowind … one of the things that is a common criticism of Fallout 3 and now Fallout 4—not insomuch of New Vegas—is the abuse of the “Essential” tag.

MATN: Yes.

TR: And Morrowind was quite good with it in that you could literally kill every single quest giver and still beat the game technically through a really roundabout way. They had a sort of failsafe built-in. But that whole thing – “You can’t kill this person, they’re essential to the quest!” – it didn’t exist. It just didn’t exist. You really could kill… if you ever wanted to do a very retro thing in a different theme, a “Kill Everything” Morrowind run is possible. In fact to the point that Morrowind speedrunners depend on this mechanic because it’s faster to kill all the essential quest people and rush to the failsafe that gets you to the end of the game than it is to try and go through it properly.

MATN: Oh, bless you, speedrunners. Bless you, speedrunners. You’re wonderful.

Hitman Vertical InterstitialTR: So, to some degree, knowing that past history the newer games aren’t so great with that. But, let’s hope that if Obsidian gets their hands on it and they give the Fallout 4 engine the same treatment as they did New Vegas that they may be to do something really amazing. [Now, next on the questions:] Fallout 4. When it [had just come out] you put out 30-60 minutes of video a day every day except [for Sunday because] you were doing Fallout 3. Let’s talk a little bit of shop—what’s the turnaround time on that? ’cause I distinctly recall you on Twitter being like, “Oh god, there’s not enough hours in the day.” What’s the general turnaround time from recording to editing to processing [until] it’s live on YouTube for one of those Fallout 4 episodes?

MATN: It kind of varies a lot depending on what’s happening in the episode and how busy it is. I can get a rough feel when I’m recording for what the ratio’s gonna be for how long I’m recording versus how long the end video will probably be. ’cause if, for example, I’m just kind of wandering around the wasteland and I’m just exploring various different little buildings and just stumbling across little plot points then I’ll probably edit most of the looting and exploration out and just focus on the little plot points. So therefore, most of what I’ve done won’t make it into the final video. It’ll just kind of be very much compressed down. Whereas if I’m doing a main plot mission where lots of characters are talking then there’s a good chance the vast majority of it will end in because I won’t want to cut out the story because I need people to have the context in case they haven’t played it themselves or would like to be reminded or generally want to have the full experience. It will vary part to part. For the most part it’s something like a 2:1 ratio. If I want to have a 45 minute video I’ll have to be recording for at least an hour and a half but generally it will be a little bit longer. And that’s quite efficient.

TR: And what about editing and stuff?

MATN: If I do a heavily edited video that’s a one off I will generally record for at least two hours to look to be getting a 30 minute end video. And that 1:4 is pretty good for a one-off ratio. The worst it always used to be is if it’s really heavily edited and it’s well planned-out and stuff. Sometimes something like the Fallout 3 Kill Everything stuff was like a 6:1 ratio or worse where you would record for three hours and you’d have a 20 minute part out of it. A very tight 20 minute part that I was very proud of but it required an awful lot of effort. For all the time that you record you have to be editing for the same or more time depending on how much post-production work needs to be done on it. [laughs]

TR: Yeah the rule of thumb is 5:1 generally with editing so an hour of recording can take up to 5 hours to edit it.

MATN: Mine is less than that because I don’t do as much post-production as say a professional video editor might do. I’m generally not so bad at that. I can generally nail the footage I want to get in the first take more or less. It’s not too bad. It doesn’t take much more than the time of the recording to do the editing. A bit longer depending on how much post-production there is. Then it needs to be rendered and of course everything coming off Fallout 4 at the moment [is] 1080p 60FPS so even with a pretty decent computer that can take a while because it’s pretty intensive and it’s got a lot of frames to work through. Then they’ve got to be uploaded. Uploading something the same day is very difficult. If you record in the morning [and] edit it in the afternoon and then rendered it while you’re having dinner and then it’s ready to upload in the evening you’re pretty much going to be throttled by your Internet provider because you’re trying to upload a multiple gig file right at peak Internet usage time. Unless I can avoid it I will always be at least one day ahead ’cause then I can just set it uploading overnight. ’cause once you get past about midnight all throttling ceases and I can upload like six videos in one night if I needed to for whatever reason.

Sheltered Bumper

That’s it for the first part! It’s important that I get a bit of an update done here in the postscript. The Many A True Nerd website is currently in the middle of the overhaul that Jon alluded to in this interview.

This concludes the first of four parts of my interview with Many A True Nerd. The next part will be talking about Many A True Nerd’s You Only Live Once ruleset and human-robot relations.

Images used in this article were sourced from screenshots from Many A True Nerd’s videos as well as directly from games previously played on Many A True Nerd’s channel.

Are you a fan of Many A True Nerd? What’s your favorite video of his? Let us know in the comments below!


Robert N. Adams

Senior Writer

I've had a controller in my hand since I was 4 and I haven't stopped gaming since. CCGs, Tabletop Games, Pen & Paper RPGs - I've tried a whole bunch of stuff over the years and I'm always looking to try more!