“If you enjoy doing it, someone out there will enjoy watching it”: an interview with MonstersAbound
Greetings, and welcome to the first instalment of our new feature focused on Total War community content creators.
Each month, we’ll bring you a new interview – and featured content – straight from the Total War community. We’ll be focusing on creators both big and small, so be sure to check in regularly to see some familiar faces or to be introduced to some up-and-coming names.
For our inaugural feature, meet MonstersAbound. He’s a double threat: both a YouTuber and streamer on Twitch, who delivers in-depth strategy gameplay videos multiple times a week. Check out his YouTube channel here and tune in on Twitch here.
Without further ado, on to the interview!
CA: Hi, MonstersAbound! Tell us how you got started in content creation.
MonstersAbound: I’d considered it for years but never actually tried it because I didn’t think I’d be any good. Then one day my work colleague and I were chatting about games and that his kids watch a lot of YouTube videos and he asked if I’d ever tried doing them myself because he thought I’d be quite good. I am ever one to be wildly swayed by minor flattery, so I decided to sit down and give it a shot – how hard can it be, right?
Turns out [it can be] quite hard. It took me weeks of trial and error to get recording, rendering, and audio to the point where I felt it was acceptable. It turns out talking to yourself is quite tricky.
But I actually really enjoyed it, so I kept going, even if no one was watching. Eventually people did start watching and, even more bizarrely, enjoying my videos. Which was nice.
CA: Why Total War? What is it about the games that inspires you to create content?
MonstersAbound: Many years ago, I spotted the first SHOGUN Total War in a shop (which is where we used to buy games) and the screenshots on the back of the box reminded me of a game called Warhammer: Shadow of the Horned Rat – a game that I had played to death because it was Warhammer and I love Warhammer, so of course I immediately bought Shogun and was hooked instantly.
I’ve played Total War games ever since. The marrying of Warhammer and Total War was my wildest fantasy come true, and I’ve got some pretty wild fantasies… most of them involving little metal figures.
Since Total War: WARHAMMER released I’ve been playing it almost exclusively, and watching YouTubers like Lionheart, SurrealBeliefs, and Heir of Carthage regularly. It just made total sense to make content about something I was already very passionate about.
What I love about Total War and all strategy games is you can make your own stories, and that’s why I love playing them. You never quite know what’s going to happen next or who is going to become an unlikely hero or nemesis. Especially the way I play: incompetently.
CA: Tell us about your most memorable Total War experience.
MonstersAbound: This occurred many a year ago, so my memory is a little hazy, but this is how I remember it at least. Let me set the scene.
It’s 2002. Avril Lavigne was taking the world by storm, a phone had a camera for the first time, Twitter didn’t exist… It was a gentler, kinder age. Most importantly, I’d just picked up MEDIEVAL: Total War.
I was playing as the mighty Byzantine Empire. Just west of Greece was an enemy – can’t remember exactly who I was bordering, Hungary maybe? Doesn’t matter, not important. But they had their nose all out of joint for some reason, probably because something like I’d killed their king (pft, cry-babies). Anyway, they threw an army at me out of nowhere and I only had one unit of Byzantine infantry defending the province. But this was not just any Byzantine infantry: this was The Little Byzantine Infantry That Could.
We go into the battle and it’s very hilly and very wooded, so I hide my solitary unit of brave Byzantine soldiers in the forest at the top of a steep hill. Eventually the enemy locates me, marches up and sits there for a bit, lobbing arrows at me trying to flush me out, but my stoic chaps contemptuously ignored the shower of pointy death by bravely hiding behind a tree.
Running out of arrows, the enemy then decided to throw in their own light infantry, who charged up the hill and clashed with me for a bit before screaming and running off back down the hill with a fraction of their number, leaving my Byzantine infantry rather smug but still steadfastly refusing to budge from the leafy fronds of their impenetrable verdant fortress.
The enemy general, continuing to grasp desperately for straws, finally sends in his cavalry. This includes the enemy general himself, because if you want a job done well, do it yourself.
They rush up the hill into the forest and just end up proving that doing the same thing multiple times and expecting a different result is indeed the definition of insanity.
The enemy general, now able to count the men in his once-glorious army on the remaining fingers of his one hand, decides discretion is the better part of valour and suddenly realizes he has important business several miles away in the opposite direction.
My infantry had lost 75% of the unit after the battle but had defeated an army that had vastly superior numbers. I’d like to say that The Little Byzantine Infantry Unit That Could went on to climb the ranks, become a 10-star general and led the Byzantine Empire to victory… but I neglected to reinforce them and a few turns later my nasty neighbours sent an even larger army and murdered the lot of them.
Stirring stuff, I think you’ll agree. Apart from the ending.
CA: What is your favourite content that you’ve made to date?
MonstersAbound: During my Lokhir Fellheart campaign I came across Ulcess (Skaven faction leader of Clan Eshin) and, because I’m terrible at pronunciations, accidently called him Ulysses who, as fans of Greek mythology are aware, is not a sneaky Skaven at all but the Greek hero from the Odyssey. This then for some reason led me to remember an old 90s cartoon called Ulysses 31, which was a cartoon version of the Odyssey but in space. It also happened to have an absolutely rocking theme tune.
So of course whenever I happened across Ulcess on the campaign map I would play the Ulysses 31 theme tune as he floated across the screen. The reason I did this was entirely for my own childish amusement, and it’s making me chuckle to myself just thinking about it even now.
CA: Tell us about the most challenging content you’ve ever made (and why it was so challenging).
MonstersAbound: The video I made for the Total War: THREE KINGDOMS Sun family ambush battle. I spent a week editing that because I was so nervous and wanted to get it absolutely perfect. I rendered it but was not happy with the result so I reedited it. I wasn’t happy with that version either so went on to do yet another edit but had deleted one of the files (always back up your data, kids) so after much swearing and trying to splice video segments together I just went back to the first version and decided it was probably fine.
CA: If there was piece of advice that you’d give to someone thinking about getting into content creation, what would it be?
MonstersAbound: Go for it if you’re thinking about giving it a shot. I’ve found making videos on Total War more fun than just playing the game because I can share my oddities with someone other than the cat who, I’ll be honest, never seemed particularly interested anyway. If you enjoy doing it, someone out there will enjoy watching it, but it can be tricky to get noticed so try not to get disheartened if no one watches it at first.
If nothing else you’ll learn a lot of new skills, which I’ve demonstrably used in my day job to make people think I’m literally a wizard. This means I can now go to work in just a dressing gown without raising eyebrows, which gives me an Arthur Dent aesthetic and I’m all about that.
CA: You release a TONNE of content every week – how do you keep up with such a hectic release schedule?
MonstersAbound: What really helps is a long-suffering wife who doesn’t complain when I lock myself in my man cave and talk to myself for hours on end. During the summer, thanks to the hot weather and having the window open while I recorded, she also had to explain to the neighbours why I spent a lot time sitting alone in my room loudly swearing at elves.
I also spend way too much of my free time (i.e. all of it, including lunch times at work) recording, editing, uploading videos, and streaming.
CA: What tools and mods do you most frequently use to create content?
MonstersAbound: I use OBS and a Yeti Pro microphone to record with and VEGAS Pro 14 to edit and render videos. I use Streamlabs OBS to stream with, and have tried various bits of extra software and hardware. I’m always trying to improve my content but most of the time I like to keep it simple, like me.
CA: Where do you hope being a content creator will take you?
MonstersAbound: I never really had any expectations when I started, and I guess I still don’t. As long as I entertain myself – and I frequently do – then that’s good enough for me. Long term, ideally, I’d like to eventually be able to sit around the house in my pants and play computer games all day while maintaining a bare minimum level of personal hygiene – that’s the dream, but it’s still very much a dream at this point.
CA: Give a shout out to your fellow content creators here! Who has inspired you through their content and approach? Who do you admire or look up to?
MonstersAbound: Oh goodness, so many. For YouTube… Lionheart, obviously – gold standard of Total War YouTubers and a magnificent beard. SurrealBeliefs, Heir of Carthage, Italian Spartacus, and Janet on Occasion for Total War content. Ben and Tom from the Yogscast are always really entertaining, and Quill18 was one of the first people I ever subscribed to on YouTube just because he’s great. They’ve all had a big impact on how I do my own videos.
On Twitch, Arkcard, NerdRageFitness, DameggaGaming, and Lucanaii are absolutely fab streamers, and I often have them on in the background while I’m working so I can tune in and out. I’ve picked up a lot of tips and tricks on streaming from all of them.
CA: What’s the number one reason players should subscribe to your channel?
MonstersAbound: Hey kids, it’s your uncle MonstersAbound here. We all love to procrastinate – I myself spent three hours watching a YouTube series about a couple visiting all the train stations in the United Kingdom instead of writing this. So why not while away your fragile and limited existence and procrastinate by watching me instead? Unless you’re doing something important like open heart surgery, in which case almost certainly finish the surgery first. Or maybe you can watch it during the surgery. It might be a distraction, though, but I’m not a surgeon so I can’t really make that call for you. You do you.
Thanks to MonstersAbound for taking the time to chat with us this month. Be sure to check out his Twitch and YouTube channels, and while you’re there hit those follow and subscribe buttons!