In many ways the gaming industry can learn from the film industry and game trailers are a great example of an area that game developers should be taking notes.
When studios drop insanely huge amounts of money on making movies that will inevitably be bad they spend potentially even more money on advertising it. A good trailer communicates what to expect in the final product, this is true for films and games. The problem is that there is no clear formula for a good trailer and Hollywood regularly messes things up.
When trailers are bad it means that the film is a) bad or b) not going to be watched by people. The best example of this is for the movie John Carter, take a look at this trailer and try to figure out what the movie is about.
Over at Vulture they have an in-depth analysis of why the bad trailers for John Carter ensured the movie would perform badly at the box office.
A trailer needs to tell its own story and ideally doesn’t give away too much of the overall story of the movie/game. The key is also to make sure that the caliber of the game and trailer match up, this is similar in concept to how movie trailers have a different feel based on the genre.
Dead Island’s trailer was apparently way better than the game and this disconnect led to great disappointment for some players.
When it comes to genres there are tons of trailers that use the style of one sort of trailer to make a movie appear the opposite to what is. My favourite one of these has to be the Shining remade into a romantic comedy.
So at the end of the day how does one go about actually making a trailer for their game that respects the above? Fortunately for you somebody has created the ultimate guide to making a video game trailer and it’s really good.
This is the TL;DR from the guide:
Capture High Quality Gameplay Footage
- Set aside at least a full day to capture your footage.
- It takes a long time to capture good gameplay “moments”.
- Use High quality software and capture with as little video compression as possible.
Engage and Entertain your Audience
- Don’t think of your trailer as an ad, because you’ll focus on too many things
- Make something entertaining, and focus on one core aspect of your game
- Resist the urge to show off every feature and aspect of the game
- Ensure the quality level and tone of your trailer matches your game
Tease the viewer that what they’ve seen is only a glimpse of what’s to come
- Don’t overwhelm the viewer with information
- Don’t give too much away
- Keep your trailer Short (under 90 seconds), Simple, To the point.
Create a story with your trailer
- Give it a beginning, middle and end.
- Try to treat your trailer like a very short film.
- Give your trailer structure, and build to some sort of payoff or resolution at the end.