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Impressive trailers for your game can really help show players how awesome your game is, but I'm having trouble finding tips that describe how to create a great trailer. I would like to learn about the best way to decide trailer length, structure, music/sound, and content. Basically, what parts of my game do I show in a trailer, how should the scenes be organized, and how would you do the sound?

Any advice on things to avoid would be great as well; for example, I read that splicing some video, switching to a screen with text, switching back to video, etc., probably isn't the best way to do it. Thanks!

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3 Answers 3

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Obviously there's no one answer to a question like this, because it depends on your audience. And that's part of the answer - you need to tailor your trailer to your audience or they won't see why they should like the game.

You also need to tailor the trailer to the type of game. If you are showing a real-time strategy game, no one is going to want to see more than a couple seconds of building your initial base.

Here are some things I think you should keep in mind:

  • Length - I wouldn't have a trailer any longer than 2.5 minutes, because if it takes longer than that it becomes a gameplay video and you've failed at accomplishing what a trailer is supposed to do in the time it's supposed to do it in.

  • Audio - Use music that represents the aesthetic of your game. If your audience likes that music, they're closer to giving your game a try. Try to stick with one song or have very smooth transitions between sounds, unless you are trying to jar your audience on purpose (which might be something you want to do, although you've got to be careful)

  • Video - Capture scenes (images/video) of varying length that represent the core gameplay. Quick, few-second bursts of many of these types of scenes tell the viewer both that the gameplay is stimulating, as well as make it seem as though there is a vast amount of content to explore the gameplay in. Don't misrepresent your content, or you'll create disappointment. I think it's essential to have the majority of your content be video or it will be boring and more importantly, not represent your content well.

  • Text - If you have to use text, I'd put it next to gameplay/screenshots or directly over it - a title card at the beginning and some lone text at the end is acceptable. I don't know how others feel about this one. Don't have 30 seconds of different text cards before you show gameplay. Everyone knows how to create text videos in Windows Movie Maker, and no one wants to read it when they're trying to understand what your game plays, looks, and sounds like.

  • Pacing - I think the most important thing you need to worry about with pacing is accurately representing the pace of your game. Don't have a light-speed trailer for a slow, methodical puzzle game. Try to keep your cuts and such in sync with music as much as possible - even if it's not an obvious synchronization viewer subconscious will fare better if the audio and video components are even mildly concerned with each other.

  • Random thought - If you can illustrate the entire game with one scene of varying action or complex puzzle solution, if it isn't more than a minute or two it could be a fantastic teaser. Think advertising Portal with one puzzle - the viewer is almost overwhelmed with how interesting the concept is on initial viewing.

Hope that helps at least a bit.

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I'd say 2 minutes are even too long. 1:00 to 1:30 is more than enough. The other thing is: show the best stuff you've got. –  martinpi Sep 16 '10 at 22:05
    
Thanks for the good tips guys! –  Venesectrix Sep 23 '10 at 22:18

I'm not a film guy, so I'm afraid I can't give many specific tips about that, but if you're trying to generate buzz, make three or so and roll them out over time. Make sure you have a coherent theme, (presumably you've got one or two gameplay elements to show off that show well visually, I'd emphasize those), and maybe even make a single longer trailer and chop that up.

The unsung note is the sweetest, so don't show stuff that looks bad and hide your week spots. Crank the resolution up all the way if you're doing screen grabs. Audio can help a ton for giving things feeling (not just music, but good hit sounds etc.).

Good luck!

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+1 for mentioning good sounds ^^ –  Oskar Duveborn Sep 22 '10 at 2:32
    
Appreciate the input! –  Venesectrix Sep 23 '10 at 22:18

I just noticed this article today on creating good game trailers, and thought it would be useful to link it as an answer to this question.

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