Size Five Games

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I Hate your Trailer, It Sucks

Apr 92019

Not your trailer, I don’t hate your trailer. I’m sure your trailer is lovely.

But fucking hell, let’s talk about indie game trailers, shall we? Trailers exist to show people who have been kind enough to click what your game is like to play, in the hopes that they will give their money to you.

Now look, things have changed. Have you SEEN how many games there are right now? There are – and this is a scientific term – a bollockton.

> 20-30 seconds of Logos for… whoever, I don’t care.
> A minute of moody ambience, with some bullshit floaty dramatic text on top telling me your “plot”
> Some concept art, scrolling gracefully across the screen
> 5 seconds of indiscernibly fast-cut gameplay montage
> End slate jammed with logos and text (I will not get this far)

I get it. There’s a format. You’re trying to make your game have that same vibe as movies or other games. There are tropes you feel you need to adhere to.

But be honest, when you click a trailer, you probably skip the first 20 seconds by default these days, don’t you? I know I do. No one cares who fucking made the game! We all just want to see what it is like to play. What. Does. The. Game. Actually. Play. Like. That’s all I care about.

Now, this has been annoying me for some time. So when it came time to cut the announcement trailer for Lair of the Clockwork God I was aware of two problems: 1/ how to get across how the genre-flipping mechanic works, 2/ I fucking hate that indie game trailer format

Fortunately, the solution was simple: there’s a long section in the tutorial that shows everything off really nicely. So making the trailer became about making that one section pretty, and just playing it through a bazillion times until I did it without fucking up a jump. The trailer’s FOUR MINUTES LONG which any grown-up or marketing professional will tell you is too long, and they’re probably right, but it was what I needed to show off that full section.

I don’t necessarily feel like the Clockwork God trailer was 100% the right approach in hindsight, but hey, at least it’s a bit different. It opens directly into gameplay, and how many trailers do that? Besides, judging by the YouTube Analytics thingy, it’s got a much MUCH higher retention rate than my other games’ fast-cut 1-minute-long trailers.

Obviously this way of doing things won’t necessarily work for any other games, but have a good hard think about the “format” for your game trailer because if it’s the same as everyone else’s I fucking hate it and I suspect a lot of other people do too.

You don’t have people’s eyeballs for very long these days. It can’t hurt things to get straight to the point.

[Lair of the Clockwork God on Steam]

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