Video Trailers for Our Games

We’re considering entering a few of our games in the Independent Games Festival, which requires that every game include a video trailer.

This is a lot easier for other games that have graphics. You can just demo your game, and that’s that. But demoing our text-only games could be kinda dull. So maybe we should use fancy graphics or live actors instead? But that can get really expensive really fast, (for possibly no return!) and I’m afraid that viewers will be tricked (or at least feel tricked) when they find out that the game is nothing but text.

What do you think?

Yeah that is a tough one, unless you put pictures into the text and then do like a virtual world but make sure they know it is only text and no actual graphics

If you do use Live actors you could display it as the actors imaginaton?
that being said its completely up to you, work with what you are good at C:

I agree have live actors you can show what is happening in their imagination.

I.e start with a kid on their phone then as they “play” the game the video flips to the kid dressed up as their character.

I think using live actors to show what’s happening in their imagination is not a good idea. It could end up looking really low budget and cheap. IMO if COG wants to use the ‘show what’s happening in imagination’ idea it would be better to use animation instead of live actors.

Another idea would be letting people experience the game themselves and make the trailer a really short demo of the game using captions/links/annotations function of the video.
i.e Interactive trailer (that would fit the nature of COG games)

Steven steps forward. He’s going to make his move any moment.
What are you going to do?

I’ll fight him head on. (links to 03:40 of the video)
RUN. (links to 08:00 of the video)
I’m too scared to move. (links to 10:40 of the video)

Not sure how feasible is this though.

You could also combine the interactive trailer idea with animations to add some flavour - start with a person on their phone then as they “play” the game the video zooms in to the phone. Something like that.

An alternative to live action with wider variety of production cost would be CGI - doesn’t have to be 3d. Have still artwork displayed the way it’s done in motion graphic novels, Broken Saints type of stuff. Or, I dunno, how do they do trailer for a traditional novel? I am thinking a few text overlays of quotes, or third-party reviews. Quotes alone however, no matter how bombastic, would be pretty dull, so graphics seem the way to go.

At some point, the trailer would have to show real in-game screens to avoid misleading people, maybe mash them with a painting of a dragon tearing apart bands of goblins for example of how a dragon-themed trailer would look, as far as eyecandy is concerned. How about throwing a few voiceovers narrating a short paragraph as the story screens show up? I like @Nocturnal_Stillness’s idea too, showing the player in a ‘before & after’ upon they engage a text game. Imagination is a powerful keyword to focus on.

The company tin man always use trailers in app store to sell their game books and make great videos showing images game and others by computer. I could post some but I’m afraid post competence videos here is really weird

@JimD did a live trailer thing for Zombie Exodus

The trailers for apps that show nothing about the actual app and just include fancy images always make me feel tricked. I think you can use a bit of editing to both show something exciting (like the live action thing - I like the sound of that) and show that it’s a text-based game.

Having lived with a film major, I’ve learned that live-action doesn’t need to be particularly expensive to make something of good quality. You just have to be creative about your equipment.

@CS_Closet i agree with you c:

What about using typography?

You could use quotes and choices from the games and then just slap some music on top.

@CJW Oh that typography thing is fun, and very fitting for purely text based games.

I’m giving away my age now, but when I started gaming the covers of the boxes would have beautiful pictures and the game would be nothing like it. The one that truly sticks with me was Quest for the Rings. ( wherein the box promised a wonderfully rendered fantasy adventure, and the game itself was ugly blocks on one screen. Admittedly the technology wasn’t up for portraying anything else, but it was still a disappointment to my very young self. To me making a trailer that has content not in the game is rather like that.

I strongly dislike trailers that lie, be that lying about games or movies, or whatever. Containing footage that isn’t actually in the finished product. Features promised that never appear.

I strongly dislike those trailers for books people have, with live action actors since one of the things I love about books is that they aren’t movies. Part of it’s because I like the books in my head. I like the beauty of the images the text itself portrays. Seeing an actor, not the text, starts to distance myself from the game. Besides, how many times do you play a choice game with someone else reading it out and paying more attention to the person than the story?

I think just the raw text, perhaps a voice over reading it out, some dramatic, atmospheric music, along with a dramatic choice. Yeah, I’d like that so much better than any of the other options. I really do like that typography thing.

I like the typography

Hmmm… I’ve seen some books use ‘Live trailers’ for marketing and I personally hate them. But @JLBH2000 's suggestion of Typography seems to suit the purpose of CoG and CYOA games.

I’m leaning toward the idea of Typography rather than live action. Live action trailers tend to turn me away from book because it seems like they’re trying to show me what I should be imagining when I read the book. However, you could do the typography and emphasize the effect your choices have by splitting off the narration at choices and possibly overlapping the voices. Maybe multiple narrators to show personalized characters/story. That’s what came to mind when I thought about it.

That typography looks awesome.

All of that said, I did actually used to love audio-books. They were the way around the lights out rule, when I could put out my bedroom light and still ‘read’. I enjoyed that in a way I generally don’t like voice-overs for games so much.

I do think that any trailer should have the words spoken as well as appearing on the screen. I’d like to see how the game actually looks and then it turn into the kinetic typography. If you are going for voice-actors, I’d like one male, one female voice. Perhaps each reading out a different choice path, since I think one of the most important parts of choice games is you can play as male or female, and that you have choices so both of those should be illustrated in the trailer. Choose an extremely dramatic choice.

My favourite, most memorable, choices in any choice game is unfortunately near the end of Slammed! and I do hate trailers that give away the end of the story.

But Choice of the Dragon with its Princes and Princesses, with its adventure party, with the goblin hero approaching you, I also liked those choices.

I’m convinced! I’ll start investigating kinetic typography.


This also has me thinking it could be nice/interesting if there was a contest, with a nice prize, for fan-made videos relating to Choice of Games.

Typography yay