Nothing builds excitement for a new indie game like a mind-blowing game trailer. If you create something that is truly kick-ass, no gaming journalists or YouTuber can avoid mentioning your name; if not for your own benefit, for theirs.
So how do you do it? What are the fundamentals of crafting a super cool game trailer to market the heck out of your new indie game Let’s find out!
Rule #1 : Keep it Under 60 Seconds
With the enormous budget and resources of a AAA game developers, they can easily afford to make long, engaging trailers. But for an indie game with shorter gameplay and no cut-scenes, 60-seconds or less is the perfect length for a memorable visual experience.
The shorter length has extra benefits, too. First off, it ensures that your trailer is straight to the point, and projects your best game content, right away. This high-value content might be the peak moments in your game, like a brutal kill or a breathtaking action scene. Make sure you sell your game with the most amazing moments, to really knock the socks off the viewer and leave them wanting more.
Once you have the length of your trailer in mind, stick to it. Everything from the script to the compilation of best moments must fall within the timeframe. But how do you present it?
The best, most memorable scenes in your game - the ones you think will get your audience hooked - should be placed in the first 10-15 seconds. Sure, while you can build up the momentum from start to finish, not all genres or games can fit this structure. But if you make sure you grab your viewers at the very beginning, you can be sure that they’ve seen the best of your game at the start.
Now, once you’ve managed to entice your viewers, you can add some average-quality content to the trailer that’s focused on giving viewers a more rounded idea of variety in environments, gameplay or storyline.
Rule #2 : Don’t Overload
So about those first 15 seconds … When you work hard on creating something for months and months, it can be quite difficult to choose the best scenes for your trailer. We get it, this game is like your baby. Every small moment might feel special, and you might want to put it all in the trailer. But don’t do it. Experience tell us that you must not make this mistake. Record the best scenes in the game, and choose only the best of those for your trailers. Then, get a second opinion! To ensure you don’t choose content based on your own personal bias, ask friends to help out by giving their opinions on which scenes are best and what can be cut.
Beware of overloading the viewer! Stretching the game trailer longer than necessary is your enemy. If you commit this cardinal sin, users will not have the patience to reach your call to action at the end.
On a sidenote: if you can’t seem to achieve the necessary flow or camera angle in the actual game, feel free to edit the game temporarily before getting back to work on the best scenes. While it’s important that your trailer represents your game accurately, don’t be afraid to tweak it a little for a better visual presentation.
Rule #3 : Outsource the Effects
Now that you’ve put the script, timelines, and necessary scenes together, the next and most critical step follows – visual effects.
Visual effects can be tricky to get right unless someone from your team is professionally trained in tools like Adobe After Effects or Premier. Sure, you can “do it yourself” with zero budget using a free tool like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. But these tools are just ‘good enough’ efforts and not ideal for effective marketing. And it will show.
Remember, the whole purpose of this trailer is to blow the minds of your viewers so they can’t say no to getting your game. So if this is your one big shot, why not outsource it? It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.
Try websites like videohive.net, where you can find outstanding templates made by experienced video editors for less than 50 or 60 bucks. Isn’t the success of your game worth it? Then, if you can edit the template yourself with professional tools, cool. Otherwise, hire another local or online freelancer to pop your graphics and scenes into the already well-designed template. Et voilà!
A word of advice when choosing your template: be careful to select a design that suits your game’s genre and gameplay. For example, a cinematic and aggressive trailer like this should be used for equally dark and bad-ass game, and not for some casual, vibrant and colourful game. If the trailer templates on a particular site are not suitable for you, look around. There are many other websites you can use to the same effect.
The bottom line is this: it’s the well-crafted effects on your trailer that will make the most impact on your viewers, and are what you need most for your game marketing campaign. So spend what you must to make it amazing, but this marketing-ready trailer should not cost you over $100.
Rule #4 : To Voice Over or Not to Voice Over? That is the Question.
If your game already has a voice over, characters or cut-scenes, a game trailer voice-over is a must for you. But if it doesn’t, you may be confused on whether to use a professional narrator’s voice or not.
Trailers must be designed and timed according to the script and displayed as big bold messages in-between scenes or as screen-overlay. This is where voice over comes in, as an effective technique to hook the viewers to a great story.
But this is not a must-have for every game category. For smaller games, a story may not be necessary; you may even need to totally avoid a voice-over in such trailers.
But if you do decide that a voice over is the right way to go, you don’t have to break the bank to get the job done. You can easily find great voice talents on Fiverr or Upwork, who will charge as little as $5 for less than 100 words of script.
Rule #5 : Don’t Forget the Call to Action!
So now you have a great trailer that grabs and engages users until the end. Are you all done? No way! This is the golden moment when you must pull them to your website or social media channels. Make sure all the text, images and call to action integrate perfectly with the visual structure of the trailer and cut scenes. Add a little branding for your indie game studio at the beginning and end of the video, and you’ve finished your masterpiece. Show ‘em what you’ve got!
These simple techniques and resources should help you make a kick-ass game trailer on a small budget. I hope you’ve learned the essentials for designing a winning trailer that will bring lots of success to your new indie game. Good luck!