Cheap Game Trailer / Ultimate Elevator Pitch

Since we completed the latest chapter of re:Antistar and we're heading towards our Christmas Sale, I knew time was overdue for a comprehensive game trailer. We're in low waters budget wise so I have to take care of this myself (for now at least) and, of all things, I picked iMovie, which as I found out comes with baked-in trailer templates.

And, well, though I'm sure to replace this sooner or later, turned out to be a lot more interesting than I expected.

iMovie graced me with a fully stereotyped 'Hollywood movie trailer'; the result is, trying to fit into this format, I confronted in full force what it means for me to create a 'story driven adventure'. One thing that really stands out is that iMovie is asking for specific shots - mid range, close up, action, all this stuff.  Along with templated, catchy captions which provide a guiding trail through the whole thing.

And it's literally screaming at me that I need to pace our game; to adjust camera angles. And to go about my play-through differently (mine was a speed-run, of course! How many times do I have to play my own damned game?)

I'm totally with you thinking But this is for the movies, not games but with my 'story driven' thing I'm 90% open to this weird form of... emergent, accidental critique of the work we've done on the game. Like not requiring a major overhaul, but significant thinking and adjustments. And frankly, I'm guessing you could learn something about your table-top game project while trying to make a Hollywood style trailer for it.

NOTE: there are LESS camera angles now than in earlier versions of Antistar. We're trying to be really content oriented so, fiddling with cameras isn't a thing anymore - and it was kind of hard to let go (my graduation project was a movie, not a video game) but now I have to ask myself, can we afford doing this? Can we actually market a story based game without camera shots?

I guess it might have taken my re-reading a book about film-making to effect a similar paradigm shift. But this all happened while I was goofing around with family-friendly movie editing software.

I'm confident that I could make an exciting trailer for Finally Fantasy I, II or II. So, this is deeper than just camera angles.

Elevator pitch, say what?

I've been hoping to get some real quality time with Antistar before we do get the game out of early access. For most of the dev cycle, I had to time-share between busy freelance contracts, my pregnant wife, and (inevitably, but for the better!) my smart-cookie new-born daughter.

When I tried getting in touch with investors for the first time, I had never heard the word 'pitch deck'. And I'm still having a hard time figuring exactly what we need to put in there to make our project shine. Here again, the trailer template totally nails it. It's gotta be wrong at some level (there are pitch deck templates too!) and then again it's gotta be 100% right:

  • One minute is probably the most attention you get from anybody before they lose focus (seriously, are you still reading this?)
  • We'll get a new soundtrack but, 'attention grabbing' has gotta be the name of it. Yes, this totally has to do with pitch decks. Insert your pitch-deck bullet points in iMovie and make sure the dramatic intensity follows.
  • Indeed, pitch decks are all about impactful bullet points. On my first try I stuffed as much content as I could in these 10 pages. Working on a trailer instead proves that this isn't the correct approach. The spirit of a great pitch deck (and by extension, an awesome elevator pitch) has to be one minute of quick, condensed, [anticipation -> release] statements.

Before I let go and actually find somebody to help with our trailers, I'm determined to think about what kind of changes this can inspire into our game, watch a few fantasy movie trailers, and create another, better trailer myself (and a much improved pitch deck too!); maybe the topic of another article.

 Don't know whether this post is about game design or marketing. At the intersection, maybe?

Have fun, and be merry!

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