Thursday, 7 June 2012

Suggestion: New rule for E3 - No CG trailers

This is one of my biggest pet peeves about the games industry.  Ever since I started playing games regularly on the PC I have seen wave after wave of impressive but ultimately pointless trailers for games good and bad, that really didn't need them.  I know alot of talented people work hard on these trailers, and these days the amount of detail and sheer time and effort that goes into them must feel like a major milestone for some developers when they finish them.  For most of the year its easy to ignore them, since you know new footage of the actual game will be released a few months later, but at E3 I think its not only a titanic waste of money for the developer, but does little to capture the imagination of the gamer.

A good example here is the recent "character" trailer for the elder scrolls online, thats elder scrolls, not Scrolls, thats an entirely different game altogether :)  The trailer spends just over a minute showing an elf spellcaster, skyrim barbarian and a ranger type character in the woods before simply ending in a logo.  What does this tell us about the game?  Does it make you want you want to play it?  Granted it may make you look up the game, but since its so early in development there isn't much to see.

Transformers Fall of Cybertron has two truly awesome looking trailers that put Michael Bay's movies to shame, but they again fail in providing any gameplay.  At least the original trailer revealed a few things about the game such as the dinobots and Bruticus, but it would have been nicer to see some gameplay, or maybe see that trailer using the games engine instead.

Aliens Colonial marines also did a pretty cool mini trailer using the music the film Moon, but again this did little to actually detail the game experience or what you can expect graphically from the title.  The trailer basically says "marines gonna get swamped by de aliens!" but you already knew this since thats the name of the game.  When gearbox finally did start showing footage people got a little worried since the game looked a few years out of date gameplay wise, and they moved it back to 2013 for a release date.

Some CG trailers make a game look freaking amazing and then when the game comes out, looks nothing like it, not even slightly.  Final fantasy XIV had an amazing set of CG videos, one in particular showing a party fighting a monster in a river or some body of water anyway.  The party quickly dodge attacks, use spells and special abilities, the whole thing is fast and exciting and absolutely nothing like Final fantasy XIV.  This is an example of a trailer being made in complete contrast to the gameplay on offer in the final product.  And the trailer above is for the launch of the game!

Deus Ex human revolution did a better job of highlighting the things you can do in the game while also looking cool.  Ok it might have taken liberties, but things like active camouflage, smashing through walls, dropping off buildings without taking damage, insta-kill and subdue moves.  The trailer was good, but again couldn't all of this been done using the games engine?  Most of what was seen could be done in game.

Kojima productions generally do trailers right, by having epic looking trailers that use the games engine to detail its gameplay and characters.  Zone on the enders 2 and the metal gear series had great trailers showing plenty of gameplay and story without once having to fall back on CG.

E3 though is supposed to be the short few days where you debut your new IP, deliver more details on that project you have been working on for months or providing more gameplay videos and information, not looping some CG video that was made by a team outside of the dev studio that has very little connection to the game its advertising, from a gameplay level anyway.  You travel that great distance to see the spectacle of the show floor, ready to get some video yourself, make notes, get some interviews and attend a press conference or two, not wander the floor being bored to tears by visually nice, but ultimately pointless CG demo's.

Thats why it should be a rule for developers at E3 not to make CG trailers for E3, but trailers that actually run using the game engine.  Seeing a game running is far more likely to get a players interest and make them want to see more.  Hell it even means that the game is in some playable state and a demo might be available, imagine that! hands on time with a cool game you have just seen footage of.

Plenty of developers obviously do have their games on display on the show floor and even allow people to try them out, and this is what makes E3 great, not the overblown conference floors, the set design or the actors publishers hire to stand around a booth.  Its the fact that you can see the games you want to play being played, and getting some feedback on whats good and bad of a product.  I would never have been interested in Dragon's Dogma had I not seen the game running at E3 2011, and the same probably goes for many other gamers out there.

So come on devs, save yourself some cash and work on making a trailer using your game, showing your hard work and what its brought to the table.


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