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Boy and His Pup: Creation of an indie game trailer: Look into the process

by Syid Massiah on 01/29/15 02:06:00 pm   Featured Blogs

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

To get seen amongst new indie games rising on a daily basis, game developers now must show their game in an exciting and an appealing way. Having great gameplay trailer or even just a sneak preview can change a seeming unknown game to become a well known juggernaut in the indie game scene. With our new trailer we wanted to engage our audience and let them know what we have to offer as More Fire Games. Thus, with that said, we would like to take you behind the scenes at how we created the story trailer for Boy and his Pup.

First, lets start out with a little back story. Going into Kickstarter we had already developed our first gameplay trailer for ComiCONN that we attended prior. Our plan was to get a good amount of local views with the game to gain momentum and launch a Kickstarter campaign two weeks later. With the success of the first showing of Boy and his Pup to the public, we were really feeling pumped for Kickstarter. If you haven't seen he first trailer yet you can check it out here.

With the new trailer we were able to give the players an idea of what type of game we are creating, story wise and the tone we want to deliver. For ComiCONN, we had constructed an actual wrench that you can see the Boy using in-game. So naturally, one thing that most people wanted to know was "What is the back-story of the wrench?" and "Why is it so important?". Thus this was a great opportunity to show a key story element and creating new trailer would help shine a light on that. Thus, the Story of the Wrench: Fathers’ Prelude was born.

Check it out here. :) 

Section 1 Knowing What you want to convey (Planning Stage)

Planning Stage

When we set out to make the trailer for Boy and his Pup, we wanted to keep in mind the direction of the game. We as a team decided to keep a tight lip on some of the story elements that will be in the world. Most people that we have come across dont' have much information about Boy and his Pup, but when they leave, they are interested in what we have to deliver. We've always been a fan of giving just enough of the story, as much as audience needs to understand what is happening. In doing so you can have them intrigued and left wanting more.

(Early storyboard phase)

The first step was to create a small document describing what we wanted to reveal to the audience. Learning from the great Pixar, most of the main story elements should be defined leaving areas to explore later on in certain points. We knew we wanted to focus on the Wrench and its importance and this was a great opportunity to go into some of the lore and still leave things mysterious. Boy and his Pup in its own, follows a very dark timeline and we wanted the audience to feel the weight of the world that he is in, but still feel the hope that is present. The first step in this was to create a song beforehand that we thought would fit the overall mood of the trailer.

Experience it in HD here:

*Fun Fact* This song is actual a remix to Ascension used in the first trailer. We sampled the drums from it and built another song from it. There are also sounds sampled from our first song "The Ballad of the Boy" on "Ascension".

Story Boards

With a written part of the trailer already done, next was to create the scenes needed to properly convey what is happening, without telling them directly. We wanted to work within restrictions, to help lower the scope and to work within our time limit. One thing to keep in mind, is how long you want your trailer to run. We decided the best run time was about 1:30 since most people don't want to sit through a long trailer about something they never heard of.  We aimed for maximum retention. They say that if you can capture a viewer’s attention for the first 10 seconds you stand a good chance in keeping them viewing the whole trailer.

Another limitation we placed on ourselves was to not use text to tell the audience what is happening. We wanted them to feel like the Boy and see what he’s seeing at that time. You are viewing it as he is, thus allowing them to draw their own conclusions on different events in the trailer. The only text we used was in the beginning, when we flashed back to the Boy, at an adolescent stage. Using both fade-out cuts and text, it creates a feeling that a flash back is occuring.

Process

When going into a storyboard, it’s good to capture the idea of the scene that you want to show. Using visuals, written notes, numbering the sequence of events in order, queuing scene transitions, and using text, all help in decribing what you want to convey for any particular scene. Using good old pen and paper sped up this process by allowing us input the most information without getting bogged down in detail. However we suggest going with whatever tools suits you best.

With our theme in mind, to keep the story dark and gritty, we choose to start out with a cut of a Door. From a bigger view, the door provides a window between danger and the safety within the Boy's house. It serves as a window between life, death, and the dread that awaits him in the trailer. More so, it is also an important mechanic in our game. This one scene set an important tone for the whole trailer. Also this scene is the only scene played more than once, at different times, and has different feeling throughout.

*Getting that sense of flow before is key*

After sketching out every scene that we need on paper, it’s now good to go into a bit more detail. We mocked up every image needed for the whole trailer to generate a general sense and feel of the cuts and flow of the trailer itself. Paired with the sound track, you will get a good sense of the timing of how long each scene needed to be. We Kept in mind the assets that we wanted to animate so we could separate them later on in the process.

After getting the overall pace down and timing we had already a full set of images that were needed to create the trailer. Most of the ground work was done! Yay! Now it was time to up the detail on each scene with the overtone in mind. We decided to go with a dark color pallet since that was our overall feel that we wanted to convey.

This was also the time to nail down the details that we wanted to incorporate in each scene. For us, it was good to work on all the slides at the same pace/time. When you do this you don't get too caught up in details and helps complete all the scenes in the same mindset.

Section 2 Final Touches (FX)

By this time most of the Trailer was already done. All the story elements have been written out and all scenes have been laid-out and timed with the music score. We were able to get a sense of what was working and what was not. At this stage, a lot was tweaked by making small adjustments. Rearranging different scenes or changing the length of a scene made a world of difference. 

This was arguably the part that took the most time since rendering out scenes took a long time for us. In reality it took about 3 minutes to render out the footage, but each time we had to go back and touch up minor details. Doing this about 500 times really adds up, especially with time not on your side.

Just changing this order changed the overall flow of the trailer. Once everything flowed correctly, we were pretty much done with everything we needed. This was the time for adding small little FX to help bring out more in each scene.

With this scene we decided to add the Pup's’ lights to change from a green glow to a red since this acutally happens in the game. We didn't want them just to instantly change from green to red, but to flicker on, and "bleed" into the color. We think this added more character to the Pup. Another thing we added was the change of lighting in the first scene, the one that appears twice in the trailer.

We wanted to help convey the sense of hopelessness and dreary that Boy has to undergo throughout each of his days. The second time it plays, daylight is beginning to emerge in sync with his flashback being completed.  We wanted to shine light on his wrench and we gave it a glow to hint of it becoming empowered. All of these were placed to give the audience a sense of Boy's anger and his inner power that he has in this world. We thought that these little effects went a long way into to further amplifying scene that was otherwise complete.

What we Learned

Creating a trailer can be a very tough task, from creating the story, to the process in making and delivering something that the audience can take with them to ponder on later. It’s more like a Herculean effort, but with careful planning and a clear direction it can be done.

There were a lot of things we liked while going through the process. It was fun to get back into animation and movie editing and we learned a lot of valuable information from doing it. We learned a lot about time management and working on a larger task with a short time frame. With that said there were lots of pains from doing it solo. There were times where I (the artist) thought the trailer was terrible and I was going to scrap the whole thing. This was due to not sharing with anyone outside of the team to keep the element of surprise, so it was hard to get feedback. When it was completed, we got a ton of great reviews, and we knew we had something on our hands. There are still some things that we wish we could tweak and touch up a bit more, but you can spend forever on a project and never release it. Overall, creating this second trailer for our game provided to be a great boost for us in getting it seen and gives more information about the story than the previous trailer. With the duo of combat and story trailers, players now get a overall sense of where we are going with Boy and His Pup.

For more information you can visit us at MoreFireGames.com

Tweet us your thoughts at : https://twitter.com/MoreFireGames and #WrenchLife

We need your votes! Greenlight us here: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=307465085

If you are interested in the project check out our Kickstarter campaign page in which we were successfully Funded. The game has since been updated and upgraded. 

Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/morefiregames/boy-and-his-pup

Till Next time!


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