HOW TO MAKE BETTER RPGMAKER TRAILERS!!!

A cheat sheet.

This is just a longer version of the post I originally made for Momeka's Grimp's a Christmas Puzzle awhile back - This isn't a tutorial, it's just a list of helpful tips on how to create better trailers for rpgmaker games:

I've actually thought about creating a tutorial on how to make trailers for rpgmaker games for awhile, but it takes too long to submit stuff to RMN. So I'm just gonna post a very simple cheat sheet, mostly for my own reference, on how to do this stuff, in case I forget. But hopefully, some of you guys might find this useful too.

Rpgmaker games are very difficult to create trailers for. Not only are rpgmaker games shown from an overhead perspective, but it's very hard to make them look interesting, while you're wrestling with rpgmaker to get the best footage possible for your trailer. Having said that however, it's actually very simple to create a good trailer for an rpgmaker game once you know what to look for. Ultimately, the purpose of a good rpgmaker trailer - what you should be doing - is to create an emotional response that will resonate with your audience, that'll make them want to check out your game. The following tips and examples are just one of the many ways to do this, and might help make the process easier:


Important:
-trailer length should be 1 minute maximum.
-clip length should be 10 seconds maximum.


Do not do the following:

*Do not use text to sell your game:

-if you have to use text, use dialogue from the game and only if you know how to.
-let your game speak for itself.

*Do not use walking/running shots to sell your game:

- Do not use this shot. Every rpgmaker trailer uses this shot - it tells us nothing about your game.
- If you have to use this shot, only use it, if you know how to use it.

These restrictions should be kept in place, in order keep audience retention, but also force you as an editor, to create better trailers.
(Note:You do not need a fancy video editing program to do all this. You can use Windows Media Maker - all that really matters here is the editing.)


Instructions

1)Start by finding a song in the game that's 1 minute in length.
- It needs to be a song that will allow you to easily tell people what your game is about in the shortest amount of time. It doesn't have to be a good song, it just needs to be a song that allows you the most creative freedom for your video editing.
- if you can't find the song, edit the song, so it fits into one minute.

1.5(Optional) Create a StoryBoard. Once you have a song, create a storyboard. This storyboard doesn't have to be especially detailed, but it will help you plot out, how certain scenes will go along with the music -- By doing this, you will have some idea of what you want your trailer to look like, so that when you do go to find footage in your rpgmaker game, you'll know exactly what to record for the trailer. Also, once you have your footage and start to piece your rpgmaker trailer together, you'll have your initial idea to compare it to -- i.e. if the footage you have, is too short or too long, you can go back and shoot more footage. Having a storyboard isn't necessary, but it does makes things easier.

2)The first few clips should tell you what the game is about/how many players/what you essentially do in this game: i.e. push blocks, fight monsters, gather crystals etc.

3)The second few clips should present some sort of challenge or conflict
/ who the bad guys are/ what the player is hoping to achieve by the end of the game/What makes your game different from everything else.

4)During the middle or near the end, show any highlights from your game, any really cool battle animations or features, stuff that just looks really great on camera: Make sure these clips show off the variety of your levels, creatures and challenges from your game, because you only have a few seconds.

5)The last shot should be the most exciting moment in your game, leaving your trailer on a cliffhanger before showing the titlescreen.

...Now you're probably thinking: "This is impossible, how do I fit this all in 1 minute!?" you won't have to - the trick is finding the right scene from your game so the footage will tell your audience for you. Following these steps might sound difficult at first, but it's actually quite easy once you see it in practice and know how to do it. You're mostly just following the music you've edited, in order to create a trailer for your game. Here's a couple of modern examples to study from - Watch these examples closely:

Example 1 (Good example of demonstrating game mechanics, told through storytelling)

Game: CastleVania:Aria of Sorrow (GBA) RunTime: 1:11


Notes: No Story, uses gameplay mechanics to create a narrative through editing:
-@0:09 - 0:17: uses 3,3 sec clips to show, you explore the castle, to acquire abilities, in order to reach areas that you couldn't before.
-@0:19 - 0:24: reuses the same 3,3 sec clips to show that acquiring abilities allows you to explore the castle even further.
-@0:25 - 0:49 visual foreshadowing, before launching into montage, showing a variety of monsters and areas you'll encounter throughout the game.
there is no dead air, every clip shows the player and monster in action - remember this when finding/creating clips for your game.
-@0:50 - 0:51 3x1 sec clips of moving grandiose shots before showing the title screen.

Example 2 (Good example of what the game is about, and who you play as)

Game: Super Castlevania IV (SNES) RunTime: 0:48


Notes: Story cutscene is too long - splice story cutscene and various clips with music to create trailer narrative.
-0:01-0:12: Shows Title Screen, Shows Cutscene (Grave Stone), Shows TitleScreen, Shows Cutscene (Grave Stone Smashed), Shows TitleScreen
-0:12-0:16: Shot of main character approaching castle, with whip sfx edited in (this is who you play as in Castlevania!)
-0:17 - 0:28: Various moving shots of levels, monsters, bosses and game mechanics you'll encounter throughout the game.
Again, there is no dead air, every clip shows the player and monster in action.
-0:28 - 0:29: Music is edited to fit within the 1 minute limited
-0:29 - 0:38: More various moving shots of levels, monsters, bosses and game mechanics you'll encounter throughout the game.
The last 3 clips being the most grandiose, and 1 revealing a secret, before showing the final titlescreen.

Example 3 (Good example of finding moving shots and showing the player in various states)

Game: Mega Man X2 (SNES) RunTime: 0:46


Notes:No Story, narrative created through various moving clips, along to music.
-0:05 - 0:14: - various shots of bosses, levels and secret upgrades you'll encounter throughout the game,(this is what you do in megaman X2!)
-0:18 - 0:23: long shot of X, demonstrating his normal abilities (this is who you play as in Mega Man X2!)
-0:24 - 0:33: various shots continue, showing X in various states of armour and acquiring new abilities.
0:33 - 0:37 The last 3 clips, 1 sec each, are the most grandiose, showing off a secret move, a Boss fight and ending with an explosion before showing the title screen.

Example 4 (Good example of a trailer told through multiple playable characters)

Game: Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse (NES) RunTime: 0:57


Notes:No Story, but game has 4 playable characters - narrative created through showing each playable character. Set to music.
-0:04 - 0:11: 2 sec clips of each character in action before being introduced to main character.
-0:12 - 0:18: 3 sec clips of main characters abilities in different levels, before switching to new character
-0:19 - 0:26: 2 sec clear footage of new character's wall climbing ability, before switching to another new character
-0:27 - 0:32: 2 sec clips of characters projectile abilities set against new areas and bosses before switching to another new character.
pay attention to how these clips are framed: because you have so little time, the action shown, needs to be clear and distinct
-0:33 - 0:38: 2 sec clips of characters projectile and flight abilities - last shot is a grandiose moving shot with an animated background.
-0:39 - 0:45: final 1 sec clip of each character, including main character before showing title screen again.



...Now, these examples are mostly trailers for action games and not every trailer needs to follow this format. This format is really only meant to serve as an outline - the MegaMan X2 trailer doesn't have story cutscenes and neither does the trailer for Super Castlevania IV - But often the footage will tell it's own story, which is what you're essentially trying to do with this format. If you're a good enough editor, you'll know how to apply these methods when creating trailers for rpgmaker games, even if most of those shots are overhead views or ATB sidebattles. Following this format saves a lot of time - you do not want to spend 3 months toiling away, on just one trailer. You just want to create something very quickly, that will show off what you're game is essentially about in 1 minute or less to get players excited about it and check it out - that's the purpose of this trailer.

So, in summarization, here's A Breath of Fire 2 Trailer:



Here's A BETTER Breath of Fire 2 (fan) Trailer (following the above format):



EDIT: If you liked this article and thought it was useful, please say something in the comments. I like putting this stuff together for you guys and would like to do more of it. But, because RMN doesn't have a like/reccomend system in place, there's no way to tell if you guys like this stuff or not.

Eitherway, Thanks for checking this out.♥


Posts

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Stuff I've made following this format:





Some Other Good Examples:


Traditional Commercials/Examples

(trying to stay away from Live Action examples - but I liked this one)
kentona
One of RMN's Top 10 Admins of all-time
20519
Step 1. Make RPG
Step 2. Make Trailer
Step 3. ???
Step 4. Profit!!
zDS
Besr Richard Slayer
5025
#IFeelAttacked

Kidding, super great article! I already know what I want in my next game's trailer (if I even make it) and my vision seems to follow these guidelines.
OldPat
OrudoPatto, kisama!
2923
Interesting article, lord! I liked it.

I don't completely agree with the "show text of your game, not text you made specifically for the trailer". It's better to avoid showing in game texts sometimes, because they shift focus away from your game graphics and they usually aren't at all "quick". They aren't made for a trailer. Instead, texts made specifically for the trailer that summarize the game's intentions and mechanics are usually better. Perhaps with just a portrait or some cool graphic in the back. Example: Steins Gate trailer (the game). Both can work though, if you manage to implement in game texts that flow. I usually try to use both.

Also walking shots can work, they can show glimpses of the game's overall feel and atmosphere, its graphics too. Just, they need to be quick and not overused. But they absolutely can work. I mean, lots of games rely on exploration. And you wanna make sure the players know that you're exploring a well made world.

Making a trailer last 1 minute is recommended, I absolutely agree. But I guess you could even go for 2 minutes no problem, if you got things to show. You can break this rule and make even longer trailers? Yes, but it's better to know the rules and how to do stuff correctly before doing so. Not recommended. 1-2 minutes ftw.
Yeah, I think it's just that often text is overused - especially full text slides, I much prefer in-game text showing the flavor than "EPIC STORY IS COMING whoooo~ in way too many slides. One line can work though as a THIS IS STORY, GAME HAS STORY, END. If you make it short. (tho I remember your trailer to be really nice Pat!)

Music tho, getting good music is key, and emotional response is key. So thanks for the reminder for folks, LBR : D I have seen sooo many dull trailers, it's a bit of a bummer, 'cause it just doesn't reflect the games most of the time.

And then there's stuff like this. HYPE.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJwoqzvGOgM

I played the demo though, so I kinda know what to expect, and I already romantically love it.
I dont mind the walking shots if the point of them is to show off how weird and diverse your games environments are, but thats about it.

As for RPGM trailers, Lisa 2014 trailer is still the gold standard imo.

I think ultimately you want to tell a story with your trailer. Not the game's story necessarily, but stitching together gameplay moments that feel connected so it doesn't feel like a mishmash of highlights. Hard to explain what I mean though.

I'd say walking montages are bad because there are better ways to edit in the presentation of environments. Walking around in them is not terribly exciting to a player and the "camera work" caused by the incidental following a player character is often a very weak presentation. If you want to show environments you can just show gameplay not happening in the same place or a more artistic pan shot. It just makes me think you didn't have much else to splice in (which is understandable). A quick walk shot to show some distance traveled is alright but only if it contributes to the trailer's "story." Things like walking up to a chest, avoiding enemy encounters, watching characters dramaticly walk through a cutscene I think accomplish the same but better intents.

I guess it's worth considering the context of RPGMaker games too, you're not going to be impressing people with a lot of the core stuff RM is known for. You kind of have to go for stuff that seem visually elaborate or interesting than like, showing the player go through a default menu. Not to say that everyone is in the know of RPGMaker's visible quirks but it's good to take advantage of whatever you have to offer something beyond what the engine comes with.
Woa, I didn't expect this to get many replies. Thanks Guys ♥.

Yeah, Darken took the words right out of the mouth. I don't like using the term "elevator pitch", because people are very rarely in elevators pitching ideas, these days. I think making a trailer is kind of more like - lack for a better word - making a 1 minute rap music video for your game. You have to have the same style of presence and performance, to show off very quickly, how your game is different from everyone else, but also make it memorable, in a very short amount of time.

But yeah, I'm not saying using text or walking scenes are bad. I'm just saying there are much more interesting ways to show off your game, that you should be using.

Like the Virgo Vs The Zodiac trailer Kylaila posted, uses the walking/running shot. But they added some variance to it, as a way to show off the game's own personality - but it's also very quick in it's editing too.

The LISA trailer visitorsfromdreams posted, uses text, but it also has that great 22 second cutscene that acts as a hook for the rest of trailer - It's like what Pat mentioned, it uses text, but it only uses it in order to quickly tell the player what the game is about, where footage couldn't.

But yeah, I'm not saying using text or walking scenes are bad and you should never use them. I'm saying, don't become solely reliant on these methods for creating trailers with, because everyone's using them. So you need to do everything you can, to quickly show off, very distinctly, how your game is different, from every other game that's out there, in a very short amount of time. There are much most interesting ways to show people what your game is about. So, explore them.

But also have fun with it.

EDIT: Like, I really like the Castlevania Aria of Sorrow trailer, because it's shows you how the game works in 9 seconds, over 3 clips - you can't do that with text. I also really like the Super Castlevania IV trailer because it doesn't tell you the story, it shows you the story in 16 seconds over 5 clips, without any text - That's the type of editing, you should be going for when making these trailers, because it's cheating - you're showing them the story, without actually telling them what it's about, but it also looks fantastic as a trailer!
Frogge
"nothing can beat the power of gay"?
11122
I completely disagree with not using walking shots. While an entire trailer of just walking can come across as boring, a lot of games have a focus on exploration and it's a good idea to show people what kind of locations they are in to see.
Perhaps it's just that my favorite rpg maker game trailers of all time are probably those of Happup and Ara Fell, both of which simply show the environments for a good majority of the trailer. (And frankly both of the walking shot gifs you've shown actually look really good and would probably sell the game for me)

I also disagree that the trailer has to be 1 minute MAX. Most professional trailers tend to go for 1 minute 30 seconds to 2 minutes in length. I don't think the trailer should be overly long, but I certainly don't think 1 minute should be the cut-off point. I won't say it's a bad length for a trailer either, but I think it really depends on your game's content. With Grimps, it works, because the game is short. But there's no harm in showing off a little more if your game is multiple hours long.

Then again, the trailers you've made and shown as examples are very good, so maybe I just have no idea what I'm talking about.

Edit:

I probably should link it here since I've mentioned it.


(And hey, it just so happens to be nearly 3 minutes long!)
Cap_H
DIGITAL IDENTITY CRISIS
6318
Thanks for an interesting article, Lord!

author=Frogge
I also disagree that the trailer has to be 1 minute MAX. Most professional trailers tend to go for 1 minute 30 seconds to 2 minutes in length. I don't think the trailer should be overly long, but I certainly don't think 1 minute should be the cut-off point. I won't say it's a bad length for a trailer either, but I think it really depends on your game's content. With Grimps, it works, because the game is short. But there's no harm in showing off a little more if your game is multiple hours long.


This is where I agree with Lord the most. Keeping it short is good, when it comes to games with fixed perspective. Off there are some exceptions.
I agree with you on walking shots. They give you a sense of adventure action sequences or dialogue can't.
I think this is a well written article and a great formula for clueless devs. It's easier to engage audience, when you structure your trailer as a tiny story. You need to present some kind of a cliffhanger and show your game off. This is also, why this formula isn't applicable mechanically. If you're making a dreamscape adventure, ten clips of straight movement might work better than highlights. Text slides always make your game look more epic (in an almost comical way). Showing too many clips of battles can turn some viewers off.
Choosing one song and making basically a music video is usually good. Hovewer, I would encourage experienced editors to work more subtly with audio. Add some other sounds, stop the song for few seconds, use it only for the grand finale and so on.

If I ever manage to complete Burnt Ones, I will make a live action trailer for the game.

(Btw I think the best RM trailer I know is the one for Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass. It's on a longer side, but individual clips are always perfectly timed. The trailer that bored me more than hyped is the above-mentioned Ara Fell trailer.)
I think something thats worth discussing too is target audience, I dont think Ara Fell and Pulsating Mass have the same target demographic (theres some cross over sure but people who are into classic turn based fantasy RPGS played strait and people who like weird quirky indie games are generally a little different from each other) and for that reason tailering your trailer to a format that best suits its genre is important. I dont know that a trailer format that suits turn based RPGs would work that well for a Yume Nikki'like like Happup for example.
Choosing one song and making basically a music video is usually good. Hovewer, I would encourage experienced editors to work more subtly with audio. Add some other sounds, stop the song for few seconds, use it only for the grand finale and so on.

Thank for pointing this out Cap_H ♥! I 100% agree! Yeah, this format/outline really is only meant to be a crash course for making a quick rpgmaker trailer, if you're stuck or just starting out. More experienced editors should definitely experiment with sounds and music - When you finish that live action trailer for Burnt Ones Cap_H, let us know! Definitely looking forward to that. ♥

Today I wanted to quickly talk about this really dope trailer I saw for the newly released Aladdin/Lion King games, because I feel like this trailer is a really great example of what I was trying to talk about throughout this article: showing how to frame your actions for the shot when editing trailers for video games.

Pay very close attention to the shots they use in this:


@0:08 they let the idle animation play in full, before moving to the next shot.

@0:10 they use half second clips of Simba jumping and Aladdin leaping onto a magic carpet - Even though you only see this for half a second. These shots both have a lot of movement on screen. These are the type of shots you want to be using when creating trailers for your games. Because it tells you the most information about your game, in the least amount of time.

@0:34 When showing off footage for the trade show demo - they didn't just pick any shot from the game. They chose a shot that showed the most amount movement in that 4 second duration.

@0:44 When showing off the Stampede level from the Lion King, They only have 2 seconds - They don't show just any shot of this level. They show the best one for the trailer: They show the player jumping over a rock and Wildebeest jumping over the camera 3 times. But it's the shot that fills the entire screen, it's the shot that has the most movement - and you only see it for 2 seconds.

These are the shots you want to use, when making your trailers. Because it tells your audience very clearly and very quickly, what your game is about in the least amount of time.
Where's the part about hiring an animation studio to fill 3/4 of your trailer with what basically amounts to concept art?

Also a really good trailer I rewatched several times:
+1
That intro, holy shit, I was in tears laughing for a good minute, lol!
Gonna add it to the list. Really well done, very strong impression of what the games about without actually playing it.
That tune slaps and slaps hard. Chiptunes, string hits AND a choir?

Super solid trailer.
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