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Subject: Thoughts on Video Trailers for Boardgames rss

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Mark Mahaffey
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Marketing of board games has long been confined to written & print media (perhaps rightfully), with minor exceptions in the distant past and one notable recent exception: http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/tideofiron_downloads.html

Yet this “video preview” for Tide of Iron suffers from being overly long and trying to communicate too much. What I mean is, the advantage of video over other media is entirely emotional. The information presented in this video is interesting, and it’s impressive to see all the components in a new way. But the vast majority of the content in the video could have been better presented in standard written form with still photography.

A “trailer” as I think of it need not communicate anything but excitement. A good piece of video marketing is almost exclusively emotion. The object is to get people interested enough to delve into the details, not to try and communicate everything about the game in such an informationally inefficient medium as video.

It should deal with the topic rather than the details, the spirit of the game rather than the mechanics.

With this in mind, I give you a trailer concept for an already-released game, Twilight Struggle. Talk about a topic jam-packed with theme and history, this game is an excellent candidate for such a trailer. I had to kind of choose a period to focus on, so I chose the Kennedy era, as did the game’s title.

The result is, one of the best speeches in American history gets to help market the IDEA of the game, instead of awkward developers who were never meant to step in front of a camera being forced to try and explain fiddly DETAILS of the game.

At any rate, enjoy, and let me know what you think:



(Apologies to Mr. Horner for swooping his music - and I adapted the narration straight from the description on BGG; remember this is not an official video at all, purely a fan experiment. Also incorporated the artwork & logo redux I worked on with my friend Daniel McGinty: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/169196 )
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james napoli
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video doesnt play back for me, i have qt 7.1.x
 
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Mark Goadrich
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Dude, I never had the urge to play TS before seeing your trailer, and now it sounds pretty cool. Worked on me, good job.
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Eddie Mittelstedt
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Excellent production quality. And if you were working to stir my emotions, it worked. I want this game now...badly.
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Ryan Newell
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I agree, an evocative teaser / trailer is a more effective use of the video format than an informative inventory of the mechanics and pieces. Still, I appreciate the effort and resources FFG put into the TOI video. For the most part it was very good.

I like your video (although it would fit the theme better if the historical clips weren't so skewed towards one side). It's a good exemplar for how a board game trailer that is meant to build excitement more than provide basic game instructions should be constructed.
 
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T. Rosen
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Wow!

The hair on the back of my neck stood up, so I think you can count that as a success.

Fabulous job Mark
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Mark Mahaffey
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Yeah, I considered the "patriotism" thing, but it's really hard to balance out both sides (especially using the Kennedy speech) in the time I had alotted. Found some great footage of Stalin speaking though, but that doesn't do much good as it's mostly in Russian. Plus, hey, America won.


It would be interesting to try and make one that was more balanced, but it would ultimately be less efective I think and just come across as wishy-washy.
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Mark Mahaffey
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Thanks, everyone!
 
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Court
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1. I'd love to check it out, but your server blows... I am sure I will get a chance to see it sometime later today when it fully loads.

2. I don't think videos HAVE TO BE limited to trailers/teasers. I didn't see the FFG video in the same vein as a trailer; sure it fit that role, but it was purposely made more than that.

I think this is important to recognize. It may be enough to get someone excited about a game, especially if the audience is largely comprised of average joes. But what FFG was doing was A. getting people excited about the game, and B. addressing some points of concern/doubt that had been voiced in the gaming community.

There is such a backlash against hype, quite obviously most when a product (whether it be a movie, book, game, etc.) doesn't live up to it. Movies and books and things of a more story-based type can't afford to reveal too much for obvious reasons. But if someone fairly in the know regarding games is interested in a particular game, they have to get around the hype and see certain elements for how they will play or handle in the game.

I think FFG was able to straddle the line here between getting people hyped and revealing how certain elements will work in the game that it settled a lot of questions in people's mind about whether TOI is the game for them.

 
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Mark Mahaffey
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I'm not disagreeing that the ToI video accomplished what it set out to do. Just saying that it was the wrong goal to begin with. BUT It's neither here nor there, it fulfills a purpose, and is cool as well. Just explaining my thinking behind this experiment. As a video professional, it pains me to watch people trying to force video become something it's not good at being: a purveyor of data.
 
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Greg Poulos
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I guess there's more to starting a game company than just having a name... :(
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What we are dealing with here is a perfect engine, a gaming machine. It's really a miracle of evolution. All this gamer does is sleep and eat and place little meeples, and that's all.
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it's a nice video, but in terms of a 'trailer' it shows so little of the game and gameplay that had i not already played and enjoyed the game, i'd be a little suspicious of what the makers of the trailer were trying to hide.
a trailer\commercial for a game is definitely a tough thing to pull off since games aren't typically that exciting to watch being played. (see the great geeklist of a bunch of old game commercials on youtube) a balance needs to be struck between the granduer and emotion that stock footage can evoke and the actual game.
the ffg video preview is coming from a different angle. it's a pretty standard format for video game mini-docs and it's nice to see it about a board game. i really enjoyed seeing all the details and didn't think it was overlong or too full of details, and i enjoyed seeing the developers and the people behind the game. if FFG was creating a video as a 'trailer' or a commercial i'm sure it'd come out much different, this video preview is obviously more akin to a extra on a dvd than a trailer. so it's not really fair to try to compare them as the goals of the two were much different.
and as for the "awkward developers who were never meant to step in front of a camera..." comment. well, that's a bit uncalled for, and frankly, the narrative voice in the twighlight struggle has a bit too much emotion (it sounds like they're about to cry)

good effort though says Abe. thumbsup

now i gotta go rent me some JFK docs...
 
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Court
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I just saw your video - Fine job. It was done very well!! Kudos!

To go back to the point I made just a few minutes ago, you certainly provided the hype. Now the key is to get people to learn about whether TS is the game for them. [Of course the publisher would want to leave it at hype, but as a consumer we want to know more].

So to fulfill that inquiry, I can come on to the geek and review TS and see that it isn't the game for me.

I guess in the end, what I am saying is that your trailer is good, and fulfills one aspect of the path to buying a game for me. But I don't think the intent of the ToI video was soley to get people interested. The aims were different from what you took away from it - and that's fine too. You would prefer more teaser-esque videos. Hell - I would love videos to become a standard across the industry (for the big players anyway who can maybe afford to do a decent video). But I also enjoy and appreciate the length that FFG went to demonstrate more about the game in their video.

Keep up the good work!
 
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Mark Mahaffey
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AbeLincoln wrote:
so it's not really fair to try to compare them as the goals of the two were much different.

Well yes, I've said that.


AbeLincoln wrote:
and as for the "awkward developers who were never meant to step in front of a camera..." comment. well, that's a bit uncalled for, and frankly, the narrative voice in the twighlight struggle has a bit too much emotion (it sounds like they're about to cry)

Sorry, I was comparing them to Kennedy. Anyone upset about being called an awkward speaker when compared to JFK should take a chill-pill. I certainly mean no offense, nothing but respect for the FFG guys. "A Game of Thrones" is a particular favorite...

 
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Scott Woodard
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Well, it's a gripping piece of work, but it doesn't make me want to play a game, rather it makes me want to watch a new dramatic film.

There's nothing about the components, game play, etc., just a speech, a bit of historical background and a vague idea of what the game is about.

It's a good start, and I would like to see more stuff like this, but I think you need to sell the game itself (and why it's worth playing) and not just the theme.

Also, if you're using this on your show reel, I might suggest a better V.O. (and better recording equipment to capture it.

Keep 'em comin'!

 
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Christian Marcussen
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Ogma wrote:
Well, it's a gripping piece of work, but it doesn't make me want to play a game, rather it makes me want to watch a new dramatic film.

There's nothing about the components, game play, etc., just a speech, a bit of historical background and a vague idea of what the game is about.

It's a good start, and I would like to see more stuff like this, but I think you need to sell the game itself (and why it's worth playing) and not just the theme.

Also, if you're using this on your show reel, I might suggest a better V.O. (and better recording equipment to capture it.

Keep 'em comin'!



I was about to say just about the exact same thing! It's a good idea, and your execusion of it was good as well - but it was more of a teaser.
 
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Mark Mahaffey
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marqzen wrote:

I was about to say just about the exact same thing! It's a good idea, and your execusion of it was good as well - but it was more of a teaser.

Sweet! That was the idea. Teaser trailer is probably a more complete phrase, yes.
 
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Tejas Mistry
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Great idea about video trailer marketing for boardgame and just an AWESOME job on your trailer!

I am not a war-gamer and have not the faintest interest in Twilight Struggle -- but your trailer now makes we ache to want to be part of that struggle, a higher aspiration of doing something because its worthwhile, its no longer a game, its a passion. Good stuff!
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Mark Mahaffey
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deadeyedick wrote:
[Of course the publisher would want to leave it at hype, but as a consumer we want to know more].

This doesn't follow - and in fact is the opposite of what I'm saying. The whole reasoning behind this video would be to provide the emotional connection to get them to delve into the publisher's information marketing on the game. Certainly not to "hide" it as hype... Any good marketing will include both hype (which video is best at) and content (which writing is best at).
 
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Mark Mahaffey
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tejasm wrote:

I am not a war-gamer and have not the faintest interest in Twilight Struggle -- but your trailer now makes we ache to want to be part of that struggle, a higher aspiration of doing something because its worthwhile, its no longer a game, its a passion. Good stuff!

Thanks, Tejas! High praise, which Kennedy deserves more than I.
 
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Mark Mahaffey
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O further dorky fact: I went through and colorized this photo by hand a few weeks ago. Would make a cool Battle of Berlin game cover or somesuch...



Original b&w: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/archive/f/f9/2...
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I can see how your argument concerns being about what format is more conducive to what goal (video for emotional connection, writing for conveying core content info or what have you), but I think that isn't always the best case reading.

I don't see video's domain being solely emotional - it might be great at that, but it can also be incredibly informative in ways that print can't. Or rather, I don't see the point in limiting a video to being solely appealing to emotion/interest in every instance. The key takeaway is EVERY instance. Sure there are places where it's perfect (esp when supplemented by other info).

There are plenty of cases where video tutorials are much more conducive to learning something than reading through examples and seeing illustrations/figures/pictures.

I think we both agree that a publisher ought to engage in marketing that hits both hype and content. But I am also trying to say, that from my perspective, I vastly prefer the method that FFG employed to leaving it solely at a teaser video.

I genuinely appreciate seeing how the game worked beyond reading the rules. For me, having read the rules, having read all of the FFG articles, and THEN SEEING the elements of the game laid out in the video was precisely the combination of information I wanted.

Everyone's mileage will vary, but reading through these boards, it seems a lot of folks also genuinely appreciated that the TOI video went beyond a teaser.

 
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Mark Mahaffey
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Sure. I think we basically agree.
 
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Haven't watched yours yet, and won't make comment until I do. However, on the subject, the first and only trailer that I have watched that sent a shiver up my spine and inspired me to buy the game is at Columbia Games website and was for the game East front. The camera run over the map with the front-line showing both the German troops and Russian, while playing a emotive Russian musical score from hunting for Red Oktober. It really gave the impression of troops standing in the front line and conveyed oodles of tension.

I bought the game not long after watching. Of course, you'd be stupid not to still read reviews and make a decision as to whether it's your type of game or not. But it certainly could be used as another marketing ploy.

wiz

update: Just watched your trailer. A good job. I still think Columbia's movie (it's probably not so much a trailer as yours) did a better job. I would like to see if a similar trailer could be made not only showing more of the original board (sorry, I much prefer the original board) but also I think much more use of some of the other componentry (cards showing some of the events for example), would inspire people perhaps as well.

I would quite like to see a version with the Russian side portrayed equally and without bias..

But with current events, I think twilight struggle is even more interesting. The cold war continues with Russian Presidents being accused of involvement in neutralising old spies etc. The cold war also with other Countries (North Korea, Iran for example). All this and past historical events makes me want to play again and again..

Well done though..

wiz
 
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Mark Mahaffey
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I never saw the Columbia Games one, and can't seem to find it. Do you have a link?
 
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mark coomey
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damn. Looks like Columbia games had taken down the movie when the old East Front became redundant to Eastfront2. Sorry folks!

I'm sure I copied it somewhere a while back. I wonder if I would be allowed to post it to the Geek..
 
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