303: The Ballet of Death

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The Ballet of Death

The Dead Island trailer - considered by some to be the best trailer ever made - is the latest high-profile marketing effort that emphasizes a game's mood over its gameplay. Rob Rath examines the implications that strategy might have for the way games are sold in the future.

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I hope I'm wrong, but I think they did their jobs a little TOO well. Once the game actually comes out, it's probably going to be another run-of-the-mill zombie shooter.

Which would normally be acceptable, but this trailer set expectations. We want to play the game in reverse with piano music while we cry, hacking the zombies and wiping our tears in tandem.

And I don't think that's anything even remotely close to the game we're getting.

The trailer certainly hints at what type of zombies they are considering how the little girl changes back from monster to...little girl after getting killed. Trailers are nice, but I'd like to see a demo. Will it be the next Heavy Rain with it's indepth story or will it turn out to be a Left 4 dead fast paced zombie massacre?

The problem is that trailers of this kind have very little baring on the actual content of the game. They are made by separate companies who may do a great job in of themselves but have little or no baring on the actual product. Infact the only "CGI" camapign that i have seen really nail the mood and gel with the product were the recent "Portal 2" trailers that use the opposite of this slightly overly somber brooding.

Perhaps selling a game on it's mood wpould work best if the game actually has a decent ammount of mood? We have seen quite a few games nail their immersion, mood and tone really well. Cryostasis, Amnesia, the STALKER games and Metro 2033 are some of the best exmaples of very moody, very enganging games. These (largely eastern european) Titles nail a really brooding sense of the otherworldly in a way that affects the player. Unless a game can deliver on it's marketing we will quickly become immune. I suspect dead Island to be more "Dead rising 2" than "Cryostasis" and selling a big, dumb, loud action game as a mood peice? Not the best idea.

Scrumpmonkey:
The problem is that trailers of this kind have very little baring on the actual content of the game. They are made by separate companies who may do a great job in of themselves but have little or no baring on the actual product. Infact the only "CGI" camapign that i have seen really nail the mood and gel with the product were the recent "Portal 2" trailers that use the opposite of this slightly overly somber brooding.

This. I was moved by the Dead Island trailer like everybody else, but I'm not buying a game based on a flashy trailer that doesn't even show the product. Even the most disingenuous car commercial shows the car driving down a road at some point. I almost didn't buy Dragon Age: Origins (now one of my favourite games) thanks to the Sacred Ashes trailer, where a group of macho uncanny valley walking power fantasies pull out wu xia maneuvers and "witty" dialogue to slice their way through a horde of darkspawn and a dragon without breaking a sweat. What a far cry from the actual tone of the game.

The game is going to be a let down if they can't focus their energies on the background of the characters. Gameplay is definitely important but i'd like to see them actually make a zombie game frightening and sad. I feel like there are only a few zombie movies since the invention of the zombie movie that have done that, it would be cool to see it in a game.

dmase:
The game is going to be a let down if they can't focus their energies on the background of the characters. Gameplay is definitely important but i'd like to see them actually make a zombie game frightening and sad. I feel like there are only a few zombie movies since the invention of the zombie movie that have done that, it would be cool to see it in a game.

How does one build emotional attachment to a zombie?

vxicepickxv:

dmase:
The game is going to be a let down if they can't focus their energies on the background of the characters. Gameplay is definitely important but i'd like to see them actually make a zombie game frightening and sad. I feel like there are only a few zombie movies since the invention of the zombie movie that have done that, it would be cool to see it in a game.

How does one build emotional attachment to a zombie?

By starting them as a human and turning them into a zombie.

Scrumpmonkey:
... Unless a game can deliver on it's marketing we will quickly become immune.

I would point to the success of movie tie-in games as a direct opposition to this statement.

It makes me sad that a backlash has developed against Dead Island (which feels like an indie effort), yet nobody complains about the unfair way in which Star Wars (or Rio) will cause a huge number of instant sales by leveraging their tie-in movies.
(the multiple horrible Matrix tie-in games also come to mind, as the most painful examples of this phenomenon).

The point is not whether Dead Island's trailer will ultimately honestly reflect gameplay. the point is you will now actually look at this game because it probably ties into this great movie somehow.

Without this trailer I'd wager Dead Island would have gone straight to the bargain bin. But thanks to a strong short tie-in movie, Dead Island now has a chance at becoming a brand.
They could even totally fuck up the upcoming game, and then announce "Uh, k, we're making a new dead island game that will tie more into the feeling of our famous trailer" and people will come back for a look.

Gameplay can't be conveyed effectively through video, audio, or text (where we humans currently expect our advertising). You can try to shove gameplay into these mediums, but will have a hard time competing with the other polished products we already enjoy. Nowadays it's better to release a short movie/trailer, great soundtrack album, and a short novel, than to struggle to spread gameplay-movies, gameplay-audio and gameplay-review texts.

the recent portal trailers were pre-rendered, and conveyed a mood. (the final one, "boots", even showed you the main character in action: which served to inform my gameplay in ways the game never came close to - I'd never thought about Chell spark-skidding across plates and landing in a badass crouching pose. Don't confuse those Portal trailers with gameplay. They were short movies.).

* The original article author was correct that nobody currently remembers trailer in the long run... I guess. Maybe that's my key problem with this whole backlash to the DeadIsland trailer.

I think this mindset will change. With youtube, you can go back and enjoy good trailers. I already keep track of trailers that were far better than the movie (terminator4, 300, star wars prequels, come to mind). Hopefully, the real lesson of the Dead Island trailer is : we're entering an era where the advertisement houses will be more recognized and remembered for their art.

I thought it was lame. Don't ask. I'm just that color of insane.

Wow, that was a post truly worthy of being postified on the internet for all to come and see. I sure hope I'll get a mention someday in the history books!

*not making explosives. i swear.*

The_ModeRazor:
I thought it was lame. Don't ask. I'm just that color of insane.

Nah, I totally thought it was lame as well.

I'm still not getting the hype over this stupid trailer. Why is everyone acting like it's the 2nd coming of zombie jesus?
It's cheesy as crap.
OMG THEY ARE PLAYING IT BACKWARDS! NEVER SEEN DAT BEFORE! OMG EMOTIONAL PIANO MUSIC! IT'S SOOOOOOOOOO ARTISTIC!

Please...

I feel like gamers live inside such a tight little bubble of constant rehashes and repetition that the second someone does anything remotely different, even if it's not that great by most standards, it gets lavished with praise.

Scrumpmonkey:
The problem is that trailers of this kind have very little baring on the actual content of the game. They are made by separate companies who may do a great job in of themselves but have little or no baring on the actual product. Infact the only "CGI" camapign that i have seen really nail the mood and gel with the product were the recent "Portal 2" trailers that use the opposite of this slightly overly somber brooding.

Perhaps selling a game on it's mood wpould work best if the game actually has a decent ammount of mood? We have seen quite a few games nail their immersion, mood and tone really well. Cryostasis, Amnesia, the STALKER games and Metro 2033 are some of the best exmaples of very moody, very enganging games. These (largely eastern european) Titles nail a really brooding sense of the otherworldly in a way that affects the player. Unless a game can deliver on it's marketing we will quickly become immune. I suspect dead Island to be more "Dead rising 2" than "Cryostasis" and selling a big, dumb, loud action game as a mood peice? Not the best idea.

Makes you think that someone's surroundings would affect this stuff huh?Get people like me from the U.S. and you see Call of Duty which mirrors American Football competitively even if teams tend to not be so well while games from Japan greatly show that thing which I really can't describe outside of pure culture and randomness (probably since I don't get the reference).

I am extremely worried for this game. From what I've read, the actual gameplay of it it is the complete polar opposite of the trailer. One-liners, blood and guts in a hilarious fashion, headshots, all that. It's perfectly fine if a game wants to go that route, but if the developers put out a trailer like that then someone lost their heads during development.

Color me extremely, extremely cautious about this game.

But, anyway, this was a good article. Goes to show how far marketing has come in this day and age.

beema:

The_ModeRazor:
I thought it was lame. Don't ask. I'm just that color of insane.

Nah, I totally thought it was lame as well.

I'm still not getting the hype over this stupid trailer. Why is everyone acting like it's the 2nd coming of zombie jesus?
It's cheesy as crap.
OMG THEY ARE PLAYING IT BACKWARDS! NEVER SEEN DAT BEFORE! OMG EMOTIONAL PIANO MUSIC! IT'S SOOOOOOOOOO ARTISTIC!

Please...

I feel like gamers live inside such a tight little bubble of constant rehashes and repetition that the second someone does anything remotely different, even if it's not that great by most standards, it gets lavished with praise.

I don't remember where I read it - maybe a Something Awful article? - but it was something the gist of essentially was: Games are such an immature medium, that when something like Braid or Portal comes along and actually has some of the most basic things of any other medium, such as a theme or a tone, it's hailed as something completely unique and amazing.

I don't entirely agree with that, but given what people like David Cage believe is the next step in video games (i.e. a movie you shake your controller at), I can see where it's coming from.

Regarding the video, something this issue doesn't seem to address is how people forget what zombies really mean. Russ' intro brought this up, how to games zombies are just a convenient target. That's not what zombies are meant to be. A zombie story is meant to be a survival story, a story of humanity - not a violent story of gore and decapitation, which the setting also lends itself so easily to. See also: The Walking Dead, the only webcomic about a zombie apocalypse that actually knows how to portray a zombie apocalypse properly.

Too bad this "trailer" (actually a "preview" because it precedes, rather than follows, the release of this game) crosses the line from entertainment to exploitation by graphically depicting violence against a child. In a movie or TV show, a child can fairly be the subject of a murder investigation, but they always refrain from showing that child getting strangled, or shot, or stabbed, or slaughtered like an animal and thrown out a window. Otherwise, everyone associated with the production of that movie or TV drama would be fired for exceeding the bounds of good (or bad) taste. This Dead Island preview is a prime example of going too far. The counterpoint to this cinematic mistake is Dead Rising, in which the protagonist, Chuck Green, fights to save the life of his daughter. This game achieves emotional resonance because everyone can instinctively understand a father who wants to keep his little girl safe. Although there is tension because she is under threat, the developers of Dead Risng never set her on fire, or behead her, or bludgeon her with a sledgehammer... because that would be disgusting.

And before any of you SHOUT at me that Dead Island is just a game, and that I need to learn the difference between reality and fiction, try to understand that creating fiction does not mean all rules no longer apply. If fiction means you can do anything, then video games about child pornography would be featured on the shelves of your local Wal-Mart.

Left4Dead. That had a movie trailer/intro. IMHO it beats the pants offa the dead island trailer, which although emotive (think of the children!!) didn't say a lot really. The big bonus about the l4d trailer/intro was that it was an FAQ at the same time as introducing some wonderful characters. Watch closely as all the zombie specials are introduced with their powers and the fact you are helpless once in their clutches and need someone to assist.

CaptainStupid:
Too bad this "trailer" (actually a "preview" because it precedes, rather than follows, the release of this game) crosses the line from entertainment to exploitation by graphically depicting violence against a child. In a movie or TV show, a child can fairly be the subject of a murder investigation, but they always refrain from showing that child getting strangled, or shot, or stabbed, or slaughtered like an animal and thrown out a window. Otherwise, everyone associated with the production of that movie or TV drama would be fired for exceeding the bounds of good (or bad) taste. This Dead Island preview is a prime example of going too far. The counterpoint to this cinematic mistake is Dead Rising, in which the protagonist, Chuck Green, fights to save the life of his daughter. This game achieves emotional resonance because everyone can instinctively understand a father who wants to keep his little girl safe. Although there is tension because she is under threat, the developers of Dead Risng never set her on fire, or behead her, or bludgeon her with a sledgehammer... because that would be disgusting.

And before any of you SHOUT at me that Dead Island is just a game, and that I need to learn the difference between reality and fiction, try to understand that creating fiction does not mean all rules no longer apply. If fiction means you can do anything, then video games about child pornography would be featured on the shelves of your local Wal-Mart.

Why is showing violence against a child automatically "exploitation"?

vxicepickxv:

dmase:
The game is going to be a let down if they can't focus their energies on the background of the characters. Gameplay is definitely important but i'd like to see them actually make a zombie game frightening and sad. I feel like there are only a few zombie movies since the invention of the zombie movie that have done that, it would be cool to see it in a game.

How does one build emotional attachment to a zombie?

A Leash, Metal Link Chain, Muzzle, And All The Shut-In Neighbors They Need For Nourishment.

vxicepickxv:

dmase:
The game is going to be a let down if they can't focus their energies on the background of the characters. Gameplay is definitely important but i'd like to see them actually make a zombie game frightening and sad. I feel like there are only a few zombie movies since the invention of the zombie movie that have done that, it would be cool to see it in a game.

How does one build emotional attachment to a zombie?

By starting them as a human and turning them into a zombie.[/quote]

And/or, have them somehow remember their humanity and stop attacking when confronted by a loved one. This often ends up very cheesy and annoying though.

It can be done right, the original Dr Who featured on two occasions zombie-like monsters that stopped when their brothers managed to get through to them...for a few seconds before forgetting again and killing them. More than a few seconds and you risk ruining the monster.

The Random One:
I don't remember where I read it - maybe a Something Awful article? - but it was something the gist of essentially was: Games are such an immature medium, that when something like Braid or Portal comes along and actually has some of the most basic things of any other medium, such as a theme or a tone, it's hailed as something completely unique and amazing.

I don't know if I agree with that about games in general, but in regards to game trailers, like most forms of ads, definitely.

On the other hand, if ads are being honest, they are showing you the product and its features, which is likely to be boring, if informative.

Having said that, the trailer is quite powerful. I'm off to watch that bit from Secret of the Sword where She-Ra first appears and rescues He-Man from the willpower draining thing to make myself feel better

It would be a good trailer, except, you know, it's not anything like the experience they are planning to deliver.

Sauvastika:
Why is showing violence against a child automatically "exploitation"?

It invokes a knee-jerk reaction, kinda like the one that's getting this called 'BEST TRAILER EV4R!'

When I first heard about this game I got the same thrill of anticipated excitment similar to the first time I played and finished Bioshock and The Orange Box. That gave me a way different experience than anything else up to that point.

So after what I considered a long dry spell for any new IP's with seriously mature themes and new ways of storytelling to come out I started to feel stagnated. During my zealot Dead Space 2 playthrough out of nowhere as if by miracle the sky started to open up. A flood of light came down and warmed my room, I had to shield my eyes for something was with me here. My television and all power in my house immediately went dead and I proceeded to tremble. I shielded my eyes and stood up to hear a powerful voice command itself before me in the darkness.

"Open thine eyes youth, I am not one to be feared", said the mysterious voice.

"That voice it feels so familiar. No this has happened before I cannot trust it", I proclaimed.
"Maybe just a tad peek will do no harm, just for a moment I'll see and...

image

"Please don't be afraid I welcome you with open arms, just stand still and..." [extends hand], explains the mysterious figure.

"Who are you and why have you come here? Why the fuck is my power out?", I asked as I feebly backed away in fear.

"Your eyes, they are not ready. I will come for you again soon, very soon", said the figure as she stepped back toward into what seemed like the sun.

There we go....much better.

The.Bard:

Which would normally be acceptable, but this trailer set expectations. We want to play the game in reverse with piano music while we cry, hacking the zombies and wiping our tears in tandem.

And I don't think that's anything even remotely close to the game we're getting.

That's my beef with this too. I'm well used to advertising that has only the barest connection to what it is it's trying to get you to buy, but this game won't have 1% of the emotion evoked in the trailer.

Unless I hear from pretty much every reviewer that this is not the case, the game gets a pass from me.

The last little blurb perfectly stated my feelings toward this game. The trailer was great, I hope the game can live up to the hype and expectations.

The_Yeti:

Sauvastika:

CaptainStupid:
Too bad this "trailer" (actually a "preview" because it precedes, rather than follows, the release of this game) crosses the line from entertainment to exploitation by graphically depicting violence against a child. In a movie or TV show, a child can fairly be the subject of a murder investigation, but they always refrain from showing that child getting strangled, or shot, or stabbed, or slaughtered like an animal and thrown out a window. Otherwise, everyone associated with the production of that movie or TV drama would be fired for exceeding the bounds of good (or bad) taste. This Dead Island preview is a prime example of going too far. The counterpoint to this cinematic mistake is Dead Rising, in which the protagonist, Chuck Green, fights to save the life of his daughter. This game achieves emotional resonance because everyone can instinctively understand a father who wants to keep his little girl safe. Although there is tension because she is under threat, the developers of Dead Risng never set her on fire, or behead her, or bludgeon her with a sledgehammer... because that would be disgusting.

And before any of you SHOUT at me that Dead Island is just a game, and that I need to learn the difference between reality and fiction, try to understand that creating fiction does not mean all rules no longer apply. If fiction means you can do anything, then video games about child pornography would be featured on the shelves of your local Wal-Mart.

Why is showing violence against a child automatically "exploitation"?

First off, that guys an idiot to think child pornography would be legal due to child violence, thats like saying because GTA has hookers, that every combat related game involving a child character has XXX rated naughty dirty fun.

It isn't exploitation against anyone thats not a softy, this guys just another OMG NOT THE CHILDREN fool, the kind that always make children unkillable i.e. all of the fable games and fallout3/NV.

semi-on topic question: Do you think kids would stop acting like such assholes if they saw first hand through a game that their not immortal or simply too precious to kill? i say yes!(there will be those few that won't of course, i.e. (every extreme sport fan / voilent IQless populous).

You're calling me an idiot? You can't form a coherent sentence. If it makes me a "softy" to point out that graphic violence against children breaks one of the most basic rules, does watching a child get butchered make you "hard"? In Left 4 Dead, how many child characters are fair game for graphic violence? Zero. Do you think Valve excluded children as targets for players by accident? How many children can you virtually kill in the Grand Theft Auto series? None. Do you wonder why? Because even Rockstar, a company famous for pushing boundaries, know where to draw the line.

CaptainStupid:

The_Yeti:

Sauvastika:

Why is showing violence against a child automatically "exploitation"?

First off, that guys an idiot to think child pornography would be legal due to child violence, thats like saying because GTA has hookers, that every combat related game involving a child character has XXX rated naughty dirty fun.

It isn't exploitation against anyone thats not a softy, this guys just another OMG NOT THE CHILDREN fool, the kind that always make children unkillable i.e. all of the fable games and fallout3/NV.

semi-on topic question: Do you think kids would stop acting like such assholes if they saw first hand through a game that their not immortal or simply too precious to kill? i say yes!(there will be those few that won't of course, i.e. (every extreme sport fan / voilent IQless populous).

You're calling me an idiot? You can't form a coherent sentence. If it makes me a "softy" to point out that graphic violence against children breaks one of the most basic rules, does watching a child get butchered make you "hard"? In Left 4 Dead, how many child characters are fair game for graphic violence? Zero. Do you think Valve excluded children as targets for players by accident? How many children can you virtually kill in the Grand Theft Auto series? None. Do you wonder why? Because even Rockstar, a company famous for pushing boundaries, know where to draw the line.

Again you largely over-exaggerate the situation, and resorting to base omgyoucan'thasEnglish trolling when you've lost the intellectual portion of the argument. and "hard"? so suddenly game violence can only be related to sexual pleasure? we know valve and other companies didn't make children enemies on purpose, because theirs a large number of you spineless sods that cry every time a kid made of pixels gets his candy stolen. None of them are drawing any line you simpleton, they just don't want to lose your money, and by the sound of it they got it in full Haaa.

CaptainStupid:

The_Yeti:

CaptainStupid:
You're calling me an idiot? You can't form a coherent sentence. If it makes me a "softy" to point out that graphic violence against children breaks one of the most basic rules, does watching a child get butchered make you "hard"? In Left 4 Dead, how many child characters are fair game for graphic violence? Zero. Do you think Valve excluded children as targets for players by accident? How many children can you virtually kill in the Grand Theft Auto series? None. Do you wonder why? Because even Rockstar, a company famous for pushing boundaries, know where to draw the line.

Again you largely over-exaggerate the situation, and resorting to base omgyoucan'thasEnglish trolling when you've lost the intellectual portion of the argument. and "hard"? so suddenly game violence can only be related to sexual pleasure? we know valve and other companies didn't make children enemies on purpose, because theirs a large number of you spineless sods that cry every time a kid made of pixels gets his candy stolen. None of them are drawing any line you simpleton, they just don't want to lose your money, and by the sound of it they got it in full Haaa.

In what way have I lost the intellectual argument? I make a valid point about this video, and illustrate my case with examples. You respond with personal insults. In order for this to be an intellectual argument, you need to develop an intellect, and stop ranting like an angry virgin.

Your "valid" point was your afraid that if kids in videogames will be enemies = them being in rough pornos, clearly you jump without looking because you believe a gods going to deliver upon to you a fate beyond ignorance, the only personal insults were to your lack of reasoning and common sense, something anyone could grasp from your exaggerating and fear-mongering, both of which allude to your lack of cognitive functions other then ~Follow the Crowd!~

And to think, the actual gameplay according to the developers will be more "Boderlands with zombies" rather than "Dead Rising with island survival mechanics". Points, too, for releasing it while The Walking Dead is still fresh in everyone's minds. I just hope the awesomeness of the trailer doesn't result in too much backlash when the actual gameplay trailer comes out. Still, Final Fantasy gets away with it...

I thought it was one of the best trailers ever. And yet, I still have absolutely no interest in the actual game.

I dont know if I can completely agree.

Trailers need to sell the product as well, when I found out it would be more arcadey I got to admit I was a little disappointed. It could still be fun times like Left 4 Dead and Dead Rising but I was looking forward to zombie scenes that really tugged the heart strings, like when Shaun shoots his mum in Shaun of the Dead.

As for being remembered, im not a fan of Halo but those live action trailers where really good and I will always remember them as such despite how the games play out.

As for Play Boy... HAVE YOU EVER READ ONE!!! Its a fashion magazine now you'll be lucky if you catch a glimpse of nip.

In the exact same way, we can expect a Human Centipede game out soon then?

Jumplion:
I am extremely worried for this game. From what I've read, the actual gameplay of it it is the complete polar opposite of the trailer. One-liners, blood and guts in a hilarious fashion, headshots, all that. It's perfectly fine if a game wants to go that route, but if the developers put out a trailer like that then someone lost their heads during development.

Color me extremely, extremely cautious about this game.

But, anyway, this was a good article. Goes to show how far marketing has come in this day and age.

Yeah, I've heard this too. One of the devs has been quoted as saying "Whoa! That bitch was huge!" while playing, correct me if I'm wrong.

It's a great and effective trailer IMO, it's just, from what I've read it has been used on the completely wrong kind of game.

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