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  • The Simplest Trailer To Make For Your Steam Page

    - Derek Lieu

  • Show the Game Loop

    People watching this trailer want to know what they do in the game. Thinking of the trailer as a video version of a game tutorial is a good place to start. The easiest way to show the game loop is to take raw capture of your game being played, create a sequence of the core parts of the loop (cut out the boring bits), then repeat if necessary.

    For example, the game loop of Spiritfarer is:

    • Wake up
    • Do chores
    • Tend to passengers
    • Explore new areas, buy things, talk to people
    • Go to sleep

    This particular loop can make a decently long play session, so just one loop would probably be enough for an MVP Steam trailer. Since it's likely people will be skipping through the progress bar of the trailer, I would make each shot on the longer side, maybe 3-5 seconds each. That way, it's less likely the watcher will miss a quick shot when they're skipping through.

    If the game's loop is very tight, the trailer should show it multiple times. For example, if it's a platforming game with short levels, each loop is basically: start level and jump through it. In this case, showing only one loop would go against the next guideline:

    Show everything which will make people think: "Ah, it's one of THOSE games."

    Show Variety

    What you don't want is your MVP Steam trailer to look too same-y. If your game has many different biomes, player verbs, enemies, then you should show them! Just end the trailer before it starts start repeating too much. You don't really want to show something more than three times. The less you repeat something, the better (if your goal is to show variety.)

    Even though this MVP Steam trailer is much more loosely edited than what I recommend for a hype trailer, I think you should still save "content" shots for the midpoint of the trailer or later.

    HUD/UI ON!

    People use a game's HUD/UI as visual shorthand for what genre the game is, so it makes sense to leave it on for your MVP Steam trailer (and eventually, your permanent trailer.) I'm usually an advocate for turning it off, or being selective about what you show depending on the purpose of the shot, but in this case just leave it on.

    Make it Clear!

    Just because you're leaving the HUD/UI on and using very raw gameplay, you still want to use footage which is clear and easy to understand. The user is watching the footage to understand how they fit into the game, and it's not a good shot if there's ambiguity about what is being affected by the player. For more about this I recommend my post about selecting good game capturecapturing for the backseatsand designing games for an audience

    No logos or cinematic shots

    In Chris' research, users were most impatient with slow panning cinematic shotslogos, and any footage which didn't have any player interaction. Those sorts of shots are not rich with the information a potential player needs in order to see themselves in the game, so just avoid them entirely.

    Pretty shots are good, but pretty shots with player interaction are better.

    Remember, the goal of this trailer is to show the potential buyer what the game looks like when it's being played. For the first time or hobbyist dev, don't worry about dramatic trailer structurematch cuts, fancy transitions, title cards, or voiceover. You can drive yourself crazy trying to make it looking perfect and it would come at the expense of all the time your store page could be up and getting wishlists. When the person watching the trailer is potentially just clicking through it looking for samples of gameplay clips, the pressure is off, so just do it! If however you do have the time to be a little bit fancier, try out one of my Five Game Trailer Templates.

    If you want an example of what an MVP trailer can look like, this explainer trailer I made for Spelunky 2 is functionally very much like one (if the sound is turned off.) It has longer gameplay clips which show off the game and is easy to click through. If the sound is turned on they have the added bonus of hearing Derek Yu explain the design choices of his game. Since I'd read Chris' research about player browsing habits, I recommended Derek Yu make this the first trailer on Spelunky 2's Steam page rather than the Launch trailer which has quicker cuts and story illustrations in it.

    I'd recommend making the trailer 90-180 seconds long to accommodate clicking through (if it's too short, they'll miss a bunch of stuff when they click through), but of course if your game doesn't have a lot of content and can't show a lot of variety in that time, just make it shorter. For more thoughts about trailer length, I have an entire post about that too!

    For more advice about making your Steam page, I highly recommend Chris' FREE course How to Make a Steam Page. It delves deeper into some of the things I mentioned like capsule art, descriptions, tags, and a whole lot more!


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