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The Limit Theory Trailer

These days, one of the most important tools for marketing a game -- but especially independently-developed games -- is a video trailer. It's the main thing that gets posted and seen on game review sites. A great trailer (the one for Dead Island comes to mind) can be hugely valuable.

That's got me thinking. Bearing in mind that Limit Theory 1.0 is still some months away, and that we don't know everything that will be in the game, I'm curious about what the main trailer video for LT might look like.

So let's play with that. For simplicity and impact, let's say Josh can release only one Official Limit Theory Gameplay Trailer.

1. Describe the trailer for LT that would attract the largest possible audience.

2. Describe the trailer that would make you, personally, most eager to buy a copy of Limit Theory.

Some questions you might want to consider:

What features should be shown? What features should not be shown?

In what style/mood/tone should features be presented in the video? Does it need to tell a story? ("Tell me a story" is usually the #1 factor in memorable advertising.) Or can LT go viral just by listing its unique features?

Should the trailer be music and images only, or should there be narration? If there's narration, should Josh supply it? (Quite a few people have commented very positively on Josh's delivery in the update videos.)

Would the LT video benefit from fades, wipes, kinetic typography, or other production-quality effects? Or should it stick to showing straight-up, out-of-the-box gameplay?

How long should the main trailer video be?

Any other things that would make the Limit Theory trailer insanely great?

Re: The Limit Theory Trailer

Really a very interesting question, thanks for posing it Flat :) I look forward to hearing peoples' thoughts on it. Even if you're sold on LT already, tell us, what would sell you 'again' if you saw in the trailer? :think:

The only thing I will say is that I would much prefer to see some (minimal) descriptive text than to hear my voice :lol:
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford

Re: The Limit Theory Trailer

Josh is creating a universe where everything is interconnected, everything happens for a "real" reason, and the universe is much bigger than the player. The player is not inherently special but through effort and their actions, they can make a name for themselves. With tenacity and ingenuity, they can eventually shape the universe to be any way they like it - they can steer the course of events to make factions rise or fall, or business empires grow or wither.

With all these considerations, I think this trailer should serve as inspiration to Josh. Tell a story.

Re: The Limit Theory Trailer

Small, solitary ship jumps into system.

Ship is picked up by scanners in nearby station/cap ship, which does not recognize signature.

Several vessels sent to investigate. Demands to identify are issued to mystery ship.

Ship takes no action, demands ignored.

Suspicious, controlling faction of system sends several other vessels over.

More demands are made, and ignored.

As vessel remains immobile, faction's ships begin threatening repercussions if demands for identity not responded to.

Tensions rise. Several other ships arrive, weapons beginning to be armed.

Several score more ships of similar build and aesthetic to the original anomalous ship suddenly jump into system.

Original small ship suddenly hammers throttle open, flies into pack of system faction's ships, drawing fire, causing confusion.

Large unknown fleet opens fire.

End trailer.

I'd pay attention to making it clear that the make of the mysterious ship is entirely foreign to the "natives" of the system.
They shall call me, Draglide! The thread killer!

Re: The Limit Theory Trailer

Eve's Trinity Trailer is by far one of the most captivating trailer I have ever seen!!! I still go back and watch it time to time and it single handedly does its level best to pull me back into EVE. The mind blowing overhaul to the trinity graphics engine that brought in next gen shaders and textures to the old clunky ships stations and assets in the eve universe mixed with the score drove the Net insane at the time!!
To be more specific to this excellent thread - the score!! the trailer itself would be naught but for the haunting/epic/unleashing score!!!

Granted that kind of orchestral score might be tad out of reach for an indie game such as this :thumbup: - but when LT is released- the score needs to be just right to give that expansive "universe unleashed" moment!!
Posting Trinity here for posterity!!
Watch in HD

Re: The Limit Theory Trailer

Imo anything that showed the varied scale of the game. With ships, stations, planets, systems, sectors/clusters, trading etc. I mean as far as I know we haven't actually 'seen' any ships larger than freighters. I'd just love to see some capital ships. Carriers, battleships, cruisers, etc. Some actual fleet stuff rather than trading.

I think the main thing with a trailer should be showing what the game can do, that other games cannot. For example take Freelancer. Imagine the things that you couldn't do in freelancer but wanted to, show something like that. :ghost:

Re: The Limit Theory Trailer

TGS wrote:Imo anything that showed the varied scale of the game. With ships, stations, planets, systems, sectors/clusters, trading etc. I mean as far as I know we haven't actually 'seen' any ships larger than freighters. I'd just love to see some capital ships. Carriers, battleships, cruisers, etc. Some actual fleet stuff rather than trading.
Battleships and carriers were shown, quite a long time ago. Like in update #6 or in the last update of the KS campaign.
But I agree we need to see large ships and large fleets :ghost:

Re: The Limit Theory Trailer

Do you remember the node-based interface, the node-based galactic map, the node-based ship inventory and hardpoints representation? It was a long time ago, but I'm sure you can remember. Everybody went crazy about it, and not without reason. Well, that needs to be in the trailer video. And that's basically it.
Flatfingers wrote:Does it need to tell a story? ("Tell me a story" is usually the #1 factor in memorable advertising.) Or can LT go viral just by listing its unique features?
I think both. It could be nice if the trailer shows us a possible example of what a game session of LT could end up being, like one of those Josh's dev log fictions. Of course, with him narrating in the voice of a hypothetical character.
"Playing" is not simply a pastime, it is the primordial basis of imagination and creation. - Hideo Kojima

Re: The Limit Theory Trailer

While the content is more or less err...idealized, the following trainer does a pretty good job of bringing across the awesomeness of a proper sandbox. Maybe it can serve as an inspiration.

The EVE trailers in general are pretty well made, even though the actual gameplay experience can differ quite a bit*.

(* = They tend to gloss over the glacial training times required to fly half those shiny ships shown, for example...)

That's all, I'm back to lurk mode.
Hardenberg was my name
And Terra was my nation
Deep space is my dwelling place
The stars my destination

Re: The Limit Theory Trailer

A major "selling" point for me is how fleet battles work.
If the best tactic is "select all, order attack", that's not very exciting.
All the interesting space combat games involved maneuvering - beyond getting in firing range. That's when ambushes, pincer moves, formations, and all the other armchair admiral tactics start making sense.
It's how a smaller force can defeat a larger one. That's a story worth telling.
A lot depends on how sensors work. The "proximity" mechanic I outlined here would open the door for all kinds of surprises and require active scouting to get useful intel... not just a better magic scanner.
I can't think of an example script right now because all the details of combat are a big question mark. There are 3498174 suggestions but we don't know what will be in the game. =)

A singular trailer will probably not be able to show off the entire game.
There could be several. One to give a brief overview over the game's features, possibly with a bar of permanent links in the video to allow jumping to the "detailed" trailers on these aspects.
There is no "I" in Tea. That would be gross.

Re: The Limit Theory Trailer

ThymineC wrote:Josh is creating a universe where everything is interconnected, everything happens for a "real" reason, and the universe is much bigger than the player. The player is not inherently special but through effort and their actions, they can make a name for themselves. With tenacity and ingenuity, they can eventually shape the universe to be any way they like it - they can steer the course of events to make factions rise or fall, or business empires grow or wither.

With all these considerations, I think this trailer should serve as inspiration to Josh. Tell a story.
When I saw this thread I was about to go hunting for one of the many EVE trailers. I saw your post and envy you for getting to it first.
<Detritus> I went up to my mom and said "hey... do you feel like giving five dollars to black lives matter?" and she laughed and said no :v <Black--Snow> my life does matter though ~~ added by Hema on Jun 11 2020 (2770)

Re: The Limit Theory Trailer

I prefer my trailers to contain game play that one is likely actually to see in the game. Something a lot of bigger publishers/companies do is show off scripted non-sense that doesn't actually equate to real game play. Or even worse, they don't show much game play at all. Having a good chunk of the trailer content taken up by flashy company logos and still artwork shots. There was a game trailer I watched some months back that went for I think like 1 minute and 50 seconds. The first 30 seconds of this were taken up by flashy logo after flashy logo. Then the next 30-40 seconds was taken up by 'still art' which looked like it would be nice in a manual or comic. Then there was probably maybe 30 seconds of 'game play' shown, but because it was flashing from a few seconds of different aspects of the game it was really hard to gauge anything about the game that you didn't already know. This was a 4x game by the way, I won't name it because I don't particularly like bashing games.

Except for EA games, I hate EA. For example a lovely element in the Sims 3 trailer where they were showing off the 'neighborhood' aspects. Your Sim called another sim on the phone, it panned to that other sim and they picked up the phone to show that what was happening in one part could affect Sims on the other end. Guess what? One of the first things I did in Sims 3 was test this. You can call a sim, literally look straight at that sim and guess what? They don't do anything! Even though your sim is supposedly having a conversation with them.

I absolutely HATE trailers that do that. Because it's essentially lying to the customer.

Re: The Limit Theory Trailer

DISCLAIMER: Take all of this with a grain of salt... as I've said elsewhere, I'm in a weird position and have no way to purchase Limit Theory when it comes out, so I likely won't be playing. I don't know, therefore, how valid my opinions are to you guys, but, as a writer, I thought I'd speak up.
Gazz wrote: A singular trailer will probably not be able to show off the entire game.
There could be several. One to give a brief overview over the game's features, possibly with a bar of permanent links in the video to allow jumping to the "detailed" trailers on these aspects.
I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that there's a reason the great majority of games, no matter how complex or in-depth, have a single trailer. Most people will only see a single trailer, unless they're already greatly interested in the game and actively looking for others. That's why advertising campaigns tend to cram everything they can into one video - take the Planetside 2 trailer for example, where, in a couple minutes, they touch a slew of different combat mechanics and game elements, with hardly enough time on each to really show much about how it all works - but, enough time to let you see that it's ingame (minus a few very obvious cinematic elements).

A trailer about mining is going to be boring to the average, uninformed viewer no matter what you do to it, and so will anything involving the new market system if in a trailer focusing on it - BUT you can technically include this stuff without any problems... so I'd recommend putting it closer to the start of the trailer and ramping the action up towards the end.

I'm going to throw out a quick trailer idea. The original Limit Theory kickstarter trailer took hits in comment sections for being vague and focusing too much on empty space backgrounds, but there was a reason for it: there wasn't even a prototype built yet. We can fix that now.
Another big thing: Music should probably be timed to sequences, in my opinion. Well-timed music can turn a relatively boring video into something really awesome. Quick example off the top of my head. It can also turn something really awesome into something mindblowing, so it's an important thing to think about.

Just for the sake of comparison, I'll use some of the same phrases as in the kickstarter trailer... I'm going to describe as accurately as possible what's in my head. I hope it makes sense. :\

And, um, important: These are really all just suggestions, and me trying to show how you can fit quite a bit into two and a half minutes if you're careful, with plenty of time left over to do whatever you wanted. If you want a three minute trailer, the following example will still give you a full thirty seconds free to do absolutely anything you want with... It's really just a suggestion. :\ I don't want to come across as an egotistical elitist.

Summary: a pirate faction attacks the player's home base, but the player fends them off with the help of an allied faction, showing much of the later-game combat and gameplay mechanics (although I'll admit it focuses more on the flashier combat than the not-so-flashy mining). It does not, however, show how you can start out with a single ship and work your way up to that.

With more detail:
Spoiler:      SHOW
what I mean by "fast forward": camera accelerates with an accelerating acceleration, basically making a "bell curve" with its speed, and slowing down in the same way. It's a cinematic thing. I'm sure there's a good word for it, but I'm not a professional, nor do I know of a better way to describe it. The whole thing shouldn't take more than a second or two no matter the distance, and would probably be done mostly with editing software to speed things up. You'd have to be careful not to overdo it - provide some "recovery time" between each "fast forward" section. Cinematics, you know.

The trailer I have in my head starts with the words fading in: "A LIMITLESS UNIVERSE"

The camera pans quickly across eight or so star systems, with about a second to each, both to save time and to give a cinematic feel of "wow, there's a lot out there". On the last star system - a system moderately thick with greenish dust - a pirate fighter squadron flies past the camera, and the camera goes into "follow mode" on one of them, pointing in the same direction, and follows them for a few seconds towards a distant ice field.


The camera continues following the pirate fighter squadron, and it's now clear that there are some barely-visible capital ships in the distance among the now-much-closer ice field. The camera fast-forwards past the pirate fighter squadron to the capital ships, arriving and showing the immense scale between the fighter/bomber groups whizzing about and the battleships/carriers. The camera switches and shows from a different angle, letting you see fighters take off from inside the carriers; the camera switches again and shows more ships arriving from a trade lane that heads towards a nearby planet; the camera switches again and runs along the side of a massive battleship to the left, a jump hole visible in the distance as tiny fighters buzz past on the right side of the screen to really show the scale; it is also obvious that this faction of pirate ships is moving slowly towards the jump hole. All of this shows off the stunning graphics Josh has worked so hard on - including the ice field.


The camera, where it was before the last onscreen text, does a fast-forward slide, moving to the jump gate. We pass through, seeing the awesome, procedurally-generated jump hole animation that GraphicsJosh may or may not create, coming out on a very different, blue-tinted system with an asteroid field, and not too many dust clouds to block the view. You can see a far-off planet in the distance that looks like it might be habitable, but we don't spend more than a second looking at it.


The camera accelerates into the asteroid field, slowing beside a group of miners picking their way through it, showing the mining animations and the miner AI; the camera does a fast-forward orbital reposition and shows it all from a different angle, before latching on (in third person) to a miner that's leaving towards a nearby trade lane. When the miner reaches the trade lane, the onscreen text appears:


The camera fast-forwards past the aforementioned miner ship, following the trade lane to a giant orbital station orbiting the aforementioned planet. Miners and merchants alike are arriving, docking, departing, and there are a group of ships clustered around "idly", only interested in playing the market - the camera latches onto one of these in third person, and then does a third-to-first person transition to show you it's the same ship (the player ship): GraphicsJosh gets to show off his new market system in the full UI beauty. Shiny, capn'.

And the screen fades to black.

"THE ONLY LIMITS" fades in,
followed by, beneath it: "ARE YOUR OWN"
And we hold it there for four or so seconds, giving the viewer a chance to really focus on it and let it sink in, and then...

The cinematics portion begins.

The text fades out to the miners' asteroid field, showing capital ships, bombers, fighters, entering the system through the jump hole. The capital ships mostly ignore the miners, but the camera shows an angled-upwards view of fighters rushing to engage the fleeing miners, which crumple like paper, the pirates blowing past like nobody's business, headed onwards towards the orbital station.

The camera switches to the planet I mentioned earlier, Earthlike in all its atmospheric-scattering glory, as fighters and bombers stream upwards from its surface to protect the faction's system. The camera follows one of them out along its field of view, looking from the planet, past the orbital station, to zoom in on the huge battleships and carriers that are approaching in a truly "Oh ****" moment.

The camera switches to the player's RTS-oriented bird's eye perspective of the system as he orders his ships into position, flanking the enemy, and tries to get his capital ships out from behind the planet. (there's a fleet of ships from an allied faction approaching at one corner of the screen, but it's not supposed to be noticed until the viewer's second view - the player obviously doesn't notice them.) Soon after, it shows the view from the player's cockpit, dials everywhere, everything looking totally like a Hollywood OS from the future as he leaves the orbital station (which is already taking damage with beautiful explosions as weapons hit its surface) and joins into the fray to desperately, valiantly defends the people he loves (or views as tools, depending on the player, I guess).

(from here on, the camera can do whatever, switching between orbital/chase/first person - just showing a series different clips from different perspectives. The idea is to edit it so that you get as much action onscreen at all times as possible.)

GraphicsJosh is uncaged, as scores of pirates pour out from around the arriving pirate capital ships, swarming everything and sending everything up in a blaze, the player dodging past the smoking hulls of some of his foremost fighters in order to chase down the pirates. The player flies between the enemy battleships, blasting everything he can and trying to hold them off just long enough for his capital ships arrive - which they do. The battle is joined in earnest, as the player's meager capital ships line up alongside those of the pirates, their cannons and missiles swarming as they take out each others' turrets and systems. The first of the players' battleships explodes violently due to a combined assault of the pirates' superior fleet, and then, in a plot-twist moment -

- The player's allied trading partner faction arrives, complete with a set of capital ships of their own. The battle begins anew, and with the combined forces of the player's ships and the allied faction, the tide is turned, the pirate ships exploding and retreating, with plenty of cinematic clips like the player flying between two opposing battleships, shockwaves from gigantic railgun explosions shaking the camera, etc. The idea is to make it awesome, and that shouldn't be hard to do.

As the battle ends, the pirates fleeing, the text fades in:

followed by a URL to

The total length for this is two minutes and thirty seconds, roughly (I may have miscounted), as I show in detail in the below spoiler.

A timed play-by-play:
Spoiler:      SHOW
(~04 secs) - Onscreen Text: A LIMITLESS UNIVERSE
(Not "infinite" because LIMIT Theory - going with "limitless" theme)
(~08 secs) - Camera pans quickly across eight or so star systems, with ~ one second for each, in time with music (I'd say (relatively) slow fade out, fast fade in)
(keeping this short so that we don't waste too much time on showing off systems)
(~08 secs) - A small (enemy) fighter squadron flies across the screen of the last star system, camera pans and accelerates to follow, "orbiting" them to show detail
(showing off ship detail, and the fighter squadron thing - the "enemy" is to make sure it's obvious these are pirates or some such. Cinematic purposes. A good place to build up tension/suspense)

(~04 secs) - Onscreen Text: WITH LIMITLESS OPPORTUNITY

(~04 secs) - Camera, still following fighter squadron, approaches a large fleet of (enemy) ships that are flying towards an ice field
(establishing ice fields, showing off fleets, showing off capital ships, showing off bombers, establishing factions)
(~04 secs) - Camera does a smooth, gradiated fast-forward to where the fighter squadron arrives; breaks away from said squadron and pans about the ships
(showing off ship diversity, mainly just a good cinematic transistion)
(~04 secs) - Camera switches to a viewpoint where it can show more ships arriving and forming up through trade lanes, as the fleet enters aforementioned ice field
(showing off trade lanes, showing more ships arriving for a massed attack, showing off ice fields, cinematics)
(~04 secs) - Camera switches to a viewpoint directly beside a capital ship, slowly moving forwards along it as smaller ships fly past, a jump hole in the distance
(showing off the impressive scale between fighters and capital ships, establishes jump holes)

(~04 secs) - Onscreen Text: WHERE WOULD YOU GO?

(~08 secs) - Camera does a smooth, gradiated fast-forward to the jump hole, showing GraphicsJosh's spiffy jump hole transition animation as the camera passes through into a unique, easily-recognizable star system with a (not too dusty) asteroid field
(not too dusty so you can see a nearby planet through it, shows off jump holes, establishes asteroid fields)

(~04 secs) - Onscreen text: WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

(~04 secs) - Camera does a smooth, gradiated fast-forward to a sparse cluster of ships mining in an asteroid field
(Yay cinematics, asteroid mining, AI ships mining asteroids, what else needs be said?)
(~04 secs) - Camera does a quick fast-forward slide to another angle, showing more ships mining said asteroid field, starts to follow a ship entering a trade lane
(showing the planet again, getting ready for the next part)

(~04 secs) - Onscreen Text: WHO WOULD YOU BE?

(~04 secs) - Camera does a fast-forward slide past the ship it was following, moving along a trade lane; ends at a huge orbital station
(As pretty an orbital station as GraphicsJosh desires, shows planets even more close-up, can even show a trade lane headed towards a planet)
(~04 secs) - Camera "latches onto" a motionless ship near the station, doing a third/first person transition to show off GraphicsJosh's awesome market UI
(establishes first-person stuff, establishes the player character, shows off the market, gives a little taste of buying/selling)

(~02 secs) - Onscreen text: (fade in) THE ONLY LIMITS
(~02 secs) - Onscreen text: (fade in underneath) ARE YOUR OWN
(~04 secs) - hold the onscreen text there for jussssttttttt a second, annnnddddddd...

we begin the cinematic portion.

(~08 secs) - Camera switches to the miner's asteroid field, showing ships of all sizes coming through the jump hole and blasting through the fleeing miners like they're nothing

(~08 secs) - Show a bevy of fighter ships taking off from the planet, get a view from the planet with the station and asteroid field in the distance, "zoom in" to focus on the already-visible capital ships

(~04 secs) - Show the player ship's cockpit view as he orders his meager fleets into position against the attacking pirate ships;

(~04 secs) - Show the fight from the player's view as he joins in the fray, leaving the orbital station as it begins to shudder with explosions from long-range weaponry

(~08 secs) - GraphicsJosh uncaged; pirates pour out from around the capital ships, swarming and attacking the player; first-person view showing the battle from the player's perspective, flying between battleships, showing all the weapons flying past, dozens of close calls

(~08 secs) - Orbital cam shows the battle in as cinematic a way as possible, makes it look like the player is almost definitely going to lose, but pans across a distant group of the player's own capital ships at the last second, coming out from behind the planet; also shows a group of ships from an allied faction approaching from a perpendicular trade lane

(~16 secs) - The battle is joined; the player's capital ships arrive and there are beautiful explosions everywhere, gunfire, etc. The important thing is cinematics, showing clips from both the player's perspective and the detached camera, showing the battle from all angles - a shot with the player flying between two opposing megaships as they fight, chasing a fleeing pirate into a nearby asteroid field, would be awesome - there's just so much you can do here I'm not even going to attempt to list everything off. It looks like they're really losing, before, halfway through this, there's a plot twist as an allied faction's ships arrive, helping the player blast the pirates into oblivion. At the end, the player is winning, and the enemy capital ships are either exploding or retreating.

(~12 secs) - Onscreen text: LIMIT THEORY; text fades out, url fades in, then out, then trailer ends

Total length: Two minutes and 32 seconds, unless I miscounted.

Wowwwwww, this post is huge. :oops: I did not mean for it to wind up being so large. My apologies for the long read. :?
Last edited by Talvieno on Fri Apr 18, 2014 1:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Limit Theory Trailer

I agree with Talvieno. An updated kickstarter trailer would be the biggest sellijg point for me. I love the trailer as it is, and with updated graphics and actual AI/Stations/etc. it'd be awesome. Especially with that super awesome music you had. Really loved that piece, it fit the trailer well.
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