EpicBattleCry - Skirmish 179 - Shopping For Anarchy

Grab the popcorn, we're talking cinematic trailers and their impact on our perception of games! Plus, Nintendo talks Link, Mario, Yoshi and more, Splinter Cell's SE takes off, THQ's assets get sold, and Shogun 2 turns to gold. No admission (of guilt) required on this cinematic edition of EBC!




Nintendo Direct news
Splinter Cell SE
THQ sell off
Shogun 2 Gold Edition Announced

TOPIC - Grab the Popcorn or Cut the Fluff?
Cinematic trailers are great, but do they actually reflect the games they represent? Do pre-rendered trailers get players excited about dropping money on a title by falsely promising an experience that the actual game doesn’t deliver? It’s an issue that has been looming large in the game industry for years and as we enter a new console generation, the lines between fact and fiction are continuing to blur. We explore on this cinematic edition of EBC!


Tony: Bungie Customer Service Kicks Ass
Brent: Sly Cooper Thieves in Time animated prequel
DK: Nintendo Finally Delivering Zelda for Wii U, New Mario Adventure

MEMBER Aussie Legend


I'm always down for some good old school game design, whilst I'm not one of these gamers who is particularly romanticized by a game just because its retro, I do admire the amount of careful thought and execution that went into those games that were so restricted by the hardware and memory limitations of that age.

In reference to Ni No Kuni directly, JRPG's as a genre have relied on old school game design almost exclusively for such a long time now (most of the newer design philosophy's branched off into their own genre, the WRPG), its good to see a game that truely looks fresh and unique but at the same time familiar enough to be able to tangible to those of us who grew up with the Final Fantasies, Chrono Triggers, Earthbounds and Illusion of Gaia's of our youth. There have been slim pickings as of late for us JRPG fans as time and time again we've seen them poorly designed and ham-fistedly executed. I can't really pin point a specific reason though unfortunately, for some reason developers have lost the ability to make them good as of late (at least outside of Atlus, Monolith or Level 5).

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Tags: EpicBattleCry, podcasts

Comment by Rowan - AzureCantabile on January 31, 2013 at 10:40am

Something to point out, you should really watch that Killzone 2 target render trailer again, because it actually doesn't look as good as the final game, and the animated attempts to evoke first person shooting actually look almost as bad as the first person sequence from the Doom movie. XD People talk about that trailer with rose-tinted glasses, but if you go back and watch it today, it's attempt to look like gameplay falls flat as something that doesn't resemble fun gameplay, or super impressive graphic fidelity compared to the killzone games that followed.

Comment by Rowan - AzureCantabile on January 31, 2013 at 11:02am

As for the SWTOR CG trailers, they told an interesting connected narrative in reverse order walking back from the timeframe of the game, and like any pop-block or breakdown tells you, every move of the jedi temple fight sequence is linked to a skill by the particular character class of each character, the assassin's creed CG trailers (with the exception of the crossbow in the first one) and the Deus Ex trailers all closely show off their initial ideas for takedowns, moves, items, upgrades and mechanics that ended up in the final games. This is only really evident if you watch them with an analytical eye instead of going "oh, the moment to moment gameplay won't resemble this, so none of this is important".

The CG trailer is the reference they turn back to when they want to execute on what they've shown both directly such as Ezio hiring courtesans to distract a target and blending with a crowd and through more subtle visual iconography like Adam jensen smoking in his apartment, gripping a glass so tightly it cracks with light streaming into the room through venetian blinds, or the dream sequences casting Jensen into story of daedalus and icarus.

The issue is rarely that they set out to deceive consumers, and more that "gamers" simply look at these trailers and immediately jump to one of two conclusions. At the end of the day though, the reason I would question the purpose of CG trailers is not that they're misleading, but that you can never realistically expect the average consumer to look at those trailers with the kind of analytical eye even a first year film student could. The reaction of the average consumer will generally be either indifferent based purely on that it's CG, or to take it too literally and judge the game harshly in hindsight.

Comment by Beema on January 31, 2013 at 11:33am

That god damn falcon cry is slowly diminishing my hearing. 

Cinematic trailers for MMO's are especially ridiculous and for me just sort of call even more attention to the discrepancy between both graphics and gameplay. The TES Online one made me think that perhaps Bethesda's time and money would be better spent creating CG films rather than making ostensibly plain and by the numbers MMO's. Comparing it with actual in game footage is depressing.

Obviously you should know that the graphics, at least, are not representative of the game in most of these trailers, but that doesn't mean they aren't still misleading. Daniel's point about the Dishonored trailer was excellent: visually it may have been above the game's standards, but what it showed was actually very representative of the gameplay. Now compare that to the TES trailer: you most certainly will not be scaling citadel battlements in the MMO. No, you will be running around fighting waves of identical enemies inside of a dungeon with some other people with brightly colored screen names floating over their head. 

Furthermore, even if graphical fidelity is much more advanced in a trailer, I feel that they should at least try to have the art style be consistent with that of the game. In the case of SWTOR, it went from photorealistic, to extremely cartoony, which seems absurd. 

Finally, what bugs me the most about these trailers is this: the hype surrounding them and the expectations they are allowed to set. This might be more a fault of the gaming media, who will pump up a game to ridiculous proportions over a CG trailer, despite it obviously not being indicative of the quality of the game at all.

Comment by Hunts Hans on January 31, 2013 at 11:55am

I think you must differentiate between CG and actual gameplay trailers. Sure most developers choose a big CG trailer to show off there game and represent it well. And i think everybody enjoys some eyecandy here and there. There forth the function of trailers is to transport the atmosphere and give you a feeling how the game turns out. The better a trailer can do that the better a trailer is in my opinion. It doesn't matter if it is a CG trailer and the game isn't looking half as good. Its about getting the same vibe. Let's say we have a game that is all about the gameplay and the trailer is big CG showing of the bleak story. In that case this is a fail.

So in the end a trailer is all about representation when it comes to satisfy us, despite the fact that i enjoy most of the CG trailer even if the game fails.

Comment by Patch on January 31, 2013 at 12:49pm

Cinematic trailers, in light of a previous discussion of console horsepower as a selling point for next-gen consoles, should be responsible in which eye-candy they use to represent their new title. Even if the general consumer is knowledgeable enough to make the distinction between marketing and technical limitations, it would be fairer from the perspective of the consumer to execute these cinematic trailers in the engine of the game which is being produced. CounterStrike: Global Offensive comes to mind where although it dramatizes the actual gameplay experience, uses source material (no pun intended, DK!) such as weapons, combat, and character models to both demonstrate authentic game mechanics and entice gamers old and new to the series.

Gaming as an industry and a medium of entertainment has the unique opportunity to demonstrate a world where any player can take control of the various elements of storytelling and gameplay, where other mediums cannot, and to accurately represent a game, an exaggeration of the material will inevitably lead to a disconnect between a consumer's perception of the experience and the actual product if not otherwise stated by the developers. The last thing to note is that in addition to cinematic trailers should be gameplay trailers which firmly plant a customer’s expectations. I would like to see more advertising which uses a marriage of both to give a well-rounded presentation of gameplay and concept.

Comment by Beema on January 31, 2013 at 1:05pm

Oh, and trailers that come out long before the game! Although I suppose that's a slightly different topic. 

But, remember that CG trailer for The Last Guardian? Yeah...

Comment by StarBound on January 31, 2013 at 1:51pm

I love using Blizzard as an example. They are the kings of CG rendered and we never expected the games to look like them. But their trailers always focused on the story and never the gameplay. The gameplay was always shown as in game renders whenever they did show what the game would look like. Take the WoW E3 trailer of 2003 and 2004 (think its this years). We knew that was what WoW was gonna look like. But look at Starcraft 2 Ghosts of the Past trailer and I for one was surprised that the trailer was created from in-game CG and real time renders.

Maybe Blizzard is a bad example to use because of their pedigree but if anything can be taken from them as an example it is that their CG trailers sets the mood and gets us excited to the point where we are already sold but a real-time rendered trailer just solidifies our confidence and reassures our decision to buy it.

Comment by Hokum on January 31, 2013 at 5:24pm

As long as one stays away from the Killzoney target render misrepresentation, I am all for CG trailers being badass. Who thinks these things represent gameplay anyway? The comic book analogy is spot on, CG trailers are just a way of representing the product in the best possible way. It is nothing more right/wrong then how McDonalds burgers look on the commercials vis-a-vis the sad ones you buy from the restaurants.

Comment by Christopher Brady on January 31, 2013 at 8:12pm

Anyone remember the Dead Island reverse Zombie Attack trailer?  The one that has NOTHING to do with the actual game?  As in, there's not even 'kid' zombies in it?  That one is the most egregious of all trailers to me.  It LIES.  There's no sense of panic in the game, no horrific choice to make, or loved one to lose, unlike the Walking Dead Interactive Graphic Novel.  But everyone seemed OK with it.

I have a question for DK and other Nintendo Fans, about the Nintendo Direct thing.  Did you hear any release dates for their games?  I don't recall hearing any.  Any new Third Party Exclusives?  I was looking for them, but I didn't see anything we didn't already know is coming.  Except one, the Monolith Soft game, which in all fairness, if it's a Xenoblade sequel, we have to remember that game actually came out in 2010 in EU, which means they've had plenty of time to actually make another game.

But other than that, all I saw was...  Par for the course, nothing really exceptional by Nintendo's part.  Mario games?  Yep, that's expected, in fact I'd be more shocked if there weren't any.  Zelda games?  At some point (at NO POINT in the presentation do they actually hammer down this new Zelda, ALL THEY SAY IS:  They want to 'challenge' the formula.  THAT'S IT.  WE DO NOT KNOW IF IT'S OPEN WORLD, DO NOT ASSUME, BECAUSE NINTENDO HAS NOT CONFIRMED IT) they'll bring a new one out.  Every Nintendo Console has had at least ONE 'new' Zelda game, usually mid to late in the console's cycle.

But other than that, nothing that we should not expect from Nintendo, so count me as disappointed, they talked a lot, but said nothing.

Comment by LeO2PaC on February 1, 2013 at 1:30am

I'm tired of Sly games... I WANT CRASH BANDICOOT!! 


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