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Why A Trailer Matters

EVE Online Columns - By Beau Hindman on December 16, 2014

Why A Trailer Matters

The other night I was participating in an annual tradition by getting ready sit down to think about starting to consider a possible temporary return to EVE Online, a tradition in my house since I first started my account in July of 2004. EVE Online will either pull you in completely, tempt you once in a while, or turn you off immediately. I fall in the category of the occasional temptation. Now that the game says you can “train multiple characters at once”, I was once again tempted.

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But then I thought about giving the trial another go, instead of restarting my “main”. I typed EVE Trial in Google and the official trial page glared at me. I also went to YouTube to check out some videos while my download started. I have to say, by the way, that EVE Online’s website and trial sign-up and download is a thing of beauty. Maybe “a cool website” doesn’t sound like a great compliment, but in this age of unbearable gaming sites, EVE’s website shines forth as a beacon of modern communication.

Anyway, I come across the latest EVE trailer. It’s a video that starts off being described as “uncensored” and the first thing I thought was “Great, will this be a video with a bunch of kids screaming horrible things over Vent?” and, it turned out, the voice recordings were

“…recorded by EVE Online players during actual gameplay.”

But then the video starts. Big music, typical large fleets and masses of star maps and blinking lights. Nothing really surprising for anyone who might be even slightly familiar with EVE, but then it really starts to wind together. The voices of the players begin to sound more urgent, the music kicks up, and the action begins. Soon you’re struck by a few things:

  1. Very few women play EVE
  2. Brits like EVE
  3. Everything moves slowly
  4. Big action, yo
  5. Groups are very important
  6. Players like to repeat stuff like they’re on a SWAT team

So then the music calms down, and we’re listening to a player describing being chased down while carrying stuff that is worth a lot. At this point, I started to lose a little faith in the trailer because the game capture of a smaller craft reminded me of an older EVE video that showed poorly-animated pilots literally steering smaller craft on an adventure. That horrible trailer reminded me more of a Star Wars episode rather than a massive EVE group fight, and so I wiped it from my memory. That is, until the smaller craft appeared on screen in this current video.

Next, we see a miner talking about a little rock that was worth enough to be “huge” for the miner. (Even though he threw in the fact that, for some people, that little rock was nothing. Which brings me to a good point; if you care about what other players think of your virtual accomplishments, don’t play EVE so much. There will always be someone who has a lot more.)

Next we see a manufacturer, but this part is boring. Manufacturing and playing the market is boring. Stop it. Skip this part. Trading is cool, but making stuff is boring. Sorry. It is. Not in every game, but in EVE.

Now, at this point in the trailer things start to feel a bit silly. Next up a player is describing – to whom, I do not know, but I’m guessing to his YouTube audience – how his ship will be outfitted. Again, boring and a bit silly but just let the music carry you along. Tweaking a ship in EVE is pretty cool, but let’s move on.

On the next segment, titled “Rooks and Kings” the real fun begins. It starts off with players in a group sounding like a bunch of people heading for a nap but then quickly pops onto a scene of some sort of laser-beamy-spaceshield-explosion-y goodness. Suddenly, they’re all surrounded by glowy death, and it’s wonderful to watch. The music builds. The players gleefully giggle in that way that people do when they walk through a scarehouse at Halloween.

Now we just go into a series of videos of players doing the “go go go!” type chatter while jumping into different battlegrounds. There are some very telling moments in these clips; players cursing, yelling at each other for doing stupid stuff, explosions, pinpoint lasers. A titan fires its big-old-beam at something. Players laugh in disbelief. Moments. Moments.

Finally, some dude happily yells “c’mon boys!!” (while the lone women in his corp cringes, I imagine) as explosions, well, explode (EVE has perfected explosions) and while ships fly past while seeming to be in some sort of formation.

The remaining seconds of the video are filled with a montage of random EVE events and activities, and only then are you shocked by the fact that the video obviously barely scratched the surface.

If it sounds like I am occasionally criticizing this video, I am. I have many problems with it, actually, but most of those stem from issues I have with the game and its sometimes bland gameplay and very often yucky (that’s the best word I could come up with) community members.

But, here’s the deal: this is one slickly made video, and it was made mostly (from what I can tell) from in-game footage and “actual audio.” The glorious thing about this video is that it wraps up almost everything I love about MMOs in one convenient, 4-minute package.

I’ll quickly list them:

First, it shows player-on-player dependence. Players playing with each other, accomplishing goals, even goals that are sometimes a bit evil… that’s what MMOs were designed for.

Second, it details the variety of activities that MMOs – even basic ones – can be known for. MMOs are living, virtual worlds. We might become bored occasionally or we might become angry at the pace of development of some of our favorites, but MMOs are always alive, somewhere, for someone.

Third, it illustrates how international MMOs can be. It’s an entirely connected hobby. It depends on being connected. And those connections fan out across the world and across nationalities. Sure, the video also illustrates the lack of female pilots in EVE Online specifically, but most MMOs in general are some of the most well-balanced you’ll find.

I want to see a trailer that shows the passion behind the product. I want to see the time spent on the game – even if it’s only time spent by a tiny team of a half-dozen developers – and I want to believe in that product because they believe in it. I want to get sucked into the mechanics and gimmicks of the game through the trailer and I want to get worked up not because the trailer looks so realistic, but because it reflects the imaginations of its creators. This EVE trailer is a prime example of what other developers should do with theirs.

Even if you do not enjoy the game as much as some people, you have to appreciate that trailer.

Beau Hindman / Beau is a writer, artist, PR/CM, game designer and pro moderator, and he's been blogging since 2002. He lives it up in Austin, Texas with his community manager wife. He's also the author of Anna the Powerful, a sci-fi book about the world's only superhero. Buy it here: http://my.bookbaby.com/book/anna-the-powerful