Creating the WildStar Reveal Trailer
Ever since we announced WildStar back in August, the press and our fans have been saying so many kind things about our trailer that I thought it might be kind of cool to give everyone a little more insight to how it came together. It all came together through the hard work of a ton of creative people.
So, where to start? Our game is filled with hundreds of stories and characters: the history of Nexus (the planet on which WildStar’s story begins) goes back tens of thousands of years. But since our game is a new IP we needed to boil WildStar down to its purest essence. That meant one thing: creating a story infused with characters brimming with personality who come to an unexplored planet for the adventure of their lifetime.
One thing that was important to us in creating our CG trailer was to find a way to show off the special features of WildStar. There are a lot of elements in the trailer that we don’t explicitly point to which are key components of our game. We have a path system that different characters can choose (in addition to race and class, it gives another level of purpose or meaning to why your character is there to begin with – and you get different content based on the path you choose). In WildStar you can ride vehicular mounts, and who doesn’t like to do that? Also in the trailer viewers will see that WildStar offers a variety of special content, designed to vary your play experience and offer you challenges unique to your style of play, every time you play. As a player, you may unlock the entrance to a hidden dungeon, you may activate a dangerous ancient technology, or discover that the world around you isn’t always what it appears to be at first glance. So there are a lot of subtle things we hint at that you’ll experience while playing our game.
Characters, check! Cool alien environment, check! Adventure, check! Now all we needed to do was get this baby done! There are a lot of fantastic studios out there that could pull this trailer off but we wanted to partner with one that was known for the level of quality and creativity that we strive to hit ourselves. It was a short list and Blur Studios was at the top of it.
Our first meeting with Blur was fantastic! We immediately saw that they understood what our world was about, but also had the passion to make this a little different than your average game trailer. We wanted to tackle challenges like natural dialogue between characters, subtle humor (it’s harder than it sounds), and just enough action to whet your appetite.
Trying to get all of that in fewer than two and a half minutes was pretty tough. Everything you want to do adds time. With a trailer, every second, almost every frame is at a premium. You start by putting everything you can possibly think of into the script then slowly (and painfully) chipping away at the bits that aren’t driving the story forward. Luckily most of the trimming is done in preproduction using storyboards so you don’t waste a lot of time on making it look pretty then changing the whole thing.
In my opinion, a pre-rendered game trailer should look like an idealized version of the game. Basically if we had unlimited time, technology and resources this is what we’d want it to look like. So our primary goal in the look was simple: take the assets of the game, polish them up, and use them in the trailer. Some assets had to be built from scratch, such as the characters and creatures. But others are nearly an exact replica of what we have in game. The decals all over the bike match to a T. I want people to get excited when they see these things in the game. Hopefully there will be a moment of excitement when they ride that hover bike through the desert being chased down by a horde of robots! A moment of “OMG! That was in the trailer!”
A lot happens in the months of production. The animation moves extremely fast. Blur’s team was submitting updates almost daily. It was amazing to see how fast it came together. There was a moment when I got a render of the red “Piglet” ship and screamed “I want that toy!”
The final element to the whole thing was getting together the sound, voices and music. We lucked out and managed to get an amazing cast. Troy Baker is our Human Explorer, Tara Strong was a perfect fit for the Aurin Scientist, and the amazingly talented Jim Cummings played Sarge, our Granok Soldier. I find it humorous that our Granok is voiced by the guy who does Winnie the Pooh! Carbine’s own Jeff Kurtenacker composed the music. Jeff is great at finding the perfect blend of Action, Adventure, Mystery, Sci-fi and Western. Once again, a lot to get in under three minutes.
The last few weeks of the production went by in a flash! There were so many people working on a ton of different elements. It would take another 20 pages to cover everything that happened the final weeks before we released the trailer! In the end, we all managed to bring it together. The best part of the whole experience was seeing the response online. I can’t tell you how great it feels when people get excited about a piece you worked on. It is amazing looking back on the talented group of people who worked such long nights to help bring it together. I’m glad it all worked out and that our work was well-received.
Now, with our reveal trailer done and dusted, we continue the same awesome, creative work on the game itself. I am excited for what the future holds and look forward to sharing more of the talent of our creative types in the coming months.