Mindnight is a multiplayer chat-based game of manipulation, subterfuge and social deduction for 5 to 8 players
Francisc from NoMoon came to me because they had a hard time with their previous trailer. It was technically good but the structure had issues and it was difficult to understand what was the game about. Watching a trailer and thinking “What did I just watch??” is not a good thought to have.
The trailer for Mindnight was a challenge in a way that a chat-based game is hard to explain in an interesting and entertaining way.
Francisc and I agreed on the point to not use a voice-over because of the nature of the game, meaning the sound would need to be even more important and well composed. For once, I didn’t have to worry about the music and the sound effects. Sasha, a composer (info below), did a piece custom made for the trailer.
Script & Concept
The first step was to start from scratch and work on a script to find a proper story structure. We end up with a story based on how a classic game looks like. The character’s dialogues are heavily used to explain some mechanics and the point of the game to the viewer ; all of that while you can follow the main story.
I kept the crucial gameplay information to not overwhelm the viewer so we can stick to the necessary and create an atmosphere easier. The problem when you show all the panels, options and possibilites is that your story is getting interrupted by unnecessary informations and your intention scatters.
However, depending of the game, showing all of that stuff is promordial so it is something to be careful of and do the right thing for your trailer.
What if I told you that I didn’t launch the game to record footages but instead, recreate the entire game in post-production from the assets. That way, you can completely manipulate every asset and choose to decide which animation go where and when. I accord a very important role to the details; people notice unconsciously that a character moving slightly adds value to the shot. You can not have this exactly how you want until you record 100times the same scene.
You can think it is a waste of time, but in fact, for Mindnight it isn’t for multiples reasons :
- You can manipulate all the animations and put them where you want (text, cursor, characters animations, subway passing by…)
- If something changes during the development of the game, you don’t have to record AGAIN all you did previously
- You choose the exact timing of everything. Finding the perfect timing when you record actions from players is almost impossible (camera movement, time between two actions…).
- You don’t have to deal with codecs and video files
- It is fast to do if there are not many things to animate.
2D Network Animation
The nodes animations are not like this in the game. So I decided that a good way to add action to a chat-based game trailer is to implement slight animations. Overall, it gives more structure to the trailer by clearly showing what is happening.
Early in the process I started to design the texts and nodes style frame. There has been a few iterations to find a proper style that would completely suit the trailer. Since the game is in pixel art, having a high definition design was obviously not the best idea. The main problem was the transitions between the shots, the difference of style was too abrupt to blend them well together. I modified the design a little bit and did a pixel art treatment to it.