Benjamin Read’s Game Design

Instead of making a game for my final project I have decided to make a cinematic style trailer to promote my game. Since my background is in visual effects and animation this seemed like a good choice to refine my skills and to add another piece of work to my showreel.

Developers of entertainment games use these opening cinematics to establish a context and begin the narrative, create plot hooks, and motivate individuals to play the game (Dickey, 2006). There is substantial evidence to support the above quote, just look at any major game from the last 40 years, they all have had an opening cinematic to draw people in and to start the narrative. Just look at Blizzard Entertainments trailer to the original World of Warcraft that was released in 2004 and even in 2016 it’s still regarded as the biggest subscriber MMO to date.

“An opening cinematic can prepare players for the serious game by setting the stage in an emotionally arousing way to motivate players and thus encourage positive learning outcomes (Bowers et al. 2014, p. 94).” I feel that the trailer for the 2004 release of World of Warcraft does this.

Part of the inspiration for my game and cinematic trailer has come from looking at 2K games 2007 first person shooter Bioshock. Bioshock gave me the idea for an underwater environment, which after my virtual seascape I’m looking forward to exploring this further. As you can see from the pictures below there seems to also be a Blade Runner feel to the type of architecture used.



I got more detailed information behind the art design from the making of Bioshock video which can be seen below.

But the actual type of architecture I’m after comes from the unpopular attempt at an underwater area by Blizzard Entertainment. This area known as Vashj’ir and is home to a historical temple once used by the Highborne in World of Warcraft. An example of what this temple looks is shown in the pictures below.


The kelp and coral that is shown in the above pictures is one of the many features I’ll be using to dress up the scene. Now to actually achieve this environment, I have been looking at many tutorials to get started and I found one that will work to my advantage.

This tutorial can be seen at the following link. I have decided to use this one because it goes into very good detail about the features of Cinema 4D that will be used and how it will help to create the scene.

Dickey, M. D, 2006, ‘Game design narrative for learning: Appropriating adventure game design narrative devices and techniques for the design of interactive learning environments’, Educational Technology Research and Development, vol. 54, no. 3, pp. 245-263.

Bowers, A. C, Haussain, S. T, Lakhmani, S, Procci, K 2014, ‘Opening Cinematics: Their Cost-Effectiveness in Serious Games’, Simulation & Gaming, vol. 45, no. 1, pp. 93-124.


  1. I love that you are creating a trailer for your game as opposed to making the game itself as I am extremely interested in how the finished product will look as you stated that the trailer can motivate players. A good trailer can make or break a game and through creating a trailer you are tackling the task of creating a good trailer for a game which needs to match the feel of the trailer. I think we all know that an amazing trailer can evoke that sense of wonder and when it comes to the release of the game it’s kind of a let down it leaves us with a bad taste in our mouths ala ‘Watch Dogs’.

    Taking inspiration from WoW and Bioshock which in my opinion are some of the best games ever created in terms of world building and immersing the player into a world where you truly feel like you are there and to use some of the best games at creating a distinct feeling through a trailer was an extremely good idea! I can’t wait to see how it progresses.

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  2. This is completely original in its conceptual development and I’m really excited because the few games I have played the opening cinematic has grabbed my attention. The game I play is usually dependent on whether or not I skip the cinematic at the start. Some the spring to mind are StarWars ‘The Force Unleashed” both 1 and 2 were both amazing but the second really caught my attention at the time of its release ( Perhaps some suggestive ideas to look into is perhaps bridges between levels? Or even cinematic that lead into gameplay and some relevant examples that I can think of are the Battle for Middle Earth cinematics that lead into the gameplay carried over from an introductory video ( , another plus for these is they use a lot of stills and concept art from the films, that would obviously require less work from you.

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  3. Seems like you really have the project covered. This is a very unique topic to pursue. Personally I loved the Bladerunner-esque world of Rapture for its aesthetically minded presentation, but the aspect of a cinematic trailer that I feel can’t be understated is that of the audio. When I think of the most confronting or engaging trailers, they tend to be one’s with prominent sound design, namely the ‘Red Dead Redemption’ reveal trailer ( or ‘GTA: Vice City’s trailer (

    Both instances used audio to extensively explore the themes and aesthetics of the games. For this reason I will be very interested to see if audio takes a prominent role in your trailer.

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    1. thanks and yeah I agree the audio will make a great impact towards selling the trailer. I’ve started to look at scenes such as the gunship scene in Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End to see what sounds they used there and to determine if I can create my own similar sounds or if I need to search the net for royalty free sound files.


  4. Very interested to see what your end result will look like, especially taking the trailer line of exploration instead of the game itself, I think it’s rather unique. I’ve seen the footage of the maelstrom that you were taking inspiration from, as the beginning point to the game itself, and it looks absolutely amazing. I agree with the above comment in that sound design, especially doing the trailer, will be a large selling point for the end product, especially drawing from concepts such as Bladerunner and World of Warcraft, the latter having one of the most extensive and immersive soundtracks of any game I’ve ever played. For me, the cinematics involved in a game are a big part of why I choose to play the game in the first place (the Cataclysm cinematic trailer is why I still call that expansion one of my favourites even though it’s a terribly unpopular opinion –

    Good luck, I think it’ll turn out amazing!

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  5. Really keen to see this upcoming work you making, I like the idea of making a trailer instead of the game it self, as within Film industries a good trailer bring out a good movie. in another side I agree with the recent comment about sounds, It wont be as good without a good sounds design, Little hint if you trying to get a sound like pirate the Caribbean, get a shot sound sample and play around with the pitch bend and bang wah effects on ableton.. Best luck!!

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  6. Digging the trailer approach as opposed to making a game, especially considering your background is in animation and vfx, play to your strengths for sure! I would warn against getting too wrapped up in the dazzling nature of game cinematics; I feel this path requires too much time, money, tools, and skills to achieve a level similar to Blizzard (obviously this is a hyperbolic example).

    Instead, I would focus on really trying to develop a narrative in your trailer that you would then link to your game. This would then require you to have an appropriate grasp on your games overarching narrative (and even gameplay mechanics to an extent), whether you make the actual game or not, to then link and effectively showcase in said trailer. Don’t forgot, trailers are there to introduce and tease you into the world and premise of their related game, not to show everything!

    An example of an effective trailer that I had in mind aside from Blizzard’s was Arena Net’s Guild Wars 2 trailer for the expansion Heart of Thorns. It introduces new characters of lore, new areas, and lightly glosses over how they relate, leading audience to “want” to purchase the expansion to find out more.

    That’s the main thing really. SELL your product!

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  7. This is a fascinating idea, and one I didn’t even know was possible to explore, so great work!

    I would definitely recommend checking out the trailers for Rockstar Games releases, as they almost always release some kind of trailer that tries to capture a “cinematic” feel. For example the initial teaser trailer for GTA V ( which shows a mix of story and gameplay.

    Having said this, be very careful with how you choose to approach the trailer. The trailers you have used as examples costed a fair amount of money to produce, and as you are working on a presumably low-non existent budget, I’d be clear about what you want the audience to get out of your trailer, and how you will sell the game itself. You now have the added challenge of selling a fictional game that needs to demonstrate both story and gameplay.

    Either way, I look very much forward to seeing what you come up with!


  8. Hey Ben! Firstly, I think it’s great that you’re not only choosing a big ambitious project, but have also found a unique way to show it off while also honing your skills in visual effects. The fact that your game is influenced by games like WoW and Bioshock only makes the cinematic trailer seem more awesome. These are both games loved for their visual styles, and you have a lot to work with here. I’m looking forward to seeing the final product! Good work

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  9. Trailers and cinematics are a really powerful part of the games experience. I still vividly remember those original Bioshock trailers and how powerful they were in conveying a sense of the game, so diving into that underwater setting could be pretty cool.

    It’s great to see you using your previous skills to build something here, just be careful that you don’t bite off more than you can manage. It quickly becomes very difficult to add life to a semi-static environment, and that’s before the addition of character models, rigging and camera work. That being said, I’m very keen to see what you can do with this idea. Your skills and passion could drive something great!

    If you’re looking for more recent quality cinematics, check out Blizzard’s Overwatch reveal trailer (a personal fave) and Riot’s League of Legends vids – they do a variety of styles, tones and environments really well!

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