The teaser video is the introductory movie that each MMO has in order to attract you to the gameplay. In arcade games, it’s called an attract mode. Once you download it, and run through the whole install process, you usually get rewarded with a cool video showing the potential the game has.
The problem with most teaser videos in my opinion is that they are disjointed from the actual experience. Take the WoW intro.
First off, it starts with a lot of talking about Horde and Alliance and a war which is going to make little real sense in the later context of the video, which just has one-on-one fighting. In my opinion trying to put in chunks of info lorewise has to be done all or nothing. You can’t just do an info dump and then move on to events which don’t make much sense in the context of it. If “the drums of war thunder once again” you should show war, not isolated one-on one fighting.
Plus, in general, you should show that war, or at least snippets. Using voiceover on a map screen is a copout, because it does nothing to add the sense of a real war, as opposed to burning battlegrounds, or even a single scene of a gravestone.
Finally, it’s high quality pre-rendered footage, which has very little to do with the game itself. Its a subtle letdown to go from that to a character model screen of much less quality.
My MMO teaser video will have or be:
-done in the game engine. As much as possible, what you see is what you get. While it wont be as flashy as pre-rendered cgi, or hand animation, wise use of camera angles and pacing should give a good enough experience without breaking immersion by having the first experience of the game be more than my client can handle.
-unified thematically. I personally plan to have it be similar to the latter part of the WoW video, which is pretty much a job teaser, showing what the jobs and races can do. However, its pointless to try and also explain lore in my opinion, unless you entirely focus the teaser video on that.
The FFXI video is a good example of that. It is telling about the first war against the Shadow Lord, and specifically the battle of Tanvanzania. But unknown to the player at first, it is telling a very specific story, part of the backstory of Aldo, leader of the Tenshodo. While it’s very effective, the lore tends to slide off players, simply because they don’t have the context to evaluate it till they play and recognize it in game.
I feel that it is better to do a job/race teaser, because it’s what your players are most interested in when they open the box. The very next step is from this is usually to choose server and make characters, and teaser videos can quickly introduce aspects of character selection.
-no narration. This is a personal choice of mine. Voiceovers can be useful in conveying information, but its’s much weaker in my opinion to tell rather than show. If you can’t show something you wish to convey easily, it may be too complex for a newbie at start. If your MMO is based on an eternal war between two factions, is 30 seconds really enough time to impart information like that?
I’ve posted it before here, but the Samurai Champloo introduction uses no voice, not even to establish the setting, but in 1:23 you get a staggering amount of information about the characters, from Mugen’s wild ways, to Jin being calm and collected, to Fuu loving dice. You get little to no information on the actual plot, but you have enough to identify with the characters and understand them at a base level, as well as get a strong sense of the style of the show.