Total Domination: CGI Cinematic Behind-the-Scenes

By Oren Todoros & Alex Sedov, Plarium

In much the same fashion as movie previews promote upcoming blockbusters, game trailers are exciting marketing tools designed to entice players to play games. If you want to gain a sneak peek of a game, trailers are definitely a go-to marketing solution.

The trailer is kind of like an appetizer before the main course – the actual game. Trailers show you highlights of what to expect, so they’re great ways to whet your appetite!

The best part about the game trailers nowadays is that you can easily share them with your friends and fellow players on social media networks. Get locked and loaded, we’re about to go behind the scenes of Plarium with Total Domination.

MMO War Strategies with Plarium

One of the companies that really works hard to promote game trailers is Plarium. This successful company has been developing MMO war strategies since 2009. All of their games are readily available off web browsers, social networks, as well as mobile platforms.

One of the most successful and wildly-popular Plarium games is Total Domination. This game ranks highly in the Hardcore Social Gaming genre, so it makes sense that the mobile iOS version was eagerly awaited in 2013.

Now that we’ve got your attention, we’re going to delve deeper into how the Visual FX team at Plarium went to work on creating a Total Domination cinematic trailer in anticipation of the game’s release at the App Store. Sit back, relax and enjoy!

Getting Started with the Cinematic Trailer

There are many challenges involved in creating a visually-stunning cinematic trailer. This is especially true for a game like Total Domination. For Plarium, the biggest hurdle to overcome was the lack of human resources.

The fact of the matter is that no cinematic team was available at all. Naturally, that was objective number one. To get the wheels turning, an expert team needed to be assembled. With the cinematic team in place – and roles defined – Plarium’s VFX team went to work!

The #1 objective for the team was quality. Even with limited resources, tight deadlines and other constraints, the VFX team was not willing to compromise an iota on quality. With that in mind, the goal was to create a world-class trailer for Total Domination – on par with that of the finest VFX teams.

Inspiration came in many forms, including watching scores of cinematic videos produced by other studios, as reference points for video trailers.

As soon as an initial concept outline was put in place, the team began working on a draft story board with 4 action scenes. Each of these scenes would be carefully detailed. The scenes comprised animated sketches, with underdeveloped fragments that defined the shots. Lots of hard work went into developing the animation, and many changes took place along the way to ensure that the right angles, shots and visual effects were generated.

Tools used by the VFX Team

Believe it or not, but everything that you see in Total Domination was created manually in 3D Max and Maya. Several different programs were used to distribute the pipeline, while most of the animation and the composition were created in Maya. The VFX, shading and lighting were completed in 3D Max. It took two months to assemble a VFX team of professionals and an additional four months to produce the video trailer.

Team Talk – End Results

The overall consensus of the VFX team is that the game trailer was a raging success. Of course there’s always room for improvement, as mistakes will be made along the way. These were the sentiments of the lead, direction, animation and rigging professional – Viacheslav Lisovsky. He goes on to explain that the invaluable experience that everyone on the team took away from the project is their crowning achievement.

Lisovsky intimated that it’s not only the best practices that create an awesome video trailer; there is lots of latitude to think outside the box. Since conditions vary, lots of different software programs can be used to meet the exigencies of different projects.

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