Trailers, trailers, trailers. You can’t live with them, and you can’t live without them!
On the one hand it’s so exciting to finally share the new "Tobruk" trailer what we’ve been working on with the Sniper Elite community.
But on the OTHER hand, the very same developers who make the game have to stop what they’re doing, and help put together those trailers too.
For 3D artists, animators, designers, GUI artists, and of course the video production team, each trailer takes days out of the game’s production schedule - that’s always a difficult balance to reach when everybody is so busy trying to ship an ambitious game like Sniper Elite 3, that’s coming out on five platforms at the same time.
Of course one option is to farm the trailer out to an external agency, but we always knew we didn’t want a CGI trailer, or footage made by someone who may never have even played the series.
We decided early on that all trailers would be shot by us, in the game-engine itself, with in-game assets: so you got to enjoy something that was cinematic as well as representative of the game experience.
For the “Tobruk” trailer we also made sure to drop some subtler details that only some of the most eagle-eyed Sniper Elite fans might notice.
Want to find out what you might have missed?
Read on to hear what it’s like for the team to create trailers like this and some tidbits we’ve been keeping quiet about ... until now.
The biggest challenge
So what’s the hardest thing about creating trailers at this stage in the game’s development?
Well, it’s a contradiction all developers face - early trailers and screenshots have to be at their very best, yet you have to make them when the game is far from complete, often using unfinished assets like rough animations and physics, early 1st pass lighting – as we’re still working on core gameplay loops at that stage.
This often causes issues when creating early trailers and screenshots.
We’re not joking when we tell you that mere hours before the trailer was supposed to go live, the video team were waiting on updates to the X-ray kill cam and Karl’s in the in-game code, so they could re-capture the sections they needed with the very best assets available (“thanks” go to to 505 for their patience)!
About the location - Tobruk
So what does the trailer tell you about the game’s setting?
Other than the arid conditions in Sniper Elite 3’s first trailer and the sly reference to the German Afrika Korps in the logo, we hadn’t really given much detail on where Sniper Elite 3 was set and why that was important.
We decided to set the new trailer amidst the terrifying Nazi bombardment of the ancient city of Tobruk in Libya because it provided gamers with a crucial snapshot of the Western Desert Campaign, and the wider conflict in which Sniper Elite 3 is set.
The reason this is important is because long before the Normandy landings of 1944, the war for North Africa was actually America's very FIRST taste of armed conflict against the Axis powers.
It’s a crucial period of the war very often forgotten about, but as Sir Winston Churchill famously explained, it was an important turning point:
“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
We hope the trailer has piqued the interest of gamers who like researching the hugely varied conflicts and theatres of World War Two.
Unlocking the technology
The trailer was shot entirely in our own in-house game engine, Asura, and the trailer also demonstrates key developments to the franchise made possible by the power of today's consoles and hi-spec PCs.
From the huge vistas and large, open level design, right down to the minute focus of the overhauled X-ray 'kill camera' detailing muscle layers and circulatory systems, the trailer showcases advanced graphical features we’ve added to the engine in recent times such as volumetric lighting, cinematic full-screen real time effects and real-time tessellation.
Powering new gameplay
We also wanted to drop some big hints about how our new tech enhances series' trademark gameplay.
One of the biggest additions are large, scalable battlefields you’ll get to tackle.
These environments are powered by instancing technology, and packed with multiple routes and improved AI that really open up the tactical choices to budding snipers.
The final shots of Karl stalking the German officer through the foliage also show off some of the varied terrain and realistic HDR lighting that’ll allow players to use the shadows and stealth to their advantage.
With much larger battlefields, and more opportunities to outmanoeuvre the enemy stealthily, Sniper Elite 3 will allow players to tackle objectives in their own play style. Even then, the best-laid plans don’t always work out, and when you’ve got the enemy breathing down your neck, the new larger environments will allow snipers to quickly relocate and keep control of the situation.
A big year ahead!
2013 has been a huge year for Rebellion and the Sniper Elite series. V2 came to Wii U, we had two Nazi Zombie Army spin offs and of course, we announced Sniper Elite 3.
And we’re going to start the New Year with a bang too.
In January, we’re going to delve deeper into exactly how we created and improved X-Ray kill camera in Sniper Elite 3 with a developer documentary, and this’ll be the start of a wave of great content to show you as we move closer to the game’s 2014 release.
Remember we’ll be sharing a lots of stuff with the Sniper Elite community before anyone else, so whether you prefer this blog, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or good ‘ol email, make sure to follow us so you don’t miss out.
From everyone at Rebellion have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year!