As indie developers, we are used to having to wear many different hats. However, one of the often forgotten and less enjoyable hats that indie game developers must wear is the “marketing” hat. Nowadays, it is very important that developers post updates about their work early and often to ensure that they are able to build buzz surrounding their projects. With this fact in mind, I thought it would be interesting and meaningful to share my thoughts on using animated gifs for game marketing with others throughout the indie game community.
Why Animated Gifs?
I believe that animated gifs are very helpful at highlighting game development updates. Overall, animated gifs are easy to use and add to your website or social network. An animated gif is typically larger than a traditional jpg picture, but it can communicate the gameplay and mood of your game far more effectively than a still photo ever could. For example, gifs allow viewers to see characters move, animations of the environment, and the user interface in action all at once.
With this being said, you could also theoretically get all of these marketing benefits from a linked video. For example, you could link a longer video with sound for about the same file size as a gif. However, the autoplay feature afforded by gifs is invaluable, as it can help to grab a viewers attention as they scroll through their social media feed. With traditional linked video, a viewer could easily miss your content, as a video thumbnail is not as enticing as a moving gif. Overall, an animated gif is a better solution, as it is short and concise, allowing us to explain more about our games with less. This is especially important nowadays, as social media users are becoming more interesting in visual-based content as these platforms continue to increase in popularity.
How to Create an Animated Gif for Your Video Game
The first step towards creating your animated gif is recording a video of your video game. There are multiple different ways to do this, but I like the following two tools the most:
QuickTime allows you to record a video from your screen, which can be very useful. This is due to the fact such recordings do not negatively affect the frame rate of your game, which can greatly assist in providing those who consume your content with the best impression of your game possible. However, this method does lead to a small inconvenience, as you will need to do some post video editing to adjust the size of your newly recorded clip.
Unity Recorder is an asset that you can get from the asset store. It is a great tool, as it allows you to set the size and quality of your video, and even set a delayed recording. This ensures that once your video is recorded, it is ready to use without any post video editing required. However, this tool is prone to slow your game’s frame rate down, which can be annoying if you are trying to record a specific action or highlight the visuals of your game.
Once we have our video recorded, we can simply open it within Photoshop. From here, you’re going to want to open up the timeline from your window menu if it does not show up by default. Within Photoshop. You can trim the frames of your video, in addition to adjusting the size and frame rate. When you’re ready, you can then export your video using the gif format. Additionally, you are free to play with the settings, but I found that the settings below make for a good balance between video quality and weight. Lastly, remember to select “forever” if you’d like your animated gif to automatically loop.
File Size and Social Networks
When uploading your animated gif to social media, keep in mind that some sites don’t like large files. With this in mind, I suggest keeping your gifs below 7 megabytes. While Twitter allows for larger files, other services such as Discord and Dribbble do not. In my mind, it is useful to work with a format that is easy to post to each and every one of your social media profiles, which is the main reasoning for selecting this particular file size. Last but certainly not least, don’t forget to reuse your original video format to post a video to Instagram, as this is a site that is quickly becoming more and more popular for those throughout the game development community.
I hope this short tutorial was helpful. Please feel free to keep checking back often for more great content on game development tips and tricks!