Don’t Make Overkill’s Mistake: The Art of the Tease

So let’s talk about teasing. Overkill has had a inconsistent record in using the tease to garner (sigh) hype, sometimes to great effect, sometimes to the annoyance of their playerbase.

Specifically, though, I want to talk about the Clover teasers from Crimefest, the Halloween 2014 event, and the Historical Pack.

The Clover teasing started out well but then devolved into inelegance near the end.

Don’t make Overkill’s mistake.

Don’t misunderstand me; teasing new content is great. But there’s an art to the timing and presentation of teasers, nuances in how teasers will affect the player’s anticipation of that content.

Let’s start from the very beginning. A million years ago, David Goldfarb posted a tweet revealing that Overkill was working on a female heister model. This marks the beginning of the teaser phase.

Now, granted, Goldfarb seemed to practically get off on teasing new content regardless of its progress, such that many things he teased have yet to be implemented to this day (safehouse customization, anyone?). That consideration taken, however, this was a good way to go about initial teasing. The tweet was able to demonstrate actual work had been done on the content so it didn’t come off as another pie-in-the-sky promise like 30 heists on launch day. But it was also very informal so if it somehow didn’t pan out, Overkill could back out gracefully.

Early on in your project, especially if you simply cannot help yourself and must start teasing before you’ve actually finished the content, you want to keep things casual. That way, if you find that shit just ain’t gonna work, you haven’t actually promised anyone anything. You’ve just shown them a little of what you’re experimenting with, that’s all. The clearer you are about that, the better off you’ll be.

So flashforward to a year or so later. It’s Crimefest. Everyone is already !!! about Hoxton coming back. In the midst of this, we get our second Clover teaser.

Save for one minor detail, this is a good tease too. It’s in a more professional format than a mere tweet and so confirms for the players that this feature will be implemented. It also shows that considerable work has been done. They’re animating with the model and a voice actress had been hired.

The one thing I would change about this though is the timing. Releasing such a teaser in the middle of a giant event like Crimefest gives the players the expectation that this content will be released in that event. When it’s not, as Clover wasn’t, it diminishes the event’s overall impact. People should complete events of this nature feeling satisfied and being shown content that they didn’t get leaves them feeling shorted instead.

Is it fair of your players to feel that way after you showered them in new, free content? No. But it is what it is and it’s not difficult to work around this.

The solution is simple. Release the teaser the day after the event ends. If the Clover teaser had been released this way, it would still a cute little Happy Birthday to the game and its community while also being a taste of things to come. Doing it this way gives the players something to look forward to, while also confirming that you didn’t blow your entire load on this one event. That way, it feels more like a preview than failure to deliver.

However, a few days after Crimefest ended, it was Halloween and so the Halloween 2014 event began. This marks the first time that Clover was included in the promotional art, despite not having been released yet. It also marked the first mention of her name.

The little story they wrote for the update included Clover as a character, although she was edited out a day or so later. (I have always suspected the reason is because people responded poorly to the name at first and Overkill have no compunction about editing after shit has been released, as evidenced by their change in voice actress too.)

If you were planning to actually release your content in that update, then there’s no problem with including it in the promotional material as if it already exists in your canon. But Clover didn’t. She wasn’t released until two or three DLC’s later. I mention this in my article about Team Fortress 2‘s “Robotic Boogaloo Update” too. If you are going to include new content in your promotional material, then that content needs to ship with your update. In Overkill-speak, using unreleased content in your update results in lessened hype for that update because, again, you have neglected to deliver.

By the time the Historical Pack shipped, it was a thing of “Oh, look, more of that female heister you keep talking about but never ship. Ho hum.”

The Christmas video was a lot of fun, sure, but then you saw Clover in it, as yet still unplayable. Under all the hilarity of the brokedick, piece of shit drill, there was the underlying feeling that Overkill needed to shit or get off the pot.

In sum, don’t include unreleased content in your promotional material for updates unless you’re actually shipping that content in that update. It just leaves people feeling wanting which detracts from the awesomeocity of your update as a whole. Teasing beforehand is fine, but it should be relatively unrelated to other events and should be done in ways respective of your actual progress on the content and likelihood of shipping it.

And don’t drag it out forever. A typical burlesque number is three to five minutes long. Know why? Because the tease is nothing without a reveal. Players can only watch you peekaboo with your feather fans for so fucking long before they begin to doubt that you’re ever gonna take your bra off.

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  1. Simon 2015.06.25 3:44pm

    C’mon, Overkill. Take it off, already.

    • DJ 2015.06.25 3:47pm



July 2020