Part of being a good editor is knowing when not to cut. This video for "Untitled Goose Game" is a prime example of not getting in the way of something unique and entertaining. I forgot many of this video's details, but I see now this isn't simply raw gameplay clips strung together.
This video of Untitled Goose Game came out October 2017, and instantly went viral (at least on indie video game Twitter). The video is simple, but there are a number of things this game has going for it:
Viral animal video-like presentation
Strong visual communication
Good acting and animation
It should say something about the games industry that playing as an animal that acts like an animal is a novelty, but it is. This could just as easily be called "That Goose Game" because as of the writing of this blog post, I can't think of a single other game where you play as a goose.
What I find most striking about this video is its striking similarity to viral animal videos. Animal videos are fun to watch whether they're being cute or total jerks; we love to share animal videos. Without looking I'm reasonably sure there must be a video out there of an animal stealing something from a human, and it makes me laugh without even seeing it.
The reason this game can do this so well is its animation, the performance of the capture artist, and the design of the game. This goose has the sassiest looking walk which makes it instantly likable. Its honk and personality is half the appeal.
The video also plays out like any number of Looney Tunes cartoons where a character causes trouble, then plays innocent when they're about to be caught. The goose trying to steal the farmer's keys, then stopping to stare like an innocent creature is brilliant and hilarious; this is an acting choice made by the capture artist; the design and animation allow for these moments to exist.
Going even further down the cartoon-like presentation is the music. The music starts diegetic as the goose steals the tape recorder, but it then becomes the non-diegetic musical score that "Mickey Mouses" the actions on screen. I originally thought this music was custom, but Jake Strasser from House House responded to my review with this:
The piece of music is actually “Minstrels” by Debussy. The footage was pieced together as a reaction *to* the music, not the other way round. I generally start with a piece of music when cutting all my trailers - this Debussy piece guided me into this slower, more moment-driven form. With the music as my framework, putting together funny goose moments was pretty easy!
There are parts of this video that could've been captured smoother; there are a lot of zooms towards the end, but these arguably add to the rawness of its viral video-like presentation. This format hold us in suspense as we wonder: "What is this goose going to do next??"
This video is longer than 3 minutes, yet in many ways it feels shorter than a fast cut 90 second trailer. The reason it doesn't feel long is because I want to know what's coming next. Audiences get bored very quickly when they either know what's coming next or they have no expectations because there's no apparent logic to the editing.
I'm guessing this video was made in-house by the game developers, but it opens my eyes to possibilities for ways to make game trailers without all the cutting I'm used to doing. In the future I hope I'll be able to identify when to let footage of a game breathe this much.