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The Definitive Guide to Unity & Unreal Gameplay Capture

A picture is worth 1,000 words. Your audience watches gameplay capture to learn key gaming skills and get buying advice. You need to incorporate gameplay capture into your creative. Here's how.

Most game developers focus solely on adding new updates, features and retention. Unfortunately, this leaves little time to generate enough creative assets to stay ahead of creative fatigue and maintain financial performance. The lack of fresh assets has been detrimental to the successful mobile app A/B creative testing.

Additionally, developing winning creative concepts is difficult to do. 85% to 95% of new Facebook ads fail to beat the top-performing ad in any portfolio of creative assets. The ones that do become winning creatives, suffer creative fatigue and die after only 10 weeks.

Why This Matters

Why does creative matter? Apple killed the IDFA, and Facebook and Google are fully automating media buying. Creative is the only meaningful lever UA teams have to drive sustained net profit. To survive and thrive in a post-IDFA / automated world, fresh creative concepts are needed to maintain ROAS. Therefore, product and marketing teams need an asset creation pipeline﹘especially if you want to effectively incorporate gameplay capture into your strategy.

What is Gameplay Capture?

Gameplay capture provides authentic footage of your game. The best marketer and writer can’t capture the excitement of your game in action. A picture, after all, is worth 1,000 words. The Verge claims there are two main factors behind why a viewer would watch gameplay capture:

  • The ability to observe professional-grade skill.
  • Buying advice/recommendation.

However, there’s one thing you need to be aware of. Gameplay capture provides less of an opportunity for what Andrew Fox, Senior Game Capture Director at Ayzenberg, refers to as “hiding of crimes”. “What you see is what you get with gameplay capture footage, so you can’t include elements that make you look better﹘or worse﹘than you are,” Fox says. “But, don’t assume producing [gameplay capture] is easy. Make sure you give yourself ample time to produce them. They’re essentially live-action shoots. Each game is its own art form. For one game, you’re creating oil paintings, and when you move on to a new game, you’re making sculptures.”

So, how do you best incorporate gameplay capture into your creative? Here are our creative recommendations.

Creative Recommendations

Make Sure There’s Lots of Action

No one wants to watch a slow-moving video devoid of any excitement. This isn’t French cinema. So, make sure you showcase the exciting gameplay. “You don’t necessarily want to do something that’s very teasery ﹘like focusing on a title card run,” Fox adds. “This doesn’t show off the game. Instead, focus on the fun aspects of the game.”

For example, Body Race uses actual in-game footage to show one of the main character’s plumping up. The goal of the game is to promote body positivity. They achieve this by having runway models continually eat as they fatten up to reach the end of the runway. Characters need to avoid obstacles like weights to reach the end. The gameplay capture footage they use is of a model in a red dress eating all the food she can to reach the scale﹘or the end of the level.  

Remember, game developers know the best levels, action, and other elements of the game. They need to guide the conversation for marketers. You need to involve them so you can make your gameplay capture footage as compelling as possible.

Showcase Important Characters

If you have a franchise or an IP, you need to show the main attraction﹘established characters. Your game’s characters, in a sense, become brand ambassadors. Take advantage of this!

Look at Mario Kart Tour. In their gameplay capture footage, they highlight staples of the Mario universe. You see clips of Mario, Luigi, Peach and Bowser racing. Anyone who’s familiar with Super Mario games knows who these characters are. These four characters are as iconic as the Mario Kart series, which launched in 1992.

Highlight Important Game Tools

Also, if there are important elements to your game, showcase them. Tools are a big allure to potential users and app developers alike. For players, they provide a way to ‘level up’ their performance. For you, they can be an in-app purchase (IAP).

Take, for instance, MARVEL Strike Force. Their gameplay capture features Deadpool and his two katanas, and Heimdall and his uru. These weapons are an instant draw for fans of MARVEL, so mimic this strategy for your app for critical tools.

Camera Break-Off

Fox recommends you utilize this feature if your game uses a third-person camera angle. This is when users are able to have the camera “break off” from the main character. “Viewers can see what the game world is like, and if it’s interesting to them,” Fox suggests.

In Garena Free Fire- World Series, you participate in the ultimate survival shooter. Their gameplay capture footage boasts a lot of the action you’ll experience in the game. Also, it does a camera break-off that shows the environments where you’re on the remote island pitted against the 49 other characters. This displays the game’s graphics, so you can inspire potential users with how cool your game is.

Call-to-Action

Finally, don’t forget to have your splash screen at the beginning and/or ending of your footage. This should feature key details of where users can buy/download the game. Call-to-actions inspire potential users to perform what you want them to. So, if you want them to purchase your app, tell them in your splash screen. 

Pocket Styler features a call-to-action﹘Play Now!﹘at the end of their gameplay capture. This is after enticing potential users with the cool gameplay and app features footage.

Capture Your Gameplay Now

Now that you have some creative recommendations to get started, you can create your own gameplay capture footage. You can do this using two different engines:

Both engines have different origins. Unity started as a Mac OS X-exclusive cross-platform game engine. Since then, however, it has gradually expanded its market to support desktop, mobile, console and virtual reality platforms. Today, it’s commonly used by iOS and Android mobile game developers. You can develop both 2D and 3D games through the engine, and its ease of use makes it a favorite among indie developers.

Unreal was developed as a first-person shooter engine, but has evolved into a 3D engine. It boasts a high degree of portability that allows it to support a wide range of desktop, mobile, console and virtual reality platforms. It’s still very popular among PC and console game developers. Like Unity, Unreal is written in C++.   

Depending on which engine you use, you’ll have to take different steps.

How to Gameplay Capture in Unity 3D

Import the Video Game Plugin

This step-by-step guide is for the Unity 3D Game Kit Lite. First, you need to download either the Free Version of Video Capture or purchase the Pro Version of Video Capture. After you choose which version, you import the video game plugin. Then, you need to place Video Capture prefab in your game scene and attach it to your character. This ensures your camera will follow the character’s movements. Remember, you can adjust the prefab and camera’s position and rotation to ensure you’re happy with the capture angle.

Start the Video Record Session

Now, you play the game and start the video record session. You should use the F1 shortcut to hide your mouse. The final step﹘play the game!

Make a 360° Video

Also, you can make a 360° video to more fully showcase your game’s environment. To do this, you need to reset the Video Capture prefab. Then, you place it in the position you want to capture your video. Next, config the Capture Mode to 360, Projection Type to EQUIRECT and Resolution to 4K. If you have the Pro version, you should enable GPU encoding option to boost the performance.

Play the game, start the video record session, and use the F1 shortcut to hide your mouse. Finally, play and capture!

How to Gameplay Capture in Unity 2D

You can also create gameplay capture footage in Unity’s 2D engine. The process is very similar to what you do for 3D. Here’s a breakdown:

Import the Video Game Plugin

First, decide whether or not you’re downloading the free version of the pro version. Once you do that, you need to import the video game plugin. Once it’s installed, you need to place the Video Capture prefab and attach DontDestory.cs script if your footage involves loading a new scene. Then, you start the video record session and play the game. 

How to Capture Video in Unreal Engines

Use Sequence Recorder

If you want to get gameplay capture in the Unreal engine, you need to use the sequence recorder. This can be done during level editing or once the game is finalized. Under Window in the menu bar, choose level sequence. Keep in mind, you can choose to record Actors that are spawned (such as particle effects, other characters, etc.). Also you can determine the naming convention and save location, and change other settings like the duration to record or delay before starting to record.

Main Editor Toolbar

After you’ve determined the name and if you want to delay the recording before you capture, you play the game. You begin a Play In Editor (PIE) session. Similarly to Unity, Shift + F1 gains mouse control. Then, you choose Sequence Recorder window and click the add button. Finally, click on Add a New Recording.

Add a New Recording

Next, you’ll click on the new recording. It will come up as None. You’ll need to click Actor to get gameplay capture footage. Once you do that, click the drop-down menu and choose ThirdPersonCharacter. Remember, you need to specify which character you want to film. So choose the Actor (character) to record. If you want sound, you need an attached microphone. You’ll need to adjust the audio gain levels with your recording too. Once you start the sequence, the audio will begin as well.

Start Your Recording

Now, you click on the record button. If you want to delay the recording, you can choose Record Delay. This will begin the recording four seconds after.

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