So you're making a game and if you're anything like us that means you spend most of your time locked away in a room plugged directly into a game engine and mainlining coffee, and this is good and how it should be. But we've found that eventually you find yourself looking at your work wondering if it really is a good as you think it is or are you to close to it to judge it objectively, or have you possibly lost it completely and your ideas have now descended into the incoherent rantings of a lunatic.
As I will assume you are all aware, charter 1, page 1 of marketing your indie game is to build a community as you develop and to this end you will need to be posting your new concept art and videos on Facebook and Twitter as often as you can.
Here are a few of our favourite Facebook groups the we like to post about Sub-Species on.
Galway Games Development
Indie Game Developers
Irish Game Dev
Indie Game Developers ~Sunshine~
These are excellent avenues to get feedback and help keep you focused, but even these cannot stave of the demons of doubt that lurk at your shoulder eyeing up every new piece of artwork or game play mechanic that you come up with. I'm afraid to say that at this point there is only one thing to do, make a playable build of whatever you have, get out of the room and let people play it.
We're really lucky to have a vibrant Game Dev community here in Galway, Goblins and Grottos, Darkside Detective, Terra, Boxman Begins, One Last Sunset and Runes Of Aran are just some of the games that are currently being made by local developers, and recently Romero Games has relocated to our little corner of the world. There's a meet up arranged every month for people to show off demos, share ideas and experiences or just have a few drinks and a laugh. This is a great place to start letting people try out your game, in our experience any critical feedback you do get is always constructive. So if you don't know about the local dev meet up in your area get out there and find it and if there isn't one, look for other local devs, they're out there and start one. You are not alone.
For us the next step with Sub-Species was making a working polished looking demo and trailer that to submit to Greenlight. For the first time we are showing your game to people that didn't know or care about us or the game. The players , the future customers and some of them love to let you know just how much they hate your game. It took me a full day to get over the first brutally negative comment that we received about Sub-Species on Greenlight, I was really surprised at how much it upset me. It wasn't until a wise man I know told me, everybody is entitled to their option their just not entitled to be right, that I started cheered up. Our experience with Greenlight was pretty similar to a lot of others we have heard about, great traffic and votes for the first 3 days and then you fall of the first page and its as if your game has been sucked into a blackhole, there is more life on Mars than on the second page of Greenlight.
We decided to try and generate traffic by attending gaming nights and conventions. We starting at a local weekly gaming event, The Galway Gaming Tribe, they are mostly about board game but also run Street Fighter and league of Legends nights. This got us used to talking to people about our game, not as easy as it sounds and something that everyone needs to get used to. After that we when to Gaming and Anime conventions around the country, including Brocon and Akumakon, IT fairs like Synapse and the Galway Science and Technology Festival, basically anyone that would have us, getting more and more people to try the game. We found this where we got the best feedback. Also got to see some of the greatest cosplayers ever.
It's easy to tell if someone likes the game, they're the ones that don't put the controller down and even come back later for a second go. On the other hand if someone tries the game and leave the control down after a minute and walks away quietly then you can be pretty confident they have not been won over. You will probably be tempted to run after them and asked they what they didn't like but just remember you can't please everyone and you will destroy your game if you try, so as long as you have enough of the players that don't put the controller down you'll be OK. It's the next day when you get back to the room and plug back in that you will have the pleasant and unexpected surprise of finding that you will be working with a completely renewed vigour and enthusiasm. As bad as the negative comments can be, I promise you'll be amazed at how good it feels to see someone smiling as they become completely engrossed in something that you have made. So don't deny yourself this, get your ass out there.