Posts tagged "game developers"
09 Nov 2009Some Thoughts From Develop in Liverpool
It was just great to have Develop in our home town, hopefully they will come again. My feeling about this year’s Develop was that it was ‘Two Tribes Go to War’ to stretch the Scouse analogy. Developers seem to fall into two camps, those working for large console game developers or ‘Dinosaurs’ as we might call them and the Indie App Store gang ‘Mammals’. The Dinosaurs are in recession, general game revenues are dropping (sales down 16% in UK according to MCV) and traditional publishers finding it really hard to raise debt funding. The Mammals are in a whole different boat, low overheads, ownership of IP and decent revenues for some on mainly their iPhone titles. Don’t get me wrong most of the skill still sits with the big developers but 2009 will mark the start of a new console cycle ‘the App Store’.
One of the speakers really summed it up, when someone in the audience tried to draw an analogy to previous console booms and slumps he started very clearly that this is like ‘nothing we have seen before’. I feel that this is spot on, the industry has changed and there is no going back.
Stuart Dredge’s talk focused on the 5 app stores, iPhone, Android, PSP, Blackberry and DSi sales figures are hard to find but we can all see that the model works well for both consumer and producer. As he himself said there are many other app stores, off the top of my head Orange App Store, Windows Mobile, Wii Store channel (Wiiware), PSN for PS3, XBLA, Intel for Atom PCs, Ovi from Nokia and I am sure many others. Other the next few weeks we will look at each in detail from both a business and technical veiwpoint and try and think about their pros and cons.
02 Nov 2009Indie Game Developers shouldn’t forget the benefits of PR
Sophie here once again, today i thought i would look at how the internet can be utilized as a PR tool to help Indie Game Developers promote their games.
Public Relations in a nutshell: PR is defined as the art of controlling information flow between a company and the outside world. When you are an independent games developer producing a game using your own IP, it is easy for your indie roars to be rendered to a pitiful whisper in the noisy and crowded sea of the internet.
This means the Indies have to swallow their pride and remember they are not an EA or Activision and cannot use the same sort of PR methods they use, therefore they need to maximise their flow of information and utilize the web as much as possible.
The big guys tend to guard their updates carefully, rarely leaking new information about their game. When they do, it’s very controlled and polished. This strategy may make sense when you are so big that even a small leak of information means multiple Digg front-page stories and coverage by news sites everywhere. For Indies though, your carefully packaged press release would likely fall into obscurity.
This means that you need to get creative, experiment, and make noise often. Since it’s hard to predict what will blow up and what won’t, the more insights you share the better your chances are of getting people’s attention.
Remember that the upside is huge and the downside is small. The only thing you stand to lose is your time if you sink hours into a post that doesn’t earn you any recognition.
The good news is that if a PR attempt fails, no one will see it so you don’t have to feel embarrassed (EA doesn’t have this luxury). Since almost everything applies to games, there are lots of different things you can share.
An important part of open development is reaching out to other people in the industry. Contact other Indies, they are your allies not your rivals. You also want to reach out to press contacts and distributors.
Cold emails are always tough, so don’t get discouraged. Meeting people in person is extremely valuable. No matter where you are, you should try to get involved in your local game developer scene. Raiding conferences is also a great way to meet people. I recommend having a box of business cards, an iPod touch with some videos of your game on it.
To a certain extent indie games represent a chance to find out about the next big thing before it hits mainstream so don’t be bashful, say hello. You never know who you’ll meet and meeting people in person turns cold emails into warmer ones.
Building a community
The best way to build a community is to facilitate communication. Create ways for you to talk to fans, for fans to talk to fans and also for fans to talk to you.
It’s easy to think that you might be overwhelmed by visitors to your site if you allow everyone to contact you directly, however this is a great problem to have and most Indies that are just starting out are not lucky enough to have this problem.
Start early. Starting from zero is tough, so get it out of the way now. The earlier you start the more seeds you can plant by launch.
Onsite PR implementation
The blog is your rock and your most effective tool for sharing your development process with the world. It is extremely versatile and all the original content you produce for your blog can be echoed out to your other pages.
Tips: Use pictures/videos, keep it short, encourage discussion, make blog posts often
The forums offer a place for visitors to share their thoughts. Unlike the blog which you have to power yourself, the forums are largely fan-run. They provide a great medium to share information and solutions to problems that may arise. They also allow for the sharing of creative ideas and mods.
Tips: Seed the forums with appropriate topics. Try not to crack down to hard on anyone or you may find yourself in the middle of a flame war.
Offsite PR Implementation
ModDB is a very indie friendly collection of all video games and their mods. It’s a great place to add your game and keep people updated on its status. If the ModDB staff like your news update, they will promote it to the front page. Many people use it as a news site and keep track of gaming news. It is a surprisingly large site and the community is awesome. Some ModDB visitors have already started modding Overgrowth before it is even released.
Tips: Decorate your page to draw attention to it, update often with high quality content to attract people
YouTube is the best place to host your videos. YouTube has HD now and an absurd number of useful features these days. The most valuable thing about YouTube is that people can easily subscribe to your channel and YouTube will funnel more viewers onto your pages by cross-pollinating your video with other related videos.
Tips: Add a link to your YouTube channel in your videos so people can subscribe to you
A Facebook page gives you a secondary location to host your blog posts, pictures and HD videos. Facebook is the biggest social network and is designed to be as viral as possible. Whenever someone interacts with your page, the activity is splashed around to his or her friends. This helps people spread the word organically and can cause pretty substantial chain reactions.
However, a Facebook page needs nurturing.
Tips: Feed your blog onto your page’s notes, upload videos and photos individually to the wall so that they are more conspicuous
Twitter seemed pretty dubious at first. However Twitter is unique from other pages because it offers a good medium for you to meet your peers in the industry in addition to accumulating fans. Twitter is at worst an alternative to your blog’s RSS feed, but at best, it’s a great way to keep people up to date more rapidly and lets you communicate with tons of other game developers.
Tips: Don’t just link to yourself like an RSS bot, use Twitter to communicate with people
Your Steam group offers a great way to introduce your game to the Steam community. Groups have amenities like screenshots and avatars that you can upload to add some flair to your page.
However, the main asset of Steam groups is the chat room that acts like a public IRC channel tied directly to your game. Because most people on Steam are active gamers looking to purchase games, this PR is extremely well targeted.
Tips: Idle in your Steam group’s chat room so you can meet visitors and answer their questions, offer visitors avatars, you can post important blog posts as announcements
Games Press helps us auto feed our content onto certain sites. It has been great for getting our videos onto IGN, Gamespot, Game Trailers and G4. Even if you upload pictures of a pumpkin with the company logo carved in it getting set on fire with a propane torch, Games Press will get it streamed to a few sites.
Tips: just post it; you never know whose attention you’ll get
Game Trailers is the biggest game video site out there. It’s a constant stream of videos that people watch like TV, so when they post your video, it will immediately get thousands of views.
Tips: Upload videos often, don’t get discouraged if people mistake your early work for the final product, they’ll catch on eventually as they see more videos.
What’s more interesting: a finished asset or an entire time-lapse showing you everything from the initial strokes to the final product? If you can see the appeal of a time-lapse, you should also be able to see the appeal of open development.
There is often a PR quiet period for a game between when it is announced and when it is ready for preview. It makes sense that news sites probably can’t entertain their readers with your latest updates. However, such updates are interesting news to your community, so don’t sit on your hands, and keep showing what you’ve got.
Finally remember to stay agile. The gaming industry is already moving quiet steadily and web based PR tools seem to be moving faster than that. As a small agile company you’ll have the chance to be a first adopter on the next big thing
02 Oct 2009MonsTECA character: "Monster-Hunter"
24 Feb 2009Of noobs and leets and crossing over…
Being the noob amongst the leet at Onteca has its pros(everyone assumes you know nothing about their stuff)and its cons (normally because you erm don’t).Working with Onteca this year, attending Crossover Kids and working on an MMO created by young people, has been great. Challenging what I know as a writer and pushing me to think about what I need to. This blog is about ‘Crossover.’
So, ‘Crossover’ is:
‘…an extraordinary series of ‘innovation labs’ for creative professionals from a diverse range of backgrounds: game developers, tv and film producers, web designers, animators, theatre practitioners and others. Each Crossover lab is an immersive, five day incubator fostering new collaborations and original ideas for cross platform media content and services.’
Jon and Max put me forward for: Crossover Kids (Dec 1 – 5).‘Crossover Kids’ said it would:
explore the future of children’s media and develop original ideas for cross-platform projects. Based on the knowledge that:
‘Children have always loved TV, but the days when passive viewing was their only option are well and truly over. They’re media literate and demanding more sophisticated, interactive content which is fragmenting the market. So what does this mean for content creators? A decline in traditional TV commissioning and falling budgets? Or a framework for innovation and collaboration?’
I wasn’t sure on the idea of being incubated with a load of content creators. But, on the promise of a paid trip down south,(Thank you North West Vision and Media) a hotel spa and a country walk, I bought myself a nice new networking cardigan, packed my bestest walking boots and swimming cossie and set off to deepest, smartest Sussex to find:
non-stop work and no time for a sauna, or even a stroll around the grounds. But it was jolly good work, planning, pitching and thinking a lot about how multi platforms can be used with a young audience. I spent time thinking about how creative ideas can be best delivered to an audience of children who probably don’t even think about the word ‘virtual’ because to them it just is.
‘Crossover Kids’ comes highly recommended. Over the five days I worked on ideas involving Bluetooth mapping, MMO worlds and erm robot alien ponies. Obviously it was the alien ponies idea that I chose to develop. (See Recon Ponies Blog to follow.) It was constantly relentless, equally rewarding and hugely funny. Mentors were excellent and networking opportunities allowed for me to make some good contacts with lovely folk, specifically:
Friendship and creative seeds were planted in December and as we turn into spring I’m pleased to say they are growing.
Following the Crossover week, I also attended the first Crossover Kids pitching event, which was held at the Princess Anne Theatre, BAFTA, London on Thursday 11 December. We saw a couple of new CBeebies ideas including a great news programme aimed at 4 year olds ‘What’s your news?’ I pitched along -side virtual world creator Kerry Fraser Robinson(Red Bedlam), producer Emma Hindley (Grierson Awards) and animator Sara Quick (Tuna Technology) our multi platform animated cartoon/ website/robot: ‘Recon Ponies’. We’re still looking at developing this idea. Interest and funding most welcome. We thinks it’s got legs (and a nosebag.)
Crossover enabled me to extend the thinking that I had already been doing on my work with Onteca, specifically working story narrative in MMO and developing cross platform ideas. I am still very much a noob but with leet aspirations.