Monthly Archives: October 2008

The Wickest Marketing Plot I’ve Ever Done

I was playing a match of Half-Life 2 Zombie Master mod, and noticed that some people were spraying walls and stuff. I thought that I want to do that too.

And then it strike to me… that I might as well do my own spray. I took my Dead Wake banner, imported in the game (Valve has done great job doing this, it was matter of couple of clicks) and then I continued playing and sprayed the banner.

It was fun to watch seeing one or more players stopping near the banner and looking downwards. (But maybe not so fun to see them starting to shooting the banner…)

Here’s couple of screenshots: my Dead Wake banner in Half-life 2. Now I just need to convince every Dead Wake fan to do this when they are playing…

Wicked.

The One Who Presents The Problem Should (Could) Also Present The Solution

In some workplaces,you can find somebody who keeps saying he is the ‘realist’ who likes to point out the problems and risks. The guy doesn’t refer himself as the ‘whiner’ or ‘complainer’, but the one who has ‘realistic view’ over things. He knows when things go wrong, and he knows how others don’t have the right view over things. When things go bad, he is the first one to point out ‘I told you that this would fail!’

How I see this situation, that as long as the person with the ‘realistic view’ also remembers to suggest a solution then things are good. That’s what separates whiners from the rest of the world.

When a new project begins, if the person just keeps saying how things will go bad, he is not much help. In fact, he is probably contributing to the failure of the project. He won’t go the extra mile for the project to succeed, nor look for solutions.

In some teams, there are people who say nothing. They will silently do their work, even though they know that project will fail. These are equally bad for the project, as they are ignoring the relevant challenges.

Then there’s people who realize what challenges, problems and risks there might be in the project, and these guys take a step for prepare for these risks if needed. They won’t ignore things that might probably go badly, but they try to come up with suggestions on how to solve the issues.

If they really see that the project is going to fail, they will come up with solutions that would make the project succeed. Maybe those suggestions are ignored. Maybe not. But at least these people are contributing to the success rather than failure.

And I’m sure we both agree how irritating it’s to hear some people whining no matter what type of work is done.

Good Signs (Odd Thing Happened to Me)

Yesterday, I was testing different zombie games to see how these games handled certain gameplay issues. I signed into Dead Frontier and launched the chat. My username was “deadwake” and somebody who was online there asked me “Have you played the Dead Wake game and registered to the forums?”.

I said that “yeh, I have” and was asked “How do you like the newest version?”. I got the impression that he liked the game, and I said that I liked the version very much (heh), and asked what was his username at the Dead Wake forums? They guy told his username and asked mine.

At this point I had no choice put to tell that I’m the developer of Dead Wake, and the guy laughed.

Randomly meeting some guy who happens to know my game by name is – I think – a good sign, especially when taken into account that the game is in this stage of development.

Want To See Guy Dressed Up As a Tomato Near Valve’s Office?

Group of indie developers have started a petition to get indie games to Steam. The petition is located here. The guy who started all this – Paul – has promised the following:

“If we get 10,000 signatures, I will personally fly out to Valve’s offices and give it to them, while dressed up as a tomato.”

That’s a good reason alone to sign the petition. I’ve just signed the petition and really hope that you’d do that as well. It took me like 8 seconds, so I’m sure that’s not too much to ask: just sign it, please. Can’t wait to see that guy in a tomato suit.

If you happen to have little bit of more time, remember to digg the article as well.

How to Set Up The World’s Simplest Version Control & Backup System (Takes Like 5 Minutes)

I’ve used some version control system such as SVN, and different backup software but all of them have one problem: these complex systems might require quite a lot of work to set up, and it’s quite likely that you’d need technical guidance to get them to work (well, I suppose unless you happen to be an unix geek). That’s why I wanted to try something different. Something simpler that does the job.

The simple version control system
During the last weekend I looked into setting up a very simple backup / version control system, and it took me like 10 minutes to find the necessary information and set everything up. It isn’t the most optimized system to back up stuff, but at least it’s extremely simple and it does what’s it supposed to do: it backs up data and creates versions.

I used the information provided by the LifeHacker simple version control and did some modifications to make it work for me.

Step-by-step guide for setting up a version control system
(I’m using Dead Wake game example here)

  1. First I created a folder “G:\Dead Wake\versioncontrol” (it’s on my second hard drive)
  2. Then I created a “versioncontrol.bat” file and put the following code inside it (this all should be in one line):

    xcopy “D:\Dead Wake\development” “G:\Dead Wake\versioncontrol\%DATE%” /V /I /S /Y

    (This copies my development folder files under the versioncontrol folder, and creates a ‘date’ folder there. Notice that I use the /Y to overwrite files automatically: since I launch this backup script several times a day, but want to store only the latest version for one day, I have made it to overwrite possible files)

  3. Last but not least, I used the Vista’s Task Scheduler to create a “Dead Wake version control” task: it will launch “versioncontrol.bat” several times a day.

    I created 3 triggers and set up it to launch version control “Daily at 10 o’clock”, “Daily at 14 o’clock”, “Daily at 18 o’clock”. (LifeHacker provides information on how to set up scheduled tasks)

And that’s it.

The results
Now the system will automatically backup the project folder three times a day and copy it under the version control folder. It also puts a date, so I can easily see on what date the version was created. If I want to manually launch the backup process, I can simply double click the “versioncontrol.bat” file.

Some notes
I realize that this isn’t as sophisticated nor optimized system. For example, it would copy only modified files (if you want to do that, then check out “xcopy /?”, there’s help information for that too), but to my needs this is good enough. The files aren’t compressed (zipped), but since I have only like 70 megs of data (and a big harddrive), it’s not a big deal.

Simple system
On a good side: you don’t need much expertise to set this up, and it’s very quick to run (of course depends how many megs you have) – and you can launch old versionsvery easily (since you don’t need to unzip anything) if needed.

Simplicity & easy of use in backing up data were my goals, and if you want to do something more sophisticated & optimized, then you gotta look from somewhere else.

Variation
If you don’t want a daily data, you can also use something like: (in the “versioncontrol.bat”)

xcopy “D:\Somestuff\” “G:\Somestuff Backup” /V /I /S /Y

This would copy everything under “D:\Somestuff\” folder to “G:\Somestuff Backup”. Notice, it wouldn’t create “date” folder, so it would be merely a one-time backup of your existing data. This can be useful for bigger amount of data, but this system would benefit from “copy only changed files” type of solution.

This way, the ‘mirror’ wouldn’t become too big. (Imagine if you copy 100 gigs of stuff, just to notice couple of days later that your harddrive got filled since there was so much data).

Anyway, this can be a good way to backup data that doesn’t change so often (unlike your current projects).

Word of warning
I think this system is as simple as it can get, but if you don’t know what you are doing, then be careful with the data folder sources and destinations, and do an alternative backup of your product files first (zip everything for example). You don’t want to overwrite your original stuff. Make some test folder backup first to see it actually works. I won’t be taking blame if you manage to overwrite your project files when setting up this backup system.

It shouldn’t happen, but I just want to make sure we know what we are doing here.

Thanks to LifeHacker.com for the helpful tips.

Update: Tip from Toni for compressing files:

I did make something similar but I added a command-line compressor because them files tend to add up fairly quickly. I used 7-Zip cmdline version.

Here’s instructions on how to get 7-Zip command line version working

Producers Roundtable – Questions and Answers

In this roundtable session, we’ve picked questions posed by you readers. The questions vary from game design to game producer salaries. Seven questions were presented, and the following professionals gave answers to these questions:

Harvard Bonin, Senior Producer at Sony
Hendrik Lesser, Managing Director and Executive Producer, Remote Control Productions
Jeremy Lee, Development Director, Double Helix (formerly the Collective and Shiny Entertainment)
Robbie Edwards, Senior Producer Red Storm Entertainment / Ubisoft.
Frank Rogan, Producer, Realnetworks

Here are the questions and answers.

Sargon asks: How do you know that your game is fun?

Harvard Bonin:
Rabbit Hole question! This might be the hardest of the seven. Its kind of like “How do you know a joke is funny?”

Webster’s defines “fun” as “what provides amusement or enjoyment.” The trouble is that fun is subjective and what’s fun for some people is not fun for others. The easy answer is that there is an inherent ability in people of make this judgement.

For me, I believe that the judgement of fun is a personal choice – voluntary or otherwise. It stems from a person’s life experiences and emotional mechanisms that have been reinforced over time. Also, fun is a product of social mores in the society you reside. We can only judge if our game is fun by 1) relying on our own game playing judgement and 2) observing other players and their reactions. You think your game is fun based on your own judgement but you know your game is fun by watching others play it.

Hendrik:

We play the game a lot internally and discuss the fun level.

Of course we also ask family and friends what they think.

Later in development we start doing focus group tests to refine the fun factor.

Frank:
You should be checking on the fun factor at every stage of development, and several times before you even start really working on it.

If you don’t think your game is fun from the initial whiteboard, brainstorming session, you’re in trouble. If you don’t think your game is fun after you’ve playtested with pen-and-paper, Lego blocks, sand tables, prototype code, using free tools (e.g. Source engine, Torque engine, etc), you’re in trouble. If you don’t think your game is fun after you’ve prototyped a level or two in pre-production, you’re in trouble. If you don’t think your game is fun after play-testing, usability testing and focus testing, you’re in trouble.

So, how do you *know* it’s fun? That’s a difficult question to answer. But the path to answering it can be found all this testing and all this iteration.

Jeremy Lee: You never know if your game is fun – you can never be certain I don’t think anyway.

You’re can get glimpses of fun throughout production, but it’s particularly difficult to separate “fun” from “done” at the start. When something is grey and blocky and has no audio, it’s hard to have fun with it unless you can anticipate the result when it’s finished.

The best way you can tell if parts of the game are fun, is to put it into your audience hands as soon as possible and watch the reaction. If they look engaged, excited, and involved you know you’re on the right track.

Ricardo asks: When the producers or game designers start thinking in a new game/IP in what area he or she usually starts planning?

Harvard: When creating a new IP it usually depends on the strengths of the team and technology that I have at hand. If there is an existing, quality game tech I look for ways to leverage it. If there is a great team with a specific expertise I do the same. From there its about working with a great game director/lead designer to allow them to find their inspiration. I provide them with the box and they can pretty much explore all the directions they want. My only concern is that the game is marketable in the key Sony territories and that it fits within the basic criteria established (specific genre, use of technology, etc). Those criteria usually point that creative leader down a certain path…but its one in which they have a lot of freedom. Here at Sony its important that team members realize that its the creativeness of the team that strengthens the game.

Hendrik: It could be different things depending on the scope for the next project. If the scope is not really limited, the game designer starts with some core mechanics mostly and a rough layout of the game system. Some suggestions for style and setting are there too.

We meet then and discuss the different ideas to find out which we proceed with.

Mostly the story for example is talked about briefly but not in detail for some time.

Frank: A creative manager I once worked with had a funny story, about meeting a budding game developer who asked if he could pitch him a game.

“OK,” said the creative manager, “let’s hear it.”

The young designer straightened up and launched into his pitch.

“In the early days of the 32nd century…”

“Stop,” said the creative manager. “Your game idea sucks.”

The point being, if you’re starting with some deeply worked out, personally fulfilling, epic story, with your sweat stains and your little nerd footprints all over it, you’re on the wrong track.

Now, you may be on the right track for writing a novel or a screenplay, which is fine. But it’s probably not a video game.

Start with the gameplay. Gameplay, gameplay, gameplay. Take Portal, for instance. Everyone loves the story, such as it is, but it’s all about the gameplay that starts with a simple premise: “I can open a door here, that opens up over there.” Then move quickly into the visuals.

Jeremy: For us at Double Helix, it almost always starts with the gameplay. What will deliver a good experience when the player interacts with the game. But in reality all those things have to start “first” too – you can’t design in a vacuum but I would always prefer to weave a story around a great piece of gameplay than the opposite. I know many would disagree with that, but stories are usually easier to revise and reshape during production than core gameplay.

Sean asks: I would still love to know why dedicated server files are not a priority in online gaming. Aside from iD Software, Epic, DICE and Valve everyone fails terribly in this dept, and it seems that dedicated servers are afterthoughts to most companies.

Frank: The flip answer is that setting up and maintaining dedicated servers costs real money, and unless you’re an MMO, there’s no ready way to monetize that outlay. The game developers you mention have developed games for which there are usually strong communities that set up their own server playgrounds at no or low cost to the developers. Some of these developers you mention have also branched out to offer their engine technologies as licensable software products, which is a business in its own right, and further defrays and justifies development costs.

Hendrik: For most “normal” multiplayer games you don’t need dedicated servers. A simple matchmaking is enough. It is the same in more detail then with spectator mode etc.

Harvard: I agree with Sean and that’s why we have dedicated servers for Warhawk and/or any project I work on. I suspect it has mostly to do with the expense of setting up servers, maintaining them, etc. There are a lot of costs involved and services behind the scenes to accommodate the player base. Consider the servers, the maintenance personnel, bandwidth, etc. Personally, I prefer a hybrid model where there are dedicated servers and also player servers. That way the game can keep on keeping on long after the publisher and game team have moved to another title. Servers are only the tip of community support. For Warhawk we have released 5 content updates and 3 expansion packs since Fall 2007. Its very important to work with the community after release in order to maintain consumer loyalty.

khanstruct asks:

I wanted to pose this question to the AAA guys out there to get a broad and more real-industry opinion. Now personally, I’m a firm believer in Howard Aiken’s quote, “Don’t worry about people stealing an idea. If it’s original, you will have to ram it down their throats.”

I’ve heard a lot of “would-be” developers saying “Protect your ideas! Make everyone sign an NDA! Post armed guards around your laptop!” (ok, the last one was an exageration). Then I’ve heard a lot of actual developers saying “Don’t worry about it. No one is actually interested in stealing your idea, if for no other reason than they have far more to lose in a law suit than you do.”

I’ve personally been blatantly robbed of a few ideas (none related to gaming however) and have seen it happen to others, but never on a life altering scale. So my question is this; how closely do we (indie-developers) need to protect our IP? Being unfunded and small scale, we obviously need more exposure during the development phase than the big companies (searching for investors, developing an initial fan-base and even securing a solid team), but are we setting ourselves up for disaster?

Harvard: Any major, reputable company will have you sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) or a Submission & Confidentiality Agreement (S&C) before viewing your title or idea. Most will not take unsolicited ideas unless they are legally protected. If you are showing your ideas without either of these agreements then you are at risk. These agreements are offered by companies not to protect you, but to protect them. Most will not sign one from you…only theirs. Plenty of developers have ended up suing large companies as no S&C was filed. They are at much more risk than you…after all, the publishers have the deep pockets and usually the garage developers don’t. Do yourself a favor, just make sure these two documents are signed before showing your idea. It will protect both parties from unscrupulous tactics and is really no big deal to do.

Hendrik: “It is all about execution” is a well known quote from a lot of people. I tend to agree. Having a background as a business development guy with a major publisher I know that it does not really make sense to steal an idea. You need the expertise and the motivation of a team.

I have some many ideas in my notebook, why would I steal someone else?

But besides these abstract thoughts it is good to protect your IP. So if you talk to well known publishers tell them you talk to all of them. If you talk to small, sometimes mostly unknown publishers have them sign NDAs.

In the end to keep an IP is much more important than to protect it before execution. If someone steals it, have another one.

Frank: There’s a few different points to make here.

You should take reasonable steps to protect your IP – proper use of copyright marks, NDAs when you’re asked to submit demo code and so forth. I wouldn’t let that get in the way of you developing a personal relationship with a publisher, though. If you’ve documented your copyrights, you can always enforce them after the fact, if it comes to it.

Most publishers don’t want unsolicited submissions, because of rights issues, but the real reason is that most publishers/developers already have more workable ideas than they can use at any given point.

Don’t underestimate the power of parallel thinking. It’s likely that your brilliant flash of creative insight has happened before to other people. Blizzard wasn’t the first group to think, “Hey, a fantasy MMO might be a good idea.” The key is execution on good ideas, not the idea all by itself.

You can’t copyright an idea. You can copyright the expression of an idea. It’s a key legal and logical difference.

Jeremy: You need to protect yourself, not just because somebody may steal your ideas, but to instill confidence in the future investment you and your investors will eventually make.

Publishers and investors won’t want to fund a game that’s going to get leaked on the internet or wind up so accessible to the outside that people are no longer interested in it. I wouldn’t worry as much about the impact of a potential theft as much as the impact of not effectively demonstrating your ability to ensure confidentially.

Robbie: For me, there are 2 parts of a successful product. There is the creation of the idea, which is certainly important, but even more important is the execution of that idea. I think every successful game clone shows that the idea alone is not enough to create a successful title. Ideas, even good or great, are pretty easy to create. What sets Diablo apart from all the clones? It’s certainly not the idea, but clearly the quality of the game and the execution of that idea. So, having a great idea is a good start, but without the ability to realize it fully, it will remain just a great idea.

Emmanuel asks:

We’re currently implementing Scrum, and it’s looking very promising. I think the method will work wonders to implement features incrementally.

Where we are more uncertain is how to handle things like:

  • designing missions for a solo campaign: can you really build and tune a campaign through a series of user stories?
  • tool building: there’s a lot of work going on to build tools for level designers and developers, how can we account for that? can you take a scrum approach?
  • performance tuning: this is an ongoing concern, and we struggle to build that as part of the “potentially shippable” in small iterations.
  • fragmentation vs aggregation: we’ve had a lot of pushback in some cases where the developers believed that by building incrementally certain features, we would end up paying a higher cost in the long run (either in dollars or performance). But taking a more aggregated approach would make it impossible to deliver anything in a sprint (we run 2-week sprints), which kind of defeats the purpose of Scrum.

So it would be great to hear of the producer’s experiences in dealing with that.

Harvard: SCRUM in the words of a respected colleague of mine is like many other methods. Its kind of “new agey”. Its a little hand wavy, a little unpredictable and professes to be the savior for game development. I believe that any methodology needs to be tempered with the judgement of the implementers. Wholly hanging your hat on one method is naive. The participants in the process need to evaluate what works and what doesn’t for their particular project and team. In my experience SCRUM works well if there are real, tangible features that are reasonably known and can be evaluated in a hands on way in a collaborative environment. It seems to work better in focused, small pods but gets too laborious on a very large team. It can work well with prototyping but not as well in major cycles when the team is deep in production and execution. Used intelligently it can work but not for every case imaginable.

Hendrik: All questions regarding scrum have to be decided and sorted out by either yourself or a scrum trainer who knows you, your team and your processes well.

Scrum is no silver bullet with a specific rule set to follow. It is a philosophy which you have to adopt to your situation.

If your sprint length is not enough for some things expand it, of course you can develop tools with scrum etc.

Sebastian asks:

Unlike most of the indies, the AAA game producers are able to survive and earn a living from their games. They pay well their employees and continue to develop new titles from the money their games generate, but it is still tough for many of them. However they have the advantage of having publishers and a distribution network. They have more visibility than indies. In surface, they seem to succeed more easily than indies.

How can indies develop great selling strategies like AAA game producers without a marketing department of many people?

Harvard: Without a top marketing, QA, Customer Service and Distribution partner you are really putting yourself behind the eight ball. Don’t forget, financed development teams usually have a lot more $$$. That said, creativity can suffer – which is where the indie devs can shine. Consider other distribution sources like the Playstation Network. Most games there are a fraction of the cost and see sizable units sold. At this point, on-line distribution is the way to go.

Practically, find an MBA school, talk to their dean and offer your game up as a project for their business students. Often they love to work on real world problems and I’ve seen many students help struggling small businesses.

Jeremy: I don’t know if this is a surprise to anyone or not, but it’s rarely the game producer who lands a project. AAA game deals are generally born from business development teams that go from publisher meeting to publisher meeting.

They usually come armed with a few game pitches that are unique IPs and then the publisher will view those and say something like “Those are cool, but we have a big movie coming out next year, how about making that game instead?”.

So much of the business is relationship-driven and getting an original IP signed is never, ever easy because there’s more risk involved. If you can find ways to minimize the risk for the buyer that will help.

Robbie: I personally feel that a great product will sell itself, especially in the internet age. The internet makes it so easy to promote your product with small budget if you are willing to put in effort.

Word of mouth is really the best type of advertising, the challenge is to get people to talk about your game. That’s where sites like Facebook or Digg provide you with an easy avenue to get eyes on your product. Also, have the developers blog about your game.

I have wanted to do this for about 4 years now, but unfortunately, I’m pretty boring. I have always thought it would be a great way to create a connection with your consumers and generate a great deal of buzz. I mean what is more exciting in game development than working in a small indie development house where every day is a fight to survive. That’s great drama.

Frank: This is a tough one.

It’s one of those questions where the answer is, “If it were easy, everyone would do it.”

I will point out three areas that I think are underserved by independent game developers:

  • Your Web site must be professional, easy to use, up-to-date and provide me with all the information I might ever want about your company. It costs next-to-nothing to maintain, and speaks volumes about your ability to execute.
  • Your projects must have consistent production values. Pay attention to all the little details — UI, installation procedures, audio. Don’t just throw your material out there and hope it makes an impression. Make it look as slick and as polished as possible.
  • Respect the power of personal connections. Recognize both the macro-goal of a publisher (i.e. make money, manage risk), but also the micro-goals of the personalities that comprise the publisher (i.e. locate and nourish partners that can execute on projects with little help, direction and attention). You need to make it as easy as possible for people to say “yes” to your proposals.

Hendrik:
If you want to do a AAA first person shooter witch a small team and a small publisher, forget it basically.

Everything you do has to be related to the situation. If you have a nice indie developer at hand, do nice, smaller sized projects and check out alternative distribution and marketing channels like PC-online, PSN, XLBA, Wii ware or Steam or build up your own which most browser game developers do.

But beware, it is getting more and more difficult to do everything on your own. Better think about teaming up, create a joint venture etc.

If you want to do AAA games then you have to work a while and be damn lucky to reach the point were you can handle that with your team. If you as an individual want to work on AAA games work for bigger companies and try to climb the ladder.

Saad asks: What kind of salary game producers or executive game producers have?

Robbie: According to the Game Industry Salary Survey, producers average $78,716 annually.

Harvard: It really depends on the company. Here’s a helpful link.

Hendrik: Totally depends on the company and the territory you work in. the IDGA does regular market research on that. Overall it is in average 5-12k a month depending on your experience and your former success.

Frank: Some key points to make here is that titles and salaries can vary widely from studio to studio. But I think Gamasutra’s salary surveys are fairly accurate.

Jeremy: It’s a huge range, depending where you are and what you work on. The last salary survey I have handy is from 2007, but it puts the average salary for producers at $78,716.

Thanks everybody!

This concludes the Round Table session. If you are a producer in a major studio (doing AAA games with a budget over one million), feel free to contact me and tell your interest in contributing to these sessions.

Thanks Robbie, Jeremy, Frank, Hendrik and Harvard for your contribution – I really appreciate you taking time to answer these questions, and I’m sure the readers feel the same!

And everybody: if you want to get informed about the next session, subscribe to the mailing list to get informed.

The opinions expressed by these producers are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, plans or positions of the companies where they work at.

Indie Life Wasn’t Supposed To Be Easy…

I got this post from one of you readers, and I think there’s valuable questions and ideas worth considering here. I’ll go the post step by step and answer as well as I can.

I know very well what constrains me, and do not know HOW to make it work – doubt there is a way btw…

Somebody has said that Where there’s a will there’s a way and I 100% agree with the statement. I do realize that some things don’t work for everybody all the time, so sometimes you need to stop wondering how to go through a dead end and simply turn back and find some other route. But often, there’s a way.

Let’s see if we can come up with a solution – but for starters, I think it’s hugely important to make sure you concentrate on thinking about the solution rather than thinking that there’s no way to make it work.

The problem is, the type of game I make is true RPGs… and big, thriving portals all says it’s not the kind of game that clicks to their target audience…

Yes, that’s a fact of life. Portals won’t sell certain kind of games, so it’s waste of time trying to sell them anything they don’t want. It’s bit like the story about banana farm for monkey.

so how can i rival Azada when Azada is so much promoted and I get nothing but my own site and a couple others?

A simplified answer is that “you can’t”. If you are doing an RPG game that portals don’t want (unless it’s a ‘casual RPG’…), then I don’t see how you could ‘compete with Azada‘.

The good news are, that you don’t need to.

When you are creating a game that cannot go through portals, then you gotta find some alternative routes. For starters, there’s sites such as Kongregate.com that can help promoting your game. You can simply approach different publishers and make deals with them. Reflexive is another good choice: they take indie games too.

Or, look what one Finnish game company did with their Shadowgrounds game: they have several purchase places (and they published through Meridian4).

Simply put: if you cannot go through portals, then use something else.

HOW can I make THIS work? Seems to me there is no answer, as I cannot force the portals to promote my stuff – if they dont want, they dont want…

You said something really important: you can’t force other people to promote your stuff. It’s the old saying about getting horses to drink: you can lead them to a river, but they’ll make up their own mind about drinking water.

If you think you are not going anywhere with your game (even after trying several publishers, like mentioned above), then at some point you gotta ask if you could change your approach. Perhaps it could make sense to do a market research where you’ll go through various stages to find out if there’s market for your game. If RPG genre isn’t getting you where you want, perhaps you can try something different (‘casual RPG’, ‘Puzzle RPG’, ‘Adventure RPG’,, Puzzle games and so on). Something that you might have better chances in getting to portals.

That was the hopeless message of the day… one of your writings says, “dont give up, business could start the month after”… how can you see it coming when the main actors of the indie scene clearly states they have no interest in the type of game you do…

There’s a chinese proverb that says: “The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.” If you think it cannot be done, then you perhaps could get motivation from watching how others are doing it.

Our games should not try to please everybody on the planet all the time. If your game can please some audience, for some time – then you’ll done your part (and can reap the rewards).

If portals don’t want your game then you have (close to) two options:
1) Either you create a game that portals want
2) Or you try some other ways to promote your game.

Also remember that selling isn’t the only option for promoting and generating revenue. There’s plenty of practical marketing tips and business insight available that can help you getting ideas on how to get forward with your game.

If you really enjoy doing games, and really think you have a good game – then go forward. Find somebody who can help you. Ask from others who have done RPG games earlier. Ask in different forums. Make a plan and go boldly forward.

Make things happen.

How To Be An Egoistic Bastard (Trust Me, I Have Experience On This)

It’s easy to seem like an egoistic idiot (I know, I’ve done this a lot, and will probably do this in the future as well). Read the following paragraphs and notice the difference in tone.

When you do game development, you should always prepare a project plan or your game development will be messy.

And here’s the second version:

I’ve noticed that in game development, preparing a project plan is good. When I haven’t done the plan, my game development has been messy.

The tone difference is so obvious. First one is telling others what to do. The second one is about presenting some stuff that has been beneficial for you.

I’ve noticed that whenever I write about some tips or lessons learned, it’s useful not to tell others how things should be done. That can be negative, and seen as somebody trying to force their way. On the other hand, it has been more positive whenever I’ve tried to present things in a way that says: “this is what I’ve done, here’s what has worked for me – feel free to use it or not”.

It’s so easy to get into habit of telling others what to do. In my experience, it has been good to avoid that (well, at least to some extend).

So, stop forcing your opinions to others.

(Hmm… what did I just said…)