DEVBLOG 4: A Day Late and A Dollar Short

Hey friends — today’s post is less interesting if you’re wondering about how people design games, and more interesting if you’re wondering about how those games make it from their minds to your faces.

I’ve gotten almost no coding done in the last week.  Let’s look at why!

A team making a game has a lot to do to make their game real (where “real” is defined as being discoverable and purchasable by an arbitrary person).  They must:

  •  conceive the idea
  •  prototype (build a minimal engine and some content to play with)
  •  build out the engine
  •  acquire/generate content (art, level data/challenges, music, sound) 
  •  get to a marketable point (up for discussion! but a minimum of trailers/screens/a site that doesn’t look like butts, and  probably as far as a playable demo
  •  promote the game once you have something to promote (getting in front of press, streamers, youtubers, reviewers)
  •  get the game approved for sale
  •  and let’s ignore the rest, like postsales support and intensive hardware testing

I’ve seen a lot of debate recently about when the right time to get in front of press is.  The answer usually falls somewhere in between site/trailers/screenshots done and playable demo.  The real “right” answer might be to build a contact list early, and note who wants to see early early trailers and who isn’t interested until you have a demo, and act accordingly.  We’re not that coordinated yet, so we’re hitting everyone at once once our press demo is available.

We’re on the fifth bullet point now.  Zach and I are taking on art and level design ourselves, but finding audio guys has been a challenge.  Finding the right people for the job means spending a lot of time listening to candidate work.  We’re a few days from calling our press demo gold (which is great news, because it’s out in ten days).  Instead of coding, we’ve been combing through a set of very talented musicians, building a much nicer looking site with Bianca, and preparing ourselves for our press push on the 24th.  We want to make sure PAX isn’t the first time anyone’s heard of us, and that’s lot more work than I ever anticipated.

What’ll we do differently next time?  Press and publicity should be as integral to your development process as you can make it.  This gets easier once you have existing press relationships from previous games, but make a contact list early on and for every contact, get a specific person’s name, contact method, and a note about when in the dev process they like to hear from you.  Get a basic site up early, and have somewhere for press/media to see how you’re coming along.  Add some basic copy and put your trailer on your frontpage when you’ve got it done.

Establish your press relationships and everything you need to market your game early, or you’ll have to do it all at once late into the game.  We’re learning this a little late, but not tooooo late.

Thanks for reading!