Christmas really does get in the way of good blog upkeep.
Just wanted to write a brief post on my guest lecture at London South Bank Universtiy on Thomas Was Alone, and why I think it got as much coverage as it did. I re-used a lot of content from the IGDA presentation, but put more emphasis on tips for pushing yourself and your work into the spotlight (a skill that’s essential to game development graduates looking to get that pesky first industry job). Awesomet, attentive students with some very cool lecturers. A great evening
As promised, I thought I’d post the 6 key tips which I focused on. There’s a larger discussion of this topic to be written, but as I’m feeling unwell, and typing this up on a netbook at my girlfriend’s family home, I’ll keep it brief for now – anyone who wants to expand on anything in the comments is more than welcome 🙂
Make a good game – making something which people will enjoy enough to pass on directly or in a blog post is essential to any viral marketting. In this case, the game was ‘adequate’ to get people talking about it.
Know your audience – everything in your game should flow from this – but so should your marketting. Which sites do the people who will play your game visit?What kinds of visuals, names etc will draw them in? Awesome thing about indie is that you can design games ‘for yourself’, if you do it, do it wholeheartedly.
Give it a good name – memorable and googleable are the key ones. Often both help each other. ‘Thomas was Alone’ is a strong name because it’s different, has emotional resonance and is a reasonably unique search term.
Tell the right people – Network on twitter, cold email journalists who you think would cover your work. It’s a surprisingly effective approach, because it doesn’t occur to such a large number of indie developers. There’s no shame in telling people about yourself. Waiting for them to come to you is just that, a long wait.
Tell a story – I wish I had a quid for every time I’ve said the phrase ’24 hour game’ in the last couple of months. Framing conversations with journalists in the context of an engaging or interesting backstory behind the game (in this case, pizza fueled creativity) makes it far more likely for people to share your work. It doesn’t matter that a large majority of flash games are made in 24 hours, mine was just amongst the first to be marketted on that basis. Don’t lie, but do find the story which makes you and your game interesting.
Build on it – if something you worked on catches on, as Thomas did, keep going. Expand it, blog it, build on the success and strength of the brand to take it further.
So, yep, very brief summary, but there might be a nugget of something useful there.