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by Kyle Kulyk
Obscurity has to be the number one hurdle for Indie developers. Like a lot of Indies, we’ve got our website, we’ve got our blog up, we’re tweeting like hell, but how do you get your audience to care a chicken’s whisker about what you have to say or your small, indie game? My conclusion is you have to show them. Now, bear in mind, I don’t know what I’m doing. I spent the past decade in the brokerage industry before finding myself jobless during the worst economic recession we’ve seen since the 30’s. What the hell do I know about making games?
Well, that’s the fun of it! You all get to gloat when I follow-up this blog in a few months with “Game Demos, what a huge waste of everyone’s time.” Or, choice to release a game demo will end up being the right one and I can wistfully look back on this blog someday and remember when I started every day looking myself in the mirror and asking “Games? Really? What the hell am I doing?”
Now there was a bit of a debate among my team to release a demo or not and I have to admit that initially I was in the “No Demo” category. The reason was fairly simple. Our first game, Itzy, isn’t done yet. Our efforts should be directed towards completing the game, not sending a half finished, drooling monstrosity out into the world (hey, that’s an idea for a game). The focus should be on finishing the game so we can unleash it upon the masses and then bask in the glow of gamer adoration. And money. Which doesn’t glow so much. Because, baby needs a new pair of shoes. No, seriously, my baby needs shoes. He’s outgrowing those things like crazy.
However, a talk at a games conference in Vancouver recently changed my mind. The presenter put forward the notion that Indie developers need to get their games out, in any shape – and they need to get them on Facebook. The idea was that as long as you make players aware that the game is currently in development, and invite their feedback, they’ll be more forgiving of the games flaws and you’ll establish a following of gamers who are connected to the game because they helped shape it.
And it’s brilliant! A problem we didn’t even realize that we had was that we have all played the game to death and we know exactly what we’re supposed to do at any given point. It’s hard to test a game, to break a game and even to objectively look at what’s working and what isn’t when you’ve been married to the game for the past few months and your wife can’t remember what you look like anymore apart from old pictures on your Facebook profile.
So it’s been a week since our “Itzy – Alpha Demo” went live on both our website and Facebook and already the feedback we’ve received has started to shape the game mid-development. I’m already glad that we made the decision to go ahead and release our first level for all to try. And a small following has started and I’d like to pass along the message to them to SHARE THE GAME ON YOUR GODDAMN WALL! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?! IF YOU LIKE IT, CLICK THAT YOU LIKE IT! IT’S ONE BUTTON PRESS. And that we appreciate your support and look forward to getting the completed game into your hands this summer.