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Day 43: $0 Marketing

The video, “How to Successfully Market Your Indie Game on a $0 Budget“, from Emmy Jonassen (aka Indie Game Girl) is ~6 years old but still relevant. A good overview on effective marketing tactics for indie developers.

Below is a short breakdown (she expands in each area)

Step One: Create Irresistible Promotional Materials

  • Trailer Video
  • Screenshots
  • Press Release
  • Landing Page
  • Development Blog

Step Two: Score Articles in Top-Tier Publications

  • Build Target Publication List
  • Find Writer’s Contact Info
  • Get In Touch
  • Thank You Notes
  • Keep In Touch

Step Three: Build An Adoring Fanbase

  • Make Your Game Easy To Discover
  • Convert Visitors Into Fans With Content
  • Nurture Your Relationship With Fans

She also has a variety of helpful marketing posts on her site, like a Press Release Template.

Current Progress Status

  • Tower Defense Tutorial: 42/73
  • Unity in Action (Pg 278 of 352)

Onward!

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Day 36: Keymailer

Keymailer is a free marketing tool for developers to send Steam keys to YouTube, Twitch and other broadcasters to help promote their game.

You’re able to tailor-make your campaign by deciding who to send your game keys to. Afterwards, you can review & track data to see how much exposure your game is getting and from which channels. You can even recycle unused keys to provide to others.

Thanks to /u/CG_fred for sharing tips to help with a Steam game release in this Reddit thread.

Current Progress Status

  • Tower Defense Tutorial: 34/73
  • Unity in Action (Pg 183 of 352)

Onward!

Day 27: Marketplaces

My goal as outlined in the Day 1 post was “to have a game published on Android and/or iOS and/or Steam.” I’ll have to add several other “and/or” marketplaces to the list I wasn’t aware of.

Epic Games Store (owner of Unreal engine, developer of Fortnite) launched just this past December and is planning to open the store for all developers in the second half of 2019. The store will be “engine-agnostic” meaning they will accept games made in any engine (including Unity!) Epic’s cut is 12%.

Itch.io was created six years ago this month. Although their default cut is 10%, developers can choose how much money the site will get per purchase.

Game Jolt has been around in one form or another since about 2004 but their marketplace didn’t open until 2016. Developers here also have the choice of how much of a percentage to give the site with each sale.

Kongregate was released in 2006. Their cut is 30% and they have a submission checklist that needs to be followed.

I’m sure there are many other marketplaces available for indie game dev’s to list their games on. There is so much more research to do in this area.

Assuming none of these marketplaces need exclusivity, is there anything wrong with launching across all of them simultaneously? Sure, mobile ports might need retinkering, but if the game is for PC/Mac, it should be fairly straightforward, right? Maybe? I guess I’ll be finding out soon enough.

Edit: It looks like I was trying to reinvent the wheel with this post – a more complete and better researched article can be read here on Ninichi’s site.

Tower Defense Tutorial Progress: 10/73

Onward!

Day 24: Hard Work ≠ Success?


“Help me understand what the hell is going on. I have made the biggest mistake of my life”

Reading this reddit post made me really feel for the developer. Tldr: indie dev spent 4 years and a lot of money on his game, released on Steam, Android, and iOS and has only “recouped less than 10% of [his] money thus far.”

The game looks very polished. Why didn’t it live up to the dev’s expectations?

I’m trying to take to heart all the constructive criticism in that thread. I would also love to hear your thoughts on why you think his game isn’t performing as well as he thought it would and what you would’ve done differently (or do going forward) if you were in his shoes.

Tower Defense Tutorial Progress: 4/73

I learned having public fields is generally bad practice in OOP but that Unity still allows you access to private fields in the Inspector by using SerializeField. I can have my cake and eat it too!

The first several videos have been about setting up the game grid through code. Since the tutorial was created, however, Unity has added a new Tilemap system making it so much easier. I’ll have to back and try out the new system sometime later.

Onward!

Day 18: Networking


It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

A couple former coworkers who have recently gotten better jobs did so because of connections within the new company; they knew someone that already worked there. Without that ‘in’, they wouldn’t have a) known about the unlisted job position b) been selected for an interview.

It’s likely the same within the gaming industry. I need to connect. Listen. Share.

I’ve created a twitter account to get a pulse of what’s going on in that medium, as well as a Discord account so I can chat with others. (PAUSED#8024)

I haven’t gotten around to Facebook yet… maybe I’ll signup for a company page when I start a project. My plan is to start generating interest as soon as possible (Add to to-do list: read about indie game marketing)

Marketing myself is difficult. When I was younger, if I was ever dragged to any house party, I would socialize more with the host’s pets than other people. I’m naturally shy and dislike being the center of attention.

But to be successful, I’ll need to get out of that comfort zone. Put myself out there.

HarvardX: CS50G – Assignment

What I learned by committing some more beginner’s gaffes during the “Dreadhalls” (Hell Maze) assignment:

  1. Make sure to include all the relevant namespaces in the script.

One task was to transition to a “Game Over” scene when the player falls through a hole. Simple enough.

using System.Collections;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using UnityEngine;

public class playerFallCheck : MonoBehaviour
{
   void Update()
    {   
        if (transform.position.y <= -5)
        {
            SceneManager.LoadScene("Game Over");
        }
    }
}

Why was I getting an error? I checked over the syntax of SceneManager then double-checked I spelled my Scene exactly “Game Over.” I finally discovered I didn’t include the namespace that includes SceneManager at the outset of the script:

  using UnityEngine.SceneManagement;

2. Check the Unity Console often

I attached the playerFallCheck script to my PlayerController so that shortly after it fell through the floor, it would call the ‘Game Over’ scene. Except when I tested it and fell, the character would just continue to fall and fall and fall. The “Game Over” scene was never being called.

I went back to my script thinking the error somehow lay there. Instead, if I had checked the Console first, it was explicitly telling me what was wrong:

Scene 'Game Over' couldn't be loaded because it has not been added to the build settings or the AssetBundle has not been loaded.
 To add a scene to the build settings use the menu File->Build Settings…

Once the ‘Game Over’ scene was added in build settings, everything went smoothly.

Below is how the finished project looks. I shrank the maze considerably so I wasn’t wandering around for too long. Also, because the spawn, end and hole locations are random and the maze itself is procedurally generated, the layout isn’t always the greatest. Okay, enough caveats:

Tomorrow I’ll watch the ‘Portal’ lecture and start that assignment.

Onward!

Day 5: Connecting With The Player

My wife is in the other room screaming. No, she isn’t upset. She’s playing the remake of Resident Evil 2 and really getting into it.

As I watched her play earlier, I tried getting feedback from the viewpoint of a prospective game designer. What caused her to have the biggest reactions? What was(n’t) fun? What was(n’t) intuitive?

I found it interesting that a lot of the suspense created was due to sound alone. Even when she couldn’t see Mr. X, his heavy footfalls were enough to elicit an ‘Oh sh–!”

It’s amazing how games can make you smile, laugh, cry (GoldenEye – Aztec level, Difficulty: 00-Agent), or even scare you. They can draw you into an engaging story and let you escape into a different world. It can be an emotional experience that drains or uplifts you.

And now I proudly present my very first game that evokes none of the feelings described above: Tic Tac Toe.

What a masterpiece

The Unity tutorial I followed helped me get a better feel for the Hierarchy, Project, Scene and Inspector windows and I feel comfortable laying out a simple menu.

But if I’m being completely honest – a lot of the code didn’t feel like it was at a “beginner” level. Reading the code made sense and I understand the logic, however I don’t remember any of the syntax. At all.

I’ll follow WeirdBeardDev’s suggestion and tackle the tutorial that focuses on scripting next.

Also, thank you AJ for pointing me towards Visual Studio Code. It loads and runs so much quicker! I appreciate all the tips!

Just for fun, I muddled through the build settings and uploaded the tic-tac-toe game onto itch.io:

https://paused.itch.io/my-first-game-ever

I notice that after you play one game and start a second, the “Choose who goes first” button text color changes and isn’t readable. Maybe I’ll fix that in a subsequent patch 😉

Is it normal for small WebGL games to take so long to load? Does anyone have experience with itch.io for hosting games? Any other sites that you prefer? So many questions.

Onward!

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