If you want to create a successful indie game, marketing is one of the most important things. Some claim that an awesome game is all you need, and word of mouth will do the rest. To back up their claim, they use use Minecraft as an example on how a great game can succeed without marketing. Well, let me explain how Notch, the developer of Minecraft, did more marketing than the average indie game developer out there.
What is marketing?
Since a lot of game developers confuse marketing with advertisement, let’s first give a clear definition of what marketing means. This definition is focused on indie game developers:
Marketing is all effort that is not going straight into improving your game, but into getting the word out about your game.
Some marketers might say that having a good product is part of the marketing, but for this article, let’s assume you already have (or are working on) a good or awesome game.
Marketing can be split up into different forms of marketing. The most straight forward way to explain the different forms is done with the following text:
If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying “Circus Coming to the Fairground Saturday,” that’s advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that’s promotion. If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed, that’s publicity. And if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations. If the town’s citizens go the circus, you show them the many entertainment booths, explain how much fun they’ll have spending money at the booths, answer their questions and ultimately, they spend a lot at the circus, that’s sales.
Minecraft didn’t sell itself
So now that we cleared up what marketing is, let’s see what effort Notch put into marketing Minecraft.
Notch started blogging in May 2009, way before it was finished. He did 81 posts that month. That’s about 2.5 posts per day! The months after it he posted less, but still on average more than 1 post per day.
He also posted video’s on YouTube, at about 1 video a week.
He contacted the press because he got plenty of coverage on his newly announced game at indiegames.com, Jayisgames, Destructoid (unfortunately that page is already gone) and TIGSource.
Just like any good marketer, he uses discounts, time pressure and experiments with different revenue models.
The title of a game is one of the first things a potential buyer sees. So it needs to capture the essence of the game, it needs to attract potential buyers. Notch choose the title in a team brainstorm, were others could give input.
Marketing is essential
Remember, marketing is much more than advertisement alone. Notch didn’t only put much effort in developing his game, but also into getting the word out, and using sale techniques. That’s marketing. Without it, we would never know about Minecraft.
The same story for Angry Birds. If they didn’t market it, almost nobody would have heard of it.
So go on and create the most awesome game you can make, and market it like hell!
Finally, the new version of RPG Playground is available at http://rpgplayground.com! First of all, this release took waaaay too long. The previous version was released 1 year back, which is definitely a very long time ago. I don’t want any of my next releases to take this long ever again. The plan is to make a new release every few months, or even faster.
A lot of you were asking, poking and bugging me when this release will be out, and what features it will contain. So thanks for your patience! I hope you will stick around while I keep adding new features.
So, why did it take so long? Well, a lot of work was done both on visible features and framework improvements. I will explain everything in this post (so yeah, this is going to take a while). I will handle the most important features first, so feel free to quit reading and start designing your game.
My RPG creation software will allow you to create an entire online role playing game, but as you probably know, it is still in early development. Currently you can let characters say something, but this is of course not enough. You want the player to have entire conversations with characters, and to have cut-scenes that reveal a part of the story.
My first thought on allowing you to create this extra functionality is by using ‘screenplays’. These screenplays would allow you to define conversations and animations in an easy, straight forward way. Screenplays are created entirely by using a point-and-click GUI. You basically can’t do anything wrong.
When I started programming games, I had the same workflow as most game developers: Program the game logic in a programming language, compile it, and then playtest the game. Once you stumble upon an issue, the whole cycle starts again.
I did the same for resources. So when a graphic needed updating, you stop the game, edit the resource, and start the game to test it.
This process seems fast and easy on paper, but most of the time it’s pretty tedious. The part you want to see might be at end of a level, so you first need to reach that point (again). You can work with cheat codes, but it still remains pretty annoying. Read more…
Mobile devices are so popular
Although RPG Maker doesn’t officially support building games for other platforms than Windows, some people have succeeded in doing so. All available options will be explained in this blog post. So if you know of any other options to port an RPG Maker game to other platforms, please contact me or leave a comment below, so I can improve this article.
RPG Maker is probably the most popular tool to make your own JRPG’s. Unfortunately, it is only available for Windows, and can only create Windows games.
As far as Enterbrain (the creator or RPG Maker) is concerned, Windows will remain the only platform that they officially support. This is extensively explained in a forum post on their official website. The general conclusion is that it’s technically too difficult or costly for them to support other platforms. RPG Maker heavily depends on Windows only technology, which makes it nearly impossible to go beyond the Windows platform. Read more…
Time for a small update of your favorite RPG creation tool. The most important fix is that you can now control the hero properly with the mouse. I implemented A* pathfinding for this. So now he moves to the place where you clicked, not in the direction of the click.
Other things also improved:
- NPC’s say “…” by default.
- Tilemap and entity editing are now completely separated.
- Fixed a nasty glitch where the grass is gone, and images are copied all over the place.
- Better logging on the client side, to discover bugs.
Are you ready for a new release of RPG Playground? It’s right in time before Christmas! This release allows you to talk to characters, and edit their dialogue. I know a lot of you have been waiting for this, so go ahead and try it! The conversation is currently still limited to the NPC saying maximum 3 lines of text, but in the future this will be extended to full blown conversation trees.
Besides this awesome cool new feature, other improvements have been done:
- Move characters and monsters by dragging them with the mouse.
- Scrolling is now visually smooth. We run at 50 frames per second now instead of 30.
- The last added NPC is selected by default
- Fixed a weird visual issue with big levels.
- Bug fixed that the hero is not able walk down again at the top of a tilemap.
- YouTube help video is now always correctly positioned in fullscreen mode.
For the next release I will work on the server back-end. It’s currently slow, and doesn’t allow scaling to a huge amount of users. After that is finished, loading levels should be way faster than they currently are. And it will allow a huge amount of players simultaneously playing your game.
Here’s the explanation for the technical people: I’m currently storing all data in a MongoDB database. But hosting large amounts of data inside that database is pretty expensive. So I’m going to rework this setup so that MongoDB will only contain account and project info, and the real data files will be stored on file, served by a web server. Reading these files will then just be a request to the web server, which should be really fast.
But anyway, for now, have fun by adding conversations to your game!
The new version for RPG Playground is finally here
. This one took a long time to finish, I blame it on the nice weather during the summer ;). (So good news, the summer is gone!). This release adds the following new features:
1. Set NPC orientation.
2. Rescale your levels.
3. Buttons have mouse-over highlight.
4. Buttons are greyed out when disabled.
So now everything is ready to start implementing the Talk to NPC’s feature! I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited about that :). And when that’s finished, fighting with monsters is next on my list. Yes, it seems that RPG Playground is finally going to allow you to create an actual game (limited game, but still a game).
Time for a small RPG Playground release! I improved the fullscreen mode so it doesn’t scale RPG Playground, but it resizes it. This means you will have a lot more overview on your level when working on it. You can now also scroll your level in edit mode, which makes editing a bit easier, because you don’t have to move your character everywhere you want to modify something.
New registered users now also see a quick tutorial video once they logged in (a YouTube video on how to make your own RPG). You can bring it up any time you want with the help button in the bottom left corner.
So that’s it for this release. As I said in the beginning, it’s a small release.
Now go and check out the full fullscreen mode, definitely worth a try!
Time for a new RPG Playground release! This time I made the GUI a bit nicer. I was planning on adding ‘talking to characters’ first, but the current GUI was holding me back, so I fixed that first. I also added a welcome screen showing the brand new RPG Playground logo. Remark that it now requires you to log in or register first before you can start designing. But when you share a level, anyone can start playing without needing to register first.
Some more things that this new version features:
- That weird scrollbar is replaced with a real scrollbar (some people had trouble with the original)
- A much better font is used now
- New users see a help/tutorial screen right after registering, and this screen can be shown at any time by pressing the help button in the lower left corner
Check it out at http://rpgplayground.com.