Indie Game Kickstarter Highlights August 2018

By Tim Youngblood

August had some interesting Kickstarter campaigns that have a few weeks left to meet their funding goals. Let’s check out some games!

Titan Arena: A Virtual Reality Shooter

Titan Arena is a VR battle arena where players have to jump and fly around using futuristic weapons to fight giant robots. The game was developed by Lightbound Studios, whose members have worked on AAA series like God of War, Medal of Honor, and Lord of the Rings: Conquest.

Titan Arena is set to release in late 2019 for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows Mixed Reality if it can get funding. This game stood out to me because the gameplay looked more fast-paced than most VR games being developed currently. In future updates, this is a game I would love to see with some kind of multiplayer or high score ladder system. I think this would be an awesome game to see at an arcade.

 

 

Learn More About Titan Arena

 

Squarewave Maker: A Rhythm Game With a Sandbox Level Creation System

Rhythm games aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but Squarewave Maker might change some minds about the genre. Besides having pretty graphics and smooth gameplay, it has a sandbox style level creation system that allows players to make their own levels and share them with others.

Squarewave Maker was developed by Moshing Cat Studio with a goal of releasing on Steam in October 2019. Moshing Cat Studio had to make their own game engine in order to create their sandbox system, which they say was “inspired by Mario Maker and Ableton Live.” The editor looks actually does look a lot like Ableton and I’m especially interested to see if Squarewave Maker can help people learn about audio production.

 

 

Learn More About Squarewave Maker

 

Meeple Station: A Cooperative Space Station Simulator

In Meeple Station, players (up to 12 of them!) build and maintain a space station for their meeple, which are little cartoony people. While the game features some low pixel count retro graphics, the game itself is quite complex. Players have to mine resources in space, trade with other stations, manage crew morale and much more!

Meeple Station was developed by Vox Games, who also developed Regions of Ruin. Meeple Station is set to release in December 2018 on Steam if it can get funding! Also, Meeple Station has a demo!

 

 

Learn More About Meeple Station

What Were Your Favorite Kickstarter Campaigns This Summer?

There were a lot of awesome-looking campaigns this summer that I didn’t get to write about so I tried to focus on games that could use some help to meet their funding goals. Were there any Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaigns that caught your eye? Please share them in the comments!

How to Schedule Posts on Facebook For Free

By Tim Youngblood

You don’t need a third party platform like Hootsuite to schedule posts on Facebook anymore. Now you can do it in the Facebook interface for free! We’ll show you how to do it.

I’ve been pretty critical of Facebook as both a marketing platform and a plague on society’s collective intelligence, but every once in a while, Zuckerburg and the boys do a good thing. Social media marketing has very much become a “pay to play” game in recent years but it’s still the best marketing platform for low budget studios. Allowing users to schedule posts for free is great for indie developers and studios because they can get their post volumes up without having to pay for a tool or marketing agency. As Martha Stewart would say, “it’s a good thing.”

 

Facebook is easily the largest social media platform for marketing. Graph courtesy of Road Warrior Creative.

 

How to Schedule a Post on Facebook

Scheduling posts on Facebook is as easy as clicking another button in the regular posting options. Start by logging into Facebook and going to your game or studio’s page. At the top of the feed in the center of your page, you should see a button that says “Create Post”. Below that, you should see posting options and a button that says “Share Now” that has a little arrow pointing downward on the button. Click the down arrow, then select and click “Schedule”. All you have to do now is select a date and time on the calendar. Congrats, you did it.

 

It really is just one extra button.

 

What Kind of Posts Should Game Developers Schedule on Facebook?

Scheduling a post is easy, but knowing what to use it for can be more tricky. There are two types of posts that I find scheduling to be extremely helpful for: keeping up with daily posts, and press releases/announcements. Let’s break em down!

 

Scheduling Daily Posts and Keeping up with Them

A common theme in social media marketing is that quantity matters. A page that posts a few memes every day will become more popular than a page that posts helpful tutorials, good journalism, or in-depth previews of their game.

This doesn’t mean that posting things of intellectual value isn’t worth your time, you just need to sprinkle in some light-hearted fluffy stuff so Facebook’s algorithm sees your page as more active. The easiest way to do this is to schedule a screenshot from your game to come out every day. Uploading images to Facebook can be tedious, so doing all those posts once a week or once a month will save time and sanity.

 

In today’s society, posting dank memes can sure be a chore…

 

Using Facebook Scheduling to Coordinate a Release

Whether you’re releasing your game, announcing it, or seeking crowdfunding, coordinating the announcement across multiple platforms is crucial. This means developers have to send a ton of emails, make a press release page on their website, and make posts across multiple social media platforms all at once. This can’t be done without scheduling. You can learn more about the importance of press releases and email marketing in this tutorial: Tips and Tricks for Free Indie Game Marketing and Promotion.

 

Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and emails all have free tools built in so you can schedule posts. Next time, I’ll go over how to schedule posts on Twitter!

Indie Game Kickstarter Highlights: May 2018

By Tim Youngblood

 

Editor’s Note: This month’s Kickstarter highlights are technically last month’s highlights, so,  unfortunately, some of their campaigns have already finished.

May’s indie game Kickstarter campaigns gave us some new genres and revamped some classics.

Hide Or Die – Large Scale Asymmetrical Horror

 

Hide or Die was developed in Unreal Engine 4 by VecFour Digital, a 3 person dev team based out of Singapore. The game’s genre was coined as a “horror royale,” a combination of an asymmetrical horror and a battle royale. The game has a minimal interface and an immersive feel. Even player’s chat windows are contained on the screen of an in-game smartphone.

In Hide Or Die, 16 players (designated as survivors in the game) start in an underground bunker and have to solve an array of puzzles in procedurally generated levels while avoiding “the darkness”. Once a survivor is consumed by the darkness, that player will transform into a crazed “hunter”, who tries to stop the other players from completing their objectives. If the “hunter” fails to stop a “survivor” from completing their objective, the “hunter” is eliminated. There are some more steps in between, but the game ends with a duel between the last “survivor” and the last “hunter”.

VecFour Digital raised $153,000 for Hide Or Die, and the game is set to release in October. Despite being a super immersive game, virtual reality was not one of their stretch goals… which I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing…

 

 

Learn More About Hide Or Die

 

Chiaro and the Elixir of Life: A Virtual Reality Adventure

Chiaro and the Elixir of Life is a story-driven, VR, puzzle adventure developed in Unreal Engine 4 by Martov Co, a dev team based out of Montreal, Canada. In the game, players are immersed into the magical VR realm of Neverrain, where they unlock the secrets of alchemists, by doing lots of puzzles, and they get a steampunk penguin for a companion. I’m probably biased here, but all of those things in list form sound awesome.

The developers have been working on the game for over two years, and it shows in the production value. The game is fully voiced and features an original soundtrack. Chiaro and the Elixir of Life has only 12 days left on their campaign and are about halfway to their $7,500 goal.

 

Learn More About Chiaro and the Elixir of Life

 

Stoneshard: Open-world Roguelike RPG with Tactical Freedom

 

Stoneshard is a procedurally generated, open-world, roguelike RPG developed by Ink Stains Games. Back in 2015, Ink Stains Games successfully funded 12 is Better Than 6, a top-down shooter.

Stoneshard doesn’t have the high contrast art style of 12 is Better Than 6. Instead, Ink Stains Games went old school for this game. What the game may lack in modern graphics, it more than makes up for in complexity and brutality. I don’t mean brutality in the context of the game being ultra-violent (Although it’s still plenty violent), this game is really, really, hard. Death is permanent and just about everything can kill your character… like even infection and disease. I did not make it far into the demo before dying. It’s like if Hardcore mode in Diablo 2 had a baby with Oregon Trail.

Ink Stains Games raised over $100,000 to fund Stoneshard, which is set to release in October for PC, PlayStation 4, XBox One, and Nintendo Switch.

 

 

Learn More About Stoneshard

Twitter Marketing: How to Use the Analytics Platform

By Tim Youngblood

Twitter’s analytics platform collects an impressive amount of data for a free tool. Before we dive in, let’s define the metrics that Twitter uses on their platform. Luckily, these metrics are fairly universal and are defined the same way on other platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. Also, if this is your first time visiting Game Borough, check out the previous posts in our Twitter marketing series to get caught up!

Indie Game Twitter Marketing Series

Impressions Versus Conversions

What is an Impression?

An impression is simply a tweet (Or post if you’re on Facebook) that comes onto a user’s feed. This doesn’t mean that the user clicked the link, liked or retweeted, or even looked at your tweet. It does mean that users had the opportunity to so, however, and users who do things such as liking, retweeting, visiting your profile, following you, or visiting a web page you’ve shared.

 

 

If you look at the screenshot above, you’ll notice that the number of impressions is way higher than the other metric. If you focus on increasing the other metrics like followers, mentions, and profile visits; the impressions will rise on their own. Essentially, impressions are just a byproduct of success with more important metrics. These metrics are often referred to as conversions.

 

What is a Conversion?

In sales, conversions usually refer to somebody buying your product. For marketing on Twitter, I use the term conversions more loosely because, as I said earlier in the series,  Twitter is not a good platform for sales conversions. In the case of Twitter, getting likes, retweets, follows, website visits, and profile visits are all considered conversions. To track website visits, you can either create a website tag to track visits on Twitter’s end using their conversion tracking tool or just track them from your website’s CMS or Google Analytics. I do the latter because Twitter isn’t a large source of traffic for GameBorough and I spend more time on the site’s CMS than on Twitter. Should you decide to use Twitter ads at some point, then conversion tracking will be necessary. Twitter has a Link Visits variable that it tracks, but your website will do a better job of tracking the users’ activity on your site.

 

What Else Does Twitter Analytics Track?

From the screenshot above, you can see that the Twitter Analytics homepage collects the metrics I talked about previously. The other tabs are Tweets, Audiences, and Events.

 

Using the Tweets Tab

The Tweets tab shows the aforementioned stats like impressions, engagements, retweets, and link clicks for individual tweets so you can compare their performance. Here’s a screenshot of ours below.

 

This is the Tweets dashboard showing the top 3 tweets from last month. You can click on each individual tweet to get more information. And of course, they try to sell tweet promotion on pretty much every page.

 

Using the Audiences Tab

The Audiences tab shows what kind of people follow you, and more importantly, what kind of people show up in your organic audience. Your organic audience is users that don’t follow you on Twitter but are likely to see your tweets in their feeds occasionally due to a shared interest in subject matter. Using hashtags in your tweets makes it easier for Twitter’s algorithm to put your tweets in your organic audience’s feeds. Below is a screenshot of Game Borough’s organic audience.

 

From our organic audience screen, you can see that our audience speaks English, likes games and technology, and is quite the sausage-fest. 

 

Using the Events Tab

If you spend a lot of time on Twitter or Facebook, you’ve probably noticed that every day is “National Something Day” like “National Donut Day” or something. The Events tab keeps track of upcoming obscure holidays as well as events happening in pop culture so people can find excuses to make new tweets. The Recurring Trends tab also shows common weekly hashtag themes so you make an excuse for a new tweet every day! Some examples of this are #ScreenShotSaturaday, #ThrowbackThursday, and #FlashbackFriday. The screenshot below is of our Overview tab.

 

This shows some upcoming holidays and events. Brace yourself for Father’s Day, we’re going to see an obnoxious amount of God of War themed tweets.

 

Putting Twitter Analytics to Use

I usually start by looking at which tweets performed well and which did not. For tweets that performed well, I can try to replicate those factors in future tweets. For example, the time of the tweet, the hashtags, subject matter, and the overall look of a tweet are all variables in a tweet’s success or failure.

For a tweet that isn’t performing well, I also look at the same factors. Let’s use one of Game Borough’s least popular tweets as an example. This particular tweet was a bit perplexing for me at first because it is one of the most popular articles on the site (It’s about indie game marketing tricks). Here’s a screenshot of the tweet, after everything we’ve covered in this tutorial series, you can probably notice some issues.

 

I can’t even read this tweet and I made it…

 

This tweet has some major issues. For one, the text is all crammed together, making it hard to read and making the link very difficult to find. The image I used doesn’t make any sense without the context of reading the article, which is a bad featured image choice when considering that the goal of this tweet is to get somebody who hasn’t read the article to read it. Audiences are also more likely to read an article if they know what it’s about. Personally, I’ve noticed success just using the article’s title in the tweet.

Knowing this, I can make a new version of the post for this article that is easier to read, says the title, and has a featured image that better illustrates the purpose of the article. Here’s what I came up with:

 

This tweet is much cleaner and has a more clear purpose. I’ll come back later to see how it performs.

 

Now that you know the basics of Twitter Analytics, you can start playing with it! Not sure where to start? Are there features that I left out? Leave your questions in the comments section and we’ll help you out!

 

Can Gag Games Be Profitable? Let’s Look at Some Kickstarters

By Tim Youngblood

 

Remember the good old days in the early 2000s, when flash games were becoming popular? The flash games were great because it gave gamers a platform to try lots of new games. It was also good for developers because it made publishing games much more accessible. The lucky developers made some money on ads, and some games became popular enough to build studios out of and move to other platforms. For example, the creators of Alien Hominid went on to make console games like Castle Crashers.

Another aspect of the lowered barrier of access created by flash games, for better or worse, was that developers could make very adult-themed games. These games ended up finding a home living in ads on porn sites and bootlegged streams of sporting events. I’m all for freedom of expression, so I’m not going to knock the creators of games like Ganguro Girl or Fap Titans (I LOL every time I read that title), but I don’t know if the indie game market for paid games has a market for games like those.

So without any further adieu, here are adult-themed, punny games running Kickstarter campaigns. I’ll leave whether or not they deserve funding to you readers…

 

DILDOS IN SPACE!

If you saw this game’s title and thought “Space Invaders with Dildos”, you’d be right. DILDOS IN SPACE! is being developed by BluePine Games and features procedurally generated levels so you and your friends can shoot down STDs from your dildo ships forever…

DILDOS IN SPACE! has raised $89 of their $2,000 goal with 9 days to go. Be sure to check out their Kickstarter campaign if you want to bring the dream of piloting pixel art dildos to life.

 

 

Learn More About DILDOS IN SPACE!

 

Neckbeardia: Quest for the Golden Fidget Spinner

Neckbeardia is a pun-filled open world RPG based on the culture of cringy men’s online and offline personas. Players can equip an assortment of weapons, trench coats, cargo shorts, and fedoras while battling other nerds in turn-based combat, solving puzzles, and collecting cards.

Neckbeardia is being developed by Pixel Mayhem and is currently at $47 of their $4500 goal with 25 days to go. Games built around making fun of a subculture have been known to gain a cult-like following (The Emo Game comes to mind), so I wouldn’t write this game off just yet. If completed, the game is set to release on PC and Android.

 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/pixelmayhem/neckbeardia-quest-for-the-golden-fidget-spinner

 

Learn More About Neckbeardia

  • Neckbeardia Kickstarter
  • I couldn’t find any more info about PixelMayhem, so if you have info on their website or social media profiles, let me know so I can add them!

 

Waifu Fight Dango Style

Waifu Fight is basically a mix between Pong and Ganguro Girl. The game seems to teeter between the comical and cringy parts of anime culture. Players bounce little gumdrop ghost creatures back and forth across a map with anime babes (Or as they say, “busty waifus”) between the players, and of course, your gumdrop critters can bounce on their boobs… and your pong paddles are sushi, I guess.

As cringy as I find the game’s title and premise, I will give Enso Entertainment credit for the amount of work they put into both the Kickstarter campaign and the game itself. The graphics and gameplay are smooth and the studio has a clear goal. Waifu Fight is currently at $1222 of their $30000 funding goal. If you want to bring the dream of bouncing gumdrop critters from sushi to sushi while “busty waifus” combat each other by bouncing said gumdrop critters off their titties, be sure to check out Waifu Fight’s Kickstarter page! I won’t judge, you weeaboos do you…

 

 

Learn More About Waifu Fight Dango Style

  • Waifu Fight Kickstarter
  • Waifu Fight Demo *I haven’t got to play it yet, but I’m curious to see if the controls are one-handed…
  • Waifu Fight on Twitter *It looks like votes are in favor of turning Waifu Fight into a full-blown hentai game, so we may see another crowdfunding push in the future. Now I’m really curious about those one-handed controls…

 

What Do You Think About Gag Games?

Do you think that there is a market and price point for games like these? Is there anything gag games can do to be taken more seriously as commercial games? Do you know how many hands the Waifu Fight controls require? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

How To Write A Game Design Document (GDD)

By Bolaji Rasheed

What is the best way to handle the development process of a game? This is a common and important question among all indie game developers. Not to worry, the answer to this question is quite simple!   

In order to manage your indie game development process effectively, having detailed documentation is a must, and the famous game design document (GDD) is the best way to do this.   

But first, you need to understand why it is so important for the completion of your project. 

A GDD is a highly descriptive design document that is created from the collaboration of designers, programmers, and artists. This document serves as a guide throughout the game development process. Indie game development processes are often hampered by placeholder arts, malfunctioning code, and clashing mechanics among others. In times like this, having a good GDD will serve as your lifeline.

 

Tips for Writing a Good Game Design Document (GDD)

Write in Stages

Normally, your mind is filled up with different ideas and concepts when starting a GDD. The best thing to do at this stage is to create a comprehensive template for your document. This template should contain Backgrounds, intros, and major descriptions. Each phase of your development process should follow this template. This will help to keep your GDD organized as the development process becomes more bulky and complex. Having a complete GDD before starting the development process is not compulsory, however, the GDD should be at least two weeks ahead of your team’s current state of work.

Make Room for Changes

During the different stages of indie game development and sometimes in the final days before release, several changes and modifications will have to be made to the GDD. Always have discussions with your team members and never discourage them from submitting new ideas even if most of it won’t make it into the game – who knows what idea will be best for the game. That’s why it is important to make your GDD flexible enough to accommodate changes and new ideas.

However, only one person should be in charge of making changes to the GDD itself. This person should focus on including only the key ideas and cutting the less important ones.

Pay Attention to Readability and Language

Readability is a very important factor that can determine how good your GDD will be. Your headers, font style, formatting, indentation, and punctuation should be uniform and consistent. Using keys and legends to explain some technical or complex parts of the GDD will help reduce confusion.

Also, your GDD should be written in simple, concise, and clear language. The simpler it is, the easier it will be for everyone to read and understand it. Your GDD should reflect your team’s culture and team members should give feedbacks about the readability and clarity of the GDD.

Use Visual Aids

The GDD is a very important document and everyone should be able to fully understand its contents. You should take advantage of visual aids such as concept arts or graphs to quickly explain some very technical or difficult concepts in the GDD. With this, every member of your team will fully understand the information conveyed to them and the development process will move a lot faster.

 

Online document editors like Google Docs are great for GDDs because you can add links to visual aids and other documents!

 

Set Priorities and Realistic Goals

When building indie games, you can’t implement all the ideas you or your team members will propose; you’ll have to cut some. Then, you need to set the priorities of the remaining ideas and come up with a reasonable deadline for the implementation of these ideas.

Complex enemies, mechanics, level behaviors, all look good and exciting on paper, but you should have it in mind that making them a reality can disintegrate the greatness of some game elements. Always play new ideas in your mind before putting it in the GDD. This will greatly help to keep your goals embedded in reality.  

Conclusion

In the course of your indie game development, there would be lots of difficult things to do and a lot that can go wrong. Having a good GDD means you have something to fall back on when something goes wrong or some mechanics just don’t work out.

The GDD is a detailed journal of all your struggles and victories and some sort of behind-the-scenes of a complex and rigorous process to produce a game to be enjoyed by all. The GDD says a lot about your game, and it is a testament to your hard work, so you should put a lot of passion into it. Good luck!  

Get Started on Your Own Game Design Document

If you’re not sure where to get started, there are plenty of templates online! Here is one made by Benjamin Stanley. If you know of any resources that can help developers make their own GDDs, please share them in the comments!

Twitter Marketing: How Do Hashtags Work and How Should Game Devs Use Them?

By Tim Youngblood

In this part of our Twitter Tutorial Series, we’ll discuss how hashtags work on Twitter and how to use them.

What is a Hashtag?

Pretty much everyone knows what a hashtag is these days, but it helps to delve in and understand their purpose within Twitter. Twitter receives millions of new tweets every day, making the task of categorizing all these tweets impossible for Twitter’s employees to handle themselves. Instead, they crowd-sourced categorization by using hashtags, which essentially function as keyword groups. They are simply Twitter’s best solution to categorization and indexation, similar to how meta keywords were used for SEO before Google’s algorithm became more sophisticated.

 

How Should Indie Game Developers Use Hashtags?

People usually fall somewhere between two opposing schools of thought on how to use hashtags in marketing campaigns. One school of thought is that users should use as many hashtags as possible (As long as they’re relevant). The other school of thought is that popular hashtags become oversaturated, and promoters are better off making up new ones for more specific audiences. Each strategy has its own merits, but which is better lean toward? The answer really depends on your industry.

Larger brands are more likely to try using their own hashtags because they have to compete with other brands in their own space. These hashtags often correspond with TV commercials and marketing campaigns. Creating and popularizing a new hashtag takes an entire marketing team, and isn’t really feasible for solo devs and small teams. So in the case of indie games, I think that throwing in as many relevant hashtags is a better option for teams that are short on time and money.

 

These are the types of companies that have to care about hashtag campaigns. Graph courtesy of Talkwalker.

 

How Are Indie Games Different From Other Niches on Twitter?

Indie games are not large brands, they are not like blockbuster games that release at certain times of the year (Like Christmas). Indie Games aren’t bound to fiscal quarters and they don’t compete with each other the same way that large game publishers do. In fact, I’ll even argue that indie games aren’t really competing with each other at all.

Most indie games are significantly less expensive than big studio games. We’re talking about conversion goals of $5-$25 (In game sales or crowdfunding donations) versus $50-$60 for a big name game. For the price of the new God of War game, I could buy or help fund up to 10 indie games. The markets are completely different. Indie developers aren’t really competing with each other, they’re competing with the ever-dwindling human attention span, which currently averages 8 seconds. This is why giant corporations are willing to spend millions on commercials during the Super Bowl just to promote a new branded hashtag.

 

You can squeeze a lot of Hashtags into Twitter’s new 280 character limit. Just make sure people can still read it! Legit Games did a nice job with this simple screenshot.

 

How to Add Hashtags to Your Tweet

Since the indie game scene is much more community-oriented and collaborative than corporate marketing, I say go nuts with those hashtags! Personally, I don’t think you can have too many, but make sure they are positioned in a that doesn’t make your tweet unreadable. That being said, it doesn’t hurt to try making some new and unique hashtags. For example, it never hurts to make the title of your game into a hashtag.

As I’ve said in other articles, the indie game community is very open and supportive. Try all the hashtag combinations you can, and don’t be afraid to keep trying new hashtag combinations on the same content. Most of Twitter is reused content, so don’t feel bad about rehashing old stuff, that’s pretty much all social media is these days anyway.

 

hashtags data by hashtagify.me

Not sure where to start with Hashtags? Try using a tool like HashtagifyMe!

 

Twitter Tutorial Series

Now that you understand the reasoning behind why indie studios use hashtags the way they do, next time, we’ll get into using Twitter’s analytics tools to get the most exposure possible! Please feel free to reach out in the comments if you have any questions!

Indie Game Kickstarter Highlights: April 2018

By Tim Youngblood

 

It’s time for the monthly Kickstarter roundup! Here are the games with campaigns that started back in April that caught my eye!

Solar Warden

Solar Warden is a six-degrees-of-freedom space fighter developed by Polar Zenith in Unreal Engine. Solar Warden isn’t just any space shooter, it’s also a fleet-based RTS with a campaign that forces the players to manage the expectations and egos of countries all around the world to secure funding for their fleet. The campaign is also full co-op!

What drew me to this game was how it combines so many different genres using a feature they call “telepresence”. Players have an entire world to protect and deploy on missions accordingly (Like XCOM), they then have control of a fleet (Kind of like EVE), and then they can take control of individual ships in combat (Like Colony Wars).

With 6 days left on their campaign and $15,000 to go, it’s going to be a photo finish for Polar Zenith and Solar Warden!

 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1763148489/solar-warden

 

Learn More About Solar Warden

Black Geyser: Couriers of Darkness

Some of my favorite games growing up were Balder’s Gate and Icewind Dale. Isometric graphics were a staple of PC games in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, and I think that look always ages well. So of course, I got excited when Grape Ocean Technologies announced Black Geyser, which was developed in Unity and continues in that vein.

Although the graphics in Black Geyser don’t look much more modern than the classics, it’s what’s under the hood that counts. Black Geyser was developed to have NPCs whose alignment is constantly shifting due to a curse in the game world that causes characters to be seduced by greed — even within your own party!). This will hopefully make for a lot of unique playthrough experiences. As much as I loved making new party combos in Icewind Dale, the story and experience didn’t change much, so I’m excited to see what dynamic and shifting allegiances can bring to one of my favorite game genres!

Black Geyser has already met its funding goal and is set to release in August 2019! A small donation can still unlock some stretch goals and guarantees access to the Beta.

 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/grapeocean/black-geyser-couriers-of-darkness

 

Learn More About Black Geyser

 

Forest of Liars was developed by Umesha Lovers, a dev team in France. Forest of Liars is a narrative driven game where players must traverse the treacherous forest of liars, where many have entered and few have returned. Players will encounter NPCs and new party members whose motivations are not always clear and have a good chance of betraying you. If you can traverse the politics and dangers of the forest, you’ll get a chance to solve its mysteries.

Narrative-adventure games are becoming quite common, but I was really drawn to the artwork in this game. Every frame looks like a painting. I’m a bit biased on this, but I love that CloZee, one of my favorite music producers, is doing the in-game soundtrack. Since there isn’t a demo, I can’t be sure of the gameplay itself, but the artistry alone should generate a lot of interest.

Forest of Liars has 15 days left on its campaign and is about one-third of the way to reaching its funding goal.

 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2046612117/forest-of-liars-a-narrative-adventure-game

 

Learn More About Forest of Liars

 

As always, there are too many crowdfunding projects for me to include them all. Is there a game on Kickstarter that you want to see on the list? Let us know in the comments!

Why Should Indie Game Developers Use Twitter For Marketing?

By Tim Youngblood

In part one of our Twitter tutorial series, we’ll delve into the aspects of marketing that Twitter is good and not-so-good for.

What Should Marketers Know About Twitter?

Twitter is an interesting platform because it allows users to generate enormous amounts of reach. On the flipside, however, it has the lowest chance of meaningful conversions of the more popular social media platforms (a conversion goal might be having somebody buy your game, download your demo, or contribute to a crowdfunding platform. Sidenote: I’m leaving things like Instagram, SnapChat, and Tinder out of this… yes, people do use Tinder for marketing…)

So what exactly does this mean? The TL:DR version is that if you want to use Twitter as your primary platform for sales leads, you’re going to have a bad time. So what is Twitter good for? Twitter is great for exposure and engagement.

 

Exposure normally gets a bad rap (and rightfully so), but when you’re marketing a product instead of your services, it’s a necessity. (Comic courtesy of The Oatmeal)

 

What Do Exposure and Engagement Really Mean?

These terms both sound like generic marketing garbage you see marketing professionals blab about on LinkedIn, so let’s break these concepts down. (10x! Growth hacking! )

Exposure is simply the act of getting more eyes on a certain page, product, or project (Like your game!). Exposure is great for spreading the word about your game and gathering support. It doesn’t, however, guarantee that these new eyes on your project are the right kind of viewers (In this case, people willing to provide some kind of meaningful support, like buying or sharing).

Engagement is simply connecting with a relevant audience in a meaningful way. This can be getting feedback from people interested in buying or helping crowdfund your game. It can also mean support from other studios or a publication writing about or retweeting your game. For example, I hear about a lot of games that I end up writing about for the first time through Twitter.

 

The team developingWild Mage took to Twitter after their first crowdfunding campaign fell short. After stepping up their Twitter game and using a program called Thunderclap, they reached their funding goal in 13 hours!

 

This doesn’t mean that Twitter doesn’t provide exposure to meaningful users and transactions, it’s just much harder to quantify. Twitter is a gamble with no real risks because the platform is free and with the right hashtags, your tweet can be seen by thousands more people than networks with gatekeeping systems like Facebook and Reddit. Twitter is the best social media platform for something to “go viral” on (Although, Reddit is a close contender). So in a sense, Twitter is kind of like the lottery for social media marketing. It will never be a consistent avenue for conversions, but it’s worth doing because it takes little effort and can have a big payout.

 

Twitter Marketing Tutorials Series

In upcoming tutorials, we’ll get into some tricks for analyzing your data and optimizing your tagging to get the most out of your Twitter efforts! In the meantime, if you need any specific Twitter advice, please reach out in the comments!

Indie Game Kickstarter Campaign Highlights: March 2018

By Tim Youngblood

March brought us some interesting new games that build on old genres and feature some new art styles that caught my eye. One game absolutely crushed its funding goal, one made their funding goal with a photo finish, and the other came up just short. Let’s check out some games!

Iron Harvest – A Real-Time Strategy From KING Art Games

Iron Harvest more than doubled its funding of $450,000 as their campaign wraps up with over $1.1 million! Iron Harvest is KING Art Games’ fourth successful Kickstarter campaign. I usually harp about important it is to have a playable demo when seeking crowdfunding, but with four funded projects under their belt, KING Art Games can do whatever they want. Ok, that’s enough gushing over how much cheddar a small studio like KING Art is moving, what is this game about?

Iron Harvest takes place on an alternate Earth called “1920+”, which is essentially the World War 1 era with sweet steampunk machines. The game’s designers said that they wanted to get away from being an RTS focused on actions per minute and clicks per second. Instead, they’re focusing on map control, base building, and using the terrain for positional advantage. While those are still important aspects in faster RTS’s like Starcraft, KING ART wants this game to flow slower, probably like Age of Empires. The combat features a cover system as well as destructible environments. The game is also set to feature an extensive single-player campaign. After crushing its funding goal, Iron Harvest is set to release in December 2019 on PC, PS4, and XBox One.

 

 

Learn More About Iron Harvest

CHOP – A Local Multiplayer Fighting Arena From Claws Up Games

CHOP barely squeaked by to reach their funding goal of $10,000, so we probably won’t see it come out on consoles soon (Those were stretch goals). CHOP has a playable demo, and I would say the gameplay reminds me of Brawlhala. This doesn’t mean that CHOP is simply a Brawlhala clone, it has several elements that make the game unique. For starters, instead of simply trying to get the best K/D ratio, the goal of the game is to escape the arena through a portal. The characters all have quirks that make their playstyles unique. Add in some ultra-violence, and this looks like a game with a lot of replay value!

We won’t have to wait very long to see the full release of this game, as it’s set to come out in June!

 

 

 

Learn More About CHOP

 

Tala – A Point and Click Explorational Puzzle Game By Matthew Petrak

Unfortunately, Tala fell just short of its funding goal, but I’m hoping Matthew Petrak tries another Kickstarter campaign or Indiegogo in the future. Tala is a cutely animated puzzle adventure (Kind of like Day of the Tentacle or Sam and Max). I haven’t had time to play the demo yet, but even if the gameplay was terrible, I would still be excited about this game.

This is the first game I’ve seen that is animated over real-life backgrounds, which gives it a unique look. I think there is a lot of potential in this development style. Using backdrops from nature saves animation time and, perhaps, more importantly, gets game developers outside more. This development style could be a great change of pace for devs who feel trapped in a dungeon for hours on end.

Tala was set to release in January 2019, but without the funding from Kickstarter, it could be delayed.

 

 

Learn More About Tala

 

Were there any games from March that caught your eye? Let us know in the comments!