January 2018 Kickstarter Campaigns Fall Short But Worth Looking At

By Tim Youngblood

 

There have already been some interesting games announced and successfully crowdfunded this year, but I’d like to show some love to some games that didn’t meet their funding goals. Here are three games from January 2018 that caught my eye.

 

Wild Mage: Phantom Twilight 

Wild Mage was developed by Luna Orion in Unreal Engine 4. Unfortunately, Wild Mage is likely to miss out on its funding goal, but the team at Luna Orion has already produced the framework for a beautiful looking game. If I had to guess why the game didn’t reach their funding goal, I would say it was because the team at Luna Orion was trying to raise money so they could quit their day jobs and focus on development for a year. While I think that the team likely would be able to deliver on their goal of a Winter 2019 release, very few crowdfunding campaigns with the goal of game developers quitting their day jobs tend to succeed.

Of all the Kickstarter campaigns for video games run in January, Wild Mage was the unfunded project that fits into the type of games that I like to play. Granted, it isn’t hard to suck me in with wizards and pretty colors. The game features fully destructible environments that are procedurally generated. Combine this with being a multiplayer game, and Wild Mage has a lot of potential for replayability. If Luna Orion implements player versus player later on, I could certainly find myself getting hooked.

 

 

Learn More About Wild Mage

 

Genesis Noir

Genesis Noir was developed by Feral Cat Den in Unreal Engine 4. The game features a minimalist noir look, an awesome interactive soundtrack, and a complex plot that gets very meta. With 8 days left, Genesis Noir is a little over halfway past their funding goal. Their marketing efforts have been on point, but I think a lot of gamers are hesitant to donate to a single player game that likely lacks replay value. That being said, I think that this game is something truly original and has the potential to disrupt an industry that has increasingly become a prisoner of corporate and consumer expectations.

 

 

Learn More About Genesis Noir

 

AVARIAvs was developed in Unity by Andrew Linde. The game puts a new twist on the classic JRPG format by allowing players’ parties to compete in ranked PVP. Turn-based games aren’t getting the love that they used to on consoles, so a game like this can change the way competitive gamers view JRPGs. The game also boasts 2000 possible party combos, which will hopefully help eliminate the dreaded regression to cookie-cutter compositions in player versus player games.

With 7 days left in its campaign, AVARIAvs has $8,000 to raise in order to meet its funding goal. This is a game that I’m certainly rooting for because it has the potential to create a new genre in gaming.

 

 

Learn More About AVARIAvs

Should You Make a Website for Your Game?

By Tim Youngblood

Spoiler alert: the answer is yes. Here is why and some tips to get your own site started! A lot of game developers are using Facebook, Twitter, and platforms like itch.io to host the information about their studio and their games. While platforms like Facebook and Twitter will track referrals, there is a lot of data that they don’t include.

 

Why Analytics Data is Important

When people view your game, do you know which website referred them to your page? What part of the world is that viewer from? Do you know what time they viewed your game? Do you know if they downloaded your demo?

Having your own website where you can implement Google Analytics is the best way to keep track of your data. Often times, you won’t know what data points are the most important for your site, so it’s good to track everything until you know you need it. Google Analytics tracks just about every variable you can imagine and you can track more complex goals as you go along. I recommend starting with the basics, which are already set up to be tracked. These include, pages visited, times of visits, referrals, time visited, and the location of visitors. Once, you start noticing patterns with these, you can change the time of things like social media posting to get more eyes on your game.

 

This is the basic page of Google Analytics. From here, you can track just about any variable you can imagine!

 

Making a Website on a Budget 

A lot of developers don’t make a website for their game or studio because they don’t have the money or time. Building a website that ranks for a lot of keywords in search engines can take months and even years. I’ll get into whether or not it’s worth your time to do things like SEO for your site in a later article. For now, the important thing to keep in mind is that your website isn’t there to rank for keywords (Seriously, PC Gamer writes one article about your game and you’ll never rank 1st for it). It’s there to monitor the behavior of people who are interested in your game to get more eyes on your game and to increase your sales or downloads. If you’re serious about making money on a game, you need analytics data.

 

WordPress’ analytics platform isn’t perfect, but it’s great for beginners!

 

Fortunately, web design has become much easier in recent years with templates and services like WordPress and Blogspot. Both of these services are free and easy to use, I have more experience with WordPress, however, so I will focus on that. I do not recommend using Wix because you have to wait a day or two to make even basic updates on your site. Having a .wordpress.com or .blogspot.com domain doesn’t look very sexy, but they’re free and you can implement Google Analytics. Should you decide to focus more on your website in the future, you can easily convert your site to a normal .com domain. If you think a WordPress can’t look professional enough, you’re hurting my feelings, because you’re visiting one right now…

 

A WordPress theme can make your Dev blog look professional for cheap or free. This is the dev blog for Origin Story (Colors have been reversed)

 

As always, this is not a comprehensive list of reasons to make a website or platforms to make a website on. If you’re not sure where to start with making a site for your game or studio, feel free to contact us or post your game in the comments!

Also, be sure to check out our marketing section for more Indie Game Marketing Tutorials and Resources!

 

How to Promote an Indie Game on Facebook

By Tim Youngblood

Facebook is a great way to get more eyes on your game, but there are some things to keep in mind to get the most out of your Facebook promotion.

 

How Facebook’s Monetization Works

First and foremost, it is important to know how Facebook makes their money and how that affects what is prioritized in people’s feeds. Obviously, Facebook makes their money through advertisements, and there are some rules of thumb to keep in mind that most online entities use to maximize traffic and profits.

Most online media outlets have a goal of keeping as many users on their site for as long as possible. For Facebook, this comes in the form of prioritizing content that keeps users on their website. This is why so much of our Facebook feeds are littered with those 1-minute videos that are just clips from Youtube videos with subtitles over them (Facebook also doesn’t care about copyright, so they are really screwing over Youtubers right now). Facebook now plays interstitial ads inside these videos because their greed seemingly knows no bounds…

This means that users have to scroll through several pages of these videos and memes to get to anything with an external link like an article. Facebook doesn’t want anyone clicking on your link, so it’s an uphill battle to begin with.

 

Facebook is a Pay to Play System

If your game or development studio has a Facebook page, you’ve probably seen the notifications where Facebook offers you credit to boost your page or a post. This is done to get your credit card information and get you addicted to those easy likes for just a few dollars a week. It doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but with hundreds of millions of Facebook pages throwing in a dollar or two a day, the money adds up fast for Zuckerburg and the boys.

 

With Facebook boost, you can buy clicks and likes… 

 

Using the Facebook boost system can yield great results and defining your audience and maximizing your budget are a science within themselves. I will get to this in another tutorial later, but for now, I’m going to focus on some free workarounds.

How to Get Around Facebook’s Evil Algorithm

There are two things you can do to get around what is essentially a paywall for anything that takes users off of Facebook and on to other websites. The first is to post more content that doesn’t take users off of Facebook like videos, GIFs, and images (Facebook now treats GIFs as videos). Let’s say you want to post a link to your game’s website, Facebook is going to say “Haha, screw you, peasant, this won’t even make it on your mother’s feed!”.

Instead of just posting a link to your game, try making a GIF (Using Giphy is super easy!) and then adding the link to your game in the comments. When you do this, Facebook’s algorithm will say “Oooo, yes, thanks for keeping users on Facebook and making us more money!”. You can also post lots of memes to get more eyes on your page. Once somebody visits your page, they will see only the posts that you have made, and the ones with external links will not be hidden.

 

I made this GIF in like 2 minutes to promote Origin Story’s Dev blog

 

The other workaround, which I think is more important, is to utilize Facebook groups in the indie game community, which I alluded to in the tips and tricks for free indie game promotion article. Depending on a user’s settings, members of these groups can actually receive notifications when other members post in the group. Facebook groups make a massive difference between getting buried in a feed and having thousands of users alerted on their phones when you make a post. If you came to this article through Facebook, I bet that you didn’t come through Game Borough’s Facebook page and probably saw this in an indie game development or promotion group (If so, thanks for reading!).

 

Indie Game Development and Promotion Groups on Facebook

I’m putting together a list of indie game development and promotion groups on Facebook that I’d like to keep updating. If you know of any Facebook groups that aren’t in the list, please let me know in comments or through our contact page! Be warned, however, it’s very important to read the posting guidelines for each group so you don’t get booted!

  • Indie Game Promo
  • GB Gamers (Join our group! There’s like 50 of us!)
  • There a lot more gaming groups on Facebook, but these two are specifically for promoting your games.

 

 

 

 

The Onus Helm: A Rogue-Like Meets Zelda With Procedurally Generated Levels

By Tim Youngblood

 

In the Onus Helm, you play as a guy who wakes up with a magical helmet on his head that he can’t remove. He goes into a labyrinth to solve the Onus Helm’s mysteries and hopefully remove the helmet.

 

 

As for the gameplay, we can confront the elephant in the room… this game is very similar to the old Legend of Zelda games. Your health is displayed in hearts, rooms don’t open until you defeat all the enemies or solve a puzzle, and there is an assortment of not so original items such as the sword, bow and arrow, bombs, a boomerang… you get the picture. That being said, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I love the old-school Zelda games and would love to see more games with that classic style come out. Especially with Breath of the Wild being rumored to be the last Legend of Zelda game.

What The Onus Helm has that Legend of Zelda doesn’t, is procedurally generated levels for replayability. Often, when replaying classic games for SNES or Sega Genesis, there isn’t much to gain in terms of skills or entertainment because the fights are always scripted the same with no variation. This makes the games more of a test of memory than skills. Having procedurally generated levels allows players to have new experiences playing still playing in the same engine.

 

That’s so Zelda!

 

The Onus Helm’s Kickstarter Campaign

Unfortunately, the team at B-Cubed Labs is unlikely to meet their funding goal on Kickstarter. As far as their campaign and promotion they did a lot of things right. They set a modest goal of $5,500, had a playable demo, and made lots of cool gifs. The game was covered by a lot of big websites too. There are a few things that might have helped them reach their goal, although, running a Kickstarter campaign and failing is still good for promoting a game.

I think that a press kit would have helped them out a lot. I scoured the internet to find a decent featured image (Around 600x 400 pixels) and ended up having to resize an image anyway. This could have turned off a lot of media outlets from covering the game. I also would have liked to learn more about the story. Normally, I would advise not going too deep into lore on a Kickstarter campaign, but I wanted to learn more about. All you can really glean from the campaign is “Guy gets helmet stuck on his head and has to do Zelda stuff to remove it”. Lastly, I would have liked to see a longer demo. It didn’t take me long to beat the level, and although I enjoyed the gameplay, I had seen all there was to do in less than 10 minutes. Comparatively, I spent hours playing the demo for Broken Reality.

Fortunately, with crowdfunding, you can always run a new campaign later! I love the concept of the game and I think their stretch goal of making the game multiplayer will make it a unique gaming experience and distance The Onus Helm from stereotypes of being a lazy Zelda clone. If you check out B-Cubed Labs on Twitter and itch.io, you’ll see that there are actually a lot of cool fight mechanics a very fast gameplay style. Unfortunately, I don’t think the demo does what B-Cubed Labs is trying to build justice.

 

Learn More About B-Cubed Labs and The Onus Helm

 

 

 

 

How to Use Basic Google Search String Modifiers

By Tim Youngblood

Search string modifiers are useful for finding things on Google and other search engines, especially if you need to do some online promotion!

In this tutorial, we’ll go over some of the basic search modifiers you can use in order to find more beneficial web pages while eliminating unwanted results. I will be using game review sites as an example, but search modifiers are helpful for just about everyone. Seriously, it’s 2018, why don’t we teach this in schools?! Anyway, let’s dive into these search modifiers and put them to use in an exercise!

 

Google Search String Modifier: Quotations

Normally, when performing Google searches, people will type in a phrase and call it good. Let’s say that I put the following sentence into the Google search bar: submit an indie game for review. 

 

 

If you look at the screenshot above, you should notice two things. Number one, there are almost 4 million results. Number two, while the top search result has the words submit, indie game, and review, you will not see that as an entire sentence. This top result is Google’s best guess at what you’re looking for and is pretty helpful. It even has some extra suggestions for other posts that might be helpful. This is a great place to start, but this brought up almost 4 million results and less than half of the results on page 1 are web pages that you can actually submit games for review on. I don’t want to surf through 4 million pages, so let’s see if we can narrow our search by trying “submit an indie game for review” in quotations.

 

 

If you look at the screenshot above, you should notice the obvious. My search string was too specific and I ended up with only one result. There aren’t many situations where you will search for something in all quotes. This exercise was done to illustrate the two extremes of using Google search. What we’re looking for is somewhere in between, more search results with a higher success rate. In this case, our success rate is defined as a web page where you can submit your game for review.

 

Google Search String Modifiers: AND, OR, and NOT

On the surface, these both look pretty self-explanatory, but these words are in all caps for a reason! Typing the “and” in regular lower-case letters makes it populate the search bar like any other word. The same goes for “or” and “not” in lower-case letters.

By putting these words in all capital letters, they take on the same properties as Boolean logic, more commonly known as logic gates, which is essentially computing in its most basic form. Don’t worry, you don’t need to know the inner workings of computers to become a proficient Googler. Instead, we’ll use some simple Venn diagrams! To keep things simple, and because I was too lazy to make my own diagrams, we’ll use peanut butter and jelly as an example.

 

This diagram was made by Slippery Rock University on LibGuides

 

Fortunately, the diagram above does a better job of explaining the concept than I can. The one thing it leaves out for Google search is that you can use a minus symbol (-) instead of NOT. Saving two keystrokes may not sound very significant, but the NOT function is the most commonly used Boolean search function. Trust me on this one, it adds up.

 

Google Search String Modifiers: inurl, intext, intitle

Google crawls a lot of different page elements, but the most common are the URL, text, and, page title. The in is the command to make sure your results have a certain word in that page element. So if I want a web page with the word review in the title, I can add intitle: review to my search string. The same pattern applies to inurl and intext. Now let’s put what we’ve learned into an exercise!

 

Using Google Search String Modifiers to Find Game Review Sites

Let’s say that I developed a game for PC that I want to be reviewed. I try searching for “pc game” AND review. I view my results and notice that most of them are popular sites like PC Gamer and IGN who receive hundreds of requests for game reviews a day (Maybe thousands?). I try adding “indie game” to my search to focus more on indie games so the review websites are more likely to try my game out.

I still want sites that emphasize PC games, so I change my search string to “PC game” OR “indie game” AND review. I find a lot of good websites, but now I want to avoid having to scroll through the entire site to get to the page where I submit reviews. I notice that a lot of these review submission pages have the word submit in their URLs. I can focus on web pages that have the word submit in their URLs by changing my search to “PC game” OR “indie game” AND review inurl:submit.

This search string gives me some good results, but a lot of my search results are for console and mobile game reviews and I don’t need those sites. I can further narrow my search results using the NOT modifier. I can remove unwanted keywords like android, mobile, and iOS by putting the minus symbol in front of each unwanted keyword and adding them to the end of my search query. So my search string is going to end up looking something like this:

“PC game” OR “indie game” AND review inurl:submit -android -mobile -ios

Now that you know the basics, you can play around with search modifiers to find whatever you’re looking for. If you’re trying to find something and having trouble, let me know in the comments and I’ll help you make a search string!

Broken Reality: A Trippy Internet Odyssey Developed in Unity

By Tim Youngblood

Broken Reality is kind of like that episode of Futurama where the gang goes to the internet… but with more rainbows, GIFs, and dank memes. I’ll go more into that later, but I recommend watching the trailer to get an idea of what I’m talking about.

 

 

The game was developed in Unity by Dynamic Media Triad, a small development team based out of Mexico City. Broken Reality’s Kickstarter campaign was a photo finish, reaching their funding goal with one day left. The Dynamic Media Triad team ran an unsuccessful campaign back in 2016, so they applied some of the lessons learned from that one to be successful the second time around. The most noticeable of which was lowering their funding goal and including a playable demo.

 

Gameplay and Impressions

This game won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I can promise that it will be a truly unique gaming experience. The basic premise of the game is that the player is an internet user in the future, where the internet is a 3D simulation. Despite taking place in the future, most of the textures in NATEM (The internet simulation players enter) are from the late 90’s and early 2000’s.

 

Welcome to NATEM! The receptionist is the cutest…

 

The gameplay is relaxed and not very button or skill intensive. Instead, the game focuses on puzzles and quests that involve zany characters and advertisements. The experience is unique and incredibly immersive, somewhere between a first-person puzzler and an acid trip. Even in the demo, players can spend hours just observing the little details and easter eggs, which usually involve dark comedic views of consumerism, marketing, and online culture. If you like memes, puns, flashing lights, and an original soundtrack made by several different producers, you’ll probably enjoy this game.

 

Use your camera to get more likes. Also, be sure to snap a picture of Chronic the Hedgehog

 

What’s Next For Broken Reality?

Dynamic Media Triad has several stretch goals for the game. Most of them involve porting the game to more systems, but the most intriguing to me is making the game compatible with virtual reality. I think that Broken Reality’s strength as a game is the immersive experience it creates and VR would take that experience to a new level.

The game is tentatively set to release in September 2018 barring any major setbacks. If you’d like to learn more about Broken Reality, check out the links below!

I took some footage of the game when I played through the demo, but I haven’t had time to upload the footage. I’ll give an update when I get around to that. Have you had a chance to play the Broken Reality demo yet? If so, let us know what you thought in the comments!

Xeno Crisis: An Indie Game Kickstarter Done Right

By Tim Youngblood

Xeno Crisis, a retro top-down shooter for Sega Genesis developed by Bitmap Bureau recently more than doubled its crowdfunding goal on Kickstarter. See how they did it!

A few months ago, I wrote about some of the do’s and don’ts when it comes to making a Kickstarter campaign for an indie game. Xeno Crisis, developed by Bitmap Bureau, stuck by most of the principles I recommended and even did some things I would have been too timid to try. Although Bitmap Bureau was founded in 2016, the development team behind the company has a lot of experience, some going back over 20 years and they have some great marketing tricks for studios with a small or non-existent budget.

 

A Simple Game Trailer

I’ve harped on about game developers over-diverting time and effort into making extravagant cinematic trailers in the development and crowd-funding page. Don’t get me wrong, I love a beautiful cinematic trailer as much as the next person, but I think that they fit in better for the release. When it comes to generating interest while the game is still under development, gamers want to get a feel for how the game plays more than anything. If you watch the trailer below, you’ll notice that the trailer is just gameplay and sweet retro synth metal.

 

Keeping it short and sweet.
 

Keeping the Content Focused on Gameplay

Even if a game has the greatest story ever told, plenty of games with great stories don’t have the gameplay to match it. When reading through Bitmap Bureau’s description of Xeno Crisis, they make practically no mention of the game’s plot in the description and instead go immediately into gameplay style comparisons. That being said, the game itself probably has a decently in-depth plot, but for crowdfunding purposes, viewers can simply gather that there is an alien infestation and some badass space marine has to shoot up a lot of xenomorphs to save the day.

 

This GIF illustrates the procedurally generated levels. Not the prettiest marketing material but it gets the job done.

When is the Best Time to Begin Crowdfunding an Indie Game?

Knowing the answer to this question can save developers a lot of redos when it comes to crowdfunding campaigns. Bitmap Bureau waiting until the frameworks of Xeno Crisis were completed before seeking funding. This ensured that their game would be playable when they began marketing it, even if they are still adding more levels and features between then and the release. The framework for gameplay, menus, and procedurally generated levels are already in the game, meaning that the odds of a catastrophic programming error delaying the game’s release are much lower. Xeno Crisis is already more complete than many EA releases lately…

 

Addressing Risks and Challenges

Bitmap Bureau was quick to address what they felt would be the primary concerns of backers. Since Xeno Crisis will have physical copies for Sega Genesis (Or MegaDrive in the UK) and Sega Dreamcast, the logistics become far more complex than a simple digital download. There is nothing worse for backers than funding a Kickstarter, having the project reach its funding goal, and still having to wait years to get your own copy or model. if it ever arrives at all… Reaching a crowdfunding goal and not delivering on your product is a good way to never get funding again.

Bitmap Bureau got ahead of the situation by noting that programming Sega Genesis cartridges can be troublesome and this could cause delays in the release. Bitmap Bureau’s solution was simple and effective, they included a digital download of the game for all backers and buyers. This ensures that even if there is a supply chain disaster or hardware difficulties, players will at least get to play the game!

 

Physical game copies can cause additional challenges to arise when releasing a game. 

Bitmap Bureau does a lot of little things with their marketing that allow a small studio to have success on a small budget. This goes beyond their Kickstarter campaigns and applies to their websites as well, which I’ll get into at a later date. If you’re a developer who doesn’t have much experience with marketing, emulating Bitmap Bureau is a good place to start!

If you know any tricks that Bitmap Bureau did that I left out, or if you know of any other any indie developers who you think market their games well, please share in the comments!

More Indie Game Marketing Tricks and Tutorials

Be sure to check in for more marketing tutorials and tricks. If there’s something you’d like to learn more about, let us know in the comments!

 

*All images courtesy of Bitmap Bureau and Kickstarter

Benefits of Using Unity for 3D Game Development

By Sunny Chawla

As a game developer, you have a ton of options in regards to picking a game engine. The determination runs the range from straightforward 2D engines to completely highlighted 3D powerhouses. With such huge numbers of choices, it can be hard to pick the engine that is appropriate for your venture. Mike Geig clarifies why he thinks the Unity game engine is the best decision.

The video game industry is a behemoth chugging along at full throttle and shows no signs backing off. I will disclose to you something that you most likely know already: Making video games takes a ton of work, aptitude, and commitment. It isn’t all fun circumstances and gatherings like in the films (I’m looking at you, Grandma’s Boy). As a game developer, you have a considerable measure of choices with regards to picking a game engine. Game engines’ expenses can quickly add up to a great many dollars. With many alternatives, it can be hard to pick the engine that is ideal for your undertaking. Here is why I think you should utilize the Unity game engine.

What is the Unity Game Engine?

It was made by Unity Technologies in 2004 as an improvement tool for their game, GooBall. It was later propelled in 2005 at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference. Today, the Unity game engine flies under the flag of “democratizing game advancement and empowering everybody to make rich intelligent 3D content,” as indicated on Unity’s  website. It is evaluated that there are more than 1.3 million enrolled Unity developers (do names like Cartoon Network, Coca-Cola, Disney, LEGO, or NASA ring a bell?) and that there is more than 300,000 dynamic developers month to month. A 2012 review led by video game magazine Game Developer expresses that 53.1% of portable developers detailed utilizing Unity to make games. Whether you’re an indie developer or looking for a development job, development Unity is a valuable skill to learn.

 

Unity’s Ease of Use

The principal thing you will see when you make an undertaking in Unity is how visual everything is. This is an engine that concentrates a great deal on improving the game advancement work process, and no place is that more clear than with the Unity Editor.

 

Screenshot of the Unity interface. Courtesy of Unity.

 

If you’ve never worked with a game engine with a visual editorial manager, you’ll be astounded at how quickly it enables you to fabricate and alter your tasks. Need to move a thing a little to one side? You can click in the scene and drag your question. Done! Need to perceive how this question acts with new properties? Simply look to the investigator window. Shazam! The Unity editorial manager even goes so far as to run the game itself in the game window for quick testing.

Believe me when I say that the capacity to run your game while seeing the properties and areas of all articles in the scene is an intense and efficient element. You may ponder internally: “No canned arrangement can be utilized for my work process. It is exceptional and one of a kind simply like me!” Well, Negative Nancy, let me disclose to you that the Unity supervisor can be effectively stretched out to incorporate exclusively specific tools and modules. These tools and modules can be incorporated into the Unity interface.

 

The Power of Scripting

There are a considerable number game engines that have a visual manager. However, many of these engines do not have the power required to manufacture huge or complex games because of their canned way to deal with practices. With Unity, question practices aren’t constrained to work in modules that come bundled with the engine. Rather, Unity takes into consideration effective practices written in any of three powerful dialects: JavaScript, C#, and Boo. Each of the three languages can be utilized inside of an undertaking to permit individuals of various innovation foundations to add to a venture. The way that the languages are utilized as contents takes into account quick assembly times, snappy cycles, and adaptability of the plan.

 

 

One Source to Rule Them All!

Perhaps the greatest component of the Unity engine is the capacity to construct your ventures throughout various stages on multiple systems with minimal difficulty. With simple and straightforward determination of a drop-down menu, Unity can work for Windows PC, Linux (new with form 4), iOS (with module), Mac, Android (with module), Web Browser, Flash (with module), PS3, Xbox, and Wii U. This allows developers to invest more energy into enhancing the nature of their tasks and take less time on porting it to various gadgets.

 

Unity 5 works on 21 different platforms. Courtesy of Hexus.

I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends

No matter how easy an interface is to use, inevitably, developers will get stuck somewhere. Fortunately, Unity has a dynamic and bolstered community. Unity’s forums are an incredible place to make inquiries, get direction, examine best practices, help other people, and even hotshot a bit. Searching for a more organized way to deal with taking an interest in the community? Unity Answers is an administration that honors “karma” and identifications for good inquiries asked and replied. It is a more social approach than your common Q&A site.

There is also the Unity resource store, which is completely coordinated into the proofreader and gives a way to individuals to share or even offer their uniquely designed substance. This enables you to procure visual assets without having to make them yourself.

 

 

Evaluating and Licenses

Numerous engines today accompany extraordinary sticker prices or muddled installment designs. Numerous engines don’t have any costs recorded and long quote exchanges must occur to decide real figures. Unity doesn’t do any of that and rather just comes in two fundamental flavors: Unity Free and Unity Pro. Unity Free is obviously free (my favorite number) and isn’t some diluted, gimped form of the engine. It accompanies the greater part of the highlights you would need to make games that can sell commercially.

In the event that you might want a portion of the more expert highlights like LOD Support, Path-finding, or IK Rigs. You can buy the Unity Pro permit for $1,500. This may appear like a great deal to an individual simply getting into the field, but the upfront cost pays off in the long run by avoiding paying a percentage of profits like with the Unreal Engine.

 

Let’s Talk Games

At this point, you may ponder who is utilizing Unity and what precisely they are utilizing it for. As specified above, Unity has a fairly extensive enrolled client base. Numerous expansive organizations and non-mainstream players alike have found the power and flexibility of the Unity engine. What you may not know is that there are non-gaming organizations that utilize the engine too. Unity is being utilized for research, recreation, and exhibition by organizations everywhere throughout the world. In the event that you go to Unity’s game exhibition, you can see a portion of the astonishing games effectively made with the Unity game engine. 

About the Author

Sunny Chawla is a Marketing Manager at Alliance International IT – a Web design and Development Company. Helping global businesses with unique and engaging tools for their business. He would love to share thoughts on Unity 3d Game Development, Digital Marketing Services, Web Designing, and mobile app development.

 

*Editor’s Note: The opinions of guest posters are their own and not the official opinion of Game Borough. In fact, we don’t have an official opinion, we’re more interested in yours!

Tips and Tricks for Free Indie Game Marketing and Promotion

By Tim Youngblood

Every year, hundreds of games go unnoticed and developers abandon them because they either couldn’t make it profitable or nobody downloaded them. Whether you’re hoping to turn your game development into a full-time job or you’re just doing it for fun, inevitably, you will need to promote it.

I won’t be doing a traditional step by step guide, pretty much every “indie game marketing guide” ever will tell you that it’s a good idea to have a website, a trailer, and use social media. Instead, I’m focusing on some lesser known tricks as well as some things I learned not to do when promoting video games. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but hopefully, you can glean some information that marketing bloggers won’t tell you!

 

Make Sure Your Game Has a Playable Demo

A few years ago, I was helping my friends develop a game called Steve the Alright Knight. The game had an amazing trailer and generated a lot of buzz early on, but people ended up losing interest because we didn’t have a playable demo when we started promoting the game. At this point, game review sites lost interest because there was no game to play and pulled out of investing in the Kickstarter campaign without some tangible evidence that the game would ever be finished. I would say if there’s an order of operations for promoting video games, having a playable demo should come before any other marketing activity.

 

People loved the trailer and concept but got bored when there was no demo to go along with it.
 

Prepare a Media Kit

People are lazy by nature and gamers are probably even lazier. Some game review sites get hundreds of requests for games to be reviewed or covered every day. A great way for your game to stand out in the crowd is to do that staff writer’s job for them. In this case, I’m talking about having a media kit that has everything they need to write an article. This means having a synopsis of your game, media assets like screenshots and GIFs, as well as a cinematic or gameplay trailer. The best place to keep your media kit is on your website, that way you can just link to it instead of having to upload a bunch of files into every email you send to prospective coverage. Having a press kit page on your website will also make filling out contact and submission forms on websites go faster.

At this point, you have all of your media assets in one place and can proceed to send an ass-load of emails. This is all pretty straightforward and easy to do but there are few things you can do to make the game reviewer’s job even easier. Image size, file type, and file size are actually very important for online content. As someone who’s been an editor for a few websites, I can tell you that reformatting and resizing images are some of the most tedious tasks for people publishing articles online. Generally speaking, most websites prefer JPEGs over PNGs and try to keep their images under 200 kilobytes. Most featured images are 600 x 400 pixels (this is the image that shows up on a website’s blogroll, in Google search results, and on social media feeds when an article is shared). I also recommend uploading your trailer to YouTube because YouTube videos are the easiest to embed in an article. Reviewers won’t know how good a game is until they play it, and there’s a good chance that they’ll never play it if the pertinent information and media assets for your game are too difficult to find or format.

 

This is the daily life of an online editor. 

 

Should You Run a Kickstarter or Indiegogo?

If you think you can run a crowdfunding campaign to raise enough money to quit your job and go into full-time game development, you’re going to have a bad time. I tried that a few years ago and it did not go well. However, even though our game came nowhere near meeting its funding goal, I would still do it again (Although with a much lower funding goal). Kickstarter and Indiegogo are websites that get a ton of traffic. Even better, both websites have very little editorial oversight, meaning that it is easier to get your game shown on these websites than it is to get your game covered on a game review or news site.

 

We jumped the shark a little trying to upgrade our simple survival game (Defend Your Dojo) into an MMO.

 

That being said, the money certainly doesn’t hurt. I recommend setting a very low funding goal (like less than $2,000) to get something that will end up being crucial for the release. For example, if you’re making a multiplayer game, there’s a good chance that you will need server space. Even simple HTML games hosted on a website take additional server space beyond the bare minimum hosting package (We cheaped out on hosting for Defend your Dojo and that game crashes all the time). Maybe there’s a tool that will allow you to complete your game faster. You can even use this money to hire an agency to help with game promotion. If you are seeking money, it’s important to itemize where exactly this money is going. Don’t just say “we’re making a game please give us money.”

 

Make a Trailer but Don’t Overthink It

Earlier I said that people are naturally lazy. This also applies to people who are previewing games. Your game’s trailer is likely going to be the first thing that an internet user sees, and will likely be the determining factor and whether or not they want to learn more about your game. You may have the best game ever made and equally good documentation for it in written text, but the unfortunate reality of the situation is that video is currently the preferred form of content for internet users.

That being said, spending a ton of time making a trailer cuts into time spent developing your game. Most websites are more concerned with whether or not you have a trailer than the quality of trailer itself. What they’re really looking for is a Youtube video that they can lazily embed in an article. They aren’t expecting a blockbuster cinematic trailer while your game is still in development. They just want to get a feel for how the game plays. The gameplay trailer below was just some gameplay footage with various items shown that was screen captured through a mobile device to show how the touch controls work. It only took a few hours to put it all together.

 

This trailer was no Citizen Kane, but it did its job. (Look how easy it is to embed a Youtube video!)
 

Social Media Tricks

Even if you loathe social media, it’s pretty much impossible to market something on a low budget without it. Fortunately, the indie game community is probably one of the best and most supportive online communities in social media. On Twitter, you will be amazed at how much support you get when you use hashtags like IndieGame and IndieDev (#indiegame #indiedev). There are also several Facebook groups for indie game development and promotion!

There are a lot of nuances to social media, but one general rule is more posts will eventually net a bigger following. Fortunately, you can make an ass-load of posts without having to be glued to your computer or phone. I highly recommend using a tool like HootSuite, which allows you to schedule social media posts to go out at a later time over multiple social media platforms.

 

hashtags data by hashtagify.me

 

Prepare to Send Lots of Emails

Seriously, we are talking hundreds of emails. Sending the emails is the easy part, you can use a mail merge or a tool like MailChimp to make a nice template that can be distributed to hundreds of email addresses. The harder part is finding said hundreds of email addresses. There are marketing Services who already have collected hundreds of emails and can do a mail merge for you, but if you’re on a tight budget there’s a good chance you’ll have to find them yourself.

 

Search modifiers will become your new best friend

 

If you want to collect email addresses yourself, you’re going to need to learn how to use search modifiers in Google. Fortunately, we have a Google search modifiers tutorial. I’ll go into that deeper in the tutorial, but the basic concept is to use a Google sheet or Excel spreadsheet and copy/paste the email addresses you find on websites that review and cover games. One common search string/modifier is “video games inurl: submit”. This means that you’re looking for a website about video games and the specific page you’re looking for has the word submit in its URL. This will usually lead you to a contact form or an email address that lets you submit content (That press kit page on your website will help with those contact forms). There are a lot of different ways to modify your Google searches to find exactly what you’re looking for.

*This is by no means a comprehensive list so if you have any tips and tricks to help out the community please leave them in the comments!

*Featured image from Wikimedia Commons

Best Free Productivity Software and Tools for Game Development and Promotion

By Tim Youngblood

Whether you’re on a team or designing a game by yourself, staying organized and managing your time is essential. I’m a very unorganized person, I misplace things all the time in my hard drive and even my house. Since I’ve been working online the past few years, I learned how to essentially “idiot proof” everything I work on so I can’t lose it. Since you probably don’t have much of a budget, free tools are essential as software licenses for game development tools you might need can get very expensive. Here are some free tools that I used to make what used to be a weakness of mine into a strength.

Google Docs

Most people are familiar with Google Docs these days so I won’t talk too much about the basics. I prefer Google Docs over Microsoft Office for several reasons. Obviously, Google Docs is free, unlike Microsoft Office, but I would still prefer Google Docs even if Microsoft Office was free. Google Docs allows you to share documents with your team so you can all collaborate on them since it’s cloud-based. It also works on just about any device with an internet connection, this is really nice because I read a lot of documents on my phone.

Google Flowcharts are also great for laying out things like skill trees, item progression, and story arcs before you add them to your game. I’ve also noticed that Google Docs tend to have less formatting issues when you copy and paste them into a CMS (Content management system). My favorite feature, though, is that you can use voice to text on your smartphone to dictate writing. That’s how I wrote this article. Obviously, voice to text doesn’t transcribe your words perfectly, so you’ll need to come back and edit it when you get to a computer. But it’s great for capturing your word vomit so you can come back and edit it later. Like they say in writing classes, great papers aren’t written, they’re rewritten.

 

A very early screenshot of Origin Story‘s spell tree

Trello

Trello is another nice organizational tool that’s cloud-based. It allows multiple users to share and access it on any device with an internet connection. Of any task management tool I’ve ever used, Trello has the easiest interface to use and probably the only interface that works really well on a smartphone. The system itself is pretty simple, users can make boards and put as many columns on these boards to slide cards across. You can put hyperlinks inside of cards for easy access and you can send alerts to other users to let them know when you’re done with your task.

The free version will allow you to do anything you need and pretty much all the Trello Gold version will add is the ability to upload bigger files. The free version allows users to upload files up to two megabytes, which probably isn’t enough if you’re dealing with Graphics assets or video files. Tools like Asana and Jira allow users to upload large files, but you can get around that in Trello if you just add a link to Dropbox on a Trello card. You can make as many Trello boards and cards as you want.

 

Here’s a screenshot of the Trello board we used to develop the Game Borough website

 

Hootsuite

Editors Note: You can schedule posts inside of Facebook for free now!

Even if you hate social media, if you’re trying to promote your game, you will eventually have to join the fray. Ever wonder how larger social media profiles post so damn much at all times during the day? It’s actually much easier than it looks. You don’t have to be glued to a device 24/7, constantly posting things in order to get the number of posts you want out on social media. Pretty much every professional social media manager uses delayed posting tools like HootSuite. While HootSuite doesn’t work very well on mobile devices, I can’t really complain because it’s the best free program that I’ve used for social media.

HootSuite allows you to schedule posts up to months and even years in advance. This way, you can schedule a month’s worth of social media posts in one sitting. It also makes posting the same piece of content on multiple Networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin much easier. Whether you’re promoting your game or just reposting evergreen content, this will save you a lot of time.

 

You can add just about any social network to Hootsuite.

Grammarly

Grammarly is basically spellcheck on crack. It’s great for making sure that you use proper grammar when you’re writing emails in a hurry. It can also help you keep typos out of your game dialogue. It works inside of most content Management systems and social media platforms. It might not sound like a very significant boost to your productivity, but you’d be amazed how much time you save when you don’t have to read things three or four times before sending them. I’m a professional copy editor with two writing degrees and Grammarly still saves my ass all the time.

 

Scott Allen, a novelist, loves Grammarly as much as I do. Image courtesy of ScottAllen.com

 

Stopwatch Extension  (Online or Offline)

Even if you don’t have employee hours to monitor, being aware of how much time on average it takes you to complete a task will help you manage your time better and set more realistic deadlines. I don’t really have a favorite stopwatch tool because most of them work just fine because it’s a relatively simple program. I usually use a browser-based web extension because most of the work I do is online. Some stopwatch extensions allow you to categorize and log your time which can be helpful if you do a lot of different tasks. I’m not an expert on stopwatch apps by any means so if you have a favorite program, let us know in the comments.

*What are your favorite free productivity tools? If you think there’s one we left out that you’re not getting kickbacks for as a sales representative, let us know in the comments!