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!

How to fade Particles In and Out | Unreal 4 For Beginners

By Zac Jackson

You might have noticed that when creating a new particle emitter in Unreal 4, that it spawns the particles in an instant, and they also instantly disappear. Below, we will be going through the basics of adding a particle system to your level, and playing with its emitter settings to achieve a fading in/out effect.

Note: This tutorial assumes that you already have very basic knowledge of the Unreal 4 Engine.

How to Fade Particles In Using “Scale Color/Life”

You can do this with a “Color Over Life” Module or a “Scale Color/Life” Module within the particle system settings. When choosing which module to use, you need to ask yourself a couple questions. Do you want to redefine your color? Or do you already have a color set already and you just want to modify your existing color?

Since I have a particle color and material in mind already I will be using the “Scale Color/Life” Module. We will go into more detail about this later in this tutorial.

Step 1: Add a Particle System To Your Level

Let’s start off by adding a particle system to our world. To do this, right click in the content browser and choose “Particle System” from the menu.

Once you’ve created and named your particle system (for the sake of this tutorial, I called this one P_tutorial), double-click on it to open up the particle systems emitter settings.

 

 

By default there is already an emitter setup, so we are going to edit its settings and add our own modules instead of starting from scratch.

Step 2: Add a Particle Material

Next, we need to change the material on the particle. This is what gives the particle its look. Click on “Required” on the particle emitter, and on the bottom left-hand side of the window, you’ll see things we can change in the “Details” panel.

 

 

Use whatever particle material you’d like. For this tutorial, I’ll be using a material that makes my particle look like a flair.

 

Step 3: Add A Scale Color/Life Module To The Emitter

By default, there is already a “Color Over Life” Module on the emitter that fades my particles out, so I’m going to add a “Scale Color/Life” module to help fade it in. To do this, right-click on the grey area within the emitter panel, scroll down to “Color”, and then choose “Scale Color/Life”.

 

 

Note: If you’d like to see how the “Color Over Life” Module fades the particle out, click on the module and look at the bottom right “Details” panel and to see how this is achieved, it will be fairly similar to using a “Scale Color/ Life” Module.

Step 4: Editing The Distribution Float

In the “Details” panel, change the default Distribution from “Distribution Float Constant” to “Distribution Float Constant Curve”.

 

 

Next, under the “Alpha Scale Over Life > Constant Curve” section, Add two array elements by clicking on the + sign next to  “Points”. There will now be individual parameters that we can change for each point that helps us fade the particle in.

 

 

Now, there are two key properties we need to edit. The “In Val” and the “Out Val”. “In Val” is the point along the timeline, and “Out Val” is the value of the Alpha channel of the particle. At this point in the tutorial, your particle system should be invisible in the preview window because the “In Val” or timeline point of 0 is at an “Out Val” or alpha channel value of 0. An “Out val” value of 1 will make our particles visible again.

For point 0, keep both the “In Val” and “Out Val” at 0. For Point 1, change the “In Val” to 0.5” and the “Out Val” to 1.

 

 

In the preview window, you should be able to see your particle again and they should also be fading in fairly quickly, and fading out slowly. If you want your particles to fade in slower, change the “In Val” to a higher number like 1.

Your particles should now be fading in, and then fading out!

 

Fading Particles Out Using “Color Over Life”

I have included this part just to explain how the particles are already fading out by default. Click on the “Color Over Life” emitter, and look at the “Details” panel again.

 

 

Notice that the Distribution is also set to  “Distribution float Constant Curve”. With this, there are already 2 Points set up for the curve. Point 0’s “In Val” is set to 0, meaning that’s the start of the timeline, and the “Out Val” is set to 1, so that we can see particle immediately as it spawns. Point 1’s “In Val” is set to 1, so that the color changes over time, and the “Out Val” is set to 0, so that farther down the timeline, the particles alpha channel changes to 0 and fades out.

 

More Particle Tutorials for Unreal Engine

What other particle tutorials would you like to see next? Or do you have a more efficient way of fading particles in and out? Comment below and help us improve this tutorial!

What Are Cull Distance Volumes And How Do They Work? (Unreal 4)

By Zac Jackson

Do you have a level that has too many objects in it, that seems to be loading or performing poorly? Cull distance volumes can help optimize your scene by not drawing objects (meshes) when they are small enough to be considered unimportant. Level Streaming will do close to the same thing, however, for the purpose of this tutorial, we will be sticking to cull distance volumes.

 

What is a Cull Distance Volume?

Cull Distance Volumes are optimization tools provided by the Unreal Engine that allow for meshes to be culled (not drawn to the screen) based on that meshes distance from the camera and its size. The mesh size is calculated using the longest dimension of the bounding box, and the cull distance chosen is the one closest to that size.

 

How to Use Cull Distance Volumes

Step 1:

Start a blank project or open up a blank level in your current project.

 

Step 2:

Add 3 cubes to your level: one big, one medium, and one small. This is to show you how the different properties in a cull distance volume work. You can find the cubes in the “Modes” section, under the “Basic” tab.

 

 

Scale them so that all 3 cubes are different sizes, ranging from small to large. Arrange them to be a little apart from each other.

 

 

Step 3:

Under the “Volumes” section under the “Modes” menu, select a Cull Distance volume and drag it into your level. Next, scale it so that the 3 cubes and the level are inside the volume.

NOTE: You can have more than one cull distance volume in a level depending on the size of the level, and the overall feel you are going for. This also is helpful with performance in towns for example. Adding a cull distance volume to the interior of a house so that when the player camera is outside of it, the meshes within it are not drawn is a good use of this.  

 

 

 

Step 4:

Click on your cull distance volume and navigate to the “Details” panel. This is typically found in the bottom right corner. Once there scroll down to the “cull distance volume” tab.

 

 

NOTE: The culling distance volume details allow you to change the shape of the volume itself, along with many other items of customization including size. Experiment with these, to get the most use out of a cull distance volume for your level.

 

Step 5:

Under the “cull distance volume” tab, you can see that we can add “elements”. These elements give you the option of size and cull distance. The size option is the “bounding box” size of the object (in this case, our 3 boxes), and the “cull distance” is the distance at which that size of object should cull (not be drawn). Make sure there are 3 elements set up under this tab. Each element should represent the size of a box.

I’ve set my size and culling distance elements to the following sizes, as they are the approximate sizes of the small, medium, and large boxes.

 

 

From the above image, element 1 tells the engine to cull anything below 200 in size ( remember, this is bounding box size) from a distance of 800 units, element 2 tells the engine to cull anything that’s 300 or less in size from a distance of 1600 units, and the final element tells the engine to cull anything 450 or less in size from a distance of 2600 units.

 

Step 6:

Hit play and test out your cull distance volume. If you start from far away, you’ll notice that the large box draws first, followed by the medium box, and then the small box.

 

 

Culling Foliage

If you have a bunch of foliage instances in a bigger level and would like the same desired effect as a cull distance volume, you can modify some of the settings for each foliage type that you have in your scene.

 

Step 1:

Navigate to the Foliage editor.

 

 

Step 2:

Click on the foliage mesh that you would like to cull.

 

 

Step 3:

Under the “Instance settings” for the foliage there is a “Cull distance” option. This option allows the foliage to cull in between a minimum cull distance and a maximum. This makes it so that each instance of foliage your scene tries to load slightly more random (within the minimum /maximum distance that you set) so that all foliage instances do not load all at once (if you want this effect, make the minimum and maximum values the same).

 

 

FINAL NOTE: Cull distance volumes do not work with movable objects. To see if an object has been set as movable, navigate to the “Details” panel look for the “Mobility” option. Meshes can be set to either be static or movable here.

Do you have any level optimization techniques that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!

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!

 

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!

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!

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.

 

 

 

 

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!