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4 Things to do Right Now to Kickstart Your New Game Dev Twitter/Instagram

Thought I’d make a quick post this week on a list of things you can do right now to kickstart your brand new social media account. I got the inspiration for this when someone in Devtalk+ was asking me for advice on their game dev / art Twitter that they hadn’t used for years so they were looking for a fresh start.

This guide is primarily for game dev and art accounts. However, other types of accounts can take some ideas and implement them as well. If you find any of these helpful or something I missed, please let me know!

Before we start… decide what your account will focus on. Will it be for your studio? Or promoting your graphic design to game devs? Or sharing your art to the world? This will make it much easier moving forward.

Note: for personal accounts (such as my own) they can have multiple aspects but can have 1 primary focus. For my personal account, I’ll RT fanart from anime and games I like and post about my chihuahua Leroy, but the primary focus is game development ideas and philosophies (i.e. not sharing my game dev progress but rather talking about game dev concepts like marketing).

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0 to 100 Instagram Followers Speedrun

It started when my friend (who requests to be unnamed) posted this in my marketing channel.

This friend has about 1k followers on their main art Instagram. One day they decided to make a new side account and just posted old art to it with good tags. Over the course of around 15 hours, they went from 0 to 20 followers.

As a marketer (but an artist first and foremost) this intrigued me. At this time I was only on Instagram with my company’s account (@CrystalGameWorks), but I didn’t fully understand it. However, this made me want to try something…

I’ve been drawing for, come November, an entire decade. I have a lot of art finished. Sure, a lot of it isn’t great, but there’s a fair amount of pieces from the past few years that are serviceable. While some of the pieces might not look great to me, someone else might think it looks fine. So, I started digging them up and created a challenge for myself.

On May 6th, I decided to create an art Instagram for myself and upload once or twice every day until my birthday, May 30th, or until I reached 100 followers. How quickly could a new account reach 100 followers? What’s the best ways to increase engagement? How do you get people to even notice you? These questions and more will be, er, somewhat answered…

Click page 2 to continue!

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Boys Love Media Survey Results

A few months ago foleso and I were sitting around as usual trying to answer the 2930809384 questions we have about marketing and target audience and whatnot. We were talking about boys love / yaoi media—namely, who the target audience for all ages games were. Most of the boys love games we see are 18+, while both of us would rather make all ages games.

As marketers, we come up with assumptions and then try to prove them wrong. Marketing ≠ advertising. Marketing is about trying to find who can benefit from your product/service and how to better build it for them. We had a lot of assumptions about yaoi fans and what they enjoy, so the only next step was to test those. I started a survey.

Some terms, before we get started:

  • Yaoi: a term in ENG fandoms typically to mean boy x boy gay content, though not used often in JP fandoms
  • Boys love (BL): a term meant for boy x boy gay content
  • Boy x boy (BxB): two gay guys. Guys who like each other romantically. Don’t know how else to phrase this.
  • Male/male or Men loving men (MLM): this doesn’t mean multi-level marketing scheme. It’s basically the same as BxB except some people use this term to refer to character who are older.

As I mentioned before, foleso and I are both fans of boys love media, but we know our tastes don’t represent the majority. Our assumptions at the beginning were:

  • People who use the term “yaoi” want 18+ content and are typically younger
  • People who use the term “boys love” are fans who have liked BL content for years, are more into gay content in general, and are typically older
  • A majority of BL fans want fandom content and got into BL media through fandom
  • A majority of BL fans identify as women

The survey we conducted ended with 222 responses and was posted on Discord, Twitter, Amino, deviantArt, Facebook, and more. We asked people to share it around, especially other BL game developers, since our reach is only so big.

Click page 2 to get started! (Warning: very long)

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9 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Game Dev

We all have the feeling of “oh, I wish I knew that sooner!” or “why didn’t someone tell me this when I started?!” whenever we enter a field. There are plenty of things I and my colleagues wish we knew before we started game development. But, fear not! I’ve compiled a list taken from my own experience and my friend’s on what you should know before you start game dev.

Most of these here are general ideas/tips given by friends that I’ve expanded upon, so these are not their exact words.

  • General Things
  • Marketing
  • Distribution

One last note before we jump in- these are pieces of advice of what devs wanted to know before they started. These won’t all be applicable to everybody, so you’re free to take this advice and ignore it. Every person is different, but these pieces of advice should help a majority of people.

General

1. Don’t overscope your projects

Scope is something I talked about in my previous article, but the tl;dr is that scope is the magnitude of the project- it encompasses all of the assets, all of the levels, all of the team, everything. Keeping the scope small as you learn how to make games is a key part of being able to ship a game. You can always add to a scope, but cutting scope can be much harder.
One thing to remember- it might take YEARS before you find a game idea you’re truly passionate about. Nothing sucks more than working on a project with too big a scope and a few months in you realize you have no passion for the idea anymore. A good work ethic can push you through that slog but there will always be some game ideas you just cannot force yourself to work on if the scope is unmanaged.

Addendum: Define your scope before you start. Work on your storyline and gameplay mechanics before you jump headfirst into development. As most writers know, having a solid outline can prevent a lot of artblocks down the road.
– Addendum from @AnoldorF on Twitter

2. Ask for help

You don’t have to do everything on your own. Furthermore, people have most likely made some of the mistakes you’ll be making, so learn from the people who’ve already been through it.
If you’re solo, then joining (healthy) communities where you can post work and get feedback on it can be invaluable. There have been so many assets of my (Miko) own that would have been trash had I not asked for feedback. Game dev requires a thick skin because players will critique every aspect of your games, so getting good feedback from your peers can be a good stepping stone into that (and also teach you what is good critique and what is bad critique).
– From @jakebowkett, @ingthing, and @Rukomura

3. Use source control and have backups

Source / version control is essentially having different backups of your game at different stages so that you can rollback to a previous state if you mess something up. The most popular tool for source control is Github, but you can put files on a jump drive if needbe.
In general though, you should have backups, even if it’s just an old version of your project files on Google Drive. Personally I (Miko) use Google Backup and Sync as well as have my files on various jump drives, folders, and a Github repository.
– From @VividFoundry and @justajustiguy

4. Make a bad game

You will learn much more from shipping a game than developing a game for 5+ years. Likewise, you’ll learn a lot from shipping a “bad” game. Everyone eventually makes a “bad” game, whether it be something that’s nearly objectively bad or something that doesn’t meet their standards. As adi puts it, “the exhilaration of finishing something got me through a ton alone”.
– From @adirosette

Marketing

5. Don’t be afraid to post content

If people don’t know about your game then they can’t get hyped for it and they certainly can’t play it. Not being afraid to post content goes both ways, both for consumers and developers. You should be confident and post progress where consumers can see and follow your development and you should post progress where developers can see and give feedback.
Basically, be proud of what you work on! Be mindful to not spam, but don’t always keep to yourself.
– From @dssansVN

6. Use Twitter Analytics

I’ve found that some devs who’ve used Twitter for years don’t know about this- Twitter has an more indepth analytics if you turn them on. These analytics show impressions, engagements, and more. There’s an entire side website that lists out your most popular tweets, how your Twitter is growing, and more. It’s very simple to turn on and provides a lot of insight.

7. Kickstarter won’t market for you

This point can be construed as “you need to market your commercial endeavors in general”, but I’ll be talking about crowdfunding here. Think of Kickstarter more as an amplifier- if you have a solid project with solid marketing, a solid Kickstarter page can boost that. If you have a loose project with little marketing and a bare-bones KS page, KS won’t boost it. When you launch a KS, you’re launching a business venture. Regardless if the game will be commercial or free, you’re asking money from people. Treat it like a business.

Distribution

8. Use Itch.io

Itch.io is a free website for indie games. The process to upload a game is extremely easy and free, and their store page is easy to navigate. A lot of people, including myself, will avoid Google Drive / Dropbox links for demos from strangers, so please upload demos to Itchio!

(an exception of course is if you’re beta testing then Drive / Dropbox can be fine, but this is for public-facing builds)

There are also other websites out there for free indie games such as Game Jolt, but Itchio is quickly becoming a more recognizable website.

9. Get Steam Wishlists

If you’re publishing to Steam, focus on wishlists! Setting up a Steam page for a game releasing in a month can be disastrous. Look at it this way- a wishlist means that person will be emailed when the game releases. They don’t have to sign up for your newsletter, they don’t have to do anything but hit the wishlist button.

For more indepth talk advice, read Jake Birkett’s article, How many wishlists should you have when launching on Steam?


I think the biggest tl;dr I can give for this article is this: know your limits and always ask for help.

I know my limits when it comes to scope and what kind of games I make. Some of those limits, like scope, I try to slowly push myself on expanding. Other limits, like the genres I’m comfortable working with, not so much (due to burnout!).

Furthermore, asking for help is never a sign of defeat. You’ll need to ask consumers a lot of questions for market research, so why not also ask devs for advice and feedback? Find areas you’re comfortable with.

Did you like this article? Feel free to check out my other marketing and game dev editorials on the right!

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Cutting (and Adding) Scope from Games

Scope is something that every game developer struggles with at some point.

Even after releasing several games, you can always get caught working on a project with too much scope. Today I’m going to talk about what scope is, how to manage it, and how to cut (or add) scope to a game project.

What is scope?

Scope, put simply, is the entirety of the project— it’s the amount of assets, the story of the game, the amount of levels / areas, the budget, you get the idea. The scope of a project is how big the project is.

Sometimes we get carried away with making games. We think of all these great levels we can add or plot details or characters, but end up losing sight of the main project. Scope left unchecked can kill projects. So, how do you keep it from getting that bad?

How to manage scope

Your main combatant for keeping scope small is to always keep it in mind. Make sure that you’re keeping things small and manageable— adding content is much easier than removing it. One way to keep it in mind is to check over things and determine how important it is. This is something that becomes easier the more games you make and have to do this on.

Careful planning and sticking to an outline helps manage scope while a game is in development. At group meetings (if you’re working with a group), talk about the scope. Go over upcoming parts and make sure they’re still important. Shelve ideas for later if they aren’t important— you can always come back to them later.

Cutting scope

Let’s say you’re too far into development to keep track of scope as you go along. The game has been in development for too long and you’re in the midst of it and can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s times like these that we get out the knife.

Rimia umu edit by Henry!

This is our scope-cutting knife! Stab your project.

…Okay, maybe not anything that severe. Let’s go over some potential areas you can cut out:

  • Characters
  • Levels / areas / locations
  • Character / equipment upgrades
  • Side quests
  • Artwork
  • Music

For games that are more story-driven, make sure all of your characters are needed. For my current in progress game, Asterism, I’ve removed 2 main characters since the completion of the first draft. The first was one of the members of the main party— I removed him because there were too many party members to give a backstory to each, so I gave his lines to the rest and had one less character to worry about expanding. The second was an antagonist turned friend— his backstory was too contrived and bloated the amount of work.

Make sure all of your backgrounds / maps are needed. If you use one for only one scene, consider rewriting the scene to use an existing background. Or, consider adding a character graphic to the scene rather than characters on a background.

The biggest cuts you’ll find when cutting scope is to take out features. A phone pop-up menu is pretty cool but typically not necessary in most games. Equipment upgrade trees and 10+ types of weapons are great but are extras for most RPGs rather than necessities.

Side Notes

Remember that cutting scope doesn’t have to be permanent— the purpose is to finish a project. You can always go back and add scope once the project isn’t in jeopardy and nearing completion .

Another way to cut scope is to find ways to shorten the time parts take to make. For example, you can resuse assets, use premade assets (namely sound effects), or use code (that you have permission to use). Finding a good engine that fits your project is another way to cut scope. An engine that fits will allow you to streamline the development.

Adding scope

Alright, now let’s say you’re nearing the end of your game and it’s too small. For some people this might sound impossible, but it’s happened to me before. For my first commercial game, That Which Binds Us, I had to go through multiple phases of adding scope, namely expanding the story.

When adding scope, focus on features that improve the game the most rather than adding anything. Here’s a few ideas on what to add:

  • New art / music
  • Character backstories
  • Side quests / scenes
  • More choices
  • Additional settings
  • New levels / areas

A good way to figure out what to add is to ask testers! Get feedback on builds and see what they want added. You never know, they might suggest something you’d never thought of.

But why should I?

Cutting scope becomes a vital ability the more you make games. I’ve seen (and been on!) countless projects that were killed because the scope was too large and was either not cut or leads refused to compromise. Don’t let your projects die!

tl;dr cutting features out of your game isn’t always a bad thing and can help the game release. You can always go back and add features!


Did you like this article? Feel free to check out my other marketing & game dev articles by clicking the tags on the right. Want to give back? Wishlisting my games on Steam helps me a lot! Have a question? @ me on Twitter!

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Where to Publish Your Indie Game

Finishing a game is a hard feat- but figuring out where ​to publish it can be even harder.

Working on a game from start to finish is a harrowing task with lots of road bumps, but once your finished, some devs are left with a question- what now? What do I do with my game now that it’s done? Well, you can post it on Google Drive or Dropbox and share that link around, but if you want a more serious way to publish then consider publishing your game on gaming websites. But, which ones? Below I’ve outlined some of the most popular choices for sharing free and commercial games.

There are 2 lists- PC and HTML. Note that some of these overlap- you can upload mobile and HTML to Itch.io, but I’m only going into detail on it in the PC list.

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