Picture the scene: You’ve been working hard on your first video game for months on end. You’ve poured hours, blood, sweat, and tears into it, and now the moment of completion is upon you. You finish the final checks, and everything’s set up just the way you want it. You hold your breath, hit the enter key and voila… Your game is out. You sit back in your chair, a nervous bubble of excitement in your chest, waiting for the players to come and check it.

Then you realise, with all your planning, there’s one thing you never thought about: How the hell do you get people to actually download the game?

Since posting the 1st devblog, a few things have happened. On the 1st October, I released the final version of Angel In The Dark on Itch.io, and it’s actually doing pretty well. The game has now also been uploaded to Steam Greenlight, and at the time of writing, it’s 25% of the way to being greenlit. Over the past week or so, I’ve been keeping myself pretty busy, creating a trailer, organising the greenlight campaign, and doing my best to obnoxiously yell about the game via twitter to get people to notice it.

So, how is my game doing so far? Well, at best, I guess it could describe my experience as so-so. I’m currently hanging out in what I like to refer to as the eternal waiting room of Steam Greenlight. It’s kind of like that giant arm-grabbing machine from the first Toy Story movie. All games uploaded to the service are the little green aliens, and we’re all jostling on top of one another, hoping that “the claw” will come down, and pluck us from obscurity. In case it’s not abundantly clear, in this metaphor, “the claw” represents players.

So, here’s the question the typical game developer is thinking about: How do I make my game more appealing to “the claw”?

Think about the last game you played. That game didn’t just fall out of the sky and magically appear on your screen. You chose to buy that game, because someone made you aware of it somehow. Out of the sea of video games that are released everyday, you ended up playing that one.

This is the very real issue I faced when I released Angel In The Dark. I’d gone through six months of slowly progressing through the development of this game, with a very clear end goal in mind. In my head, it would be easy. I would release the game, and people would just start playing it. One or two influential trendsetters pick it up, and next thing I know, everyone will be checking it out. I genuinely thought that was how the games industry worked. Ahh, how naïve I was!

how-gamers-buy

Here’s the reality of game development: People don’t just stumble across games by accident. Sure, if your game has pretty artwork that might get people clicking on the link out of curiosity, but that won’t result in lots of interest. The number one way games sell, is actually through word of mouth. You need to get people talking about your game. You need to get out there, and tell everyone and anyone who’ll listen, that this is the game you’ve made, and that they need to check it out.

Steam Greenlight is kind of like one of those pedigree dog shows you see on TV. The games are lined up alongside one another, and then the judges come by to look each one up and down and make a decision on whether they like it or not. The pretty dogs are always going to have an advantage over the ugly ones. Let’s face it, as much as we like to pretend that logic and reason are the most important guiding lights in our lives, our minds are pretty heavily influenced by our sense of sight. No matter how much we want to pretend otherwise, we like good-looking things.

The problem with this reality of game development is that my game isn’t pretty. It’s an audio/text adventure game, telling a story that’s set in pitch-black darkness, so all the player can see in the game is white text on a black background.

sgl

The above picture shows my game’s current position on Steam Greenlight. Note all the pretty colours and beautiful artwork in all the surrounding games images.

So what’s the solution then? Use a cover image that’s bright and colourful to try to draw people in? Well, no because that would be false advertising. I want my branding images to be an accurate representation of my game. My game places a huge amount of emphasis on interesting audio, and on Steam Greenlight, audio games are a tough sell.

I could go down the traditional PR route, mailing my game to every website, YouTuber, and generally influential figure that might be interested in writing about it. But something about contacting people and asking them to look at my game just feels facetious. If the game were actually good, wouldn’t people be playing it, without needing to be asked? Maybe I’m just over thinking this?

… Man, I need to wrap this article up before it devolves into a full scale existential crisis…

aitd_no-ones-gonna

What I’m getting at here is that, for me, talking about my own work is something of an issue. I’m generally a fairly introverted person. I always have to force myself to share my work with others. Writing for Indie Haven, I frequently write halves of articles that I never finish, simply because I don’t feel confident that they’re good enough.

The idea of emailing my game off to some of the major video game sites, and asking for their opinion is terrifying. It’s not criticism I’m afraid of. It’s being ignored. I can’t imagine anything worse than my work being lumped in with the spam folder, and passed over without so much as a second glance.

But, unfortunately, that’s just how things go.  I’m just going to have to suck it up and do it, and just hope my game will be a success in the end.


In Part 3 of this developer blog, I’ll be discussing the Ren’py engine, and the process of creating an Audio and Text-based adventure game!

Missed Part 1? Then follow this link here for an explanation of why I decided to make a video game!

Feel free to download the final version of Angel In The Dark from Itch.io, and be sure to vote for the game on Steam Greenlight if you enjoy it!