|Posted by Jason on February 18, 2018 at 9:20 PM|
We started IndieWatch in 2016 when rumors about indie apocalypse were everywhere around the social media and the blogosphere. Although impressed by all the hysteria voiced from the four corners of the game industry, we were amazed at so many interesting stories we kept learning about as we interacted with game developers from all around the world on Twitter. Wondering why so many cool games were being left in the shadows, we became curious about the powerful role played by bloggers, youtubers, etc, in the way a narrative is successfully arranged around the promotion of an indie game. We then decided to start IndieWatch to give writing about game dev stories a go and we’ve learned a thing or two on the kind of articles that usually bring more viewers ever since.
After some time, we came up with a few points that we’re constantly taking into account as we write or advise game developers on writing a good story about their games.
1) Don’t be afraid to tell the world about your experiences
If you’re writing about a game, share the expected and unexpected paths you and your team took to bring it into reality. Is this your first game? Don’t worry, there’s still a lot the game development community could learn from you. Your experience is unique and talking about it is a great way for putting things in perspective for you and for others out there who still are just trying to get started. Let them know how things feel for you if you think that will inspire motivation and reflection. That’s exactly what they’re looking for now.
2) Don’t be afraid to be personal
Game development is way more than just putting together bits of codes with artwork. A set of personal choices and beliefs are part of the package. So, being emotional and appealing to emotion is totally fine, as long as it is genuine and sincere. Did you start making a game right after you got fired from a previous job? Did you have a hard time while marketing your game and that kinda changed your course along the way? If you’re comfortable to share that with the world, that’s food for thought for people who are now facing similar struggles and might find some relief and validation after reading your article.
3) Too much bragging won’t take you anywhere
If you’re writing an article to let the world know about your new wonderful, great, awesome game, that’s ok! That’s your heart speaking. But think about how the game development community or your players will benefit from that. Why would anyone share an article mainly intended to describe how something spectacular for you is about to take off? Why does that matter to others? Although I’m sure your work has great qualities, you are most likely to get attention to whatever you have to say through authenticity and honesty. So, try reaching out to your readers in the way you’d like other developers to reach out to you. Picture yourself in the shoes of your readers as you put your thoughts into words. There’s a great chance your reader will stop reading your post at the first moment they notice they’re not gonna learn anything from it once they realize you’re only and desperately just trying to promote yourself. People want to have a good experience playing your game rather than listening to you brag about it. Try providing them with a good experience while reading your post.
4) Avoid the “technical writing” style and tell a story instead
If you’re writing a devlog, you might feel an urge to be as technical as possible as you describe the development stages of your game. As a general recommendation, try avoiding that as much as you can. You’re gonna have more chances to get and keep your readers interested in your post if you’re able to tell a story about your game rather than merely provide a technical description for it. For instance, compare the two following paragraphs:
My game’s art was created using Photoshop by the greek artist called John Doe. He does some cool comic book inspired art and he did a pretty good job. It’s looking very good. We’re thinking about adding some more details on the characters. We’ll see.
For the games art, luckily I already knew an artist whose style was exactly like the vision I had for the game. He lives in Greece, and I had been an admirer of his art for quite a while. Needless to say, I was excited at the potential of him becoming my artist! So I shared my game idea with him and he officially became my artist. We then agreed on his pay to create all the game art. We also decided that I needed to purchase Photoshop and Illustrator. I would create concepts for him to reference. Then he would recreate them for the game using his perfect style [Source: https://indiewatch.net/2017/04/01/how-to-make-your-game-when-the-world-falling-apart/ ].
Yeah anything at all is better than not writing anything at all, but which paragraph do you think has truly grabbed your attention?
5) Don’t underestimate the power of lists
List articles (like this one) are very good for conveying a set of useful information for your readers. Think of those times in which you got stuck while trying to solve a programming issue and all you wanted to do was just to google a question and get an immediate solution for your problem. List articles are precious gems for when you need to escape all the BS and go straight to the point of what you’re looking for. Choose interesting and clear topic names to help your reader navigate through the information that is preventing him/her to get what he/she wants. Let your article be a recurrent source of organized information. Get some inspiration right here.
6) Be the first one to share what you post
Now that your article is ready, it’s time to give it its first test drive. People are not coming to you. You must go to them. You might wanna try sharing a link to your post on as many social media channels as you can, but targeting the correct audience is the best chance of getting the feedback you’re looking for. Twitter is a good start, but remember to use the tags #gamedev and #indiedev on your tweets to optimize retweeting. On Facebook, I would go straight to the game dev discussion groups, once the devs in those places are always eager to share their opinion with you.
Start with these tips and see what you get. Let us know how you’re progressing or send us your questions if you have any!
Guest blog post author: Fernando Telles