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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperBusinessCan't build a community, need marketing help :(
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AlexSkylark
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« on: March 12, 2017, 05:54:18 pm »

Hello, guys. So, I come to you in disarray for help on marketing my game, Radiant LUX

First of all, I need to say that I'm currently unemployed, and have a $0 marketing budget currently.
So yeah, while this may be the defining factor that is keeping my game to be "out there", I still could REALLY use some directions ans tips. I have a Greenlight Campaign going on at http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=861441384, that can't get past the 8% mark with only a few (if any) visits a day (will get to that in a second)

Anyhow, here's what I did since I've started marketing it:

1 - Set Up a facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/radiantluxgame - Back when I did it I still had a job, and spent some $ in promoting it. It made me aquire around 120 likes. I also posted there some of the videos and GIFs I made in the following weeks.

2 - Set up a youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLn23EUiqHGM2ty6H_S6bxA and made a trailer for the game.

3 - Set up a profile on IndieDB, at http://www.indiedb.com/games/radiantlux. Started writing articles there for everything I worked on, also replicating there all the videos I made to showcase those features I was working on.

4 - Posted reddit links at r/greenlightquality and a comment on the auto-promotion topic (aka where I was allowed to) of several weeks on r/indiegaming.

5 - Set up a twitter account at http://www.twitter.com/starlightgs. started posting updates there, and participating on #screenshotsaturday

My game is a 2D shoot-em-up, so I'd do well in reaching out to the SHMUP community, right? so I...

6 - Posted links at /r/shmups directing to my greenlight page AND my itch.io page where they could download the demo.

7 - Found THE SHMUPS FORUM, at http://shmups.system11.org/ and the SHMUPS! group on facebook. Posted videos, links and wrote posts about the game in both places.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Both items 6 and 7 got me some feedback that most people didn't like how the game was different from traditional SHMUPs, both in controls and gameplay. I used that feedback to build a new feature onto the game, called CLASSIC MODE, where gameplay and controls are altrered to be in line with the conventions of the genre they complained my game was breaking. After that I went back to those places (and pretty much everywhere else) and posted about it, with videos and amall articles.

8 - as noted on previous items, I set up an itch.io page where I released an alpha demo of the game, featuring a good chunk of gameplay and most major features. Posted a trailer on Youtube, went to Facebook, IndieDB, Twitter, Reddit and the SHMUPs forum and posted about it.

8 - Set up a profile in distribute() and sent the demo link to pretty much everyone who asked for it.

9 - Set up topics here in this forum, in the Townhall and Playtesting subforums about the game.

10 - sent friendly emails and direct msg about 100+ youtubers who I noticed liked shooters and 2D games sending them a download link (using the big list of youtubers

11 - Looked for a LOT of press lists and sent friendly emails with download links to about 200 people.

12 - Also conducted some searches on YouTube and twitch trying to find people interested in 2D shoot-em-ups. Sent friendly emails with download links to them all.



OK, now, onto the results.

  • First of all, I now have 142 YES votes on the greenlight campaign, after almost a month. Of those, around 70 came from the short period the game was in the front page. The other 70 came mostly from personal friends, and other developers from indie dev Facebook groups where I posted my videos who voted for me in hopes I would vote for their projects back. Almost ZERO votes came from sources other than those.
  • The Facebook page now have ~140 likes. All the new likes came from developers in the indie dev facebook groups who took an interest to the game
  • My page on itch.io have around 46 views. The majority of them came from Facebook, the other half from varied sources (Reddit, a couple from the SHMUPs forum, itch.io "newest" page, and such). The game only have 7 downloads, tho.
  • My popularity on IndieDB floated, spiking with every article released that made it into the front page, but it was never over #60, mostly around #100~#200, dropping to #3000+ in the meantime between posts. Looking over analytics, there is ZERO traffic from there to either greenlight or itch.io.
  • Through distribute() I was able to reach a small youtuber with ~400 subscribers to make 2 videos about it - one when he first heard about it, the other when I sent him a build with classic mode. one video have 12 views, the other (older) have 34. both videos linked to my greenlight, There's no traffic from either to there.
  • Both the topics in the TIGSource forums are completely devoid of answers, and there's zero traffic from them either to itch.io or to greenlight.
  • Never got a reply from any Youtuber, streamer or journalist from any of the emails I sent. So far I have ZERO press on it.

SO, that's where I stand now. I really don't know what else I can do besides spending money (which I don't have), so I'm getting kinda desperate. What else can I do to try and get the word out?

Thanks a lot in advance, peoples. Love u all <3
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Grhyll
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« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2017, 12:34:22 am »

Hey,

So I'm gonna be honest, and that could seem harsh, but it may have something to do with the game itself. I'm not judging it as a game in general or a shmup in particular, but the screenshots and trailers are (imo) not compelling enough. The "ships" design is quite nice, but there's almost nothing beside that. The background is just smoke, the UI is flat, the projectiles are classic, there seems to be something about portals but it's not really explained in your video, and if there's a twist with the colors, I didn't get it either. As a player, seeing all of this doesn't especially entice me to follow you, it lacks a "thing" that would really set your game apart from the mass. Maybe the gameplay is excellent, I don't know, but I'm not compelled to find out from your marketing material. Most people will just take a look at 2 or 3 screenshots and 30s of one of your video (no need to have 5 videos with almost the same content), you have to grab the interest of the viewer that quickly. About the video themselves, I look at the first one in your greenlight page, and it's quite long, with no real structure or storytelling, it looks like a bunch of pieces thrown together and scrambled randomly; there are some resources online about how to make an efficient trailer, you may want to check them.
In short, improve your marketing material, and maybe the game itself to make it stand out; would you be interested in joining the community of this game if you weren't the dev, but just a lambda player?
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JustinCarroll
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« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2017, 05:54:54 pm »

Great job on effort. You're doing quite a bit and it sounds like you're experience just how much marketing is worth. And why companies are willing to pay around 70k for a marketing/community manager, not to mention other marketing roles.

First of all, your branding could use some help, specifically replacing those background clouds with something of depth that makes sense for your art direction. Also, you have a positive comment on Steam about the "neon style." I would really push that neon style. In fact, it's better to go too far and have to pull back. The logo could be updated, but I like the contrast of keeping that simple, but really going crazy with the neon style.

In addition, it looks like your positioning might be off. Ask yourself... is there a similar type of game on Steam that's absolutely killing it? In other words, how are you validating the business model of the game you've made? It's possible that this type of lightweight SHMUP may do better as a F2P mobile game. In any case, it's something that you may consider going back to the drawing board on.

As far as building your audience, I might focus on building up your development blog as a means to build up an email list to your first 1,000 subscribers.

There's literally hundreds of things you could do, but this is where I would start over the next 3-6 months. Hope that helps, and good luck! Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2017, 02:47:17 am »

I'm in much the same boat you're in, minus the youtuber. I'm not to demo stage yet and getting the word out about development has been an uphill, full time job. I liked your latest trailer on youtube. It's not much but likes boost page rankings. If I can help let me know. Maybe we can boost each others visibility.
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AlexSkylark
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« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2017, 11:46:16 am »

(...) <lots of stuff>
In short, improve your marketing material, and maybe the game itself to make it stand out;

I see your point. Well, I'm gonna admit that my skills in video authoring/producing are next to zero. I literally had my first contact with this kind of media for the first time doing those trailers. And yeah, my skills in that area are lacking. So you're saying that without professional help, I'm stuck?

specifically replacing those background clouds with something of depth that makes sense for your art direction. Also, you have a positive comment on Steam about the "neon style." I would really push that neon style.

I've been struggling with that background ever since development began, and the truth is that this game is pushing every limit of my graphical skills as it is now. This game was born of my need to come up with a concept that I could work alone, after so many attemps at forming a group of people to develop with, but the truth is, it's impossible to find commited partners - only employees. If you don't have the money to pay people, you'll be last in their priority list, and I understand that. And that's the reason why I'm alone at this. And I'm gonna be 100% honest, improving the background any further is beyond my skills. I'm not a digital artist, I'm a programmer.

So, apparently, it's another problem that will probably only be solved with professional help... and money.

It's possible that this type of lightweight SHMUP may do better as a F2P mobile game.

This game wouldn't work on mobile. The kind of fast-paced arcade action, specially with all the bullet hell that goes on as the game progresses won't work with touch controls. Actually, I chose to not go mobile because of the ENDLESS, VAST OCEAN of games in that sense that are there. Hence why I designed this game with an arcade feel and fast-paced gameplay. Have you played the demo?

I'm in much the same boat you're in, minus the youtuber. I'm not to demo stage yet and getting the word out about development has been an uphill, full time job. I liked your latest trailer on youtube. It's not much but likes boost page rankings. If I can help let me know. Maybe we can boost each others visibility.

Thanks for the support Smiley I'll let you know if there's anything we could do.
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coder_for_life22
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« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2017, 02:11:23 pm »

Ok....

So this where I think marketers have potential to make more money making games than game devs themselves.

Why?

Because they understand one simple rule...MARKETING BEGINS BEFORE YOUR GAME IS FINISHED.

Or in better words, it begins before your game is even in beta?

How do you do this? well thats what everyone is trying figure out.

But here's a few suggestions...You should have started that Facebook page as soon as you had some gameplay to show from your game that allowed you to take some simple screenshots or record a few seconds of gameplay, or make a GIF. You should have them started to curate more and more content and promote the page.

I would even suggest starting a development blog to allow your audience to get up and personal with the game. I am working on this myself.

Lastly, you should have started a twitter and Instagram page around the same time and begin to promote and curate content. And promote this the same way.

Posting CONSISTENTLY multiple times a week and participating in hashtags, etc. You can also use hashtags that are simply related to the "niche" your game is in.

And then use every outlet you can to promote your twitter, IG, Facebook page, and blog.(Reddit, forums related to your games, friends, etc. etc.)

Other than that, with 0$ to invest in marketing, there is not much else you can do to be honest. What I just mentioned above is the only way to really have a chance of getting your game out there these days with 0$ to market. Regardless of what you hear or read about "How to market with $0". More than likely it will be a drawn out version of everything I just said.

Your mistake here is that you wait way too late to start building your community/audience. This is the case often times with many developers.

They wait until after their game is complete to start marketing but by then, its sometimes too late.

This is not true 100% of the time. Every now and then we see a game that rises to the top months or weeks after it was released but often times this is not the case.

Even with everything I just mentioned above, you could do correctly but your game still not "succeed"(Whatever your definition is). Which is the risk we all take with any venture.

It does take a tad bit of luck.

So right now I don't think there is much you can do besides what you have already done/are doing, especially with a $0 budget to invest.

One last thought, try to get people to curate content themselves. This is huge with game development these days, getting your players to curate content themselves. Meaning making the accomplishments and completion of goals in your game compelling to share. For example, adding a share button when players succeed or fail, where they can share a screenshot of their score or how they performed with social media and brag. Just some random thoughts.

Don't worry to much. I've made this mistake 3 times now and finally learned now. I've now started building an audience that is directly in the same niche as my game and appeals to this audience on instagram. I currently have built up a following of 28,000 followers.

FINALLY, your website does not look visually appealing. You need to make it with less text and make it jump out at someone looking at it. Or else they are not going to want to play or try the game. And bloggers/youtubers will not even give it the time of day.

Your game can the best thing out there, but if it is not presented well no one cares. Same goes for life in general. Its all about appearances....Initially.

Hope this helps. Good luck.
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AlexSkylark
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« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2017, 02:30:43 pm »

I just felt the need to make this clear: most of these avenues (website, facebook, twitter, indieDB, etc) were established WAY before the demo was made. Also, the game is still in alpha, currently.

I've been feeding all of those since around june 2016. With next-to-zero results. I only started to get that very few people I mentioned before to follow me after I had a some kind of a product to show, mainly after the greenlight started. Before that, I only had the 120 something followers I got by spending $ in facebook promotion.

And one more time it boils down to my lack of design/artistry skills. Makes sense, since my alpha release demo has 1.1k visualizations on facebook but only 5 people downloaded it, and there's been not a single additional YES vote on greenlight. So yeah, my trailers are not appealing, my website is not appealing, my in-game background is not appealing... Seems like I've hit a dead end, apparently, unless I can hire professional help.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2017, 02:41:41 pm by AlexSkylark » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2017, 04:34:20 pm »

You made the graphics yourself? If so consider looking on Fiverr.com for a designer. There are some good ones there. Its where I found my current artist.
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AlexSkylark
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« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2017, 06:40:43 pm »

I did.

I can't afford to hire an artist, and every time I tried to partner up with one, nothing was done and I only got frustrated. This game actually came from me trying to design a concept that I could pursue on my own, since I can't really depend on anyone unless I'm paying them.

So I made a game producing the kind of graphics I know how to - vector geometric forms and the mixing and mashing of Photoshop filters. You can say Radiant LUX had it's core design built around my capabilities. I really wanted to find someone to really partner up and be a duo, like the guys who made Valdis Story. But that's a dream I've given up after a lot of frustrated attempts. Making a game is too hard work and nobody else will be committed enough to it to pour in hundreds of hours of work just out of sheer force of will and desire for making this game happen, except me. Nobody else will work for the game, they'll work for money. And I can't afford that, so there's no other way I suppose...
« Last Edit: March 16, 2017, 06:50:05 pm by AlexSkylark » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2017, 09:44:44 pm »

It's scary how much this post reminds me of me on my last project. Securing an artist is like trying to herd cats. Are you making and releasing press releases for all your major milestones? If not for press releases I'd be sunk. Also, have you played X-COM: Enemy Unknown? I ask because it is a fantastic example of getting 20-60 (really good) hours of gameplay out of a core loop that's maybe twenty minutes long. If you can add a mode which allows players to really sink time into the game you can create a forum for them and allow the community to grow organically over time. And as long as they're sticking around you could create a patreon.
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AlexSkylark
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« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2017, 09:59:19 pm »

The project only had one milestone so far, that is the greenlight launch + alpha demo. I shared the bejeezus out of it, but it didn't grab much attention anywhere.

Now, about that game mode you suggested, yeah, I played XCOM Enemy Unknown. Finished it, actually. I'm a long-time XCOM fan since Apocalypse, and feel kinda bad about not having had time to play XCOM 2. Anyhow, I digress. I never spoke about it to anyone, but oh well. I'm thinking about putting in some other game modes that are multiplayer-driven, like local co-op, and some kind of ladder/tournament that people could create by customizing like, how many stages, how many levels per stage, which colors will be available, etc. But I can't implement those before the base game is ready, so we're talking about post-launch DLC, at best... Not something that can be done now. And the base game is far from release. A release that will be an utter fail if I can't get a community around it before.

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« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2017, 11:06:40 pm »

When you say you shared it, do you mean you submitted a formal press release to a major gaming news aggregator or that you posted about it alot and sent emails to gaming sites?
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AlexSkylark
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« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2017, 11:28:32 pm »

The latter. What do you mean when you say a formal press release to a major gaming news aggregator?
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« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2017, 11:59:53 pm »

I see your point. Well, I'm gonna admit that my skills in video authoring/producing are next to zero. I literally had my first contact with this kind of media for the first time doing those trailers. And yeah, my skills in that area are lacking. So you're saying that without professional help, I'm stuck?
About the video editing part, I think you have a lot of room for self improvement. Of course hiring a professional is the quickest/best way, but if you really have to hire one, I'd concentrate on that background of yours first (maybe I'm biased). For the teaser/trailer, start with reading some tutos online about what makes a good trailer, there are a lot of them very well written, and I think you could largely improve this yourself. One of the key aspects (I'm saying that as a reader of those tutos, not as a specialist) is the storytelling: your trailer should have a narrative structure, a coherent progression that kind of tells a story. Right now, it seems more like an aggregate of rushes. For example, we can see a boss at various moments: why does he appear then? Then disappears, then comes back later? Even with the most simple structure (you start with the MC alone, then some enemies, then the portal thing, then end on a big boss fight), your trailer could grab attention more easily.
(I repeat, it's really only my opinion!)
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« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2017, 02:34:59 am »

The latter. What do you mean when you say a formal press release to a major gaming news aggregator?
PM sent.
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« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2017, 06:41:00 am »

Oh, why a pm? I think that's the kind of knowledge that can interest a lot of us!
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AlexSkylark
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« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2017, 01:57:23 pm »

I tweaked the trailer a bit with the info you guys provided me. Maybe now it's better?



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« Reply #17 on: March 17, 2017, 03:19:37 pm »

i'd give the text in the trailer dropshadows; would make it easier to read.

anyway... as for the game itself, it doesn't seem bad, it just also doesn't seem especially good. and perhaps that's why the marketing isn't going that well. fans of shmups don't just buy every shmup that comes out, just like fans of rpgs don't buy every rpgmaker game that comes out, they are more selective than in most niches. shmups fans are often snobs. so you need to appeal to snob tastes, basically.

what i would suggest is to get involved in shmup communities; like shmup-dev if you aren't already there. that's where you can build the audience for your game. trying to build an audience on fb buy buying random likes makes no sense to me. you need a community of people into that genre. just don't be surprised if they're harshly critical of your game. just be open to their suggestions and alter your game to their liking. when it comes to making a game in a niche, the fans of that niche are the ones that decide how the game should be made just as much if not more than you decide.
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AlexSkylark
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« Reply #18 on: March 17, 2017, 04:01:01 pm »

Thanks a lot for the feedback on the Drop shadows. I'll fix it and upload a new version.

About thew SHMUP community, I know exactly what you mean. I'm trying not to make the game JUST for the SHMUP community, anyhow, altough their feedback is valuable. As told in the OP, it was by their feedback that I implemented CLASSIC MODE.

Now, shmup-dev was a resource I didn't know about. Thanks a lot also Smiley

EDIT: Did even better than drop shadows, added a semi-transparent letterbox around the text. Neat?


« Last Edit: March 17, 2017, 04:40:52 pm by AlexSkylark » Logged

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« Reply #19 on: March 17, 2017, 04:59:59 pm »

seems more readable now yes. anyway, as for shmup-dev, i checked what that site is up to just now and found some trailers that you could compare your game against -- remember that these will be your competitors. looking at these trailers, and then yours, i think it's easy to see how it can be hard to build a community -- the people who would be involved in such a community have these other games to look forward to, and are in communities about those games instead.









etc.

i know you said you don't really want to improve the visuals (or can't, or whatever), but the market is harsh, and you will be competing against games like these. if you can't compete with them graphically, especially in such a graphics-intensive genre like shmup, perhaps it'd be better to spend more time studying programming and art before trying to release a game commercially (my first 14 games were free, as an example. it wasn't until my 15th game that i felt confident enough in my abilities to try to sell it. and even then it wasn't a hit, though it did alright)
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