Tips and tricks for indie devs

First of all: work on Love Notes is making good progress! I’ve made my mind about the “progression” and gifts screen and I’ve coded them, and also finished playtesting Tristan route.

I call this screen “progression screen”

The progression screen will show at which point of the story you are, all info displayed on a single screen.

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There will be a simple gift screen too

Picking the right gifts will increase the relationship and one of the two endinds variants (text only).

And now back to this blog’s topic: some tips and tricks for indie game developers.

Social media marketing

Ahh the, social media. Nowadays, Nobody can live without them, so you MUST do social media marketing, right? Well, short answer is yes. But there’s some things I want to clarify: people are buying your game, not your online persona, your political ideas, etc.

I’m not saying social marketing is useless, not at all. And, depending on the type of game, it can really help (it doesn’t work the same way for all genres/topics). However, you should always remember that what matters is the game, so spending your time improving it is your main priority.

If being on the social networks and posting comes natural to you, good. But I remember that years ago (not too long ago to be honest) I was always thinking “I need to post something before going to bed to increase my followers”. That’s dumb. If you have such thoughts, listen: just go to bed instead, and sleep, and the next day wake up and work on your game!

Using their online tools, I checked the impact of twitter/facebook marketing on Kickstarter, Steam, itchio revenues of the games I released this year: it varies between 3-5%, with regular daily posting over the release month. It’s not super accurate, but even if it was twice that amount would still be a relatively small amount. Obviously, you need to pay ads to get a lot of people. If it was so easy…!

Last but not least: I personally know several devs who have very minimum social presence (like posting once a week or less on social media) and earn mid-six figures a year.

TL DR: keep your online presence, and if it comes natural, post often: BUT remember that your game has the priority and spending too much time on social networks won’t matter so much on the overall success.

Cyberbullying

Being too much online or being too vocal, or just being online (haha) can expose you to cyberbullying or just people in general wasting your time. When I was at highschool, I was often bullied. I know well what it means. I know the rage that grows inside of you.

While in real life it’s not always easy to react, online is much easier. But it’s also easier for any random idiot to attack you for any reason. Those people are true timewasters. And the temptation to reply is big. I know. You don’t want to leave the other person the last word!

But in the end, ask yourself: why? If someone is a bully, they won’t change their mind no matter what you say. And some people are really there just to waste your time because they have nothing to do in their lives. Do you want to be like them, or finish something?

So, if they start immediately being rude, just insta-block them and don’t even bother to talk. If you think they might listen to reason, sure it’s worth talking. But never spend too much time. You’re supposed to work on your game, you know?

TL DR: there are a lot of bullies out there. If someone comes to you aggressively for no reason, just block them. Nothing else will bring anything good, on the opposite it will just be a waste of time

Vocal minority

I already talked in the past about the vocal minority in general in my blog here: https://www.winterwolves.net/blog/2018/01/the-vocal-minority-feature-creep-and-keeping-yourself-sane/

Vocal minority is of course present also in social media. Someone is sure that if you make a game about dancing pumpkins, it WILL BE A HIT. And they won’t stop repeating it. They might also bring some more dancing pumpkins fans to support their theory.

The temptation of course is to see if they are right. And there’s nothing wrong with that! Because they might be right. I know this well since I have almost done all kind of games, all kind of romances, all kinds of settings, art styles, etc etc.

But the reality is: some ideas work, and others just don’t. And it’s nobody’s fault – it’s the market who decides. What is “the market”? People that pay money for your game ! Because you’re running a business – if you do games just for fun then of course it’s fine to do whatever you like.

However, the dancing pumpkins fans won’t listen – they’ll say that it’s your fault for reason X and Y. You used wrong art, bad writing, the setting wasn’t appropriate, you made mistake 1,2,3.

And they might be right, if you just tried once. But if you’ve tried that thing several times and it brought always same results, then the conclusion is clear. It might just be that doesn’t work for you. For someone else, it can. People think that “if genre/theme X is popular ANY game that uses it WILL be successful”. No. Not at all! There are a lot of aspects in a game that can determine if it will be a flop or a success.

Obviously, the opposite is also true: sometimes good ideas/suggestion can come from social followers. In the last two years after a lot of people complained, I did three yuri only games after ignoring that genre for… 12 years, and I felt dumb for not doing it sooner!

TL DR: beware of people always insisting on you doing thing X. They do it because they like it, it’s not their fault. It’s normal. But ultimately you need to make choices that will let you survive another year. If you can do it and make someone happy, even better.

Conclusions

I hope this post was somewhat useful to you. Ah one last marketing tip: have forums/blogs. They require some minimum upkeep but they really can help with SEO, and they can bring new visitors (and customers) to you business.

Blog about anything, not necessarily related to games. I know a guy who got a lot of traffic to their site because of a Star Trek blog post. They sell space sim/strategy games…

4 thoughts on “Tips and tricks for indie devs

  1. Nahui

    This is so helpful! My boyfriend has been struggling to find a balance on how much he should use social media to promote his games and mods, and I feel like reading this would help him realize he does not need to be as active as he thinks he needs to be. Thanks!

    Reply
  2. Nyllea

    Hello c: Just wanted to say that I used to play your spirited hearts game as a kid and i used to love it. It’s one of the few games that has stuck in my mind and has fuelled my drive to create my own dating sim-ish type game.
    I’m glad to see you /you guys are still active and looking forward to playing some of your other games.
    Good luck with your work! 🙂

    Reply

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