How much should you reveal about your game?

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by Accidental Rebel, Jan 13, 2011.

  1. Accidental Rebel

    Accidental Rebel New Member

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    I've just read this old article on Gamasutra regarding Wolfire's approach on marketing. Basically, what they do is that they are very open to their community, revealing every step of their development through videos and articles.

    So far, everything seems to be doing great for them as they seem to be getting a lot of pre-orders because of what they are doing.

    However, here are some questions that I have regarding this topic:
    • I am wondering what downsides there is to their marketing method of "open development"?
    • Why aren't other devs doing the same thing?
    • How much do you reveal regarding your game when it's still in development?
    Looking forward to your opinions! Cheers!
     
  2. Classix

    Original Member

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    I know one indie that's been working on his second game for a few years now.
    He put out images and videos of his game, has a development blog, etc. The game still isn't finished, but there's a lot of people talking about it......

    Meanwhile, some other company made a similar game, with the same graphic style, which they released a while back. But this game isn't popular at all, and the graphics can't even compare to the quality of the one i mentioned above. You could tell it was a rush job.

    So, that would be the downside for me personally. Someone copying my game, and releasing it first. :mad:
     
  3. ecruz

    Original Member

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    Did you mean Desktop Dungeons clone that happens recently ?

    http://www.next-gen.biz/features/the-cloning-of-desktop-dungeons

    I bet there are more cloning happens beside Desktop Dungeon, especially for small games (iPhone/Flash games).
     
  4. Classix

    Original Member

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    That's not the game i mentioned.
     
  5. PoV

    PoV
    Indie Author

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    No easy answer for this. There is a real and serious danger of being ripped off (iCloned) before launch if you have an easy-to-make new game idea (easy==1 week to prototype using any regularly available middleware). But if you don't talk about your game, you wont build any hype. The best suggestion I've heard is go public once you are confident in your schedule, and when nobody can catch you.
     
  6. manimani

    manimani New Member

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    I am trying to do Wolfire's approach of detailing every step of the development process...but there are certain features that i will only release screenshots/videos off in the last few months of development. That way i give any would be cloners less time to copy the features into their game.

    Being indie doesn't mean being naive :)
     
  7. princec

    Indie Author

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    I have an easy answer: if it's easy enough to rip of your brilliant idea that someone can do it before you can get yours out the door, you're barking up the wrong tree.

    Cas :)
     
  8. bantamcitygames

    Administrator Original Member Indie Author Greenlit

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    I'm always super careful not to reveal too much because I work only 5 hours a week so if anyone thought it was a good enough idea to rip off they would surely beat me to the punch.
     
  9. zoombapup

    Moderator Original Member

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    I asked this kind of question on the rockpapershotgun forums and got some interesting answers.

    There appear to be two classes of gamer:

    1) Likes to hear about interesting development stuff, the kind of thing that wolfire are doing

    2) People who dislike that, think its too spammy and would rather just hear about the game from their friends when its available with a demo.

    Also, I've heard a few journo's say that the issue is that wolfire will have given out so much information that people will be bored by the time they ship the game.

    Ive also been suggested to look at introversion's approach, which is a lot less regular in terms of posting, but offers significant updates too.

    I'm thinking that essentially I'm going to concentrate on revealing how missions will play out, so I can explain some of the more complex or intricate mechanics before people can play themselves. Sort of doing a bit of a tutorial kind of deal.

    I couldnt keep up with the posting regime of wolfire to be honest.
     
  10. cyodine

    Original Member

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    The Dungeon Desktop situation doesn't surprise me at all. I've posted in other threads a while back about the danger of cloning.. even before your release.. if you're not careful. The consensus in that thread (which I disagreed with) is that it only happens post-release. I still stand by my views expressed there.

    As for ideas being cloned easily, therefore they have little merit, I disagree.A A decent team of a dozen+ could easily overtake a solo indie no matter how fleshed out and polished that person thought his/her game was. If that large team had the resources to purchase art / music assets or already owned a stockpile, overtaking could occur very fast.
     
  11. potan

    potan New Member

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  12. cyodine

    Original Member

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    Which reminds me of another posting I made awhile back about the dangers of giving out your source code and having clones pop up right after using it.. Damn, I'm on a roll. :p
     
  13. ecruz

    Original Member

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    Wow, piracy is one thing but ripping off and making profit out of someone else work is just ruthless, money has blinded all this jackass.

    But i heard this is pretty common especially for flash games, (not to be a racist) where a chinese/indian company will decompile your game and take off all your credits & resell it again either on web / on appstore.
     
  14. GolfHacker

    GolfHacker Member

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    I've been sharing the progress on my current project in my monthly newsletters for over a year now. But then, I'm working on a sequel to an existing game. If someone wanted to rip me off, they're too late - the first game has been out for 5 years now.

    I think sharing screenshots and information about your game project is good for building hype, but you don't want to be accused of being the next Duke Nukem Forever. I think you have to pick the best strategic time to do it, so the hype won't die off before you finish.
     
  15. MrPhil

    Original Member

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    By my reckoning, you should take an approach that fits the game and appeals to the audience of the game. Some quick examples:
    Angry Birds - No
    Minecraft - Yes
    Desktop Tower Defense - No
    Overgrowth - Yes
    Bejeweler 12 - No
    Revenge of the Titans - Yes
    Smiles - No

    Here's a couple made by the same person but the games have different answers
    Monaco - Yes
    Wildlife Tycoon: Venture Africa - No

    Edit: Yes meaning, open development approach
     
  16. Arowx

    Arowx New Member

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  17. MrPhil

    Original Member

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  18. richtaur

    Indie Author

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    The biggest downside IMO is the time it takes to do it. Pretty sure Wolfire has a dedicated PR person which is how they can afford to blog every single day without affecting their development productivity.

    I don't agree that getting cloned should be a primary concern for a few reasons. First, as Wolfire has shown, having someone rip you off can be very beneficial -- they've popped up on just about every news site I read (even Slashdot) regarding that counterfeit story, which I'm sure has increased their sales. In the long run they're probably glad it happened.

    I think the biggest fear for the average unknown indie is to remain unknown, so get the word out and be as noisy as possible.

    They totally are, they're just not as prolific as Wolfire.
     
  19. Chris England

    Chris England New Member

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    We're taking a similar approach to Wolfire with Xenonauts (an indie strategy game, inspired by X-Com), but a bit less extreme. We don't blog every day as sadly I'm too busy for that, but the advantages for us of being community-orientated have been significant:

    1) We've had a significant number of pre-orders: I won't go into exactly how many, but it amounts to thousands of dollars of funding and has been very beneficial to our development efforts.

    2) The community are brilliant bug testers - we recently released our first build to the pre-order community, a build I thought was rock solid and had almost no bugs in it. They found 80 bugs within two days, with eight or nine of them being crash bugs. I dread to think what would have happened if we'd sent that code to a news outlet etc before we'd corrected them.

    3) They have provided a LOT of good ideas. The people on the forums know X-Com just as well as I do, and they have contributed a lot of good ideas and tweaks to development. We probably only use about 2% of the ideas suggested to us, but some of the suggestions provide that little 'eureka' moment.

    4) Seeing a busy forum and a good site, and coverage on news sites etc allows you to attract talented people to your project team more easily. If you're paying at far below market rate, you'll only be able to attract genuinely skilled people if they're interested in the work.

    5) It's nice to know people appreciate what you're doing. Operating in a vacuum can be depressing, so it's nice to have a bit of positive support in the background.

    So, personally, I think you should get the community as involved as possible. For me the important thing is protecting the end-game units and tech tree, rather than anything else, so we've revealed a lot about the mechanics of the game etc but they're not really spoiling anything, as the exciting stuff is still all under wraps.

    I think the community-driven approach is one of the key advantages the indie scene has over the big-name studios, and I think you'd be crazy not to use it. That's my two cents, hope they helped.
     
  20. Applewood

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    +1

    Tell the world, get some interest built up. If someone can beat you to the punch then you're not going to make it anyway.
     

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