Devlog 1 - Introduction
Devlog 2 - Video Update & New Dungeon Tile
Devlog 3 - Props & Loot
Devlog 4 - Composer, Progression & Videos
Devlog 5 - 2D Art Overhaul Begins
Devlog 6 - Video, New Enemies, 50 levels!
Devlog 7 - Video, Stats & Accomplishments
Devlog 8 - Heavy Construction
Devlog 9 - Road to Beta
Devlog 10 - In-Game Shop & Menus
Devlog 11 - Services & UI Progress
Devlog 12 - Beta!
Devlog 13 - Frozen Area Preview
Devlog 14 - HUD Finalization
Devlog 15 - Gadget Area Preview
Devlog 16 - Magic Area Preview
Devlog 17 - "Free Running" Mode
Devlog 18 - Rank-Up & Perks
Devlog 19 - Full Soundtrack
Devlog 20 - Free Running Polish
Devlog 21 - Finishing Up
Devlog 22 - Last Additions
Devlog 23 - iOS Submission
Devlog 24 - Prize Codes
Devlog 25 - Making a Press Kit
Swipey Rogue launches on Thursday, 27th of August on the iTunes App Store for iOS phones and tablets, and on the Google Play Store for Android phones and tablets.
When I went indie and started Swipey Rogue, I knew that a lot of my time would be spent doing work outside of development, particularly marketing. I was warned that about 50% of your time goes to marketing and the rest to development. I'd say that's about right. I've been writing blogs and participating on web forums for about 6 months now and I created my press kit almost 2 months ago. It has been an evolving project of its own.
I began by doing some research. I found a few blogs on the topic then quickly found Vlambeer's super useful dopresskit(). However, I'm pretty lazy so I took the aspects of what I learned from the blogs and Vlambeers tool and wrote a quick flat webpage incorporating those elements that I felt were most important.
You can check out the Swipey Rogue press kit online here if you're curious.
It may seem like an unnecessary task at first, but you can't expect your game to sell itself. If no one hears about it, you wasted your time. You should invest as much time, care, and effort into marketing your game as you do creating it. The press kit gives you a single place where you can point everyone to the polished side of your game that you want to share. It allows you to separate your development sharing from your promotional sharing. Often these two things can overlap and benefit each other, but sometimes not. Sometimes, unfinished work is the last thing you want some consumers seeing.
Make a quick, point form list of the most crucial aspects of your studio (even if it's just yourself). This is what anyone could reference to contact you or share your work. You can include info like:
As soon as possible in your press kit, you should include the critical information about your game. The things any press would need to tell every consumer:
Find a way to explain your game in one sentence. If you can't do that, your game is possibly too complicated or you're not really sure what you're making. Sum it up in a concise sentence that paints a picture of what you do in the game and why it's exciting. I failed here and had to stretch to two sentences. I blame having multiple game modes (ie: too complicated), and it's also possible I suck.
These are the talking points of your game. What do you want people talking about? You've been completely involved with this game for a long time by now. It's your whole world. It's probably all you think about. That's not the case for other people. They have no idea what it is or what they should think of it. It's your job to tell people what they should think of it.
Use this section to flat out tell any press why they should be covering this game and why readers would want to find out about it. Your USP could be any of the following, or any number of other things:
This is your chance to guide the narrative and start the conversions that you want people to have about your game. I tried the "former 'AAA' dev, first indie game" angle. Indie focused people don't love it because they have no interest in 'AAA', and larger press aren't super fond of it either really. I think people like me are a dime a dozen nowadays. So, no angle is guaranteed to get a story, but it helps frame who you are and what you're making regardless and gives press and readers something tangible to get interested in beyond the game itself.
Summarize the features of your game in quick, short, active descriptions. Use action words to describe what you do in the game, not passive nouns explaining what it is. Prioritize the best features to the top of the list (remember, most people read a fraction of anything presented to them).
This is a chance to cross over with your USP, re-iterate key selling points if they involve your features.
Include any trailers that you've created for marketing purposes that you'd like included with press coverage. Name everything blatantly so it's obvious what it is. Teaser trailers have a different set of expectations than a full launch trailer. Make sure people know what the videos are and why they exist.
Gameplay videos are very important. Everyone wants to see a game in action. Make clean gameplay videos that aren't cluttered with excessive logo branding and text explanations. Most press looking at your game for coverage are posting to enthusiast crowds (probably like yourself). Ask yourself what kind of gameplay videos you want to see when you want to find out about a game. Do you like seeing a bunch of marketing crap all over it, or pure gameplay? Most gamers want to see gameplay. Press knows this. Make sure you give it to them.
Everyone loves gifs. They're the eye candy of the internet. They always have been since spinning skulls. They give instant gratification and show off your game in action with minimal effort by the viewer. Include some gifs in your press kit because you can't guarantee that anyone will click on your videos. Even if they're not used by anyone for coverage, it will help any press who are evaluating your press kit to get a quick idea of what the game plays like.
Notice my old beta gifs still had branding and text on them (to explain that they were beta), the new stuff in the press kit has no branding or explanation text.
Provide lots of high resolution screenshots. Resist the urge to brand your screenshots with excessive logos and text explanations. As developers it is very hard to let go. During development we're prone to add text explanations over our dev screenshots, and branding them so people know what game it's from when they see it randomly on twitter.
For press screenshots, they want clean, empty, pure game screenshots. Players do to. Again, put yourself in game consumer mode and think about what you want to see when you're trying to find out about a game. You probably get turned off by screenshots that are loaded with marketing bs. You probably just want to see the game and figure it out for yourself. Give people those clean shots and let their imaginations do the rest.
It's useful to include those branding elements separately in case anyone wants to use them or brand your screens themselves with your logo when they use them. Providing a couple versions of your logo and game icon could end up helping someone cover your game better. Might as well.
Don't forget other assets. Everything you've created for your game is not just a game asset, it is also a marketing asset. Did you have original music? Add links for listening and downloading. Did an artist of note work on your game? Add some of their concept art. All these elements help combine to tell the story of your game. Careful not to overload your press kit so the critical information can still be found easily, but do include a range of assets that can be used to share the game info.
It's a good idea to log any mentions of your game by the press and list them in your press kit. Smaller outlets may be encouraged to cover your game if they notice larger outlets have done so already (the larger outlets give you credibility).
Also, listing existing press mentions allows people to look and see what aspects of your story have already been covered and, most importantly, which media assets have already been used. No one wants to use the exact same screenshot that every outlet has already used for their coverage.
Take any opportunity to mention people who helped you. Even if you think you're a one-man team, you probably weren't. If anyone volunteered or offered paid assistance for anything, they were your team. Give them a plug. It looks good on you and it's always nice to share coverage.
In fact, I'll do so right now.
Declan Bell was the first person to work on the project with me. He reached out and offered (paid) audio work. I was impressed by his work on a recent indie game, it matched the theme of what I was looking for, and he was very interested in the game. He ended up playing it more than anyone else and offering invaluable criticism and feedback along the way. He was responsible for the original compositions (6) for the entire game. His work was always spot on and his ideas and feedback for the game design were always helpful. Check out his soundcloud and give him a shout if you're looking for music for your game!
Anthony Coito was the second person to "join the team". He designed and created all the original 2D artwork for the hud, menus, logo, icon, and poster assets for promotional needs. He had great ideas for integrating a theme into all the ui elements and he executed it perfectly, nailing the look I was hoping for every time with minimal rework and turnaround time. Having Anthony around was more like having an art director on the project. Since I was working with purchased character and environment models, his UI work was able to help tie everything together. Check out his portfolio and give him a shout if you're looking for 3D and 2D art for your game!
It's great to have a press kit as a simple, browsable web page. However, this can be difficult to deal with if you have a lot of content. Consider making download links for your content so someone can just download the whole thing instead of clicking each piece of media to save it.
It is also useful to provide downloadable versions of your videos because YouTube links may not be usable for some websites. They may have their own embedded player and need the raw video file.
I tried breaking it into multiple download packs to help further like so:
I've been experimenting with Vine. I'm not a fan of browsing vine, but now that it allows video uploads it's a great place to store quick clips. I think of vines as alternatives to gifs. They embed and auto-play on Twitter and they have optional sound. They can be very engaging. Video compression is so-so, if you can upload from an iOS device you can use 720x720 video, otherwise it's 480x480. Clips with a lot of dynamic changes don't look so hot (look at the chain damage effects and how they bork the framerate). So, like gifs there's tricks to be learned but you never know when you might find the new perfect medium for what you need.
Swipey Rogue still hasn't released. It is coming out for iOS and Android on the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store on August 27th. I'm no marketing expert, and I've only received minor to moderate coverage, so please do continue your research and use your intuition to make your press kit the best it can be.
Good luck with your game and remember to put as much effort and heart into marketing it as you did into developing it or you are doing yourself and the work you did a disservice. Have fun with it, and remember to never give up. I spent 3 hours on this devlog entry and then my laptop battery died and my laptop shutdown before I could submit the news. Because the data entry is a web form, it was lost forever. I yelled a little, then I sat down and just re-wrote the whole thing again. Don't give up!
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