Category Archives: Creating a Game

“All the Small Things” — Week Six Recap

I’m not a morning person. Before I have some swigs of highly sweetened coffee, I hardly open my eyes to acknowledge the existence of anyone or anything. And by the time I get to the office, I’ve probably growled and groaned thirteen times at helpless inanimate objects that did nothing wrong except get in my way.

These mornings continue into the Command Center, where I check and update our Follower Tracking spreadsheet. This document tracks our subscribers on YouTube and in our email system, our likes on Facebook, and our followers on Twitter. Each day since the start of Reactuate Games the total has gone up. Some days it’s 17 new people interested in what we are doing here, and sometimes it’s only 2.

Though it’s still early and my coffee hasn’t fully kicked in yet, every morning I look at our spreadsheet, I smile.

When you’re working for a company, and a humongous goal is plopped in front of you, egging you on, teasing you to catch it, the small accomplishments seem to fade in the sidelines of the race. But it’s important to celebrate these little victories, like our follower-count, too.

For example, last week RG was added to a few game developers’ lists on Twitter. When I read the notifications, I cheered at my desk, stoked that people were beginning to see us as a real game studio– a working and thriving video game company.

Now, in the world of Twitter, an addition like this may seem trivial, but I was honestly and pleasantly surprised! Of course, this whole time I believed in what we were; however, this validation from others felt good. (Yes, Momma always said not to care what others think, but this here is about marketing, and it’s all about the fans and support). Reactuate Games needed that acknowledgment … I needed us to have that acknowledgment, though it be a small one.

Screenshot 2015-07-06 13.42.05
Sam’s sandworm

Other little wins occurred last week as well. More and more graphics are emerging from the imaginary and being transferred into Guardian. Sam completed a builder unit that will construct buildings for the colonists, and he also designed a beastly sandworm (which personally reminds me of something from Starship Troopers). It’s scary for sure, and the colony’s controller will have to try his best to protect the people from this disastrous threat.

luxuryparticles
Moving particles / Luxury housing

Austin worked on particle effects for the game, as well as the construction process, which will include choosing a location to build on and having a unit construct the building. Katey also made headway by creating a luxury home model that colonists will reside in once on the new world. These skyscraping structures will help the ex-earthlings keep their extravagant and polished lifestyle while away from their native planet.

The saying holds true: it is the little things that count. And it’s the big things. And the medium-sized things. All the things count. Because with each step we take, we are farther than we’ve ever been before.

And that’s worth getting a little giddy about.

… even at 9 a.m.

 

Marketing a New World

Convincing others to like something has never seemed like a difficult task before. With two degrees in English, I’ve studied the art of rhetoric and persuasion, and I get why I’m more tempted to buy the shampoo bottles that are pink and sparkly than the plain-looking ones. Before, marketing seemed simple: find out what people like and give it to them.

As the marketing producer for Reactuate Games, however, I’ve realized it’s a bit more intricate than that. A lot more actually.

The truth is it’s hard to market a game that hasn’t been fully created yet in a city that I feel more comfortable calling a town. The RG team is making progress daily, of course, designing other-worldly graphics, fleshing out the backstory of the game, and considering future game advancements, but without any product to show audiences, we seem to be at a marketing standstill. And this lack of attention can be discouraging.

So when does our game become news? When does Guardian become relevant enough to the press and gamers of the world?

Or in other words, when will people care?

I’m not sure when this will be. And when it comes to a startup, the risk is high that we may not get the publicity we need. But even though we may not have much of the game to show people at the moment, it’s important for us to still get the word out and to share our ideas. As Robert DellaFave says in his blog post, “Marketing Your Indie Game: The Single Most Important Thing That No One Knows How to Do,” you must:

“Begin your marketing campaign the moment you have something that illustrates the fundamental mechanics and look of your game.”

Creating hype as soon as possible is vital to the survival of the game. Even if you don’t have a workable game right then. I’ve been posting to Facebook and Twitter updates and screenshots of the game, and I’ve also created quite a few interview videos about the team and  uploaded them to YouTube. Showing the public our game in progress presents some humility to the audience– because most of our work isn’t flawless or complete the first time around. Slowly, a small following has developed as we get better and faster at creating parts for the game.

Last week, I put together a press kit— a small file that includes a press release, some screenshots and video, and the most up-to-date company info (game description, company bio, our goals, etc.). It’s a light folder, Screenshot 2015-07-02 11.06.13yes, but I believe it’s a start. When the press is ready to write about us, this folder is able to be downloaded from our website. This kit makes it easy for others to write up a story about us and use our own pictures and logo. And making life easier for reporters, bloggers, and journalists can be beneficial for your company.

We also started talking about our audience for Guardian and who truly will play and support our game. From a marketing standpoint, a target audience should be defined by asking who will be our main followers and who will ultimately purchase this game.

This is important to figure out because no company wants to waste resources or time on marketing avenues that won’t be fruitful. My initial conclusion was that males in their 20s to early 40s would enjoy our video game the most, but upon mentioning this in our Twitch stream last week, a viewer told us that his company was well over 50 years of age, and they all played video games still. The statement stuck with me. Was my estimated target audience offensive to those outside of it? Was I making a mistake in being too specific?

Of course, Reactuate Games is creating a game for all individuals to play and hopefully get addicted to, with no strict gender-based or age-based influences placed on the design or intended game play. But, at the same time, I need to know who our supporters will be and direct my attention towards them.

Marketing is a constant job that may not result in immediate satisfaction; I’ve learned this. I’ve also realized a devoted fanbase will take time to accrue, so I’m here for the long-run, trying to get the word out wherever and however I can.

 

How are you marketing your game? What’s worked and what hasn’t?

“Heigh-Ho! A lot of Work to Go!”- Engineering Log 1

Begin Engineering Log 1…

Take a moment to get the song out of your head. I’ll wait.


Now then, before continuing, picture this: You are starting a voyage on the open seas, and you must guide the ship without modern technology. Now imagine that your charts and maps you use to navigate are drastically outdated, or even entirely useless.

So what does that have anything to do with our company and game? We are venturing into uncharted waters, creating a game that is not like anything else, and my job as Code Artist is to bring elements the others create and combine them into a working game. With these development blog posts, I invite you to follow along as I document our struggles, triumphs, and process we go through to make this game a reality. Our ship is guided from the Command Center,  but the heart of the game is maintained in Engineering.

mineralDeposit
Mineral Deposit and Miner Unit

Now then, let’s get on with the game talk. That is why you’re here after all. When work started at the beginning of June I had no references and only a vague idea of what kind of game we were going for. I knew certain elements needed to be in place and so worked on those. My job involves the actual programming of the game, but I actually do much more than that. In addition to the actual programming, I have been working with our two artists to bounce ideas around and integrate their creations into Unity
and the project. Those who have been following our Scrum meetings may recall the little snag we hit in week three and four when the organizational structure of the game came into question. For a mix of reasons including lack of references, new programming methods, and others, we had to rethink our approach. Thankfully, at the end of week four I found a wonderful tutorial that outlined a very basic structure for a Real Time Strategy (RTS) game, which our game pulls heavily from. Instead of combining and creating the more advanced sections of code from the beginning like we tried to do before, this new outline followed the same way the game would be played: the player would start with a building that created units and then later new units could create new buildings. There was just one tiny hurdle to overcome: the tutorial was written for Unity 4.1.

Since the structure was still sound I decided to adopt it as a rough outline for our game and integrate our systems with the structure, updating pieces when necessary. MinerVariablesNow, at the end of week five, we have working buildings, units, and resources. The next step is to have units create new buildings. I have two things to say to others in similar positions to my own: never underestimate good code and become able to adapt to less than ideal conditions. Even though the code example is from a much older version of unity, the underlying structure is still viable. Also, I have had to constantly adapt the code and my thought process in order to overcome the various challenges faced thus far.

This week I have been hard at work getting the resource collection code done, and I am proud to say that finally our mineral deposits can be harvested by the miner units made by our artist Katey Bluel and deposit them at the nearest holding facility. A while back, Katey made many of the different shards, and we collaborated on how they might be used in the environment. After creating the crystal cluster-like deposits, we moved them in game and got to work on the unit to mine them and the code to accomplish the task. Now, our miners are able to collect resources. This is just the first step, as much more work is to follow, including animations. Now that we can collect resources, the next step is to have units create buildings using those resources, but that is a topic for another day.

Keep a look out for future Engineering Logs! If you have any questions about the game and want  to learn more, keep checking out our website and follow us on social media and let us know!

End Log.

Read Engineering Blog 2 HERE.