In episode 5 of the Say Something Smart podcast, Stephanie and Angel interview Craig Fryar, head of Global Business Intelligence at Wargaming.net. The three talk about Star Wars Land, how data influences game design, and why despair is needed gaming.
Star Wars Land: 0:40
Data analytics in Gaming: 4:06
Surprising gamers: 6:20
Analyzing millions of players: 8:50
Suffering, enjoyment, and despair in gaming: 10:07
In our eleventh week at Reactuate Games, we decided to play Tales from the Borderlands, a Telltale game that stems from the Borderlands series. Vault keys, bandits, and lots of one-click punches = the new generation of choose-your-adventures.
I was handed the task of maneuvering through the game, and though there was relatively little game play, I still managed to die … twice.
Watch the video here:
Interactive movie. If you’ve ever watched a film and thought, “It would have been better if …,” then these games may be for you. The cinematography smoothly runs like a movie, and it personally gave me a little thrill to be director of such a beautiful project.
Plugs into the universe. Everything, from the references to the sketch lines, is reminiscent of the original game. The tone and wit from the series transfers over into this Telltale game, too, so for those wanting more of their favorite game world, you can get that here.
Time limit. As the story chugs along, every once in a while, the player will be given a decision. “Say thank you,” or “Say screw you,” or “Ask about the promotion.” It’s fun to choose, but a time limit prohibits the player from making an analyzed choice. Perhaps this is for technical reasons or maybe just because developers didn’t want us to overthink things … either way, it’s a pain. Sometimes I didn’t even have time to read the options, so I just clicked one.
Too much instruction. I suck at games. I know. But I’d like to get a little more credit than this game gave me. Tales from the Borderlands displays the buttons to use in order to dodge left or right when someone is attacking and shows you exactly where to hit the bandit so as to win the fight. There’s little room for experimenting or figuring it out on your own. Which makes me feel a little patronized…
Doesn’t explain game references. I had no clue what a vault key was. Yet I was searching for one most of the game. It was my fault to play a game from a series I really knew nothing about, but not even subtle discussion occurred in the game to hint at why I really wanted a vault key.
Austin made a good point after our gameplay — will hardcore Borderlands players even transfer over to the Telltales version? The games are radically different, one being more story-oriented and the other being a “role-playing shooter.” Some would even go as far to say that this is not a “gamer’s game.”
But maybe that’s the point?
To bring others (like me) who are not as into shoot ’em ups into a brand/universe. To share with me a world that I otherwise would not have really been interested in.
What do you think? Do Telltale games count as games?
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
– Wm. Shakespeare
Shakespeare always applies. Even in game development.
I spun in my chair for what seemed like an hour as we processed the possibilities. The team and I sat in the office, mumbling words from the tops of our heads, some making good sense and others making us question our sleep depravity.
The new name of our project needs to be chosen. Time is running out, and our codename Guardian no longer fully represents our game design.
We’ve been told that the name will find us. A serendipitous lightbulb will go off, and immediately we will all know that that was meant to be our game’s name.
Others suggested we drink till something comes up — a name preferably.
While we waited on a name to emerge, plenty of other things happened last week:
Ron and I met with the owner of Abilene’s The Gathering Place, a hangout for those who love games, especially those who enjoy card games like Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh! . Though our audiences may vary slightly, we learned a lot from the meeting, and it’s always nice to see others who are passionate about gaming. We hope to attend the West Texas Table Top Con in San Angelo this weekend and spread the word about Reactuate Games and maybe make some friends in the process.
The Say Something Smart podcast recorded another episode, this time featuring co-founder of Nectar Game Studios, Rob Buchheit. We discussed such topics as their new game Project Resurgence, unrealistic females in video games to having “too much rhythm” for DDR. Episode 2 goes on Aug. 13th, but you can catch up on the series on our blog post, YouTube, or iTunes.
I also wrote a script and storyboarded a “happy” teaser trailer for Guardian. Reminiscent of the “Pure Michigan” commercials, this short video focuses on the touristy feel of the game. Within the next two weeks, this trailer will be released and showcase RG’s animation debut.
Ron also worked on a storyboard for the “scary” teaser trailer. This video will consist of the problems that may occur in the game. We’re hoping to release this video a week after the “happy” one.
Our fearless leader is now moonlighting as a YouTube personality– sorta. His new vlog series focuses on leadership in a video game company. The first episode, entitled “What Does It Mean to Be Boss?”, is on YouTube and here.
The Kickstarter goals and rewards have been sketched out by Ron, too. Though RG’s main monetary goal has been cut, we still want to give our backers great rewards, so we all added our two cents in to what our supporters should get, and Ron created the final-ish list.
Our talented digital artist, Katey, has been hard at work on many different tasks. The Colony Cam, for instance, has come to fruition, with a rounded, futuristic appeal.
Katey also practiced rigging on her monkey, who’s been with us since day one. Now, the monkey can dance, bounce, shake, twist … everything but twerk! It’s a big accomplishment, as Katey had to watch a lot of training videos and spend a lot of time getting things into motion.
Now Katey is in the process of rigging the fearsome Swarmbeast, a monstrous alien that threatens the colonists. This creature will be featured in our trailers for the first time.
Austin focused on getting the UI elements in place and having them work properly when clicked on, including pop-ups popping up at the right time.
He also managed to get the colony cam system working, which is a huge feat for Guardian. Now, the colony cam is part of the UI, and players can see what is going on in their game at ground level. This interactive feature will hopefully appeal to players, who can now build their colony, watch it transform in real time from a colonist’s perspective, and share their world with their friends.
After all of this, we still don’t have a game name, but we know that our game will be awesome despite the title choose.
In this first episode of the series, Angel and Stephanie interview the Creative Mastermind of Reactuate Games, Ron Davis. We discuss the future of drug testing in professional gaming, how other mediums influenced Reactuate’s strategy-based game, Guardian, and the real definition of “gamer.”
As Reactuate Games gains more support and Guardian comes into focus, we have begun to notice the details that were once not a big deal — the things we said we’d get back to at a later date or work on once we get the bigger priorities complete. We did a lot of this fine-tuning last week.
We largely focused on a new podcast project we’re starting. Angel Rodriguez (find more about him here) and I will be co-hosting the series and discussing anything from video game development to how society can benefit from playing these kinds of games.
I worked with Ron, who has past success with multiple podcasts, to reconstruct a lot of his ideas. We sketched out our theme, some question topics, and the outline for the episodes. The title is something we’re still wrestling with, however. We’ll be recording some of those episodes this week, so be on the lookout for those soon.
Ron also contacted a music tech who will create our company’s sound– meaning, he’ll produce music that embodies what RG is about. This music could potentially be on podcasts, trailers, and other videos that we create. Eventually, our music man will make a theme for our game. But first things first.
Over the course of last week, Katey concentrated on fixing and revamping some of her older work. Our digital artist added more realistic lightning to the colony portal, shrunk the warehouse to be a more appropriate size, and recreated a power plant with an interesting design.
While still coding the game into existence, Austin also managed to take on some art duties by putting together a thumbnail for our YouTube videos. Though this seems like a simple task, it’s important to incorporate the right amount of details and simplicity for YouTube audiences scrolling through clips. He also wrote up a programming blog post and continued testing UI elements.
Besides working on the podcast, I uploaded a new video to YouTube, entitled “Why We’re Not Free to Play.” It’s an interesting talk on why we’ve chosen not to go with the trend of F2P. Watch that below or check it out on our YouTube channel.
I also created an email subscription survey, completed some courses in YouTube Creator Academy, and wrote up a document on our target audience avatar. These tasks are fleshed out a bit more in my marketing blog post.
To end the week, we invited Angel over for some shawarma in our office. And it kind of felt like this …
Marketing is in full-force here at Reactuate Games. With a little over a month until Kickstarter, the team has had idea-fever (it’s a thing), and our marketing to-do list is growing.
One idea that we’re extremely excited about is our new podcast series. Since our first weeks at RG, we’ve aspired to produce a gaming podcast, but we felt too much time would be taken away from other, more important projects. At this stage in our journey, however, it’s vital to collaborate with other gaming-industry influencers, build our community of supporters, and spread the word about our game.
With the movie Pixels coming out this Friday, I saw the debut as an opportunity to introduce our company to those who enjoy or enjoyed gaming in Abilene. This Adam Sandlerfilm is about aliens misconstruing feeds of classic video games as threatening, so the extraterrestrials send arcade-faves, like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, to destroy earth.
Epic. Just epic.
I’m planning to see the movie this weekend, so while I’m out I’ll pass out flyers about our game, hopefully letting a few interested strangers know that a video game company exists right here in town. Fingers are crossed on this one!
Another project we’re working on is an incentivized survey for our email subscribers. Sharing by word of mouth is still a crucial part of marketing, so we’re offering subscribers to choose what we do next here at RG, and we’ll do it … once we get a certain number of subscribers. This will encourage others to share the website and our work. Some of the choices include me writing a flash fiction piece involving the colonists and streaming a special Youtube video for the subscribers.
I’m always trying to learn more about my job. Therefore, I’ve been going through YouTube Creator Academy, a helpful video series that teaches the fundamentals of sustaining and popularizing a YouTube channel. Tips on titles, thumbnails, and talking to your audience are all included. For those wanting to grow an audience on this site should look over these short clips and take notes.
I’m also reading Made to Stick, a marketing book that specializes in getting people’s core ideas to stick with the public. Using the acronym SUCCESs, the authors breakdown the techniques to having good concepts being remembered. Simplicity, Unexpectedness, and Concreteness are just a few of the strategies to consider. This book can actually work for many professions and not simply marketing (teachers, I’m looking at you).
Finally, Ron and I spent a little time (like two hours) writing up our target audience avatar, Caleb. This imaginary man is a representative of the people we believe will buy and enjoy our game. It’s crucial to understand Caleb as we market our game and company. We’ll share an in-depth post on Caleb later.
Are you marketing a game now? What ideas have seemed to help? Let us know in the comments below!
Over the past month, I’ve contacted numerous Abilene reporters and news anchors about Guardian and the company. Unfortunately, I’ve received little interest back. Feeling defeated, I wondered why our own city didn’t want to cover us. Were abandoned kittens being mothered by a terrier that much more newsworthy than Reactuate Games?
For a brief time, I decided to take a break from the rejection and work on things that did get noticed, like our YouTube videos or blog posts. These marketing strategies were at least being viewed and retweeted in the Twittersphere. Except for one of my blog posts getting put on a website, I wasn’t getting anything from the press, and I wondered if perhaps I was trying too hard. Maybe I was becoming a pusher rather than a promoter and annoying all of our followers and friends on our social media pages by my constant plugging.
“You can’t overhype a game; you can only underdeliver.”
If you focus on creating a really interesting and fun game, then you shouldn’t have to worry that you talked-up your game in the first place. And if you believe in what you’re creating, let the gamers of the world know!
So we’re excited about marketing again, and plan to do it whenever and wherever.
1. We have joined Abilene’s Chamber of Commerce, a collection of local businesses that get together and network and support one another. Hopefully we’ll meet other Abilenians who are interested in what we are doing.
2. We’ve also made flyers that we hand out at local universities. One school has a Digital Entertainment Technology program that turned out to be a great place to discuss our company with potential future game devs. We also plan to leave these flyers at video game stores and gaming hangouts around town.
3. Just today we booked an interview with our local TV station’s community-oriented series called 4U. Later this month, Ron will talk about RG and Guardian so that others in the area can support the first video game company in the city.
Eventually, our marketing scope will be larger. Our end goal is to have a fan base that stretches across the globe, but it’s important to start with a foundation and grow from there.
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?
“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, yes, 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?
Creating New Worlds
You're Almost There
Fill out the form below and we'll send you your copy of our first game design document in seconds. We'll also keep you up to date with what's going on with Reactuate Games.
This information will never be shared with third parties.