Paul Taylor of Mode 7 Games, creators of Determinance, wrote an article for Gamasutra called Building Buzz for Indie Games which I think ties in and expands upon Christopher M. Park’s advice for aspiring indies that I wrote about last week.
He starts by emphasizing marketing, quoting Tim O’Reilly’s message that obscurity is a bigger problem than so-called piracy.
Most marketing books and articles will tell you that marketing should start with product creation, that if you created a product before finding out if anyone wants it, you’re going to fail. Taylor and Jeff Tunnell will argue that the nature of the video game industry makes it harder to predict what people will want to play. Who would have thought that World of Goo would have been the success it is?
The bottom line for Taylor: if you are passionate about something, it will be easier to develop, but you’re going to need to find a way to get it in front of people. The more mainstream the product, the easier it is going to be, but the wackier it is, the more work you’ll need to put into marketing. And given that you’re an indie, you’re probably not trying to make something pedestrian or mainstream in the first place.
He talks about the importance of building your presence early on. All you have is simple concept art or a crazy programming demo? Post them up! SOMEONE is bound to care about them. Look at Dejobaan Games for an example. I remember seeing early videos of AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for Gravity before I even knew what it was. Wolfire Games has a development blog that constantly gets updates with technical details, concept art, videos, and general information about the business of making games. These two indies give their fans a place to rally for them.
Taylor wrote a four page article with marketing tips, taking you from concept announcement all the way through to post-release. Read the entire thing, and check out the links at the end of the article for more information.