Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Utah Indie Night, March 2013

Posted by Rampant Coyote on March 20, 2013

Tonight’s Utah Indie Night was pretty awesome, in spite of… well, me not really playing any games.

First off, Adam Ames of True PC Gaming spoke to us about dealing with “the other side.” His side. The press. He’s been doing this for about twelve years, at several different websites and now as editor-in-chief of True PC Gaming for the last two, and while he couldn’t speak for all game journalists and gaming website / magazine editors, he had twenty-five minutes of pretty dense, valuable information for both new and veteran indies.

I took copious notes, but I am not sure if he’s going to be offering the presentation himself online or not, so I’ll just summarize. Here were a few of his major points:

#1 – Be professional in your communications. This means make it concise, use proper grammar and spelling, and treat it as a professional business. If you don’t take it seriously, and write like you are just some kid making games in his parents’ basement, they won’t take you seriously. He says he honestly tries to read every email that he’s sent, but he gets a TON of email, and a ton of press releases, and if one is just too painful to read… he might not.

#2 – Be enthusiastic. This is marketing. You need to market to whomever is reading your press release, which means you need to get them emotionally invested and ready to commit to action in that one or two minutes you have their attention. This means you need to be confident and enthusiastic about the product, tell a good story, include screenshots (you’d be surprised by the number of indies who fail to do this!), include a link to a demo AND, if possible, a link to a review copy IN THE EMAIL. If they need to send another email to you and lose a day in communication waiting for a response for more info, things may get forgotten.

#3 – Don’t be intimidated. It doesn’t matter how big they are, or how many hits their websites get, or how famous they are in the gaming circles – nor does it matter how insignificant you, the indie developer, are. After all, you actually make games… all they can do is talk about other people’s games. That’s really cool. But we all put our pants on one leg at a time (except for those of us who wear kilts or skirts, I guess…). Be respectful, and expect the same treatment.

#4 – Be confident and persistent. Nobody can prevent you from being a success but yourself. People will mock you, people will tell you that you can’t do it, and that’s just the nature of the business and the Internet. But ultimately, tell yourself – why CAN’T you make the next Minecraft? Why can’t the next big indie success story be yours? Keep at it, and don’t listen to the naysayers. Failures may happen, but they are never permanent unless you quit.

Okay, after that, we broke off to play games. Well, in theory.

I did see the recently-released (on iPhone, which I don’t have) Bullet Train Hell. What’s funny is I thought this game was release-worthy months ago. I’m kinda surprised it’s only now been released. But seriously – it’s polished and awesome. If you have an iPhone, pick this one up. It’ll be out for the Ouya soon, and I am snagging it as a day one purchase. And I’m not even much of a puzzle-platform game kinda guy. But besides it being a local indie’s game, it’s really fun, clever, cool, polished, and challenging.

Another really awesome-looking game was not a video game at all – but a collectable-card-game merged with a tactical war game. Entitled War Command, it started life as a playable paper prototype for a CCG-style game for handhelds and other platforms. But after some success at a local board game convention, they’ve been convinced to make it a physical product as well.

This is cool. I hope it succeeds.

By request, I also showed Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon at the tail end of the night.

I missed most of the other games. I will call my excuse “networking.” Yeah. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I talked with a lot of people. And I left energized.

One thing about the smartphone / tablet revolution and the changing face of indie gaming is that it is turning out a lot of veterans of the indie gaming scene in a hurry. My games are too big, and I move too slow, to keep up on what’s going in this business. I’m finding that the opportunity to talk with others helps me keep a finger on the pulse of things. I love chatting with other indies, finding out what they are doing, what tools they are using, what experiences they are having making and releasing their games, and so on.

I’m really glad we get to do this.

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