It's Been Done: Why we decided to blog
Updated: Jul 30, 2018
"Oh God, a blog? That's how we are doing outreach? Somebody call 2010 and make them take back all their viral marketing advice." -- Dakota Winslow, 2 weeks ago.
I imagine this was all far easier before the internet. People who wanted to design games would come up with ideas, build prototypes, submit them to Milton Bradley or Parker Brothers, and get rejected. The process was easy and could be concluded in less than a week. Quick and painless!
Today, the aspiring game developer is assaulted with a dizzying array of options on the road from concept to product, all of which are even more startling because they might even lead to the most terrifying possibility: commercial success. Of all the decisions made in this process, the greatest contributor to analysis paralysis may just be marketing and community outreach.
Should we advertise? Do we need to be posting on forums? Does a board game company with one half-built product really need a twitter and an Instagram? How much outreach is too much? Is there such a thing?
In the four months since Micheal, Tommy, and myself came together with an idea for a build-your-own fighter card game, countless hours (and tacos) have been devoted to the topic of marketing. We started off with a game review podcast, then a kickstarter review, then a kickstarter recommendation, then finally this -- the official blog of To the Death! Games & Pastimes.
We knew from the start what we needed to accomplish; as the ever helpful Jamey from Stonemaeir Games is always saying, the primary goal should be to provide a valuable service to the community. The problem, then, laid in the issue of what service, to what community, and at what personal cost.
Before we were game developers, we were game players. Collectively, we possess hundreds of game experiences across dozens of games, in every genre and category imaginable. Based on this experience, our first idea was to review games in a podcast, because it was something familiar that we usually did anyway when we played a game together. The issue with game reviews, however, is that everyone does game reviews, and they do far better than we could dream to. Hardly a valuable service for the community.
Next, we considered at kickstarter review. We would find small indie games and rate their kickstarter campaign based on a variety of factors. Our problem here was, what if a given campaign was bad? It would seem pretty pathetic for these three dudes, who have never funded a campaign, to tear a bunch of other people's hard work apart, then turn around and beg for funding a year later when their game launched. So, no campaign review.
Finally, we hit upon the idea of a "Behind the Scenes" show, where we would just share what we learned each week, and compare what we were doing to things done by other creators were doing or had done. This approach allowed us to shed the 'holier than thou' vibe that reviewing sometimes would acquire, while still allowing us to showcase work that we admired from other creators. The community value would come from the inherent value of a well documented journey from concept to kickstarter to printed product. Everything seemed perfect!
Except, that is, that behind the scenes tends to work best with films, TV shows, and other recorded media, where there are scenes to be behind. With a game development project, there are no actors to film between takes, no on-set pranks, and no crew to interview. The podcast was likely to simply become three guys talking about about what they did that week, which simply violates the golden rule of interesting media, show, don't tell.
This brings us to where we are today; instead of a podcast of people giving status reports, I decided to start this blog. Within, I will attempt to provide a helpful and interesting mixture of stories and advice as I detail our little company's journey down the road of product development. Each week, I hope to bring another story of an aspect of game making, as well as share the lessons we have learned therein.
I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I do writing it!