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Proper time to announce your project: soon or late?

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Hi Im Mark St. Jean, lead programmer over at ShoeString Games. I have a few ideas and theories since ive kind of taken a leap into serious game development, most of them not only concern the game, but the company, the fans, and the future. Anyways here is one interesting topic ive been running through my head. When is it the proper time to announce your project to the world? Some would say start early and get your name out there and others would say wait till your almost ready for release. Let me break this down a little bit. - Release it early: In theory releasing a game into a development community early gives you a few benefits. If the community (for great example GameDev) got inside news about your project from an early point it not only allows for input along the way but it gives the community a feeling of being apart of your project, watching it grow from something small into a full working game. - Releasing it late: Most people will bash a project that shows unfinished work, claiming that they arent acting professional, jumping the gun, etc... It would seem somewhat safer to announce it prior to a release rather then months before. Also if you were to announce a project early people might get tired of seeing and hearing about what you have, taking out the excitement of the game, making not as enjoyable to play. Those are my two theorys. I believe its better to release it early, as I am more of a community person. Anyways anyone care to elaborate better on this? I love getting feedback from everyone here, its so insitefull.

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Personally i think its a really bad idea to announce it early.

People will be heavily dissapointed if you don't finish it, and not finishing a game happens more often than most people think.

If you want an example of why its bad to announce a game early just look at Half Life 2. The community was REALLY angry because Half Life 2 took so long to make. They announced a million times that it would be out by a certain time and then a few days before that day they would say the game isn't done yet.

This made people REALLY angry at Valve and some people going to big lengths to harass them and mock them.

If you wait till the game is practically done then you don't need to worry about missing release dates and other such things.

Somewhere there is an article on Raduprv's MMO and it gives a little insight on releasing early and announcing early.

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I'd say that it has more to do with the developers reputation and handling expectations. If you are a well enough known developer with a following of fans who are going to eagerly wait for your next game, and you know a project will not be canceled, announce early. That way you give your fans something to look forward to. Still, it would probably be good to wait to really announce your game to a populace that doesn;t know of you until later. If you happen to be iD software, and everyone knows you, then announce early.

On the other hand, if you have not proven yourself and gained a following, you will have to try much harder to get any sort of excitement about your game. An early announcement is more likely to not help with this, because it gives you less information to come out with when you really need to hype it up. The best approach in this situation would be to announce near release and have a large body of material (screenshots, summaries, movies) to get people excited. Since these people are new to you and you don't have a fan base, you have to release soon after the announcement or all momentum will be lost.

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intrest86: Valve is a well known developer and they caused quite a ruckuss when they announced the release of Half Life 2 like 6 times and failed to release it every 6 announcements.

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Quote:
Original post by SumDude
intrest86: Valve is a well known developer and they caused quite a ruckuss when they announced the release of Half Life 2 like 6 times and failed to release it every 6 announcements.

Then I guess the appropriate response is to only announce the truth. It was completely possible for them to announce the game without announcing a release date. n fact, to manage expectations they probably could have announced a late release date and then beat it. Its always good to be outwardly pessimistic about deadlines while being internally optimistic.

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Very insitefull everyone. I like all of the different point of views.

What I mean by announcing the project/game is announcing its existence. So far we have no release date set in stone, just a general time (end of summer). We would be announcing the different features of the game along with a tidbit of story, screenshots, possiable videos, and of course development news such as a game journal letting people knows whats being worked on, whats finished, and whats going to be implemented next. I like the idea of getting people involved yearly to build up a small fanbase, basicially getting the game out there so people know whats going on with us.

Also our project WILL be released. I know that doesent go far here on GameDev considering all of the false projects going around but I CAN guarintee it. Not only is our team dedicated but considering we are apart of EDI games we are a very credible team. Do you think EDI would take us in and not let us finish a project? We are an indie startup with a commercial game in development. We arent someone trying to make the next MMORPG or start deving for the PS3.

Also if you would like to take a quick glace at out project you can view a screen shot here:
First Screenshot

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Yes, releasing information about a game too early is not really good.
Releasing a very alpha demo is also bad.
We released info about Eternal Lands even before we had something playable. To make it worse, we released a downloadable client when all you could do was walk around and chat with people. Not only the game wasn't playable, but it had a lot of bugs and missing maps and so on. A lot of players thought the game sucks, because they assumed that we'll never finish it.
My new MMORPG, Barren Moon, will be released only when it's done. And, except for some posts here and some mentions in one of my articles, I didn't announce it yet publically. Our site is not even up (except for some semi secret forums).
We will have some press release when we'll have a playable version, with screenshots.

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Thank you all for your input. So far in my opinion I see the best in announcing the game early, atleast not early enough that you dont know what the game is, early enough so that people can watch it mold into its final version. Hopefully they just dont get tired of seeing the game so much. You can check out our announcement at the Your Announcements forums.

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