Amer Jongleur

I'm starting as an indie ! Any advices ?

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Hi everyone !

Starting this month, i will be working my personal projects for a year at least. My goal is to release a game and an album before this deadline.

I am :

- A former game designer by degree (3 years)
- Half a programer (i did only 2/4 years)
- Semi self-taught graphist (during my formation as a game designer and afterward)
- Basic 2D animator (i took drawing and 2d animation evening classes)
- Self-taught music composer/producer (my soundcloud ==> but i didn't post for a while now)

My game is already advanced because i've been working on it now and then for a year already, but it's far from over. It's a small scale game, 1 room, 1 character, maybe less than two hours long, don't think i'll sell it for more than 2 euros.

I use :

- Unity as game engine
- Adobe illustrator/photoshop for the graphics
- Spriter pro for the animations
- Ableton live for the music

I'm looking for every advice i can get from you guys. I'm learning and discovering a lot of things by myself everyday but feel free to share your experience with me and talk about how you started working on your own projects and how it ended up. I'm actually kinda confident for the game itself. My biggest fear is communication. I'm really not a natural to the process and i'm not confident in getting my game noticed once it's done. I'm really looking forward advices on this matter. I'm from France and i think i can send demos and screens to the locals streamers and journalists but i don't know how to not make it a complete flop on steam.

I posted a similar topic on reddit and i've been adviced to start communication right now, to build a community up before the release of the game, which make sense. But how should i properly do that since i don't have much more than a concept and some screenshots/arts to show the world.
Should i get to people like "i have this game about this theme with those artworks, share it if you find it intresting" ? Seems a bit thin to me but i might be wrong. Tell me what you think !

Thanks in advance and have a nice day !


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What is a "graphist"?  An artist?

On 9/5/2017 at 0:23 AM, Amer Jongleur said:

But how should i properly do that since i don't have much more than a concept and some screenshots/arts to show the world.

You can advertise at literally any stage in development as long as your methods are in line with how much you have to show.  Don't hype it up and then only show a concept and a sketch of a map.  If you have very little to show, a simple blog post is appropriate.  Once you have more, you can advertise it more aggressively.  If you want to advertise it across several forums and sites, at the very minimum you must have something playable on your side.  That doesn't mean you have to let people play, it means that you have a working prototype or game from which you can take enough screenshots to warrant people's time.

I would generally say common sense should guide you.  Don't pester people unless it is worth their time.  That means that at this time, with what you have, it is definitely not okay to pester people with requests to "share if you find it interesting."

L. Spiro

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On 08/09/2017 at 11:16 PM, L. Spiro said:

What is a "graphist"?  An artist?

Yeah ! It's just that i lack of technical skills that are usually required from a real artist, because it wasn't my job in the first place. I'm just good at making clever use of simple visual techniques and arrangements like the cover art of Justice - Cross.
That's why i don't use the word artist, i just do clever tricks and try my best to avoid my flaws when it comes to graphic design.

Thanks for the advice. I started a tweeter account in that purpose. I'm only sharing my progression in the visual parts at the moment, since it's the more remarkable for now. I just let people who are intrigued by what they see follow the progression. But my intentions are definitely not to do any kind of forcing right now, since i don't have enough tangible content to share.
But i hope this step will come soon enough.

Thanks again and have a nice day.

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You might want to wait until you have a better idea of what your game will be, and have something to show, before starting to think about a "community" and all that.  When you're just starting out, you have a ton of things to think about and to do.  Focus on those things and set some milestones, then see if you're meeting those.  Are you still working on this a month from now?  Six months from now?  Is your game idea coming into focus the more you work on it, or falling apart?  Trying to get people interested in your project before you even have a project is just going to be a waste of your time, and will probably also bring you a lot of aggravation.

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I understand that and it's mainly the reason why i didn't go out of my cave earlier. I've actually been working on this project as a hobby for a year already and it went through different conceptual approaches. It was evolving too much, too quickly, was too unstable to be talked about properly since it wasn't that concrete or solid during that period.
But now it's starting to come together nicely from a game design perspective. I hope that in a month, the design will be settle (it kinda is now, but there are still small areas of shadows/not-fully-working mechanics in micro design parts).

I even considered waiting longer before starting talking about it (like waiting to have advanced/final props to show and all) but i've been adviced not too since i now know what the game is going to be at this point.
That's why i thought it was the time to start promoting it.

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Insightful article. I've been through a lot of the things you point out.

Three years of disappointing student projects, and my final year project being a total failure due mainly to lack of team motivation, cohesion and organization led me to the idea of not relying on the others that much from a developpement perspective.
Even in a semi-pressured context such as school (diploma, start of career...) , people weren't that involved after all. So let's not even talk about my attempts at internet indie projects...
Industry kinda disappointed me also for its lack of creativity, risk-taking and ability to get me excited/fulfilled overall.

Those are the reasons why i put myself out of the "idea guy" zone and decided to fight on all front in this indie project.
A lot of the things you said to be really careful about i had naturally in mind, from the small scope to the planning.
It's really small, maybe less than an hour long, one character, one room, 2D, price would be less than 5€ for sure. Final game design is due to the end of october and a quick demo for christmas. Content and polish until summer 2018, expected release.
I'm 90% confident that the final game will be interesting and wil stand out among the rest. A bit less for its acutal making, since i'm discovering a lot of concepts at once and i will surely make mistakes (atmosphere, juicyness, visual harmony, lightings and animation mainly).

My worst fear really is communication, marketing and sells. I'm now also 90% confident my game will be missed and forgotten when it's released and that i will sell about 10 copies. I obviously want to decrease that percentage as much as possible.
I'm naturally the opposite of an entrepreneur, i'm naturally bad at involving other people in my projects and i'm naturally bad at communication. But school projects and relationships made me improve on those two last points so it's really not definitive, it just need work and effort on my part.
I kinda have a strong ego that regularly puts in my mind ideas like : "I don't have to communicate or promote because i'm a genius and it's up to the people to follow my actions because everything i do is awesome and they are the ones who will benefit from being in the wake of my awesome character".
I'm aware this is toxic and counter-productive thinking unless you're Kanye West, so i try my best fighting it. But it still results in me not having any good ideas in the domain most of the time.
i started a tweeter where i share work and progression and i can think about people, journalists and streamers to send my demo to when it's ready to get them hyped but beside that (and if i get ignored or don't get the interest of those people), i literally have no idea on how to get my game noticed.

I already read articles only saying that you should quickly promote and build a community  without discussing how to actually do it...

I have no marketing budget whatsoever, just time. I don't know jack about communication beside creating pages and accounts on social medias. I tried spamming methods with my music but i don't like it very much and usually get ignored. I like the concept of thunderclap and plan to use it. And i think that wraps up my communication abilities.

So if you have any article, link, or advice on this matter,  it would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks a lot.

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I wrote an article about ideas guys back in May this year from my own frustrations with dealing with those types of individuals. You have to clear out any dead weight sometimes because most view game development as "I will set back and give my input and that should be good enough" but they will never go through the trenches themselves when it comes to game development. As for marketing well all you can do is possibly go viral but there isn't a simple answer out there to get your game noticed. Just throw them up on forums, YouTube, social media and get feedback.

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Even if i kinda saw things this way before jumping into my game designer formation, i've never had the possibility to be just an idea guy myself. Since the first school project, there was way too much to do to stick to ideas or even documents. I've always had to do other stuff in order to get things done in time, from scripting to 3D modeling. That's partially how i've ended being able to do a bit of everything after five years in school. But i saw a lot of them in group projects, the only presence they have is in brainstorming. Even if sometimes, some have actual very good ideas, they are useless in production or rush period, which is a huge problem ^^

For the marketing, i've been reading a lot of articles and will continue to do so, i have a better idea of what to do now. I'll keep communication up until i have enough content to make a trailer, then i'll start sending to journalists, bloggers... 
Then i'll see what happens :)

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