Wednesday, February 6, 2013

How we failed - No one cares about our game

While you can find a lot of indies success story on the internet, it's harder to find failure.
Because I think there's more to learn from failure I will share with you how we failed to "sell" an indie game as a voluntary team.
Sure everything isn't so dark : we succeed to deliver a full and nice game.

(I won't speak much about the game, if you want more information feel free to visit the greenlight page, you will learn more about this amazing mix between Bomberman and Powerstone.)

That's really not common for an unpaid team to finish a game.
Sure some members like me have professional experience but it still was a day to day fight : it's really hard to work hours right after your daily job is done.
Doing it for 3 years for me and about 5 for some artists and never give up was an achievement even if we were all exhausted by the experience....

During the development we shared our work on some french forums, people seemed to be interested by our game, our work and we even were congratulated a lot.
We enter the Dream Build Play contest and we were finalist : we thought everyone will now speak about our game and actually only one private french channel noticed us : Nolife .
It brought few people to our greenlight page : not so bad but not really effective...

During September 2012, we launched a 100 people limited beta.
It was a disaster, we got only 50 people in one month and not a lot of feedback.
We thought we got so few people because you had to subscribe to a forum to download the beta.
So in November 2012 we decided to go Open Beta : nothing changed.
We needed some advertisement so I tried to contact every video game based website : indies or not ; I sent a lot of emails , trying to find personal email of specialized indie journalist like Cassandra Khaw : I got for about 30 emails/forms 0 answer.

Because of these hardship our team got a 2-3 months break ( sort of nervous breakdown ).
Now we are ready to begin a whole new project but we will try to avoid the mistakes we did :

- No international communication : now we will share with the world how our project is growing  and not only with a few unknown french game development forum.

- No social interaction : no one in our team used the new media, we'll tweet a lot now because it sounds like the place where everyone's attention is.

- Homemade engine : We made the whole engine and tools (XNA's based), it took us about 2 years before we really started the game itself, that's really too much for an unpaid project.
Furthermore I never got the time to deal with some network headaches : to host a game the player has to open his UDP port : that's totally unacceptable these days...
Our next games will be done with Unity : it's easy, effective and has a great community !

- No solo gameplay : you have to find 3 opponents to have fun ; for a new game created by unknown people it's really too much : our server is empty so people won't come :  it's a vicious circle.
We urgently added bots and made a video for this patch, but bots are only great to discover the game, not to have fun with.

- Gamepad only : our game is barely playable with keyboard only ; not a lot of people use a gamepad on their computer

- Unfinished menus : we kept online menu for the end of the development and because there's no player we were not motivated to finalize them ; and those menus could have scared a lot of players....

Hope this postmortem was interesting for you ; If you have any question I'm here ;)

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