Twitter, meet Reddit

Have you ever wanted to promote your game on Reddit, but just couldn’t make it work? Did you post a nice personal development story and Reddit only hurt you for that? Did it crushed your fragile hopes and dreams that your KickStarter URL in /r/gaming could reach front page and skyrocket your project to the moon? Or maybe you just can’t get over the fear of millions of people judging you for not choosing the right type of post in the right subreddit?

Take my hand, #gamedev. I have zero experience in marketing as well as no idea what am I writing about, but I’m going to show your way to the magical place of opportunities, which is, but usually isn’t, Reddit. I hope that was enough of a disclaimer for you to realize that everything you’re going to read should be taken with a grain of salt.

How to post?

With such size and diversity of user base Reddit has there’s no magical formula to get your thread going up, there always will be a chance that a “self post” you took an hour to write be downvoted instantly, because someone browsing new posts didn’t like the certain word in the title. But anyone of us, who already tried sending out 50 emails to the press only to get a single automated response with information about payment options, should be used to disappointment. And it doesn’t hurt to try again… until you get banned (rare, but happens).

Okay, so let’s start this with some terminology. Reddit is divided in to hundreds of thousands of so called subreddits created and moderated by the users and oriented to sharing information about a specific or broader topic.

There are two types of content:

  • self posts (title and text)
  • link posts (title and link).

Depending on a subreddit, one of those types can be disabled or just generally not accepted as well as another.

After you post something, usually it won’t be visible in the front page of subreddit (unless it’s a small one), because it will need to get more of that magical upvote energy. Check the “NEW” tab to see how much (or little) love it is receiving and if you can’t see it there, wait a bit, check again and contact moderators asking if it didn’t get stuck in some spam filter (I can’t explain this, it just happens). Silently asking a couple of friends to give your post a bit of a healthy boost is kind of okay, but doing it openly by spamming Twitter might earn a removal or ban in that subreddit.

In the right top corner there’s a little letter symbol, keep an eye on it: if it lights up in orangered color – you got either a reply to your post or a message! Maybe it’s someone who loved your game, maybe it’s a mod explaining why your post got removed. Isn’t that exciting?

Subreddit subscriber count is a pretty important number. Generally, the more of them – the more attention you can get, since once your post have reached a certain position in a front page of subreddit,  subscribers will be able to see it in the front page of Reddit. And you most definitely want that to happen. But it would be too easy, right? Luck in larger subreddits are much more influenced by the crowd mentality and is generally harsher, as smaller communities tend to be friendlier and hungry for more content. Surely, with plenty of exceptions on both sides.

So, before you start blasting your download links everywhere, take a bit of time and explore the “TOP” tab to see what kind of content is well accepted and watch downvoted posts in “NEW” tab to learn from the mistakes of clueless users.

And always check the sidebar on the right for subreddit-specific rules. Maybe it says “no self promo”, but maybe there’s still a type of content accepted which you can post and, what a surprise, it is related to your game. Be careful how and where in the post you add a link if you are adding any. Sometimes it’s better to submit a screenshot or a GIF and wait for someone to ask “what kind of game is this from?”. Unfortunately, being honest about your intentions and excitement to share, is not the best approach as I found out the hard way. But I might be doing it all wrong.

One more thing… This might be completely false, but I think more casual username is accepted better, than a studio title with “dev” or “studio” part. To the extent same goes for Twitter, since people are friendlier towards other people, not studio or game accounts (that’s why I’m no longer calling myself RunPigRunGame).

Scary, right? Oh, you’ll be fine… Maybe.

What to post?

Now, I won’t go in to much detail here (edit: I lied),  but just to clear things up – you can post anything, if it’s in the right place.  And even in the wrong place, if your screenshot, gameplay GIF or trailer looks good and/or original enough it should gain some interest.

It’s a common saying that Reddit loves a good story, but then there are plenty of people, which are expecting quick visual fix, not a wall of text, from subreddits they subscribe. So, once again, know the audience before approaching it!

Of course, choosing a good title is also very important, but that’s a rocket science for me, so hopefully, you’re better at it. Check the subreddit sidebar to see if there are any requirements for tags you should add ([Windows], [Beta], [Screenshot], etc…). “Download my new game!” will not work, “Download game my girlfriend made” will work better and “My girlfriend made a game dedicated to our dead cat and promised me sexy times if this gets upvotes” will work perfectly.  But don’t do that.  Reddit is already tired of being emotionally exploited and you’re not that kind of the person, are you?

Jokes aside, if you’ve already found a right subreddit (see next section), have a fitting content, just adapt title to that. Make it easy to read and understand. Do not sound like a PR agent. Add a joke or a relaxed ring to it if audience is appropriate.

Blatant advertising and download/sale fishing will not work and, honestly, when and where did it? I see it this way – you’re in front of huge community, you want their attention, feedback and love, so you have to offer something.

Should be clear without saying, that being polite, friendly and responding to feedback can go a long way, so don’t just post something and be done with it. Your communication style and reaction to critique will definitely be watched closely.

If you’re posting a screenshot or gameplay GIF, use Imgur. I can’t stress this enough. Imgur was created by a redditor for Reddit and it is loved for that, speed and usability. Also, since the domain of link post URL is visible in the thread list, “imgur.com” notifies viewer that a pretty picture awaits his attention and going on a click frenzy with all visible Imgur links is a pretty common “redditing” technique. Using TinyPic will bring instant downvotes. Minus.com is okay.

I personally have thumbnails disabled, but many don’t, so keep in mind that linking to an image will add it next to the title. Make sure that a small version of your screen grab doesn’t look like a colorful mash potatoes.

Where to post?

So, the first thing to do after joining this horrifying place would be to join /r/gamedev subreddit. It does have pretty strict rules, but a lot of useful content and also weekly self-promotion targeted threads (FeedbackFriday, ScreenshotSaturday, SoundtrackSunday, MarketingMonday). Utilize them, post about your game, be annoyed that you get no comments, leave feedback for other games, finally get some feedback, yay!

Now, if you’re working on a bigger and interesting (well, of course) game and you have a story, experience, solution to a problem or home-made development tool to share – that might work in /r/gamedev. Also, success or failure  stories with some details are generally well accepted too. You can always message mods and ask approval or guidance, I think they would like that better than having to remove another ill-fitting post.

Other big place would be /r/indiegaming which, for some reason, is pretty dead despite having 50k subscribers. Maybe because they chose an invisible font for their thread titles. Anyway, it seems like a nice place to post almost anything and get zero attention. Although, some can still get lucky.

One post in /r/indiegaming was an amazing find -list of indie game related subreddits. Use it wisely if a game you’re making is similar to or inspired by one of them.

If you write a game development blog, submit your posts /r/DevBlogs for those couple of visits it could get from there. Doesn’t hurt.

Now, I could go and on and on about specific subreddits I have tried, but I’m getting a bit tired and I’m not sure if this post is going anywhere, so I’ll just add this crazy huge list of gaming related subreddits for you to explore and try luck in - http://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/wiki/faq . Grouped by type, sorted alphabetically, has subscriber counts – all what you need to find that perfect place you can post about The Game You’re Making.

For example, if you accidentally messed up gravity and recorded a hilariously glitchy gameplay – /r/GamePhysics might like it. Have a gorgeous, high quality screenshot of a landscape you just build? Go to /r/GamerPorn (it’s not what you might think it is).  Or if you ordered a sexy  underwear with your game logo, there’s a subreddit, where you can post pictures of yourself, if you’re in to that. You’ll find it in a list above.

And maybe one day, you’ll get enough mental strength to post in /r/gaming and who knows… Maybe that thread will be upvoted by thousands and seen by millions in the middle of all those gaming-related memes, nostalgia posts and gameplay GIFs from AAA games. I wish you that.

TL;DR: a bit of research, choosing right time and right approach, correct subreddit, fitting content, friendliness and spamlessness (it’s a word now). Try it.

Good luck!

Posted in marketing | 2 Comments

One Game a Month ideas

As a gamedev imagination exercise I tried to think of game ideas for One Game a Month  challenge themes. They’re not supposed to be original or ground-breaking and I haven’t checked if such games already exist, but it was a fun to force myself think of something beyond “running game”.

If you like any of them, feel free adapt and use for your own project! Just don’t forget to tweet me or post about it in the comments below. Do the same if you know an already submitted game based on these ideas. It would be very interesting to see and try it out!

Portcullis

A platformer with levels filled with Indiana Jones-esque traps and a closing gate at the end of it to crawl/roll/dash or slide through. Character speed increases by close-call dodging obstacles.

Rogue 

You play as a character with powers similar to Rogue of X-men to sneak up on unsuspecting enemies, touch them to absorb their powers and kill them with newly obtained abilities.

Spring

Physics game where you control a spring character to bounce objects around the screen. Keep smaller objects in air until you gain enough strength to absorb them and get points depending on the amount of bounces & object weight. Avoid getting crushed by the heavier ones!

Grow

Farmwille on steroids – fast paced arcade mini-game (best suitable for mobile), where you have a couple of plants and try to satisfy their needs by drag-n-dropping water, fertilizers, various tools or sunbeams and get a perfect produce, which you then drop to “shop” to sell and buy items to make your gardening easier. Organic produce grows slower, but has a higher price.

Metal & Sound

You’re an aspiring heavy metal player, who has to keep practicing his sweet electric guitar riffs, while pushing back angry grannies with waves of sound & dodging policemen trying to stop you from disturbing the peace.

Candy 

A mix of inverted tower defense & transport tycoon, where you look for safest and fastest routes from the ant farm to a candy. Avoid birds, deadly beams from magnifying glasses of some evil kids. Halt routes, when there’s a danger of people stepping on your workers. Fight enemy bugs or even other ant farms to get to the candy first. Mmm. Candy.

Change & Money

A zombie fighting game, where zombies are actually bums and you fight them back by  throwing coins either directly at them or further away as a distraction. Bonus mechanic could be running between AMT and hot-dog/newspaper stands to exchange money and replenish your ammo and health.

Frozen & Candy

You’re a primary school teacher running around and shutting the mouths of kids, who start singing “Let it go”, with a candy.

Kitten

You’re a kitten left alone at home. Use your destructive kitten powers to cause as much damage as possible until owners get back.

Respawn & Loops

An “Groundhog day” game, where you’re stuck in a single location and have to find a way to kill your character and cause a change in the next iteration to finally reach the grim end, where killing your character ends the loop and he doesn’t respawn anymore.

Secret

A “Pandemic”/ “Papers, please” spin-off, where you have to infect communities with false rumors by revealing them to NPCs chosen by their personality traits.

Neon & Sound

Your character is participating in a rave. Shake those glow sticks to a rhythm of some crazy German techno music! Use drugs to unlock more moves. Impress girls with short leather skirts and high-heel boots. Mmm… I need to play this in reality.

Water & Educational

A tycoon mini-game, where you own a pharmacy store specializing in homeopathic drugs. Buy medicine, dilute it & sell. Be responsible for the health complications/deaths of as many customers as possible.

I left “philosophy” & “hexagons” themes untouched, since they didn’t ring any interesting bells.

 

Posted in gamedev | Tagged , | Leave a comment

How to train your Bacon

As I was testing new, just out of the oven of Tiled, Crisp Bacon level, one pretty basic and, honestly, quite boring looking part of the map made me stop, think and count. So I stopped, thought about it and counted the different ways my piggly character can use actions, environment and power ups to get through that part. And since my main intention always was to put as much freedom in the linearity of 2D runner, the results made me quite happy about the existing (and not yet final!) set of mechanics.

Let’s do gifs, shall we?

Pig, you’re basic.

Crisp Bacon Double Jump Gif Crisp Bacon jump climb over

A pretty standard approach to a obstacle problem. As a pig, you either jump over it or you climb over it. Former method in this case required a serious jump-hold timings to achieve, but latter is the thing, which makes you lose leaderboard positions to your friends.

Unleashing inner powers

Crisp Power Up Below Crisp Bacon farts

This is where the things starts getting fun! Providing piglet has a “beer” or “pepper” in his “pockets”, you can use it to gently fart above or below an obstacle. The choice is for a player to make. I would personally go under, just to show off my flatulent skills for those annoying bees, which will surely start to chase our pink hero soon…

Oh, no – bees!

If you have already played Crisp Bacon, you already know how annoying they can be. Well, the question is.. to butt-stomp or not to butt-stomp. I’d say stomp.  Always stomp. It’s so much more fun than being chased after!

Double Bee Stomp Crisp Bacon Climb Down Bee Stomp

Ah, the simple joys of having a fart-hardened bottom! In the images above we can see a piglet not being very environmentally friendly (for his own good). A GIF in the right displays a use of an available action, which is guaranteed to force an uninstall from some new players, who are taping “jump” button mindlessly while climbing above the pits. While it is not clear in this particular part of level, jumping down might be useful in a situation where there are power up or an acorn on the wall and it’s either faster to regain speed while moving down or something you don’t particularly like awaits above.

Spider Pig, Spider Pig…

Spider Pig Spider Pig Bee and spider pig

It was pretty complicated to implement “spider pig” move, since Crisp Bacon got this power only in the last iteration and my code was already complicated enough, but it was one of the obvious joke ideas I had a long time ago and added a lot to the hilarity of the game as well as freedom to the gameplay. Once again, piggy on the left chooses bee-friendly route and piggy decides to eliminate at least one of the enemies, since he has plenty of bee-related issues already. Good timing on that “chili”, piggy on the right. Saved your pink bottom.

End of the lesson

There are even more ways to overcome this small part of the map by combining already described techniques, but I don’t want to spoil everything. I really hope this post displays at least a little bit distinction from Crisp Bacon and a “generic runner” or “Mario clone”.  It might not be most original game in the world, but cut me a little bit of slack.

And I would like to finish this post with a hilarious bug I found out while recording gameplay. Easily reproducible by “diving” and using “chili” mid air.

Crisp Bacon chili bug

I can’t even describe it.

Crisp Bacon For Android

Posted in gamedev | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Crisp Bacon translations

Hello and thank you for helping me out! Hopefully, you don’t mind that I’m using blog post for this, it’s easier to share this way and I really like writing in the new WordPress UI.

Send me your translation using whatever channel you prefer. Posting as a comment under this entry works too!

URL (if you need more info on the game): https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.snottyapps.pigrun

English title: Crisp Bacon: Run Pig Run

The tricky part. In my opinion, “running pig” or “run pig run” will do just fine here. If you feel like improvising – go for it. In Lithuanian translation I’ve used a cute words meaning “a little piece of bacon” and “run  snouty  run” (it’s a pretty rich language). 

English description:

An ultimate running game, where a little pink piglet called Crisp Bacon has to jump, crawl, climb and fart to complete the levels filled with bees, hedgehogs and various traps. Use hilarious gas-inducing powerups like (gas/fart based powers from) beer and chili pepper to gain speed and dodge obstacles and collect as many acorns you can to unlock more levels!

As short and simple as can be. Not sure if anything more is needed and I don’t want to bother you too much. Although, adding a line that in-game content (dialogs, tutorial) are in English would insure there will be less anger from those, who expect them to be translated too… 

English keywords:

Keywords: game, running, jumping, speed, pig, fart, beer, pepper

I’m very bad at keywords, so if you think there’s something that might suit the game and could be searched in your language – feel free to add it!

 

So that’s all. As I tried to say in a very condensed language of Twitter, if any of you need a English<->Lithuanian translation or feedback, testing, voting for your game – I’m your guy!

Posted in gamedev | 13 Comments

Crisp Bacon feedback overview

This weekend I’ve made a couple of posts in Reddit (/r/android & /r/androidgaming), which were pretty well accepted and, most important, got a lot of valuable feedback. I will now review a larger portion of it and present it in a form of to-do list.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am really happy that there were close to none complaints about the gameplay. It is possible that people are just being nice to appropriate the work more than a result, but for now lets keep that thought in a dark corner of my pessimistic mind.

In-game UI changes

  • switch red “X” button to something friendlier and better reflecting it’s behavior (“back”or “level list”)
  • add “Next level” button. This might be a bit tricky with all that “buy level for in-game currency” thing going on, but levels are cheap, acorns are plenty and their spending does not influence “Acornllionaires” leaderboard, so, hopefully, users won’t mind if I “buy” those levels without asking.
  • add “Pause” button. Not sure about positioning yet, maybe a little “||” icon near the timer would suffice.

Level select screen

  • Improve the way how dialogs are displayed. It was silly of me to add a semi transparent background over the existing UI making it still visible. Confusing. Maybe I should add a small “dialog” icon on a “play” button to indicate that dialog will be displayed before the start of gameplay.
  • Make green level items stand out more in green background. Another silly mistake.
  • Add a settings option to allow user start level after taping on the already selected level

Start-up screen

  • Make it look nice and pretty. Or, you know, leave it ugly to keep the expectations low. Maybe I should add a interstitial on launch to keep them even lower…
  • Small screenshot-like tutorial to display at first launch of the game. Some people just don’t expect double jump, apparently.

Performance

  • There’s something seriously wrong with HUD drawing, which causes 2-3ms increase in total drawing time. Investigate & destroy. Or add a simplified HUD option.
  • add an option to disable drawing of map decorations.

Bugs

  • Game crashes because of state conflicts in Google Play Game Services. Not sure how, but this needs to be resolved.
  • Dive action used at exact moment “pepper” powerup effect ends causes piglet to “crawl” in mid-air.
  • No one mentioned it, but I think bees really should “drop” piglet if they attack him in the climbing state. Just to bee more annoying.

Content

  • Create at least a couple of levels (with leaderboards)
  • Dialogs… Dialogs…
  • Create at least one new challenge
  • Add that sweet new soundtrack for hardcore difficulty (will make it optional, tho)

Social

  • Add a simple “share” button in the start screen
  • Add an option to share any item from the statistics screen

So, not trying to cheat myself that I’ll manage all of this today and setting up an elastic deadline for Friday.

If you have played the game and I forgot to add something, what we talked about or we did not talk about it yet, do post it either in the comments or Twitter.

 

Posted in gamedev | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

#gamedev

I was never good at first blog posts and even worse at the last ones. All the previous attempts to get some writing going suffered from the lack of my attention and slowly died, just like that hamster I had as a kid… Damn, why did I have to remember the hamster now?

Pet tragedies aside, I feel pretty confident that this time it all be different. I’ve already wasted enough of my life by starting and not finishing web projects, mobile applications and it took me 3 years to get Crisp Bacon close to completion. I’ll kick a corner of some furniture with my little finger or, even worse, voluntarily step on a Lego brick, if I lose it again.

And, thanks to #gamedev,  this time I don’t feel alone.

Last 3 months were pretty crazy… Those, who know my general opinion on “Flappy Bird” clones, might be surprised, but it was all that flappy craze with it’s 50k/day and overpriced iPhones on eBay, what kicked me in the ass, asked “Is there any reason why that couldn’t be your game?” and forced to open Eclipse again. And, may Spaghetti Monster be my witness, I rarely closed it during all that time, since it being closed answers rhetorical question above.

Last month was crazy too. The Most Important Crisp Bacon Update with brand new almost everything reached the Google Play and was greeted… not in a way I expected it to be. All nighters and a deadly amount of coffee created an illusion that, while I work hard as hell to make it happen, the all world is refreshing their browsers to check if there’s an update already. Well, apparently, world had enough of [running] games and you have to shove your creation, no matter how good, in it’s face to force it at least have a bite. Unfortunately, I can only shove things in to my own face. Macaroni with tuna, yum yum. 

This weekend was the craziest. Piggy got a “player hook” update with all that competitive jazz like leaderboards, achievements & statistics, so I can finally see them actually playing. Motivation++. Then, the most awesome Pete did a small interview with me (my interview virginity… all gone..), which made me feel like a little star. All those retweets! Motivation++.  Those increments were enough to gather all my courage and post in /r/android. I had created a thread there 2 years ago, so the idea was to do an update and hope to not be downvoted to hell. After 2 hours of it being stuck in a moderation queue and me furiously mashing “F5″ it appeared and slowly, but steady, crawled to the first page of the subreddit. As the crowd there is pretty picky, when it comes to their games, I got a lot of valuable feedback, ideas and enough work fixing&tweaking for a couple of weeks. Best thing? No complaints about gameplay. Icon of a button I can fix, but I couldn’t fix what I feel is the way it should be. Motivation ++.

So here I am. All full of hope that on April 14th, 2015 I will be here again, but writing a much different post.

*raises a cup of tea* 

Cheers, friends and thank you for all the support! Let’s continue to help each other and create something magical!

 

Posted in gamedev | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments