10 Things Learnt Running Prehysteria – Part 2

6. Marketing is a bitch
The Internet has opened up an incredible channel to market your game, but there is so much “interference” out there getting knowledge of your game’s existence to your target market is an art form in itself. Take part in forums. Find game sites that will publish your link. Advertise where you can. If you have a marketing budget, use it wisely. There are many shifty sites that offer marketing services that mean squat. Ultimately word of mouth is your best method of advertising. This relies largely on the hype of your game and the enthusiasm of your community.

7. Technology versus Story/Theme
What’s more important, technology or story/theme? The short answer is “yes”. Technology enables or imposes limits on your game, but story/theme defines it. Such is the nature of game design. You can spend all your time perfecting the technology. Creating a supersonic graphics engine and a mind-blowing user interface, but at the end of the day all you have is the “plumbing” of the game. It’s the equivalent of installing Windows XP on a computer but failing to install any applications. It may look great and have all the potential, but without any software applications no work can ultimately get done. Technology is vital for game design. It is your foundation. It enables your game, controls the mechanics and defines your limitations. However, that’s all it is. You still need to create the actual game. A game engine is just that. You still need to build the world, make it interesting and give it flavour.

8. Innovate
Keep the game fresh and exciting. Listen to player feedback as to whether you’re on track or not. An enthusiastic player is your best ally. In fact, some of our best ideas have come from players. An enthusiastic player wants to see your game succeed as much as you do. That being said, examine all suggestions carefully. Weigh up the pros and cons, development time and priorities. Not all advice is good advice. For Prehysteria we had a Priorities Document. Each meeting we’d take all the feedback we’d received that week, make a decision if the suggestion should live or die. And then prioritise.

9. You are your target market
Never forget this. You are your target market. There is a reason you went into game design – because you love games. Similarly there is a reason you chose to design a particular genre of game. When it comes to decisions or new features, try and put yourself in the shoes of a player. Imagine what you would enjoy in a game like the one you’re designing. What features would you require? What characteristics would enthuse you and what would cause you to turn away? Remember that you’re creating this game because this is the type of game you love. And if a new idea inspires you, there’s a good chance your players will get excited too.

10. Stop farting in the wind
You’ve got a game idea, so just do it (sorry Nike). Too many game designers talk their games into oblivion. Until you have a product that people can play, you have squat. Nada. Nothing. Okay, reckon I’ve made my point. You can’t get everything right first time around. There will be bug fixes. There will be tweaks. There will be decisions made and routes taken that you end up having to backtrack on. It’s all a part of the process. You won’t get it all right first time, but if your players are enthusiastic and having fun, then you’ve achieved success. After all, a game is made to be played. Hope to see you all online… biting and nipping… so come visit us at: Prehysteria – the coolest game since the ice age thawed.

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