Blog - Anatomy of a Morale Boost

Anatomy of A Morale Boost

What a great ride we had the past few days! Oh boy! It all started with me waking up, getting coffee, preparing to finally update some long overdue dev logs on TIGSource, the Unity 3D forums, PixelProspector, GameDev.net and so on. So I do that while slurping some of the coffee and hoping that maybe one or the other user likes our game concept enough to stay interested. We just finished a new mini preview trailer and concept art by our fabulous artist Krystian Ślusarz that we liked a lot. Thus we felt comfortable releasing some news.

I Tried Some PR 4 Months Ago

About 4 months ago, we prepared a lengthy concept and game idea introduction video (that’s a little outdated by now) and I sent a mail to IndieGames.com and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. But there’s always a lot of game news going on and my emails and follow-ups to them probably drowned in some inbox along other indie devs who also want their game to be featured. Who wouldn’t?

I realized that aiming for IndieGames.com and RPS was probably like going for the olympic gold medal. How stupid was that?! A few days ago I therefore wanted to change my strategy. I looked for smaller online magazines and wanted to work my way up. I hoped that if we got some attention there first, we could try and contact bigger and bigger online mags.

The Post That Got the Ball Rolling

But then, Simon of PixelProspector saw the dev log update I made and liked the new short video, the new concept art and our totally overhauled website. He wanted to feature us on PixelProspector, which he did here. That was an awesome feeling. All the work of the last months would get a little attention and motivate us to carry on.

And Then An Avalanche of Motivation Followed

Only a few hours later, IndieGames.com got interested in Son of Nor’s concept. Just a little later, I noticed another spike of visitors on our website and couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that Kotaku apparently published an article about Son of Nor, too. News about our first game also got to DIYGamer, the Japanese sites Nico Video, Game Spark, and Amaebi, gamemag (Russia), and Polygamia.pl (Poland). I took note of all the places we were featured and the editors’ names. I think it’s important knowing who wrote something about you.

We were extremely thrilled and very nervous already. All this sudden spotlight made our hands go cold. We watched as YouTube’s viewing stats for our video went to over 15’000 in one day after barely crawling to 500 the 2 weeks since release.

On day two we apparently sparked the interest of Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Our website’s visitor stats spiked again, also thanks to visitors from The Game Jar and Jayisgames that day. Luckily, all of the articles said that the game appeared to be in a very early stage of development. So at least this fact clearly came across!

It was a great and thrilling experience getting so much attention so quickly. It hit us like a bomb. Our internal communications platform ran hot as we looked at the video stats in disbelief. It was and still is a huge motivational boost for the whole team. There are comments of people expressing their hopes and people really want the game to better be good. There are many skeptical comments, too, that said right away that we would fail.

Reading People’s Comments

We read the comments below all the articles (at least the ones we could understand that were not in Japanese or Russian). Some of them were really enthusiastic.

I want this game to happen faster. It looks like amazing. – Arkanos (on RPS)

Others, of course, were the exact opposite. Some said:

Looks like crap. – AloneWeStand (on Kotaku)

All I can say about those types of comments is that they are RIGHT ;) The game IS in a very early stage of development. We just finished porting the game to Unity 3D, I did some sound work to get familiar with Unity, as did Julian on the code side of things. We’re busy putting together a team and finding a workflow that works for us. We haven’t tackled the graphical aspect of the game yet. We know it looks crappy. As a matter of fact, we started an internal project to define the game’s visual style about 2 weeks ago. So stay tuned!

Yep, looks pretty basic!

I honestly thought the negative comments would be way worse! People bashing and trashing us to the moon and back. But I’m happy they didn’t. At least not yet as most gamers understod that we’re in a very early stage. Nevertheless, even if we didn’t intend to do any kind of PR that day (remember, I just updated some dev logs), I think it was important and great that we got our game in front of so many people. This was the first step of a long PR quest. Because, as you know, PR is not fire once and forget thingy. It’s continuous hard work.

OK, what’s left? Well, wow! Great sites writing a first, cautious article about our game, people not bashing us to death in the comments. What more to ask for?

Our Favorite Comments

This is a great one:

I want to have sex with the concept of this game. – Arkanos (on RPS)

We liked this one very much, too:

The trailer was made with Imovie (Stock Transition Animation). Common guys, if it was even anything decent you’d at least make it in Final Cut Pro or something, this isn’t even trying. – Spookie Pie (on Kotaku)

Loool:

I want you to take my money and be quick about it :D – Ali Batuhan Duman (on IndieGames.com)

Statistics of This Coverage

Here are some interesting stats about the past week:

  • 1800 unique visitors on our website in the past week (up a gazillion percent).
  • 24’000 views of our mini preview video on YouTube (up 4800% from before the coverage)
  • 11 stillalive studios members rub their eyes in joy and disbelief (invaluable)
Some other interesting stats. We offer many links to our Facebook and Twitter profiles on our website. But getting people to subscribe, follow, like, is not that easy, apparently. At least this does not seem to work via press coverage. It’s the engagement with gamers that we hope will bring up these numbers.
  • 64 likes on Facevook (up 18% from 54 likes)
  • 19 followers on Twitter (up 18% from 16 followers)

Our Final, Closing Words

So, it was quite a ride the last few days: many happy faces and a lot of emotions, good comments, bad comments and hopes for a cool game.

We can’t guarantee that you personally will like the game. All I can say is that we will surely try hard to make this game awesome! We really, really care about this. This is our chance to contribute to the indie world and work hard to make our dream come true. Although it appears the game is in very early development, we already went through countless changes.

We don’t just follow everybody else and make it easy on ourselves, implementing proven GUIs and standard controls. Instead, we try to come up with new things and a new way of playing that works well for the concept we have in mind. Sure, spells exist in other games, magic exists, telekinesis is not new, spell combinations were invented before us and all that. And yet, we try to realize our personal and hopefully unique take in all of these areas.

Also, this is our first game of that magnitude. There is little experience of what works and what doesn’t. We have to learn through failure, there’s no other way. This is what we do: We realize new ideas, we make weekly test play sessions, we evaluate, we discuss, we change and adapt. How does this terraforming-system-thing work best? Does it feel like fun? If it doesn’t work, we change it and start over!

As I said, we can’t guarantee that you’ll like Son of Nor. But we can guarantee that we work hard on making this fun to play! That the controls work, that you feel like somebody controlling the elements. Our artists constantly challenge themselves. I think this is a solid and healthy foundation… if it doesn’t kill us, that is, rendering true all comments that talked about our failure. We will see. We hold on to our dream, we work hard on it. We’re happy about the coverage, we listen to your comments.

In the end, you at least can enjoy the ride. If it ends in a freaking cool game or in a disaster.

And now, back to work.