Jeff Hangartner – Revealing the Path Less Travelled in Video Game Industry

Jeff HangartnerJeff Hangartner, the founder of the gaming start-up, Bulletproof Outlaws has been a professional developer of games over the last half a decade. Creator of Pixelation, the 1st Pixel Art Forum and also originator of the Pixel tutorials which have been published in the form of a book. Jeff has always been a pioneer of the gaming industry.

CG Today is proud to present Jeff’s exploration as he shares the whole process of creating a start-up right from day 1. With the belief that gaming development is coming back to its original “one programmer in the basement roots” idea, Bulletproof Outlaws is chronicling every step of its start-up process from strategies, to marketing, setting goals and outsourcing, successes and failures. The aim is to help other developers who have ideas but are intimidated by the whole start-up process and are not sure how to go about it.

You can visit his website Bulletproof Outlaws to know more about him or send an email to get connected.

Show Your Appreciation

When you get Retweeted, you’ll see people’s Retweets in your Mentions column. I like to shoot a quick “Thanks to @bob @joe and @sarah for the RT!” after I get a few RTs. This is for two reasons: 1) I really do appreciate the RT, and by thanking them by their @names, they get their Twitter accounts mentioned to my Followers so it helps perpetuate a big cycle of everybody helping everybody get noticed. And 2) Other people see that I thank people who RT my Tweets, which makes them more inclined to RT my Tweets even if it’s just to get their Twitter feed mentioned.

Twitter is really a win/win situation for everyone involved on it.

Return The Favor

I’ll sometimes check out the profiles of people who RT or Follow me, just to see what people are up to and if I see someone Tweeting about their project and I think it’s neat, I’ll RT them out of the blue. This is another reason to be using #hashtags…I might not be Following you, but if you post something cool up and it pops up in my #gamedev column, I might end up Following you or simply RT your Tweet because I want to support you. I’ve picked up a handful of Followers just by RT’ing people’s stuff that I like. Often I’ll add a little comment to the start too, like “Love your art!” or “Great article!” just to show that I actually do like what they put out there, I’m not just spamming random stuff. If someone who’s project I dig gets a good review, I’ll RT that too, in hopes of helping them out.

The Golden Rule pretty much applies here: Treat others the way you’d like them to treat you!

Be A Little Picky

This one’s a toughy. You want to find a balance between RT’ing (sometimes crappy) stuff to help other people out or to be nice, and RT’ing quality stuff. If your Twitter feed is crammed full of RT’ing garbage and news announcements, who’s going to want to Follow you? They’re just getting spammed all day. This will come down to your own personal preference though. I like to just RT stuff that I legitimately think is cool, or even has the potential to be cool (like someone’s Tweet about their game that looks like it has an awesome concept even though the art is terrible).

Twitter is all about the personal connection. We get miffed when we find out a celebrity we’re Following is just paying someone else to Tweet for them because we want to feel like we’re really hearing that person’s thoughts (whether those thoughts are deep or silly). While it’s great to help everyone else out, you also have to remember that you’re trying to build your own following of people who trust you to provide value.

@names Are Important!

Like using #hashtags, it can be helpful to include some @names when appropriate. A lot of people will shoot you a Tweet back with your @name in it when you have their name in yours. And some large Twitter accounts (like for game review sites) seem to have automated services that keep track of who’s Tweeting their @names and they send out auto thank-you’s which means your @name gets Tweeted to their jillion Followers.

I was messing around with Game Maker for fun one day to see what it can do (I dig it by the way, it looks super-powerful and I believe it can export games to the iPhone) and I Tweeted “Re-created part of #ElusiveNinja in @YoYoGamemaker today haha pretty awesome program, looks like it’ll port to iOS soon! #gamedev” Lo and behold, a few hours later @YoYoGamemaker RT’ed my Tweet to their 700+ Followers. They would probably never have seen my Tweet if I hadn’t thrown in their @name.

Bulletproof Outlaws - Elusive Ninja

Follow Fridays

Apparently every Friday people on Twitter go “FF:” and list a bunch of @names of people who’s stuff they dig. I’ve actually never sent out my own FF because I don’t want people to be mad if they get left out of the FF haha But don’t follow my example on this one! What I DO do with FFs though, is shoot out a “Thanks to @bob for the FF!” or if I see a collection of good FFs (like someone else Tweets “FF these awesome gameDevs:”) I’ll just Retweet that FF list.

Facebook

Like Twitter, start your Facebook early. For Facebook I’d recommend having one just for your business stuff and keep your personal one private. Twitter isn’t a big deal to combine because you’re just shooting out text messages, but you don’t want random people checking out your family photos and all that jazz. I very rarely use Facebook, but someone recommended throwing up a Fan-Page for Elusive Ninja so I ended up making a Bulletproof Outlaws account.

The only thing I can really think of to mention about Facebook is that you need 20 Fans to get a nice short facebook.com/elusiveninja/ URL (as opposed to a really long goofy URL). All I really do with the Facebook site is post reviews or big news updates about Elusive Ninja to it. Personally I feel like Twitter and the Bulletproof Outlaws blog is enough, but admittedly I might not be utilizing Facebook to it’s full potential!

Google+

This just popped up recently, and I don’t have enough info on this to make any judgements yet! It looks like it combines Twitter and Facebook concepts, but we’ll have to see how it all pans out once the “ooo a new toy!!” phase wears off and it either dies off or kills Facebook haha

Microjob Services

This is something I had no idea existed until recently. The jist is that there’s a bunch of “for $5 I’ll do Such and Such” sites out there. A lot of the stuff is weird like “I’ll send you a pic of your name written on my boobs!” and “I’ll draw a picture of your dog fighting a robot!” but for OUR purposes as Indie Devs, there are services like “I’ll Tweet any message or link you want to my 45,000 Twitter and Facebook Followers 3x a day for a week.” that I figured we could utilize a bit.

I gave a few a go because hey, for $5 I’ll try it out. Here’s what I learned:

Most Accounts Are Spammy

Basically that guy offering to Tweet to his 45,000 Followers isn’t Tweeting to 45,000 iPhone users looking to buy games. It’s more like the guy’s Twitter account will be something spammy like @GreatOffers and they spam a dozen Tweets an hour to it. Odds are most of the Followers are bots or fake accounts or just people who really aren’t going to be buying your game. The ones that offer to add Fans to your Facebook page add accounts that are riffs off celebrity names and stuff, like, it’s pretty blatant that they’re fake haha

But That Doesn’t Mean We Can’t Use ‘Em

The most obvious way to use this is that Facebook requires 20 Fans on your Fan-Page before you can get a sleeker URL for it…so hey, throw down $5 and you’ve got 20+ Fans and now you can get that better URL right away which’ll be more useful for getting ACTUAL Fans.



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