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.

MAINTENANCE

So now you’ve got a ton of stuff out there related to your game. Twitter and Facebook accounts, banners, reviews, a blog, etc. It doesn’t end there! Once you’ve made this stuff you need to maintain it to keep your web presence solid and the information up to date. So let’s do a quick run-through of everything that needs to be maintained and some efficient ways to do that:

Banner Ads

Keep track of the results of your banner ads and try to find ways to determine which ones are bringing in actual sales, not just views of your App Store page or Impressions of the banner. If a banner isn’t reaching the goal you set for it, don’t bother renewing it and giving it a few more months, try putting that money into a banner elsewhere or some other type of marketing. If you’re a small Indie, this is the time to be experimenting because your money is limited. When you’re a big company with tons of marketing funds you can leave a bunch of stale banners that barely do anything all over the Internet, but right now you need your money bringing in the best possible results.

Twitter/Facebook

Stay on top of these! Especially Twitter. Facebook you can kind of let slide aside from responding to comments on announcements or what-have-you. But Twitter is huge right now, everyone is using it all day every day, so you want to make sure you have a presence on there. I’ve slipped a few times and been off-the-grid for a couple weeks and you miss a lot of what’s going on, a lot of chances to Retweet other people, a lot of conversations to participate in and get exposure from, a lot of news about what’s happening in the game development industry, etc.

I installed Tweetdeck on my iPhone and laptop so I can check it on my iPhone when I’m out and about with some downtime like riding the bus or taking a poo, and I leave it running in the background on my laptop so I can have it pop up new Tweets as I work.

Forum Threads

I started using FireFox and the LastPass add-on and it’s pretty convenient. I basically made all my accounts, saved the passwords to LastPass so I could auto-login, then whenever I made a thread I bookmarked it to a Threads section in my Bookmarks. Now I can regularly click “Open All in Tabs” and all my threads will pop up and log in for me so I can tab through them quickly to see if there are any new replies and if so I’m all logged in to respond. This is pretty efficient all-around.

Reviews

When you stumble across new reviews (or articles), take a moment to thank the Reviewer, whether it’s by Twitter, E-Mail, or leaving a comment at the end of the review. This is partly just polite, but it’s also something that helps build good relationships with the Press. They’re taking time to review your game, which helps you out, and it only takes a minute to shoot a quick thank-you message out.

If there’s a comment section and other people have posted opinions or asked questions etc., pop in and answer the positive and neutral comments. This is part of building relationships with the Gamers that have bought or may buy your game.

I’ve noticed that people can leave some pretty harsh comments when they feel like they’re anonymous, but when when the Developer makes an appearance in the comments everyone tones it down a bit. They don’t suddenly start sucking up or anything, and if they have a negative opinion of your game that’s totally okay, everyone has their opinion…but it tends to change the vibe:

randomguy1: “this game sucks ass”

randomguy2: “looks gay”

randomguy3: “waste of money”

Developer: “hey all, I’m the dev who made this game! Just curious what parts of the game you guys don’t like if you don’t mind giving some details? I might be able to fix some stuff for an update, or at least take the feedback into consideration for our next game!”

randomguy2: “didnt buy it cuz it should be 99 not 4.99”

randomguy3: “too easy finished it in an hour”

randomguy1: “(big huge 2 paragraph critique of every aspect of the game)”

Developer: “cool, thanks guys. I was actually worried about it being too easy, but it’s hard to tell when you’re the one making the game ’cause you get used to playing it. I’ll look into releasing a set of harder levels, that might help justify the price a bit more too. Wish I could just give the game away for free, but I gotta’ pay the bills. :)”

It’s not going to magically make everyone like your game or anything, but being friendly and letting people know you’re reading what they write can help reduce the big doggy-piling negativity that tends to happen in these situations. It makes the thread look less hostile to other people who read it which leaves a better impression, and it helps build a relationship with Gamers…and occasionally it can result in some useful feedback!

I’ll get more in-depth about this in Article IV – Psychology.

Trailer

If you have a new event to announce that creates new visuals in the game (new map pack, new characters, new endings), you should throw together a new trailer showing that stuff off. If you have a large game, like say, an RPG with multiple main characters, or a puzzle game with multiple big core mechanics, you could have a trailer highlighting each character or mechanic (Capcom does this kind of thing with their Street Fighter games).



Add comment


Security code
Refresh

Banner

Bulletproof Outlaws Diary