We have all watched with awe and envy as indie game developers like Marcus ‘Notch’ Persson, Phil Fish and Dong Ngyuen have risen to fame and glory. One of them, for the most unlikely of games. Many indie devs dream of replicating even a fraction of their success. In this post I will outline some tips you can follow to find your own level of public recognition.
Indie fame is not always welcome, we saw this first hand in Dong and Phil’s struggle with media attention and public perception. It also doesn’t necessarily mean all glitz-glam and charity balls. It’s meaning is subjective and is measured in different ways by each indie.
So what does ‘fame’ mean for an indie game creator? Why is it useful and how can it be obtained?
On a basic level, fame as an indie gives you influence, credibility and lowers your marketing costs. This allows you to reach more players, get more downloads and ultimately make more money.
In the crowded game market, it’s essential to try and forge a unique identity of your own; ideally a positive one.
‘What came first, the fame or the game?’
Indie fame can in rare cases come overnight from a mega hit game like Flappy Bird, it’s also completely unrealistic to expect this. It’s better to aim for a more attainable and measurable ‘slow and steady’ climb up the mountain of recognition.
Here are some techniques which will not only help you strengthen your profile, but will have a positive impact on the industry.
1. Learn, then teach
As developers and designers we are constantly learning new things, almost always from another person – whether it be through an article, game jam, books or games themselves.
Teaching what you have learnt will strengthen your skills while giving you confidence and exposure.
Let me explain further. The day I started blogging and writing tutorials was very meaningful. It gave me an outlet to talk about my passion and create an archive of my skills. It has also become an important reference tool for me in case I forget something or need a refresher.
Though this process I was connected with tens of thousands of readers who appreciated the time I put into crafting lengthy tutorials. Many of these visitors left comments on my posts, sent thank you emails and gave me a Twitter follow.
It’s always nice to know a few people when trying to launch a new game, so consider starting a blog or keeping a game development diary.
2. Create a memorable brand and stick to it
Having a brand doesn’t mean you need a fancy logo or a studio name. Your own name can be a brand.
I would however suggest to try and align your app store identity with your indie social media accounts and blog game. Having some consistency makes it easier for players to find you on social media after they have played your game.
Defining a brand also doesn’t mean all your games have to be the same style or theme, that would get boring fast. Avoid defining a brand around a genre unless you’re completely certain eg. TheRacingGameStudio. You may just find in a few years time you have different game making aspirations.
3. Make amazing games
Now this one is perhaps the hardest and something I can’t advise on easily as it’s a personal journey for us all. Read, practice, learn, play, review.
More importantly, be original. Don’t clone, don’t over monetize with endless popup ads designed to deceive players. Sure you might make a buck, but it will do nothing positive for your developer profile and credibility.
4. Be involved in community and industry discussions
Most popular game platforms, such as Unity3D, will have a discussion forum. Try to help some people with their game dev problems (you don’t need to be an expert). Reddit is also a pretty great place to have industry discussions and get some exposure (try the Gamedev and Unity3D subreddits).
5. Share your works in progress (WIP’s)
But what if you haven’t got a game to share and discuss?
If you’re working on your first game, that’s fine. Post concept art, sketches, screenshots. Don’t be ashamed! You may just be surprised at how good your stuff is, and if it stinks, you might just get some feedback to help you improve. Either way you’re getting some exposure.
I honestly believe if you involve yourself meaningfully and consistently across the mentioned points, you will find your own level of fame which can be used to promote your games and have more successful launches.
By far the most important point mentioned is point 3. ‘Make amazing games’. This is key, without this you’re just a commentator! Get Dev’n!
You may like my post How to discover if my indie game idea is good or bad, which helps explore the process of making a good game.
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