Path Of The Indie — New Acquaintances
CEO of the Game Project Saturated Outer Space proceeds to share his thoughts about workflow in indie game development
For newcomers here is the first post where you can find who I am and why these articles might interest you.
Disclaimer: I’m not going to tell you how to make video games properly but I share my experience and learning the process of managing an indie team while following the path.
With possibilities of my friends — mine are limitless!
As soon as I started to show interest in promotion of the project, I got overwhelmed by hints and tips about networking. I heard from every corner: “Make new acquaintances! Go get to know other people! Broaden your circle of connections!” and everything.
Alright, alright! Sooner or later I’d got down to this part…
When we were a small team of 5, that was a job of the Producer. While others were more concentrated on working on the game rather than looking for new contacts that might be useful.
It’s hard to pinpoint when we began to treat this more consciously. I’ve been writing articles on DTF for a pretty long time, our PM is like a Recruiter and does the headhunting, marketing managers work with communication channels and those who get in touch with us. There are a lot of opportunities. I’m going to tell you about those which turned out to be most effective and are used on a regular basis.
And again… Game events…
Like it or not, they are created for networking. As soon as the Marketing Manager applies for participation in a game conference he gets in contact with the organizers: he communicates with them, asks questions, provides additional information about the project on request, etc.
- Organizers of different gamedev events are the first frontier to pass for useful advice and development direction, contacts and constructive feedback, possible bonuses and an eye-catching booth.
- This job works best for responsible and sociable people. If you are an indie-samurai and do everything that means you will sacrifice your development time. But working on the build has to be always your priority.
Events of such format give you an opportunity to approach anyone and have a conversation about video games, what you like to play and your projects. It’s as simple as that. This is how we met Happy Fox Studios who are helping us to design the UI.
There’s much work at the booth as well. We usually split our team into 2 groups — one welcomes visitors and showcases the game and team itself while the other goes for event activities and networking. After a while we rotate. If you’re alone then you risk to spend the whole day sitting at your booth because you can’t go and listen to speakers or check the competitors’ projects.
Apart from offline public events there are various digital opportunities such as contests, grants, forums, social networks, blogs and many others.
Some time ago we came to the conclusion that it would not be fair to load all the communication on marketing managers. In our indie reality you have at best a couple hours per day to commit yourself to your project so it’s impossible to track all the channels, send emails and submit for planned events. You also have other work to do — developing the product, preparing the content for publications and publishing it. It may take up to an hour to publish a single article/devlog/update due to formatting and moderation. That’s why we decided to share the platforms between our team members.
- Website and Medium are under control of our Marketing Lead
- Our Community Manager works with the Steam page and Twitter
- Reddit, Gamejolt, IndieDB, Itch.io and other platforms are divided between the rest
- DTF is on me. This source is popular within the RU-part of the Internet and similar to Reddit.
Everyone creates content (articles, screenshots, videos) beside communicating with the followers thus representing our team and expanding the information flow of the project.
At the same time we look for the games similar to ours and contact their publishers directly. We pitch our project to them and answer their questions providing additional details — game design documents and playable build. So we present our game and get new contacts at the same time. Right now we are working on the “before — after” presentation to show the progress for the last 6 months.
We participate in possible competitions and public pitches like Unreal Engine Development Contest, GD Bay, Keep Calm Do Games and others. Such a proactive attitude might bring you people from other companies you won’t expect. UEDC-2020 was extremely rewarding so Xsolla provided us with their site builder as well as ByteDance is considering to be our publisher. That is one of the reasons why we chose Unreal Engine as the Game Engine I have been asked for a long time.
Last but not the least, each team member brings his own network power when joining us. Our Producer plays the most important role in it providing as many resources as possible. He put us in touch with MGVC. They gave valuable advice about presentation documents. Also, my friends from Talerock Studio got the key art for our project which we’ll demonstrate very soon.
But the coin has two sides
I mean our reputation leaked out to other studios hunting for new employees. Our former 3D-animator works in a newly created studio ‘Black Caviar Games’. They noticed his work in our project and proposed him a job offer. Nevertheless, we have the basic set of animation which is still enough for current work. We do not exclude the possibility of future collaboration with him either. Actually, it’s a good sign because the team and the project grow thereby in the public eyes.
This part covers the time from April 2019 to October 2020.
Reasons why networking is so important:
1. There are many ways leading to the peak of Fuji. One of your contacts could be your lucky ticket there. Another could bring unexpected benefits. You never know so don’t miss a chance!
2. This story is about a team not your own. Sharing the burden of networking with your colleagues prevents you from burnout and helps to keep some personal time. It’s impossible to be in several places simultaneously (unless you have a few clones at your disposal).
3. Motivation is hugely important for small indie teams where money couldn’t be the option. And our case is not an exception. It’s amazing when you see people synergizing while being together and having common interests. You get inspired by their belief in the success of the project.
I’m very grateful to all people who worked on the project before and who are currently in the team of Rummy Games. We’re in this together!