Tuesday 17 July 2012

Introducing the Best of British Summer Sports Jam!

This week at Develop Conference a team of indie mobile developers took to the floor to announce the Best of British initiative. Best of British is a collective of mobile developers - including Spilt Milk Studios (Hard Lines), Big Pixel (Off the Leash), Mobile Pie (My Star), Future Games of London (Hungry Shark), and myself - who teamed up earlier this year to pool our efforts and share our skills, audiences and connections in order to make a splash in the mobile market.

This weekend we will be developing our first collective game, Best of British Summer Sports, as a 48 hour jam. Mind Candy (Moshi Monsters) have been kind enough to lend us their offices for the event, while Unity are kindly providing sponsorship, and will be on hand to offer technical support.

Best of British Summer Sports will be a collection of rapid-fire minigames, played against the clock. Each member studio will produce a selection of their own micro-challenges, which will be compiled together for continuous play. So you'll be able to sample all the development skills our rag-tag team of misfits has to offer!

We would all like to thank Unity and Mind Candy for helping to make this happen, and also to Osborne Clarke, who have been incredibly supportive throughout the Best of British initiative!

Follow the Best of British team on Facebook

Monday 16 July 2012

Adventures at Develop Brighton!

I'm back this week from an incredible time at Develop Conference 2012 in Brighton, where I was speaking last Thursday. While the weather didn't exactly hold up there was plenty of warmth from the games industry community and I made a lot of new friends from all sides of the industry.

Particular stand-out talks included Brian Baglow's closing talk from the Indie Marketing Day, highlighting what indie developers should be doing to promote their games but aren't. This earlier talk from him, along similar lines, is a must watch if you weren't there! I was also thoroughly impressed by Fat Pebble's unique plasticene design shown in their talk about their upcoming game Clay Jam, and the creativity and ambition shown by FuturLab in their press and media operations.

Marketing and PR was a key issue on the Indie track this year, and with good reason. It's the hardest part of an indie's operations, in my opinion, and certainly something I've put a lot of time and effort into. So to see such inspiring and thought-provoking discussion was extremely valuable. Other highlights included Benni Hill's talk about running White Paper Games, and Rob Davis (Playniac)'s talk on how they followed up the launch of International Racing Squirrels for Channel 4 - all very insighful.

My own talk went down very well indeed. Several delegates commented that they found it inspiring and useful - something that I am, to be perfectly honest, chuffed to bits about! I plan to produce a video based on my talk on Indie Exposure, but do take a look at my blog series if it's a subject you would like to know more about.

Finally, I made some fantastic new connections and was glad to meet up with games journalists, other indie studios, and many more fascinating faces from the industry. I'd definitely recommend going to the next one, event for the networking alone. Develop Liverpool will be in November this year, and the conference will return to Brighton next summer. I hope to see you there!

The slides from my talk can be downloaded from here

Sunday 1 July 2012

Indie Exposure: A Rundown

With my Develop Conference talk coming very soon (Thursday 12th July everyone!), what better time to put up a summary of my Indie Exposure series of articles? The articles have been kindly reposted on GamesBrief, an in-depth resource for games business articles that you should definitely take a look at.

Part 1: Why is Exposure So Difficult?

The biggest obstacle to success as an indie, in my view, has been exposure of my game to its audience. How do I get people to know about my game? This article looks at where these challenges come from, especially in open marketplaces such as the iOS App Store.

Part 2: Making the Most of your USP

Part and parcel of your game's marketablity is its unique selling point. Being able to explain why your product is awesome in one sentence or image is incredibly powerful. Emphasising what makes your product remarkable, rather than its general quality or polish, is what gets people talking. But you need to find a marketplace that is looking for something to talk about.

Part 2b: Virality

A response to Kevin Allocca's informative TED talk about viral videos. The video explains the mechanics which determine what content goes viral and the importance of tastemakers - all of which is equally applicable to making a marketable game!

Part 3: The Personal Touch

As an indie developer you're able to operate on a personal level in a way that larger studios cannot. Use this to leverage your audience and the press by offering them memorable experiences and a genuine connection to the creator. Your personal efforts are hugely effective in gaining the interests of tastemakers.

Part 4: The Free and the Exposed

There is perfectly logical reasoning why putting your game out for free can engage more users and make viral propogation of your game more likely. However, it is by now means a magic bullet. This article reflects on my own experience with Greedy Bankers: Bailout! and asks why a free price band may not necessarily help your game spread.