Indie Game Marketing – Tools

This is a collection of tools that has made my life a lot easier when marketing my collection of shitty games. Not a definitive list by any means but hopefully some that you haven’t seen or used before. If you’ve got any that I’ve missed hit me up at @escdev

Buffer

Engaging with like-minded peeps is a great way to build interest in the games that you’re working on.

Buffer is awesome in that it allows you to quickly and easily post to multiple social network sites. Which is enough to use it, in and of itself but it goes a lot further than that. Buffer also allows you to:

Schedule Posts – By queuing up and posting at different times you’re expanding your reach to other time zones and markets.

Link Shortening – Yes I know that twitter does this on its own now, but it’s very seamless using the buffer plugin for chrome. Just hit the button on any page, article etc, select then networks you wish to post to either post right away or allow it to be scheduled.

Analytics on Posts – By using buffers link shortening you’re also get the benefit of single point of contact for anyone clicking on that link. Buffer is kind enough to provide some simple analytics (in the free version anyways) on clicks, shares, +ones.

buffer

Trello

I’m sure everyone has their preferences when keeping organised when trying to track  what your plan is for marketing and what you’ve actually done. Spreadsheets are good for tracking the details of certain tasks like who you’ve emailed but I find Trello is great for keeping track of the tasks themselves at a very high level. In Trello you create ‘boards’ and then assign tasks within them you can drag these around as you start and complete each task. I have one board for each game I’m working on as well as any external tasks like marketing.

Trello’s interface is excellent and is really simple to start getting benefits out of it straight away.

Trello

presskit()

Presskit is the brain child of Rami Ismail, one half of the indie studio Vlambeer. It allows you to easily create a website around yourself / studio and the games you are creating in a easily readable and consumable format. Most of the work here is around collating quotes and reviews and filling out the XML template that drives the website rather than any sort of website creation. Here is mine, it’s a work in progress, but I’m really happy with it so far:

 http://ruxar.com/press/

Promoter

Promoter saves you from doing a Google search every other day scouring for articles that may have picked up your game. The site also has a few other features like an extensive contact list, and some tracking functions (who you sent out emails to). The site has a free version which allows you to track a single game with some limitations.

Gif Cam

Showing dynamic screenshots with actual snippets of game play goes a long way into enticing potential users. Gif Cam allows you to select a portion of the screen and record, really easy, really good quality.

small

Run Blob Run – Free Windows 8 Game

Title19803

Our friend Blob has escaped the lab and he’s on the run. Blob is no ordinary run of the mill blob, he’s been infused with colour changing abilities. Change colour by jumping up and down and avoid the lazers.

Run Blob Run is inspired by a couple of great games, Canabalt, Flywrench and the ol’ Flappy Bird. I’ve tried to mix the colour matching of fly wrench with the running and jumping of Canabalt with the death and destruction of Flappy Bird.

Jumping changes your colour on the upward and downward flight. The lazers will only let you through if you’re colour matches.

Use ‘Up’ to jump and ‘Right’ to dash, that’s about it. Sounds easy right?

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Play Run Blob Run here:

Run Blob Run

Download now from the Windows Store

Silly Bugs

Fixing bugs is a part and parcel with game development. It’s not usually the most entertaining aspect of any project.

Occasionally though you get a silly one that makes you laugh. This happened while I was coding a power up. I had a condition in the game’s step event to add a power up when a certain score is reached, but I didn’t reset any sort of counter, anyways this is what happened:

 

Power Ups Anyone?

 

Removing Product Search

Lately I’ve been noticing some annoying pop ups coming up in chrome, i’m pretty careful with my browsing and only click on links titled sreensaver.exe if I think they’re going to really cool.

Product Search Popup

Anyways…it turns out this is being added by one of my chrome extensions ‘Smooth Gestures’.  If you inspect the element it looks like it’s sourced from superfish.com. To get rid of it, go into Tool -> Extensions and then select the options for Smooth Gestures. Set ‘Enable Product Search’ as below.

Enable Product Search

I do appreciate that the smooth gestures dev gives us the option to turn it off, but it’s not exactly obvious what it’s doing an there is a separate option to turn off ads. So it seems a little on the sneaky side of things.

If you’re getting this but don’t have Smooth Gestures, I’d check the current extensions and see disabling them one by one fixes the issue.

Screenshot Saturday 137

So a bit of a progress update, I’ve started the long arduous process of tiling the levels within Gamemaker. This is creating a sprite sheet with 16×16 size tiles and placing them individually in the level editor.

iZBOT Level 5

 

New 2D Platformer – iZBOT!

Apologies for the lack of updates, but it’s been due to a couple of things mostly I’ve been busy with creating a new game! (and some because I’ve just discovered Son’s of Anarchy).

The new game is called ‘izbot’, it’s a fast 2D action platformer that is a bit of a homage to our good friend super meat boy.

Still bedding down the mechanics, but it’s coming along nicely.

Level 1 Screenshot

Level 1 Action

If you want to have a go at the game, I’m trying to keep the HTML5 and Windows versions up to date on this site as I go.

Love it, hate it…want to ask why anyone would want to make another retro platformer, hit me up on twitter @escdev

Free Game Resources

Lets get this out of the road right up front…I’m a tight ass when it comes to spending money on development resources. I’m still dipping my toe in the water to get a feel for the mobile development platform and trying to gauge the effort / reward ratios and as such don’t really want to drop a heap of money to produce something. So below is a list of resources I’ve used or intend to at some stage for my game Apple Bin. Hopefully this will be useful to someone. 

Font

Having a custom font for your app really gives it a unique style. Font Squirrel has some top quality fonts, all you need to do is find the one for you!

http://www.fontsquirrel.com/

 

Graphics

There are a fair few free graphics sites out and about. I’ve found this one to be good as a starting point for a lot of vector graphics. I think I’ve got about 4-5 elements from here but have altered them before putting them in Apple Bin

http://www.clker.com/

 

Audio

Kevin McLeod has some amazing tracks suited to games of all shapes and sizes. The interface is a bit clunky but stick with it and listen to the tracks on there and i’m sure you’ll find something to suit your game or app.

http://incompetech.com/m/c/royalty-free/

 

Lots of great sound effects in here. Grab Audacity to strip down the audio and customise it.

http://www.freesound.org/

 

Tools

Expression Encoder

Microsoft has pulled support for the Expression studio but i think this is an excellent tool for getting something together quickly and easily.

http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=24601

 

Game High Scores

This is a free service, I’ve always intended to incorporate this but have never got around to it. From all reports, easy to use and did i mention it was free? :)

http://mogade.com/

 

Physics Engine

Based on the box2D engine, really active community and some really talented contributors.

http://farseerphysics.codeplex.com/

 

Allows you to use the Farseer engine and setup everything in blend. This is what I’ve been using for Apple Bin and have found it great.

http://physicshelper.codeplex.com/

 

*Not free but awesome

 

Audio

Check out the artist Soundroll in here. Tracks are about $10-15 but they all top quality.

http://audiojungle.net/

My Graphics Journey (so far)

After some feedback from the good people of Reddit  I’ve been working on some graphical updates to Apple Bin.

Digging back through my old files i found i’m onto my third iteration for a lot of these elements. The process is still evolving, I’m gradually getting better at vector graphics and coming up with a consistent style.

Graphics

The evolution of a number of elements over time within Apple Bin’s development

Using the Sin Function to Animate Alpha in GameMaker

For the first level of Apple Bin, I wanted to create a big dirty finger on screen to tell people where they have to tap to launch and apple. It should fade in and out to draw their attention to it. So to do this I want to create a function that will animate the alpha of the object / sprite on screen. Enter sin(x):

Sin Function

Plain ol’ Sin(x)

The sin function is perfect for this, it creates a smooth transition from state to state. The function sin(x) will give you values from -1 to 1 which is also great for this particular instance as I didn’t want it on screen the entire time. For the negative component it won’t be visible as you can’t have a negative alpha. Now to do this in GameMaker, create a sprite and an associated object.

Add a create event to your object and add this code:


///Setup Objects for Dirty Finger
image_alpha = 0

//This will be the value we use with the sin function
xValue = 0;

//Increment by one degree (converted to radians) each time / step
increment = degtorad(1);

 

Also add a step event and add this code to the step event:

 

//Add the one degree increment to x
xValue+=increment;

//Now use the sin function to get the new alpha
newAlpha = sin(xValue);

//Set it to our image
image_alpha = newAlpha;

 

And that’s pretty much is, if all your ducks are lined up you should get something like this:

And if your an idiot like me and animate the wrong property you can get some freaky results: