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27 Mar 2014

Why You Need to Start a Developer Diary

For me, there is something awesome about seeing a project come to life. Whether it is a director filming a behind-the-scenes series on their latest film coming to life or yes, indie developers detailing the progress they are making on their latest game, it’s beautiful to watch the evolution of works of art via video footage, blog posts, etc. Many see these features as nothing more than ‘fan service,’ and while that was true in the past, nowadays this type of feature (known as developer diaries) are becoming borderline necessary.

Why? Because by utilizing the concept of developer diaries, you can accomplish two things:

a)      Increase the excitement of your indie game.

b)     Attract new players to the game.

    a.      Players that never would have been interested in your game in the first place.

Sometimes, seeing is truly believing.

The format of your development diary can be anything – from livestreaming part of the game development process to writing blog posts (the norm) to highlighting elements of your game via YouTube clips (also the norm) to even releasing audio diaries via podcasts. This accomplishes something vital to your indie game and your brand as a whole when you decide to start your own developer diary:


It develops a human brand

Going back to the audio diaries variant of a developer diary, one of the things that made me so excited for Ubisoft’s upcoming AAA epic Watch_Dogs is the team’s podcasts they release now and again. Now, I was excited the moment I heard about Watch_Dogs at E3 2012, but I became even more excited about the concept when I started listening to these podcasts. Listen to the first episode to see what I mean:

What do these podcasts accomplish? It allows you to get an inside look regarding the hard work involved in developing a massive game like Watch_Dogs. You get to learn about the game from the members of the actual team, and at the end of the day? You feel like you have had an intimate conversation with these guys. Simply listening to what they have to say, learning about their hard work, and just ‘chilling’ with them for an hour may have been the difference between Watch_Dogs becoming an instant buy to a ‘day one instabuy.’

In short, developer diaries such as these develop a human brand – and you don’t have to solely record audio either. Whether you want to write a blog post a few times a week or record gameplay footage and post it to your YouTube account, allowing people to see an inside look into your game is one of the most valuable things you can do as an indie developer, because…


Interest is built

This kind of sounds like marketing, doesn’t it? In a way, it is (albeit fun marketing). It is crucial to create compelling content to keep your brand alive and people interested, and developer diaries are one of the best ways to do this. When people can read about your game and see screenshots or view your game/listen to your team discuss said game, this causes people to respond and get excited.

It also causes interested fans to tell their friends about your upcoming game and dually get them excited, and so on and so on until…


Community is established

And that’s really where things that truly start happening for your indie game. A tight-knit thriving community is one of the best things that can keep players coming back to your indie game and your new games down the road. Furthermore, those involved in the community actually feel as if they have some worth to your cause. By using developer diaries to keep players interested and coming back, you are actually building a community that is going to help your overall brand thrive in the long run. Again, community is imperative to the success of your indie game (and again, your brand overall), so use these developer diaries to your advantage.

In the end, developer diaries can also be a great source of feedback for your players. When showcasing the game you are working on, you can learn about what most gamers enjoy and the things that drive them crazy, thus helping you to hone the indie game even further. Plus, creating developer diaries to show off your work is just plain fun. It’s an amazing feeling to show off the work you have accomplished.

Want a more in-depth look into starting your own developer diaries (and the proper way to do them)? Sit tight – that will be coming in a future post!

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