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17 Jan 2014

Learn From These Vital Indie Tips This Weekend (and Put Them Into Practice Starting Monday)

There’s nothing I enjoy more than knowing the weekend is right around the corner. You know what I’m talking about. When mid-afternoon rolls around, you can almost feel (maybe taste?) the enjoyment of waking up late Saturday morning, then falling back asleep knowing you don’t have to work during the weekend (and for those that have children, the possibility of sleeping in is delicious enough).

The weekend is also a great time to contemplate about work. That doesn’t worrying about work, but rather, thinking about new ideas you can incorporate into your games, your development process, your marketing plan, etc. It’s also a great time to brainstorm new game ideas. Heck, the best ideas have come to me during the weekend, yet if you are not taking the weekend off? That brings me to my first tip:

 

Take it off

The weekend, that is. If you cannot take off every weekend that is perfectly fine (although I highly recommend it), though work enough to be able to at least take half of your weekends off per month. You work your buttocks off, so you deserve a few days to breathe, contemplate, and take it easy.

Believe me: contemplating about work on a day where you don’t have to work feels a heck of a lot better than thinking about work fully knowing that you have to get work done. It sucks, and you know it does. Thus, take a breather every weekend (or again, half or the majority of them), and return to work on Monday feeling like a million bucks. Not only will you feel better, but you will have a consistent quality of work that will ensure that you do not feel burnt out nor will you have to go back and fix mistakes.

And when you think about it, taking off and getting rejuvenated will ensure you don’t have to fix mistakes more than usual, thus freeing up your free time during the day and thus again giving you enough free time to relax during the weekend. Just take it off; you’ll be glad you did.

 

When people ‘troll’ your game, be respectful

This tip is bouncing off the ideas I wrote in a post earlier this month about making trolls work for you, yet the idea to take away from the tips in the article is this: treat trolls as you treat everyone else – respectfully. Many would tell you the contrary, in that treating trolls respectfully is a waste of your time as they are going to continue lashing out at your game until they are exhausted (and then they will likely lash some more).

Yet take the ‘killing with kindness’ approach and treat your troll the same way you would want to be treated. Nine times out of ten, you’re sincere and respectful approach is going to make them feel like a jerk and they will cut out the trollish behavior, thus allowing the both of you to come to some sort of agreement. Not only will this stop any unneeded drama and hopefully make a regular customer out of the troll, but you are going to look professional, polite, and like you sincerely care about the satisfaction of your players. And in an era in which online reputation is everything, that brings me to my final tip:

 

Never use a failure to solely raise attention about yourself

How many times have you  heard about an indie developer (or even a AAA developer for that matter) talk about how they developed a good game but uncontrollable forces ensured their game didn’t sell well due to the marketing not being strong enough, the release date was wrong, the niche wasn’t strong enough, blah blah blah.

Don’t be this guy/gal. Never publicize your failures and pass them onto something/someone else. You know what this says to people?

 

“I made an awesome game but you didn’t buy it and it’s for these reasons. Even so, I want you to still remember me.”

 

It sounds desperate, doesn’t it? That doesn’t mean you cannot talk about your failures publicly (especially when you have a solid reputation), but when you are building a reputation, try not to do this. If you feel obligated to publicly talk about a failure, attach a lesson you learned from it, or a silver lining you can take away from the negative experience. Using the example of a good game getting a bad release date, here is how you should word a failure to give it a positive spin:

 

“We have generally positive reviews for the game, but we got the release date of the game all wrong. In the future, we are going to definitely do some research regarding the best release dates for our type of game, and hopefully, we will have a stronger launch date. Even so, we want everyone to check out our game despite the weak release date, because if you enjoy this one you are definitely going to enjoy what we have in store for you.”

See how much better that sounds? Admitting to a failure plus adding a lesson learned will always equal:

 

  1. A positive reputation.
  2. Respect earned.
  3. Possible increase in attention with a hopefully increase in sales.

 

Don’t be ‘the whining developer’ that throws a fit just to appease to the headlines. Be humble yet confident in what you have learned. Using this tip and the rest above starting Monday morning, and you will be on the road to ending your first month of 2014 on a positive note.

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