Michiel here again! The design for the flyer is done. Only a few tweaks from the first version, but this is how it went to the printing company. We should get them delivered on Tuesday! If you want a physical copy, come look us up. Unless you're my mom. Mom, I'll bring you one on Thursday :)
The paper kind that is, not "flying units". You can't have flying units, the death lasers would shoot them!
Anyway, hi all, Michiel here! Since we'll be showing off Powargrid at the Dutch Game Garden and Indievelopment events soon, and our only handouts are our old business cards with the old logo, we figured we should design something new. Turns out you can get full colour, double sided flyers printed pretty cheaply these days, so that's what I've been designing today. I'm quite happy with how it turned out, if I may say so myself!
Hiya! Wanna help us out? If you follow Powargrid on Playfield.io, we could win a chance to show Powargrid at Gamescom, the biggest games expo in the world!
Just head over to our Playfield page and hit "Follow"!
Holy ****, look at what we found in our mailbox this morning! :O
We're gonna be on Steam! Woooooo! Thanks for all of your support!
Mildly excitedly yours,
Willem and Michiel
We've been a bit quiet here on the blog lately, but we haven't been sitting still :). We're still slowly but certainly building up Powargrid and on top of that we've worked on our visibility. And we've had previous work pay off, primarily in the fact that the very first Powargrid video review is now live.
A while back, Michiel contacted Pete from Indie Games AAA, after a tweet that he was looking for indie games to cover. Pete was generous enough to use his time to make an Indie Taste Test for Powargrid, and I'd like to show it to you without further ado:
It's very cool to see someone play our game like this. It's quite different from watching someone play while you're in the room (we've found that people are usually very aware that we're watching them, especially if they know us). And it's also very different from having people play without us there and telling us or writing e-mails about it afterwards.
And what's more, Pete's conclusion is very positive. He especially mentions the "easy to learn and hard to master" aspect, which we've worked very hard to achieve. Which made me grin like the village idiot while watching the video (and again while typing this). So a big thanks from Michiel and me to Pete and his team :). And be sure to give the Powargrid Indie Taste Test a like on Youtube!
On another note, we've published Powargrid on Game Jolt. In effect, Game Jolt is a host for indie games; you can play Powargrid (or one of the numerous other games there) directly through their site. There are few, if any, barriers to publishing your game there, and they've even made it easy to plug your achievements into their trophy system (the first comment we got there contained a request for that, which prompted Michiel to spend the better part of Monday to Tuesday night hacking that in). As far as we can tell, the trophy system on Game Jolt really encourages people to play.
Also, at the time I'm writing this, Powargrid has been played 70 times through Game Jolt and viewed 162 times. Not huge numbers, but clearly more than we've seen before in such a short time :).
We got the tip to put our game on Game Jolt at the Dutch Game Garden network lunch last week. I went there primarily to ask people what we absolutely have to do when marketing / promoting our game. Some things that were mentioned we already do, such as having (and using) a Twitter account and writing on a dev blog regularly. Others we'll start with in the near future, like seeing if we can do something on Reddit. But the one thing everyone mentioned was that we have to attend conferences so we can speak to other game creators and especially the press. And the one conference we really shouldn't miss is Game Developers Conference Europe.
GDC Europe is a huge conference in Cologne, Germany. It's also pretty expensive, but luckily there are also 'Independent Games Summit Passes' available. With these, you get access to only a handful of workshops / presentations, but we do get entrance to the conference floor. And that's the main thing. To go there and meet up with as many people as we can who can tell the world about Powargrid. The fact that the conference is in Germany is actually an advantage, since we also got the tip to talk to the German press (strategy games are really big there).
We'll have to do some work beforehand, mainly contacting people to see whether they'd like to meet up at GDC Europe, but I guess we should be able to do that. That is, as long as we don't expect that all the big names will be immediately interested in speaking to us ;). With a bit of luck, we'll have talked until our throats are sore by the time we're on our way back from Cologne.
So that's what we've been up to lately. In the coming weeks we'll mainly busy ourselves with more behind the scenes work (or work that we'll share later). In the meantime, you can always see if you can attain all the trophies on Game Jolt. Happy hunting!
- Willem -
Today is my wedding aniversary and I actually remembered :). This means I won't be working on Powargrid tonight, since I'll be taking my wife out to dinner. Which is slacking through celebrating, a.k.a slackibrating.
On the non-slacking side of things, I've taken next week off from my dayjob so I can get some more Powargrid work done (and perhaps catch up on some lost sleep too). With that in mind, Michiel made some tweaks to the dialogue system yesterday (which I couldn't have made myself), which allow me to finish the dialogues for the factory mission. So that's at the top of my to do list for next week.
In other small news, some more people gave us feedback on Powargrid last week, and it was all positive :). On top of that, we understood that they did't just play for a few minutes before forming their opinion, but that they actually played through a significant number of the available campaign missions. It's great to get confirmation that we're building something cool.
Also, I've noticed that slowly but certainly I'm getting more comfortable with the idea of marketing our game. Having read quite a bit on the subject, I already knew that marketing is something that is both necessary and doable for indie studios. And that, if it's done right, marketing is also beneficial for the people you're marketing your game to (instead of being annoying). But knowing these things are quite different from actually talking and writing about Powargrid.
This blog was a good first step, followed by joining Twitter (as a studio, @WeeFreeStudio, and personally, @Fuddleclutch). And demo-ing our game at the Dutch Game Garden was also very cool and insightful. So I'm quite confident that by the time we finish Powargrid, we'll have the skills to set up a marketing campaign to match the quality of the game we're building. It's probable we'll write a separate blog post about our marketing experiences once we collect some more of them.
Finally, here's a development picture of the Factory Mission that Michiel Tweeted last night. It features a delete button for destroying buildings and the option to use more power than you actually have. I'm sorry to say that we won't let you wield that kind of power in the actual game ;).
Anyway, that's all for this short update. I'll be sure keep you posted on the progress I make next week.
- Willem -
Just a quick test to see if this shows up both on Twitter and our new Facebook page. Also, have a picture of the mission we're currently working on!
When Steam Greenlight came online back in 2012, we decided we wanted Powargrid on there, mostly to see what kind of feedback we would get. We already had our website with the playable alpha, we could easily take some screenshots and it wasn't that hard to write something about Powargrid. So we figured we basically had everything we needed. Except for a trailer. And since we din't want our Greenlight page to go live without a trailer, I set out to make one from scratch. I succeeded, and we were very happy with the end result. We had everything we needed, so we put up our Greenlight page (you can find it here, if you want to give us a thumbs up).
This was the result of my efforts back then:
But that trailer is a year and a half old now. Which means it's pretty dated. Powargrid looks better, feels better and runs smoother than it did back then, so it was about time to replace it with something new. I set out to remake the trailer with new video material, while keeping the basic setup the same, since we still like that. The music (by Wrathgame Studios) is great and the switches between different video fragments are fitted to it. It was just a case of recording some new videos with the new Powargrid looks. Shouldn't take that long, should it?
Well, I was wrong. I'd forgotten that recording a piece of video I'm really happy with takes time. From the small and silly things like forgetting to move my cursor off screen after clicking 'end turn' all the way up to the aesthetics of the structures you see on the game grid (by the player and the AI). That second example means looking at the game in a totally different way than what I'm used to. When all was said and done, each video fragment had taken me at least three tries to achieve the quality I was aiming for.
After the video portion was taken care of, I still needed to take a look at the text fragments. While I still like the 'Recruit 429841' joke from the first version, put in at the time because Powargrid hadn't been reviewed yet, we now have actual quotes we could use. Especially useful was a Twitter conversation with Alpha Beta Gamer, from which we could take 'A great new take on the turn based strategy genre'. This quote does triple duty; first and foremost by being a positive comment on our game. Second, it makes explicit that Powargrid is a turn based strategy game. This is too obvious to outright mention in the trailer, but having this quote makes sure that there is no question about it. Third, it indicates that Powargrid does something different from other turn-based strategy games, which we think is one of the strengths of our game but also is something we would hesitate to put in the trailer ourselves. Needless to say, we are enormously happy with what Alpha Beta Gamer has written about Powargrid :D.
After discussing the video fragments and texts with Michiel, I made the final tweaks this week and uploaded the trailer to Youtube. We loved the frame Youtube suggested for the video, so we used that :).
We hope you like the new Powargrid trailer:
- Willem -
Last Wednesday, we got the chance to demo Powargrid at the Dutch Game Garden (DGG) network lunch. The first time we've done something of the sort, so we were very curious how that would work out. Well, we've had a lot of fun there. There were only a few moments where no one was playing Powargrid and most of the time, a lot of people were looking on as well. The demo stand that DGG provided had an extra monitor at the back, so there were people all around us :).
A lot of people told us they liked Powargrid, and those who played the game seemed to be enjoying themselves. It's hard to describe how cool it is if that's the reaction to a game you've spent almost three years on (and counting). It feels pretty amazing to say the least.
And on top of that we got feedback and tips from people who make a living building games. It varied from making things clearer for the players (for instance by showing firing range when you mouse over a weapon) to intuitive behavior we hadn't counted on (for instance dragging buildings on to the game grid instead of clicking the button) to improving the look and feel of the game (for instance by always having something moving on the screen). So we've now added a ton of stuff to our to do list that should make Powargrid that much better :).
On the business / marketing side of things, we set out to get a feel for what a reasonable retail price could be for Powargrid. This has been called the most difficult question in indie gaming and there is no way to be sure beforehand what the best price for your indie game is. We were certainly not disappointed, since we didn't just get the gut-feeling answers we were looking for, but we also spoke to some people with experience in selling games through Steam. This will help us a lot when we will eventually set the retail price. We also got some more insight in what journalists would like to see on our press page, such as something about a release date, even if it's just that the date is for now unknown.
So all in all, it was very much a fun and useful lunch at the Garden. We'll certainly visit the DGG again!
Today, I made myself a Twitter account. Finally, I'd add. It's more than half a year ago that Michiel and I opened a Twitter account for Wee Free Studio and it took quite a while for me to actually start using that account. Before that, Michiel sent out our tweets.
So what's the big deal about that? Well, I have a sort of reverse shyness. I'm almost never shy when I'm talking face to face to people, I'm quite shy when talking on the phone (even to people I know well) and I'm very shy when it comes to written communication*. Thus using Twitter causes me a great deal of discomfort (as does writing emails to people I don't know very well, replying to thing in a public forum or a comments section, etc.). I have no idea why.
But the thing is that we do have to go out there if we want to be noticed. This is true for any online business, but even more so for indie game developers. People who are interested in indie games, especially those looking for the next new thing, are often also very much interested in the people behind those games. So we have to let the interwebs know who we are. And I can't leave that just to Michiel.
That's one good reason for me to start a twitter account. The other one is much more practical. The tweets I've sent through @weefreestudio were often of the form "I wrote a blog post!" plus a link. But this both feels weird and is confusing, since Wee Free Studio is two people and not just one. So I looked around and found that @Vlambeer does this in an elegant and logical way. As far as I've seen, they never use "I" or "me" in their tweets, but instead always refer to their personal twitter accounts.
Two good reasons for a personal twitter account, but still that reverse shyness to overcome. Luckily, even the very few posts I made through @weefreestudio were enough to convince me that I'd actually use the account after I created it. (What also helps is writing these blog posts, which is also getting easier with time... Could it be that practice does actually make perfect?) So I went and created my own Twitter account: @Fuddleclutch.
Fuddleclutch, by the way, was my Gnomish warlock engineer in WoW, back when I still played. Although I later deleted him to roll a Death Knight. Technically this was due to the character limit per server, but I thought it was also a fitting way to create a Death Knight. I always liked the name, and it stuck as my go-to name when my usual online aliases are unavailable (which was the case for Twitter).
Anyway, I guess I'll send out a tweet now about how I wrote a blog post about tweeting :).
*As far as I can tell, most people are shy the other way around; more reluctant to speak to people in real life than to write stuff online. That's why I dub this reverse shyness. But perhaps I'm looking at this the wrong way. If so, be sure to let me know via @Fuddleclutch ;).
We're Michiel and Willem. Hi!