The Reason It’s a Blog (IAmWhen Revisited)

I am sure you are perceptive enough to have noticed that the Proverbs, LLC company website is a blog. Granted it is a blog primarily focused on game software development, particularly the game Omega Connection, but a blog all the same. One of the simpler reasons for this is there is a current lack of content required to launch a full website focused around OC. There are a few untextured models created, a handful of concept artwork by the talented John Cole, and a couple small test applications providing various test beds for coding ideas; but there are no videos, no game play screenshots and no announcements for a launch date. Effectively nothing that could formulate a full, or even partial, video game website. The game is over a year away from entering Alpha.

Given all that, why on Earth has a super small indie development company decided to start talking about a game which is so far out from launch? Why throw ideas out to the whole world on how we are looking to accomplish different things in the game, or even just the game concept for Omega Connection in general? For me it really comes down to three reasons I created this blog and in my overly open fashion I thought I should share these reasons (in Letterman countdown fashion no less).

3. I have stated in the past, both here on the Proverbs, LLC website and on the former IAmWhen website that I get thoughts stuck in my head and writing them down helps me to mold them, record them and move past them. Given this, I really could simply open up notepad (which I am currently writing in), jot everything down, and file it away on the server. Purpose served. Only that is not enough.

I know myself and I am certain other people out there can empathize with the fact that self-motivation tends to be a very slow process. If you have ever worked at home for a prolonged period of time you can probably relate to this: you wake up, your goal is to accomplish task A today, you make coffee, you read your comics, you play a little Clash of Clans, you check Twitter (maybe Facebook if Mark Zuckerberg ever stopped being mad at you and you could create an account), you watch a little TV, you take a nap, and if you are really really lucky you might have started task A around 3AM. Most likely task A will be the task for tomorrow. Why? Because you answer to no one. You lack a sense of obligation.

For me, creating posts about Omega Connection creates that sense of obligation. It’s out there. I have said it is going to happen and now I have to stick to that. And it’s not a vague, “I’m going to make a game” statement; it’s a “This is what the game Omega Connection is going to be and this is where it is headed after that” statement.

2. This second reason is somewhat focused around the same “work from home” concept (even though I do have an office to use a few miles down the road) and that is the need for a community. When you only get to work directly with people on a weekly or biweekly basis you have no one to bounce ideas off of and even using email to communicate with your peers does not seem to fill this niche; particularly when they are incredibly slow to respond (Jeremy). The indie game development community provides some of that, both on here and through social media like Twitter. But it also gives me the opportunity to be a part of that community by giving something back.

I have over 30 years of software development experience and have created companies, closed companies, done contract work and been a full time employee for companies large and small, local and international; and it is that experience I hope to give back to the indie development community. I have failed more times than many people could get back up from and yet here I am. It is that experience I hope to give back. Despite my own arrogance, I know I don’t know everything and will continue to make mistakes, but sharing those mistakes is that experience I hope to give back. Independent game development is my community and part of the reason I blog.

1. The biggest reason that this blog exists is the simplest one, and a reason that I hope the newer indie developers can learn the most from: marketing. Proverbs has a game at the earliest stages of development and is over a year out before any public releases of Omega Connection, but it is never too early to start marketing and I learned that the hard way.

When Proverbs was first formed years ago, I had been approached by a few companies I had done work for in the past and was asked to develop different software packages. As part of the pricing agreement for some of these applications, Proverbs maintained ownership of the software and was allowed to resell the product on the open market. One such application was Vineyard which was an amazing piece of software.

Vineyard was designed as a network diagramming software application (similar to Visio, only more industry specific). What set Vineyard apart was that it would create a network diagram for you as well as perform hardware and software audits of the computers and devices on your network at the click of a button. At the time it was written there was no single product on the market which did all of that and we sold it for $89.00 per seat. I still do not know a single IT professional that wouldn’t use it if it still existed. The problem was that no one knew it existed because I knew nothing of sales or marketing back then and I didn’t start trying to market it until the product was fully functional and ready for release.

For a small software development company that meant death. Several copies were sold but definitely not enough to pay the bills, and in the meantime I had to continue to support and provide updates to this product across a slowly increasing range of computers and peripherals. The choices came down to having food to eat by working a fulltime job or keep the software going and hope that one day it would take off. I like eating.

Had I known what marketing was back then things might have been different. Had I started marketing MUCH sooner things WOULD have been different. But I didn’t and that product failed as well as the few others that were released around the same time.

Now I blog to help the future marketing process. Even if only a handful of people read these words (because 50% of my hits come from Mark Zuckerberg and 40% are split between Bill Gates and Warren Buffett – all avid fans, I know) I still continue to create an online presence for when the game launches. I will not be starting at ground zero and that is a mistake I continuously see independent developers make.

For some strange reason almost all software developers start off with this fear that someone will steal their game idea (it’s the god complex we all get, I think) or they are afraid of failure (god complex again) or they don’t want to show something incomplete (again, god complex. I am seeing a pattern here), so they never give any real information about their game in development. But the truth of the matter is (a) it is incredibly unlikely someone is going to steal your game idea because it is VERY likely that several other people already have a similar idea, (2) if you produce something, smash success or poor performance you haven’t failed because you created a game, and (c) showing your game to people, even just in words or a brief sketch, can help expand your ideas for that game and possibly offer insights into making it into a reality.

Learn from my past mistakes: market your video game early and often. Odds are in favor that doing so will only increase your game’s chances of success in the long run; either from name recognition when you launch, search engine ratings when you launch, input and feedback from other game developers for a better launch, or even finding an angel investor to help ensure you can launch.