Fort Triumph has been approved on Steam Greenlight last summer after less than three weeks in waiting, and we’ve been getting tons of questions from fellow local devs regarding the process and what we did to get ahead. Between office renovations and filming our crowdfunding trailer, we sat down to share some thoughts and advice for developers approaching greenlight and considering their publishing options.
What were the most important things you did to get Fort Triumph through Greenlight?
Guy Wolfus, Animator & 3D Artist:
“First and foremost, reach out to people in person. Don’t be shy to send a personal message, it’s not a big nuisance and no one will hate you for it… The worst that can happen is they’ll ignore your message.
Place yourself in their shoes – would you be more likely to engage with a social media advertisement or a friendly direct message asking you for your support?”
Shay Zeldis, Community and Marketing:
“While reaching out to people is a great recommendation, its easy to get stuck when trying to actually do it. Some ideas that worked for us – Twitter hashtag participation, Facebook groups for indie devs or genre loving players, direct messages or Email to content producers, journalists and youtubers that might be interested in getting the word out, and lots of reach outs based on calling cards and meetings in various conventions and meet-ups.
If there’s someone specific you’re dying to chat with about your game google him and send a PM through his public Facebook or Google account, if you can’t find a public facebook profile, you can always mention him on Twitter to get a response. In extreme cases even messaging through LinkedIn can be viable, especially if you’re looking for professional coverage rather than a friendly piece of feedback.”
Tomer Abadi, 3D Artist:
“Network – until you start doing it you can’t imagine how valuable it is for you, and with various social platforms growing it is easier than ever to do. While in many industries professionals are secretive, luckily in ours most are not and will gladly communicate, advise or answer questions. It is super easy to find almost anyone online and reach out privately, even if you haven’t the time to attend meet-ups and conventions (although you should try to go, our time in PAX and GDC for example was absolutely worth the costs).”
Adam Zaira, Founder & Programmer:
“Your success on kickstarter and greenlight (arguably even launch) absolutely depends on the amount of people who will share and retweet you, even more than the media coverage you might get. In that regard game developers in the US (and Poland/Canada/Australia are catching up) have a huge advantage over ones in countries with less gaming and development culture – they’re very interconnected, everyone knows everyone, and as a result when they tweet about things it’s heard by many and quickly.
Start developing your social presence by making a twitter account – if you’re an indie, your personal twitter account is a part of your brand and it’s the easiest channel to maintain and effectively use. The way game press often works nowadays is they’ll write articles about popular tweets on their feed. So make a twitter account, and add game developers early and often. You can see mediocre projects making it through greenlight based on their social following alone, but even your awesome project needs some following to make the cut.”
Why even choose to crowdfund when you can take investors?
Eran Yaacobi, Programmer:
“External investors usually have demands – they can prevent the developer from adding features he wants to add or, at worst, force the devs to add things that will make the game worse (or at least radically different from their vision). On the other hand, more funding allows us to create content or avoid cutting parts that otherwise would have no budget.
In my opinion, the main consideration should be ‘Will taking on external investors help bring the project closer to our vision?'”
“The difficult thing about investors in my eyes is that you have to explain why your business is going to work, and in game development (and the entertainment industry in general), you cannot even try to explain it with “There’s a large demographic” or “Gamers want more of this product”.
Unless you have a uniquely easy-to-explain monetization model for your game, you will have to spend huge amounts of time with investors (and often get no results). Even if you did, you’d have to give up big chunks of your company and your autonomy in exchange.
That is why I think dedicated indie game publishers are the way to go. They can increase your resources just like investors, but they understand games and audiences, probably even better than you. While some big publishers (Ahm, EA) still can meddle and push harsh deadlines, it is my impression that most mid-sized publishers understand that product quality is more important”
“In conclusion I think an investment is a good thing if it comes with the right terms.
Providing your team with more time and resources to dedicate into the project is valuable to keep morale and the quality of your game high, as long as you don’t compromise TOO much on what makes you you.”
We’ll be chatting with Fort Triumph devs again soon, with more advice for other indies and some stories from our development process and daily routine. Interview conducted and text edited by Shay Zeldis.