Context: Divergent Thought
I am approaching the halfway point of this experiment, which I think means that I need to show it to a wider audience soon and see if there are actually people interested in playing and supporting games of this type. That's going to be a heck of a reality check, but having put months into it I'm committed to seeing this through.
So, what does a soft launch require?
* Have a game worth playing.
* Have that game in a state that people can try it.
* Have the page and the video in a state that I'm happy with them.
* Have ways of getting the word out.
* Personal commitment.
The first point is the most important, if the game isn't worth playing then it's not worth making and none of this effort is justified. That's where the majority of my work has gone so far and where it'll continue to go.
The second is the job for today. I'm aiming to make a second post later today that I can permalink from my BGG account and the Patreon front page that'll have download links making it possible for anyone to give the game a go.
The third needs to be done over the next couple of weeks. I've had a fairly eye opening meeting with a distributor that essentially came down to "This game is great, I can see how you sell it to everyone who lets you demo it, but put it on a store shelf and nobody will be interested". I don't like prioritising making a thing look good when I could be spending time making it *be* good, but equally it's pointless to make a good game that nobody plays. Though it hurts my soul to do it, next week at least will be devoted entirely to flash and sparkle.
The fourth thing is to work out where I'm going to tell people about this. I've got a fairly substantial mailing list of people interested in my game designs, so that's a nice solid base to work from. I need to put some serious time into finding communities that'd enjoy this kind of thing and letting them know that it exists. Ideally I'll reach out to a lot of people and start a feedback loop in which people playing the game help me to make it a better game. Paid advertising is also a possibility, but this is a low budget project aiming to give something away for free so I'm not sure if it can be justified, worth bearing in mind but I suspect it's something to come back to later.
Finally, I need to be ready. As soon as someone starts giving me a dollar a month to work on this (Assuming anyone does!) it'll create a form of obligation. Do I like this game enough to be ready to make the sort of commitment that entails? Should I rewrite the page to be about supporting me as a designer and have this game as one project among many or should this page be about this game? Is "Divergent Thought" a stupid name? Would it be better to structure the thing around pay per update rather than pay per month? Am I mentally prepared for rejection, success and anything in between? Is this a good idea? Once I've cleared the other four steps and am in a position to tell people "Here it is, come get it." I need to take a long hard look at myself and at the project and be sure it's worth doing.
Then I can hit go and we'll see what happens.