Hey Phil, I’m finishing up development of my first RPG system, and plan to publish it on RPGnow.com in a couple month’s time. I have been trying to generate excitement and exposure for what I feel is a unique system, but even through twitter, facebook, emails, and the lot, I don’t feel that the game will be played by many (if few).
(Snipping part about finances because I know nothing about that)
So, my question is, are there any ways you can recommend gaining exposure for my game? I want people to play it, and take it seriously, but I’m just afraid that it’ll slip by as another tactical combat RPG that no one cares about.
I’m really touched that people value my opinion enough to ask me such huge questions. I’m no industry muggle, just a blogger turned freelance writer who made some friends on the RPG circuit. I appreciate the trust, but take my advice with the proverbial grain of salt.
So for that reader and all those thinking about releasing their own RPG one day, here’s what I gathered from hanging out with and playing the games of some successful Indies.
It starts by the game requiring it to fill a specific set of RPG Needs that are currently in demand while being original enough not to fade out when compared to other games that cater to the same needs. People who play it with you and in demos at conventions need to see what it’s about fast and get what it does better than the other games of its category.
They need to experience it, they don’t need to be TOLD about it.
Secondly, it needs a TON of luck in getting in the hands of the right people at the right time. Luke Crane, (then a relative 20-something unknown designer) overcame his shyness and got his game (Burning Wheel) in the hands of Ken Hite at just the right time and got it named best RPG of the year. You need to seek such lucky breaks through hard work and networking like crazy.
Third, you as a designer need to start to build yourself a fan base to help push your game/brand. You need to get your face out there and shill your game in the best possible way: Get people to play it by demoing it many many many times…Crane, Vincent Baker, Jared Sorenson, all spend countless hours each years at Cons doing nothing but playing demos and hawking their games while answering questions. You need to do that too.
You also need to start mastering the realities of Web 2.0 and make online tools available for your fan base to grow and build itself up around you and your game (both are somewhat indistiguishable early in a successful designer’s career).
That leads me to a related point, you need to spend countless hours interacting with that community to playtest the SHIT out of your game. It needs to be broken beyond belief and rebuilt from the pieces so that the game can stand shoulder to shoulder with the very high quality stuff resting on the shelves of game and PDF stores.
We are in a new age of game design and the bar is set very high. Thus, scout your competition and always strive to tyweak your game to deliver the best experience it was designed to address.
Finally, as a designer, you need to project the mother of all in your face, fearless attitudes. You need that to constantly shamelessly and obsessively hawk your game, be its strongest advocate and staying above the petty insults and recriminations that online trolls and the Indie community itself will fling.
You need to walk to people and put copies of the game in thier hands and tell them, straight to their face… “this game is the Shits, I made it and it fucking rocks, I know because I spent a gazzillion hours playing it and I still have fun playing it”
(Your actual language and millage may vary).
That, I think are the ingredients to making your game a success. It goes beyond slipping PDFs to bloggers (they won’t read it) or hoping to get noticed in the sludge pile that are the online RPG stores.
Creating and tweaking the game, as hard as it was, is, I think, only half the work, countless gamers have done it. Pushing the game in the hands of the gamers it was designed for is where the real work starts.
Your turn now
That was my take on it… anyone wants to chime in? The mic is open!