When to announce?

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kuroi
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When to announce?

#1 Post by kuroi » Wed Aug 04, 2010 12:10 pm

Like most of the VN creators out there, I find that I often have trouble with the fact that I start more projects than I finish. I had previously announced the projects right away but then when they got to a point where I wasn't terribly sure they'd ever see the light of day, I was sad that I'd ever announced the project at all. I think announcing a project that doesn't get finished does a disservice to the studio because fans see something they want and then it doesn't materialize so they won't get excited about future announced projects as they will just think that it's never coming out either. I also think that this does a disservice to the EVN community in general as fans who have seen too many announced projects end up as vaporware will no longer get excited about announced projects from any studio at all and then we'll all have trouble creating excitement about our new projects.

So, I was hoping to start a discussion about when is and is not the proper time to publicly announce a project. After some thought, I think that a project should definitely not be announced before the script is finished because every project that I've had to declare dead in the water was killed by an unfinished script. However, I realize that this may not be the case for every studio and people may run into trouble at completely different points, so what does everyone else think? When is a good time to announce a project?
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Re: When to announce?

#2 Post by DaFool » Wed Aug 04, 2010 12:21 pm

The only case where it is beneficial to announce early is if your project uses crowd-sourcing, in which case you can be sure that your project will evolve according to the skills and tastes of the interested parties involved.

There is a benefit of secretly working on something... rather than monitor a WIP page and socializing, you have more time to actually work on the game. However at some point you just have stop saying "Project X" and just flat-out say what kind of game you're working on, preferably to online friends who are genuinely interested.

This question is similar to "Should I release a demo?" question (Many stalled projects had demos released). The problem is that a "vertical-slice" is incompatible with software development in general, which prefers an iterative approach.

So if you announce a project, and you already have wallpapers and title screens and all sorts of bells and whistles to attract people without having the full content -- you are doing it wrong.

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Re: When to announce?

#3 Post by LinWest » Wed Aug 04, 2010 12:29 pm

I point to: http://luxhime.wordpress.com/2010/06/10 ... shed-many/
2. It’s probably a better idea not to mention the details of your project anywhere. This is for several reasons.
Firstly, revealing your ideas to others tends to result in a horde of suggestions, corrections and critique, which are very nice things to have – after you have finished the script for them to comment on. In the beginning, these are naught but obstacles to your personal flow of ideas and are likely to be off anyway, since your plans may change during the process or the style of presentation might make some things good on paper bad or vice versa.

Secondly, less embarrassment if your project actually fails, easier to move onto the next one, which you will finish even if you failed once. Often ingeniosity is success only gained after a dozen failures. But do you really want to show those failures to everyone?

Thirdly, especially if you aren’t an experienced commercial game maker looking to advertise their game prior to release, the idea of showing off your unfinished project is just wrong, wrong and wrong to begin with. You might want to do some honest self-reflection: why do you want to talk about this idea? Is it to get yourself an artist, for example? Why would you want to do that before your script is finished? (If you start to look for an artist before having started your script or anything else, you are doing a huge disgrace towards the artist!) Is it to get praise? Why would you need that? It’s not like your creativity runs on the fuel of popularity, and if it does, you’re doing it wrong. Is it because you are a dreamer, just trying to present a good idea instead of doing any work, which is a bummer? Work, you slacker, work!
I rather live by this rule. I think WIP threads in some cases can lead to talking about work, when your time is better spent actually working on the script.
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Re: When to announce?

#4 Post by Wintermoon » Wed Aug 04, 2010 1:41 pm

When the project is completely finished.

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Re: When to announce?

#5 Post by kuroi » Wed Aug 04, 2010 2:06 pm

I definitely think there's a place for pre-release promotion (demos, promotional videos, ect...) of a game in order to build hype and promote the game. This is especially true for commercial studios like Kuroi Games. Perhaps in order to make sure that a game is going to be completed even after it is released, it may be better for a studio to gather all their self control and just sit on a completed project for a little while. During the time the game was finished but not yet released, the studio could put out the kind of promotional stuff that's needed to build the project's popularity.

What do you guys think? Good idea? Worst plan ever? Possibly the kind of plan that'll get me thrown out an airlock?
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#6 Post by Topagae » Wed Aug 04, 2010 2:43 pm

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Re: When to announce?

#7 Post by LinWest » Wed Aug 04, 2010 2:51 pm

Once you have the script done, and you're in that stage of making art/coding is the best time to start making posts about it I think. At least that's when I'm going posting about my projects anyway. Althoug its kind of cool when people just pop of finished products with no warning or hype. Then the hype is the finished project itself, not just ideas.
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Re: When to announce?

#8 Post by Jake » Wed Aug 04, 2010 3:27 pm

Depends why you're announcing it, really.

- If you're announcing to drum up interest in a commercial project, then... well, the psuedoscience of marketing is a giant black box that's also invisible and made of angry cats, but generally I would say "don't announce before you're absolutely sure it's going to get finished".

- If you're announcing to get help with some aspect of development, then announce when you have enough stuff to make a persuasive case that a) your project is going to get finished and b) your project is interesting. You don't want to look for help too early because people will be put off helping with a project that's bare-bones... but you don't want to leave it 'til you're right up against the wall and can't proceed without outside help, or your project may run out of momentum and stall while you're waiting to find someone.

- If you're announcing because you want to show someone your game and want feedback in order to know how to proceed, then announce when you have something playable that people can test and give meaningful feedback on.

- If you're announcing because you have a free project that you don't need help on, you just want people to play, then announce it when it's done.
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Re: When to announce?

#9 Post by kinougames » Wed Aug 04, 2010 3:38 pm

When you're 50% done.

There's a reason we haven't really done an "official" release, despite showing people to our stuff as far as signature links and whatnot. I think pointing people to peek at your stuff, especially as an indie, is really valuable work. From my long, long, long 12 year experience in anime fandom, people buy and want to spend on familiar before new. (Which is why fan art makes so much at cons and original art barely sells no matter what it looks like.) The longer people look at your characters, the more they start to imagine those characters doing...whatever, the more likely they'll care about your project when it's out. Especially if you're selling; you'll find that people will pay more for what they already like than to try something they don't know if they like yet. (Hence how brands get made, etc etc.)

(The exception I'd say is if you're paying for services. People who get paid are a gazillion times more likely to complete a project than free workers, in which case I'd just use good judgement.)
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Re: When to announce?

#10 Post by Wintermoon » Wed Aug 04, 2010 4:17 pm

When I read an announcement about a game that is not yet out, I tend to classify it as "vaporware", and I tend to dismiss any hype associated with the game as meaningless. When the game actually comes out, it will have three disadvantages compared to a new game released without any pre-release announcements:
  • My interest in the game will probably have waned from the time of announcement to the time of release.
  • I will have the impression that the developer is more interested in marketing than in making a game.
  • The game will still have the stigma of vaporware attached to it.
That said, announcing the game two weeks or so before its release probably wouldn't hurt. Especially if you use those two weeks for testing and polishing the already-finished game.
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Re: When to announce?

#11 Post by Aleema » Wed Aug 04, 2010 5:04 pm

I don't know about anyone else, but my first couple of WIP threads were to make a commitment. Just working on a project in my spare time has led me to create even more scrap projects that were just time-fillers for me. Putting the story out there forces me to stick with a project, even if it has to be on hiatus. My latest WIP was honestly to recruit people, but as it goes, people will post feedback about your game project regardless. Waddaya gonna do.

When a really big, well-done project is posted to the Completed Games forum and I've never heard of it before, for some reason, it doesn't seem big/comparable to others that I've heard of before (from people's signatures or whatever). It's just a mental fallacy for me. Maybe it's because the creator didn't show, um ... a sense of player awareness? I dunno. Makes the game really feel disjointed from the community, but of course, none of this matters because you have to play all games before you judge them. I have no preference for others' games, just my own.

If announcing a game ends in scrapping more often than not, then perhaps the more productive question should be: What can I do to help myself stay focused/keep interested/just plain finish one of these damn things? All that other crap (should I release a demo? do I make a WIP thread? game website?) is really just different ways to express yourself. If you're commercial, MARKET, yes. If you're not, who cares? I don't think there's a right or wrong, since your mileage will always vary.

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#12 Post by Topagae » Wed Aug 04, 2010 5:07 pm

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Re: When to announce?

#13 Post by Lekhaka » Wed Aug 04, 2010 9:18 pm

My two cents specifically on non-commercial non-recruiting announcements:

Art is for the sake of expression, so I think having a WIP thread to generate some kind of response to the work one has done so far will help one to feel more motivated about doing the project. It also creates a bit of pressure, since one would try not to make the announcement meaningless. Some projects will fail anyways, and if this method is used then it would lead to more disappointed forummers who were following the project, but as for the projects themselves, I think announcing it while it's under progress will increase its chances of completion.
* My interest in the game will probably have waned from the time of announcement to the time of release.
* I will have the impression that the developer is more interested in marketing than in making a game.
* The game will still have the stigma of vaporware attached to it.
For the last two points, are you referring to commercial games? Because for free games I for one don't see any need to be concerned with those points.

For the first point, this should depend largely on the timing and nature of the announcement. If the announcement is made too early and there's no update for months, it will probably lose interest. On the other hand, if it feeds the viewers with good updates, interest will probably increase. An extremely simple model of the number of interested players would probably be similar to

n = at(-bt+x)

where n is the total number of people who remain interested, a is the average rate of people who find your thread, t is time, b is the rate at which people lose interest over time, and x is the number of people which your promotional efforts have kept from being disinterested. As you can see, this would be a quadratic with an optimal value of t which will theoretically give you the maximum number of interested players. So there's the answer to "when to announce". :lol:

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Re: When to announce?

#14 Post by Wintermoon » Wed Aug 04, 2010 9:51 pm

Lekhaka wrote:Art is for the sake of expression, so I think having a WIP thread to generate some kind of response to the work one has done so far will help one to feel more motivated about doing the project.
Art is about producing a finished product, even in the case of performing arts (where the product is the performance). You want the final product to have the maximum impact, so you hide all the preparations leading up to it. Which is more impressive: a flawless performance out of nowhere or a long series of practice sessions showing incremental improvements? (And if you make your practice sessions public, will any of your audience even stick around for the actual performance?)

Trying to motivate yourself right now is pointless if your motivation doesn't last until the project. If you live on praise, try to motivate yourself with the expectation of the well-deserved future praise you will receive for the finished project, not the meaningless empty praise you can get right now for posting yet another WIP thread.
Lekhaka wrote:
* My interest in the game will probably have waned from the time of announcement to the time of release.
* I will have the impression that the developer is more interested in marketing than in making a game.
* The game will still have the stigma of vaporware attached to it.
For the first point, this should depend largely on the timing and nature of the announcement. If the announcement is made too early and there's no update for months, it will probably lose interest. On the other hand, if it feeds the viewers with good updates, interest will probably increase.
Speaking only for myself, my level of interest drops very rapidly when I learn about a new project that hasn't been released yet.
Lekhaka wrote:For the last two points, are you referring to commercial games?
The OP is specifically talking about commercial games, so I tried to fit my response to that. However, my points remain for non-commercial games. Replace "marketing" with "attention-whoring" to make it sound less commercial.

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Re: When to announce?

#15 Post by Lekhaka » Wed Aug 04, 2010 10:17 pm

Trying to motivate yourself right now is pointless if your motivation doesn't last until the project.
My point was that based on my guess, this motivation will increase your chances of finishing the project. It's distinct from your point. Now if you believe that announcements don't motivate you to do the project, then please let me know where my guess went wrong.

And I know that it has already been mentioned that the announcement/WIP thread might take more of the author's time than the actual project. I doubt this claim, but I don't think there has been any evidence pointing either way, so I see no way of discussing it...
Speaking only for myself, my level of interest drops very rapidly when I learn about a new project that hasn't been released yet.
Well yeah, it's subjective. But check my edit for an overall model (not entirely serious, of course) :lol:

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