Business & Marketing

Business & Marketing, Mind the Trap
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MOO business cards for the 2016 Sacramento Indie Arcade Gaming Expo, featuring concept art, character designs, and in-game screenshots from all our past projects.

Business & Marketing, Mind the Trap

Week 4 Updates: Kickstarter Analysis, Networking Fixes, Weird Play/Pause Bug


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Almost 100 Twitter Followers!

We’re currently at around 90 followers. Help us get to 100 and you’ll get endless kisses from Chris!

Kickstarter Analysis

by Kenneth

Like I mentioned last week, we’ve been doing some preliminary planning for Kickstarter next year. This week I came across an interesting article by Joey Daoud (sorry for butchering your name), which looked at the behavior of Kickstarter funders for film projects. I thought: since I did a short job as a data analyst and there’s no public analytics on Kickstarter video game projects to my knowledge, why not do a little analysis myself? This past week I compiled over 90 video game projects that have been successfully funded, are recent, and have a goal in the $1k to $100k range. I choose these criteria because I see these projects as being more “moderate”—they don’t come from AAA studios or developers who already have a huge backing. I’m sure there are many small studios out there like us who don’t have a huge social media presence and need to figure out how to mesh Kickstarter with their marketing plans to attain more followers.

In this analysis, I will be looking specifically at quantitative data, such as the number of backers, funding goal, and pledge levels. My goal is to figure out the average amount a backer pledges for a video game project and how that relates to the funding goal and number of backers. My findings will be published sometime next week on various sites, starting with reddit where I can get some feedback. My hope is that everyone will find this helpful for their own Kickstarter planning.

Development

by Chris

The majority of this past week has been… gruntwork. I’ve been working with online networking a lot to get it out of the way but have been met with a lot of hiccups. We did some testing between computers using LAN and came across some lag. After doing some research, I found that replication, or specifically rep notify, is the least intensive on networking compared to multicast and server-run functions. So I’ve been replacing everything that has been using these less efficient methods with rep notify.

I came across a really odd bug that’s actually been quite annoying. Whenever I simulate 2 players (server and client) in the editor window and press pause, any timeline functions I’m using continues to run. Technically, EVERYTHING in the level should pause when I press pause, including timelines, scripts, functions, and animations. I submitted a bug report and should hear back from them soon.

Business & Marketing, Mind the Trap

Week 3 Vlog Updates: Promotional Campaigns, Camera Controller, Enemy AI, Procedural Generation


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See summary below.

Promotional Campaigns

We’ve been doing a lot of research on ways to promote our game next year, including the Indie MEGABOOTH at PAX, Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight.

It’s an extensive process to get accepted into the Indie MEGABOOTH. They look at not only your game but also your company, its members, and how you contribute to the community.

It’s currently too early in development to come up with a solid plan, but here are some preliminary goals:

  • Launch a Kickstarter campaign in the summer. The funding and publicity will allow us to extend development, add more features, and build a larger follower base in preparation for release.
  • Attend PAX in August.
  • Release game at the end of August. Selling in August means we avoid the hot beds for AAA studios to release their games, which is around the September to December time frame. Selling in August also allows us to take advantage of seasonal and holiday promotions, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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Business & Marketing, RUIN

LOOKBACK: How The Facebook Launch Performed


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Welcome to the first post of our LOOKBACK series, where we examine recent marketing strategies and see what went well and what went wrong.

We launched our Facebook page on February 2nd at 1:30 pm. Admittedly, we didn’t expect much since we’re newbies to the industry and our game was only in an early development phase. We have no experience with Twitter and only got into Tumblr recently. Chris is relatively active in the reddit community. The question was: how can we take advantage of available resources and reach out to as many followers as possible and start building a fan base?

The Plan

Launch our social media pages with a shotgun approach and pray to all the gods of the world that we get a crapload of followers!

Just kidding. Well… partly just kidding…

The other part was to launch with high engagement content. The Early Development Prototype Teaser was extremely key to this launch. Photos are the most common post type, but videos generate significantly higher engagement, according to a study by Quintly. We wanted to have something cool and worthy of spending some time looking at–to show that we are committed and working hard.

Time of day was also important here. According to a million infographics, posting between 1pm and 4pm on a weekday results in the highest average click through rates. It’s a Monday. It’s right after lunch. Who doesn’t check Facebook during the afternoon slump?

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Business & Marketing, RUIN

Early Development Prototype Teaser + Website Launch


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Check out our trailer showcasing early prototype footage of our game RUIN!

This video is the culmination of hard work by not only the Dissonance team but also the student volunteers who helped get us to where we are today. This video was produced by our friends at Friendship Club. Enjoy!!!

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What better way to accompany this teaser than to launch our official website at dissonanceent.com!! 

This past quarter (and currently) at UC Davis, we have had the immense pleasure of working with a group of passionate student volunteers, who consist primarily of programmers and artists. We also cannot dismiss our little cousin Rachel Chang from Canada, who flew here this past December and sacrificed her Winter break to help us out with concept art for 2 whole weeks. With this team, we were able to quickly pump out 3D Blender models for the character and Behemoth, draw their respective texture maps, animate their various behaviors, and begin coding the gameplay mechanics in Unity.

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Behemoth & Character Concept Art by Rachel Chang

We are currently in the “proof of concept” stage of this game’s development. By the end of this Winter quarter, we will have a fully functional prototype ready for testing and debugging. Once the concept is approved to be fun and engaging, we will begin designing the official game levels next quarter.

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Banner art by Taylor Zhou

What is RUIN?

Ruin is an action-adventure game where your connections to other people are what matter most. In a world where a mysterious curse takes away your memories as time passes, your only solace is in a legend that tells you how to end this curse and in the friends you make in your quest to do so.

In your journey you will come across twelve menacing Behemoths, guardians of a towering Spire which is said to perpetuate this curse. But as you attempt to take down these Behemoths, you soon realize their size and strength are the reasons why they have survived for eons.

Business & Marketing, RUIN

LOOKBACK: Being an Effective Manager


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Managing a team of student this past quarter has been a huge learning experience. Before the start of the quarter, I planned on working on this game part-time along with 16 units of courses, and was aware that for student volunteers joining my team this was just an extracurricular activity. I hoped that my enthusiasm, the game concept and the idea of joining a start-up would motivate them enough to launch this game off the ground.

My brother and I prepared as much as possible. We used a google drive approach, where I had a task list, complete with details on the task needed to be done, and linked it to all our members. There were additional design documents that they could look at for more reference. I would also dedicate a couple hours each week for office hours to either guide the students in the right direction or to tutor them on the programs we use. We even created a special google site for the team.

The opening pitch turned out to be very successful: we garnered a bunch of students interested in helping out. From there the challenges came…

Students floated in and out, were not coming to meetings, and provided us artwork or code 2-3 weeks after they said they would. Progress was really slow.

Admittedly, we were a bit disappointed. Halfway through the quarter we reflected on what happened and realized we really needed to change our management style.

Forget the google site and the tasks breakdown document. Nobody looks at that.

Let’s use a Facebook group to post tasks that need to be done. 2 minutes later…Wow, people are already signing up. 

Let’s do a pizza dinner ice breaker sometime to get the team together and thank them for their efforts.

We are an ambitious studio. We need to emphasize the benefits of joining a start-up and how it could boost their resume/portfolio. 

For the rest of the quarter, everything became more efficient. Our team members were more responsive and provided results in 1-2 week’s time. Although we didn’t have a complete prototype by December, we had enough to create an awesome teaser that you all will see in the next couple weeks. Our efforts are not perfect but we’re getting there.

TL;DR: Aside from being personable, a manager must adapt to his/her team’s individual personalities. Communication is key and has to be tailored. 

Business & Marketing, RUIN

Having an Artist Makes a HUGE Difference


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This past week we’ve been extremely fortunate and lucky to have our cousin come from Canada and spend a good chunk of her winter break helping us out with concept art. Despite being only a sophomore in high school, she had this huge appreciation for what we were doing and immediately jumped on this opportunity.

The next thing you know, within 2 freakin’ days we were able to pump out a Behemoth and character (including 3D model, animations, textures, AI and basic mechanics). It was absolutely unbelievable how much progress we were able to make with a “full-time” artist.

Look forward to our first teaser coming out in a couple weeks. It will feature concept art and gameplay footage.

Her name is Rachel Chang and her talent for art is really inspiring. Check out some of her work here on her tumblr page and give her a shout-out!

Business & Marketing, RUIN

In Progress: Prototype Video Teaser!


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Hey Everyone,

Today is an exciting day. We’re working on our first Ruin prototype trailer with our friends from the videography studio, Friendship Club. The trailer will be used only for the opening pitch during the UC Davis Winter quarter Game Devs club meeting to promote the game and to engage more student involvement.

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This time around, especially after 3 months of hard work from the Dissonance team and our Fall quarter student volunteers, we want to show off a new face of the company that really demonstrates the seriousness we have for finishing this game.

The trailer will be released around the second or third week of January.

GEET EXCITEDDDD

Business Perspective:

For those interested in why we’re doing this from a business perspective, this is a marketing tactic to experiment how much more engagement we’ll get using a purely visual-audio presentation. We assume the sample size and distribution (what major, undergrad vs. grad) of students is roughly the same each quarter.

Last quarter, we presented a PowerPoint and our game concept alone was able to carry us into second place in terms of number of students interested in working with us (2 programmers, 4 artists, some floaters). I mean, come on, who doesn’t want to see a Journey + Shadow of the Colossus combo?!

A well-rehearsed speech and clean colorful slides unfortunately were not powerful enough to beat out the first place team, who had an entire PowerPoint designed to mimic an in-game UI. It had “buttons” that you could press to simulate a character selection screen. It was beyond jaw-droppingly awesome.

If this video teaser deems successful in grabbing more top notch talent or social media followers, then we’ll invest in more video productions throughout the game’s development lifecycle.