Why Indie Games?

This article might start off a little bit… differently, but please! Bare with me here!

Do you remember the last time you felt awe playing a game? Campaigns that make you feel alive and refreshed are far and few these days. Half the time I play games I can predict exactly what’s going to happen. For the life of me, I can’t remember the last time I played a Call of Duty game that stimulated my narrative needs. Back in 2015, my gaming life consisted of multiplayer first-person shooters on an endless loop. From COD to Battlefield to Halo, over and over and over again. My whole gaming diet was lacking that sustenance. The slice of cake rich with plot twists, character designs, and emotional attachments. And then I found what I was looking for (which I’m going to assume you know from the title): Indie games.

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Games that weren’t there to pander to massive demographics and had more to show than cleaner graphics compared to the previous year’s edition. Indie games envelop you. The titles, although sometimes unheard of, are unique and crafted by small teams, many times starting from nothing. I’ve just been going on and on about how indie games give a whole new life to gaming, but let me give you a more personal example.

For those who’ve played OneShot by Little Cat Feet, you know exactly where this is going. For those who haven’t enjoyed the game themselves, I implore you to go check out our review, here, and possibly pick up a copy, then continue reading. There will be spoilers ahead!

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OneShot gave me something I haven’t felt from a game in a very long time. It gave me a connection. From the moment I entered the dimly lit, pixelated world, I knew something was going to be different about this game. The soundtrack from the moment I entered this game made my chest swell with excitement. If that wasn’t good enough, something refreshing happened that I was definitely not expecting. We were NOT the main character. In OneShot, the beautiful minds behind the game decided to have you play “God”. You were the influencer. While you did walk around and control Niko, all your interactions with him were between you and Niko. Two completely different entities.

We went the whole game watching and bonding with Niko. We explored the world with Niko. We met every individual we could spot with Niko. Helped countless people with Niko. And in the end, what does the game do? It presents you with a choice of two wrong answers. You can sacrifice Niko to save the world or you could sacrifice the world to save Niko. Reading this without playing the game might not do you much good, being that you didn’t grow that connection that felt eternal with Niko. Me myself, I didn’t know what to do. I won’t lie, it brought tears to my eyes. This poor innocent boy who’s done no wrong is faced with an ethical dilemma and turns to you, his God, for help. I couldn’t take it. I shut off the game then and there.

Too many thoughts clouded my mind, I returned the next day, ready to make a decision. The only choice that would be right was saving the world at Niko’s expense. But, when I finally hit clarity, the game threw a curve-ball that hit me in the gut as hard as a truck. I opened the game and saw this:

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Indie games are your favorite stories mixed with your best friends. So, why indie games? Because they’re the closest thing to true, real games.

Burying the Dead – Graveyard Keeper

Ever wonder what it would be like to be in complete control of a graveyard? How it would feel to have to prepare the bodies and to eat chunks of their remains? Not the last part? Well with Graveyard Keeper you can do all of the above! Graveyard Keeper is a management sim game where you are the person in charge of running and taking care of a medieval kingdom, but it isn’t by choice. Your character was on his way home one night when he was struck by a car and killed, when he awoke he was in a medieval land and was told he would be in charge of the graveyard. After that it delves into how to maintain your graveyard, how the bishop will be ranking your graveyard, and the town nearby where you can have new shovels made, or get a drink at the bar.

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The game is energy based, meaning any action you do will cost you energy, but the good news is that you can regain the energy fairly easily. All you need to do to regain energy is cook some food, once the food is cooked and eaten you can get back to burying corpses. How you corpse part works is a little odd though, you are brought a corpse to bury, but first you have to bring it to the morgue and do simple surgery on it (remove parts of the flesh) and only then can you bury it in a grave. The bishop will visit you from time to time and give you a “style rating” on the graveyard, your style rating determines the types of graves and decorations you can have in your graveyard, which in turn raises the style rating even more.

The games tutorial is somewhat lacking in information, it gives you all the knowledge you should need to play the game, but doesn’t go very in depth on how to apply that knowledge. But aside from that there should be no trouble with learning how to play the game with no understanding of how management sims actually work. The music and sound effects in the game are also very good, they fit the theme and are quite appealing to listen to. As for the graphics, they chose to use a type of pixelated graphics, not so far as to be 8-bit, but not a stunning realism. That works out for it though as it allows for you to focus more on the matters happening in the game as oppose to the graphics accompanied by them.

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All in all the game is fun to play and it has a good feel to it. I hope to see a lot of excitement following this game release.

Get the game here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/599140/Graveyard_Keeper/

Top 5 Free Tools to Help Market your Game

Hey, my name is Max and I run a creative agency near London, UK, with team members and clients across the globe. In this article, I hope I can provide useful information about tools that greatly increase the effectiveness of your marketing, that I tried and tested. These tools are also focused on reducing the amount of time spent on marketing.

Marketing is never easy and in order to use these tools effectively, it is important to have the materials and resources in place. These include videos, gifs, trailers, promotional graphics and artwork etc. If you don’t have the time, or want to get these professionally made, be sure to get in touch to see how I can help you.

 

1. Presskit()

 

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Press Kit Example

 

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Firstly, a press kit is a package of information and assets about your game that you can easily send to members of the press. It is a standard way to give everything a blogger may need to write about your game as fast as possible. Creating a press kit can require either web skills or a lot of wasted time. This is where Presskit() comes in.

Just by following a few simple instructions and editing the .XML file, you can have a fantastic looking and detailed press kit up in around an hour. Once it’s done, it’s done and you can send it out to the press!

 

2. Distribute()

 

Distribute

Distribute Example

 

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Also from the creators (Vlambeer) of Presskit() is Distribute(). This platform connects your press kit with the press for you and is used to distribute press copies of your game. A member of the press or content creator can sign up and verify their email with the platform. Once logged in, they can request access to a copy of your game. You can see how popular they are and whether they fit into your game genre, then choose to deny or grant access to a copy of the game. This is a vital step to get people talking about your game. What is really great about Distribute() is how well it brings in new content creators, without having to do anything.

 

3. Hunter.io

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This tool goes for all marketing and PR in all industries. This simple app helps you find the contacts you need to get an answer from a company. Sometimes a contact@email or support@email is just not enough. You want something more personal, maybe a member of the team at the company, or just the right email to contact. You first enter the domain name you want to search for into the search bar. Then, in most cases, you will be shown a list of email addresses associated with that domain (not all are necessarily still valid)

 

4. Discord

I have no doubt that many of you know the app Discord. Many of you may already be using it to its full potential. But for those who are not aware, Discord has become the number one messaging platform for gamers. This is important for 2 reasons. Firstly, it connects you with people who love playing games. Secondly, this will connect you with other game studios and creators, freelancers (contact) and other useful members of the community.

There are huge communities with thousands of gamers, press and content creators and other game studios all looking to engage with you. Make sure to use this tool properly and communicate like a human in these communities. There is no use just posting links to your game, get involved and get talking.

Here are some great servers:

Game Dev Network

Enomview of course!

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Game Dev League

Heiny Reimes

 

5. Steam Curators

 

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How to find the tool

 

Steam has a whole plethora of so-called “Curators”. These Steam Curators bring together games all in one place, so gamers can find hidden gems and indies that are worth playing. If you are releasing a title on Steam, you will have access to “Steamworks”. Hidden away on here, you can find a tool to connect your game with hundreds of Steam Curators. I personally have not used this too much and so cannot verify the quality or effectiveness of this tool, but I sure know it is super easy to show off your game to the right people.

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I really do hope this has been of some use and you learnt at least 1 new tool to get you going with marketing your game. If you would like advice or just to chat about marketing and your game, be sure to comment below or connect on Twitter, Discord, Facebook or email!

Max Louis Business Profile
Written by Max Louis
Creative Director at MLC.

One on One with Developer of new MOBA, King’s Vessel

With the new year sending us into 2018, the indie game development scene has seen no shortages of new games entering the arena. Looking to tackle both new and old genres, we can expect one thing, and that is another great year for indie game development. Hello, EnomViewers my name is Reno Morgan, and I am here to share with you one of those new games: King’s Vessel by Natoken Entertainment.

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I had an opportunity to discuss the development of King’s Vessel with the owner and founder of Natoken Entertainment, Nagiliant (Soren Warnsdorf). The talk filled me with excitement for this upcoming MOBA. King’s Vessel aims to grab at the roots of what made MOBAs so addicting and yanking it right into 2018. One of the first things that attracted my attention had to be the fundamental gameplay for King’s Vessel. While I did not get a chance to enjoy it by discussing the game with Nagiliant, I gathered that it would either be a major success or it would fail to hook the dedicated MOBA community. Something Nagiliant took time to address when I asked the following:

“The MOBA genre is probably one of the most consistent compared to new wave games. Staying the same over so many years making it really difficult to change what the MOBA community already knows. Time has proven this after numerous major companies made attempts at revitalizing these type of games, for example, Paragon by Epic Games and Battleborn by Gearbox all recently shutting down development or closing servers despite being made by very reputable development teams. As an indie team, how do you think King’s Vessel can overcome the stubborn MOBA community, and how do you all plan to open people up to trying something new?” – Reno

Nagiliant reassured me that in order to properly break the cast set by modern MOBAs, King’s Vessel would need to reach way back to what made MOBAs initially addicting games to play. Sticking to the staples of the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena Angel Arena. Nagiliant wants to bring focus away from Tower Defence / Lane Pushing and go back to the “Arena” aspect of MOBAs. Focusing on eliminating the enemy team, and controlling the map with a series of capture points that will provide vision. While pushing the enemies towers will begin to limit their spawn territory, it is not a requirement to end the game. As long as your team generates enough points to spawn the enemy boss this way you can end the match without pushing individual lanes.

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While sticking to the fundamentals and mixing in what can already be experienced in MOBAs like LoL, Smite, and DotA, the map for King’s Vessel will look vaguely similar. Featuring two lanes, instead of the typical three with a larger jungle and some new objectives like the Control Points, it won’t feel completely alien to most of us. One of the focal points of the game is eliminating the enemy team’s players, and holding the three Control points which will eventually summon the enemy teams “Boss” at the center of the map. There are two within each teams jungle and one at the center when the boss is not summoned. Players will have to battle in an expanded jungle, while also protecting their territory which is held by the various towers on their side of the map (that can be destroyed). One of the major differences will be the spawn location relative to the main objective, which will no longer be right outside, but instead at the center of the map. This makes death penalties very severe unless you maintain your Lane Towers to use as teleport points. If your boss is spawned, and your team is re-spawning you have a good distance to go before you can reach the center to help defend it. I can definitely see mobility being one of the most vital factors when it comes to Hero/item choice.

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We also discussed hero development and item usage where Nagiliant introduced some of the additional features that will strike veteran MOBA players as a little odd. While players will have access to a variety of items you can purchase to reinforce your hero some of the more powerful items will have fall-offs. These items aim to help balance the more powerful passives and stats by providing players with the opportunity to sacrifice performance in another aspect for those benefits. We can only wait to see how these pro/con items will perform, but it won’t be too far off from items like the Divine Rapier in DotA that can be a great boon to you, or fall into the enemies hands and be your biggest enemy. Nagiliant went on to share how the goal is to see these items and not just to augment what heroes can already do, impacting how those heroes feel to play. Possibly opening up new corridors into the versatility of individual heroes to allow them to play in different ways. Along with these unique tweaks we can still expect to see stacking and evolving items.

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Some of the other features you can expect to see will be Hero (or Vessel) skins, and the idea of having skins for the team’s towers/boss was also shared. Hopefully, in the coming months, we will get to see more of what Natoken has planned for King’s Vessel.

With no expected release date for playtesting, or estimated release you can bet I will be circling Natoken Entertainment until the release of King’s Vessel to share with you all the moment you can get a slice of the action. I will provide you all with links to all the information and media for King’s Vessel and I hope you all give them a look! It has been a great time talking to Nagiliant, and I want to give a big thanks to him for providing all of the artwork and giving us permission to share it with all of our EnomViewers. All the artwork was done by one of the Natoken Entertainment developers, Marjaana. Thank you for reading, and see you in the next one.

Here is where you can find the Natoken Entertainment Patreon along with the benefits to the patron tiers I will provide below.

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(A little hint while Nagiliant did not want to make any false promises for digital in-game content included with the Patreon rewards he did say that patrons will be shown appreciation.)

You can click the following for links to the King’s Vessel media sources
Youtube
Twitter
Twitch
Reddit
Discord


Hello, EnomViewers my name is Reno Morgan a 21-year-old indie Narrative Designer, and University student out of the United States, NY. I only recently joined the Enom team and I write articles on upcoming Indie Games. I also do follow up reviews, and game critiques on the same titles I write up-and-comings about. In between writing for Enom, I also work on Indie Games as a story writer and character designer. I love everything video games, and I am as nerdy as you can get. Some of my personal favorites are Smite, FFXIV, and anything Square Enix. I am also an avid anime fan, and I love cosplaying. If you ever have a game you want to geek out and share with me feel free to message me at any time my Discord is 1D#0001 you can also email me at vindictris@gmail.com. Look forward to sharing the future of indie games with you all, hope you share something with me too! Thanks for reading.

A Guide to Failure at Game Development

There are many among us who would wish to succeed in game development. Article after article, seminar after seminar of what you should do as a game developer, how you can succeed.A daunting task, you might say. The video game industry, already oversaturated and mired with competition, has only grown more so in recent years. From an outsider’s perspective, it might seem impossible to get in. Harrowing. Unrealistic.

So instead of that, why not try something simpler? Why not find out the things that you shouldn’t do as a game developer, how you can’t succeed? Why not, instead of win, lose every skirmish and every battle and every war that a game developer must wage? Why not, my friends, do everything you can to weigh yourself down with the anchor of failure, stranding your ship out at sea until your sailors of progress die of starvation, madness, and scurvy?

My friends, if it be failure you seek, then failure you shall have. Here lie just a handful of the steps to the path of defeat:


Build Your Army

Whether you’re making a Pong reskin or the next World of Warcraft, (you should definitely be making the latter, but more on that later,) make sure you bring on as many people as possible. How much is enough to stifle progress? There’s never enough, of course! Projects with 3-4 more members than is realistically necessary to complete a task for a particular team not only fail to get things done, but tend to bog down on the strength of your most hardened soldier’s spirit. As an aside, make sure you never pay any of them, no matter what you’re asking them to do, when you’re asking them to do it, etc. etc. etc.

Fit lazy, unskilled, and inexperienced workers up together with their foil counterparts, the hardworking, skilled, and seasoned developers, and tell them to split work equally on a task. This will not only lead to a lack of progress, but in-fighting, tension, and a loss of morale. Soon enough, people will lose their motivation and laugh at your project, thinking it as something akin to a meme and want to leave. Success!

In truth, any size will do, but if you can break the 50+ mark, or better, the 100+ mark, you’re golden. As long as you aren’t keeping it down to an absolute minimum of who you need and don’t need, and instead bumping it up to a maximum, you’re well on your way to achieving that sweet, succulent, success-void soufflé.

Promotion Before Production

Always make sure that you get to promoting your work and thinking about how you can get as many people as possible to see it before you actually worry about getting stuff done. Simply put, googling “how to pitch my game to a publisher” before googling “how to use a game engine”. This one’s much easier than the last one, as it doesn’t take nearly as much effort as going on an internet-born membership crusade, but it’s still just as effective for its ability to turn into an endless cycle that you nor anyone else on your team can ever hope to escape from. It’s so beautiful in that way, isn’t it?

Know all those social media platforms you like to go on? Youtube? Google+? Twitter? Facebook? Make sure you make a page for all of those, and more still. Put an “official” at the front of the name for each of them as, after all, you want everyone to know that you’re not an impersonator. Through those accounts, emails, or some other means of communication, talk to bigger developers that are already established. Ask them to help with or promote your work so you can only further climb the ladder of fame and feel good while you’re doing it.

In keeping with the last tip, the one about bringing on as many people as possible, know that, in a way, this tip returns in form of promotion. As a part of your growing game dev armada, make sure that many of the people you hire are either translators or representatives from various countries all over the world. Make sure your studio has a member from every country there is to be a member of. Be it Denmark, South Korea, Singapore, or Iran, your soldiers should be a part of global, growing force.

The Invisodev

Make sure you’re damn near unseen by your colleagues, spoken of only in myth and legend. Remember: motivation is key in creative projects; they have a tendency to bleed and die when you lack it. One of the best ways to bolster that motivation is to establish a sense of comradery. It helps to talk to your teammates, keep up consistent communication, and care for them not only as a fellow developer, but maybe even as a friend. <<< So make sure you don't do that.

Don’t talk with anyone on your team unless it’s work-related. A sucky developer knows that the only topics that matter are those pertaining to the game they are making, and even those topics can take a back seat to whatever they’ve got going on at the given moment. A coldly professional, but lazy demeanor should be so radioactively present that it irradiates everyone around you.

If you ever do respond to people, make sure that response comes only after the grueling wait of hours, days, and weeks. A returning response should never be immediate, and almost always delayed. The only time it should ever be immediate is if it has to do with the two most important factors to the unproductive game developer: their reputation and their level of popularity.

Master this point, and people will swear you have 101 Sneak not only in Skyrim, but in the real world too. Ninja! 

Grow Your Neckbeard

Ever had dreams and aspirations of getting in shape? Well, go ahead and kill them immediately, as they won’t serve you well here. Stop going to the gym, stop working out, and just stop going outside in general.

You’re already going to be staring at a screen for long hours as a part of your work as a game developer, so make sure you continue the trend and stay glued to that screen for as long as you possibly can. Choose one room to work and, well, live in, and rarely ever leave it. Turn off all the lights to keep it as dark as possible. Sit in a chair that makes your back hurt, then slouch. Angle your head down as far as you can and keep it held down like that; using your phone for extended periods, dependent upon the physical position you’re in, is a great way to do this. Never sleep until you pass out, eyes always fixed to something that glows.

Take on a daily diet that consists of soda, fast food, and fried everything. Fried chicken, fried cheese, and even fried butter! (It’s an actual thing, look it up.) Eat what you feel like when you feel like it, never keeping track of what you put into your mouth.

Hell, remember those Twitter and Facebook accounts you started awhile ago? Put those to extra use and start getting involved in all the political nonsense that’s going on both platforms these days. Pick a side and fight ’til the end, riling yourself up with as many unsavory feelings for the human race as you can muster before taking to the arena, armed for a flame war to end all flame wars. Get obsessed with something you have absolutely no control over and let it become your life.

Oh, and to conclude, when you’ve made a habit of all these practices, make sure that you follow your instinct. Very important. The human mind is constructed in such a way that, if you get into the habit of living a corrosive lifestyle, you will continue and continue and continue to be drawn to pursue it.

Deadlines Are The Devil

Even when you’re doing your best to follow a routine, it can still be hard to get things done in a reasonable timeframe. The setting of a goal itself guarantees the possibility of failure from the onset, which is good. However, we can amplify the effect by making sure that, instead of working off a checklist, mandate, or deadline, you work only when you’re motivated to.

Motivation is a shifting, amorphous thing. It is not SMART, (Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, for which you are Responsible, and Time-Bounded,) but instead, VAPID (Vague, Amorphous, Pie in the sky, Irrelevant, and Delayed). If you begin to do things only when motivation strikes, then it will soon feel as though completion for every goal that you set is like waiting on that one high-level construction project in Clash of Clans… except the construction finishes first.

When dealing with your coworkers, make sure to tell them to only “get it done when they can” or “get it done soon”. Setting a specific time for things and holding people accountable when they fail to get things finished when they’re supposed to is a sure path to success, so be sure to be vague about when you want it done, and like a teacher that can’t stand up to their students, let all the missed assignments slide under the rug.

The Corrosive Commander

A truly corrosive project lead is essential to poisoning progress, but what makes one, you might ask? Well, there all kinds of ways to be a planet-destroying director, of course!

If some of the members of your team are slacking or putting off work, then don’t try to hold them accountable for it. Instead, gradually build upon the belief that those people aren’t going to be very helpful in the future. Do not delegate assignments to them and instead work on it yourself. Become your studio’s design team, 3D team, playtesting team, programming team, and 99% of it’s writing team, for example.

Don’t be mindful by using proper manners or executing on effective communication. Either be so grimly professional that people will never be able to approach you, or if English isn’t your first language, speak with such broken grammar that people will never be able to understand you.

When someone says they feel you could improve upon your leadership or that you aren’t doing a good job, hit them like Shepard himself likes to hit that reporter. Feedback is one of the most crucial elements to getting better in any field, and thus is not at all acceptable here. Keep it up champ, and before you know it, you’ll be cultivating a galactic harvest ripe for the Reapers.

Dream Big

Oh yes, best for last, right? This point right here, more so than all the others, is an absolute project killer. It is the star destroyer of game development, the Hercules of bodybuilders.

Remember when it was mentioned earlier that you should be trying to make the next World of WarcraftWell, instead, try to make that and six sequels afterwards. Don’t start small by trying to make a portion of a single level in Mario. Give the world it’s next Assassin’s Creed, it’s next Grand Theft Auto, etc. If it can be made in Gamemaker Studio 2, then it shouldn’t be made at all. Shoot for something like Unreal in place of it.

This shouldn’t just be a part-time group activity, but the world-changing masterpiece you live and die upon. Advanced art, graphics, animation, and music. A story that will make you weep and mechanics that will give you cause for gaming addiction. If there was ever any one thing you could do to assassinate your progress from the inside, it’s putting your ambitions before reality.


A list like this may seem depressing. It might also seem like common sense. Who would just mindlessly speak with broken English, not set deadlines, or set their scope so high that they couldn’t see it above the clouds, I can hear you asking now. The unfortunate answer is “all kinds of people”. Not a single one of those points was something I pulled out of a magic hat. None were copypastas pulled from another site. These were all things I witnessed in the dozen or so creative projects I’ve been a member of, all things that drove those projects into the ground.

In the end, the most important thing to take away from this article is that common sense isn’t common. As a part of an experiment, studies have shown that over 47% less people died in hospitals that utilized checklists for the most basic of things, like washing your hands, making sure your surgical tools are clean, etc. Imagine how much more success we could have if we simply stopped, dropped, and made sure that we were fulfilling upon all the basics in our own lives and, of course, in our creative projects.

If you really want to succeed as a game developer, than simply look to the follies and pitfalls of those who came before you, as mentioned above, and do the opposite. (Oh, and check out some of my other articles about game development. Shameless self-promotion FTW)


Dylan Russell has worked in over 10 different creative projects and as a game writer in over 5 different fan development studios.

Survival Horror: Do’s and Don’t’s (2)

As said before, there are many things that developers do in order to make up the bulk of their survival horror game. While some of these elements can work, there are ways to do them, and there are most certainly ways not to do them. You most certainly can experiment and get creative with your game as a whole, but you need to be very careful not to fall off the deep end. Here are a few elements that can be used to the developer’s advantage, but can also lead to some disastrous results.

Heavy Artillery: Do not get me wrong. There are plenty of games that give you weapons, and still maintain their stance in the survival horror world. However, the use of guns such as machine guns, gatling guns, sniper rifles, lasers, whatever they are; these are things that just do not belong. When you give your player the means to wipe out monsters with air strikes and missile launchers, that fear and dread you mean to invoke are just not there. A big bad monster comes out of nowhere. Oh, I shot him. Well that was fun, what next? These are known as action games. Do not slap the genre “survival horror” on a game and give your player a magical one-hit sword. Most of the time, it just really does not work.

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Over Complicated Puzzles: Puzzles in survival horror are quite common, in fact, they’re in just about all of the noteworthy titles. However, there comes a time whenever you need to look at your overall story and ask yourself “How long will this puzzle take?” If you’ve done your job correctly, given your player a good amount of fear factor in an area, made your haunted house nice and spooky with that subtle tinge of fright, good on you! However, putting a Myst-level puzzle in the middle of a room with which to slow their progress is highly discouraged. After a while, you lose all feeling of uneasiness in favor of confusion. That confusion can turn into boredom very quickly if you are not careful. Then your player goes off to a walkthrough of the game and that just takes them out of the experience as a whole. Was it really worth it?

 

Fast and Easy Scares: Perhaps the most used and abused element of the survival horror genre. Before terror or eeriness sets in, we are treated to a big fat monster with scary fangs going booga booga! No… just no. There is a method to this, and popping out at the very beginning to scream at your player is not the answer. These things take time to build, they need to progress slowly before you jump the gun.

 

Atmosphere: Let’s face it, if you do not have the skills to create a truly unsettling atmosphere for your player to lurk, survival horror is going to be nigh impossible. This can be done in several creative ways, some ways need very little expensive backgrounds, but at the same time, the more creative you aim, the better you should probably be with your surroundings and the more time you should spend adding just that extra tinge of subtle paint on a wall that looks like it may or may not be blood.

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The Antagonist: Perhaps one of the most important things you can get right and wrong is the main villain of the game. Dracula is a very hefty example of this, so let’s use him, shall we? Dracula has been depicted in thousands of ways, whether it be the ancient Transylvanian vampire or a new age, bleak depiction of the vampiric lord, he can be menacing, or he can be an outright joke. Say you bring him into the fray and he does his thing, but then in walks his father. The bigger, badder vampire guy with the aura of mastery will overshadow our favorite blood sucker, and then all credibility will be lost. You just killed any vibes you were aiming for in favor of a new, scary bad guy with bigger shoulder pads. Well, what about Dracula? If he’s sitting there trying to impress his daddy, why do we care?

 

Or, let’s say you go a little overboard with his villainous traits, give him that evil laugh that we all know, make him just walk in, spout out some threats and kill a kitten. Well, now we’re just sitting there saying “Okay, we get it, we want to kill you. You don’t need to rub it in!” Subtlety, that is the key to giving us a fulfilling urge to reach the goal, and it also makes us fear this guy. We need to be afraid of his fangs and his power, and once we get into that final boss battle, we can truly concentrate and wonder “Well, crap, what do I do now? I need to pay attention. OH GOD! PLEASE HAVE MERCY ON ME!”

 

Helplessness: This can be completely abused and horribly mistreated. However, when done right, it can be the kicker that makes your game truly great! If you truly feel helpless in the eyes of a terrifying entity, but have that chance of escape/victory, the urge to survive will come to you naturally. Hence the name “survival horror.” You want to survive, and thus you will play every facet of the game in order to obtain the ability to do so. Even if you are given a pistol with which to defend yourself. If that pistol does not stop the monster, though it may slow it down, the horror is heightened! “Crap! What do I do now? I need to run! Please don’t catch me!” Boom! You have just successfully upped the fear factor and made your game that much better.

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Forced Fear: Finally, it is worth talking about one thing that many games seem to fall back on as a means to invoke some sort of reaction. Do not tell the player what they are feeling. Do not have a fear meter or some random character saying “This place is so scary!” We will be the judge of that! Telling us to be scared and driving it into our heads like you’re commanding us to emote just does not work. Yes, having the character we play show how scared they are can affect us, but that is only if it is done properly. There are tones you need to set, traits you need to build upon and relationships you need to cement into us before we truly begin to feel for what they are going through. Telling us when to scream is overstepping your bounds as a game, and usually draws an opposite reaction of perpetual eye-rolling.

 

You can have a great game with amazing game mechanics at your disposal. Good on you. However, before you start labeling your genre to the capacity of Lovecraftian horror of the survival variety, make sure you at least make an effort to bring us into that mindset. It is not easy, especially if you are aiming to truly make us bite our nails. You can throw in all of the jump scares you want, but unless you get us in that dark, abysmal place in our psyches that invokes those emotions we came here for, you have failed your mission. Pay attention to what truly brings out the scares and makes us delve into that world. You will be glad you did. But first, always remember to drink water.

Survival Horror – Do’s and Don’t’s (1)

Survival horror is perhaps one of the most slippery slopes in gaming. That feeling you get when you walk into a room you have never been in. You can barely see, the shadows in the room take on forms that look ominous, the silence in the room is louder than any noise that you will ever hear, and everything is still, motionless, eerie. There is a creeping feeling in your brain that tells you that you should not be there, and the darkness begins to take its toll on your nerves. There is a sudden flash from outside the black curtains in front of the window that makes you stop in your tracks as all of the forms of the room are brought to light for a single instant, but that only makes it worse as the darkness returns. One sudden motion, and your heart can skip a beat, you begin to feel the dreading that something is watching you, something is coming for you, something is about to crawl out from underneath the furniture that is covered in white sheets and grab your ankles, pulling you into a place unknown, a shadowy place of which there is no return.

It is up to the game developers to first capture that feeling in a setting for your character, and simulate that feeling of absolute helplessness. Do you have a weapon with which to defend yourself? Can you survive if something truly does lurk in the shadows? Well, that’s where we start to get into the true cusp of a much larger world, one that has captured the hearts of millions, but also caused some of the largest disappointments ever seen in the gaming world, rivalling that of E.T. for the Atari.

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Truly terrifying horror games are some of the most difficult things to write and develop. While there have been some terrific successes, there have also been some horrific failures that completely trounce the number of good games that are meant to invoke fear. When you step out from the middle of the trees, and get a good look at the forest for what it is, you can start to see where the successes bleed together. They have certain elements in them that are worth noting and if used properly, can truly give the player what they came to see and feel, true terror!

Horror movie fans are normally the target audience. Those people that go to the theater to see a scary film, even if chances are it is not going to be good, they are willing to risk it. These are the ones that want to take that extra step further and live in that world. They want to interact with that horror movie and be a part of it. If you can make your audience feel like that, you have won the race that is called survival horror, and you will be greatly rewarded for your efforts.

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Then there are attempts that just miss the point entirely, or do not have the means nor the know-how to truly make the player become engulfed in their dark, horrific reality. This could be from a lack of funding, a lack of skill, or just a simple lack of knowledge on the subject. Some people think it’s just as simple as shoving someone into a dark room and have people talk cryptic nonsense.

In the next article, we will go over some important items involved with making survival horror video games in detail. Stay tuned and be sure to keep an eye out.

Read Part 2, and in-depth list of features to include or not include, here: Part 2

Want to see more Game Development articles? Check out our article on Marketing your Indie Game, here!

Indie Game Marketing

It goes without saying that game development requires a lot of work. This ranges from how you will create the art and design for your game, all the way to how will you promote it once it releases. Of course, if you are an individual or a small game studio, you are likely to need an extra pair of hands when it comes to physically (and mentally) managing all of these different aspects of game development. Whether you are a small team or not, you can still have success in the game dev world.

My name is Max, creative director at MLC and I will be sharing our experience working with game studios to help market/build their games. Hopefully, our unique tips will improve your knowledge and understanding of how you can develop an incredibly successful game.

In this blog, we will focus on our most recent major project, Batch 17. We started by working on different resources to make it stand out online and look the best it could. Promotion on various platforms like Reddit was a great success, which you could even say, made the game as popular as it has become. Ultimately, when marketing a game there is one thing you need to have in your mind: There is no one way to market anything, it is all about persistence and creativity.

Persistence

Focusing on reaching the absolute maximum amount of people is very important. Set yourself a target of a potential reach of 1 million people. I know that sounds impossible, but it really isn’t too bad. There are plenty of subreddits with 80K+ people in them. Post in these subreddits, some Facebook groups, make sure your Twitter is buzzing and you will be well on your way. Even targeting smaller communities is effective. For example, letting a streamer with 1k followers have access to your game could end up being well worth your time and effort.

Creativity

It is important to think of new ideas to help reach that goal of 1 million people. It just isn’t enough to post your game on sites saying “Hey check out this cool game I made, it has guns and shit!”. That’s far too common. Think about what a player might be thinking. For Batch 17, we got our major success when we posted about our upcoming free alpha. Our Twitter was well organized and constantly posting, so people found it and were interested. I woke up one morning and we had been put on Metacritic, a blog had been written about our alpha and we had 400 sign-ups. Now their mailing list has 11,000 members!

What is important to learn from this is: target your audience like you would want to be targeted. Don’t assume someone wants to play your game, in fact, assume they don’t. It’s all about saying “hey look at me”, so draw attention to yourself using a great hook and kicker (great blog post about hook and kicker). Make a kickass trailer (or ask us!), run a giveaway or even partner with a Discord channel. Whatever you do, remember it’s all about that reach count. If your trailer isn’t being found and has less than 1k views, consider sending it to a channel like MathChief. Get other people involved.

 

Finally, make sure you know what you are selling. There is nothing worse than not even knowing what’s so fun about your own game. Get your ideas and stick with them. Copy and paste writing you have used on your store page, on your posts around the web (of course altering slightly). Make your game relate to what the audience wants to play – which is most likely what you want to play.

Get in touch

There is too much to marketing to put in one blog post. There are plenty resources online to help you learn more, but make no mistake, this is hard stuff. If you are really serious about your project it is vital you get marketing done properly. Feel free to contact me at sales@maxlouiscreative.com or message me on Discord at Max#2210 to have a chat with me 🙂

Steam Indie Game Recap – Week of the 21st

Indie games come out every day. Sadly though, many of the incredible titles released never gain the publicity they deserve. Here are three games released this week on steam that deserved to be checked out!


1. Witchkin


“You are being stalked by evil dolls in an old black-and-white film”

Witchkin is a first person ‘hide-and-sneak’ survival horror game in the vein of Slender or Five Nights at Freddie’s.

The player takes the role of a child attempting to find his abducted little sister in an abandoned Texas farmhouse in the 1920’s. This house is home to the Witchkin–a family of terrifying toys, the children of a deranged woman known as the Candy Lady. Using her “children” she will do everything in her power to keep all who enter the house from ever leaving.

The base play mechanics of Witchkin are primarily stealth. Sneaking, hiding, staying quiet and aware of the toys and your surroundings are skills required throughout the game. Witchkin boasts a very strong and unique art style reminiscent of early silent movies, painted in the eerie sepia tones of postmortem photos and the murky shadows of nightmares.

Witchkin is a one-man show, only one person created the game: art, music, voice (with a little help from family members), and programming.

Check out Witchkin on Steam, here:
http://store.steampowered.com/app/682170/Witchkin/

2. Damsel

Cause some distress in this fast-paced arcade platformer. Speed through each arena taking on vampires, rescuing hostages, disarming bombs, hacking servers and much more. Super tight and responsive controls let you take on the darkness with precision and style. Balance frenetic action with split-second choices, and watch your back – you never know what direction the next vamp will come from! Armed with her powerful ultraviolet shotgun, Ra, make the undead see the light; or get in close and personal with devastating melee attacks. Or maybe, save up your shots and use Damsel’s powerful (and deadly) dash.

String together attacks and movement while collecting the mysterious arcane skulls that litter each environment. Challenge yourself to pull off combos and special moves and wear your high score as a badge of honor! Experiment in each mission to discover that perfect sequence of moves and shots that maximise your effectiveness. Damsel is a ballet, and you’re the choreographer.

– Super fast, frantic gameplay with that “just one more go!” feel.
– Quick, nimble platforming in over a dozen beautiful environments.
– Bite-sized missions, for those with busy schedules.
– Use your enemies and environment to your advantage. Temp your foes into taking each other out, then go in and clean up the rest.
– Rack up massive scores and hit the top of the leaderboard by completing bonus challenges and performing tricky moves.
– Play through the game in campaign mode, where you can hone your skills, or arcade mode, a classic challenge that sorts the women from the girls.
– Coffin loads of extra challenges and bonuses to extend your play time.
– Awesome original soundtrack.

Check out Damsel on Steam, here:
http://store.steampowered.com/app/452410/Damsel/

3. Scrap Attack (VR)

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– Dive into virtual reality and blast away waves of evil robots in an immersive arcade style shooter.
– Defend the crystal from the 5 ruthless enemy types with awesome sci-fi weaponry.
– Three different arenas of varying difficulties for you to master.
– Compete in online and local leaderboards for the top score.

How far will you push yourself to protect the crystal from the robot onslaught?

Check out Scrap Attack on Steam, here:
http://store.steampowered.com/app/774401/Scrap_Attack_VR/

How to Make Your First Game

For just about every gamer there is in the world, there are about a half a hundred game ideas just waiting to be tapped into. If I had a dime for every time that I’ve heard one, I think I’d be rich enough to provide every cent that Rockstar needed to make GTA 6 a reality. For many, these are just ideas, but for others, these are the beginning baby steps into a long, glorious future in game design, and we here at EnomView want nothing more than to set those beginners on the right track. Here are some helpful tips to get you started:


1. Idea & Scope

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The first part of this step is simple enough: have an idea! Was there ever a game-related passion project you wanted to start on? A concept you wanted to make into something tangible? If so, then now’s the time to take that idea and practically apply it.

The second part of this step, however, is much more tricky.

>>>Think small.<<<

While you should definitely let your imagination run wild, you have to remember that this is the first time you’ve stepped up to the plate, bat at-the-ready. You shouldn’t expect your game to sell, nor should you be trying to make something comparable to AAA titles like Assassin’s Creed, The Elder Scrolls, or Call of Duty. Instead, shoot for something like a mobile app game, or one of the more simple flash games you’d find on Kongregate or Armorgames.

If you have some sort of other talents you can use, like art or writing, then by all means, use it. However, since you’ll most likely be working on this all on your own–and again–this is your first project, you’ll want to worry first and foremost about the gameplay and mechanics, not the stylization of it all. Record a basic synopsis of that idea somewhere safe and keep that synopsis handy.

There are lots of strategies to creating good mechanics, but if you want more help with those before you start or maybe just need some inspiration, then I’m going to recommend the following links:

Snoman Gaming (Quick videos going over examples of good game design in popular indie and AAA games)

GDC (Videos of lectures given by professional designers at the Game Design Con)

Extra Credits (A channel recommended to me personally by several designers who’ve been making games for years)

2. Game On

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Play games similar to the one you want to make, but don’t just mess around, analyze them. Try to break them, exploit their faults and glitches, figure out what they did right and what they did wrong. Try to look at these games not only from the perspective of a player, but a developer, and determine why the systems put in place were chosen. Use the knowledge you’ve gained and edit the information on your recorded synopsis as necessary.

3. Pick an Engine

Things weren’t this easy at this stage back in the old days, but thankfully times have changed. It’s now possible to make something that people all over the world will fall in love with and not even have to touch the code. Every one of the engines listed below has their perks. While you can truthfully use any one that you so please, certain engines will work better for certain types of games.

Gamemaker Studio 2 – Used to make games like Death’s Gambit and Undertale, Gamemaker Studio 2 is really the best all-around choice here. Platformers, RPGs, general flash games, and even 3D games can be made with GMS2. (Tutorial playlist links)

Gamesalad – Generally used for mobile app games, it’s not uncommon to see a featured download on the App Store that was made with Gamesalad. For games made to be played on a phone or tablet, Gamesalad’s where you’ll want to go. (Part 1 of Tutorial Videos)

RPG Maker – If you like old school RPGs, then you’ll love RPG Maker. If you’re making a game like The Legend of Zelda or Pokemon, then go ahead and use this one. (Tutorial Playlist) 

Unity  – Used to make 3D games like Kerbal Space Program, Rust, and Battlestar Galactica Online, Unity’s the first choice of several indie developers. It will unfortunately be the hardest on this list, and is usually only used for games with 3D models, but it should not by any means be dismissed. (Part 1 of Tutorial Videos) 

Once you’ve decided upon one such engine, play around with it. Use one of the tutorials linked above and get a feel for what you can and can’t do. Then, when you’ve got a basic feel for it…

4. Give it a Go

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Try and make it happen!

Set about with an idea that won’t take you any longer than a month, then give yourself half a months time longer to account for production errors. If you go over that month and a half-long timeframe, then it may be best to take a step back, figure out what you did wrong, and start again with something new. It’s far too easy to fall into a forever-unending development cycle, and you want to make sure that you finish your work.

When you’re done, ask a few people you know to play it, and collect feedback. Apply that feedback and make changes as necessary.

“And what about when I’m done? What do I do then?”

Start right over from the beginning, my friend, and keep making games over and over again until everyone you know is begging to play your latest release. And then, once you’ve reached that point, keep on going.


Looking for more articles like this? Check out our Game Development is Not Easy article!