3 years is a long time to make a game. I never really planned how long it would take to finish Harvest Island. I just knew I needed my next game to be bigger than my previous if I wanted to be a game designer full time. I say this because I worked on other games before Harvest Island. The advice from other devs was to make small games and grow your fan base. But that didn’t work out for me. None of those games gave me that fan base. Nobody really cared. So, I thought, my next game has to be bigger and people have to care about Harvest Island. And before you know it, 3 years have passed.
I learned a lot throughout this game development journey, especially marketing. I’ve come to a conclusion that marketing is about evoking a feeling and selling that feeling. Not play my game but showing how fun or mysterious or exciting a game can be and you leave it up to the players to decide if they want to buy it or not. That’s what I learned from trying to market Harvest Island for 3 years. You can’t push someone to buy your game, you can only show it in its best light and hope that someone would like it enough to buy it and play it. That’s why trailers are good. You make a really good 1 minute trailer and hope that people are moved by what you are trying to express. That’s what I did for my recent trailer. I wanted people to understand that my game isn’t a stardew valley clone and I’ve added a horror element to the farming sim genre as a twist which most farming games don’t do because they focus too much on that relaxing gameplay. My trailer did exactly what I wanted. And that’s marketing right there. What you’re showing is the game in its best light and hopefully people take interest to play the game or share it with their friends.
Sometimes marketing deals with people you hate. Sometimes when I post something on youtube, I get a bad comment about how my game is a stardew valley copy cat or make the game free because that’s all that will ever amount to. Sometimes I get attacked personally and that made me fear the internet for a good month. But with all these experiences, I’ve learned that you just have to keep smiling and finish that game because the handful of people that still care still support you. Gamers are really really quick to judge. I have to say that. If they hate you for some little thing, they will go out of their way and really stalk you and try to ruin you. Like really try to cancel you. It’s a very toxic community. I don’t pay attention to those people. They usually just go away in a day or two but the feelings last for days. That is marketing. You’re dealing with people.
There are a lot more things I learned that I wanted to get into as well to help bring awareness to Harvest Island like Youtube. I’ve been fidgeting around a lot with the algorithm and what makes a video go viral. Yeah, you can’t predict that. People talk about how the algorithm changes a lot but that’s not how it works on youtube at all. Youtube is about a community and people will watch you because you’re interesting or the subject is interesting. It’s really about skill. I know that this video wouldn’t reach a million people because no one really cares about harvest island right now, but if you watch a mr beast video, people would care because he does a lot of crazy things that other youtubers can’t do. Like give away a million dollars for a video. For me, I’m just a guy that’s making an indie game. And I’m actually ok with that. I’ve tried to be a youtuber to bring more awareness to Harvest Island and it’s really hard. You have to make the viewers care about you. Why they should watch you. There’s nothing much for me besides I’m the developer of Harvest Island. And my game isn’t popular. So… I think it’s better to show what I’m feeling and treat youtube as a diary. Instead of trying to be a youtuber, I should use youtube as a means to an end to promote Harvest Island.
Yeah, 3 years of marketing a game is a very long time. And I would do it all over again. Because I learned how to market a game. It’s about selling an exciting feeling or tugging your emotional heart or even showcasing something cool you can do in the game and hoping that people will buy your game. That’s marketing.
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