Getting Your Game Reviewed: Do These Things, Not Those Things…
You’ve busted your butt trying to make the game you need to see made. I’m snowed under a pile of applications with too much to do and too little time to do it in. How do you get me, the Judge/Media/Publisher, to review your game for more than 5 minutes??
Every week I review games to spot friction points where you might lose a player. Right now I’m coaching 8 startup games companies through their IndieCade submissions. I’ve sat with many a games journo who feels rotten about not being able to play everything submitted to him – yet he knows there’s no way he ever could.
These 8 Do’s and Don’ts of getting your game reviewed are for you, for me and for them.
- Quick to Launch and Load: I don’t have time to bug fix the install from my end or hunt down drivers that have gone unsupported for the last five years. Package it up neat and tidy, load it on a few different machines, have a total tech newb try to run it without you pointing out what they need to do.
- Make it Easy to Play: If it isn’t immediately clear how I start the game, if it doesn’t load or I can’t tell what the hell I’m supposed to do when I start playing – I’ll quit to desktop and move on to the next one. Sorry, I know you worked your ass off trying to get this done, I simply don’t have time to chase you for a version that works.
- Bring the Fun to the Front: Don’t ask me to wait for the game to get good. If the experience isn’t engaging within the first few minutes I find it highly unlikely that it’s going to get engaging later (Just going to take this moment, right now, to remind you that the word “foreplay” exists. It is a VERY important word. I’ll leave you to draw the appropriate conclusion as to which analogy I’m trying to illustrate).
- Do Apply ALL the Submission Criteria: Want to know what it takes to get us to look at your game for more than 5 minutes? It’s all there, in stunningly clear bullet points, in every FAQ and Submission Criteria page published on news portals, competition websites, etc. That is your checklist. Do those things and you immediately improve your chances of getting your game played.
- Take into Account Different Learning Styles: This one’s from John Halter over at the Indie Game Developer Facebook page: “I don’t know how the judges will approach my game, so I’ve been trying to create a variety of resources to make learning the game easier and therefore make that first 5 minutes as productive as they can be. I’ve been working on an in game tutorial, separate txt file (or read me), a wiki, and videos showing how to play the game.”
- Don’t Expect Criticism or Feedback: I know you need it but you should be really be getting that from IGDA meetups, your local game design college and from forums where you’ll find the folks who most want to play your kind of game. Why won’t you get criticism and feedback from us? Take a moment, imagine me at 3am after a week of crunch, probably in tears: a) I haven’t communicated with another human being for hours and really want to communicate with my pillow b) do you really want a sleep deprived and overworked me giving you criticism? I’m a short, Italian, alpha female. I get scary when grumpy 😛
- Don’t be Absent or Arrogant Online: If I like what I play then I’m immediately going to want to find out more about you. I’ll go through your website, google your name, see what others have to say about you. What I’m trying to answer is: “Who are you? Why are you making games? What are you trying to do?” Share your story, your progress and your goals. We need to get an idea of what you’ll do with this opportunity.
- Don’t Depend on Us for Your Success: You have to be able to do this on your own. Give us everything you can through your application and your website to show us the kind of studio you run and answer the question “Can they really pull this off?”. Come across as needy or desperate and you’re communicating to us that you’re not ready to hit the ground running if you do get this opportunity. I don’t want to do that to you.
Got something to add to the list that’s worked for you? Post it in the comments! Even better, check out the contribute page and submit your own how-to article!
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