adamatomic

Hard Work and Privilege

adamatomic:

DISCLAIMER: If you do not “believe” that privilege is a thing, or whatever, I have neither the energy nor the eloquence to convince you otherwise at the moment.

Earlier this week there was a bit of a flare-up in the broader indie games community that I think has happened before, and will probably happen again, and it goes something like this:

ESTABLISHED CREATOR: “I don’t understand why all these new developers are whining that nobody liked their first game. It took me 10 years to make a game people liked. Shut up and work harder.

YOUNG TURK: “Don’t tell me to work harder. I work insanely hard as it is. Sorry I didn’t start from such privilege, asshole.”

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Show Business: Marketing for Those That Hate Marketing

A lot of indies don’t want to market their games and I tend to agree with them. Marketing is a bad word and a shitty thing. It has been selling us stuff our whole lives. When I see a billboard yelling at me to try the new CrunchMeatwich 5000 for just $2.99, I clench up. Most of us do when we’re sold something. It’s an uncomfortable spot that we don’t want to put anyone else in. “Hey, try this it’s free! TRY IT!!!” makes us feel like we’re not artists but instead, hucksters. It’s a distraction from what’s important: our work.

I’m right there with you. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t have to “do marketing”. This isn’t french fries, paper towels or cleaning products; it’s art! It’s whatever you want to express for whatever goals you have for your work of art. The real problem is how we’re looking at what the rest of artistic mediums do for “marketing” and thinking that’s the only way.

Movies are the number one influencer of videogame marketing and videogames in general. Trailers, stills, websites and the rest. Two titanic entertainment industries that separate making the damn thing and telling people about it in just about the same way. Movies might even be worse…

When a studio takes on a film, it’s usually tasked with doing all the marketing. I think it’s been this way for a long long time and this carries through in videogames. It’s absurd that an incredible movie with an amazing director doesn’t have creative control over the trailer; essentially a film. They worked hard crafting 120 minutes of film, surely they might have a vision for the 2 minutes that tells people about it…

That’s not to say there haven’t been great trailers executed by directors… But as you watch, think on the last movie trailer you watched that felt honest and indicative of the film’s flavor like these do below. It seems (unsurprisingly so) that Stanley Kubrick had a heavy influence on his trailers:

Official Trailer for The Shining

Official Trailer for Dr. Strangelove

Official Trailer for A Clockwork Orange

But clearly, he wasn’t involved in this one: A Clockwork Orange 40th Anniversary Edition Trailer

And that’s not even that bad of a trailer by anyone’s standards. But clearly it’s dishonest, after seeing the three directed by Kubrick himself. Your trailer, your screenshots, your website your… whatever, is an extension of your core work. Treat it as such. If it’s not working, try again.

So why do we default to the old concepts of “marketing” and “marketing teams” to tell people about our work? Those are old and weird and they don’t work for us anyhow. If a game is made with an indie spirit, that will shine through if the same soul is put into everything surrounding the game itself. If you make a trailer with dubstep because you saw a talk about dubstep’s effect on game sales, well, you’ve sold your soul and you’ve made the mistake of “marketing” your game.

Most recently I released Threes with Asher. We searched for a single sentence for 8 straight months that would describe Threes. We went through hundreds of name ideas. I sat up in bed many nights thinking what would make sense for our “trailer”. The “tagline”, the trailer, the screenshots, the pull quotes and the website all needed to be tiny. We didn’t know that until a couple months before release. Just as I remade the art for the game dozens of times, the extensions of the game itself had just as much energy poured into them.

For the duration of your works development, search long and hard for what makes it special. That beating core of phosphorous hidden inside that makes your eyes widen when you finally see it. It’s never not taken me the whole time and it’s never not felt amazing when after dozens of concepts and false-starts I finally Get It and everything is in its right place. The rest is the easy part. Making the trailer, the website and the screenshots. It’s The Discovery that takes months.

It feels great because we’ve managed to make our game that much richer outside of the space it resides in. It feels honest. When you get it, and you put in the work, it’s the opposite feeling of “marketing”.

A lot of folks in the community know me for my graphic design approach, but this applies to everyone. Whether your game is about an interpersonal relationship, classism or desserts, the same search for the soul of your work applies. It’ll look, feel and taste different than anyone else’s work and that’s the whole point. Your game should be an extension of you and let that same expression extend out into how you show it, or maybe how you don’t.

You don’t have to be Stanley Kubrick, you just have to be honest and brave. Below is an incredibly honest, soul-bearing trailer, undoubtedly directed by Tommy Wisseau. It seems to give away all the major plot points of the movie, and yet it hides just enough of the beautifully bad yet quiet moments littered throughout that make it worth watching. Oblivious or not, Tommy made this trailer with the same passion and vigor that is imbued in The Room itself.

Use your limits. You had them when you made your game. Maybe they’re different when it comes to a trailer, but they’re still there to guide you. Making a videogame is incredibly technical and involves some of the core skills involved in creating trailers, websites and screenshots. Plus, we live in the internet. It’s not all directly applicable, but the execution of these things should be much less trouble then, say… for a novelist.

I’m not saying this is easy stuff. I’m not even saying we even have the kind of time required. But if you’re letting yourself off the hook because you “don’t know how” or hate “marketing” you’ve missed a step in the process of bearing your soul through your artworks.

Stop selling your game. Show it.

danijmoss asked:

I read your article from a link off the Indie Game Fan Facebook page and it was a great read. I'm considering creating an indie game myself and know there will be a lot of pitfalls along the way - one of the main reasons I'm not quitting my day job. What I wanted to ask is what else does a person have to do in order to "go indie" outside of making a game, coming up with a company name and putting it on Steam? Or is that actually all you have to do?

Thanks for the kind words. :)

You don’t have to do company or Steam stuff, just make a game. The harder question of “am I mainstream?” will come later. Sooner if you’re lucky.

luckypeach
luckypeach:

Our friend Jason Polan, an artist and noted Taco Bell enthusiast, sent us this report from the front lines of the battle to turn things that are not tacos into tacos.


I just tasted three new Taco Bell breakfast items!  
 I got an email yesterday morning from a man at a pr firm inviting me to an event this morning at the Taco Bell. I set my alarm for 8:30 so I could press snooze seven times before getting up, which still started my day earlier than I almost ever do. How does anybody get anything done before 10am? It is so hard.  
I did drink some water and brush my teeth and get dressed and then look at a mug in the sink and then look where the Taco Bell was in my phone.  I went outside and whenever I go out earlyish in the day (if I have to go to an airplane or something) I am always amazed other humans are doing anything that early.  I usually stay up late.  My body just felt weird and cold and weird as I walked to the train station.  I took an E Train to 34th Street and walked down past the big post office (it is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for self-service!) to the Taco Bell.
 As I approached, I passed a wall I think on 30th Street on the downtown side of the street that was facing uptown that had neat colors.  I wanted to take a picture of it for Instagram but the lighting was kind of gray outside and I thought I would check it after I left Taco Bell in the hopes that the sun had come out but now that I am at the Apple Store typing this I just remembered I forgot to do that (good story!).  
 When I got to Taco Bell there were signs on the front windows saying it was closed for a private event.  I walked in and a guy checked that my name was on his iPad and welcomed me and told me to go up to another guy.  I introduced myself to a lady who was with the pr firm because the guy was talking to someone.  She was nice and asked me who I worked for and I told her about Taco Bell Drawing Club and she had read about it on The New York Times!  She told me what I could order (and referred to me as “a friend of the brand” which I thought was funny).
 I don’t remember the names but one was a waffle with eggs and cheese and a sausage (that you can get with bacon instead) and another was a hexagonal crunchwrap supreme with bacon and eggs and cheese and a hash brown and the other was cinnamon balls.  I got everything (it was FREE!) and a coffee and then talked to the lady more.  There were five or six people behind the counter making the stuff and nobody else was in line so they were all focusing on your order and it took a while (or, not a while, it took like four minutes, but a while for Taco Bell which usually takes about 35 seconds.  I think they were just being particularly careful with these new things. 
The lady said I could take a video/set of pictures/gif of myself taking my first bite of the new items on a camera next to the front register to use for Facebook/twitter etc. if I wanted to but I was too uncomfortable to do that because of the very bright light attached to it and they were screening the already made videos on a big TV next to it.  
 I went and sat at a table and looked at what I got.  The box for the waffle taco said “right now I’m eating a waffle taco and you’re not” which I thought was kind of not terribly nice and possibly conceptually flawed.  If you are eating a waffle taco with someone they will see this writing upside down while they are eating, and they are probably eating a waffle taco too, right?  
Maybe this sign is meant to be a word balloon from inside the box.  Maybe there is a little turtle in there eating your waffle taco and he is just telling you what is going on.  In which case, this is not conceptually flawed but a nice way of giving a little turtle a voice.  I will probably think about this for the next three hours.  
Another guy then sat at the table.  He had already eaten and I introduced myself and he was really nice.  He writes for a website called Thrillist and it was a little bit of a relief to have somebody else there to talk to who was trying the new items.  I opened everything up and put it all together and then put syrup and salsa on everything because I wanted the full experience and then I started trying stuff.  The waffle taco was sweeter than I thought it would be and I liked the hash brown in the crunchwrap supreme shaped thing.  I liked the cinnamon balls!  
 A man came up to us and said hi and was kind of jokey and made a kind of inappropriate sexual reference joke about the cinnamon balls which was abstract enough to not be totally skeezy but realistic enough to make me feel skeezy for connecting it in my head.  He then said there were actually thirteen (I think he said thirteen) new items they are unveiling though there were just three today.  He said they didn’t want to go overboard with us tasting things and I said I would have eaten all of that (not jokingly) and he laughed.  Everybody was really positive and into Taco Bell.  I was really in my element!  
 As I was walking out the door they gave me a Taco Bell travel coffee mug and said, “You can open it later,” with kind of a wink.  I opened it right when I got outside the door and it had a twenty-dollar Taco Bell gift certificate in it. Is that weird to give to “press” people?  If so, I don’t care.  I am using it and if you want a taco and you’re with me I will use it to pay for yours, too. Because I would hate to be in a situation where I was eating a waffle taco and you were not.

Taco Bell and Raould Duke

luckypeach:

Our friend Jason Polan, an artist and noted Taco Bell enthusiast, sent us this report from the front lines of the battle to turn things that are not tacos into tacos.

I just tasted three new Taco Bell breakfast items!  

 I got an email yesterday morning from a man at a pr firm inviting me to an event this morning at the Taco Bell. I set my alarm for 8:30 so I could press snooze seven times before getting up, which still started my day earlier than I almost ever do. How does anybody get anything done before 10am? It is so hard.  

I did drink some water and brush my teeth and get dressed and then look at a mug in the sink and then look where the Taco Bell was in my phone.  I went outside and whenever I go out earlyish in the day (if I have to go to an airplane or something) I am always amazed other humans are doing anything that early.  I usually stay up late.  My body just felt weird and cold and weird as I walked to the train station.  I took an E Train to 34th Street and walked down past the big post office (it is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for self-service!) to the Taco Bell.

 As I approached, I passed a wall I think on 30th Street on the downtown side of the street that was facing uptown that had neat colors.  I wanted to take a picture of it for Instagram but the lighting was kind of gray outside and I thought I would check it after I left Taco Bell in the hopes that the sun had come out but now that I am at the Apple Store typing this I just remembered I forgot to do that (good story!).  

 When I got to Taco Bell there were signs on the front windows saying it was closed for a private event.  I walked in and a guy checked that my name was on his iPad and welcomed me and told me to go up to another guy.  I introduced myself to a lady who was with the pr firm because the guy was talking to someone.  She was nice and asked me who I worked for and I told her about Taco Bell Drawing Club and she had read about it on The New York Times!  She told me what I could order (and referred to me as “a friend of the brand” which I thought was funny).

 I don’t remember the names but one was a waffle with eggs and cheese and a sausage (that you can get with bacon instead) and another was a hexagonal crunchwrap supreme with bacon and eggs and cheese and a hash brown and the other was cinnamon balls.  I got everything (it was FREE!) and a coffee and then talked to the lady more.  There were five or six people behind the counter making the stuff and nobody else was in line so they were all focusing on your order and it took a while (or, not a while, it took like four minutes, but a while for Taco Bell which usually takes about 35 seconds.  I think they were just being particularly careful with these new things. 

The lady said I could take a video/set of pictures/gif of myself taking my first bite of the new items on a camera next to the front register to use for Facebook/twitter etc. if I wanted to but I was too uncomfortable to do that because of the very bright light attached to it and they were screening the already made videos on a big TV next to it.  

 I went and sat at a table and looked at what I got.  The box for the waffle taco said “right now I’m eating a waffle taco and you’re not” which I thought was kind of not terribly nice and possibly conceptually flawed.  If you are eating a waffle taco with someone they will see this writing upside down while they are eating, and they are probably eating a waffle taco too, right?  

Maybe this sign is meant to be a word balloon from inside the box.  Maybe there is a little turtle in there eating your waffle taco and he is just telling you what is going on.  In which case, this is not conceptually flawed but a nice way of giving a little turtle a voice.  I will probably think about this for the next three hours.  

Another guy then sat at the table.  He had already eaten and I introduced myself and he was really nice.  He writes for a website called Thrillist and it was a little bit of a relief to have somebody else there to talk to who was trying the new items.  I opened everything up and put it all together and then put syrup and salsa on everything because I wanted the full experience and then I started trying stuff.  The waffle taco was sweeter than I thought it would be and I liked the hash brown in the crunchwrap supreme shaped thing.  I liked the cinnamon balls!  

 A man came up to us and said hi and was kind of jokey and made a kind of inappropriate sexual reference joke about the cinnamon balls which was abstract enough to not be totally skeezy but realistic enough to make me feel skeezy for connecting it in my head.  He then said there were actually thirteen (I think he said thirteen) new items they are unveiling though there were just three today.  He said they didn’t want to go overboard with us tasting things and I said I would have eaten all of that (not jokingly) and he laughed.  Everybody was really positive and into Taco Bell.  I was really in my element!  

 As I was walking out the door they gave me a Taco Bell travel coffee mug and said, “You can open it later,” with kind of a wink.  I opened it right when I got outside the door and it had a twenty-dollar Taco Bell gift certificate in it. Is that weird to give to “press” people?  If so, I don’t care.  I am using it and if you want a taco and you’re with me I will use it to pay for yours, too. Because I would hate to be in a situation where I was eating a waffle taco and you were not.

Taco Bell and Raould Duke