Earlier this year, I got my first official job the games industry!
The job is at The Iterative Collective, an indie games incubator and publisher. I do a lot of marketing stuff, like writing press releases and announcement posts, managing communities and contests, and helping to proofread other work from the team. Sometimes I get to help the devs with their in-game text as needed as well, which I love. I also do a lot of capturing game footage for content creation and giving feedback on different builds. That means I get paid to play video games, which is pretty great, not going to lie. What started as an internship has since turned into a full time job, and it's been a ton of fun and an amazing learning experience, as working for a publisher is a great insight into a lot of different parts of the game development process.
Of course, this isn't all I've been doing. You already know I helped launch a game on Steam recently , and I also worked as the narrative designer on an unannounced mobile RPG. (Unfortunately I can't share details about this one until it's out, but I'll keep you posted!)
All in all, it's been a really great year to really get my hands dirty and get to see how things work in the games industry from multiple sides. I've been taking some of that knowledge and putting into my work at TIC, since part of my job is to help with the blog and the weekly Digest, and I thought I might give a short overview of some of the topics I've covered over there in case you'd like to check them out.
So first off, here is a sampling of some of the insights into the industry I've written about:
Pitch Decks: What to include and how to put it all together
You made a game (Congratulations!) and you’re ready to show it off. You’d like to approach publishers and let them to see all your hard work. How do you get them to give you a shot? You need to present your work in a way that catches a publisher’s attention fast. You need something clear, succinct, and organized that gives them the broad strokes and really sells your concept in as eye-catching a way as possible. That’s where pitch decks come in.
Taking Your Game to Your First Con
I recently took a game I’ve been working on to a local con outside my city, Philadelphia. The convention is called Too Many Games, and it’s pretty small when compared to things like NYC Comicon, but with an estimated 18-20k guests over three days, it’s nothing to sneeze at either. Not every game convention is on par with PAX or Gamescom, but for an indie developer, attending comparatively smaller conferences like TMG can still be a really beneficial experience. Here, I outline some of the things I have learned to help any indie devs thinking of taking that leap and going to their first con.
What Exactly Is Ludonarrative Dissonance, and Why Does It Matter?
Ludonarrative dissonance is a slightly pretentious sounding term that is relatively new but incredibly important to keep in mind while designing your game.
Coined in 2007 by LucasArt’s former creative director Clink Hocking, it refers to that unfortunate phenomenon when there is a conflict between the story the gameplay is telling and the story told by the game’s narrative. As an incredibly simple example, if your character says they’re a pacifist in one scene (and means it) and then murders a bunch of people in the next, that’d be an example of ludonarrative dissonance. The gameplay is saying this character is a murderer, while the narrative is saying he’s not. Continue the more in-depth discussion on the term and its impact on gaming here.
If you've been looking for more of my commentary on gameplay, here are some of the games I've been writing about over there:
Do you long for the bar scene but have gotten used to never leaving your house? Do you want to manage a business without having to get out of your pajamas? Do you want to send adventurers on dangerous and life-threatening missions to bring you back a mere handful of peas or a wheel or two of cheese?
Don’t we all?
That is where Tavern Master comes in!
The Witness and The Looker
Jonathan Blow created a gorgeous world filled with eureka moments and frustration alike, and while The Witness is beautiful, it’s simply not for everyone. Born from this overly long game of convoluted meaning, though, was something quite hilarious (as well as much shorter): The Looker.
You’re a thousand light years away from Earth and you’ve decided to forge new frontiers and make a fortune doing something unique to this strange and distant planet: farming slimes. These always cute and sometimes dangerous blobs bounce, fly, swim, and eat their way across the Far, Far Range where you’ve set up your modest ranch. They’re mysterious and adorable, and catching, feeding, and combining them presents unique and interesting challenges as you farm them for their “plorts” to exchange for currency on what is essentially a slime poop stock market. From there, you use your earnings to upgrade gear and your ranch and, eventually, fabricate all sorts of useful gadgets in the science lab. Each upgrade and innovation either affords you new abilities or grants you access to unique and uncharted biomes with countless secrets to discover in Slime Rancher!
I’m always in the market for a good management sim. From Banished to Sim City, Prison Architect, Oxygen Not Included, and everything in between, I’m always ready to strap in and start strategizing the most minute details. I recently came across Mini Motorways on Steam, and knew immediately it was for me.
The Talos Principle
This 3D puzzler isn’t new, but its subject matter feels more relevant than ever. In The Talos Principle, you spend half your time solving increasingly difficult puzzles and the other half questioning your own existence and the concept of AI’s personhood.
There's tons more stuff, including featuring some of the games we're publishing, interviews with game devs, more tips and industry insights, and some great contributions from my colleague Cameron. Check it out if you want to see more!
But if that's not your thing, no worries. I'll still be updating here. I'm so grateful to my readers. Please comment or use the contact form if you've got ideas about what you'd like to see me cover next!
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