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Video Game Marketing

Indie Game Marketing from the author of the Game Marketing book, The Indie Developer's Guide to Selling Games. Video Game Marketing made simple... or at least as simple as I can make it.

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Location: Philomath, Oregon, United States

As you can see on the left: I am a professional juggler. The rest you can learn from this Blog.

Monday, August 28, 2006


So I finally brow beat the NCSoft guys at Gencon into giving me a copy of Auto Assault. Why? Because I worked with the Auto Assault Trading Card Game (which, to save you the rest of this post, is a lot better than Auto Assault- find out at www.autoassaulttcg.com)

I play Auto Assault with this feeling like someone had a great idea... and then investors gave their opinion, the marketing guys gave their opinion, and risk analysis specialists gave their opinion... and the resulting stew was not a delicious soup but a horrific gruel.

I know indies out there try to make MMOs every so often. Heck, in my opinion it doesn't take too much to make one work. As long as you don't spend millions of dollars and thousands of manhours it isn't hard to recoup the cost to create a small scale, small population MMO.

But: here's the professional analysis of where this great idea took a wrong turn down a dead end street.

First, what they did right:

Auto Assault is a car game. It feels fast paced, at times it IS fast paced. You can drive all over a fully destructable world and its damn fun to run around blowing shit up.

Here's where it all falls apart:

I'm sure the idea of having originality with your "class" system was discussed. Unfortunately someone with the idea to just copy a hack N' slash RPG won out. So you're left with the mad max version of a fighter, a thief, a healer, and a "pet" class (druid?). Worse, they had three distinct and unique races... and managed to make them all the same. So, in a world where most new MMOs bost a dozen classes (and some over 100); we're left with 4.

I can live with the classic four classes though, boring as it may be. What I can't abide by is how darn difficult they made playing it with other people. Look Dungeons and Dragons Online is on one side of the scale, basically FORCING grouping. Auto Assault is on the far other end. I tried to form "convoys" multiple times, but Auto Assault goes out of the way to make it hard. For instance most experience and gains come from completing quests, but two people can't share quests unless they're actually ON the same quest. The odds of running into someone who happens to be doing the exact same quest string you are are astronomically low. The only use in multiplayer is PvP combat and sharing equipment, otherwise this is a single player game with a chat room.

Also the game is riddled with bugs. Upon spawning my car's controls got reversed today. I've heard numerous reports that about half the skills in the game either don't work entirely or are so badly implimented they may as well NOT work at all.

Anyway: I love the idea of this game. I even like their main combat system (their ability system is kinda lame though). You run around like a bat out of hell turret and front guns blazing trying to keep your enemy in your fire arc. THAT is cool... but i've said it before and I will say it again. If I play a multiplayer game I want to play alongside other people- either trying to kill them or trying to kill something else WITH them.

Friday, August 18, 2006

An interesting hack...

The other day it was brought to my attention that a game I used to play a whole lot had been hacked. That is, technically they took the ancient beta code and got it working again, offering up a subscription game for free.

So the initial reaction is "Well, that is bad"- except there's more to this story. See, the game is pretty much on its last legs with the real publisher. They refuse to update it and keep it current, offering up meager patches and addons without any direction to improve the product. It's like walking through a ghost town, really.

Further, the company in question KNOWS about this "hacked" version and has sent a cease and desist letter... and the hacker's response was: "They don't care enough about their game to update it, they're certainly not going to care enough to waste money on a lawsuit."

Ya know what? He's right. So, if a hacker ressurrects a game from death out of love of a product (making no money himself) and the company who owns the product doesn't even care enough to file a lawsuit- is it really wrong? Or has this hacker done the now hundreds of players who are playing the 'free' version a great service by bringing their game back from the brink of destruction.

I don't have any answers to this one. It is legally wrong, no doubt, but I find myself in support of it. I like this game and I missed it, but without content and opponents it just wasn't any fun: And now it is.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

E3... And my opinion

By now everyone has heard about and has an opinion on E3.

Here's my quote that I gave a major website on behalf of one of my clients:

"It's about damn time someone cleaned up that over-hyped, garbage spewing, media circus. LA has enough over-hyped, garbage spewing, media circuses without our industry's help."

Ok, maybe that was a little too harsh (or maybe not harsh enough)- but the fact remains that E3 was a broken system. Oh yes, the gamers will whine, no more will they have a chance to drink booze for three days while they get in the way of actual business. Poor them.

E3 was nothing but a load of bullshit fed to anyone who'd believe it and I, for one, am happy someone put their foot down. It is SUPPOSED to be an industry only event. It is supposed to be about business meetings wearing nice suits, shaking hands, and getting a chance to convince a BUYER that your new product is worth them ordering an extra x-thousand units... and fun stuff like that.

So I have a thousand people on my press release list. If E3 does it right there should be, maybe, 5,000 people attending that show this year- because that is all the people who SHOULD be there. That's 55,000 people who I never should have seen any other year... and god bless them who made me wait an hour to get a cup of coffee, delayed me en route to important meetings, or stank the bathroom up with their nappy ass gamer smell.

Good riddens you industry leeches, but keep buying our games anyway ;-)