I decided to fire off another quick list of mistakes I see as I explore indie game after indie game. I literally can check out 5 or 6 of these possible gems each week, but I can honestly tell you that I skip most of them simply because they have no idea about how to take care of some of the basics. Which basics? Let me tell you.
1) No forgotten password link/place to reset: OK, this one is so mind-numbingly basic that it blows my mind to still find indie MMOs that refuse to offer players a way to reset a forgotten password or login name. If you cannot code it into your game (I’m looking at you, Salem) then host a thread on your forums — a very large, stickied thread — that gives out information on how to reset the password. Don’t be stupid: forgetting a password is a sure fire way to forget a game.
2) Hosting ugly sites: I go back to visit indie games and stare in wonder at hideous websites that have never changed. Why? Why, all powerful gods, WHY? I know for a fact that it can take very little time and very little money to switch out a shitty, old website for something that at least looks like it came from 2005. If you, as the developer, cannot afford to pay someone to do it, get a volunteer. Take a weekend and make it a project. If you cannot, do not be surprised when people skip your ugly website. If you don’t think it makes a difference, I cannot help you. Just continue using comic sans.
3) Answer your email: Listen, bucko, I spent time tracking you down and playing your game for some coverage. I am in no way claiming that you should give a shit that I want to write about your game, but in a market that is full of developers who whine about getting no coverage, I have no tolerance for developers who do not answer their emails. Again my mind boggles at how silly this is. I literally wrote to an indie MMO, recently, asking for an interview. I had written about their game several times and they even took the time to comment in my article’s comment section. I did not hear back from them until…get this…5 MONTHS LATER. I am not kidding. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the next time I heard from them they were announcing a closure. Take 5 minutes each day and answer emails, indies. I promise you that you are not so busy that you cannot do that. If I write an indie and they do not answer, I do not write about that indie.
4) Be open and honest: Stop saying “we here at ____ studios” when we all know it’s just you. Hell, be proud that it’s just you. You, alone, have done some good work. Also, please avoid describing your game as the most epic _______ or very first _______ ….because it’s not. We all know this. BUT….
5) Be confident: I have literally asked indie devs for an interview or to come onto a livestream or something and they answer with a sort of meek shyness that makes me feel like I am talking to a 12 year old geeky kid. If you spend all of that time making a game, then why are you acting like you’re scared to tell people about it? BABY. WHINY LITTLE BABY! BABY! (sorry, venting.)
6) Update your shit: OK, so you got a Twitter and Facebook account. Brilliant. Oh, look…it hasn’t had an update for 3 weeks. Or, better yet, the updates are nothing but vague references to how good your game is. Use these channels — and your official website — to communicate. If you can’t communicate, then no one will want to listen.
This is the honest truth: the difference between a successful indie MMO and one that eventually fails has almost nothing to do with quality. It has more to do with a developer’s willingness to get off of their ass to contact the press, host a decent website, and provide information to players when they need it. Please, no excuses about not having money to pay a staff or to hire moderators. The truth is that you do not have to. If you are honest and open with members of your community or with friends they will volunteer some time. It’s better than nothing, trust me.
Get it together. Own your product. Be brave. And for shit’s sake, let me reset my password.