How can we best promote this game?
With the Kickstarter about to wind down in the next 10 hours, I think we should start sharing ideas about how we can best promote The Little Blue before the pitch is posted on Kickstarter. These are just some of my ideas:
-I think there should be a "cool-off" or interim period before the Little Blue goes to Kickstarter. During this time Ed and the team should share some stuff from the game, like new gameplay or a trailer, to get not only this community, but the wider video game community excited. The video game news sites might pick up on it, to inform people before the product goes to KS, so that way it's not a constantly ticking clock before the funding window closes.
-Maybe the Big Blue team could share a draft of the planned KS page, before it gets posted. This way the community can give input and pointers about how to best improve the writing on the page to make it more appealing to potential backers.
-Ed should take as much time as he needs with the interim period (if there is one), but it should not be too long or too vague so people don't lose hope. Lack of updates is often considered to be a sign of inaction or vapourware.
-This game got some coverage on the Ecco fan sites, however I think next time around we could do a better job. I'll admit even I was skeptical when I first saw the KS page. However the more I hear about the game, the more excited I get. I think we should find a way to hype this game better on the Ecco sites, without simply paraphrasing everything Ed posts here. However, that might not necessarily be a bad thing either, because I don't think a lot of people read these forums.
@Ed: It's nice to see you've started to update the Playchemy site and posted a link to the forums.
But the About/What we Believe page still says: "Playchemy is currently focused on developing dedicated entertainment software exclusively for the touch devices". In reference to BB, you should add something to the effect of "but in future we will also be developing for computers and possibly consoles".
Also, maybe on the Home page or the Games page, you should change "Coming soon: The Big Blue" to "Coming soon: The Little Blue", since LB is the one you are currently actively working on. Or you could give LB a separate page where you can focus on content specifically related to it and not BB.
On the Paper RPG and Infinite Worlds pages, it directs people to the forums here. I know those games aren't the focus of the forum here, but maybe you should make separate sections for them in case visitors who see those pages are interested and want to ask about them?
Just a reminder, the YouTube link in the "follow us" section still leads to an empty page that just says "This page isn't available. Sorry about that. Try searching for something else."
Ed asked on Twitter about ideas for renaming LB. I have no objection to the idea itself. I can understand wanting to be able to link the games through their titles somehow without having to slap a number on the end, but I don't think stuff like "Into the Blue" and "The Little Blue" will really get anyone's attention. You want to give the game a unique name that's not identical to some generic descriptor for the ocean or a thinly veiled Ecco reference. It would be like setting a game in New York and calling it "The Big Apple".
This should be a no brainer, but you preferably want to keep the title in English or people will think it's pretentious. You also want people to be able to pronounce the name of your game, I can just picture confused parents going to a store and trying to ask about Ni no Kuni or Shin Megami Tensei. The title should also make sense. For example, Resonance of Fate doesn't really mean anything.
Sorry to say, but something with "Blue" in its name wouldn't really catch my eye if I was scrolling through a list of game names. If I didn't know, I'd think Little Blue was a fishing game. People discover games in different ways, and I've looked up many games I knew absolutely nothing about if I thought they had interesting sounding titles.
Since we don't know a lot about the game at the moment, maybe you could continue to use Little Blue, but as a development code name and decide on a final name later?
Ed, does Tom Kalinske formerly from Sega work at your company? If so, even if he isn't involved with the game, he would be a great person to appear in your next video as an endorsement or maybe to talk about how Playchemy will handle the release of the game. It would be a great way to get the Sega fans on board, there is tremendous respect among retro gamers for him and how he made the Genesis what it was.
Ed, Playchemy's mission statement talks about the "games as art" thing, and that's fine.
My advice to you is to avoid mentioning "games as art" altogether in your next round of interviews and press releases when promoting the game. To be clear, I'm not saying you should change your mission statement, I'm just telling you to tread carefully in your interviews. While I do think Ecco is an artistic game, the whole "artistic" thing is a pretentious marketing buzzword today and people will rip you apart for it. It is associated with two things: AAA games and pretentious indie games - they can't market their games around the actual gameplay because it's stale and unoriginal, so they spend all their time trying to make you think their games are "deep" and "artistic" when they're not, as if it somehow makes up for a bad game being bad. If people even think you're being pretentious they won't give you their money. It would be naive to believe people will separate the game from the person.
That's not to say you shouldn't talk about your vision, but the players will be the ones to decide if a game is "artistic" or not, don't tell us what to think and shove buzzwords down our throat. As a side point, the interviews you gave for BB focused more on your vision, for LB you need to talk about the gameplay. In the 90s we didn't care if a game had a good story or not, we bought them to play them. Maybe you should flip through some old gaming magazines for examples of how games were marketed back then.
I'm not being insulting in this post, I'm just warning you against the knee jerk reaction you will get from gamers for pulling the "games as art" card. LB needs all the support it can get.
Ed, it doesn't offend me personally, but one of the more common complaints I've seen about the game is the 'environmentalism'. For example, one comment I read said that they stopped watching the KS video as soon as the term "climate change" was used.
I don't know if you're aware, but among the players, one of the biggest ongoing controversies in the industry in recent years is the presence of the "social justice warriors": people who don't even play games who are trying to push their political agenda on video games. Every so often there are one or two very vocal groups who come along and try to ruin the industry. In the 80s and 90s it was the Christian right with their "NO RELIGION IN GAMES" agenda. In the 90s there was also the soccer moms with their "NO BLOOD, VIOLENCE OR SWEARING IN GAMES" agenda. Today those groups have been replaced with the feminists, multiculturalists, and the LGBT groups. I'm not going to open that debate here, but it's a very hot button issue best avoided and environmentalism is associated with those groups now that the social justice warriors have shifted to the other end of the political spectrum.
So basically if people think LB is environmentalist they will accuse you of using the game as your soap box and selling out to pander to the leftist minority who don't even like video games. On those grounds alone they will boycott your game if they think you are catering to the social justice warriors. Ecco already gets enough accusations of being "environmentalist propaganda" so I don't think you have much to worry about, it's just something to keep in mind. Related specifically to the "climate change" bit, the next time around you could just describe it differently, (maybe as something like "the adaptability of life in an evolving and changing biosphere") for example nobody making a post-apocalyptic game would market it as a game about climate change because it would only raise eyebrows from being an environmentalist buzzword.
I think pundits should be of least concern, because they always find a way to complain no matter what. The sad truth is that the mere fact that this game stars dolphins is enough to drive some people off, due in no small part to how the image of dolphins has shifted negatively in the past years. Whereas in the 90's when Ecco was released dolphins were still lauded for their intelligence and playfulness, current popular culture (especially so online) has them as sadistic serial rapists that torture other cetaceans for fun, based on some arguably troubling scientifc findings. I've already seen comments dismissing Big Blue on the ground that "dolphins are a**holes", or something to that effect, and I also recall an unrelated article about the possibility of communicating with dolphins in which one of the commenters was strongly opposed to the idea, using the new stereotype as basis to claim that we had "nothing to learn from them". And then there's the people who hate them merely for the fact that they're popular, improper behavior or not... you can't win.
Naturally I agree that the pundits/activists should be ignored entirely. They don't care about video games, they just want to force their political agendas on other people. The game being about sea life is in our favour because the pundits have nothing to complain about. Though I wouldn't put it past them because they now have some notion in their minds that you can be "sexist" to fictional fantasy creatures (which they use to complain about Dragon Age and God of War). If they do come knocking eventually, ignore them. They're not going to damage any sales because they and their army do not play video games in the first place, just as the Christian right 20 years ago forcing butchered translations on games wouldn't let their kids play those games anyway.
My post was more about the fan backlash against developers who are seen as catering to or caving in to those pundits. We don't want gamers to think Ed and the team are like that, so I was just warning about the "environmentalism" thing, which people have been using as a nitpick to complain about the game being "propaganda". Ed said in an interview that he doesn't want any environmentalist stuff to be in your face, I was just explaining how it might be perceived from the consumer perspective and the backlash associated with it in light of recent trends.
Those articles you linked to are interesting. I do not think it is an anomaly in nature. I remember reading recently about a study that found that domestic house cats that are let outside do not actually eat the majority of the wild animals they kill (mostly birds and rodents). But we are not characterizing them as sadistic animals because of that. I think this is, like you mentioned, the internet sensationalizing something because they think it's funny.
Going forward one of the challenges with promoting these games will be getting people to take them seriously. Today a lot of people still perceive Ecco as a "kiddy" game because they've never played it (and only the most dedicated players get far enough into the game to the parts where the story gets dark and serious), so when they hear that a spiritual successor is in the works they just laugh it off. Another part of this is because Ecco was for Sega consoles. Since the DC's time, a lot of games that were for Sega consoles have faded into obscurity because the fans have moved on to newer technology. The same can be said of a lot of games made for hardware by other fallen console manufacturers.