And by now, I mean from the day you first think of the idea for your game.
Designing and building a game takes a very long time. The good news is that means you have a lot of time to talk about the development of your game. In the time you are designing your game, you can provide updates, ask for feedback, ask for gamer’s opinions on mechanics and themes you are thinking about using. Spending the time to talk about your game as you are designing it will build a following for your brand as a designer. Even if you go the route of finding a publisher, the brand you build for yourself and your games will help the publisher, your current game and the games you design in the future.
Designers should be on twitter(twitter mainly, but any social media outlet works), talking about their games and the games of others. What we have found is a community of gamers and designers who are in similar positions. We are all trying to weave our way through the game that is game design and production and we end up being each other’s cheerleaders. Designers should, IMHO, start a blog and expand on their thoughts they share on twitter. Use a blog to share a picture story of your games as you make them. I like the idea of having a finished product that our fans can say, “hey, I remember last year when this game was a one line idea on your notebook post.” Designers should also be on Board Game Geek.
In the interest of full disclosure, while we are signed up with BGG, I have yet to take the time to figure out the interface and navigation of BGG. I have next week off, so that will be on my to do list. Part of me is looking forward to being able to interact on the site and part of me dreads the process. (Update 9/1/15: This is no longer the case. While BGG comes with it’s frustrations, pick a small part of the site and get comfortable with it. Expand from there and over the course of time, you will learn how to use the site)
Designers should go to local cons and the FLGS. Make a physical appearance when you can and bring your prototypes. You never know who will be there that is willing to give your game a go. The benefits of the cult of the new is that they are always looking for the next awesome game and that means there is a growing openness to playing games in early development stages.
There are other ways to reach out and talk about your games but these are the easiest ways.
The time you spend talking about your game while it is being developed is the marketing you should be doing to make your future KS campaign successful. Seth Godin had a great line about a KS campaign he ran for a book. “People said wow, you funded your campaign in 3 hours and I said no, I funded my campaign over 8 years of blogging everyday.”
I am not saying that blogging is the only way to spread the word. I am saying that you need to find a way you are comfortable talking about your game and grow from there. I think there are two way to make a KS campaign successful. Pay lots of money for advertising and getting other people to quickly get the word out on your campaign, or take the time (which is free) and get your game into the long conversation that is design and development, You will make friends and fans along the way and ultimately give your KS campaigns the best chance at success.
If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have made it this far, would you like to go a little farther? We have a regular Google hangout with other designers. We talk about the games we are working on and share helpful tips and ideas on how to make designing our game easier. We meetup every other Saturday. Either comment here or tweet me or email me and I will add you to the list and send you a link to the Google hangout.