Sharing: When and to whom?

When you share your ideas depends completely on your audience. If you’re like me and have bosses, they want to know about the game they’re paying you to make pretty early. Fans of your company always want sneak peeks, so that means you want to give them updates as early as possible. And, of course, outsiders who you want to become fans of your game always want to feel in the loop; so again, earlier is better!

How early is too early though?

Dan and Odi (Loopycube’s producers) love to be in the loop, and they should be the first to know about the idea (besides myself of course). However I’ve ruined the chances for a handful of potentially great games by sharing too early. An idea needs to be at least somewhat out of the cloud and on paper before I can sit down with them and talk about it. I’ve now learnt that once I have a sketch and a few paragraphs about the gameplay I can open the door to my loopy mind for them. For our next game, I mulled over it (and a few other ideas) for a week before I took it to them.

Sharing with our fans is a little harder to tell when the right time is. They tell me a resounding ‘RIGHT AWAY!’ However, fans are fickle. They can often get bored when you’re working with a 6 month development cycle (or more as Go Native!’s case was). They’ll begin to want something else that’s new and exciting before you’ve finished the game you’re sharing with them.

I like to tease out information in the beginning. I’d never say ‘Gobblestoppers is our next game! It will be ___ and look like this’ with a bazillion screenshots. Then when we change our mind we’ve got some angry fans (especially if they liked that concept or that character). With Pickpawcket I shared a picture of 5 dogs and a cat and held a small contest to give it a story in February (about 5 months before we released the game). Simple, fun and let the fans know we love them. If you’re sharp you’ll notice we didn’t use that cat and one of the dogs when the game was released and no one made a fuss!

What about outsiders? This is the trickiest part. I still don’t think we’ve got it worked out so we’re going to try something different. For Go Native! we started letting them know only a 2 weeks before we released. We were met with some excitement – but as a massively multiplayer game, we really needed to have much more hype at launch because an empty multiplayer game is dull! We tried slightly earlier Pickpawcket. It had better reception – twice as many hits and comments on the threads in forums we started. Does that mean if we talk about Game #3 even earlier we’ll again double the hype?

We’re going to try something bold with Game #3. Keep an eye out in the coming weeks, well pretty much as soon as we’ve decided Game #3 IS game #3. Fans of Loopycube and the general iOS community will be hit with a very early announcement!

When would you share your game with the people in these categories? Are you like us and still struggling to find the right time to share the game with the world?

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