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matthornb

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A member registered Nov 09, 2014 · View creator page →

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Wow. Incredible graphics, and very intriguing if short. Would be thrilled to see more from you.

I love this type of game - I'm making some adventure games too - and you nailed the atmosphere on this one.

Great job!

-Matthew L. Hornbostel.

It's a shame your group disbanded. This was a very cool demo, and I would have liked to have seen more from all of you. 

-Matthew Hornbostel- seller of games / assets, matthornb.itch.io

It depends on what you're doing with the 1.7GB - the amount's big, sure, but it's lower than many of the 'professional' games out there, and if you have a lot of scenes/levels in your project it could be understandable. I know my project 'Miniature Multiverse' is likely to approach that sort of filesize range, and I've got a giant batch of stock media [textures, video files, etc] already posted, that is 1GB in size, just barely fitting within the normal limit.  Basically, if your project's ambitious in scope with a ton of content in it, and you really need the filesize, then by all means use it. See if you can get the Itch.IO staff to approve it.

Hello, Henning Koczy - Matthew L. Hornbostel - 'matthornb' here. I have a few things on Itch.IO right now but only stuff in the 'game assets' section, no actual games yet.

As a fellow indie game dev who is actively learning to use Unity, your game is really an inspiring example of what an individual can build with this engine. I'm impressed.

Your use of lighting, your animations, interactions & puzzle design are all quite solid and your uncle did an amazing job setting the mood with the music. 

I have to admit I'm a sucker for the sort of atmospheric exploration puzzler you've created, I'm an acknowledged fan of the Myst series despite the flaws and age of that series, and I love exploring imaginative  game worlds in first person view, and I enjoy solving puzzles, especially when they do things that are creative design-wise. I appreciate this 'The Witness' style of minimalist art you used here, it works well in this case and I personally feel your little game world is fascinating. I cannot help wondering what you would do in terms of design, world and puzzle wise, if you made a 'Foxhunt 2'.

Puzzle/adventure games, and puzzle platformers, seem to be a great category for indies and solo devs. 'Braid', 'Fez' and 'Gorogoa' are some outstanding examples of inventive puzzle, art, and game design done primarily by a single developer. Games like those - along with a number of notable but somewhat smaller projects like yours - inspire me creatively and give me some degree of hope that maybe I can make a game myself, on my own terms, and have it turn out well. 

I am not really in a great position to back you right now but I will donate at least a few dollars as a thank you for this beautiful game when it's reasonable for me to do so. 

(Right now I've got my own projects like Miniature Multiverse which are my top priority as far as budgeting is concerned. Once that launches, though, especially if it does at all well, I'd like to give back a bit to other developers working in the graphic adventure genre. Basically anyone who I think could push the genre into new and fascinating directions. You're one of those people now, I think, and I'd like to support - and play - whatever game you create next. )

So, the Thanksgiving Sale came and went, and now - after about a month of no sale going on - the Winter Sale is active.

50+% off the bundle of my 3 stock media packs, or if you move fast, you can still grab free download keys here.

Some of the initial 9 keys are astonishingly - after a month - NOT YET CLAIMED.

And I'm giving out more - another six one-use-only download links - on top of that.

Once a link's been used and the contents of the link downloaded, that link closes and cannot be used again. So hurry up and grab your free stock media (it's free for you, anyway, but it cost me a lot to make - I put hundreds of hours and a couple hundred dollars into making it.) 

https://matthornb.itch.io/autumn-2018-bonus-collection/download/JHn7gfjbjqdt9o__LWg6YjmTpb_QgadX9Uf5aJAb

https://matthornb.itch.io/autumn-2018-bonus-collection/download/TwWdw5_DdhbnfRiEF_UFLtDiP7oAi7uviWITnrNL

https://matthornb.itch.io/stock-3d-nature-models-pack/download/EVHW9P5pl96f6ePYFi1CuKh__jLt9lEsSvLQupb8

https://matthornb.itch.io/stock-3d-nature-models-pack/download/3Z3H_SwrvloC1KhXAdPCgHF0U1JsINWCfp0_iMMe

https://matthornb.itch.io/tacc2018/download/d5IGlafxNMz1i43mKe8DJOOkOUTbsWllndGqlg_T

https://matthornb.itch.io/tacc2018/download/QWNLZVnB_6b4stZOf4OWJkhBFfp7_tLiWtLc...

And if you find it useful, I'd love it if you'd please come back to the related page and rate/review what you downloaded. Let others know what to expect with these stock media packages. Because I think if people realized how great of a deal this was or that this content existed at all, there'd be far more activity here.   

And activity can lead to later sales, and sales means I'll be able to justify and cover dev costs, of continued releases of completely new stock media packages in the future plus more frequent and substantial updates to the already existing ones. :)

Hi everyone. I'm the weird loser dork Matthew Lyles Hornbostel.  I'm an indie artist (here's some stuff I posted on Pinterest) and an eBay seller of handmade art and the like, with 320+ ratings on my eBay account, 100% of them positive so far. I make some indie videos which I write, direct, record, edit, do VFX and sound design on... etc. Pretty much I do everything except fill all the roles acting, because otherwise the projects I envision simply won't get made!

I also do indie game development, and a lot of traditional art (painting, sculpting, drawing with pencils and pastels, etc). I do a lot of 3D animation in my projects and love what can be done in 3D in my creative pipeline with modern hardware and software, but I also retain a soft spot, however irrational and impractical, for extensive use of miniatures and physical effects elements.

You may have noticed my recent [substantial] involvement in posting a bunch of different stuff on Itch.IO just in the last 3 months. In that time, I've expanded my roster of games and game assets here markedly, but some of the biggest stuff was in the work for years before making it to Itch.IO. I have been doing 3d stuff since I was a teenager, and now I'm over 30. So I have a decade of experience doing this crazy stuff - freelancing for below minimum wage or just doing creative work without salary, either to help others in my social circles [friends, family] who need my assistance, or often just  for the fun of it, because I have some cool idea I'd love to see realized. 

I'd like my creative work to someday result in a full time income so I can ditch everything else, all the gigs around the edges and just make games and art stuff all the time basically. And if it were really to take off... well, I like the idea of supporting a long list of other people and other causes, because there's so much desperate need in the world and I like to help people. And this is what I'm good at, so if I can someday leverage this stuff into some reasonable measure of success, i.e. annual income climbing to $16k or more per year, then it'd cover my basic costs personally and creatively with extra to spare, and then that extra would be given out to everyone in some manner to thank them for all the assistance everybody's been giving me that is helping in getting me to that point. But at the moment, I'm on disability, I have some mental disorders and other weaknesses, nobody will hire me to a normal job -  so I am stuck freelancing and selling stuff online and supplementing that with a bit of govt. disability cash which, I want to get off of soon by earning enough annually, over $12k/year, to get off of that entirely. And I'm not quite there yet. I do creative work for 14-15 hrs/day, average income a bit below $2/hour overall. I sometimes make $4/hr or so, and other tasks $2-3/hr, some less, and there's also a couple hours/day in there, on projects just for fun, on top of that, projects which have no real likelihood of paying off but which I'm passionate about.

So yeah. Gig economy lifestyle. If I made say, roughly $3.50 an hour on most of my work it'd get me to my target. But I don't have enough work yet that pays that well.

I am attempting some passive revenue by releasing sale items on Itch.IO but for 'passive income' it's an awful lot of work and I've averaged maybe 20 cents of income from every hour worked on the products being sold, and those items are the best cases.

So here are some notable failing [or should I say flailing? They seem to be going all over the place!] projects I've got displayed on Itch.IO (there are a few others, outside of Itch, but these ones are the most relevant to this community)

Miniature Multiverse

 This is a first-person puzzle/adventure game I began thinking about making in 2010, and which has been gaining momentum continually since then, with over two dozen substantial areas, realized with fairly realistic looking handcrafted miniatures, extended digitally. I basically captured panoramas inside O scale models built in my garage, TONS of models, you have no idea how much space this is taking, because much of it isn't yet posted due to spoilers or other reasons. But it's been a big time sink and the costs of developing it are pretty high for an indie with a low income. That said, I'm thinking it'll be out there by the end of February 2019 at the latest even if sales here on Itch.IO don't really materialize at all to cover the remaining $235 in costs. So yeah, I guess I could describe it as having an interface similar to Myst III/IV or Scratches, but higher visual resolution than either and art made primarily with miniatures and not digital 3d renders. It's being built using Unity 2018, PlayMaker (a visual scripting system that is great for rapidly assembling variations of a lot of the most common interactions) and a few postprocess shaders. And lots and lots of scale models photographed with a knockoff GoPro style little camera locked into a position inside the miniature environment, that shoots 20-megapixel stills, it's rotated around in 15-degree increments, then the stills for every required position in the miniature world are stitched together into 360-degree panoramic nodes with the roof of the garage replaced by a digital extension, generally some sort of sky matching my vision for the particular world. So that's kind of my process here. It is pretty involved and it has to be repeated carefully for 200+ different 360-degree nodes. Right now I'm missing the last fifth of the game; the final puzzle sequence and five different miniature sets that still need to be built, captured, integrated into the project. If I really push myself though it should be possible to do within 60 days, 90 if the assembly of the remaining models is pushed back a month due to limited funding.  I hope it somehow breaks even at least on the physical materials cost of making it but I'm a bit skeptical that it will. 






The 2018 Triumphant Artists Complete Collection

This started around 2013, when I was selling the earliest version on eBay as a DVD product I physically shipped to customers. But it's expanded threefold in scope since that point, and dropped dramatically in price too. We're talking about 1GB of texture and stock video elements. 1250+ texture image maps, and 100+ video elements designed to be compositable for motion graphics work (i.e. cutscene videos, or visual effects work) - It started off on Itch.IO for $3.99, quickly dropped to a baseline of $1.50, and [currently] is on sale from Nov. 20-30, for 87 cents. Great Black Friday fodder.




The Autumn 2018 bonus collection.

201 additional texture image files, 15 new pyrotechnic elements shot in 60fps high speed 1080p HD. Currently discounted to 58 cents.



3d nature model pack

My most recent asset collection includes more than a dozen 3d plants and objects, for use in your realistic looking outdoor landscapes for games, architectural previz, VFX, etc. detailed enough to look decent prerendered but low poly enough to be used by the hundreds in any good game engine. .FBX and .OBJ format, mostly .PNG or minimal-compression .JPG textures. It's available for 63 cents during the current Thanksgiving week sale. I'm planning to add some more models to this soon, as in a few days before the sale is over. (I currently expect to acheive incremental updates tomorrow and on Cyber Monday to this pack in particular, bringing the total included model count to around 30 at that time)


So... that's the main stuff available on Itch.IO at the moment. 


There's also a bit of other stuff though - one thing is a tiny freeware package of blood spray elements for use in action or horror videos/cutscenes... a mini adventure game project called 'Spiral Skies' in development, but kind of on the backburner until Miniature Multiverse launches... a Miniature Multiverse artbook, hint guide and 'extras pack' including a small game demo, and a last chance for people to see their names credited in game... that's showing up at the start of December 2018, roughly two months prior to estimated release of the full game. $1 batch of stuff aimed at enthusiasts.

Note that while all of these items have accumulated a ton of views, and although the attention directed towards my work here on Itch.IO has been snowballing seemingly exponentially the past week, sales volume remains weak due to absence of meaningful customer reviews or ratings. The closest I've gotten was one customer who posted an enthusiastic comment on one of my product pages. In hopes of generating some publicity and ideally provoking people to actually rate the asset packs, I posted 9 free download links on Black Friday. Still no reviews yet though. In fact, some of the free download keys still remain unclaimed at the moment.

It's also worth noting that the biggest bargain currently active is this one:



And there are additional perks for any bundle buyers, should the sale unexpectedly hit a list of sales targets, starting at $200 in total sales by end of Nov. 30.

Now, given that the sales volume across all my stuff on itch is still below $10 for the past 45 days, even this initial goal threshold seems highly unlikely to be met. But I suppose it's still possible. If the sales total hits $500 everybody who bought the bundle for $1.49 gets Miniature Multiverse for free at time of launch, along with the extras connected to it - which would, in total, add up to $6.10, not $3.60, of already arguably underpriced content for $1.49 if that actually occurred. 

Not holding my breath though at the rate things have gone so far, given the current climate of passive disinterest and weary wariness currently surrounding this sale. 

Still, a few of you have shown excitement about what I'm doing, and I really appreciate the positive responses when they do materialize.  It makes me think maybe I'm not utterly pathetic. ;/

It's encouraging, and helps keep me motivated to continue working hard, release of new games and game assets in 2019. If this starts to go at all well, somehow, either in November or later (Christmas sales? New Year's?) then I'll probably keep at it for as long as it shows some sort of potential.

Note to all - if the Thanksgiving Mega Sale 2018 [which has amazing deals in its own right] hits the $200 mark by the end of Nov. 30, anyone involved in that sale who buys the 'bundle' gets not only all that stock media content but this item, the Miniature Multiverse Extras, too. And if the sale reaches the lofty aim of $500 in sales, the full game 'Miniature Multiverse' will also be tacked on for all bundle buyers, so that'd be $6.10 worth of content on Itch.IO for $1.49.  Over 75% off the individual items' prices!

I'm surprised, quite frankly, that this hasn't already generated more momentum. But I suspect that's mainly due to the lack of ratings on most of these products and the fact that the bonus items tacked on aren't quite released yet... so if you are hesitant to pay for items with no reviews, why don't you rush over and grab said items for free -there's a limited supply of free downloads still available right now - and then maybe you yourself can fix the 'lack of reviews' problem with your own genuine feedback relating to the quality and value of these items.

EDIT: This product's finally been released in time for Thanksgiving, and I ultimately changed my plans and opted to keep the price of the bundle at a flat $1.49 for the duration of November 21-30.

I've also offered some free download keys for this and other items and some are still left so if you want any of this stuff, check that out:

Free downloads, limited supply so grab them while there are still some left!

Amazingly after 18 hours, these are not yet all taken; if the top link for a product download is already claimed, you can move on to try the next one for a given product, and so on, and claim that. 

Also, do keep in mind that any potential bonuses from the sale are not applicable to people who download one of each of the free downloads. Those extra bonuses - which quite bluntly are looking highly unlikely to reach the goals by now anyway - would only apply to bundle purchases.

UPDATE - lots of views [hundreds] are showing up on all of my asset packages after this item was launched and all my products went on sale, but few purchases, and no ratings from those buyers who have bought them. 

I got one comment posted from a customer on another one of my asset packs, about a month ago, which is great, but in general most of the people around here are hesitant to jump in on any of the items I sell, until there's more clarity from unbiased users/game developers regarding the strengths and weaknesses of my products.

So... I've opted to give a few downloads of this and my other assets & stock media out for free, first come first serve. If you want to review what you download, that'd be helpful but it's not by any means required.

Here is the link. <- just three free copies of each product available here for now.

Note: Even if you do get in on this first, and download one of each of the three products with the provided download links on that page, that counts as three individual asset 'purchases' for purposes of the sale I'm running.

In other words, no potential for extra stuff tacked on like you'd get if you actually buy the three-item bundle which I've got on sale for $1.49. 

I thought that detail needed to be clarified. 

Anyway, thank you all for looking at this content, hopefully some of you will end up finding it useful.

Launching on Itch.IO versus other shops:

Funnily enough, as my first products here are asset packs for creatives / game developers in the game assets section, the fact that Itch.IO has almost as many developers as buyers is exactly why I chose Itch.IO, well, that and the fact that the barriers to entry are virtually nonexistent - no obsessive curation process with finicky reasons for rejecting giant collections of genuinely valuable content. 

I've also tried launching my stock media on the Unity Asset Store, several times, each time was rejected for some trivial reason relating to a subsection of the asset store guidelines. Each time I fix a problem there relating to naming conventions, demo scene organization, etc, in an attempt to get approved, it takes days to fix the problem simply due to the sheer number of items in the package that have to be slightly adjusted one by one to match the criteria of the store.  I've yet to attempt Unreal, but that is also a future plan of mine.

So here's how I tackled the promotional and sales challenges for my stuff:

So here is some of what I've got right now, things I am either working on or have already released and put on sale:

https://matthornb.itch.io/ 


You can see that one of the things that's sort of worked well for me already, aside from promoting the content on my websites, across my social media feeds, email lists, contacting all the people I've networked with, using a little bit of carefully targeted advertising, and personally promoting my work, mentioning the stuff in forum posts like this one, here and in half a dozen other major boards frequented by indie developers, was giving people sales out of the gate. My products are released right before holidays or major sale events in general, and then included in a sale with discount from the get go. That helps me to make the most of the launch window, and the brief span of visibility in the 'Most Recent' list, and try to get some sales and ratings right out of the gate, if possible. And if there are no sales initially, I can still try other tactics like releasing small items for free [i.e. a demo or separate free product] with links back to the larger list of items I'm selling. I also try up selling with discounted bundles and attempt to connect each of my items back to the other products I've released.

I've always had a tendency to under price things, according to my family and friends, but in my experience if I don't under price them for the first year or more, nobody will buy them for *months* after they go on sale. I have a routine pattern of setting prices that drop to under a dollar, and then FINALLY someone buys it and exclaims, that it's incredible bargain.  And then they rate it or worse, don't - and eventually somebody rates it, reviews it, and it's this enormously glowing review, and then the sales kind of snowball from there, and the prices double or triple afterwards, or more, but people are still generally amazed at the value of the item and still post very positive reviews. 

That's exactly what happened with me on eBay; I sold a more limited smaller variant of this same stock media pack as far back as 2013, on a DVD, and nobody bought it until I sold at a loss, dropping the price to literally one cent. Someone bought it. Reviewed it, stellar review. Same thing soon after when I was selling made to order commissioned artworks [pastel, acrylic, gouache, colored pencil] at large sizes, for 99 cents. It was a money loser too for the first year, I think my profit margin was usually -500% or worse, and sales were sparse, I probably lost $400 and so so many hours spent doing work that was costing me money. Now I've got 320+ ratings on my eBay account, 100% of them positive. And both those product lines have now begun selling profitably there. The same essential tactics, I suspect, will apply successfully to Itch.IO, with the main difference being Itch.IO, as a digital storefront, has no shipping cost attached to it, which makes losses mostly just hundreds of hours of time worked making things, but at least not also hundreds of dollars in cash on top of that.

I can't say my crazy methodology has resulted in much activity sales-wise here so far - I think 5 sales, 14 downloads in all on Itch.IO at this point - but I do now have over 100 people looking at my assorted Itch.IO pages every day, that is, all of my products combined. The single biggest attention-grabber though isn't an asset pack, and it isn't complete yet [indie game Miniature Multiverse, which has 3300+ views despite not even being released yet.]

My suspicion is that a lot of people are interested in what I've released but the lack of responses and ratings from previous buyers has most of these potential customers in a condition of uncertainty. "Is it really any good?" they're asking. And everyone's kind of on the fence, waiting for someone else to go first and review it, so they know exactly what to expect [from an unbiased source, not the vendor who inevitably is biased in favor of his own work].  Reviews are helpful for game devs, but there's not as much of an infrastructure in place for reviews of game assets, which is a downside to that particular niche, aside from the fact that the game dev community is smaller than the number of people who play games!

But in short, my personal answer to the question about promotional tactics  is ultimately summed up as this:

-publicize as many places as possible, tell everyone you can. Advertise and network and promote as much as possible.

-accept losses out of the gate, or at least set prices very very low from the outset to drive those key first sales and more critically, those first few reviews.

-have some freebie out there to direct people to you much better paid items.

-have multiple items on sale, and be sure to connect them together with links. Bundle them.

I don't know if this personal strategy is going to end up resulting in a ton of sales in the case of Itch.IO but I do know it has worked for me on eBay and I know I'm getting a lot of views on Itch.IO now. So maybe this will work here too, given a bit more time.

Recently launched set of 3d plant/nature assets I created and am actively expanding with new content, now on sale 42% off for Thanksgiving and as part of a larger more discounted bundle [$1.49] that includes all three paid stock media packs I've released so far.

https://matthornb.itch.io/stock-3d-nature-models-pack

And here's the bundle this is now part of:

https://itch.io/s/14555/mega-thanksgiving-sale

And here's an image of some of the 3d plant models rendered in a 3d landscape:

Thank you for reading, hopefully if the sale goes well it'll help me efficiently wrap up development of an indie game I'm working on right now (Miniature Multiverse). But even if not, I appreciate the positive feedback I've gotten already from the few people who have bought my stuff, and hope they find the content useful in their own projects. :)

Great - I was not aware of this but now will go through my projects one by one and add the relevant tags.

The game development process relating to 'Miniature Multiverse' is taking longer than I'd hoped, for a litany of reasons. 

I had hoped the Halloween stock media sale would generate more sales volume than it did, and though the handful of sales which did occur were greatly appreciated, they will not be sufficient to improve rate of development meaningfully on 'Miniature Multiverse' and in effect served to slow down production; the bonus pack and release on Itch.IO consumed a fair number of hours and sales amounted to below $0.50 per hour allocated to this side venture. I would be further along on Miniature Multiverse now if the stock media had been shelved and I'd instead done more transcription, since that at least earns me around $2/hr in practice. 


I had also hoped some of the interactions and other tasks would be possible to finish more quickly, but that too is all going slower than I'd thought it would, and taking more hours in general. Even the bonus pack, while it's a cool concept, is going to involve some amount of time itself, and will effectively push back release of the complete game by a few days.


There are also issues with children underfoot [I'm an uncle of three toddlers and they're here at this house often] and that's an enormously adorable time sink and distraction that can be exhausting in itself. Thanksgiving and Christmas also will cause delays; due to family in town.
So while I had aimed for a release of the extras pack on November 12, 2018, and the full game on December 18th, 2018, I am now forced to push back both dates. The extras pack is now aiming for release on November 20th, 2018 [though possibly a bit sooner] and the full game probably January 10th-15th, 2019.

 I wish this were not the case, but here we are, and I don't want to release a bug-ridden product.
This will be 'done when it's done' people. :/

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Thank you too, for posting your comment, for your order... you even tipped! That's all really awesome of you! Thanks! :)

My stock media collection contains 1000+ texture image files and 100+ video elements, all royalty-free, within a downloadable package that's the focus of a 30% off launch sale for the first 72 hours after release.  Normal price is $3.99 and it's reduced to $2.79 during the sale.

I'm hopeful this will make a few sales early on to help me cover some remaining costs related to wrapping up some indie games I'm trying to complete.

Thank you all for taking the time to read this. I hope you find the contents of this collection useful.


Things usually go viral because they generate a strong reaction that provokes social sharing.

Often that is some sort of novelty/awe, laughter or anger/urgency.

People share things that amaze them or that are unique, beautiful or otherwise exceptional in quality.  Personally I am a visual artist first & foremost so I try to draw attention with outstanding graphics and artwork, as I get the sense that's my best shot at standing out here.

But if you make people genuinely laugh with something hilarious that can work too. 

And a lot of times when people are shocked or angry about something that is happening or about to happen, they'll tell others and mobilize against it, even when the thing that upset them in the first place turns out to be a total fabrication (i.e. phony clickbait political news stories spreading on Facebook)

Some other thoughts:

-- incentives. If there's an upside to sharing, then people will more likely share. (I.e. a discount for those who post about a game on social media). 

-- time limits. People might buy, and spread the word, if a really good sale is available, and is not going to last long. I'm going with a discounted early access [just one dollar] and will keep the pricing as low as I can justify even after my game's fully finished, because I am hoping it'll provoke impulse buys and that the larger volume of sales will compensate for the small amount earned per sale.

-- low barriers to entry. That is, if the game's playable for very cheap or better yet,  free it will be easier to access and more likely to spread. This is why 'freemium' and ad-supported games have become a common thing; they can be downloaded without spending any money. Of course, such game experiences are generally pretty flawed and low quality, but they tend to spread anyway.  A limited but still fun and playable freeware game demo, though, can also potentially be an effective way to offer a tantalizing freebie without compromising the full game with broken freemium game mechanics. I am likely to release some small portion of my project 'Miniature Multiverse' for free at some point, in keeping with this concept.

Virality is not very predictable.  Orchestrated, costly promotional campaigns, however, are [relatively] predictable.

You can do a lot right and still not get much attention simply because the indie game scene is so crowded... and big studios will likely drown your work out. Your odds are actually better if there's some traditional promotion in the mix to get the ball rolling. Posting on relevant gaming forums helps, and leveraging all your various social networks. You can also identify people you follow on social platforms who are popular and message them with information about your game. You can even give them a free copy of the game, or an exclusive bit of media [in advance of the game's release] that nobody's seen before, that they can post... it benefits them because they feel and look like they have an 'inside scoop' on your project, and you may benefit from the exposure. Paid advertising can also work but only if it's lean enough [well targeted, low cost per acquired customer] to be effective in generating more revenue than it costs. 

I HATE when people ask if I'm going to make the next Angry Birds. I do not have a million dollar online ad campaign backing my launch like Rovio did. People think that game 'went viral' and to some degree it did. But really it became a phenomenon mainly due to a strong promotional campaign right out of the gate and good timing early on in the life of iOS when fewer than 100k apps existed on the platform. It was not indie, and it demonstrates how effectively big ad campaigns at launch can propel a game into a widespread hit. It also demonstrates how if you can force your way into some top 10 or top 20 list, like 'most downloaded'/'most popular'/'best selling' you can multiply the exposure generated by your ad campaign and make vast sums regardless of your game's real merit, if you have a studio with enough cash to make that happen.



That's about as much as I can think of about virality at the moment. If anyone else has suggestions I missed, feel free to add them to this thread.

Good advice, everyone. Thank you. I agree with pretty much everything you've all said. Well-written, error-free promotional text telling people what the game is and what the experience of playing it offers them, good visuals also are extremely helpful in drawing attention, especially visuals that move [GIFs, video]. I know Itch.IO lets you use GIFs, as a main game image, I am doing that for my new project and that's great because you can generally show a bit more actual gameplay, content in the game, more than you can with a still image.  

As for things 'blowing up' that usually happens only when the game project is exceptional in some way [innovative or unusual game mechanics, a surprising/clever concept, an amazing storyline, really genuinely funny humor or just really stunning artistry/creativity in other ways]  or has a head start due to intentional large scale promotion. Though there may be some exceptions, and some things might gain notoriety due to their sheer idiocy, usually I like to think that things take off due to actual merit and effort on the part of the developers.  Sometimes, though, it's just a matter of having money and a big ad campaign, as much as I hate to acknowledge that.

I've always despised it when people ask if I could someday 'make the next Angry Birds'. Okay, reality check, Rovio had made dozens of games leading up to that, and they launched it initially with a sustained promotional campaign of close to a million dollars.  I could make a game like that, I imagine, given enough time and effort, but A: that's not the sort of game I want to make and B: If I made something akin to it, most likely nobody would notice due to lack of promotion.  Notice how the Myst devs [Cyan] launched a cheesy minigame 'Bug Chucker' which combined an 'Angry Birds' launching mechanic with variable circular gravity sources, but nobody in the broader public really noticed it, they only noticed AFTER the idea was grabbed, modified, and heavily marketed by Rovio as 'Angry Birds: Space'.  There are actually many, many other examples of indie mobile titles getting ripped off [often by Rovio or Zynga or similar] and remade just different enough to avoid copyright violation, but basically stolen and relaunched with a giant marketing push so everyone knows the ripoff but nobody's aware of the original indie or small-studio title.  If the indie dev is lucky, they get hired by the studio that wants to exploit their idea, instead of just having their ideas stolen from them. [like how Kim Swift got hired to expand the prototype 'narbuncular drop' into 'Portal'.]

So yeah, I just want to remind everyone that the business side of things often wins out over real imagination - and often indie devs will languish in obscurity as their ideas get co-opted. The worst part? I - like many indies - cannot realistically copyright/trademark all of my own work because the range of my work is too **** extensive, there are too many different projects. I can prove I made it all, sure, beyond any reasonable doubt, because I have all the raw unprocessed files, even miniatures and physical assets and designs written or drawn on paper, but the cost of litigation in court simply isn't worth it, it'd bankrupt me on my $150-200/month total development budget that I'm raising by doing sub-minimum-wage transcription and similar gigs. [I really appreciate the fact that places like Mturk exist so I can make $4-6/hr reliably.  Because if they weren't there... I'd be making absolutely nothing at all.]. So yeah - I'm working about 8 hours a day on freelance gigs, made to order artworks for customers on eBay, stuff like that, and 8-9 hours on my own projects.  I'd rather just let my work sometimes get stolen, or pirated, at least then somebody sees it.  So that is kind of the reality for me. I imagine the same applies to many other shoestring-budget indies. As an indie, you just kind of have to accept your work that you put hundreds or thousands of hours into, will be exploited and someone else will make money off of your labor. It's not fair, but it's how things are. You have to believe in your idea, be so determined to see it become a realized thing, believe in what you're trying to create for its own sake and for the people who'll enjoy seeing it finished. But don't expect to make much money, maybe none at all, as an indie dev. It's almost 100% certain that a profitable project won't happen. You need a fallback to fund your indie dev work BTW because you'll only lose money developing indie games. And if it's about the money and not the love of the work it'll fail.  Just make the best work you can, and accept beforehand that it won't take off and that it'll be stolen and a lot of people will hate it and trash you and troll you for no good reason.  And do it anyway. Because if you don't realize your vision through your own sacrifice, it won't happen. And it absolutely MUST happen because the projects you're doing, they're an obsession, you cannot live with yourself not having them happen. That is key I think, it's the attitude any indie dev needs to have to keep going.  

You've just got to be so focused, so determined to complete the work with no pay, only expenses and loss, no gain except for the fact that the work is done, that it borders on insanity. You need to be crazy to be an indie game dev. It's the only way you can sustain it IMO.

Depends on what you are trying to do with your project. The demoscene has made some amazing projects fit into insanely small filesize using procedural methods, including a full FPS [kkrieger] with procedurally generated textures running out of a 96kb executable, a 4kb landscape flyover with motion blur [Elevated], and a beautiful space flythrough in 64kb [Mercury - Fermi Paradox].  There's also a UDK level made with just a single 512x512 texture map.

So extremely efficient use of assets is possible.



But what these people are doing, is it recommended? I'd argue that it's unnecessary - interesting, sure, with a certain novelty factor, but most AAA games on Windows are in the 1GB range for a reason, namely that recent generations of PCs can handle that sort of file size.  And if they can handle it nowadays, why not take advantage of that and push it for the best graphics quality possible?

The other argument, aside from hardware and download filesize limitations, that's been put forth in favor of procedural or highly minimalist graphics, is not needing to hire artists. That's questionable, however, as procedurally generated art rarely looks as good as intentional, artist-made art, and to generate procedural content isn't any cheaper given the extra time required in programming, that negates any efficiency gains made by less work for artists.

My take: this focus on efficiency in storage used is practical only up to a point; yes, it matters, and you certainly should aim for as low a filesize and as minimal hardware requirements as you can, unless that means severely compromising the quality of the finished project.  

if nice graphics and animation are important to the appeal of your project, and the platforms you're aiming for are desktop platforms, it may be worth allowing for some more file size.  I personally am an artist and not so much a programmer, so my projects will tend to emphasize the atmosphere and aesthetic style that are my strengths, and not so much complex interaction, especially early on without any other team members.  So if the visuals are key to my project's success, and a strong asset for me, then it makes sense not to slash filesize to the point where that appeal is compromised.  It's all about finding the right balance, and there are rarely real rules for this, mostly just guidelines.

Would I like to have my current project (Miniature Multiverse) under 10MB? Sure, there's an appeal to doing so, but IMO I'm more concerned about its quality than its efficiency, and it's important having some beautiful visuals to show on Itch.IO for promotional reasons if nothing else. If your project looks great, that absolutely gets you more attention, more views, clicks, downloads, sales.  That matters more to me, than keeping it extremely lean and extremely efficient.  Those sales could be vital to my ability to effectively expand not only that project but also a long list of others down the line.  It could make it possible to even someday hire musicians, programmers, etc, on short-term tasks, to solve specific, particularly tricky things I want to do later, which couldn't do as well myself.

So I would say that keeping filesize down to tiny levels is good only to some extent, under some conditions for some developers and some platforms.

I use, among other game development tools, Unity, Construct 2, Lightwave, 3ds max, Blacksmith 3d, Adobe Photoshop, After Effects, and Premiere.

I'm making realtime 3d games in the Unity engine and 2d in Construct 2.

Lightwave and 3ds max are my main two 3d art tools, but I sometimes use Blacksmith 3d as a '3d paint' utility.

Photoshop I use for texture art and 2d graphics, sometimes I also use ShaderMap 2 to generate normal maps and such from photographed texture assets.

After Effects and Premiere are my go-to tools for compositing and video editing, respectively, but recently I've been using Resolve for color correction, and Fusion 8, sometimes, as it's a great video/VFX tool and it is available for free.

Currently I'm creating a little adventure game called Spiral Skies. It is days away from completion at this point.

Spiral Skies