Releasing a preview demo to generate interest and feedback
Getting exposure and feeback is tricky for solo devs, with the release of my preview demo Spheres: One Day In The Mountains I hope to get some of both. The demo allows players to explore the mountains for one in-game day and experience the open-world physics based arcade gameplay of Spheres by Sense of Place Games.
ABOUT THE DEMO
I'm very excited to share the news that the preview demo is available to play now! Watch the gameplay video above for a taster. If you would like to try it out for yourself hit the download link to get the files from my IndieDB page where they are hosted:
Spheres Demo: One Day In The Mountains (Windows 64Bit - 203MB)
The preview demo drops the player into a mountainous region within the game and let's them explore freely. The demo is designed to give players a fun experience and enough access to the game to generate valuable feedback on all the core systems, yet hopefully leave them wanting more when they reach the time or geographic limits imposed in the demo.
To give the demo replayabilty each new play through takes place over a single day picked at a random time of year within the ever changing seasonal cycle. All of the gameplay in Spheres is generated on-the-fly based on physics interactions between the player, the creature AI and the game-world around them. This means that even in the demo version a unique experience is created every time Spheres is played.
Sense of Place Games is just me - an unfunded first-time part-time one-man developer in a far off corner of the Australian forest. Creating interest in my work is tricky!
That is why I've created this extensive free public preview of a game still very much in development. The demo is designed to gather feedback and spread the word about my game as I move towards the final stages of development.
To create awareness I already use:
senseofplacegames.com I keep this up to date with news, info, trailers, demo links, developer info and blog posts, but it doesn't generate interest and traffic on it's own
Twitter I post a new screenshot every day I get any dev work done. I also find #screenshotsaturday effective both at generating buzz and press interest (both IndieGames and HardcoreGamer have covered Spheres recently). #madewithunity Friday's are also good.
IndieDB I host my demo files here. Also has a game profile with articles, trailer and info. Posting articles are by far the best way I've found of generating interest on this site.
Youtube The most accesible way to host videos. So far most views have been generated by linking to the videos elsewhere rather than organically through youtube hits.
MadeWithUnity Profile, trailer and articles. Again articles generate most of the response.
Other indie game sites (with mostly limited response so far): Playfield IndieGameHunt
So far I've only sent out a handful of press releases along with early playable builds or trailers and generated a few stories (IndieGames.com IndieGameMagazine)
In the near furture I plan to do way more of the above and I also plan to:
Do more press releases with a less restricted press preview demo build
Provide demos builds to Let's Players I've connected with via Twitter and elsewhere and get them streaming the demo
Host the demo on more sites such as Itch.io.
The big one: Steam! Once I'm happy with the initial feedback on the demo I'll be going all out to get through Steam Greenlight and then quickly on to a full release before the end of the year.
To collect feedback from players I've set up the following:
Support page on my website. This has a simple to use form that allows players to send feedback, request tech support or just get in touch. It also contains links to demo downloads, newsletter sign-up and info about upcoming plans such as Steam Greenlight.
Support Screen as the default view when you enter the pause menu. This has a project overview blurb and a button to launch the support page in a web browser so players can quickly go from in-game to giving feedback.
IndieDB has extensive built in commenting and messaging systems so players can leave me feedback there. The site also provides extensive view and download tracking data.
In-game screenshots. Players can grab a screenshot anytime by hitting 'Shift' (Keyboard) or 'Y Button' (Gamepad) - they are saved in the Pictures folder of the Windows user profile.
Spheres is a peaceful exploration based arcade adventure that I have been working on for the last couple of years. The main features of the game are all in the demo:
Explore a vibrant organic world in orbit between the earth and the moon
Compete as part of an ecosystem powered by spheres of energy that fall from space
Travel with total freedom through a game world that never removes control from the player
Crafted worlds interact with dynamic systems to creates a unique emergent experience
Shifting seasons and weather conditions create an ever changing environment to explore
You will never reach a forced objective, load screen or fail state in Spheres so the experience is created by what you do, where you go and what happens when you get there
In the preview demo exploration is limited to the surface of the mountains area of the game and the demo ends at dawn on the second day. In the full game the player's journey moves seamlessly through the whole game world as the weather and seasons change around them.
To find out more about Sense of Place Games and upcoming projects including Spheres please get in touch.