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Tips for organizing live updates for indie games
If the game passes the gold version but still gets the update, call it Live operation development Or “Game as a service“(GAAS). Big companies are praising live operations, and indie music is riding on this new trend. But this is not a small decision, you need to be aware of the big challenges. We talk:
- Change of production organization
- New marketing challenges
- Understand player expectations
- And much more!
Do I need to do live operations at release?
If you have a story game, live operation is probably not for you! But you can think of new DLC stories and free chapters to add later.
If your game isn’t purely a story, there are a few things to consider before making a live update.
- Do you really want it? If you are tired of production, don’t do it.
- Did the renewal generate enough revenue so that it was actually worth the money?
- Is your game full of potential? Maybe updates may help long-term sales to catch up!
Yes, it is very difficult to estimate the last two points. If your game is selling well and you only incur 25% of your production costs in the first month of release, we generally recommend that you do not update your live operations.
Check out this article by Simon Carless to see average games for the week, month, and year after release.
There is an ongoing flow of what developers have to do when creating updates. Game designers need to tweak new features, developers need to implement new ones, level designers need to tweak values, and graphic artists need to create new mockups and graphic items. There is.
The problem is that the time scale is now much tighter. Previously, it took 3-6 months to plan and prepare in advance. Now it’s up to 1-2 months. The art direction must be the same, old features should not be buggy, and new content should be even better than the previous one.
In this storm, as a marketer you will be at the end of the pipeline. In most cases, everything needs to be 100% ready before talking about it. Players will complain that you are not speaking enough. The truth is, if you’re talking only to say useless things or features that never see the light, they too will resent you.
The important thing here is to improve the tool. If you’re fast enough, you’ll be able to post a PR and development blog on the fly without spending too much time preparing. The items that can be installed are as follows.
- Learn how to create your own gifs, art and more. It doesn’t necessarily mean understanding how to design, you can also use off-the-shelf assets and fonts from the graphic arts team.
- Get a good translation pipeline. Make sure you hire a translator who is responsive and can reply to your email quickly. Getting a professional translator is often better, as amateurs tend to do it on their side.
- If you’re sending a lot of email, use the newsletter system to get something that you can easily edit, such as using a template.
- Get the proofreading app. It will help you clean up 50% of the mistakes on your own, and maybe avoid getting an editor.
- Have a robust database of organized assets. I don’t want to fetch assets, links and text for a long time!
Recruitment and talent management
The problem with live operations is probably about two years behind. When the game is released, the team can burn out. Think about your structure, get new people, put your current people into new projects!
New people give new perspectives on game design, art and more. They have a solid foundation that can bring about new, exciting, and sometimes game-breaking changes.
Be careful to hire someone who gets the vision like a bass. They need to keep the current player happy and move the game in the best possible direction!
Have your team take a holiday or a weekly holiday after the game is released. Perhaps it may be interesting to switch to working three days a week for a few weeks, or even during this whole new phase. You are trying to get fresh energy from either a new worker or a former worker.
Gaming companies may hire third-party studios to create new DLC and updates. Motion Twin has provided Dead Cells to Evil Empire and is currently producing DLC with paid and free content. I heard that there are more and more companies doing this!
It’s interesting to have a clear roadmap when releasing a game. Players want to know what’s coming, what content they’re preparing, and how the game will change and evolve.
However, if you change the roadmap, make sure that the changes appear in SUPER. Your hardcore fans are waiting for some features!
We recommend that you divide future content into major and minor features.
For example, you can release one major feature and at least a few minor features every one or two months. It’s even better if you’re targeting short-term, medium-term, or long-term gaming sessions. Make sure you get all the benefits of getting new updates!
Some people take advantage of live player opportunities to report bugs. People like to complain that there is a bug and want to know that it is recognized by the developers. There’s nothing more frustrating for players than not dealing with recurring bugs.
We’re missing some tools for debugging this community, but the most frequently used are:
- Discord, sometimes helped by bots
- Trello, people agree / can sometimes cause problems
- Public repositories such as Spellcaster University examples
- In-game reporting tools are gaining in popularity, but lack efficient tools that are easy to deploy.
Once the release is 75% complete, you can implement analytics. If it’s too early, you’ll run out of content to analyze. If it’s too late, you’ll miss the opportunity to balance with a significant number of players.
I struggled with it myself and built a custom backend! But that’s a daunting task and I’m currently using Game Analytics. It was a bit complicated at first, but now we have some pretty interesting marketing and design stats!
Quick & Good Promotion
The biggest studios get a video trailer showing the changes! You can do that too, but it requires new skills that you may not have in-house. I think these “promotional trailers” will be seen more and more.
However, please note that this is just a game update and may take some time to create and may not be paid enough attention. It depends on the type of new content you are pushing.
That’s it for now! Have a great day. If you have any questions about indie live operations, please let us know.
I’m making a game called Neurodeck! Check out the steam page!