For a short while, I considered myself an “indie game reviewer”. Over at the now dying I Am Eric M, I was working diligently reviewing indie games in an honest fashion. I focused more on the game mechanics, story, and development rather than giving rankings or stars. I felt like this gave people a more clear idea of what the game was about and left it to the reader to decide if it might be a good game for them.
Through my process, I was contacted by fellow developer Daniel Bourque, sole member of Dragoon Entertainment, asking me to review his game: Skylight Freerange. An open-world RPG, Skylight takes place in Canada in 2041, ten years after a nationwide firestorm. The player controls the remains of a team of secret agents trying to put an end to the civil war that started in the aftermath. Pretty great right? I was super happy to play it.
Then disaster strikes. Dun dun dun!
The graphics are all messed up. The opening cinematics have our heroes discussing what their next moves are to be and the only exception is they don’t have heads. Well not their full heads. Some characters had eyes, others just a mouth. My favorite was this General who had nothing in the head department sans his smoking cigarette. It was super weird. I’ve never experienced anything like this with a game before.
So, as a gamer, what did I do? I contacted the developer. And guess what? He emailed me back.
Daniel, as it turns out, is a super cool guy. He was ready to fight the good fight with me trying to figure out what the hell was going on. He went nitty gritty: computer specs, temporary files, face bitmaps, the works. After ten emails back and forth, we ended up calling it a draw. It wasn’t until my second monitor took a slip into the nether realm did the graphics finally start working correctly. All was well in the world again.
Cute story, right? So what’s the punchline? The punchline is, Daniel didn’t need to contact me. He didn’t have to go any further than “oh your computer’s screwed up, sucks man.” He didn’t have to spend almost a month trying to figure out why this guy, this guy who gets maybe ten unique views a day on his crappy indie game review site that features a sheep in the logo, can’t get the game to work correctly. He didn’t have to do anything. But he did. Maybe it was because he cared. Maybe it was because he was Canadian. I’ve they are a nice people. But at the end of the day, Daniel went above and beyond to help me play his game. Something you probably wouldn’t see from the likes of EA or Ubisoft.
My point is, being an indie developer, you can make this type of relationship and networking happen. If you are not spending some of your time replying back to every single comment on every single social media or forum you participate in, you are doing it wrong. You need to connect with your audience, good or bad. Let the haters hate, but let the others know that you are listening. Even a simple “hey, thanks for playing my game”, will go a much farther than silence.
Speaking of which, I never did do that Skylight Freerange review. It definitely deserves a video playthrough. I’ll let you know when it happens.
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