Getting people to check out your game is harder than I thought.

Discussion in 'Game Design, Development And Publishing' started by pixeltroid, Sep 3, 2019.

  1. pixeltroid

    pixeltroid Member

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    Background: I've been trying to figure out ways to promote a game. I figured it's better to learn game promotion with a smaller game, instead of my main project that I have spent a looong time on.

    I basically took the game I made for the gamejam but refined and fine tuned it to make it more playable...and packaged it as a full game, albeit a short one (which, I can honestly say it is).

    What I've done so far:
    - made pages for the game on gamejolt and itch.io with descriptions, decorations and the right tags.
    - posted download links and game info to 6 subreddits and 5 game development forums
    - emailed the same to around 12 small indie game channels
    - tweeted about it with all the right hashtags and so on.

    Results:
    One week later, I really don't have much to show for it.
    - only 200 views and 100 downloads on gamejolt.
    - only 65 views and 20 downloads on itch.io
    - only 2 responses from the subreddits. I did get like 15 upvotes though. (lol).
    - only 1 (one) response from the forums -- "looks cool. I'll check it out".
    - only 1 response from the channels I emailed

    13e.jpg

    I haven't set foot into steam yet (mainly because I haven't figured out how to set up the transactions) but I will do so eventually and I know I will attract more downloads over there.

    But still, given the massive popularity of retro pixel art games, I imagined I'd have accumulated a lot more downloads on gamejolt and itch solely because it's listed on those sites.

    I know that the game isn't anything special. But I also know that it isn't completely broken and unplayable. The poor responses is a little concerning to me. Because it' tells me that there's a risk that my main game - that I have been working on for more than a year - will go unnoticed. I don't want to release it if its only going to get 100 or so downloads, and virtually no player feedback. At this point, getting many downloads and lots of negative feedback is better than a few downloads but complete silence.

    So....to those who have released games on gamejolt and itch, what were your download numbers like? Did you do anything to increase eyeballs on your game (and fingers on the download button)?

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
     
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  2. RujiK

    RujiK Member

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    Platformers are a hard sell these days due to the severe abundance of them and the general samey-ness of most of them. (Very few platformers do anything new that hasn't been done a million times.) Part of the low interest is probably just genre-fatigue.

    For more personalized advice, I'm looking at your game's WIP page and nothing out of the ordinary grabs my attention. To be honest, it looks like a super metriod wannabe with worse art. Although the main character model looks okay, the rest of the art is very bland. Most of your images are about 50% black with no texture. If I was looking for a game to play I would dismiss your game for that reason alone. There are too many other platformers with better art.

    Compare these two screenshots of super metroid and your game:
    [​IMG]
    Super metroid still has a good amount of empty black space, but they way it blends into the foreground and the colorful details make the image much more appealing.

    Another example is Iconoclasts. It has a fair bit of empty purple space but it's broken up so well it's hardly noticeable.
    [​IMG]

    My number one suggestion to you would be to improve the details and colors of your art. Small additions like grass and some small hills to walk on would greatly improve the visual appeal of your screenshots. Right now a huge problem with your game is the flatness, emptiness, and lack of color. Your screenshots look very barren.

    Here is a quick edit I did on your art to give you a few ideas:
    [​IMG]

    Obviously it's still very WIP, but the extra color and details make it much more visible appealing in my opninion. Try to add more colors and details, maybe? People try games that look good to them.
     
  3. FrostyCat

    FrostyCat Member

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    Massive popularity or even more massive saturation?
     
  4. curato

    curato Member

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    I agree. You defiantly need a little more pop. There is so much competition out there. You definitely want when people see your screen shots to be grab and want to see more, but even at the design point you want think what am I offering in a platformer that people don't see all the time then when you market that is what you want to push. First grab them with a screenshot or video then reel them in with some standout features.

    It also never hurts if you can figure out a niche product that isn't over saturated.
     
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  5. pixeltroid

    pixeltroid Member

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    hey. Thanks for your advice. But you're looking at extremely old screenshots. :)
    Here's what it looks like right now:

    [​IMG]


    The murky red look and the mostly textureless ground tiles is deliberate. But...art is subjective so I cant exactly "explain" why I'm doing that.

    Anyway, that's not the game I've released and struggling to get noticed. I've released another game (much, much simpler and with only 4 colors) just to learn internet promotion and marketing etc.

    If I need to figure out what needs to be done to get people to check a game, I'd rather do that with a small side project, and not my main game.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2019
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  6. FrostyCat

    FrostyCat Member

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    Sorry, but if that's what you chose to market your game with, you deserve the traffic you got. RujiK has already said what needs to be said, but I'll present my viewpoints as someone who isn't a graphics artist.

    Sure, art may be subjective, but I can see a lot of things that a player wouldn't like. Textureless ground tiles in front of textured background tiles looks unfinished and out of place. And surely if your game is ready, you'd have more presentable footage than mindless jumping in a simple rack-shaped engine test. Your game looks objectively unfinished and so is the material you're trying to give first impressions with. The public sees this and gives it a pass. You can't blame them.

    And I really don't care how "massively popular" pixel games are according to your research. General trends and superficial "one-testicle-and-one-ovary" averages have little to no impact on the individual performance of a product. The individual characteristics of a product rules supreme in the long run. While I cannot entirely discount the genre's oversaturation, your product's presentation specifically is a turn-off and it deserves being an exception to the general trend. Your attitude in the opening post is a classic example of blind faith in the statement "a rising tide lifts all boats" --- no tide could lift the Titanic from the bottom of the Atlantic.

    I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person who can tell what yet another Candy Crush, Hearthstone or Metroidvania wannabe looks like. When saturation is in play, presentation and differentiation count for a lot, and I don't see much of either with your project.
     
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  7. curato

    curato Member

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    I would say based on the most recent loop the background is excellent. The player needs more contrast with the background imho. The foreground still looks a little sterile. The little details really sell it. I am not sure what the plot is but maybe he is running on some sort of pipe works or more ruble. Just something that connects what you are doing to the background and plot of the game.

    Also, when you have all the polish on it,a game play video definitely helps
     
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  8. Yal

    Yal GMC Memer GMC Elder

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    Always use the best-looking screenshots for your marketing material. Anything else is just plain stupid. Don't forget that not just your players will check out the screenshots to see if the game is worth your time or not, let's-players and other potential sources of more attention will too.
     
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  9. rIKmAN

    rIKmAN Member

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    Can't really add to what's been said so far as it's solid advice, but with regards to a video / trailer there is a good video by Game Maker's Toolkit on How to make an Indie Game Trailer which should give you some good ideas on how to make it stand out and grab peoples attention.

    There are other videos on this subject too of course, so maybe watch a few and take bits from all of them.
     
  10. Yal

    Yal GMC Memer GMC Elder

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    Just to add a thing...
    upload_2019-9-3_23-51-7.png

    Right now your background is cooler and more detailed than the foreground, which looks weird in an uncanny, hard-to-nail-down way. The human mind tries to ignore featureless gaps, which makes it hard to focus on the foreground platforms, which probably gets in the way of actually platforming. You should fill them in with something - ANYTHING - and it will instantly look 100 times better.

    upload_2019-9-3_23-57-18.png
     
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  11. pixeltroid

    pixeltroid Member

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    I really like what you did there. But I was really going for this look:

    platexampple.jpg plat2.jpg

    Because in platform games, we're only looking at a cross section of the ground. So we really shouldn't be able to see those areas. That's why I think its best that they are shown in black, with some lighting along the outer surface -- as shown in the examples. Of course, its just my perspective, and not a rule of game art design.

    But yes, my tilesets still needs more work, so I guess I will increase the lighting on the surface and show more details.
     
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  12. mikix

    mikix Member

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    The competition between developers can't really get higher than it is now. Even old games do still exist and I don't think they plan to take it off, because they want the players. Getting your game on Steam will give you more viewers, but not more players.

    Games are getting to be like billions of toys, you pick the one that is the coolest, has nice features and something you can brag about.

    I had to release my game out of early access with two acts because, guess what, you get more attention then. Not many wants to play a game that is labeled as "early access". I'll have to see how this works out with my newest game.

    Oh and there are tons of platformers out there. When I made my first released game, a survival game, I at least got some nice revenue for a lonewolf indie like me at the start of the week. But now, when I am focusing more on my arpg, the survival game hasn't sold any copy for a long time.

    My dream game wasn't to make a survival game. But you know what... Sometimes I wish I had put more time on it than the arpg, because I am competing against so many games that are alike. It's just that I didn't think assets sold from graphic marketplaces would go far... But original art never used by anyone else seems like it's not better, maybe even worse for some reason, because some people have seen the marketplace style and may even like it a lot to buy new games with that style.

    Pixel art is NOT popular. You will need textures on your walls and floors. Having the rest as pixel art is fine I guess. That is what I am and will be working on this and the next year. More wall and floor textures, and if you don't do it yourself, it'll be expensive. That's why I mentioned this year and next year, because that's the pace right now for my newest game.
     
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  13. RefresherTowel

    RefresherTowel Member

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    Tbh, I've had random amounts of 'visibility' with itch.io and gamejolt. On my main game, Floramancer, I've had 30 views on each platform, 1 rating on gamejolt. I -think- it has to do with the fact that I set up the page a long time ago, with some pretty crappy looking art. I really didn't touch the platforms for a long time as well, only fairly recently did I do a revamp of the pages with all the new art and features, but I think that my previous metrics have tanked the "promotability" of the game, so it's simply not being shown to anyone by the platforms themselves. Always remember that in a way, success needs success. If you have a good launch, most platforms will push your games, which will continue that good period onwards, whereas if your launch is crappy, most platforms will -not- push your games, and that'll mean that already crappy numbers dwindle to nothing. I'm thinking that I might have to delete the pages and reupload them (I'll need to check to see if that's against TOS I guess) when I really start the promotional drive for the game.

    However, I've randomly had over 400 views and nearly 60 downloads from another game I abandoned called Bobblenauts on gamejolt, which is bizarre considering it's completely unfinished. I think there's two factors to this, one is that I actually have a playable demo available on that game. The other is that the game is multiplayer (couch co-op) so I assume that's intriguing to people. Having said that, I find it hilarious that a project I've abandoned for more than a year had a random surge of interest without me even knowing. At the very least, it's a marker that I perhaps I should pick the game back up and finish it once I'm done with my current game.

    If you're looking for actual commercial success with your unfinished project, I've often heard that the metric you should be aiming for on Steam is having your game on at least 10 000 wishlists before launch. This is a very large number and will be very hard, but if you can manage it, Steam will promote your game with it's algorithm far more than if you launch with only a few wishlists, and hopefully it'll end up being the case of success breeding success.

    As a comment on the game you are currently promoting, I agree with everyone else. Honestly, I simply would not download that game. The art lacks interest for me, there's no intriguing elements of story being shown, there's absolutely nothing that looks like a unique mechanic (from what I've seen in the screenshots). I have over 300 games in my Steam library, including like 20 platformers, most of which I've played very little (that's not the totality of my game library either). What would possess me to add a new platformer to that (potentially spending money to do so) when I already have other platformers with far more unique gameplay, polished graphics and intriguing storylines in my library waiting for when I have time to play them? Always remember that you're not competing against Joe Blow here on the forums when you're looking at selling your game. You're competing against EA, Blizzard, Ori and the Blind Forest, Super Meatboy, Rayman Legends, etc. Your game is literally going to have to stand out against the best of the best of the indie crowd AND the commercial crowd. It's very hard to do.
     
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  14. Rayek

    Rayek Member

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    One of the obvious reasons why Demon's Crest gets away with that black negative space is because of the relative scale of its graphics: the backgrounds, tiles, characters, etc. are big and bold. One could argue, that while the black space in Demon's Crest is a half-hearted design decision, the negative space gives a bit of balance. The graphics are well designed, and colourful, and show real character. The black space is often used to convey a certain feeling in that game.

    Your game is quite the opposite: the small-scale graphics lack oomph to counterbalance the black swathes of nothingness. The base colour scheme is rather monotonous, which doesn't help either. I understand you are probably aiming at creating a feeling of desolateness in your overall game graphics styling, but the visual hierarchy is (sorry) all over the place. Everything lacks contrast in my opinion. Small graphics also make it harder to express uniqueness, which Demon's Crest obviously avoids (small meaning physical size on the screen - not the actual resolution!).

    And I agree with Yal and RujiK: you need more detail, more finesse, more visually interesting tidbits to break up the graphics a bit. More noise, I suppose.

    All of this is just my personal opinion.
     
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  15. flerpyderp

    flerpyderp Member

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    This struck me as odd. Why would these things matter to anyone not interested enough to download it in the first place? And if "it isn't completely broken and uplayable" is your own evaluation of it, is it really worth anyone else's time?

    You have to show that your product has value to people, enough to warrant taking the time to download and give it a shot.

    This is how I've been convinced many times to download games which turned out to have poor controls, boring level design and other problems which made me quickly lose interest. They had compelling screenshots showcasing nice art, themes and mechanics that stood out to me in an extremely saturated market. I didn't know how playable or tightly designed they were when I made the decision to download.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2019
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  16. Posh Indie

    Posh Indie Member

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    I think this might also be part of the problem. You were going for "this look" seemingly for the sake of going for "this look" while not understanding the design decisions and why it works in certain cases and not others. Try to look at the big picture when evaluating design decisions. Just because one game uses a lot of void space does not mean yours should. Even the gameplay, itself, dictates the style to some degree. You have to look at the visual design as a whole and the gameplay, and ask yourself, "What value do these decisions add?" If you cannot find the value added, there is your chance to differentiate and stand out rather than look the same for the sake of looking the same.

    "It worked for X, so it will work for Y" is probably the worst mindset you could be in when it comes to design. Some IPs can get away with some bad design decisions just because they are that well established (For instance, Breath of the Wild's horrible durability system. Subjective, I know, but I cannot imagine most people enjoy losing their weapons so quickly while being unable to repair them). In the indie space we are not afforded that leniency.
     
  17. Lord KJWilliams

    Lord KJWilliams Member

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    Rather than telling you what everyone else has said , let me impress you with what I was inspired with when I played games.....

    Long ago, when I had a Commodore Amiga, the first platform game that I played that really impressed me was Shadow of the Beast by Psygnosis. I found a video of the game being played. You should watch this video :



    The actual game play begins around 2:30 in the video. There are pauses in some of the transitions in the game's video, because the game was designed to run from floppy disks only ( because on some amiga models, like the commodore amiga 500 in which most people had - the ability to add a hard drive was an after thought in the design and only came with one floppy disk drive ).

    Use this video of this game like a model to follow and understand, what good game art is. You could easily make a game that has bright colors like this using GMS today. In fact, you could make a game just like this with GMS. This game received many positive reviews when it was published long ago in 1989.

    Look at the platform games that have successfully received MANY positive reviews and study them. I am not talking about the platform games that people are making today with GMS, Unity, or whatever. I mean OLD games like Shadow of the Beast. GMS did not exist when Shadow of the Beast was made. Everything that people are doing with platform games, has already been done. There is nothing new about platform games today compared to the platform games I played long ago, except possibly their game play and story.

    Do your homework before you design your game art. Again - look at what people have made that has been successful. Your work is a WIP - so keep on developing it. If you have to, start from scratch with your game art.

    Good Luck
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2019
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  18. mikix

    mikix Member

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    And more on the pixel art. Would you play the first image or the second image?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  19. flerpyderp

    flerpyderp Member

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    Are you serious? You think that mess you call "pure pixel art" even remotely represents the appeal of actual, good pixel art made by talented artists who know what they're doing? (I've even seen art by amateur pixel artists that is infinitely more appealing than that).

    Earlier in the thread, you said:

    1 - Pixel art is extremely popular right now, especially for indie games in the genre OP is making.
    2 - Having high resolution textures in an otherwise pixel art style game will most likely not be "fine". There's a chance it might be if done by a skilled artist going for a particular style, but in most cases it will look inconsistent. That was terrible advice.
     
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  20. pixeltroid

    pixeltroid Member

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    A lot of good comments so far. It looks like a very interesting discussion.

    I have a few points:

    1. While I agree that its important to have good promotional screenshots/gif on the game's download page, it is NOT the only thing that prompts a person to download a game.

    These are screenshots from the current #1 game on Gamejolts "platformer" section:
    1.png 2.png 3.png

    No offense to the person who made this game, but I honestly don't see anything special about the screenshots he used to promote the game. Not only do they have empty textureless backgrounds I can't even see the characters clearly (that's the actual size of the screenshots on his game page). So if I had to choose whether or not I download a game based on a screenshot, I'd skip this one.

    2. I also disagree that large black spaces in the ground amounts to poor artwork, or that it put off a person from downloading a game.

    These are screenshots from the current #3 game on Gamejolts "platformer" section:
    4.png 5.png

    The black space for the ground highlights the colorful background graphics. It adds a nice visual contrast.

    I maintain that black space for the ground is a valid art style and is not a poor design decision. It helps the background stand out visually.
    So if screenshots and game art were as important as its being made out to be, then the games whose screenshots I posted would not have made it to the "hot page", let alone be #1 and #3.

    So I can conclude that there is something else at play that is being missed out in the discussion. Maybe games make it to "hot" and get more views because they are driving traffic to their game page from elsewhere...maybe Twitter. I don't know.
     
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  21. mikix

    mikix Member

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    Stardew Valley doesn't have to compete with hand painted art that is as good as it is story-wise, code-wise and musically. Hollow Knight and Bloodstained are making a lot more than the same platformers with pixel art. Just look at the sources, please. You can't say "pixel art is immensely popular" without giving out sources.
     
  22. flerpyderp

    flerpyderp Member

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    No, just google "top ten pixel art games" or whatever, then try to tell me that those games are not extremely popular titles. Then continue trying to argue that adding generic high resolution textures to your game is going to get you the kind of revenue that Hollow Knight and Bloodstained have achieved.

    Just because Hollow Knight has sold more copies than Shovel Knight, doesn't mean that the latter is not extremely popular. As if the matter boils down to merely "pixel art vs high-res art". Do I need to present you with a list of unpopular, non-pixel art games too?

    EDIT: @pixeltroid I notice this a lot too. Like you suggested, perhaps the dev has a large following elsewhere on social media, knows people with succesful youtube/twitch channels willing to help get the word out, or has made a popular game in the past.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2019
  23. mikix

    mikix Member

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    @flerpyderp The answer to the OP which I have good respect for, was how to get your game seen by mostly everyone. Good pixel art actually takes more time to do than hand painted art. If I asked someone to draw that room pixel by pixel vs high res textures, it would take a lot more time to draw it pixel by pixel than to freely hand draw it. And still, I would prefer high res art over pixel art.
     
  24. RujiK

    RujiK Member

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    @pixeltroid Dude... both of those games look extremely bland. Just look at the stats of the #1 and #3 platformer on gamejolt:
    [​IMG]

    Wow, almost 150 views combined. They both look unappealing and the views reflect it. If your goal of "Success" is 50 views, then sure, your art is probably good enough. Still, I'm not sure why you seem to be trying to get away with the bare minimum for your art.

    "THIS GAME's ART LOOKS JUST AS BAD AS MINE SO IT'S ACCEPTABLE!!!!!" is an awful attitude to have.
     
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  25. pixeltroid

    pixeltroid Member

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    yes. I know they're bland. I'm not impressed by them at all, and I wouldn't try them based on the screenshots. But they're still getting visibility and are featured on the hot page. So the idea that attractive screenshots result in more views and downloads (as has been stated several times on this thread) isn't accurate.

    They are at #1 and #3 because of other factors at play. Maybe they have a large twitter following. Maybe they got youtube lets-players and streamers to play and promote their game. I dont know.
     
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  26. flerpyderp

    flerpyderp Member

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    Despite the other factors, it's still very accurate to say that attractive screenshots result in more views and downloads. I don't know how GameJolt's rating system works if those are currently taking the first and third place yet have barely any views/likes, but considering the visibility they must be getting with those ratings, you can be certain they'd be getting more downloads if their screenshots didn't look so uninteresting.
     
  27. pixeltroid

    pixeltroid Member

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    well you're right. I'll take back what I said earlier. Attractive screenshots can result in more views, but weak screenshots wont necessarily put off potential players from viewing the game's page.
     
  28. pixeltroid

    pixeltroid Member

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    A strange but good thing has been happening.

    There's been a sudden spike in the number of downloads on both gamejolt and itch over the last 2 days.

    grap.jpg

    This comes just a day after 2 small indie youtubers played the game and added a link to my game's download page.

    I also edited the tags on the game's description a few days ago. Maybe the websites algorithm picked up on it and is now affecting the game's visibility.
     
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  29. Lord KJWilliams

    Lord KJWilliams Member

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    Any computer art that is incorporated into a program including games, is pixel art. The question is the quality of it - does it look like pixel art straight out of the box or not? It all depends on how it is designed and how it is used. I can come up with a few games that I have played on a commodore 64 that do not look like pixel art. The reason that pixel art looks like pixels is because the resolution is so low or the pixels are represented bigger than the actual screen pixel in a higher resolution. I had this problem when I was importing pictures from my Amiga 500 to my first PC, the pixels in 320 x 200 on my PC look like pixels on the PC CRT monitor, the same picture on my Amiga, does not do that because the technology for presenting pictures on a commodore 1084s monitor uses a different system. So I had to solve the problem, by converting my images to a higher resolution, which meant I had to redesign all of my pictures in 1024 x 768 x 256 colors in Electronic Art's ILBM format used in their product Deluxe Paint. All of the following changes were done on my , still functioning , Windows 95 system ( which I am going to use again - because of all the paint programs that I looked at for my Windows 7 Pro - do not do what I want that Deluxe Paint does )

    Heres an example 320 x 200 x 32 colors from Amiga, using Deluxe Paint IV

    Newckp51.GIF

    And this is how I had tried to reinvent it on my PC in 1024 x 768 x 256 colors ( supposedly )

    reconstruction5.gif

    I did this in gray scale because colors imposed on top stand out more clearly. Secondly I can take the gray scale parts of the image and change the index of gray colors to different scales of real colors. Then I use the parts of the image that are colorised and impose them on top of the original image exactly in the same position. I learned this idea from a photography picture I saw of a rose, and someone colorized the rose with red marking pens. I didn't get to colorizing the cockpit picture, because of an offending pixel of where the cross hairs are in previous versions. This picture uses different texture patterns in gray scale to distinguish different parts of the cockpit.

    Using an earlier version to show what it looks like ( incompletely ) colorized.....

    3cock4_2.gif

    I had to use several graphic art programs to get my job done. The offending pixel problem was that I wanted to show my gun fire hit the center of the cross hairs. So I had to shrink the cockpit image by one pixel size difference. That's why in the picture above you will see a dot that marks where the gun fire hits in center of the cross hair. The details show everything. The rework of converting the pictures from 320 x 200 to 1024 x 768 almost drove me insane ( including the offending pixel job ). Im going to have to reinvent this again for GMS. I wish I could use this cockpit idea for my game, but I changed my idea to work with GMS, to work in a different format.
     
  30. flerpyderp

    flerpyderp Member

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    This is not true. Pixel art is a style utilizing many common techniques, and though it isn't always clear where the line is between pixel art and visibly pixelated looking art, it's usually a clear distinction. The first section of this tutorial sums it up nicely:

    http://pixeljoint.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=11299

    "The artist has to be in control of the image at the level of the single pixel, and every pixel should be purposefully placed."

    @pixeltroid congrats on getting some more downloads, maybe your post here has also helped?
     
  31. pixeltroid

    pixeltroid Member

    Joined:
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    I have no idea what happened.
    But a while back, I looked up the listings at itch.io and I was surprised to see that my game was at #3 in the "popular platformer games" category. I was so excited, I took a screenshot


    cs_itch3.jpg

    It's now dropped to #10 in "platforming".
    Its also #16 in the list of games tagged "2D" and #11 in the list of games tagged "pixel art".

    Its also game #50 on itch's general front page. :D
     
  32. Lord KJWilliams

    Lord KJWilliams Member

    Joined:
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    Posts:
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    Let me correct my self :

    ALL computer graphic art even if is or not incorporated into a program, even if its a digitized photo, is now pixel based. Any image that can be modified by changing the colors of its simplistic building structure using a zoom feature, which you see as boxes or pixels is pixel art. Its like saying there is difference between text files and binary files. Nope everything is binary when its written to a hard drive, because that's how its written by the computer. The same with pixel art, its composed of pixels that create the picture. Thus , its pixel art regardless of how its designed or made because it is always represented the same way when its displayed on your monitor. Your monitor uses pixels on its display to show images, which are the smallest component of an image.
     
  33. flerpyderp

    flerpyderp Member

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    Posts:
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    No one is disputing that, but why is it relevant? Since "pixel art" is an extremely common term referring to a specific type of art, distinct from other forms of digital art, why would you hold your ground on using it to refer to any art displayed on a computer? Yes, a digital painting is literally "art comprised of pixels", that isn't what anyone means with the term, and there's no utility in refering to it as "pixel art".

    EDIT: @pixeltroid nice one! Have you checked analytics to see where people are arriving at your page from?
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
  34. pixeltroid

    pixeltroid Member

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    Most of the hits appear to be from itch.io itself. More specifically, searches for the tags "platformer", "2D" and "8bit". Other tags are "new" and "free".
     
  35. sitebender

    sitebender Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2016
    Posts:
    827
    You said "I know that the game isn't anything special." You make it special. What does it take?

    It's all about style. Have a good style and the game will help itself get known. Don't have a good style and no one will care how wonderful your game is no matter how much you show it off. Style is different than art quality. You can still have low quality, but a cohesive, good style and people will be drawn to it more for its art. They will share it. Some go for a SNES style, others go for MS Paint style, some go for a minimalist white with non white colors. 90% of good art is good colors and this will always help. At the moment, you don't have good colors, they're drab and dusty. Shift your hues with your darkness and saturation.

    Go bigger, add more stupid wow factor and detail that you hate adding. It's about feel get people to feel something from your game. Intensity, badassness, isolation, nostalgia, atmosphere, happiness, joy, charm, or sorrow. Add nature and color to separate solids from backgrounds. Show crazy action, ask questions. I have been going far on Twitter with all this. 800 new followers in 2 months. Your screenshots lack atmosphere. I am guilty of this myself with my past games. You have the perfect game for a mood.

    ITCHSESS

    I was #2 on itch for a week or so. Second only to Doki Doki Literature Club. I ended up taking the game down as players seemed to hate the shallow jump. They hated that it was a puzzle platformer, but the first level didn't have puzzles. I felt I'd let people get the controls down before easing them into puzzles.

    itch never mentioned me on their home page, perhaps because I was gone too fast. PC Gamer mentioned me in their top free games of the week. Which is some 165 page long, never ending list of free games. So I was lucky anyone found me through that. Not only found me, but gave me $2 for the game as the analytics mentioned.

    What were my numbers like at #2 on itch? 2k views in a weekend:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
  36. Lord KJWilliams

    Lord KJWilliams Member

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    Heres my advice, once you redesign your game with better colored graphics, sounds, music, and its ready to be published - make a video about it and post that on YouTube so that people can see the game in action so they can make a better decision on whether they like it or not to download ( or whatever ). I think it would really help your situation. Just a five minute clip that shows what you can do in the game. If you make the video like a movie trailer, it attracts more attention, and you can voice in a question at the end of the video, like " .... are you brave enough to travel through the world of evil grunts to defeat the master grunt of all evil, in his castle? ". Your line will sound better than this, but I hope you get the gist of what Im saying.
     
    pixeltroid likes this.
  37. James Cantu

    James Cantu Member

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    Sep 7, 2019
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    Dont fret! I just started myself and its only a matter of time!
     
  38. Yal

    Yal GMC Memer GMC Elder

    Joined:
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    3,703
    > Views: 2,500
    > Downloads: 500
    > Payments: 3

    That's some interesting statistics about how much (or little) value having "pay what you want" games are.

    I don't see the point in taking the game down unless you got personal threats or something of that caliber, though... comments usually count into your popularity metrics, no matter if they're complaints or praise. And making an update that "fixed" some things could give you an excuse to post one of those devlogs that announces a "major update or release" that restores the game's "freshness" score. Even if your game ended up hated by tons of people, it'd still be a major contributor to your numbers going up, and on the internet, it's easier than ever to complain about petty things.
     
  39. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    I took it down planning for an update, but since the problem was a shallow jump was the core issue that people hated, it would require me having to remake every level and essentially the entire game where it may as well have been a new game. It was a longer process and I just moved on. Other projects still use the same engine.

    The interesting thing is my website had a few comments and emails weeks later asking where the game went because they had videos. Some had made walk throughs... but a lot of them were utterly wrong and missed secrets.

    2 of those that donated are friends who had played the game long before it was on itch.io for a week. The third donation game from the PC Gamer list of best free games that week.
     
  40. mikix

    mikix Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2017
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    Hah, yeah I now get a call back from the Atlas release. 100k reviews and overpopuplar negative reviews. That made me not care about negative reviews even more.
     
  41. Joe Ellis

    Joe Ellis Member

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    If something is genuinely original it will get interest, that's why most games don't, cus they're a clone of a or several games, the point of making a game shouldn't be about making money, it should be about you needing to make it, just because you want to, once that happens, the game becomes a good game and people like it for a million reasons
     
  42. pixeltroid

    pixeltroid Member

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    IMO just making a genuinely original game wont attract players by itself. You need to promote your game to get people to come check out your product. Then for them to download the game, the game art and trailer has to make a good first impression. Otherwise, the game will just disappear from people's minds.
     
  43. Yal

    Yal GMC Memer GMC Elder

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    It might just be a "feel" issue (the jump feels clunky), tweaking some variables so you reach the apex of the jump faster and then kinda hover for a bit before falling down (total jump distance being the same) might've made people enjoy it more, without removing the need to remake every level.

    Also, did the game have static jump height or could you jump shorter if you released the button earlier? Static jump height is a super big feel killer, nobody likes it.
     
  44. Gardraphius

    Gardraphius Member

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    Posts:
    18
    The subject may have grown a bit old now but I think I'll add my two cents anyway. I am certainly no expert on marketing, game design or spriting/animating but I'm definitely not a novice. From a consumer's perspective, first of all, I don't go on Gamejolt, playing games do not interest me as of late because of my own hobby as a game designer (If you're really dedicated, you will soon realise that making games and playing them are a conflict of interest when it comes to time management) so take what I say with a grain of salt.

    I am going to ignore all of your examples of games that are arguably worse quality than yours for several reasons. The first one being that the games you sourced should not be the example you set yourself up for:
    The number one rule for pretty much anything, is that as soon as you compare yourself to something else, suggesting that you are either worse or better than them, you only show your own inadequacies and believe that the onus of blame should be rested on those more/less successful than you and that it has nothing to do with your shortcomings. Doing this sets you up for failure. Another thing, these games may or may not be doing better than your game but that's very likely because their developers/studios may already have a following or they may simply be better at marketing what they have.

    Before I examine your Gamejolt page, which I will be highly critical of. I do believe you are talented and that your work is improving in scope and quality and I am aware that the product you're making is now better than what you've marketed it as. Therein lies your problem. Any critique of your game is not meant to insult or demean you but to outline thoughts and views others may have.

    Firstly, I go to Dismal Dimension's Gamejolt page and I see this unholy mess:
    [​IMG]

    My biggest gripe with this page is the cover. It just has some poorly tiled fire or smoke .png with a gradient of red and black lines overlaying it and text of the game's title. I wouldn't have even clicked on the game, I would have scrolled past it without a second's thought from the cover alone. Also, update the images please, not to mention the video titled, 'pixeltroid gametest' with a default Youtube profile picture. I can go into details but you get the point already; you are not selling yourself well.

    You may be talented but no one who scrolls over your game will be instantly transmitted the breadth of your talent telepathically. Obviously, you need to prove it through stunning visuals. I have read and acknowledged the aforementioned posts about the demand and oversatuation of not only pixel art platformer games but 'indie games' in general and I agree, there is a lot of talent out there that is unrealised and a lot of confident people who claim the success due to the oversaturation. So what that means is, you just have to make an even greater effort. From here, I will just be giving my opinion on what needs to be done to improve the game's marketability and graphics, keep in mind that as hobbyist game developer working on a free pixel art based platformer, my opinion is heavily biased.

    First of all, the vast spaces of flat colour. Say what you like about the style and the aesthetic of them; they look terrible. They are realistic, yes, as the player moving around in the game, they wouldn't be able to see through the walls. But the perspective is the player playing the game, not a first person perspective. Think of the screen as the canvas for a moment. Sure, you can fill the rest of the screen with a flat colour but it's a symptom of an underlying problem; that you don't know what to put there. And that's fine, but I truly think it is a good idea to break them up. I'd even advise you to try it. Stray bricks here and there, soil, sediment, pipes, broken pipes, wires, fuseboxes, even the corpses of destroyed cyborgs. In fact with the last few examples, you can even show instead of telling with your game world and story, as you did with your latest stunning parallax background, giving the player the impression of a much greater dystopian post-apocalyptic steam/cyberpunk world. Just anything to get rid of them. Of course, don't make the details overkill, you still want the spaces you can move around in stand out the most, but breaking up the monotony is vital for better presentation.

    My last two points of course still have graphics in mind because it is the first hook to the game you want to advertise. Colouring is important and on the theme of making things stand out, I believe that both having a larger variety of scenery and levels is necessary to give potential players a better idea of the scope of your game. You do not appear to be a novice to colour theory and hue shifting, so what I suggest may already be apparent to you. Just in case you don't already know, hue shifting is the philosophy of adding warmer, brighter hues to highlights on sprites and backgrounds and adding darker colder colours to shadows. Even then, it's hard to get absolutely right but I'd really recommend increasing the value (hsv) for highlights and decreasing it for shadows even further to see the interesting results you get.

    Finally, games with pixel art don't sell well. I will keep my opinions to 'indie dev pixel artists' aside as to not offend anyone but you can see many examples of lazy tilesets, barebones sprites and animation walk cycles, like the ones you've shown in your own example. To become 'better' than them is to improve your own graphics, which you're working on, add better animations, add a few more frames but not too many. For example, the jump cycle in the video only has two sprites, it really should have more. Animation is extremely important in games to give the worlds and characters more life. Humans are just biologically inclined to pay attention to things that move, it's in our instincts. Likewise, it is human nature to not have a very attentive memory span. And that is why I wholeheartedly advise against 'Early Access'. If I see any game, ANY game, that has 'early access' stamped on it, even if it's a really good game, I won't pay a second of attention to it. Because of people's generally short attention spans, no one likes the idea of trying something and coming back later to finish the whole product. If you have any notion of releasing early access, don't just ask me, ask anyone, no one likes it.

    I hope my vague rambling has somewhat been of help and I do hope, in spite of bad exposure both due to your poor marketing and Gamejolt's oversaturation, that your game does well and more people are drawn to it. Good luck.
     
    pixeltroid likes this.
  45. Joe Ellis

    Joe Ellis Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2016
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    936
    If your going for the demon's crest look, all the sprites have an almost full lum range, the most highlighted parts are very close to white and the darkest pixels are full black. This amount of contrast would def do your graphics some good, I think your art style is cool but it does lack contrast, and alot of the screenshots look dull, and after looking at demon's crest comparing it to yours, I think it would be really good if you had a rule, per sprite make sure each one has full black as the darkest part and full white or very close to as the lightest.
    And also then the areas that are completely black will work fine.
    Also the background images of demons crest seem to have a half lum range, black to mid, and altogether the full composition works really well

    Demon's crest has always been a game that I loved the graphics from since I was a teenager, it instantly caught my eye and I straight away downloaded a snes emulator to play it :D
     
    pixeltroid likes this.

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