(I don’t have kids and I don’t want to discredit the actual hard work of being a parent.)
We released Organ Trail: Director’s Cut on mobile Aug 9th and for PC/Mac/Linux on Jan 10th. We’ve used a lot of channels to communicate with our audience since it’s release and continued support.
I’m of a firm belief that supporting a game after release is part of what makes it a strong title. Letting fans know you are listening to them and that you care about your product is important, but it’s also a large time commitment.
My daily routine starts something like this:
- Check Twitter
- Respond to questions or fan posts
- Stalk the hashtag #OrganTrail for news posts or cool fan stuff to re-tweet
- Check Greenlight
- Respond to any questions
- Obsessively stare at greenlight statistics
- Swear under my breath
- Check company email
- Respond to press inquiries
- Respond to bug reports (I normally have to ask for details (“The game broke” is not helpful)) and log bugs
- Respond to people who lose links to shit we gave them after double checking we sent it and updating all the appropriate spreadsheets*
- Respond to criticisms
- Respond to hate mail
- Ignore businessy spam emails
- Check personal email
- Same thing… sometimes I had to use my personal email to sign up for shit
- Check Desura
- Check Sales
- Respond to comments, criticisms and bug reports, log bugs. (curse you Linux!)
- Check Blog
- Respond to comments, criticisms, bugs, etc.
- Check Kickstarter
- Respond to comments, criticisms and bug reports, log bugs.
- Respond to people who say they didn’t get their shit or lost their emails; check and update the spreadsheets*
- Check iOS app store
- Check sales
- I can’t respond to people here which is annoying
- Log bugs
- Check Google Play
- Check sales
- Log bugs
- Check Facebook Fan Page
- Respond, etc.
- Check Reddit
- If we have something posted there which we usually do any time there is an announcement
- Check Google Reader
- For recent news posts or reviews (I read them all)
- Check Touch Arcade Forum
- Usually a good source for bug reports and reasonable fans
- Check Humble Store
- Check Sales
*Between all the Kickstarter rewards, PAX pre-orders and various other gifting related options, we have a lot of spreadsheets attempting to keep track of what got sent where to whom. Keeping in mind a Kickstarter user would get physical products, a copy of the game on any of the platforms and the soundtrack (all done through different services.) *phew*
Depending on the day, this process can take maybe an hour or so, but after we put out new patches or launch some news, I can end up spending my whole day in bookkeeping and PR mode. Obviously some of these come up less frequently; Kickstarter being one that I rarely have to deal with anymore since it’s a year gone by. Part of my time problem is that I respond (in full human sentences) to people as if I care about them and I were talking to them (because I am and I do.)
I think it’s worth it, we saw a comment on the Google Play store from a fan saying “These developers are awesome and they respond to emails.” We also get comments like “I love these developers,” and “Thanks for responding so fast, I did not expect that.” I don’t know if all this directly helps me put food on my plate but I do know it feels good and I like treating customers like individual people and not like a mass.
Oh right, and I also try to keep up on writing blog posts (like this one.) I also have to deal with all those bugs we log, which is why we’ve put out so many updates since launch. Keeping in mind now, that updating the game requires us to make 6 different builds and update the files in 12 locations through various means. (soon to be 10 builds and 16 files to update (shhh secret stuff.)) You can imagine that trying to test on all the devices with a team of 2 is mostly unrealistic at this point. We still try.
I do this full time (Although I do have a part-time job (teacher) and a social life.) Mike, the other guy for those keeping track, does this part time hwever. I try to keep up on all the stuff mentioned above while he manages the builds and fixed the super technical bugs. He also manages all our business stuff. I literally have no idea how that all goes or what that takes. I know he watches our money and supposedly we have an accountant(?) Mike also writes up all our contracts and manages payments to contractors (making money takes up time too!)
I hope all this gives you a vague idea of what it takes to support a game after release. There are a lot of large one time things I failed to mention or stress; Things like press, conventions, community, actually fixing bugs and exploring other opportunities and platforms. The point is… for our first game, I got to spend almost all my time just making the game. This time around it’s a juggling act.
I think part of the problem is that I keep trying to be “done” with Organ Trail. That’s really the wrong frame of mind. It’s more like having a child. Each new game you make is a new child you have to care for. Your previous titles will slowly start grow up and take care of themselves but you still have to check in on them once in a while. I think Organ Trail is maybe 14 years old at this point. There’s still some room to grow. I could take this perfect analogy a step further and say that releasing on iOS is like getting your game into elementary school and trying to get on Steam is like getting it into the best University (Harvard?) It’s all super stressful and has a real impact on the title’s future.
And then at some point I try to make new games. I’ll have to check my schedule.