How to Demo Your Game During a Pandemic
Hey, it’s Joe here.
I’ve mentioned previously that I had to change course quite a bit with how I was trying to get the word out about Relics of Rajavihara in the new world we’re living in.
No more conventions. No more face-to-face gaming. No more live demos.
First, it was Breakout Con. I had a table reserved and was going to demo my game and collect email addresses over the whole 3 days. Gone.
Then, it was Origins. First, the physical convention, then the online version. Both cancelled.
Then, finally, it was Essen. It was going to be my first time attending, and I had a friend with a booth who was going to let me demo Relics of Rajavihara. It’s not happening now.
Not to mention all the other local in-person gaming get-togethers that happen on a regular basis.
So, what’s a creator to do?
Learning to Ride a Bike
Ok, maybe it wasn’t a bike, but I did have to learn Tabletop Simulator (TTS), and the process was similar. You learn from others, try on your own, stumble and fall, get back up again, and pretty soon you have things figured out. Well, at least enough of the basics to keep you moving forward!
Once I started putting other games onto Tabletop Simulator and got used to the importing and setup process, I tried to figure out how to make the digital version of Relics. By that time, I understood how to create a deck and find other components like meeples and gems, so the next challenge was the blocks.
I knew these would be the trickiest to set up.
I figured out how to use a 6-sided die (or d6) setup to create the blocks with images on all sides. The only thing was, everything that gets stacked together always moves as one object. This was a problem. You see, in Relics, when you push a block, everything above it is supposed to drop.
Fortunately, with a little trial and error, I figured out how to make them move separately, by removing the “sticky” feature and adjusting the mass of the blocks.
Now, I was ready to go!
Fortunately, a number of online events started popping up. Protospiels, virtual playtesting groups, and even some virtual conventions.
I made use of these events, particularly the online conventions, to schedule and demo the game to interested players. Most of my timeslots got filled and people loved being able to try out some of the levels. Even if they couldn’t physically move around the blocks, they could still imagine what it was like to play the game in real-life.
For those who were interested, I let them know that I would be launching soon on Kickstarter and asked if they’d like a link to the project page.
This resulted in a number of people clicking the “notify me” button and backing the game once it launched.
Try Before You Buy
This also gave me the opportunity to include a link to the TTS version of the game on my campaign page.
Anyone who owned TTS now had the opportunity to try Relics before they pledged. This way, they could be sure this was a game for them or determine if it wasn’t something they would enjoy playing.
Either way, it would help them make a more informed decision. And even for those without TTS or who chose not to try it there, it gave a bit more proof that I wasn’t afraid to share it with others and let them try it first.
Whether it was demoing the game myself or opening it up to the public on TTS, my ask was very small. Try a level. See if you like it. It was a micro commitment. And you know what? Most people asked to play at least one more level.
By keeping the demo time short (30 minutes) and allowing others to try this on their own time as well, it helped people to make the right decision for them.
This was just one of the many methods I used to build interest for Relics of Rajavihara before it launched, along with ads, building my email list and Facebook group, and sharing things about my game in various forums, especially in the solo gaming Facebook groups (solo game -> target audience).
What do you want to know about running a Kickstarter? Hit the comment button below and leave me a question – it just might end up being my next article. 😊