Writing about free games - When is it ok?

Writing about free games - When is it ok?

Postby Imerion » 23 Feb 2016, 12:11

Hi everyone!

I've been blogging about free games for a while now and find it really fun. There's one thing I've been thinking about though, and that is when it's ok for developers to mention projects and post an article about them. I'm guessing that an official release, like a project homepage writing "0.8 has been released - here's what's new!" is no problem. In that case the developers want the information to be known and I have no problems posting about it. But as for projects only mentioned on their homepage as being in progress, or even more so, projects mentioned in the "Project Showcase" here on FreeGameDev Forums, would that be okay to post? I have done so a few times, but I have also waited as I haven't been sure if it would be okay for the developer to spread the word with a blog post if the game is not publicly announced more than on this forum.

Myself, as a developer, I would consider it ok to post any time I have written something about any of my games myself. Otherwise I wouldn't write at all. This is the internet afterall. :)
But I don't know if everyone feels like that. What do you others around here feel? Are there any situations you would not want your games mentioned on a FOSS-games blog?
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Re: Writing about free games - When is it ok?

Postby Akien » 23 Feb 2016, 12:56

Personally I don't think there are hacker customs that would prevent that - as long as your blog post makes it clear that it's a review or advertisement for a project that you do not contribute actively to (which would be quite obvious in a blog about FOSS games, nobody would expect you to contribute to all of them!), I think it's fine and even very welcome. Most open source games lack visibility, so have third party blogs posting about them is definitely positive.

The only case where I would be cautious is if a game is really in its infancy, and does not have the quality yet that one would expect for public promotion. If you do a review of such a game, and that after a few screenshots and lines the conclusions is that "well, so far it seems pretty basic and boring", that's probably not what the game's developer would have wanted :D

About this last point, that's actually something that has bothered me in the "Open Source Games" channel on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaoiUe ... lNi5DREjYg
Iwan has tested tons of games each day, many being barely WIPs or demos, and has then pushed those videos to his channel. It makes the channel flooded with content and the actual good open source games are lost the ton of BGE or Love2D proof of concepts or "I'm learning programming" projects. And many videos actually show obvious bugs, quite often that can be related to the platform they're running on (e.g. missing sound and music when it was working for the devs - that's not something to show in a showcase video, that's something to discuss in a bug report).

So even though I was pretty excited about this Open Source Games channel, I quickly lost interest because I found most of the videos hardly pertinent. So I'd expect you not to go the same route in your blog, but instead to blog about projects that are worth showcasing and that might attract new players and maybe even contributors.
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Re: Writing about free games - When is it ok?

Postby farrer » 23 Feb 2016, 13:03

I believe that in FOSS world any way to attract a potential 'community-momentum' is of great help. As a developer, I believe that posts in a blog about FOSS games is ok, any time, being the project officially released/packaged or not (access to the repository should be enough). Some years ago, every update in HappyPenguin increased absurdly the number of downloads of my projects (and sometimes attract a few contributors), some time later (in fact, they coexisted for a while), after HP's death, FreeGamer (the blog) somewhat filled the gap with similar results.

So, don't worry: in FOSS world getting the 'word' spread is very important, and spread it 'early and often' is substantial to the future of those projects / games, I believe.
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Re: Writing about free games - When is it ok?

Postby onpon4 » 23 Feb 2016, 14:21

I would be a bit sad if someone showed off a game I was developing before it was ready, but less so than if they didn't show off the game at all. So... meh.

I'd say, use your best judgment. If a game feels like it's in its early stages, e.g. not very interesting or not very polished, and the project has no blog post which suggests that it's actually very close to finished, then its probably best for everyone if you don't promote it at that stage; your readers probably wouldn't be interested in it, and the developer of the game probably isn't going to be helped any. Otherwise, post away.
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Re: Writing about free games - When is it ok?

Postby dulsi » 23 Feb 2016, 14:54

I generally think it is ok anytime. Akien suggested focusing on playable games. I think that makes sense for the blog you have because I view your blog as more game player oriented at the moment. When I did Open Game Source articles, I aimed my content at developers. Instead of review the game, I looked more at the code and how you could add new features. That type of content works with games earlier in development. I did contact the authors of the programs to get feedback on the article before release just in case I misunderstood the code.
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Re: Writing about free games - When is it ok?

Postby Imerion » 24 Feb 2016, 01:48

Hi everyone, thanks for the feedback! I believe I know how to approach this now. Generally, publicity is good unless the project is in it's very early stages and it's clear that more needs to be done until it's ready for showtime. Since I don't really review games and mostly just want people to know they exist (as long as they're in a playable state) a released but still early version is probably ok unless I have reason to think otherwise. I believe I have some new guidelines to base my judgement on now. Thanks!

Btw, dulsi, that was a nice idea for your articles. I read a bit and found it very interesting. :)
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Re: Writing about free games - When is it ok?

Postby Jastiv » 09 Nov 2018, 21:10

I keep debating about that, because while my project is playable, it has so many known bugs and user interface issues. So, its like I want to promote it to people who like to do things such as.
1. file bug reports
2. playtest.
3. fix bugs
4. improve the game (features)
5. improve the user interface.
But i DON'T really want to promote it to some person on windows who is just looking for a nice polished mostly complete bug free game to play.
So, its like I want to promote it, yet at the same time i DON'T want to promote it.
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Re: Writing about free games - When is it ok?

Postby SecureUvula » 09 Nov 2018, 22:00

I wonder if you could purposely give the game an unappealing name and primitive homepage with just a few low-res images, to keep away those people who only want to play the final game.

Then when it's more playable, announce that you're changing the name to what you'd intended all along, add HD screenshots, make some videos public, and style up the site.

At least that way your 0.8 isn't taking search engine namespace away from your 1.0.

I understand that movies and TV shows sometimes do filming under made-up names to keep people from getting too excited about big franchises. Car companies also use 'mules' to test the drivetrain of a new car under the shell of a plain-looking older model. (Though that may also be practicality, if the new shell isn't ready)
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Re: Writing about free games - When is it ok?

Postby Danimal » 11 Nov 2018, 21:45

SecureUvula that was a borderline trollish answer, but it has reason, you have to make more appealing your project, get an attractive webpage with nice pics... basically "selling your game"; its already hard to get attention, worse if you use an obsolete webpage.
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Re: Writing about free games - When is it ok?

Postby Julius » 12 Nov 2018, 05:30

IMHO why have a homepage at all when you are still in relative early development? Just put up a public repository and some place to have a developer's discussion group and then see how far you get. Most projects never make it to the stage when they need a public website for players anyways ;)

Regardless of that, I think few developers mind some publicity from a blog post. Usually it is also pretty clear when a project is mainly looking for contributors instead of players.
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Re: Writing about free games - When is it ok?

Postby SecureUvula » 12 Nov 2018, 20:32

Danimal, I sincerely meant what I said - Deliberately keep a low profile until the game is ready for end users, then repaint it when it hits 1.0. I haven't tried it since none of my games attract attention either way.

However, web pages that are simple are not obsolete. Maybe no page at all, as Julius said, is better.
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