Winner Is You!

by Jack

TELUS Pitch Post-Mortem

Thanks to all our supporters, the contest was a success! As promised, the winnings will go towards a Unity 3D iOS Pro license, and the hardware becomes the first set of official testing gear for Dark Acre!

I’m not sure if what we did has a reproducible formula, but I can tell you the steps we took. It’s also important to note that when we entered we were the 55th pitch and the contest had already been underway for more than two weeks.

As with any crowd-sourced effort, the quality of the pitch and amount of exposure gained are the two key factors for success.

What Went Right

1. A Clear Message
We tried to distill the effect of winning down to a tangible goal, and came up “Help Dark Acre jump-start iOS/mobile development”. This was a very real thing for us, as the prize package was perfectly suited to servicing that need.

Keeping it a simple little sentence like that made for some easy Tweeting, as well.

2. Spam with Purpose
Social network streams are fickle beasts. If someone is Following you and a hundred other people, there’s a very good chance that your updates get lost. Furthermore, not everyone is in the same time-zone, so you may be Tweeting while a large portion of your Following is sleeping.

It’s important to have a targeted “update” plan. There’s no magic number, but common sense dictates that you should broadcast when people are likely to be paying attention. Early morning during commutes, mid-morning breaks, lunch breaks, mid-afternoon breaks, and evening commutes. Late night updates for known night-owls. And then transfer this timing template across the various continental time-zones.

It’s also pretty obvious that if your stream that was normally filled with interesting links and witty observations (something we’re still trying to get right) is suddenly just all about pimping contest votes, people are going to tune out. What we ended up doing was a 3-times per day on Twitter, once a day on Facebook, and once every few days on Google Plus. Since it was a daily vote contest it didn’t feel too bad, and most updates became reminders to people to do their daily support vote.

The messages were all unique, too, and unique across the social networks. That’s just a given, personally I’m not a fan of someone who crossposts, entering one update on Twitter and having it propagate across every single network they’re plugged into. Sort of defeats the purpose of Following them in multiple places and makes them look like tools who care more about the message than the people receiving it.

3. A Centralized Explanation
We came up with a long-winded blog post to help focus what the contest was about, how to enter, and what it would mean to us if we won. We then created a permalink to it and used that across the networks when explanations were necessary.

The entry got a ton of traffic, so we’re assuming this approach worked as intended. We won, so the next section may seem unnecessary, but there’s always room for improvement.

What Went Wrong

1. Entering Without a Plan
If you know me, I’m as serious as Hannibal Smith when it comes to planning actions. We entered the TELUS contest on a whim, and the pitch was crafted in the space of about 15 minutes, and the icon was a quick hack-and-paste in Photoshop of existing promo material.

It wasn’t until a couple of days in that we started to feel like we really had a chance at winning. It was then that the blog post and formalized links were formed. If I could have gone back and done it differently I would have come up with a much more formal marketing plan that included videos and regular “push pitches”, posts the highlighted the progress and created more pressure to vote.

Again, it’s moot since we won, but I still believe that solid planning beats biting the nails at the 11th hour and wondering if I’d done everything I could to secure a victory.

In the end, though, the results were down to anyone who voted and helped push us to the top. If you were one of those fantastic people, you have our undying gratitude.


Halfway Out of the Breach

By the time this post goes live I’ll be some 37,000 words along in this year’s National Novel Writer’s Month attempt. It’s been going well, much more coherent than last year’s try, and I have a feeling I’ll be editing this one proper at some point down the line.

The hope is that this will kick-start my writing engine. It’s been a little slow on that front since the release of Ambia, and I think that’s due to the lack of regular sessions in the morning. NaNoWriMo forces me to stand for a couple of hours and crank out a couple thousand words every morning, and it’s this ‘rain or shine’ discipline that’s really needed if long-form work is to be done.

What’s this year’s story about? In a nutshell it’s a guy who’s had a mind-altering experience on LSD that unlocked the ability of precognition. He can see into the future, in terms of the choices he’s made in the past. A shadowy corporation wants to refine this ability for sale to the highest bidder, and will stop at nothing to gain the secret.

I’m live-drafting daily from 7 AM to 9 AM PST, and you can view the document as it’s written.

It’s 1st draft so expect stuff that only slightly above the level of steam of consciousness.

If you’re so inclined, you can also buddy up with me on the NaNoWriMo site. If you’re participating, best of luck with your attempt and I hope you “win”!


Engagement Guilt

If I’m not +1′ing, Liking, or ReTweeting your content, it’s not because I don’t like you, or even that I’m lazy. It’s that I’m spending far more time creating games and writing fictional worlds and less time absorbing the streams of information that flow across the soc-nets.

So, if you feel like your particular conversation is lacking my voice, I apologize. A better way to get my attention would be tagging me in the posts. I’m having a great many more 1-on-1 conversations via Google Plus these days, and only access them via the Google status bar. I hardly ever visit Facebook anymore, as the interface has become an obtrusive mess. Twitter, I only have time for the core people I’m Following. I used to spend some time each day looking through my lists, but even that’s dropped down to the occasional “visit while on the toilet if I don’t feel like playing Jetpack Joyride”.

It’s hard, because as an independent it’s very difficult to not treat your soc-net activity as a sort of life-line. You begin to feel like if you’re not keeping up with them that they’re not keeping up with you. And while all of that may be true, the bottom line is still that your fans, Followers, Friends, and Plussers will all appreciate more if you craft some killer content for them. Soc-net statuses are temporal things, lost quickly and forgotten even faster, while your work should be built to withstand the test of time.

If you’re really interested in starting a conversation, feel free to message me from the contact link, or even hit me on the Skype machine at “darkacrejack”. If I’m not elbow deep in the guts of a new game-golem I’ll be happy to chat.


Dark Acre Arcade

Last weekend I took a couple of hours away from the project Darryl and I are working on to slap together a Space Invaders clone iteration.

Speaking of this shadowy and secret project, savvy readers will already have noticed the new Project Prevengeance page. That’s got all the information we’re comfortable giving out, but as mentioned in the thank-you video we are very close to a playable build, and it shouldn’t be long before we’re full-on refining it and preparing it for release.

That’s it for now from the Acre. Have I thanked everyone for helping us out? Yeah? Then my job here is done.

Feel free to add our new Google Plus page, Facebook page, and a subscription to the blog to your feed readers. Good things are coming from Dark Acre, so stay tuned!