being a solo indie and innovating within a well-established genre with your debut title is not easy, but there is one thing I find even harder than all the development and production hurdles associated with that:
It’s coming up with a sentence that conjures up the right image in the mind of your audience about what the game is. How do you find the one sentence to rule them all?
Of course, it has nothing to do with how I would describe the game with my designer-language. It has to do with listening to people.
So I’d like to invite you to join our new Discord server (a fancy name for a chat room) to tell me what you think the most fitting description of the game is.
This is the short history of terms we used to describe Sacred Fire and why they didn’t work for:
- “a narrative RPG”:
- why this made sense in my head: you tell them it’s an RPG, so they know they get character creation, combat, dice-rolls; and they realize the focus is on everything that makes the story experience better.
- people reacted that all RPGs have a narrative, so it didn’t really create a specific image in their mind. They had no idea how storytelling can be made better.
- “a visual novel RPG”:
- it should’ve told them you flow from one interesting scene to another and that attribute checks and dice rolls are resolving the success of your choices
- people wrongly assumed this is an adult dating sim
- “a psychological RPG”:
- it should’ve told them the innovation is the game uses attributes to describe the mindset, the beliefs, the subconsciousness of your characters; allows for nuanced self-expression and internal conflict resolution
- people wrongly assume the game will ask you about your mother :) This is a typical example when in designer language this is the best word to use, but in your audience language it has completely different connotations
- NOTE: we used this when running the Kickstarter campaign, so what seemed to work was, that at least people got so intrigued by what kind of nonsense this is :), that they went and looked and many of them ended up backing the game
- “a choice-driven RPG”:
- it should’ve told them the game is a flow of interesting choices in the story
- people wrongly assumed this is an open world or it has party-based isometric combat as most indie RPGs
- “a choose your own adventure RPG”:
- I thought this one could finally work!
- but alas, the one caveat is the term “choose your own adventure”, despite being a whole genre, is copyright protected and the publisher behind it doesn’t shy away from going after indies
- but the last obstacle made me think and realize I’m establishing a new subgenre, so I might as well give it a name: “a role-play your own adventure game”
So here is the one-sentence-to-rule-them-all in all its current glory:
A) “Sacred Fire is a genre-defining Role-Play Your Own Adventure Game where you need to master your emotions and outsmart your opponents.”
The previous iteration was:
B) “Sacred Fire is a psychological choice-driven RPG inspired by ancient Caledonia.”
1) Which one evokes curiosity and makes you want to learn more?
2) Which one does a better job of setting up the right expectations, so that when you see the screenshots you don’t feel disappointed this is not a giant open-world action RPG?
3) Do you think it’s more important to mention the setting (ancient Caledonia) or the innovative game mechanics (control your emotions)?
Any feedback is welcome. We just got approved as a verified server on Discord, so you can visit our chat room and take part in the voting there (click on the #polls channel on the left).
Joining the Discord server also ensures your place in the beta-testing we’ll be running in the future. It’s still ways off, but this way you don’t miss it :)
I feel my quest to evoke intrigue and set the right expectations about Sacred Fire with one line might not be over :)
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