When making your game there’s really no better way to begin getting noticed than by making a devlog. You can keep yourself motivated by getting encouraging feedback all the while gaining new fans, before the game is even done.
But I see a lot of bad devlogs that aren’t giving the developer these things and instead they lose motivation and they never finish their game. I’ve read enough devlogs and written my own that I think I can give some pointers on writing a good devlog.
Why keep a devlog?
There’s a few different reasons, as mentioned above. But there’s also another psychological reason. Once you start telling people about your game, start telling a community, you will feel compelled to continue, especially if you’ve had some initial comments.
Maybe you don’t want to let them down? Or perhaps it’s finally shown you that your idea and your work is good and worthwhile. These are the sorts of thoughts that will help you to power through the slog of development when your game is really wearing you down. Sometimes it’s not enough and the game falls to the side anyway, but other times it keeps you going.
The attention you will begin to gather around your game, and around yourself, is a powerful thing as well. Suddenly people are noticing you and acknowledging your ability and skill. That will give you a surge of power every time they do, and another feature gets completed.
Make sure you’ve got something to show
This is probably the number one thing new developers get wrong. They start a devlog first, before they even have any game. How do you even know your idea is fun and worth continuing with if you haven’t got a prototype yet? And even worse, if you’ve got nothing to show, no one is going to be interested.
The worst devlogs are the ones where the first post is just two or three paragraphs of text about how great this game is going to be and how it’s going to be made. But there’s no screenshots, or even concept art. Nothing but an idea. This is followed up by silence from the world and then maybe one or two additional updates from the developer showing an open game engine editor.
I know you want the initial motivation, but a boring or empty devlog won’t give you the acknowledgement you want. Make sure you’ve got some content, and something visual to show.
Make sure you’ve got a coherent idea that is doable
Another big mistake newbies make is a wishy washy crazy game concept.
It’s like Battlefield 5 but set on Mars with tactical overworld gameplay like Civilization!
I don’t even know what the hell that is. How does that play? What does it mean? Who knows, that devlog will last two posts before it’s forgotten about.
The idea itself, even if it’s coherent, is far to grand a scale to be completed by that developer. If it’s a team and they’re not showing a prototype at the same time, they won’t be finishing the game either. It’s far too epic to get completed, even with 100 people working on it.
Consistency & Content is determined by your audience
There are two different audiences you might have for your devlog, and it’s generally not possible to service both. You will have either:
- People who like playing indie games
- Other developers
Who you’re targetting with your devlog will largely determine how often you post, and the kind of content you post.
People who like playing Indie games
These people need to get updates weekly as the game progresses. The devlog shouldn’t start until there’s lots of ingame visuals, even a trailer, to show. The updates should basically be advertisments discussing mechanics of the game, or visuals, or music/sound, and showing it off.
You can post whenever you like for this sort of devlog. When you do post, make sure it’s meaningful. Development problems and how you solved them are always popular. Did you implement an interesting visual effect in your game? Talk about it, explain how you did it. Developers are often great audiences for beginning game developers because they’re going to be a lot kinder than people who play your game.
Developer focused devlogs also help you ask questions and gain feedback from people who know what’s going on and what you’re trying to do. Don’t underestimate the value of that.
Where should I host my devlog?
You can host it here on this website, just reach out to me. You can host it on your own website for your game. If you plan to release on itch.io you can host a devlog there as well. I keep devlogs on the TigSource forums as well, Gamedev.net also has forums to host devlogs.
The developer websites are the best places to host devlogs for other developers. Your website or other public facing websites are best for the games ultimate audience.
Should I promote my devlog?
Of course. Everywhere you can.
I hope that helps new developers understand when to start their devlogs and what sort of content they should put up. If you have any questions, drop me a line or comment down below.