Jo's blog

Spreading the word

April 1st, 2013
I was told of an article on written by Jim Sterling yesterday, where he talked about how Indie developers should start spreading the word on their own games, instead of locking them away for no one to see, hear or play it except their makers. He also mentioned Owlboy in this article, and I’d like to share a few words on our own experience on exposure.

The key point in Owlboy’s history was when the very first trailer was released on youtube. It was a sort of announcement to the world, that: “Hey, there’s a new full scale pixel adventure coming out! For PC!”. It also introduced something of a new gameplay mechanic, the ‘fly everywhere, all the time’, which has become a little catch phrase we tend to use when introducing the game, because we want to appeal to the explorers among players.

The very first Owlboy trailer

Off to a good start, now continue

And so the fire started spreading. The team didn’t need to do much at the time being, as the word seemed to fly on it’s own through the internet, with the game featuring in articles, blogs and forums. But when the flames died down, what were we to do?

Already knowing that a lot of people were reacting positively to the game, based on feedback from the early footage in the first trailer, we grew some confidence in ourselves, and started to write more frequently about the game. We started to show up whenever we got invited to any event, small or big, didn’t matter, as long as we got to show the game at least to a few people.

We started to believe that people were actually genuinely interested in getting to play our game, and so in 2011 we decided to let people do so. We released the early Owlboy demo, along with this trailer:


Now, our confidence in the game was already sturdy at this point, but after releasing the demo, and watching the feedback that came through from fans, we became so faithful in the game, that we dropped everything, and started working full-time to focus on development. Every comment felt like a power-up, and I found myself spending hours daily giving thanks to every positive feedback found. We also took note of negative comments, pushing our minds to a state of: “so, you didn’t find it impressive, wait till we show you what’s in store”. One example is where a few commenters thought Otus’s flying animation looked kind of stale. Our artist went – “Gimme a sec”.

Old vs New

These days we try to keep the flame steadily growing by keeping our blog regularely updated, but once in a while we work towards making bigger impact newsflashes, like the trailer we made a few months ago, where we honored our composer Jonathan Geer.

Not only did it present us an oppertunity to show off Jonathan’s work, it was also a great chance for us to show some real progress. And again, a fire spread, which again boosted morale on the team, but also set left our fans with a feeling – “Owlboy is still coming!”.


Whenever we reach a newsworthy milestone, we’ll let the press know, especially the ones who has covered us on previous occations. We already know a batch of people who are eagerly awaiting news on the game, and we also know that we should make them aware that development pushes forward. The game is often featured on sites like Kotaku, RockPaperShotgun and Destructoid, aswell as many more, and whenever I spot an article, I put the site on my bookmarks, reading it everyday, and make sure to contact the site whenever we’ve got some boiling news.

I also treat fans the same way, and anyone who ever sends us an e-mail/fan letter, I tend to view as a potential helper in making Owlboy a great game. There are many things to keep in mind if you’re a game developer. Speak of your game often, to anyone, let people play it. Whenever your game recieves praise, you’re on the right track. Do not be afraid of reciveing negative feedback, and if you are, put yourself in a state of mind that bashers are there to help you make your game better.


Something hidden

Now, there are other things to keep in mind when spreading the word on any game. What we’ve deliberately done is to withhold a lot of information on Owlboy, things that might spoil the game for fans, or game mechanics that we feel will make such an impact that we on purpose plan to tell about them later. We avoid giving away too much of the game so that we’ll be able to dazzle our fans even more once the game is released, and they get to experience the game themselves. This is why updates on actual gameplay from Owlboy are scarce, but it’s the way we want to keep it to let the player explore our game on their own terms once it’s in their hands.

Lately, we’ve started to think of how people are going to keep track of the game’s release, and if you’re one of them, we’ve added an e-mail subscription service which tells you once the release date of Owlboy has been confirmed: Owlboy Release Notification.

There are more points to keep in mind, and I’ll talk more about this in future posts.


3 Responses to “Spreading the word”
  1. Josie 2-Toes -

    I’m hugely anticipating Owlboy! Simon is an INCREDIBLE artist, and that music? I’ll be picking up that soundtrack for sure. Can’t wait!

  2. Twixer -

    I’m always excited to see a post by you guys, from Facebook to famous sites. I’ve been supporting Owl Boy from the background for years now, and now it’s when I’m going to start to show it more.

    Amazing work guys. Continue your projects, continue your goals, and continue your dreams.

  3. Raggmopp -

    I could have sworn to have seen this on XBOX 360 at Raptus Comic Festival in Bergen, some years ago. Also those awsome Wikings on Trampolines.

    Good work folk’s.

Leave a Reply

Current month ye@r day *

Back to top