After what may seem like a very long time, the number of pieces left to be added to Moon before it could be considered complete is finally starting to get smaller not bigger. There are no obvious new bits of feature or technology to be added, the main structures of the entire game world have been laid out and there’s now a real sense that as long as I stick with it I could actually release a finished product. A game that a few people might enjoy playing (and maybe even paying money for).
Don’t go rushing off to steam just yet, there are still plenty of things to do but I can start to put actual numbers on things in a way that I’ve just not been able to do up to this point. With numbers I can count down the remaining work and even see a point in the future when they all reach zero and I release it all into the wild. The landscape of indie development is littered with games that never got finished. I recon it probably kills about 99% of the projects ever started. So, as another year comes to a close I have to think and hope that I have enough drive to be in the 1% and release a completed game. That or go mad trying.
That brings me to the next important thing to get done. Something I’ve made a very small start on is raising the profile of Moon and deciding what changes need to be made to make sure it can be found, seen and sold to as many people who might enjoy it as possible. So far there is one huge thing that has become a concern. The name of the game.
Moon is a nice short snappy name that hints at the subjects of the game and even has a little mystery to it. However, it’s also the name of earths closest celestial neighbor, an object you will almost exclusively be told about and given pictures of if you enter its name into Google. For this reason it probably needs to change.
Picking a good name for a game is a big deal. Big publishers have whole departments of people devoted to that sort of thing. However, by the looks of things, many indie developers simply start thinking of a word or phrase that doesn’t yet occur much in Google search results (or any existing language) and just use that. The steam store and indieDB are littered with weirdly named games. I assume that this comes from some assumption that the name of a game should be as unique as possible. This is just not a good approach.
The name of a game should be something that is as easy as possible to communicate to others. Obviously, with the addition of some reference or contextual link to what the game is about. Being easy to find on Google is important too, but it doesn’t need to be unique. Just by looking around at some of the most successful games it’s possible to see some clear patterns. Take Dragon Age, Assassins Creed or League of Legends for instance, they all have names that are easy to communicate to others, they’re easy to spell and easy to enter as search phrases but they contain no unique words. They’re just phrases. Clear, concise snippets that hint at the game context and are reasonably unique for easy searching.
My challenge now is to find such a name or phrase before I need to start making some really serious noise about the game. It’s nice having nearly 100 followers on facebook and over 500 on G+ but if I’m going to have any hope of getting through steam greenlight I need about 100 times that number. A task that’s not as technically demanding, but possibly almost as big, as making the whole game in the first place.