Writing an honest, consistent devlog is an extremely important part of indie game development that no developer should forego and I’ll tell you why.
Your devlog is a record that allows you to look back and see how far you’ve come, or to look back (and laugh) at your mistakes so you can avoid repeating them. Additionally, the simple act of writing ideas down can often help highlight their potential or lack thereof.
Another simple, but powerful way your devlog helps you succeed is by keeping you accountable. Knowing that you need to have something to talk about every week or two can really motivate you and your team to stay on task. It also looks good to potential players/funders who can see exactly how consistently you’ve been progressing.
Speaking of potential players…
We obviously don’t just write devlogs for ourselves… There are a number of ways devlogs help us connect with the outside world: gathering feedback, as a marketing tool, and even for the sake of press.
Hearing what the world has to say about your game ideas can save a lot of precious time. Their feedback can tell you which ideas, mechanics, art styles, etc. are catching people’s attention, and which aren’t, so you may shift your focus accordingly.
Devlogs are one of the best marketing tools indie game developers have at their disposal. A consistent devlog means you’re showing up in people’s feeds regularly, and each post gives anyone the ability to simply hit ‘share’ and introduce your game to entire new markets, essentially turning your readers into a free marketing team. If you intend to do any crowdfunding, this is the best way to gather your crowd; slow and steady, tortoise-style. Not only that, but as people watch the development of a game slowly unfold, they can’t help but want to play the final product.
Lastly, if your game happens to start getting a lot of press, a devlog can offer more information than a typical press page, and giving the press more to say about you is never a bad thing… Right?
A few Tips:
- Start writing your devlog as early in the development process as possible. There is no “too early”. The best part is (unless you’re somebody important), no one is going to read your first posts anyway. They are completely for you. So be honest and genuine with yourself, and don’t be afraid to think of the first posts like you’re practicing a new skill. Because you are.
- It’s a good idea to avoid talking about what you intend to do, and try to stick with what you have already done, or at least, what you’re currently working on. This way, you don’t end up looking (or worse, feeling) like a liar or failure just because you changed your mind about something.
- Set a devlog schedule and keep it. It can be difficult, but it’s important. It can help to delay your posts so that you’re actually writing next week’s post instead of this week’s. This gives you a week to make any changes you might come up with before it goes live. It also buys you a week in case you get behind.