You’re Reading Devlogs Wrong (+ May-June Recap)

Recap first:

I keep changing my plan, and frankly, it’s kind of embarrassing, but only because I keep telling you about it. But that’s kind of the point of the devlog, so here we are…

This sudden change of course wasn’t without reason, though. The roster of Stonewood Games has doubled! A good friend of mine, name of Chris, has joined me. We’ve been playing in bands together since we were teenagers, so we had no trouble coming up with ideas and got to work right away. Unfortunately, we can only work together every other week, but having someone to collaborate and bounce ideas off of has still increased my output and motivation exponentially. I highly recommend it.

So the new, new plan is basically the same as the old, new plan, which is to put off the current game to build one less-impossibly-scoped. But I’m not going to talk about that yet, because I already did that with the last one and never even got around to getting the information up (See? Embarrassing). So we’ll talk more about that in the future, but suffice it to say, I solemnly swear I am up to no good.

You’re Reading Devlogs Wrong

“All of the true things I am about to tell you are shameless lies.”
–Books of Bokonon, opening verse

Of all the posts I have written over the last five years, two of them actually get read by quite a few people:
Devlogs: What’s so special about ’em?
and
You’re doing it wrong (common indie dev mistakes to avoid)

So I’ve written a combo-companion piece to those:

You’re reading devlogs wrong.

Why are you reading this? Why do you believe it? Just because I wrote it down? Why do you trust me?
I mean, do you even know who wrote this? Do you know that I’ve been doing this for over 5 years and haven’t actually shipped a single game? Yeah, you’re taking advice from a complete failure. Why are you doing that?

Like most devloggers, my main purpose for writing this is not to inform you. And it’s not to make you a better game dev, either. Fortunately for you, I do want to inform you and I do hope I can help you on your game-dev journey, but that’s not really why I write a devlog. I write it to get my name out. I write it so that when I eventually release a game, you’ll go, “Oh, Stonewood Games, I’ve heard of them!” and then you’ll be more likely to check out the game.

That’s it. Marketing. That’s why almost every devlog you’ve ever read was written.

So am I suggesting you stop reading devlogs?
Of course not! Just be smart about it.

Here’s a few tips for thoughtful reading of devlogs:

  • Don’t just believe them by default.
    “Don’t believe everything you read,” may seem obvious, but something about reading/hearing new information makes our brains want to believe it. Take in the information, but figure out for yourself if it makes sense -and not just in general- see that it makes sense for you. Different things work better for different people. Just because the information is solid doesn’t mean you have to use it.
  • Keep in mind the writer’s purpose for writing their devlog and beware of content for the sake of content.
    Besides marketing, most devs also want to be a helpful and informative part of the community, but if someone is making more money from their devlogs than their games, has an overly-tight devlog schedule, or seems overly focused on the size of their audience; there’s a higher chance they’re just posting drivel to keep their numbers up.
  • Know the author.
    Not like be their friend, but read their social media (but don’t follow –yet), previous devlogs, reddit posts, etc. Get to know them outside of the devlog space. See if they’re idiots, or geniuses, or whatever.
  • And when you find devloggers you like and trust, follow them!
    Not only does this turn your feeds into nicely curated lists of your favourite devloggers, it also encourages them to continue writing (and we need all the encouragement we can get!).

[Insert obvious segue here]

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