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6 Reasons To Start Blogging As Developer
by Koen Deetman on 04/02/14 07:06:00 am   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Why would you consider writing a blog? In this article I will highlight 6 reasons why I think blogging in the game industry is useful in many ways.

 

source: http://socialmediatoday.com/sites/socialmediatoday.com/files/blogging_6.jpg

 

 

 

So you are an experienced game developer, a game producer, a publisher, a second year student, a game tester, game designer, a programmer, an artist or you compose compelling music. A lot of craftsmanship tailored or mixed exactly to your liking. Everyone's process, way of working and road to a finished game is different and full of interesting moments to learn from. You could decide keeping all your knowledge to yourself. But I have seen many secretive developers struggle and I think one of the reasons is their silence.

 

 

1. Contributing

The most important aspect in my opinion is that you contribute and share valuable information with the game industry. Many blogging developers get readers from all over the world, just because they speak their mind and share their experiences. Blogging is personal because every experience differs from one another. By sharing this with the game industry it's very helpful to other inexperienced or interested developers on the subject.

 

source: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-gxOPgrNICq8/UWIAQx20xuI/AAAAAAAAAXg/w7b4nP1SswI/s1600/roger+ebert+quote+on+joy.png

 

 

2. Transparency

Keeping things secret is useful in just a few cases, for example; when you buy a special present for your best friend or spouse. Here secrecy has a clear goal to 'surprise' someone, releasing their happiness factor at once. When you are a game developer, chances are you do more than a great job at one thing (programming), mediocre on a second (game design), and are inexperienced in a third(marketing). Therefore secrecy could harm your development without knowing it does. Expressing your methods through a blog could start discussions or could invite people to give feedback. It can seriously change your views on certain matters.

 

 

source: http://www.trendlineinteractive.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/businessman-and-transparency-sheet-blank.jpg

 

3. Creating your own Spotlight.

Developers that keep their mouth shut are simply invisible on radar. You on the other hand speak publicly and have created your own spotlight on stage. In the beginning you will feel uncomfortable by posting something, and it's read by only a few friends. Page views aren't impressive but you have to start somewhere. The first months when your blog is "live" you will see your posts get 'traction' on the web. However don't expect crazy numbers yet.

 

Maintaining your own blog page is great and is your first priority. However, its possible to share your blogposts on websites such as 'Gamasutra.com'. This is a website largely read by the game industry. They offer a possibility to start a blog on their website as well. The best thing about them is, when the editors see something interesting, they sometimes decide featuring it on their front page. Getting featured is really great, because a lot more people are able to see and read your blog. Besides them featuring you, you will always be part of their 'bloggers feed'. Many scroll down these feeds to catch a great article, I do so myself. I think nearly 50% of articles I find interesting come from Gamasutra.com.

 

 

source: http://www.pointfm.com/assets/images/spotlight%20on%20stage.jpg

 

 

4. Your help is appreciated

After a while you will start getting comments and feedback. You will notice your effort to writing these posts is even greatly appreciated. You should understand that the percentage reading your blog is far greater than the percentage actually taking time to comment. I highly recommend to 'reply' on these comments. These people took an extra bit of effort to respond on your post. These people can turn into your ambassadors; spreading the word! The 1% of hardcore readers and fans who comment are the most important group of people reading your blog. They actually provide you with a larger 'reach'. Don't know what to reply to some of them? well, at least thank them for taking the time to read and respond!

 

 

source: http://www.sucasacolumbus.com/assets/images/Thanks_for_your_help.jpg

 

 

5. Meet new people

Your blog now has a proper foundation and you will notice several people coming back to your page. Great job! This means you are engaging and encouraging them with great and valuable articles. A great thing is to start a conversation with your most persistent readers. Get to know them, take time to help them when they occasionally ask or struggle with something. Making friends is one of the coolest things you've caused by founding your blog. You get the chance to get to know people from all over the world! For example I have met 'Jonathan' a developer from California, USA. The other side of the world to me since I live in The Netherlands.

 

source: http://padmaraj.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Different-ways-to-meet-new-people.jpg

 

 

6. Learn from others

A great thing about blogging is the feedback, and the help some provide. I usually write about my vision and opinion on certain game development topics. Some of them agree, and some would disagree. It's great to read their opinion on your topic and I usually learn a lot  from how others think about it. It sometimes changes my own views and helps me to understand different perspectives.

 

 

source:http://ashtonsays.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/learn.jpg


Concluding

Blogging brought me more than I could have imagined when I started doing this. At first I thought it was fun to share some knowledge, but I quickly learned it's a positive thing in many ways. It doesn't matter some posts are better than others, as long as you put time and effort in a topic, it will radiate through the post. Share your views on trending situations or describe your workflow, tools or explain parts of development. Maybe even come up with something completely new and start discussions. A lot of us developers are very curious about your thoughts, but because you haven't started blogging yet, we can only guess! Lastly, something that goes hand in hand with 'following your dreams' and speaking publicly about your passion; do not give up.

/Koen

 

Find Me On:

Blog: http://www.koendeetman.com

Twitter: @KoenDeetman
Facebook: Koen.Deetman

Company: KeokeNInteractive

 


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Comments


Jorge Gonzalez
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Great article Koen, I think blogging and a commitment to publish progress on public projects is one of the best tools a starting developer can have; i've been in computer science long enough to see projects die out of lack of engagement from the participants and is my humble opinion that as gamedevs we have a unique advantage over other types of commercial software(unless you work under some kind of NDA) in that we can openly share our ideas about our work, or even share our whole projects and processes to scrutiny. I've found it the most thrilling part of my learning experience in gamedev, the rush and the need to work hard on my games to be able to meet my posts' deadlines and have something interesting to write about.

I'm mostly posting about my "A Game A Week" project (inspired by Rami Ismail's advice on a blog post) but I hope to share more in the future, and although my readers mostly consists of friends and family, it's still a great motivator. I post at http://mondongorongo.wordpress.com in spanish, but I'm hoping to make the time to blog here on gamasutra on english when I can add something that feels substancial to me.

Koen Deetman
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Hey Jorge,

Thank you for the kind words and sharing your insights!
Great you used the posts as a deadline. I can imagine it motivates to finish everything in that development cycle.

There is however the possibility people try to steal your ideas, but because we still have 'control' about 'what' we post, we can deal with "copycats" easier. Rami Ismail recently talked about the "performative developments" they experience with Nuclear Throne. That is a 'live' process and highly transparent. I am also considering elements like this for my game studio. Still I am figuring out the best way tailored to our workflow.

It's great that your friends and family read :) At least you have something to talk about at barbecue's and family dinners ;). From now on you will have one reader extra!

Zachary Strebeck
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Great post! I'd like to add that opening up a line of communication with non-developers is very important. Reading NeoGAF a lot will show you that many fans of games don't really know what it takes to actually develop one. There are huge misconceptions about costs, time commitment, crunch and other issues that the community would benefit from info on.

Koen Deetman
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Hey Zachary!

Thanks for the extra notion on non-developers!
When we do 'public' tests each 'sprint' delivery, you explain a little bit about the developments and the time and money its cost. They are indeed surprised it takes so much effort.

I think you are right on the fact blogging and being transparent would take away these prejudices that some non-gamers could have.

Ian Richard
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That's why I started doing VLOGs too. I've met far too many people who think that they can make a great game because they have an idea... and far to many who think that they can't ever make a game because they aren't special enough.

If I can create a more realistic window into game development then maybe we can get a bit more civility from the crowds, some fresh blood in the industry and or maybe I can inspire a AAA dev to stop being stupid about overtime. There is too much that I've learned that I need to share with the world because I don't want it to die with me.

I love games, and I'd do anything to improve the industry. Even if that mean's pretending I'm not anti-social a couple days a week.

Koen Deetman
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Hey Ian,

I looked at a few of your vlogs today :) You've got a cool tone of voice, and interesting stuff to tell! Keep on going!

Phil Maxey
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Blogging is one of these things which are essential to do, but you never find time to do.

Amir Barak
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Hehe, most of my blog posts were made around 2am just after or just before doing the dishes :D
But yeah, finding the time is hard given that sometimes it's too easy to say, well, I rather just code this last bit than write about coding the last bit.

Koen Deetman
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Amir,

That is why I would not write a blog post at essential parts of the process. Lowering my frequency of posting helped a lot to both sides.

Koen Deetman
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Hey Phil,

Yes blogging takes a (serious) chunk of my time. Especially if you want to write something 'useful'. At first I started of with 1 post a week, and I quickly learned that running a game studio and coming-up with interesting blog material was harming both sides. The blogs were 'ok' and the company was lacking my attention.

I now post once every 2,5 weeks and find this more comfortable and easy to combine with running the studio. Besides, the quality of your posts get better if you take more time for it, and maybe even let it rest for a few days and pick it up a little later that week.

Jean-Claude Cottier
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Nice post. I agree that blogging is a good thing, but I've kept it far too quiet for way too long myself. One of my 2014 new year resolution was to blog a bit. I've started with this on Gamasutra: http://ubm.io/1pTOJgx
My objective is to only release 3 or 4 articles this years, because I want to blog only on subject that I feel are important to share with other and also mainly because it is time consuming (especially for non-native English speaker like me).

Koen Deetman
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Hey Jean-Claude,

Yes it's time consuming, but even doing a blog post every 6 months could already contribute in a great way. Frequent posting only allows you to be spotted easier, and could lead readers to your other posts more easily.

Amir Barak
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Another benefit of writing on a regular basis is that you become better at writing. An important skill that seems to have fallen by the wayside in these quick and data-driven times of ours.

And finally I find that writing about a subject forces me to look at it from a further-along perspective; kind of like talking to a rubber duck or teddy-bear. Usually it helps me see "bugs" in my logic and/or deepen my understanding of the topic.

So overall, hell yeah blogging is a great tool!

****
I'd plug my own blog but I'm scared other people will read it... :P

Koen Deetman
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Exactly Amir!

Your writing advances quickly by doing this frequently, but isn't that with everything?
Guys that excessively use programming tools will be great programmers one day.

Still I think I could do a better job at writing. Not happy about my sentences sometimes and btw I still make a lot of grammatical errors ;), ah well, that will come with time.

I experience the same thing when writing on a subject. It deepens my perspective greatly. It sometimes happens I change my views during writing, or after the first read, I even come-up with a better solution or idea.

Please share your blog! I would read it! :D don't be scared ;)
I know expressing yourself through a blog could feel harsh if people would give negative feedback. It's like the first time you have someone test your game. You feel sad when people hate it the first two seconds they play. We have to learn to live with it ;) why not practise this on writing a blog? It could help you 'shut off' this feeling when doing quality testing.

Jamin Messenger
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Awesome Post Koen, I always plan on writing a blog but never do it because I get nervous. But I think all of your points pretty much outweigh anything negative that could come from posting. I know I appreciate all the game development blogging that has been done because it encouraged me to pursue my own dreams. Hopefully in a few weeks I can get something together...
This reminds me of another post about having deadlines... :-P

Koen Deetman
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Hey Jamin,

I understand the nervous feeling. To be honest, every post I publish I have a slight feeling of uncertainty. I know it doesn't matter, because it's based on my own opinion. Opinions can be shared or not, it stays your 'view' on things.

Maybe describe your 'dream goals' in your first post :) Or post why reading blogs helped you pursue them ;)

Travis Jones
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Any advice on how to determine what to write about? Or ways to motivate oneself to actually write something?

I realize it's mostly a mental barrier, but when I consider blogging I either can't think of anything to say, feel like the thing I want to say is stupid, or there's a *lot* I want to say and feel like it would be too much work to properly write out, organize, and cite.

Jacek Wesolowski
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There are multiple viable approaches. Here are a few that have worked for me:

1. Some topics are universal, for instance work, family, quality of life. You can offer a game developer's perspective on these topics, and that's a perspective most people don't have, therefore there's a chance they will find it interesting. One of my more popular posts was basically a rant about crunching. Turned out a lot of people from outside the industry could relate, because many people work in poor conditions for bad bosses who will sometimes try and force them to do unreasonable work.

2. Some topics are popular and/or important, and you, as a game developer, can offer an informed opinion. I wrote one of my most popular articles during the peak of the SOPA/ACTA debacle. The article concerned piracy, digital publishing, and the role of a publisher in the Internet age. Being an experienced developer meant that I could look at the problem from not one, but three valuable vantage points: I consume media as part of my occupation (so it's a slightly different kind of consumption from what most people do), I am an author so I have a stake in the copyright system that most people don't, and I have actually worked with publishers. A lot of people from outside the industry found the arcticle interesting, because it discussed a few points that had never occurred to them.

3. There are many people who want to know more about game development specifically, and you, as a developer, can at the very least share your personal experience. *The* most popular posts on my blog are all parts of an introduction to game development that I wrote. It wasn't a game design course. Instead, I covered game development as an occupation: what skills to develop, what roles there are, what trials and tribulations to expect, what bullshit to avoid, how much work does it take to make anything etc.

4. Your work is a story of its own. The harder it is, the more material for anecdotes: "I tried this and this, but it didn't work, because such and such problems emerged, so I solved them by doing this and that, and the lesson I learned was this". Gamers like to read such posts, because they are good stories. Developers like to read them, too, because they can learn something for free. And your friends and fans love to read them, because they help them stay in touch with you and get to know you better.

There is a simple way to avoid writing "something stupid": relate your personal experience without jumping to conclusions. You are by definition the top expert on things you have experienced directly. Of course, just because you have, say, been to a hospital, doesn't mean you're an expert on healthcare (that would be jumping to conclusions). But you are an expert on that particular visit to a hospital. If you're worried that the lessons you learned from your experiences might be wrong, then just be honest about it, as in, for example: "here's what happened, and here's how I feel about it. My impressions are this and this, but there are also these things I had to assume, so if these are incorrect then let me know".

There's also this rule of thumb: don't write on a given topic if you have nothing to say in addition to what has been already said. You don't have to read the whole Internet in order to make sure you're being completely original. Your friends and customers haven't read the whole Internet either, so all you need to worry about is the part of the Internet that you and them have been able to reach.

Koen Deetman
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Hey Jacek,

Thanks for your addition to my post ;)

I think you summed up nearly everything that helps inspire doing a blogpost.

"You are by definition the top expert on things you have experienced directly."

Absolutely true!

Koen Deetman
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Hey Travis,

Start by reading Jacek's comment below, he's giving great advise on this.

I get this question a lot, I think I will dedicate a blog post on this matter.

Koen Deetman
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Hey Travis,

Start by reading Jacek's comment below, he's giving great advise on this.

I get this question a lot, I think I will dedicate a blog post on this matter.

David Lin
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In a way blogging is like marketing for an indie game dev. We all know indie game devs want to get to what they like most - making the game. But blogging and marketing are things that has to be done.

Not everyone likes it, but some do.

Luckily I am 1 of those who do.

Koen Deetman
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Hey David,

Yes it is somehow a 'marketing tool', although I never redirect them to my company through a post. I think the blog markets 'you' as a person and 'you' are connected to a company (your indie dev studio).


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