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1. Some Marketing Efforts, While Earnest, Were Quite Amateur
I had a brilliant idea. I was going to create a bunch of short animated cartoons starring the two characters from the game and start spreading them around the internet. Curious about the characters in the cartoons, people would come to the website to learn more about them. Viral marketing! That's what it's all about.
So, I brought on board a few writers to write the cartoon sketches for me. Six were written, and I brought in the actors to record the lines. Now all I needed to do was nab an animator to make the cartoons for me. Easy, right?
Heck, no. I was a bit naïve, and I figured I could just hop onto Newgrounds and find some budding young animator who would be happy for the opportunity to make these in return for a bit of cash. I found some soon enough, but not a single one of them followed through.
In the end, I ended up hiring a professional animation studio to do them. They gave me a generous rate, but even still I could only afford to make three of the cartoons and I had to severely limit the amount of animation in each one. But, hey -- at least they got made.
So I had my cartoons, but it wasn't long before I realized I had no idea what to do with them. I put them on the usual places like YouTube, GameTrailers, Newgrounds, and announced them on various game sites, but they did not generate the buzz I was expecting.
I like the cartoons. They are funny and people seem to like them. The idea of making the cartoons was sound, but my limited marketing experience left me with no idea what to do with them once I had them.
2. Getting a Publishing Deal
What? This is a bad thing? Well, not really. But read on.
The second game in the series, Blackwell Unbound, was released in August of 2007. I soon announced that The Blackwell Convergence would be finished by March of 2008. What I did not expect was that I would get a call from a major game publisher who was interested in hiring me to design and produce a fully-funded game. This was an offer I couldn't refuse, so I accepted, and soon, Emerald City Confidential was greenlit and on its way.
Getting this gig meant many good things. I was working with a genuine budget, and could create a game with real production values. I was working with a real marketing and sales department, who could help guide me into making something that would really sell. Also, for the first time in years, I had some semblance of financial stability.
Unfortunately, this also meant that I had to put Blackwell Convergence on the back burner. I didn't have the energy or the manpower to work on both projects at once, so production on Convergence was almost completely halted. This disappointed many fans, who had been promised a new game by March and weren't going to get it. When they asked when the game was coming out, I could only reply that I didn't know.
Blackwell Convergence came out in July of 2009 -- almost a year and half after it was promised. Do I regret what happened? I don't. I learned a lot working on Emerald City and the money I earned while making it enabled me to pay for the new artwork that I mentioned above, so Blackwell Convergence emerged significantly improved as a result. I do regret disappointing the fans, though, as well as not giving as much attention to my own budding community while I was working on the bigger game.