Enter The Trajectory Zone – the hype machine begins rolling! IGC ’03 nears, and TZ nears Beta

Wow. What a mind blowing two weeks. I don’t think I’ve ever spent this long doing marketing for all of the rest of my games combined. It’s involved extensive email, ICQ, and phone discussions with a number of people. I wrote a press release (for the second time in my life – the first time didn’t count, because it never got released), then it became a ‘community editing’ project – the TZ team looked at it, hammered on it a bit (one of the guys, Mike Morrison, has some experience with Press Releases, and his wife is an editor. So it went through a couple of stages there), then Justin Mette from 21-6 took a look at it, and helped increase the hype level in it, then Jay Moore of GG did me a heck of a favor and pointed out two errors in thinking about it (and also critiqued the content, telling me where it lay in is “Who Cares”-ometer when it comes to game press releases. Too bad I failed on that one 😛 But he also talked about ways to improve it in future releases – thanks Jay!)
I also submitted a GG screenshot, with some hype in there. Then there’s the website with more pictures and information. And I can’t even begin to tell you what all else I did to get to this point – and that’s just the marketing side!
My error was this – I decided come hell or high water, I’m showing TZ at IGC ’03. Well, more than showing it – I want to get people to play it, check it out, critique it, which all helps me refine it just a little more. I’ve boiled this thing down to what I hope is the most core gameplay elements, and rebuilt from there up. It’s really a pretty simple game, all things considered. But that’s usually the ones I enjoy most – simple gameplay that allows for deeper complexity as you improve at the game. 
On the techical side, I merged with HEAD when the new demo was released. Wow – at first it looked like it went well, then I keep finding things that are broken in very odd ways. I’m still tracking some of it down at this point, but, there are fewer and fewer broken items now. 
The team doing all the content development has been amazing over the last week – if I asked for it, it appeared VERY quickly. An entirely new UI style was developed (it looks pretty cool, IMHO – a combination of retro-styling and high tech, with a military feel.) It developed based off of a single game element – the loading screens that Mike did. They had a unique feel to them, and I finally decided to go with it. Glad I did – it looks cool. Neat little features like ‘tv scanlines’ over top of the text, little details like that. Amazing.
I’m nervous as all get out about sending out a press release, and about showing it off at IGC – this will be the first time that it’s REALLY been shown off (Technically, it WAS at IGC last year, in it’s original name of Trajectory. However, it was only loaded on a couple of machines there, and got very little gameplay. I’m not sure how many people really saw it, but a few did at least, and mentioned it later.) 14 months of sweat, and this great big push here at the end – I’m not bothering to keep track of how much sleep I get these days, I just work until complete exhaustion sets in, and wake up the next day, go to work, get off at 5, and start programming again.
It won’t really let up in intensity until Oct. 8th, when my wife and I head for IGC. I’ll probably stay up all night on the 7th, doing final tweaks and making the CD for installs, etc. Unluckly, that means that TZ isn’t going to get as massive of testing as it needs to have – I’m gonna have to bloody wing it when I get there. But, the game WILL be playable, both in Single Player and Multi-player form, what options I have enabled will be the question.
After TZ, I think I’ve already lined up a quickie project (based on TZ, oddly enough – I’m going to ressurect a forgotten classic) and my next major project (Jumpman: 2049). When TZ is done is the big question – I plan on it being complete before the end of the year.
Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr   (Oct 03, 2003 at 00:58)  
Yeah, I know, I’m posting a response to my own .plan file… it’s late at night (or early in the morning – take your pick!) and Mike Morrison ended an email with something very appropriate for TZ:
Tune in tomorrow when we hear our intrepid dev team say, “Yeah, but can it do THIS?!” 
hehehhehe – ok, maybe I’m too easily amused 😉
Jay Moore   (Oct 03, 2003 at 03:05)
I do the “Who Cares” or the “So What” test on my own press releases (ask Justin or Joe – that wasn’t special treatment) – finding the news angle as an indie takes some creativity and the game journalist sees so many “me too” games and over hyped games they’re a jaded bunch – so at the same time you need a wow factor to differentiate your game, the “so what” has to have some substance as well.
Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr   (Oct 03, 2003 at 10:52)  
Eh – I consider it above and beyond the call of duty, ’cause: 1) I’m not publishing through GG, and 2) You are busy as hell right now with IGC and everything else – taking a couple o’ minutes out of your schedule was much appreciated!

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