Updated: Aug 22, 2019
"So Zak, now that Alien Cow Farm is available on Steam, what are you going to do now?"
"Uh...pray that it sells?"
Even from the very beginning of this project, I had pegged the two most difficult parts as being 1) artwork, and 2) promotion. I've said enough about 1) by this point, and I somehow managed to come out the other side from it anyway. But 2), I've been working on that as long as I've had something worth promoting, but based on the response so far, it looks like I still need some work. As I alluded to last time, being a team of one limits me in this respect, but I'm still hitting up social media, popular indie dev websites, and all of my old college contacts to try and spread the word.
Steam, believe it or not, also has some ways to help out with this. All new and even "coming soon" games get special spotlight promotion for a while automatically. This, I assume, is how ACF has managed to find its way onto 30 strangers' wishlists at the time of this post. It's also increased traffic on my website, and messages coming through the contact form. Most of these are Curators looking to promote my game. That's right, people are asking me if they can write reviews to popularize my baby. Now, you have to be careful, because some expect some kind of extra compensation in return for that. But most are happy for a free, review copy of the game. (Steam has a lot of anti-theft stuff in place, so sending out one free copy to a certified reviewer shouldn't be a problem.) There's also a specific place on Steam where devs can search out Curators and ask them for their help (like you'd expect a system like this to work), but I'm inclined to be more favorable to the ones who specifically came to me.
Ultimately, I'm already really happy with everything. The goal (I must sound like a broken record) was to get a "shipped" game on Steam, and that's done. But why exactly? It wasn't ever even about making money, although that would sure serve to validate the last year for me, personally. It was to be able to add the line about it to my resume, in the service of getting a full-time job in gaming. I haven't stopped the job search while I've been working on this, but this should really boost the chances of places getting back to me.
Also, assuming any or all of this promotion comes through, I'll be growing the visibility of my company, and using that to springboard into my next project. Another repeated saying: Alien Cow Farm is just about the extent of my skills as an artist, so in order to do anything else moving forward, I'm going to need help. I may not be able to pay a fixed salary, but I imagine a potential recruit would be more willing to work for someone who's already launched a game than someone who hasn't.
So if you want to know what's next, I have another game that I've unsuccessfully tried to finish twice now, and I'm going to power through it for good this time before jumping into something completely new. A game designer's ideas document is just as sacred as a programmer's whiteboard, and both of mine are currently overflowing. It's time to celebrate, and then get back to work!