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Some tips for promoting your game using a Press Release

Once you finished writing a game, not even half of the work is done. The difficult part - in my opinion - is marketing and selling it. You need to let people know that the game exists, and let them start playing and/or buying it. I know, this is a very difficult task, I blogged about my adventures when I published my own game, Darkness Springs, a few years ago. And it is especially difficult if you have just a small or no budget for this at all.

Maybe you remember, a few months ago, I started the game development news website, where people can post their game development tool related news. That website is for game development news, not for game news, but - also probably because marketing your own game is very hard and people become desparate - I get a lot of news submissions about games on there. Which I have to ignore. But I read them, and I am shocked what people are submitting there. So based on this, here are some tips how to write your press releases: So, these were some very basic tips, but based on the texts people sent me until now, it appears that not all game developers know about this. Maybe it is always also a good idea to take a look at how other press releases, for other, successful games have been written, before writing an own one. Just an idea. :)

Complying with the Cookie Law and turning the switches off for the NSA

Today, I started to change my websites a bit under the hood to reflect the recent changes of how the internet works, especially regarding the NSA spying program PRISM and the EU cookie law.

Background: In short, the EU cookie law - depending on which country you live in, your users are from and where your server is - makes using cookies on your website a pain: Some countries demand you to show a message box prompting you to ask the user before you are able to store any cookies, in some countries like in mine - Austria - this is a bit more sane, where they specified that if the user hasn't disabled cookies in the browser settings, then it's like he agreed to use cookies. The other one, PRISM, is that program run by the american spying agency, which basically stores and indexes nearly every internet traffic crossing the USA and probably also their friend countries.

So I thought it would be a good idea to get rid of all unncessary cookies, and to remove traffic routed through the USA. The first big step thing I did in order to do this was to remove Google Analytics from my main website, Ambiera.com: No longer will all data of my visitors be sent to the Google Servers. Additionally, I wanted to replace it with an alternative which can work without cookies. So I researched a bit, stumbled upon Piwik, installed it, and was happy. And boy, Piwki is great! Here's what it looked like for me after I installed it:

Everything works just like Google Analytics. You only have to install it on a webserver, and add a tracking code to your websites. You can modify that code even to work without cookies. It has a realtime view of current visits to your website, and you can easily filter your statistics into different segments. And you have full control of it. It runs on your own SQL database, after all. Im really impressed by this software.

So just by replacing Google Analytics with Piwik, the website is now much nicer, regarding the above mentioned two points. I'll do this with my other websites as well soon.

CopperCube 4.2 released

I just uploaded version 4.2 of CopperCube. It was a lot of work, but still there is space for improvements. But I'm happy that it's out now. I also wrote a tutorial on how to create a first person shooter game without programming, and there is a new logo image:

You can download the new version from the CopperCube website, this update if of course free for existing users. There is a detailed list of changes, an also, all Irrlicht related features of course are still free, and will remain that way.
If you have twitter, it would be very nice if you could tweet about this :)

Writing documentation

I'm currently in the process of writing documentation for the new features included in the next free update of CopperCube. I like particularly this image which I just created:

That scene looks so much better with normal mapping applied. Especially in movement. I guess I have to update the demo on the website as well to include normal maps.

Update on Normal Map Support

Normal map support in CopperCube is on its way now. It is much more than just a simple test already, and is actually usable. Here is a screenshot of the editor showing it in action, with more than just one light:

I implemented the shaders so they work on the most very basic hardware, and managed to squeeze out support for up to 5 lights (4 point lights + ambient light) for the same object, on pixel shader v 2.0 devices, with fallback for v1.1 ones, if there are ones still today. Remember that a lot of people are using very old and very slow hardware, compared to high level gaming PCs, especially if you count the mobile devices as well.
The problem when introducing new materials like this is that you have to write this for each target separately, not only adding support in the specific programming language, but also in each shader language. So I have to add this in: Although this is a lot of work, I hope to have this finished soon, and a free update with basic normal map support will be out soonish.