First demo and patreon as a new writer.

Hello, dear community.

This is my first post here, but I have been an avid lurker for the last four months or so. And, well, I fear I have a few questions regarding my first demo and patreon possibilities.

I’m writing a low-fantasy tale of Kings and Queens, revenge and treachery. You see, for a long time I wanted to create my own and so I did. Sort of. I still have things to do and write, expand my lore and world, but the overall draft is done.

I’m also done with what is supposed to be my first chapter, but I do plan to revisit later to tweak more so I can implement other choices and meaningfull stats (for now, “never bite off more than you can chew”). I’m happy and proud of it, dare I say.

So here is my first concern: should I upload my first chapter (as of now around~40k words) as a demo even though in the future I plan to introduce new paths and choices? Or should I only upload my demo when I have that all figured out, so the players introduction to the game is solid? As of now, I have the main plot solidified, but I want to introduce already from the first chapter new possibilities, I don’t want anything to be obvious and good x bad dynamic, and as such will take a bit more coding and time. Or maybe even further and my demo should be out when the whole game is done?

I see writers uploading their full demo that are hours long and reach the end of the game, others upload their first 3 chapters, others upload only a prologue and so on… I’m not sure which would be more well received.

My second concern is about patreon. I’m a new writer and will be uploading my game and world for the first time. I would very much like to have the support of readers who come to like what I write, as I have plans to introduce art (portraits, maps and misc) and have been looking around to commission an artist that fits the mood of what I’m writing. I guess my doubts and fears revolve around the realms of “when is it too soon? should I introduce a patreon with the launch of my demo? will I even have backers as an unknown writer?”

Anyway, I would appreciate very much the input of other writers and readers.

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Sounds like you’re ahead of yourself. I think a lot of your questions can only be answered by you, when it comes to you. Not by what you think, want, or feel, but by what you produce and how it’s received. My experience, having seen a lot of writers come and go across platforms, is that you should devote 100% of your energy to making the best content you can. If you do, and it’s good enough, the rest tends to sort itself out. Generally, the way it goes is: the writers who need the least help get the most. Good luck!

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I don’t consider supporting writers on Ko-Fi or Patreon until they have “proven” themselves by writing/posting updates consistently (not to mention, I have to like their work!).

If I saw a writer (with no history of publishing books/games) introduce a patreon right off the bat, that would honestly raise red flags for me. It would make me wonder how (in)experienced they are since it would seem (to me) that they don’t realize how very few people actually attract a following on those platforms. I would be unlikely to try their game

As for your first point of concern, I agree that

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Generally a 40k demo is in that sweet area of having enough content to show us around the house and introduce MC, characters, conflicts, and your writing style – given that you’re a new author I assume you would want feedback on that.

If the demo is well-written and updated consistently, you would get support, etc. What I consider to be the most important here are reader-suggested ideas (which is why I tend to shy away from massive, 200k-word long new demos.) Show us what you’ve got now and what new choices or paths you intend to add to Chapter 1.

As for Patreon, it’s up to you how early you want to post a Patreon. Speaking only for myself, I don’t tend to support new authors who put their Patreons on Day 1, unless I am extremely invested in their demos (happened only once).

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I’m still in the process of working on my own demo, so unfortunately I don’t have much in the way of proven advice for you. However, if you complete your entire game before uploading a demo, it will be harder to make changes (especially major changes) based on player feedback. My own personal plan is to upload just my prologue to start, so that if players have any major issues, I’ll hopefully be able to address those early, as I write. YMMV depending on what works for you.

I personally think if you’re proud of your first chapter, which it seems you are, it would be fine to upload now and just update it with the new paths later. That seems to fit in with the advice that’s been given re: patreon, showing that you have a track record of regularly making progress on your story. The transparency of regular updates and responses to player feedback will help build confidence in your future patreon.

40k words sounds long enough to release the demo! In general, pacing and content matters more than word count. In general us writers tend to be the most critical of our work, so if you’re truly proud of your work I would say it’s ready to be received and read.

As for building upon the story/adding complexness, I think it’s completely fine to go back and edit after the demo has already been released. In fact, it might be better. It sounds like you want a morally grey area, and by releasing the demo and listening to readers opinions on topics x, y, and z, you might hear people with opinions and viewpoints on issues in the game that you might not have thought of otherwise.

Also-- in terms of lore and stats-- those would be two things that are debatably “behind the scenes,” meaning that readers won’t know that your lore isn’t entirely fleshed out yet. So if you start your first chapter a bit vague in regards to lore and clarify it as you continue the story, no one will know that it was you figuring it out as you go. In fact, it actually adds to immersion in the sense that you’re not throwing walls of text/background info at the player and instead are allowing them to discover the world with you. And stats…no one tends to notice stats are messed up in the first chapter/initial demo. So whether or not they’re meaningful at the moment isn’t something the player would pick up on (unless there’s multiple choices where you’re not only building the stats up but also using them to pass stat-checks already in the initial demo-- but even then I wouldn’t be too worried about it).

I would agree that it’s a little early to launch a Patreon. That’s not saying that there’ll be negative repercussions for starting early-- if I saw someone starting one along with the release of their first demo I don’t think I would think negatively of it-- but I wouldn’t pay towards it yet. In general people want to see proof that you’ll be updating regularly before they’re willing to spend money on your content. With that being said, a lot of the IF that I see making the most money on Patreon are the ones that upload their demos a little bit at a time (whether this is chapter by chapter or just by whatever they deem a big enough word count to be worthy of an update). It shows people who aren’t Patrons that you’re reliable at making content, and it also allows you to show sneak peaks of upcoming updates without having to do too much extra work in terms of “extra” content for your Patreon.

If you want my personal opinion-- I would wait until you start to build decent traction on your story. Some people might even begin to ask you if you have a Patreon or if there’s a way they can donate to you because they like the game. When that happens, you’ll know for sure that you’ll have relative success launching a Patreon…and, if ever in doubt, you could always just put out a poll asking your readers if a Patreon is something they’d be interested in. That gives you direct numbers and stats that apply directly to you-- not the general public. But you’ll build followers so long as you update your Patreon and game regularly. The longer you have your Patreon the more content that will accrue on there to get people to subscribe.

A lot of this though is just figuring out what you’re most comfortable with as a writer and content creator. We can give advice on what has worked for us/talk about trends that we see in the forums and outside of it in regards to IF as a whole, but what works best for you is entirely up for you to decide. There’s no singular “correct” way of writing or planning things, just suggestions + recommendations.

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I think you need to take a step back and decide what you want out of beta testing on the forums :slight_smile:

40k is definitely long enough to release. It’s often a good idea to release early to find any issues so they can be fixed before they become systemic and require revamping/rebalancing/recoding of entire game sections (or even the whole game itself.) Sometimes it can be very hard to see faults in your own writing, you need others to point them out so you can consider if you need to change something.

It’s also easier to get people interested in beta testing a WIP because players get a say in how the game might play out. This is usually a good thing, but if you’re not strict with yourself it can have disadvantages. HG’s have an almost universal tendancy to blow past any planned lengths you might have. When you have lots of suggestions and requests coming in, that can compound this issue as it’s really tempting to keep adding.

I personally like releasing chapters as I go, but if you don’t want added risks of length blow outs or have a very specific game in mind and only want bug squishing/grammar checking, you may want to wait to release a demo.

As a first game in particular, significant length blow out can be very bad as longer games get more difficult to manage for multiple reasons and then end up abandoned. (This happens a lot! Check the forum for long, abandoned WIPs.) Seriously, the longer the game is, the exponentially harder to manage I find most of mine are. The amount of work increasing the length of a game from 50k to 100k is not the same as the work required to increase it from 150k to 200k. It is much, much higher the longer the game gets. Personally I recommend first time authors shoot for a sub-100k game. (It’ll end up longer than what you think it’ll be anyway most likely.) Yeah, that means it’s unlikely to be a best time seller, and you probably won’t get tonnes of interest, but it helps get a game out there and finished, see what the response is, and create a better second game once you’ve had practice with the first. That’s less daunting and soul crushing if you’re dealing with a 60k game as apposed to a 460k game. But each to their own :slight_smile:

I don’t run a patreon myself. I have too many other things going on and don’t want to let people down if I can’t release content regularly. At the moment for me, it’d be too much pressure so I don’t do it. If you make one, consider if you can definitely finish this and keep providing timely updates, otherwise it’s kind of unfair to ask for money in the first place. You also have to get people to sponsor you which may be easier said than done as a new author to the site.

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I posted my first WIP here about two months ago. It was 8,740 words long and received quite positively. My thinking at the time was something like “okay, this isn’t a lot, but I’m gonna put this thing out because it’s not doing any good sitting here in my pc”, and in hindsight that was absolutely the way to go. Feedback, especially positive, is a fantastic source of motivation and helps you refine your skills.

If you’re worried about it going badly…well, I completely screwed up the launch and the first few updates due to not knowing how to use Choicescript. But down the line, people will only have the finished product to look at, and going through growing pains is a necessary part of becoming good at whatever it is you’re trying to master.

I’d suggest putting the game on the forums as soon as possible. Frankly, I don’t think having a great first version matters that much. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. You will build an audience over time, through constant updates and engagement with the community. From that point of view, the sooner you can get that process going, the better.

As for Patreon…I’ve had one for a while, since way before doing IF, and I thought what the hell let’s link it in my game’s thread. Since June 4th, people have clicked that link 69 (nice) times and spent a total of 0$, which is about what I thought would happen. Don’t expect anything for a good while: you need to build confidence in you actually delivering what you promise, and to get people invested in the game itself. That takes time.

If you want to see general Patreon stats and get an idea of how other IF authors use it, Graphtreon is a fantastic resource.

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About the first concern, you should worry and stress yourself out, writing takes time and patience, accompanied with mistakes, we arent perfect, and I’m sure several readers here will help you out with feedback and point out typos, errors and alike.

About the second well…

dood

I think you should pace yourself, that’s a very rash decision and that turn on red lights to some people and to be honest, that can arise several misconceptions about what you’re trying to accomplish, good luck out there with your book, cheers.

I believe that WIPs should be uploaded as soon as possible. When I uploaded mine it was just 3200 words long.

This very early version gave people the opportunity to comment and ask questions about my world which helped me a lot in fleshing and understanding my world as there are always things that one overlooks when one is writing.

Another thing is the feedback, it is much easier to edit just 3000 words than to edit 40,000 when you realize that something must be changed after listening to the feedback.
Also, people don’t judge you here based on errors and mistakes in your WIP as most expect it to be an early version and instead they provide valuable responses.

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