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How I Promote "Descent: Underground"

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OG Pyro Jockey

OG Pyro Jockey
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Fellow Descent'ers,


I was doing a bit of research on an individual that I recently recruited into the fold, who linked his D: U account and Steam account.  I was shocked by all the metrics that Steam makes publicly available, and I was able to determine how much (or in this case, how little) my new recruit was practicing/playing "Descent: Underground".  After I finished my "research" I stopped by the Descent: Underground page on Steam, and I was horrified by the number and content of the negative reviews; some of which I found {a} offensive and {b} totally non-sequitur.  I for one, want to see Descent: Underground become a huge success.  The Descent franchise in its entirety have always been my favorite PC Video Games of all time.  The original Descent was the first PC based video game I ever played, and I would be happy as a clam if Descent: Underground was the last game I played before I died.  As we have heard Eric "Wingman" Peterson state countless times on "Wingman's Hanger", it is up to all of us to "spread the word" and promote Descent: Underground as much as we can.  Here is how I do my part. . .


1.)  Every time Descent: Underground goes "On Sale" I purchase a Four Pack

2.)  Whenever I meet someone who expresses an interest in PC Gaming, I ask them if they have ever heard of Descent

3.)  Regardless of their response, I ask if they would be interested in trying out a new game for "mostly" free

4.)  If they say "sure" (yes) I ask them for their E-Mail address, and send them the following message



                                                    Start Sample E-Mail



Dear [Persons Name],


            I am glad you decided to reach out to me.  During a recent visit to [the place where you met this individual], your [relationship to the person you are writing to.  For example: Mother, Father, Brother, Friend, etc.] told me that you were something of a PC video gaming enthusiast.  I am too, however sometimes I find that being a “Grown Up” [in this sample message, I am addressing a young teenager] does not afford me as much time for gaming as I would like.  [obviously, you will want to tailor your message to suit your particular situation] It’s possible your Dad misunderstood what I told him to tell you, but here are all the details.


            I am not “working” on a game, I’m promoting one.  Roughly 18 years ago, when I had more time for such things, I was a huge fan of a game called Descent, and other 6DoF games.  Around a year and a half ago, a company known as Descendent Studios decided to reboot the franchise.  The name of the game that I am promoting is called Descent: Underground.  I am giving away (mostly) free copies of the game to friends and other people who can meet the following requirements:


1.)  Click on this link https://descendentstudios.com/knowledgebase/10-game-information and then

a.     Game Information, and

b.     Finally, System Requirements

c.      Make sure your gaming rig meets at least the minimum system requirements

2.)  Preview this YouTube video


b.     This video shows four people playing a “Team Anarchy” game mode match

c.      If this particular type of game appeals to you, and you think it would be “FUN” to play, you have met the second requirement

3.)  I have a limited number of game copies ([enter a dollar value here] value) to give away.  The most important stipulation is this – If you receive a free copy of the game from me, you agree to play with me and my gaming buddies for a minimum of 10 hours (over time, not all at once) [this stipulation is how I recoup my financial investment.  In essence, I'm paying $10 for 10 hours of fun.  And you never know, you might even make a lifelong friend in the process]


If you can meet all of the requirements above, and agree to these terms, please respond to this E-Mail and add the words “I AGREE” to the Subject line.


If you agree, also add the following information to the body of the E-Mail:

1.)  Answer the following questions

a.     Do you have a headset with microphone?    YES or NO

b.     Have you ever used Discord (a free voice communication application)?   YES or NO

2.)  If you answered NO to either of the questions above, please send me a telephone number where you can be reached in case I need to talk to you (or text message you, if it is a mobile number)


Lastly, I offer two hours of free online game-play training, which is totally optional.  Just let me know if you need help, and I will schedule a training session at your convenience.  I look forward to hearing from you again soon.  


Best wishes,

[Your Name Here]



                                                    End Sample E-Mail



Feel free to copy and paste (and modify to your liking) the content of this sample message.  I am also open to suggestions as to how it can be improved smile.png  

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Formerly known as simply "Pyro" back in the old Descent ][ (Kali) and ]I[ days (1996 through 2005).

If anyone on these forums have seen old Descent ][ or ]I[ players known as Zannox, Swiss (or Swissy), Perin, Malace, MrCottonmouth, Lordcastle, Duma, or Genghis Kahn, please let them know that I am looking for them (Underground Posted Image)

Thanks in advance!


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Just a minor point here, but it's been 2 years now, not a year and a half (well at least 2 years since the kickstarter).


Second point, and being honest here, if I knew nothing about this game or genre and had never played the originals, I would take one quick glance at this document and IF I bothered to read it, I would delete/throw it away since to me, it's too much of a hassle to bother with on a game I wasn't looking for. 


For me, I just keep it simple. I find out if someone is into video games and ask what kind of games. If they say shooters or like arcade/action, I tell them "you should watch this cool video of a game I'm really into". If they go "wow that's cool", then I'll give them info on how to play it and such. Idk, maybe it's just me, but if I'm giving away something, I never put conditions on it, just seems wrong and never really gets them that enthused about it since it'll become like a chore to them. Just my opinion.

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True, yeah, it's hard to market. I really like forwardness and honesty but people are terrified of it too. Maybe a cultural problem more than OG Pyro Jockey's problem. I hope he finds great success with that method, though. It would be cool.


For most folx, if I see an invitation to be enthused, I just tell people it's one of the deepest original games ever made and it's finally getting a long deserved new entry, and they can help develop it because the devs are really open and nice and it's a fabulous entry to the culture of game design.




Even this has encountered resistance.


According to feedback I've received, the biggest hurdle for gamers right now seems to be that it's very much not done. Every single aspect of the game is incomplete as it Big Bangs into existence, and that makes the experience of testing for fun both confusing and frustrating. Not much ground. There isn't one solid thing that the devs said, "We are going to completely finish {blank} mode" because that's not possible in such an ambitiously huge project. Open development doesn't make wanderers feel powerful, it makes them feel lost and like they wandered into an exclusive party. What's this enthusiasm for?


If they show up, they eventually leave once they realize there is nothing to keep them around. Therefore, it's not a great time to release a demo, releasing one is probably not a great idea unless a lot of new content is added, and asking people to gather the troops now is going to blow the wad before there's anything to remember about the game. If devs release something I hope it is not called a "demo" as most people expect a sample of completely finished game play. Rather "early test alpha demo" might be better. Wording is hugely important, I think. And it's not like a subscription to a Netflix show where you get a whole piece of the whole. Even the pieces are in pieces, if that makes sense.


I think the devs are doing the right thing by letting the numbers dwindle to even no players and occasionally releasing a video that explains testers are still wanted. Anything else is a waste of time/budget as they put their noses to the grind stones. But they should stop calling them "players" because there is no game. We are testers at this point and for the foreseeable future. Even that is just patching up while the enormous game development plods along. Trying to save players for testing is an okay effort but really there isn't much for people to do. Maybe find more bugs. What really needs to happen is the building of the game.


And from my talks with creative people, the biggest hurdle for creatives right now is that the map kit is complex and limited, and you cannot play test the levels. Everything is waiting on devs to "release" levels, unveil features and refine the modes.


I'm not saying things could or should change; all of it has great wonderful potential. All of it is a beautiful under-drawing or sketch for a final mode or two or three (or seven!). just saying there really was not much of a marketing plan going this route. There was never going to be a Sol Contingency or Overload type demo where they say "Here we are. This is the style. Look for more content like this." I could be wrong but that seems to be the case.


Instead it's like the "open" model is at war with the "closed" model, and it's a boring (though beautiful) stagnation.




The development model seemed to be really hitting its stride during the "build a bot" challenge and social engagement efforts like that. Once they dropped that, the true power of the open model collapsed into "we cannot do that" and/or "we are working on that" and finally, for pretty much everything, "no, nobody can help us on that" (but we're still an "open" model!) unsure.png


But I guess we never saw if that social engagement actually was effective for them or if it was just a hurdle. Maybe this is a forum feedback question: what kind of contributions can and would the devs accept to help accelerate the game? Programmers? Map converters? Writers? Artists? 


Is there something the fans can do at this point or are we just patiently waiting in the wings? I don't think just gathering people in anticipation is something modern folx have patience for. They're like, "Why am I waiting around here when a hundred new completely finished things just got released yesterday?" (This isn't Disneyland and we can't get away with that.)


So how can creatives really help? Really truly? Is there a way? Can living social engagement be brought back to the game like the early days of D:U?

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LINUX OS: MINT 19.1 • DESKTOP: CINNAMON 2.X • CPU: i3 • RAM: 8GB • GPU: GTX960 • Thrustmaster T16000M • 

Running D:U at resolution 1920x1080 unless otherwise noted in reports


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I think that's the biggest problem for me with this game Defcon_x, not a single piece of it feels finished and polished. Not the controls, the flight model, the HUD, the bot behavior, the weapons, the powerups, the level design, nor the sound effects. The menus might be about the most polished thing at this point. That's my biggest concern going forward with singleplayer at this point as well. If they use the same core mechanics in singleplayer as they have right now, then it's going to feel just as unfinished. Let alone having to add extra stuff like dialog, story, objectives, techtree, etc, on top of all that. It's hard to convince people to try something that is not only in early access, but very much feels like an unfinished game. They're likely not to return to it. I know Wingman has stated prior that they're not concerned with numbers of players right now since they have a "plan" for the release of the SP campaign (re: prologue), but I'm concerned by then word of mouth would spread so wide, the numbers won't pick up as much as they are expecting. I for one will be heavily using the SP prologue as a measure on whether I do anything else with this game afterward.


Now having said that, there are some good aspects to the game right now. There is a good base for a wide variety of game modes and options that can cater to players of all kinds. The graphics are pretty decent so far (and really shine on Dead Moroz for example). The name Descent will carry weight for sure. 


I do agree that marketing the game right now is not the ideal way of attracting players and keeping them. The state of the game really needs a good overall polish. My hope is that the team will do that at the same time they release the prologue campaign (and any demo). Having a fully polished game (or at least mostly polished) with at least a prologue SP campaign and a free demo showcasing it will be a great start to the game moving forward and making it ideal for marketing (by the players, i.e. word of mouth, I understand DS can't really afford much marketing). Just my two cents (on top of all the other two cents I left ;) )

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The name Descent will carry weight for sure. 

There are a lot of people with fond memories of Descent, but that also immediately invites comparison -- the name carries weight and expectations.  Plenty of people checked this game out and backed it because of the Descent name and because of statements about the originals, but we've also seen people saying this game is a failure because it doesn't have X or doesn't do Y well and those are important things they remember from Descent (and, to be fair, right now there are a lot of things it doesn't do well, which hopefully will eventually be transformed.)  Any 6dof will be compared with Descent, but the comparisons would be less and the game allowed to stand more on its own if it was named "Ships That Fight Underground".  


Perhaps STFU would have been built with an entirely different flight model, no trichording, bigger spaces, faster weapons, like a "space game" in big caves, and maybe no single player mode at all.  Perhaps we'd see something truly original without compromises intended to please Descent fans -- perhaps this would have been the team that could make a 6dof that isn't a lot like Descent and also that doesn't suck.  Or perhaps STFU wouldn't have even finished its kickstarter.  We don't really know.  What we do know is that since the game has the Descent name, it has both built-in name appeal and built-in avenues for criticism.  The name "Descent" sets the bar high, but it also means that if the game clears the bar it could become very very big.

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Thank you for noodling this, folks- and keeping it civil and thoughtful!


And thank you for spreading the word!


Y'all rock!

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