Happy Wednesday, Advertisers and Publishers!
Every Wednesday we get a glimpse at what it's like to advertise or publish ads through Project Wonderful.
This week we interview Dan Hall from Improbable Island!

Dan is an indie game developer, working on a silly multiplayer text-adventure called Improbable Island.  Improbable Island is a game about a mad scientist who had the idea that chance could exist as a natural force, like electromagnetism or gravity - he thought that luck could be measured, and maybe even changed.  The player's mission is to destroy or disable the machine - known to locals as the Improbability Drive, of course - before its ever-intensifying waves of Improbability reach anywhere that anyone cares about. Along the way, they'll encounter some very weird people and creatures, make some very strange friends, and form some very unlikely alliances.

Dan is a British citizen living in America with his wife Emily, and tries his hardest to confirm every single stereotype that Americans have about his people.

What is the main characteristic of your game?
A solid roleplaying community that knows how to not take itself seriously.  Silliness and heart.  Optimism.  Great big walls of text.  Like, huge. I hope you like reading.

What does your audience feel really passionate about?

The two big things are the story that I'm telling through in-game events, and the stories that the players are telling amongst themselves through roleplaying.
The game's canon story is pretty detailed, and is all about people.  It's actually quite separate from the game mechanics - we don't do the "Kill 10 rats" thing or the "Save the princess" thing, so much as the "Let a stranger buy you a coffee in exchange for five minutes' worth of pretending to be a normal person" thing.  The characters in Improbable Island are all pretty normal weirdos who're trying their best to cope with an extraordinary situation, and I've tried to make them easy to empathize with.

What do you appreciate most about your audience?

Two things - no, three things jump out at me about my players.  Their friendliness, their creativity, and their generosity.
All the new players enter the game through a single area, and there's always a bunch of experienced players hanging out to welcome the Rookies. I'm proud of how my players go out of their way to help people who're just starting the game.  So there's the friendliness.

The creativity.  That player-created-location engine I was mentioning? It was just supposed to be a system whereby a player could make a shelter to get some extra starting Stamina with each game day. It wasn't supposed to be a thing to let players write their own text-adventures, or a place to write stories of nearly half a million words.  My players keep surprising me and delighting me, every single day.

The generosity. I set things up game-mechanics-wise so that altruism is easy. I've learned, while making this game, that people really like to give presents to complete strangers.  If it's easy to do so, and if the culture is such that it's socially acceptable, then people love to be generous.

How do you decide what to advertise?

With great difficulty.
I don't think we've really figured out how to advertise games yet.  Especially story-centric ones. 
Distilling a game into a sentence or two, to fit on the back of the box or on an advert, is a very difficult thing to do.  It's just as difficult (maybe even moreso) as doing the same with a novel, or a movie.  Check the backs of your novels and DVDs, and see how many (or few) of them sound appealing just from the description.
Stories don't condense well.

A little while ago I ran an advert making fun of those "I lost 30lbs using this one weird trick" ads you see all over the place.  I made it look like leather, silver and old paper, so it'd stand out, and on this background, I put the words "I lost 30lbs in just one day by having my legs bitten off by a lion."

(the lions are a recurring gag, leaping out of the most unlikely places to devour you whole.  I like inspiring lion-related paranoia in my players.)

This advert made the front page of Reddit and Imgur.  More than a million people saw it.  If you Google for "Legs bitten off by a lion," you'll see it even became a little bit of a baby meme. But, I, uh... kinda didn't put the URL on the image... or even the name of the game...

So yeah, figuring out how to advertise a game is hard, and I haven't really managed it myself yet. 

One of the excellent things about Project Wonderful is that you can run multiple ads of the same type, for the same thing, and compare click-through rates for all of them.  So my advice is to make up a whole bunch of different ads and try them all.  Remember that people can get used to seeing the same ads everywhere, so rotate them out frequently.

Think of the first few bucks you put into Project Wonderful not as paying for advertising in itself, but more as paying for information.  That information is very valuable, and you get a lot for your money on PW.

If you're thinking of trying out Project Wonderful, I hope this helps! See you on the Island...
*Thanks Dan!* 
If you'd like to see Improbable Island, head over to http://www.improbableisland.com  

To get started advertising today, go to projectwonderful.com

Want to talk about how you use Project Wonderful? To participate in Project Interview, send an email to lyndsay@projectwonderful.com!
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