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“Let’s Play” Guildhall Betas

Guildhall student Producer Dustin Davis discusses the emergence of "Let's Play" videos as convenient tools for promotion, user feedback, and a morale boost for the team in his capstone projects.

Dustin Davis, Blogger

November 18, 2013

5 Min Read


“Let’s Play” Guildhall Betas

The popularity of Kraven Manor owes a lot to the “Let’s Play” community on YouTube.  In fact, if you’ve heard of Kraven Manor at all, there’s a good chance that you heard about us through a Let’s Player.   For those of you who aren’t familiar, there are a community of gamers on YouTube who video their gameplay and provide commentary as they go. It was helpful that Kraven Manor was under an hour long, it was free, and it was horror.  Basically, it's fun to see people get scared.

At the end of April, we extended our playtesting to the Internet, hoping to get a few gamers to play and fill out feedback questionnaires.  We set up kravenmanor.com, set up a torrent for the game, posted on forums and on social media, and basically begged and pleaded with people to try out our game.   

And nothing happened.

Well, for a few weeks.  We did have a kind soul on the Penny Arcade forums send us her playthrough video, which we watched as a team.  We got a trickle of questionnaires filled out here and there online, but it wasn’t enough.   We still had to go out to local game stores and tempt customers to try out our game and give feedback.

Then a “Let’s Play” video popped up. 

I think the first one I saw was RaedWulfGamer on May 5th, a guy with 60,000 subscribers.  We were psyched that someone went through the effort to give commentary on our game, and for some of the team, it was their first time really watching a Let’s Play.  It was weird, all this time we were struggling to get people’s honest opinions and reactions to our games, to find their strengths, weaknesses and bugs, and people in the community were volunteering to tape themselves playing the game, unsolicited.  They would consistently give good running commentary, weren’t afraid to offer honest criticism, and were actually entertaining to watch.  We started doing our research, and answered a few emails from YouTubers asking permission to make more Let’s Play videos.  Of course, fine by us, we said. 

Then a couple of days later on the 7th, Markiplier visited Kraven Manor, with (still) one of the funniest Let’s Play’s I’ve seen. 

But maybe I’m biased: he was very complimentary and had like a million followers. Our team now knew that for a student project at the Guildhall, this was becoming something pretty special. 

Over the next week, the videos kept rolling in and we had more feedback from our questionnaires than we could fully synthesize before the next build.  Productivity may have actually gone down a little while we stayed up late nights watching the new Let’s Play videos. 

Then we began to wonder about PewDiePie, and if the Swede with 16 million followers was likely to hear about us.  If this happened, we a million people could see our little student game that had been pieced together over the previous four months. Indeed, PewDiePie played the game on the 20th, and it turned out to be more like two million people who watched.  

At that point, development was ending, but we didn’t have to worry about getting enough feedback from then on.  Just last month, PewDiePie also promoted us again as the “Best Free Horror Game” on a Holloween video, helping boost our total downloads on indieDB to over 100,000.

New Kraven Manor Let’s Play videos are still being produced, I counted over a hundred in the last week.  It’s a testament to my team and the game they were able to put together, and the fans that helped us along, as both inspiration, feedback, and promotion. 

The Guildhall is an ongoing program, of course, and Capstone projects like Kraven Manor are still being made each semester.  The production students like myself and Ben Roye, in addition to having worked on Kraven as our own Capstone game with our graduating class, get to work as producers on the Capstone games for the next graduating class (“cohort”) of students.  And guess what?  Our games just recently hit Beta and are available for playtesting and Let’s Play videos by the public at large.  As student projects, we’re looking for the same sort of feedback and community support that Kraven received, and we’re begging and scratching once again for those questionnaires to be filled out, all available at guildhallgames.weebly.com.

My new team’s game is Hymn of the Sands, an isometric action dungeon crawl with RPG and puzzle elements and more minibosses than you’d expect.

Download Hymn of the Sands Beta

Answer the Hymn Beta Questionnaire



Ben’s team’s game is Armourgeddon, a fast paced robot shooting rumble with a lot of explosions, and guns, and more robots to shoot after you shoot those other robots.

Download Armourgeddon Beta

Answer Armourgeddon Beta Questionnaire 



Trevor Hilz’ team is making Midgard Saga, a cartoony Norse turn-based strategy game in the vein of X-Com with lots of abilities and a multi-level campaign. 



Download Midgard Saga Beta

Answer Midgard Saga Beta Questionnaire 




Thanks for reading, and let me know what you thought of the games. 


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