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Trine Developers: Community Engagement Has Upside If Promises Met

In Gamasutra's latest postmortem, Frozenbyte -- developers of PC/PSN title Trine -- recount how strong community relations lead to interest in the game, but b
As part of Gamasutra's latest postmortem feature, Frozenbyte -- developers of PC/PSN title Trine -- recount how strong community relations lead to interest in the game, but backfired later on. To announce the game, then-unknown developer Frozenbyte decided to launch it with a trailer, which the team sweated over to make sure and get right. According to Frozenbyte CEO Lauri Hyvarinen and associate producer Joel Kinnunen, who wrote the postmortem, "The response to the trailer was totally unexpected and overwhelming. Even communities known for their harsh criticism approved of the trailer." The response from fans reinvigorated a team whose morale had been set back by difficulties and delays in development. As they duo detail: "After three years of setbacks and failures, the team was reinvigorated with newfound passion. The spirit at the office increased rapidly. This cannot be overlooked in the overall quality of the game, and it was probably crucial with the art team's freedom and their ability to succeed." The reception "helped enormously in reinforcing our belief in the game." This success also shaped the company's approach to marketing and community, write the pair. "We did everything we could from materials to press announcements, previews, interviews, websites, reviews and ultimately end-user support. We were keen to get as much press coverage as we could and it paid off." However, when the game became the victim of numerous delays due to problems encountered in the PSN certification process due to Frozenbyte and publisher Nobilis' inexperience with Sony's protocol, the team's strong community interaction became an Achilles' Heel. "Our long history of successful forum interaction with our fans backfired, when the estimated release dates we posted were missed time and again. When we realized the process could take longer, we became more vague with "no comment" posts, which did not do much to help... with each delay the user comments started to turn more and more frustrated," write Hyvarinen and Kinnunen. "At the end of the day, Trine lost most of its PSN marketing and launch hype due to the delays, especially in North America. This, in addition to the vastly different release dates and inconsistent pricing across the platforms, undoubtedly affected sales greatly." The full postmortem, which contains much more detail about the development of the well-rated PSN/PC game, is live today on Gamasutra.

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