what where the most and least effective ways of promotions, etc...
1. ModDB releases with videos and lengthy, detailed articles that convinced them to give me front-page status.
2. News releases to press sources that made their front pages. Certain websites were very helpful, and published just about any story I sent them.
3. Magazine coverage (fleetingly-rare... most of the time, they made promises, but nothing ran).
1. Trying to get reviewers to cover the game. Didn't work, still don't know why. I offered full copies, no charge etc., tried to follow the few guidelines I could find, but it just didn't go anywhere useful.
I was especially disappointed with the Indie Game 'sites, who seemed to be unable to deal with a truly Indie game made on a budget of practically nothing that wasn't Flash, wasn't small, didn't have whacky gameplay and had fairly conventional graphics, if not AAA. I guess if I wanted Indie cache, I should have redone NanoBlobs with a lot more bells and whistles and weirdness.
KP ought to excite them, though!
2. Local events. We spent money buying people pizza and beer near the end, hoping that would convince people to give online play a try by seeing us having fun, but it was utterly useless as a sales tactic, and wasted money that could have been spent on further time polishing the game, tbh.
3. Various other attempts to advertise without spending much money were a failure.
4. Talking about it here. Forb's characterization is largely correct- the Forums here were very hostile and hard to work in at the time, and it's hard to gain traction when you're getting trolled on a regular basis, let alone multi-page flamewars full of cursing where our valiant Moderators didn't step in until well after the damage had been done.
The biggest issue, though, was time
. I was the only person who could build marketing materials, write good copy, and get actual marketing done on a timely basis, yet I was also the lead developer. This turned out to be the real Achilles heel at the crunch.
Either get your promo materials done well before attempting launch, or expect to do nothing post-launch other than promo for at least a month (i.e., don't expect to do bug-fixes, do new videos, build an entirely new website, or try to figure out how to deliver for other OS's on the fly- I did all these things and more, and it was a complete disaster- I simply couldn't do it all).
Now I know why most indie-game crews can't do the often-suggested slow-burn hype strategy that is supposedly the best guerrilla marketing approach- unless you're actually fully-funded (i.e., not really Indie, imo) and have more than one person on your staff, it's extraordinarily hard to pull off. If I could re-do any major part of the game's development and eventual launch, I'd have found a good PR guy to handle the day-to-day marketing. But people like that who have the requisite skills (not just writing, but illustration and an understanding of what works, as well as the self-discipline to Just Do It) are hard to find.