How to Advertise Your Game! (Work in Progress!) - RPG Crossing
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Old Sep 21st, 2017, 03:43 PM
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How to Advertise Your Game! (Work in Progress!)

It has been argued that we don't do a very good job of giving game masters (new, experienced, or otherwise) tips to make a good advertisement. Let it first be said that you can advertise however you like! It's your game; it's your ad.

Change this! Need to MINIMIZE stickied threads! Make this ONE thing, for request and ad! Better done with headings for Game Requests and Writing Your Ad, methinks.
This thread will show you how to create a game request, and thus the ad thread itself. For this, the focus is content.

For My Reference, REMOVE ONCE DONEOr incorporate, whatever works.

The Auto-Generated Ad
First of all, you need to be aware that the ads are generated by the Game Request system, which you access from the Tools menu. I've gone into more detail in this game request FAQ, but I'm including the form screenshot here so we can refer back to it. It says in all caps at the top that "all game information supplied in this form will be shown to players in the automatically generated game advertisement." Somehow, people seem to miss this quite often in their eagerness to request a game.
This form generates an ad that is broken up into fieldset boxes based on most of the fields there: Game Name, Theme, Flavor, and Plot Summary. Be aware of this! Some GMs go to such lengths with their formatting that they end up with fieldsets inside fieldsets inside fieldsets... it starts to detract from the actual content of your ad very quickly.

What You Need to Tell Players
The whole point of an advertisement is to find players, so you need to tell them enough so that they're interested and can answer your ad in the appropriate fashion. The more questions you can answer in your opening advertisement post, the faster you can get the kind of replies you want, and thus the faster you can start. Let's start at the top!

Game Name / Ad Thread Title
Yes, whatever you put in the game name field in the Request a Game tool is what your thread is going to be titled when it gets created in the Games Seeking Players forum. The game system you select will already be labeled, so you don't need to include that.

Make your title catchy! "Murder on the Orient Express" is so much more interesting than "Death on a Train". It also suggests setting (Orient Express) and theme (murder mystery) so at a glance you've some idea what will happen.
  • Capitalize all words in your title. (You can skip "a", "an", "the", and "of" if you like. Title case is any text in which you capitalize all major words. Some tips:

    1. Always capitalize the first word in your title.
    2. Capitalize all nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and pronouns, including the second part of hyphenated major words.

    If you're having trouble with this, there's always the converter.
    Hover for longer explanation of title case.)
  • Keep it to the point. You have maybe 25 characters, maximum, and that's going to be too long for someone viewing the site on a mobile device.
About the Game Master...
It's up to you if you want to say anything about yourself in your ad, but it might help you convince players already interested if they can see your writing or your GMing style*. If you plan to write an elaborate story as part of your ad, you may not need to share anything else in particular, they can probably get your writing style from that.
*GMing Style: There are a lot of ways to describe this, whether it's about how you build your game (roleplay percentage versus combat percentage versus puzzles/other), how you run your game (personally I like to aim for setting/big picture plot events happening that will affect the PCs but the players can do as they please about it like in a sandbox game; possible keywords include 'railroad', 'sandbox', 'hooks', 'quests', 'sidequests', etc.), how much you like to write long and involved descriptions versus shorter specifics, or how much you ask of your players (do you like stat blocks, links, dice threads vs inline, any of the various player-provided options that GMs use).
Game System
When you select a game system from the dropdown list in the Request a Game tool, you'll get a tag applied to your advertisement thread like [PF-1e] or [D&D-5e] or [PbtA]. This is great as far as attracting people who only want to play certain game systems, but it doesn't cover all the information that players will want to know.
  • Do you take the rules exactly as written, or do you form your own interpretation?
  • If the system rules are spread across many books, are you focused on any in particular, or do you want to disqualify a certain book so the game will fit your concept better?
  • Do you have any houserules?
Game Setting
No matter what your game is about, where you set it is going to matter to your players, just so they have some idea what kind of characters they might play.

If you're using a published setting, make sure to note any changes you intend to make for game continuity, or any inventions or historical events that you want to say haven't happened yet. (Whether or not your game will allow guns is an easy example.)
  • Are you using one of the popular settings like Forgotten Realms or Eberron? (Some of these are offered in the Game System dropdown and tag, like [D&D-3.5e-Eberron].)
  • If you created the game setting, you need to provide enough detail that players can figure out characters' races, classes, and backgrounds. Do note any restrictions!
  • Lots of detail can be nice for homebrew settings, but avoid requiring huge amounts of reading if you can. Players want the overview and a way to get the details, not all the details dumped on their heads. A great way to do this is to have a spoilerbutton or a link to a thread where you explain as much as you like.
About the Game!
This is perhaps the most important section of your game ad, and also the most widely varied across successful advertisements. At the bare minimum, you need:
  • Where the game will start. Are the characters all part of a guild and they get summoned? Are they all random travelers who witness the same event?
  • Hints at how the game will proceed. This doesn't mean you need to give away your creative plot twists! Just give enough detail to the "game start" to suggest what's going on. Is the country at war, and there's trouble on the front lines? Is there a mysterious disappearance or event that needs investigating?
  • Players want to have some idea what they're getting themselves into, so make sure you explain enough that no one will be upset later on. (Don't talk a lot about a country at war and then have the game focus on their taking part in an unrelated robbery.)
  • Explaining the sort of tone you mean to take either explicitly or implicitly is wise. If someone is looking for dark, gritty horror, they're not going to enjoy ending up in a game where everything is a running joke. Usually this can be figured out from whatever you write for a plot, but sometimes it's worth being specific.
  • Do you run primarily combat-focused games? Are you going to be giving them a lot of puzzles? Anything you can add will be helpful.
  • Posting rate. Games on this site can vary wildly how often each player is expected to post, on average. For play-by-post, one post a day is fast. At the other end of the spectrum there are games which progress at one post every couple months. Tell your players what your plan is, and how strictly you'll follow it.
  • Deadline! Don't forget to tell people how long you'll be looking for players! (First five to show up, free for all, or until a specific date and time are all valid options.)

What You Want Players to Give You
The application format is up to you. Some games are first come, first served and just take the first five people to show interest. Some games are massive arenas, where anyone can join in and get matched up to take part. Some games have high turnover of characters (meaning they die often), so they're really advertising for players, not necessarily characters. The most common method is to request an application detailing the character the player comes up with, so you can pick a group that fits your setting, plot, and game the best. What you ask them for is up to you, and depends upon what kind of game you're running and what criteria you're going to be using to choose players.


About the Character
There are many ways for a player to indicate what they'd like to play, and often a certain kind of application format is requested by the GM. Probably the most common includes providing the name, race and class, a description and/or personality, and some background details or history. How much or how little you expect them to write is useful information, because there are people who don't write up their character concept in full detail without writing several thousand words. Twenty applications of several thousand words each is a lot of reading for you later on.
  • Format for the write-up, if any.
  • Do you like images? Do you hate images? Do you think images of a certain type are awful or predispose you to thinking less of that character?
About the Player

More Information
At one point, site staff wrote an FAQ on applying and running games which also includes an example game ad write up. (Very out of date, but still useful.)

Last edited by Aethera; Jun 18th, 2023 at 12:43 PM.
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