All In - Part 5: Hyping and Unveiling

Author :Knight Errant
Category :World Designing

Now that you've put all of this time, attention and effort into making your in-depth setting, you probably want to get it noticed and/or appraised by the general community. This involves two steps. The first, which I call 'hyping', is all about gathering interest toward what you are doing and getting people's attention. The second is actually unveiling your work, putting it up for others to view and enjoy.

The best way to get started on all of this is to join the Juniorgeneral Forum. There are a few other paper-soldier/pixel-art-based forums out there, but JG is the best place to get started. It is set up to be a friendly and encouraging community, and by sticking around and observing others' work methods, you can quickly improve your own work. Believe me, it happens fast; this is what happened to my drawing style in the space of two short years:

To become a JG Member, just visit the link to the Forum at the top of the main page and click Register to begin setting up your account. The process is simple, and once you are done there is no obligation to get involved at any point, although you probably won't improve as much if you don't. From there, you can post up your Work-in-Progress (WiP) drawings or even show off some of your finished ones for others to comment on. A note on this last one, however - sometimes people genuinely have nothing to say, so if you don't receive any comments, don't be discouraged - just keep showing 'em what you've got to offer.

The following segments assume that you have JG Forum membership.

The Hype

Hype is the term I use to describe gathering interest/anticipation about a particular setting/work. I know that Hype is usually looked at as some sort of negative word, closely followed by 'let down', but I think that it is the best way to describe the methods of getting your work noticed. Now, you could just post up all of your work at once in one big blob, but the chances are that people will see a long screed of writing and just skip right by it, not having the time or the patience to dive into something unprepared. You have to temper them toward it, build up their interest so that they want to see what you have to say, what you have worked so hard on. This is Hyping.

By far the easiest way to get somebody's attention is with a nice little visual or two. You can spend all of your time introducing a subject through text, but for many it will just seem like 'words, words, words'. We are fickle human beasties. We like shinies, and things which draw our eyes. My preferred technique is the banner. Banners don't have to be big; certainly, they don't have to take up a whole page, but they are eyecatching. A good banner carries across its core concept and thrusts the audience into the world that you are about to reveal to them. For example, here are five banners which I have used over the past two years to pique interest in my works:

Each attempts to reveal a bit about the setting and perhaps even force the viewer to question things about it in their head:
-Ark worlds Requiem: A shattered starship gives us the context: clearly it is some sort of war in space, while at the same time making us ask "how did that happen?". Bonus because the painted fist is a reference to the first Ark Worlds game (surprisingly popular), so veterans of that setting can see that the core themes and ideas have been carried forward to the present.
-Wolfgang's World/KCU: A two-setting banner. On the left we have a map and a flag; a good map done well is a real drawcard for any setting, and so that is the focus for the Wolfgang's World ad. On the right, a futuristic soldier regards the innocence of a child's doll as a city lies in ruins around him. How did things get that way? Is there any hope left for the future?
-4: Four different characters, clearly in different branches of different militaries. What is bringing them together? By juxtaposing them side-by-side the contrast becomes the point of interest.
-N.A.T.O Clouds of War: War-movie desaturation and a feeling of developing conflict form the central attraction of this banner. Familiarity with the concept of NATO gives interest toward how a conflict involving trans-Atlantic forces would pan out.
-M.U.L.A.N After Humanity: A makeshift convoy in a desolate wasteland. Post-Apocalyptic worlds have been very much in vogue in recent years, and bring up the attendent flurry of questions around what happened and how it has affected the way that Humanity goes about its business.

So a banner, therefore, is a powerful way to garner attention and interest in your setting. If you have a WiP or Showcase thread you can post it up there, or you can hotlink it into your forum signature so that it appears beneath your every post (being aware that there is a size restriction of ~216x72 pixels to signature images - larger works will be reduced to this size). Once it is out there it is visible, and people will (hopefully) be intrigued as to what it all entails.

Other, lesser methods of hyping include posting up WiPs or teasers of new material, maps or faction profiles, but in my experience banner-making works best.

The Reveal

So, you have a solid setting, a bevy of accompanying pixel art and an audience who are, with any luck, interested in what you have to post. Now it is time to finish the process off - it is time to reveal your work. You probably want to lead with a visual for the reasons I explained earlier; if people have pictures then they will be much more forgiving of long text. The next challenge is how to adequately introduce your setting to the audience...but hey! We already did that in Part 2. Remember our 'Universe' description?

It is the 20th Century, but not as we know it. Decades of war between the United States and Russia has led to a global arms race, pushing technology into hitherto unexplored realms. As airships stalk the skies below, mighty Aetherships venture out into the interstellar medium, looking to expand national boundaries beyond the surface of their mother planet. In doing so, they have discovered the legendary Antichthon, Earth's celestial twin balancing her orbit on the other side of the sun. This New World is a land ripe for the taking, and so the colonial powers of the Earth have ventured out across the void to stake their claim on the planet of the future.

It turns out that it would also be a great way to open your revelatory post. You've established the parameters of your setting and conveyed to the audience what it is generally all going to be about. Better still, you have your other two pieces of background writing to use - you probably want to make a second post underneath your intro for the 'Background' section, and a third for the 'Campaign' and its attendant units. Throw in your map and other works where appropriate and voila! You have now smartly and succinctly unveiled your setting for others to peruse and enjoy. If your project is ongoing, take it from here. If it is a game, you may want more than one thread in order to showcase each faction and their equipment. But if you have posted everything you intended to, and have nothing more to add, then congratulations! You have successfully created and populated an in-depth and immersive world from scratch, for the enjoyment and edification of your peers worldwide, and can rest in the knowledge that you have made something wholly worthy of others' attention and interest. There, that wasn't so hard now, was it? ;D

But wait, I've just had another great idea for a setting. It's going to be big, huge even, with oddball characters, insane technologies and an expansive universe. I have to share it with the world! Okay, step one; establish the idea and make a map...