After covering the Timing of your mod release and the File Distribution methods available in our tutorial about how to release a mod, we are going to have a look at the Communication. Obviously this is a very wide topic, so I cover just some basics, you should provide on your release day.
Prepare your news
You covered the scheduling, and the file distribution, now for some communicational aspects. I’m sure you want to let the world know that your mod is out now.
My personal suggestion is to have texts like Mod description, News report, and FAQ ready days, sometimes weeks before the release. It’s not mandatory, but having nice texts increases the perceived professionalism. We all aren’t professionals, we make mistakes, our texts are perfect, on the contrary, they should have character. Don’t hype too much, but display your enthusiasm. Don’t blow up the texts too much, but make the reader interested in your mod. Say what’s new, what’s outstanding, what’s characteristic about the mod.
Think about writing a small FAQ. During Testing you will have learned issues, or gotten questions by testers, who you think are self-explaining, but actually many aren’t. It’s a trap, which CTDP took for their F1-2006 release. We worked on a mod for years and we get used to how it works. We don’t question the complexity and so valid questions can easily be overlooked. Don’t be patronizing, be polite and patient. This also applies for those asking the questions. 😉
Expect problems, questions, a lot of question, a lot of people asking question. Have the infrastructure to overview this. Follow blog comments, be available in chats and have an open ear. Be in contact with your mirrors and your co-workers if possible, so you can address issues right away.
Not everybody needs to be involved in a release, but it this is a team happening, and so communication among the members is welcomed. Assign tasks, let them check the comments, while one should delegate. He keeps the overview. There may be other ways to success, but having one person to organize these things, who is handling all threads is very helpful, but probably not necessary. Tasks can also be distributed among members.
Prepare ways to contact you
People will have questions, there will be issues, and there will be talk. Especially for big releaeses this can be very overwhelming, especially in a fragmented one like SimRacing. There are half a dozent big forums and more than 4 dozent small more-less private forums. You can’t have spies everywhere. For the first hours, it is crucial to have selected places which you follow, which collect issues and questions. Blogs, forums, maybe bugtrackers, the software is a matter of taste. At CTDP we used to create special Release-Threads in selected forums and we invite to discussions in our forum and our blog.
Let them come to you. This is not supposed to sound arrogant, but release is hard work and it’s a better help to say: “We read the comments in this thread and we try to solve them asap.” than to try and catch up with all forums out there. Show where people can contact you the best and quickest.
Now that we covered all the preparation and organisation, we will finish our tutorial with the fourth part about the actual release day.