I read Seth Godin's Purple Cow last year and it was a revelation: it made me realize I had lost my way as a game maker and artist.
The main thrust of the book - in a sea of white cows, a purple cow will stand out. Don't try to be like everyone else, do something remarkable. Literally "remarkable" - as in, people will make remarks about it. News about your product will go at least a little bit viral.
When I read it, I had been making game-jam-sized games like We're No Angels and sixty second shooter, and wondering if there was anything I could do to make sixty second shooter more succesful, but I had to be honest with myself: sixty second shooter is fairly unremarkable. It's just a mash-up of a couple other genres with programmer art. Sure, there are a few remarks one could make about it:
- it's actually really fun (but fun isn't enough, of course, there are thousands of really fun games out there)
- it used new technology (but, hey, the players don't care)
- barriers to entry are low - as long as you're running chrome the load time is nearly instaneous, it won't take too much out of your day, you don't need to sign in and give me an e-mail address (but so are a thousand games on Kongregate)
Which is a big part of why I'm stepping up and making Energy Hook. It's the most remarkable project I can think of that we can do with almost no funding.
Also, Purple Cow has given me a lens with which to look at other people's games. I often will give people feedback on their games and almost always the first thing the games have me asking is, "What is remarkable about this? Why should I play it, and talk about it, when there's a thousand other games out there?"
Because, wow, the game market isn't a sea of white cows. It's a technicolor ocean of all shapes and colors. To stand out, your cow has to be a frickin' ultraviolet light.
So - here's something we can do. Put a link to the website for the game you're working on in the comments, and, in just a few sentences, tell us why it's remarkable. What makes it purple? Go!