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General Forge Forums => Publishing => Topic started by: pells on October 20, 2006, 10:53:29 AM

Title: [Avalanche] - Thoughts on promotion
Post by: pells on October 20, 2006, 10:53:29 AM
A very late follow-up from this thread (, I am now ready to begin the promotion of Avalanche.
At my disposal, I have those tools : an english ( and a french ( teaser, and a welcoming webpage (

I see the present thread as a working one. I've got some ideas I'd like to discuss and benefit from this community's past experience. So, I'm not here to promote anything, nor search any collaborators. Some of my ideas might require some help, or collaboration, but this is not the place to offer any. I shall start a connetion thread about the ideas I might keep.
So, here it goes.

The webpage
As you can see, it is quite simple. The main idea for me is to have a central place where to download the teaser and to use it when the website goes online. So, for that, I need a reason for people to come back to this page. I'll use art. I've got plenty, and I think it is worth seeing. So, I plan on offering something like three different illustrations (one piece of essence and two pieces of existence, related to the essence one) and to alternate them, on the base of, let's say, three weeks or a month. I also want to tease people with those, so I don't intend to provide any text. There had been some arguing in the group who's working on this project about those illustrations. Some thougth that we should provide illustrations based on randomness : each time someone comes to the webpage, different illustrations are shown. The main problem with this is that it doesn't encourage people to come back, but instead to refresh the page and get all the illustrations offered.
You'll also notice that the webpage is bilingual (french/english). I prefer this solution to using two different pages.
Others ideas are linked to this webpage and it is meant to evolve.

Systems for the teaser
As discussed in earlier threads, Avalanche will be represented using many systems. It occured to me that I don't really need the overall project to start presenting this point. In fact, I can already provide it for this teaser. The main idea is to use this to show "you can use more than one system : here it is !!" and for those who would like to provide a system for Avalanche to say "here's this upcoming campaign you can use with our system". In fact, adding characters sheets to the teaser is very easy : people who are interested would just send me Word (i.e. .doc files) pages with them and I just add them behind elements who needs it and produce a new pdf. I could also provide a spread for the "system providers" to write down a couple of things, maybe an introduction and link to his website. Naturally, the layout of the teaser would be the same for pages with systems.
As I see it, if some "rules provider" think they would benefit from proposing their system for Avalanche, then I think I should do it as soon as possible. The idea would be that I provide, on my webpage, the original teaser, with a section "with some rules" where you can download the teaser according to different systems, with a link for the website of the system (on the teaser and on my webpage). I guess that, on the other side, the "rules provider" would offer Avalanche's teaser with his system on his webpage and a link to my website.
That way, I believe we both take advantage of this (promotion of systems thru content and content thru system) and also exchange links for a reason, not just for the sake of it.

Derivative products
As discussed in earlier threads, there could be derivated products generated from Avalanche setting/situations. As for the systems, the idea is to do this in advance. I can see four axes I can already work on :
- A CCG. I've got a pretty cool idea for a CCG based on Avalanche. I don't have it all and I don't intend to work on it, but maybe, some people would like to. Anyway, here's how I see this : I'll have a lot of illustrations for Spring, Avalanche ; around 400. I think I can ask my illustrators to provide those illustrations for free for a first run at of a CCG (I don't have the rights on this), knowing that if it sells, further "edition" will mean they will be able to sell their illustrations twice (one to me, one for the CCG). Now, based on my teaser, I would make an endeavor for a CCG, and reward the winner with rights to use illustrations/content for a first run. Seems like a fair trade to me. Now, as for publishing it, I'm still wandering if I want paper (i.e. cards) or something thru a graphical interface (website, mine) instead. Maybe, just a detail, but the idea would be to offer the use of this "service" (i.e. play the CCG) on the base of a monthly fee, of which a part (a big one, I guess) would go to the creator.
But, then again, the idea is that someone promote a product and mine too.
- Just a reminder : the overall project is called Cycles. It depicts the way the setting/plot is written : high level description, storyboard aspect, setting for a stake. Then again, the idea is to promote my project, based on someone else's work. The structure of Clyces' adventures is meant to be put into a database. So, even is somebody wants to write down like this, the "machine" (i.e. the website) is a lot of work to do, as to gain the advantage of such a structure. My idea is to propose something like an endeavor "write the teaser of a plot in cycles' way" and offer to the winner one of the instance of the database. So, he could benefit from my promotion, all graphical interface and the way of paiement (monthly subscription). Seems like a fair trade to me
- In the same spirit, I thougth of proposing a gamist/dungeon crawler version of Avalanche. It had been discussed before and can be seen as an add-on. People, who are looking for some dungeon action, but still want a good plot running behind, could use Avalanche. But, for that, I would need dungeons. Then again, the idea is to start working with the teaser. Maybe another endeavor : propose a dungeon located in the crest of the world. Winner gets rights to develop official dungeons (there is plenty of place for many dungeons) for Avalanche, sold thru the website, as an option.
- How about some translation (finnish/german ...), first of the teaser ?
Now, my concern : is that too soon ? Would I really benefit from this ? Would it help the promotion of Avalanche ? As I guess I'll be very busy with the upcoming opening of Avalanche, there is a chance I won't have a full grip over those connex projects. Is that a big concern ? Do I really want to have a full control over those matters ?
My concern about derivate product here, is not to talk about the deal I would offer, there are just mention as ideas. Another thing : I don't know what should be part of an endeavor or just a connection thread.

The promotion in itself
What are my objectives in the promotion of Avalanche ? To get my product known, to have my teaser in as much hands as possible, to get the website known. The website is important, because this is what I'm selling : monthly subscription thru it. My first goal would be to have around a hundred subscribers at the site launch (at that point, I break even to continue : pay the translation and illustrations).
I'd say I don't really intend to persuade people to buy it. I think the quality is there, I can explain what it is and, given that, I can understand some people don't want this kind of product. Fine with them, I'm looking to get known to the others. I'll get back to this right away. But before, my homeworks.
There are some things I've learned from the forge, and that I intend to keep in mind.
Buzz : You can't create a buzz : there's one or not, but you can't create it.
Playing other peole's games : The main philosophy, here at the forge is : play other people's game, and comment it, and then talk about your game. Well, I do have a couple of problems here : but at least I'm playing with the TSOY !! That said, I miss time : my project is overwhelming and I'm even having difficulties to find the time to play it (I also have a lot of personal obligations). Another thing : when I look at what you people do usually here, there is a big difference with what I do. I'll take for example rpg-talk : great site, great discussions. But, people like Vincent Baker, develop a lot of games, small ones. So those people do work around a lot of ideas, brand new : meaning they have a lot to say ! This is not my case : a very long term project with no mechanics. So, I believe it is very hard for me to take part in that kind of community.
Exchange links : only when useful. I'm only looking at cases where both can benefit from the exchange. Except for the ones I mentionned above (adds-ons, translation and system provider) what else should I be looking for ?
Reference of the site : never pay for it !!!
AP posts from Avalanche : I will need them. But this may be hard at the moment. When alpha testing starts, I intend to ask people who'll participate to write down some. I could awlays ask for some AP played from my teaser, as I believe it can constitue a small scenario in itself. The multi plot aspect is not there, but the calendar and storyboard (high level scenario) is there. I guess I would have to look for some people to do this, but is it worth it (or is there enough material) ?

So, how do I intend to promote Avalanche ?
Thru my presence on forums. So far, I've only been active on the forge, and I see it as a working place, not a place to promote my product. In the last year, I've found a lot of forum where I can present my project. And present is very important here. I want to avoid spamming at all cost. That means I must be present to answers questions/comments. I guess it will take a lot of time.
I really believe I can use my teaser as a starting point for a discussion over what I'm doing. I think Avalanche is very one of kind at the moment : it offers very specific things. And also in a very different way. I think I can talk about this and that this could raise some questions. Or, at least, I hope.
There is something that really matters to me : I believe there is a big difference between promoting an available product and an upcoming one. Since I'm in the lattest case, what should be my approach, concerns ?
I intend to assure main presence on the web, since this is how I intend to sell Avalanche. I guess I could always put some advertising flyers in stores selling RPGs near my home (I live in Paris, so there are some). But is it worth the trouble ? My guess is no.
Promoting outside rpg : I think I may try to present this teaser and my project in instances outside rpg. I'm thinking mostly of art forum, and writing ones. The use of art in my project is somehow different from many others : it is closely linked to the story and the illustrators really gets to work "over" the writer, almost as an adds-on in itself. As for the writing, I believe Avalanche is written in a very specific way and that its storyboard aspect might be worth presenting to people outside of rpg. Most people I've presented this project (in my day-to-day life, people surrounding me) know nothing about rpg, but still want to take a look at it. That may be interesting and maybe, if I do it, this process migth be interesting to report here, at the forge ...

Something like a blog
A blog is, somehow, a problem to me : I don't have that much to say !!! But, I'm thinking of putting a link on the webpage to something like a blog : in fact, it would be more like a golden book (french expression I guess : a place where people would leave comments). I see it as a place where I throw out some ideas about the project, launch some open questions and post reports on the project. I also see it as a lot of trouble : I would have to post two versions, one french and one english, post on a regular basis and respond to comments. Because, if I do it, I need to do it nicely. Seems like a lot of work ... But it has the advantage of having the website less static (althougth illustrations will change from time to time), and maybe provide a way to continue promotion inside Avalanche (by opposition of outside, on forums). People would come to get inform. Is it worth the trouble ? What should be in it ? What should be my approach toward this ? Is it mandatory ? Is that a good way to maintain promotion and people's interest in the project ? If I lack the time to maintain it, is it worst than having nothing ? Also, should I provide a forum (I intend to, but later)?

Printed copies
I've printed a couple of copies of this teaser, for me and people working on this project. Well, this looks very nice, in my opinion. I think I could sell printed copies thru POD, for a low price, upon which I don't intend to make any money (I would be selling it at its cost). There would a link on my website to this service. The idea is to bring my teaser in as much hands as possible, and in a different format, for a low price. Is that worth the trouble ? Would it help the promotion of my product ?

As my main trade is not paper, but a value added service sold thru a website, based on a monthly subscription, there is something very important to me : if you sell a service, you have to be able to deliver it, otherwise your customers won't stay. I've never managed a website like this before and I'm afraid we might encounter some problems. To avoid them, I think we will start by restricting the number of members and, after making sure we can deliver the service correctly, increase that number. Well, to be honest, I'd really like to have hundred and hundred of customers when we open, but I doubt it. Well, nevertheless, we thougth about taking pre ordering : we would have a certain number of available "places" at the start, and people would be able to pre order them. At the launch, if someone has pre order and doesn't "buy" it, his place is left for someone else. I could see the benefit of doing this : knowing in advance how many customers I have, althougth pre ordering doesn't mean ordering. Do you do that (pre order) for printed product ? How long in advance should it be done (I don't think you take pre order months in advance) ? Knowing the number of places are limited, would it encourages people to pre order ?

We're late, very late. Late on writing, illustrations, website, translation, maps : everything !!! Well, of course, we're ten people working on this, so it still advances, but not as fast as I want. This is more or less of a problem : it also means that when it is launched, Avalanche will have more texts (so, more hours of plays), more illustrations ; more content. And I need a lot of content !! That said, I'm crossing my fingers for a march launch, if we're lucky. If we're not, it'd more like may ... How is that a problem ? How does it affect my promotion ? How long in advance should I start promoting ? Should I start as soon as I can (i.e. almost now), or should I wait ? What should be done first ?

Title: Re: [Avalanche] - Thoughts on promotion
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on October 23, 2006, 03:59:14 PM
A very late follow-up from this thread (, I am now ready to begin the promotion of Avalanche.
At my disposal, I have those tools : an english ( and a french ( teaser, and a welcoming webpage (

Excellent to hear from your project, Sebastien! I've been at Spiel Essen for the last couple of days, but I was very excited to hear that you're progressing here. Let me throw out some various thoughts...

The webpage

I like the bilingual part, a lot. That gives it an exotic touch, and I think it's very positive with the European audience. We're simply more interested when you intimate that this is something exotic, not just another American game. Perhaps you could format it a bit differently, though? I'm thinking two columns side by side, perhaps on separate backgrounds. I find an equal multilingual presentation easier to follow than one where I have to jump to the middle of the page to find an appropriate language.

Other impressions:
- Put the teaser up much, much more prominently. It should be the main thing on the page.
- This is just me, but "Cycles-rpg" sounds stupid to my ear. In the prose it's even worse, as "welcome to cycles-rpg" without capitalization. Could it be just Cycles, or Cycles Roleplaying System or something?
- Explain the product and titles a bit more. The site doesn't tell you whether Cycles is the company or the product, and it doesn't explain Avalanche at all. One of your main goals is to get a person to look at the teaser, which will only happen if you present the product clearly on the website.

Other than that, I think you're overthinking the repeat-visiting factor. From my own surfing experience and a bit of experience with maintaining a website it seems to me that trying to get repeat visits with something as flimsy as art won't have a significant effect. People only surf for concrete kicks, and while art is nice, nobody will be adding the site to their favourites over just that. Furthermore, most rpg companies do not get people to make their site a routine part of their surfing; only sites with forums (like Whitewolf) and massive expenditures on added content (WotC) achieve that. The positive part: repeating visits are not necessary for achieving your goals of web exposure. People will remember, and they will get back after even months. What's best is that repeated exposure will actually make it easier to get them interested. What this all means is that you want people to come back to your site 2-3 times before the game comes out, and each time it should be because you've added something interesting to the site. Assuming that each separate visit keeps up the interest in the continuing development, the visitor will be ready to make a purchase when the product finally comes out.

In other words, don't think of repeating visitors as a function of weekly changing content, because you don't have the resources to do that on the required level. Instead, work on making the site attractive as a static entity, and prepare to make a major upgrade with added content after 3-6 months have gone by. Then repeat your publicity cycle (whatever it was that got people to visit the site in the first place). The people who visited the site the first time around will remember it and be more likely to visit again (and will become happy with the significant new content), while new people will also come in. If need be you can repeat this cycle for 4-5 times before actually publishing the product, assuming that your internet persona is interesting enough and the product really needs the development time. You should strive for 3 updates, though: a teaser, additional materials, and the actual product launch.

Incidentally, your site has one feature that could make for routinely repeating visits: the blog. If you keep writing once or twice a week, the people interested in the product might well get invested enough to start checking you out regularly. But that will take time from other work on the project, so choose wisely and weight the benefits.

Systems for the teaser

This is very ambitious, especially if you want hard talent to pick up the opportunity. You know what I'd actually do in your shoes? I'd prepare a reasoned, detailed proposal to somebody with a strong system I admire and start a personal discussion about how we could each benefit from the cross-promotion. So don't just wait and dwiddle your thumbs, go to the designer yourself. I confess that I'm thinking of Clinton R. Nixon here, specifically: if I had a quality fantasy setting for which I needed strong rules, I'd try to get Clinton interested with his Solar system. But that's just my case, I'm sure you have some other approachable game designers you like.

(In case TSOY in particular seems like a good move for your product, note that the Solar system is available with some rather nice licences. You wouldn't need to get Clinton to write your stat blocks, anybody with the system knowledge could do it.)

A technical note: when working with pdf technology, your best bet in making the pdf is to put the different systems into separate, partially transparent layers in the pdf. That way the user can download one pdf with your teaser and have all the currently supported systems available; the user can then switch between the system simply by choosing which layers are visible. Very professional and convenient.

Derivative products

All of your ideas for spin-offs are sensible and very nice. They require you to do the work of finding and convincing the complementary talent, though, as they won't be coming to you. Also, most of these are not strictly necessary for the flagship product, and are better developed after the initial publication anyway, so I suggest filing them and perhaps talking about them privately with talented people. Your actual focus should be to make the basic product shine.

The promotion in itself

You have a good sense of the situation here, it seems to me. I know what you mean about the nature of the Forge community and your own project. My personal suggestion is to not worry about it overmuch; promotion of a web-site subscription will be much easier when you have the product, some actual play and reviews on your side. Your product is so innovative that I think it'll be disproportionately hard for you to produce buzz before the product is out and available to be sampled. After you have a finished package and have some answers to the question of how the product could be used, it'll be much easier to generate all kinds of publicity.

Other than that, you should probably realize that even these publishing technique discussions are already doing a world of good for the publicity of your game here. If you can follow it up with some concrete suggestions for how we can use your teaser to play, I think you'll find that the Forge people are actually quite interested in the product. I'm speaking for others as well when I say that your material is basicly high quality and innovative, and the only thing that's stopping me from just dropping it on the game table is that it doesn't have any kind of system, so I don't know how to use it efficiently as a game. I'd love to play and write an actual play account for your project, but I'd have to do some major system fitting to do it, and frankly I just haven't had that much motivation yet.

Hmm... I should probably put my dice where my mouth is. Assuming that I don't get ambushed with anything more urgent, that is.

So, how do I intend to promote Avalanche ?

Just to get it out of the way: flyers are not worth the trouble. Roleplayers are shell-shocked by the highly competitive marketplace, and completely unwilling to invest in anything new based on something as flimsy as a flyer or other surface-marketing. A cunning design could garner you some interested contacts if you managed to tweak their particular interests, but it's a lot of work for very little gain.

Other than that, your promotion should indeed take into account the fact that the product is still not available. I take this to mean primarily that you don't want to create high-intensity contacts with your audience - that will just lead to frustration and forgetting the product. Rather, you want to make your potential target audience aware that you're working on this new kind of project, and make them invested and interested in the process itself. Having discussions about what the game can do when it comes out is pretty much a waste of time, because any interest you create will be instantly frustrated when there's no follow-up. In other words: don't overstep your available material. If your main available material is the teaser, then couch your discussion in terms of the teaser and what it does, and why somebody should check it out.

Something like a blog

The answer to your basic question depends on the designer and the project, really. For me a blog would never be worth the trouble, I design stealthily and don't even particularly intend to foster a community. Writing a quality blog around your project means committing five hours per week to producing it, so it's a bit of a side-project itself. The benefit is that you could get anything from a dozen to several hundreds regular readers, who'd be a captive audience for your design. There are successful examples; for one, check out the blog of Ville Vuorela (, a Finnish rpg designer: he published his last big game in -98, and he updates his blog 1-2 times per week. Ville is a very good writer and most actively interested Finnish roleplayers read his journal, even if he writes about game design only now and then. Heck, Ville's journal is one of my own frequent destinations, and I'm following the progress of his design with interest, even if I don't have much interest in the actual game he's making.

I suggest that if you feel that you don't have anything to say, and you suspect that the work load would prove annoying, then a blog is most likely not worth the trouble. Think of it this way: if you invest your time in finishing your game instead, it'll be available sooner, and the sooner you get to enjoy the profits of your newfound success.

Printed copies

Unimportant for promotional purposes. However, this could be useful as a playtesting aid. I think I'll need the material on paper if I'm to try playing with it, so I guess it'd be nice... nah, I can always print it easier at home. Not worth the trouble.


Pre-ordering in the context of roleplaying books actually means something a bit different: when you pre-order, you pay for the product before it's actually done, and will be one of the first to get it when it's finally finished. Ben Lehman did this with his first print run of Polaris, as a successful example. It's mostly useful if you need the money.

However, your actual worry is that you might have some trouble starting up the service. There is a tried and true method for this kind of website startup, and I'm a bit surprised you're not thinking in these terms: start the service up for free! If you start free, you get a large number of people trying the service at the beginning (you can basicly set your own maximum number of users, if you want, and you'll probably reach it), but you will also have a very low level of necessary performance that is expected from you, because it's free. Only when you're confident that you can run the standard operations in an efficient manner, you close the site and make it commercial. At that point you have lots of publicity, and even if most users will disappear, you still keep the ones who're willing to pay money. You could also keep a stripped version of the service available for free to give new people a chance to see what the game's all about.


If I'm reading you right, the fundamental question through your post is the matter of promotion: how you should promote to be a conscientious publisher. My answer, which may or may not be wrong, is that your best bet is to stop thinking in terms of pre-launch promotion. You're not publishing a book that will succeed or fail based on first month's sales, so you have no reason on this earth to pre-load your promotion for a huge publicity stunt that happens during one weekend and blows everybody's brains out.

Instead, use the strengths of your website concept, and focus on the long run:
1) Get your product ready. Continue writing here and other appropriate forums if you like, but don't set up any expectations about publicity.
2) When the product is ready, set up a public playtest phase. Basicly, start running the service just like you intend to do when you go commercial. Any early adopters will get this first period for free, and that's good, because they're doing valuable playtesting and promotion for you.
3) Only when you're confident that the product is both ready and working, close the site. That's when your real promotion starts, and it should be long-term, because your product bills by the month, so you will be in the business for long term.

Simply put, I think that you're twisting yourself into a pretzel over this marketing thing for no good reason. Delay in getting your page ready is no problem for a web-site product, because your real publicity drive should happen only when you have the product to deliver. The best publicity for you at this point is not to focus on the public, but on the limited talent you want to cooperate with on your project: you have to convince the designers and whoever else you want to invest their time in your product that it's worthwhile. In effect you should market to us at the Forge, you could say. The general public comes later.

Hmm... I think that's pretty much it for now. I'll come back later if I can think of anything else to say. I'll be definitely reading your teaser through again, just in case I can think up an entertaining rpg session or two based on it.

Title: Re: [Avalanche] - Thoughts on promotion
Post by: pells on October 30, 2006, 11:12:06 AM
Well Eero, thanks again : this is really helping and it changes things for me. Sorry for the late reply, but I needed time to think, and when the thinking was over, I didn't have time to write.

The webpage
I'll take your remarks into account and we should change the site a little.
As for the name cycles, maybe it means too much things. At first, it was the name of the campaign, of which Avalanche is the first scenario. But then, it also became the way it is written. Then, more or less the name of the company, so the name of the website. As was taken, we decided to put "-rpg" beside. I guess I should stick to cycles when I present it ... Anyway, I'll need to explain some of that.
I won't be aiming at recurrent visits for art, you're right about that. I'll come to that later ...

The blog
I find it fun to write after all. And this is very different writing from Avalanche, so I don't 'share time' between them. I think I've got enough to say for a while and I hope I can update it once a week. But I'll need to stick to that ; seriously.
Now, how can make it more visible (ie how can I promote it as a blog) ? Should I ?

Systems for the teaser
As we discussed earlier (, I shall go with d20, fudge and TSOY  (respecting their respective licence) as "default systems". I will use them, but not with this teaser (I'll come back to that later). But, for those systems, no one is going to promote them. About other systems, there are two things :
- You're rigth about high quality, well known systems. But, that said, my publishing model is almost over and there is a somehow standart deal for things like that (translation, dungeons ...). There is a big difference between selling a translation and adding a system, as an option.
- As I discovered in the thread above, maybe some systems owner would be interested in doing this (providing their systems for this campaign). Of course, it won't be well known, popular systems, but this doesn't cost me anything and can be really benefic I think. I believe that in some cases, people can come to me.
I thought to leave this open (and I shouldn't go very far looking for that, just on the forge. We'll see) and for popular systems, wait a little, as this will take time.

Pre ordering
I wasn't thinking of collecting money ahead of time. This would look like a mailing site : you know the updates, when the blog is updated, when we launch the project ... This is somehow pre ordering for me : they say they want to follow this project and be the first informed of his opening.
I guess this shouldn't be too much trouble ...

The promotion in itself
Now, this is the big part. I think you are right about the promotion. This took quite a while to figure things out, but now I guess I know, a little bit more, where I'm going.
But, first things first : the teaser. I believe there is a real problem about it (and I always knew it), it is the playability. It is not very good on that aspect. So it has limits. I shouldn't try to make more than it could do. I believe it shows well : that we have a serious, high quality project underway, a new to write pre written scenarios, a new aspect.

I shall use a three step promotion, as you suggested, and here's this looks like :
First step
This is where I am. Given what I've said about the teaser, here's what I should aim :
- writing, illustrators forums. Really present Avalanche as a new way to write. Not as a game. Those who play rpg should understand it a little more, others shouldn't be afraid by rpg. Same thing for the system : I don't want to put any there. Almost present it as a "special" book. Hoping that some people might want to follow the project.
- in rpgs forum : I shouldn't even try to present it as a game, but really more like a new way to write down scenarios, with an example. For instances, I know a couple of rpg forums which have different kind of topics, among them ; indie rpg and something like "inspiration/novels/adapation". I should write down posts in the later categories instead of really rpg. I guess that people who read those are looking for that kind of products and be more enclined to discuss it thru this aspect. I also think I gain in visibility since those topics tend not to move much (a thread has very very long life there).

For one thing, I do feel I need to get out of the forge a little. I'm not present anywhere else.

Second step
It is already plan to provide a free part of the story for our customers. Given your suggestions, I believe I can make a second teaser out of it. This part is very, very playable. Straight forward : a group of adventurers do things. All the problems I might have with the first teaser are not there in what I have in mind. For the second teaser, I put systems behind and I can promote it really as a game.

Third step
Surely something like you propose : free subscription for a limited period of time.

AP post
Starting with the second teaser, that should be easier to have. But, another thing I could start doing is to provide some trustworthy people with the first part of Avalanche (without layout and illustrations) as to generate AP posts. I don't want to give away free copies. So, I would have to choose wisely. On the other sides, Avalanche is a long run project. It's not meant to be played in one shot session. I guess that could wait a little.
At first, I wanted to match everything together : alpha testers would be people who "add" things to the product (be it translation, systems or donjons). Anyway, they will surely need the site when we have it. Althougth, it is not sure they will play it.