Giving the game away for free might be the best way to make it successful. There were several factors that led us to this conclusion. The first was the fact that we had absolutely no idea how this game would actually turn out. What we did know was that it would almost certainly be an uphill battle to try and sell this thing. Convincing people to buy a game that they had never heard, via a small two man team could be very tricky and I immediately saw the folly of trying to do that.
Since we begin developing the game for our own learning purposes, we didn't want to feel any pressure to have to sell it later. However, at the same time it seemed a shame to put all of this work into creating a full 3D game and not have any way of monetizing it.
But we realized that we did have one advantage that many other indie developers didn't, an entire web site full of other contents that we had been working on for years. It occurred to us that by giving the game out for free it could act is a promotional device for the rest of the Twisted Jenius site. We wouldn't have to charge anyone for it and it would be free to spread, receive exposure, and hopefully give us some recognition as new game developers.
This line of thinking is what went into a lot of the creative decisions that we put into Twisty's Asylum Escapades. We decided that as a promotional tool for the site, the game should reflect certain elements of the site. This worked well considering the fact that our mascot Twisty was already chosen to be the main protagonist of the game. We decided to take this idea even further and included other imagery and themes from the site in the game as well.
One of the most notable things is that distinctive diagonal user interface that can be seen towards the top left hand corner of both the site and the game. I had originally designed that for the site order to ensure that the layouts had a very distinguishing and unmistakable look. It occurred to me that if I put a similar user interface in the game, it would help to better promote the site and if someone liked one, then they would be more likely to like the other.
The method that you're going to use to distribute and monetize your game is a very important thing that requires consideration before you even get started with development. To set goals, not just for the project itself, but for how you want the world to see it and how you're going to get it to them.
If you would like to play the game discussed in this development blog, you can download it for free here.