If you're not sure if you're finished then that's OK. I have put together a guide to help you answer the question.
Release small, release oftenAs a philanthropist, you do not need to wait until the game is finished before you share it with the community. By sharing early, you can draw upon the experience and knowledge of other philanthropists keen to share their knowledge. By releasing small and often, you reduce the cliff of work you need to scale before the joy of releasing. If you are having trouble finishing a large project, then release what you have. Be prepared for raw feedback early and then turn round a new version quickly. Do not dwell, sort out the problems and release again.
LicensingLicensing is very important. You might think that giving something away for free is simple but you could leave yourself open to problems if you do not slap on a license. For example, without a licence printed somewhere, print shops might not allow a prospective GM to print it! Furthermore, if you don't add a little protection, then you might find someone selling your game.
Licensing is a personal and legal choice I am not qualified to assist you with, however I can recommend giving it a Creative Commons license. Creative Commons allows you to tailor your license to your needs and gives you a handy graphic that is rapidly becoming a standard. Most game designers choose BY-NC-SA, which means "Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike". Creative Commons do a great job of explaining how they are used.
Upload itUploading your game serves two purposes: sharing with others and backing up. When you back up, do not forget to back up the resulting PDF and the source files, images and notes. There are lots of places you can put your game for people to enjoy. If you are releasing small and often, you will want somewhere easy to update and accessible to all. If you have finished, you will want somewhere with exposure.
Backups and releasing small and often
- Google Docs allows you to upload PDFs and ZIP files. There is plenty of space and you can keep revisions too. Privacy settings allow you to use it as a backup too.
- Skydrive is the Microsoft solution, plenty of space and privacy options.
- Dropbox cleverly automatically synchronises your files to the server. Ideal for backups and can share too.
- 1KM1KT 1000 Monkeys, 1000 Typewriters, the best free RPG community.
- RPGNow and DriveThru RPG are commercial sellers that will also host your free game for you.
- Lulu is a service that offers print on demand. I recommend printing at least one for yourself because it is a joyous moment to see your creation in hard copy.
Get it listed and reviewedMake sure you let the following people know:
- Me, ask for a review and to be added to my free RPG directory
- Eric Chris Garrison's Homebrew RPGs
- John H. Kim's free RPGs on the web
- Ask on the 1KM1KT forum for a review.
- Tell the Reddit Community, they like free stuff.
- RPG.net (the big purple) have an Ads and Open Promo forum that's worthwhile.
- Enworld has a lively comunity but make sure you're posting in the right place. They've changed their policy on promo posts in the past, so have a good look before you accidentally annoy anyone.
- Update your signatures on forums to link to it.
- Tweet it, Google+ it, slap it on Facebook. Be proud of it, you've worked hard.
Now what? Support.Chances are a huge hole has been left by the completion of the game. Starting the process again for a new game might feel daunting so instead, support your game. Support is the act of engaging with the community to promote its play. Supporting your game will give it longevity not only in the eyes of the world but for you too.
- Start a blog, posting up characters, rule options, new adventure ideas and people's feedback. Most use either Blogger or Wordpress.
- Add Google Analytics to your blog so that you can see where people are coming from. It is really handy to see if someone blogs about your game so you can then reply - with thanks!
- Create a Google+ Page for your game. Use a nice graphic for the logo.
- If you're really keen on regular updates, create a Facebook page and Twitter account. Make sure they're used, though!
- If it is a generic system, write another setting for it.
- Find other free games like yours and contact the authors.