Reinventing Indiegamer

Discussion in 'Indie Related Chat' started by tolik, Mar 28, 2009.

  1. tolik

    Original Member

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    I woke up in a bad mood this morning and typed some stuff here:
    http://forums.indiegamer.com/showthread.php?p=191041#post191041

    I'm moving it to a separate thread as some of you might miss it in the thread that have started it.

    I'll call it "Reinventing Indiegamer".

    We have too many of n00b stuff posted that detracts from the long gone cool image of the forum that was here with all the beta tests of exciting products that rarely pop in, get 3 comments and go out of the front page in favor of updates and some free gfx packs. What would these beta products get out of this forum nowdays? Rarely few posts where someone will say "how the screenshots are cool, but I didn't play the game". Great. I haven't seen any great gameplay or biz analytics here in years.
    If you'd be a n00b and would look at Indiegamer, you'd see a lot of n00b games, content packs, alternative platform releases and some game update news, but it wouldn't help you.

    The forum isn't educating noobs. There's no sticky post that leads them to news sites, such as indiegames.com/blog/ to give them a feeling what is a modern indie freeware spirit is about, what is $$$ indie about and what should've been an open source game engine or something instead of "coolest remake on earth". I haven't seen any reaction to crappy games with something constructive such as "Please play decent games and make decent games."?

    This forum missed a transition between original underground indie scene that was represented by GameTunnel few years ago and a modern that is represented by all those teams who only announce their games on this forum after they pop up on Steam & IGF, not while they are in development as the forum simply stopped lacking credibility.

    There are few things that you'd see on the forum nowadays:
    - n00b freeware that is represented by gamemaker community that eventually started to have it's awesome pearls! but we never experience any of those here as the guys don't get out of their communities.
    - middleware/game engines that are that aren't properly exposed and explained and still don't deserve a special section
    - the forum caught a strong wave of casual, though, but since then lost the traction as it never exposed it properly
    - alternative platforms that never deserved their own section - so people visiting this forum lacked a feeling it welcomes them, however now everything is flooded with iPhone so other decent games get buried
    - we have a total lack of professional freeware dudes that are all about creativity - represented by indiegames.com/blog/ and IGF
    - online transition was welcomed as "boo flash lame!!!" until the crisis striked and advertisement prices have gone down. just some local rebels here post decent stuff that nobody takes serious while it's more important than another n00b game.

    A lack of proper forum restructuring a year ago made it oversaturated by people who didn't move on and are rebelling against the change. There's no proper forum structure that will explain any person coming to this forum that it welcomes any platform. Once again, a lack of product sorting by platform/technology makes good games simply buried instead of staying where they should be noticed. A ranking system inside the forum should really encourage people to post better games and make better games...

    It lacks moderation. It lacks direction, where moderators would lead people instead of providing them a greasy SANDBOX saying "well there's all that great legacy, try to get what you are into".


    There are 3 problems:

    1) Exposure - the forum is well-visited, however it has no site, not even a blog that highlights the top discussions or even exclusive beta announcements. There should be highlights through blog. There should be a facebook group where all of us will present the forum and throw in announcements to our friends and a way to cross-promote the game through reposting/sharing with friends. What the heck, there should be a twitter group that will throw exclusive beta-test calls. Having 1 reply to a post is not enough. Not even mentioning worthless attempts to put any gametunnel announcements to digg. Digg is all about paid exposure, there's reddit.com and stumbleupon. There are better places to give exposure, when properly arranged.

    2) Knowledge transfer. There are no sticky posts with any kind of knowledge database, pointing to tigsource, indiegames, industry sites, etc. This should be handled much better and communicated in sticky threads and through blogroll list. This forum must start to get exposure elsewhere. What the heck, we barely see cool games noticed from the outside industry and never discuss them. I see poor SHMUPs being released all the time without anyone saying "please play good games, please play proper games, please innovate, please look at those 100 freeware shmups that are freaking better than yours".
    What the heck, we don't even embed youtube videos with cool games here. We are stuck in a stone BBS age!

    3) The mess. I'm strictly against any pre-moderation. Let people post without restrictions and moderators will fix the mess. The only mess there is a structure of the forum. It needs to be reworked and at least 1 year old archive must be re-sorted properly. The only thing moderators should do (besides spam and bad behaviour) is to move the threads to proper forums and if they see a good game that deserves exposure, highlight it in the blogs.
    Yes, it is hard to distinguish the noise between good posts and the bad thing is that indie badge is down. While there's some elite private forum, it's no use to everyone else.
    There should be a naming convention for threads to add a platform before the post, e.g. "[iPhone] megagame released!". It is currently honored by some members, but if moderators will be manually renaming the threads to have prefixes, it will simplify the search through forum and any n00b who will come will see that entire game-related forums have these prefixes.
    There should be proning of freelancer announcements. Most of the links to their portfolios don't work anymore, I've tried to reach 10 of them once and barely 3 answered.

    The forum should bring some inspiration to people and push the edge.
    I was moderating the 100k+ pages industry forum in Russia, along with participating in a mobile games forum 5 years ago in Russia where developers were posting screenshots from cool newly released games and each time with their new release tried to reach Gameloft and jump even further.


    Please type something smart if you are up to reinventing the forum with 3 basic things:
    1) restructure and resort threads, improve moderation, enable embeds, open a forum that will nurture innovation by noting the games coming outside of this forum
    2) open a typical blog that will promote good games, summarize notable threads, post fancy pics to get noticed elsewhere. give permissions to all indies so they'd be able to express their views in that blog collectively, doesn't matter what they write unless it talks about a great game from this forum and features pic/video
    3) facebook and twitter groups for beta test requests, etc
    ...

    Add your own suggestions, but please think outside of the box.
    Think about people that should be coming here and posting here.
    Think about hundreds of people who read but never post.
    Think about noobs who aren't benefitting from the legacy because it's too hard to distinguish signal from the noise.
     
  2. Christian

    Original Member

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    I agree with you, i hope the ones who run this forum take you seriously, maybe they want to lead this forum somewhere else though.

    Examples of great and growing forums (maybe give you some more ideas):
    www.conceptart.org
    http://www.tigsource.com/
     
  3. Acord

    Acord New Member

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    I think that it needs to grow beyond the forum format, perhaps going to a full grown website. Links to free materials and tutorials, as well as people hanging out the shingle for services etc. could go into their own sections, and strict rules could be enforced to keep that stuff off of the forums proper.

    Yes, there are n00bs here. There are n00bs everywhere. I would like to remind everyone that you did not start out as an expert, you may still only be a so-so designer(everyone needs help sometimes), and that things could have been easier on you if you'd had someone to give good advice based on experience.

    My two cents - and that's taking inflation into account.
     
  4. Cevo70

    Cevo70 New Member

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    To put a postive spin on things (despite the fact that I recognize most of negatives being pointed out), this network/forums has potential to be far more impactful and legitimate, which in turn would garner attention and help out sellers/pros. There's machine running under the surface that could be given wheels.

    You could literally take some of the posts by the pros here and turn them directly in to articles with minor edits. It's a wealth of help and knowledge. It's also a wealth of resources (I remember a good thread about potentially listing recommended/certified artists/modlers/animators) that could be given more transparency.

    I am outside of my comfort zone here, but it seems like some of the core pros, alongside the faces behind the website, could potentially combine efforts for the betterment of all? The improvement of the forums are one thing for sure - but I agree that a full site with articles, reviews, previews, links (to both developer websites and resources) would be sweet. Wonder what's holding that back (money, contributors, time, motivation?)
     
    #4 Cevo70, Mar 29, 2009
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2009
  5. vjvj

    Indie Author

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    I agree that some more exposure for release-related announcements would be a good idea.

    I also think an article section would be great. I'd be more than happy to contribute some articles about graphics programming and performance issues.
     
  6. Bad Sector

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    I agree with everything Tolik wrote :) and i would contribute in an articles section if needed (although i'm more in the technical side and i'm not sure if such kind of articles are needed here given that there are already many technically focused places around).
     
  7. JGOware

    Indie Author

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    I still think there needs to be some kind of "Game Release" forum and then have 3 sub forums:

    Online
    Downloadable
    Premium (Can be any format, but reserved for above quality games.)

    Premium is the only one that gets heavily moderated. Based on votes or mod decision, any sub par game gets moved to one of the other appropriate forums.
     
  8. Mattias Gustavsson

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    This is an important discussion, and I really hope it goes somewhere this time.

    I don't know if everyone is aware of it, but a long time ago, there was a forum run by a successfull shareware company, Dexterity. The owner, Steve Pavlina, eventually decided to close down the forums, and three of the regulars stepped up to fill the void: Retro64, Svero and DanMcDonald started indiegamer, moved the dexterity archives across, and got most of the members to join up.

    This was an invaluable service to the community at the time, and we're thankful for that.

    However, it is quite clear that Mike, Steve and Dan have moved on to other things now - and I don't blame them for that, life is a journey etc.

    But would it not be graceful of them to pass on the torch, so to speak, to new management.

    I think all the above suggestions are good, but I feel it might not lead to much change, the way things are currently run.

    What I think we really should discuss is change of management for the indiegamer forums.
     
  9. Pyabo

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    LOL... all you have to do is pony up the $200/mo for server and bandwidth!
     
  10. Mattias Gustavsson

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    This is not a technical or financial issue. I'd be happy to contribute the cost of running the place, even pay a monthly subscription fee if need be. Or have ads on the forums. I don't mind the slightest if those money goes to mike/steve/dan, to pay for servers/bandwidth, or if it goes to someone else to pay for it.

    What this is about, is that we need *someone* to run this place, to enable us to actually implement some of the many great suggestions from the members of this place. At the moment, there's noone to run it, so we can never really change anything. That's bad.
     
  11. tolik

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    The legacy is very important, it adds credibility to the community.
    Segregating community even further (by proposing to open a new forum) isn't the best take - there are other great influential forums out there, why open another one?

    Premium could be nice for publicity, but unfair for forum members. The other confusion is that some of the threads will be moved without owner having any clue why and when it happened. I'd highlight these premium games in the blog and make games sticky in their releveant sub-forums for few weeks.

    The problem I see with the current "Announcements" forum is that anything - from middleware to free content packs to games gets just 1 week of exposure. Sounds like some downloadable game platforms that feature the game just for a week ;-)

    Let me remind you the most important part that we might forget due to the forum structure. This forum is about GAMES. The main forum should be about GAMES and shouldn't be mixed with sites or middleware that should get their own proper exposure.

    Here's my vision of the forum structure that should hopefullly reflect all types of the posts.

    First of all, all game posts must have a platform prefix in the title, e.g. [PC], [Mac], [Multi], [iPhone] and possibly a genre postfix, e.g. [Arcade] which makes searching for games easier. Existing game archive will have to be modified taking that into account, but the end result will be an awesome clean sub-forum with hundreds and hundreds of games. I hope it'll be thousands and this will be worth a lot by itself.

    "GAMES! PC, Mac and Beyond. Trial & Shareware"
    Self-explaining.

    "100% free games! Online to Downloadable"
    This section will get a top coverage from random visitors and sites. A lot of members are releasing games as freeware or discounting them to $0. Just summarize all the new games from this forum once a week, post it to the blog and you've got an awesome article that is so worth sharing with friends.

    "Announcements - Sites, Resources, Middleware"
    (everything else - check out my new site, here are some free models, here's the particle generator and a new game engine)

    I'll be against splitting the forums by platform ("PC & Mac & Linux", "Consoles & Mobile", "Online") as the tags solve that problem.
     
  12. desmasic

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    For a Indiegamer "Homepage", they can, if possible, setup a forum section called "New Releases/Announcements" where all new threads will be moderated. All new announcements which will be allowed will automatically show up on the homepage, with proper thumbnail of images from in-game including some video, if available.

    No need to have different sections when mods can just tag the game to the right category while approving (also, threads will have their own icon according to the type of games they are). The threads themselves can have a thumbnail image of the game as a icon (I have seen all this ina lot of different modding forums as well). This means visitors will be able to just load up IG home to check for new game releases and forum for further discussion on them.

    But of course, this is just too much work and will require a lot of time and patience.
     
  13. tolik

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    Pre-moderation is only worth it when you have a commercial resource that monetizes itself. Even then, you'd depend on "report bad content" and wouldn't want pre-moderation. I can't even remember a resource that has pre-moderation nowadays...

    People who post on forums are expected to have a minimum level of understanding - just tag your posts properly or mods will have to do that and that will make them angry :)

    Pushing all announcements to the front page isn't wise, the blog should be used to EXPOSE & PROMOTE the forum in the best way, thus only the "Premium" announcements (the term JGOware proposed) should be posted there, e.g. no "n00b game" or a "free explosion art pack" consisting of a single explosion.

    The other thing I forgot to tell is that I don't distinguish "Announcements" and "Feedback Requests". They should be the same and should be exposed at the top along with all the announcement forums, because developers are coming here for feedback, and feedback is hidden in the middle of all other less popular forums.

    What's your opinion on merging Announcements and Feedback requests?
     
  14. tolik

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    I was speaking with "Making Casual Games"-like presentations for few years in a row at various conferences and summits in Eastern Europe. Each 6 months I had to totally revamp most of the slides, first eliminating "match-3 is da bomb" and replacing "unless it's hidden object, you have no chance" and then mentioning "if you don't sign up with exclusivity, you have no chance to enter the market if you are new".
    Basically the market is changing so fast that any article is only valid for 6 months. I think the thread with our discussion is much more valuable then an article that expires in 6 months.
     
  15. mot

    mot
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    I think that there should be an equivalent of stackoverflow.com for game development or that any technical questions should be directed and answered to stackoverflow.com.

    Stack Overflow It is a site where people post questions and vote for the best answer and each question only needs to be answered once. That would significantly cut down the number of redundant posts on this forum. I never read sticky posts because they are usually stale.

    Second, I think that the format of this forum should be changed to something like the Joel On Software discussion group - new replies don't "bounce" a topic to the top. It is much less chaotic to look at and keeps everything fresh.

    Third, make the search box visible at all times so that people use it.
     
  16. desmasic

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    That Joel discussion looks terrible and way more chaotic than current "post and bump" layout. Doesn't look fresh to me. I don't see the point in introducing such feature here at IG since this is probably the only forum I have seen where old threads are hardly ever bumped without any reason.

    Also, isn't the search feature always up there? Making it visible all of the time is a waste of space, esp. since not everyone wants to search the forum everytime they visit and would rather have it hidden like it is now inside a drop down menu.

    Also, "voting" online is the most abused and pointless feature ever. What's best answer to one is total balls to other. Just because a slightly larger group find it interesting enough to vote it to top doesn't mean it's right or the best choice.

    /personal view
     
  17. Sol_HSA

    Indie Author

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    If you mean people who write for indiegames.com, I know they're following this board.

    If you mean people who write freeware games, at least I'm here =)
     
  18. Mattias Gustavsson

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    Me too :)

    But I'm not sure it is a good idea to include freeware stuff here. There's already TIGSource, which seems to be doing a great job of covering the creative freeware scene - let's have this be about commercial games (note that I'm a freeware dev myself, so that would mean I couldn't post about my games - and I'm fine with that).


    I say that's a great idea - anyone who posts here should be open to feedback - else they shouldn't be posting. I think that having an "Announcement" forum can invite the behavior of just signing up, post once about your game and then never come back...
     
  19. mot

    mot
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    Voting actually works pretty well for SO and there wouldn't be nearly as many good answers if it weren't for voting. I think it's because they've put quite a lot of thought into how it works. At the very least, it helps to sort out the good questions.

    I've learnt a lot of interesting stuff there, that's why I'm bringing it up. It works! Lately I haven't learnt nearly as much on this forum, mainly because there is so much repetition of the basic stuff so I'm lazy to come back and sift through it.

    Also I do not accept your argument of the search box cluttering the page. Does it really get in the way? Come on.

    [​IMG]

    It should be visible right away to OFFER ITSELF to people who are about to post a question that has been answered a dozen times before. I know that you know where to look for it and I know that you will use it appropriately, but others will not.
     
  20. Sol_HSA

    Indie Author

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    Depends.

    I totally understand if "recruitment posts" from free projects were banned (and I think they are - should be, in any case).

    I sort of understand if release announcements, beta test announcements or update announcements were banned, to reduce the noise in such boards.

    For game design, technical, request-for-comments and such discussions, I think it's one and the same whether the project is freeware or for-money.

    As for tools, middleware etc, I think free ones should be tolerated, but that's because I consider the ones I make to be high enough quality not to be thought of as noise. =)
     

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