Search Unity

  1. Unity 2019.1 is now released.
    Dismiss Notice

Community building IS a game?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by LMan, May 11, 2019.

  1. LMan

    LMan

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2013
    Posts:
    491
    I watched the following gdc talks- The first link is the whole talk, the other two are cued to just the relevant points of the talks.
    Highlights in no particular order-
    • Subnautica was super broke for most of its development, but always had good engagement- driven by the strong emotional moments the game generates. They made a habit of collecting feedback and asking for input, and once the game looked nice, streamers jumped on it and it rained money from then on.
    • 'Game development as a service' (Early access) works because influencing how a game gets made is entertaining.
    • SteamSpy shows that higher revenue correlates with moddability, community engagement features.
    • You can design games in discord, funnel interested people into an 'engagement hub' where they participate and become part of your community, and you can push content directly to them at no cost.
    The last one was the most interesting to me, it's a bit of an eye opener/duh moment to think 'how do I keep people coming back to the engagement hub? Oh, people like games, we'll run games in the engagement hub and have people compete every week.'

    So I wanted to try and abstract that formula out a bit more- suppose suddenly discord isn't a good location for an engagement hub, or my game isn't very streamable, or it plays better than it shows for some reason-

    What are, (or are there?) community building strategies that work no matter the platform?
     
    Billy4184, Ryiah, Mauri and 2 others like this.
  2. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2017
    Posts:
    2,084
    Another GDC that came out recently you may be inerested in is from Bennet Foddy about putting your name on your game.

    Main idea is, you sell your person. People are interested in other people, not faceless companies.

    So be nice, be likeable, stay busy and genuinely enjoy sharing your journey with others.


    One thing I think worth mentioning, I don't think this approach of building a community as the main focus will work for everybody. Me personally, I don't want to engage with fans in this way. It would tire me out to no end. Also, I want to make the games I want to play. Artistic vision and all that. I don't believe giving fans exactly what they say they want is always the only way to success (but what do I know, I haven't publish any games so it's just my artsy idealism.) My opinion is that art should challenge and be an expression of what is, rather than a fantasy about what people wish there was. You mostly see the latter in games so probably my idea wouldn't win the jackpot, however I think if there is many people like me out there there must then be an audience for it.
     
  3. LMan

    LMan

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2013
    Posts:
    491
    Okay, you've put your finger on the really practical point of how much labor does this actually take?

    If it's (community building) an engine that runs on content, I have to make the content. Technically I'm making content already just in normal development process, but packaging that content into shareable media is a very real cost. Maybe when I'm laying out the roadmap for the month I can nail down things like- Okay, I'm adding the grapple feature to the combat system, I'll record a few scenarios of using the grapple, sandwich it in between the usual elevator pitch, close it with the call to action to engage with the website/social media page/mailing list ect. And kind of plan to roll that labor into development.

    But even if I'm producing content, the thing I really want is engagement on that content. I want people commenting, voting, asking when the alpha/beta/release is, So the idea of having an 'engagement hub' where customers will know they get to give feedback, talk about the game, and I'll engage with them, and that way I'll know who is paying attention, I can predict if it'd be worth it for me to go to PAX or whatever, because I've got this direct link in to my customer base.
     
    BIGTIMEMASTER likes this.
  4. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2017
    Posts:
    2,084
    yeah it will take a lot of energy for sure. I think if I was gonna go that route I would have to hire somebody to take care of that side of things. Just wouldn't work for me. I think what you described in second paragraph does sound really worthwhile though. Basically gives you an early feedback source to measure your work with, but personally I think that could cause as much trouble as benefit.

    These people sharing their success at GDC, I would be interested to see the larger picture of their development. Compare it to other developers who have tried similar approach but failed. I know that several of the EA games I have checked out eventually died (or are dying) before being finished, and if an overwhleming workload had something to do with the cause, I'd definitely think managing a community was part of that. Not jsut the physical workload of developing media content at the same time as development, but the psychological toll as well. Any artistic endeavor is fraught with insecurities about reception, and being tapped into a realtime feedback loop probably isn't going to be a good thing for a lot of developers. People will blow smoke up your ass at the wrong time, people will tear you down at the wrong time -- without a concrete vision for what the game is going to be I'd bet a lot of developers would lose their way.

    Just pure speculation and hunch feeling, but I would not attempt this method unless I was already a highly experienced developer or a raging extrovert who just can't shut their mouth ever and people jsut always love me.
     
  5. LMan

    LMan

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2013
    Posts:
    491
    I get that, and when I think about it, the ultimate destination is to get to the point where I can justify that hire. Either I'm in early access and growing sales, or i have aquired investment capital and am making a bunch of hires with an eye to growth over the next year or so.

    But before I can get there, I need to lay the foundation so that I'm not throwing money away. So I'm looking to front-load as much labor as I can, and after i open the server or make the page public, I want my day-to-day labor investment about as intense as answering email maybe twice a day.
     
  6. LMan

    LMan

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2013
    Posts:
    491
    This is a good point- my engineering brain says that I shouldn't listen to individuals, I should aggregate all the feedback and do some analysis. RAKE the text, score for sentiment, plot the data, and then I've got a statistical basis to say how a thing was recieved, and I can identify points to address, and how to adjust my strategy for the future.

    But I cant do anything with no data. To get the data I need compelling content that people WANT to engage with.

    I'm not a great source for what makes for compelling content, because I myself consume TONS of content and maybe engage 3% of the time? I tend to make content that gets crickets.
     
  7. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2017
    Posts:
    2,084
    yeah i think that is a big challenge. Once you put in a lot of time into the craft, you see and connect with it very differently than the target audience.

    Like, I can't play any game for more than an hour anymore. Just have very little interest in them. All the same. Maybe that's cause I've been playing games forever and they all look and feel the same to me though. So my ideas for games is all stuff that would be new to me, but of course new generations of gamers haven't played all the crap I have for the last twenty years, so stuff like Fortnite seems exciting and novel to them.

    Anyway, I didn't mean to dissuade or anything just offer alternate perspective. People who find success and share it always want to believe it was because of their decision making process, but that is only ever a sliver of the factors at play.
     
  8. wccrawford

    wccrawford

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2011
    Posts:
    2,036
    While I won't deny that interacting positively with your community is great for your game, I've always felt that his game's name was interesting because it was different. A few big names did it ("Tony Hawk Pro Skater", etc), but it's unusual for it to happen with a name nobody knows. Also, his name is slightly unusual, too, to my eye.

    If I named my game "William Crawford's Walking Simulator" I'd get some buzz about it today. If everyone did that, it would be the mark of copycat-ism. In short, it only works so long as nobody is doing it.

    Having an official channel to talk with your customers and having a great, fun game are much more important than putting your name in the title of your game.
     
    BIGTIMEMASTER and Tzan like this.
  9. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2017
    Posts:
    2,084
    @wccrawford
    Yeah, good points. Personally I don't like Bennet Foddy's games as I find them pretentious and not fun, however I thnk the idea of marketing your person as much as your product is still a good idea. The literal attachment of your name in the title does not need to happen, but the core principle of giving a human face and persona to your work seems like it would help people make that strong connection that could almost transcend their attachment to the work based on it's own merits.
     
  10. Teila

    Teila

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2013
    Posts:
    6,623
    Yeah, I think the attachment to you, the person behind the game, does not translate to just your name in the title, but in you introducing yourself to your community and letting them know a bit about who you are and why you are doing this. What is it about the game that you love and that inspires you.

    We all have a story about why we make games and we all can share that with others. We do it every day. I think players love it when you have a story, a reason for your passion. I usually get very good responses when I tell people our story. Unfortunately, we all get busy with the making of the game and forget the selling of a game. :)