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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperBusinessA Definitive guide to Community Building
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Hey Guys, Not a Dev Here :D

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« on: August 30, 2018, 08:38:50 AM »

Hey Guys, Shyk here . . . . I have not posted here in awhile. Though I would love to change that. I am writing down my experience in community building for Red Trident's upcoming game Twinkle Torch.

Short Intro: Hi, I am Shyk :3 I am a huge gamer from birth and have been dabbling in Indie game marketing as well as doing event organising and community organising. I just want to share my learning here in Tigsource as I believe that I can learn a lot from you as well. So here is my first Article thing that is reaaaaaaly long. I have had shorter ones before.

Though there are some things that you will need to prepare before you start thinking about community building.
1. You have a game or an Idea for a game that is being worked on
2. You know your audience and what kind of people you want to attract
3. Explain your game with the philosophy or message you try to convey
4. Have the community mindset
5. People Skills

So recently I have been doing some community building and I would like to share my learnings. This will be separated into 2 categories of Community Building, that will be the Local and Online Community Building. Though I would like to talk a bit about the Psychology in games as an intro to understanding the people who will be joining in on your community.

Psychology in Games:
I've read a lot of the articles before on experiences that account for community building and they already talk about the psychology of people but not really explain in detail why. When you want to understand your consumer especially if you want to have them come to your community in games you need some basic understanding of human nature and the different ticks that people in general have. If I were to explain this in length it would be long and tedious, so I will make a separate article and try my best to summarise this information and refer you to some of the books that you can read to better understand people and their needs. In another time :D

(Insert Psych Article Link Here) - This is done on purpose

What is Community Building?

Community Building - aims to create a relationship. It is about knowing the user or buyer of your product in a personal level. This style of marketing and engagement can be cost effective but requires a tremendous amount of effort to execute. As getting people to care about your game will be very difficult.

Local Community Building will be building a community through means of your local area. May it be from your city or the next. The main focus of my experience from this will stem from organising local events which is where I am from (the Philippines). Though I do however believe that with my experience in organising local events may prove to be useful especially since I will be breaking it down into levels which will strongly emphasise human interaction and your games effect on people. How you will be able to do it is up to you.

Online Community Building will focus more on getting people interested about your project. This will also stem from my experience in handling the Voice Actors and Musicians that applied for our game (Twinkle Torch). I will not say that I am successful in this area as what I know is only limited towards getting the early adaptors to your game. I will discuss as well the different moves that you can do if you have successfully garnered interest in your game. Though this is purely MY EXPERIENCE AND THOUGHTS. I could be wrong and please do consider that if you will follow this style of doing marketing and community building then you will do so at your own risk.

So at this point in reading . . . you know what I will talk about and I hope you get some insights to where I have failed and succeeded. Apply this in your community building (Hopefully??) and think critically when reading my experience in community building.

Online Community Building

To understand building a community online there are a few things that you will need to familiarise with
1. Knowing how to navigate the web (This is a lot harder than you think)
2. Knowing where to find your audience
3. Understanding the different mediums as to which information is passed on in the internet
4. How to act appropriately in online communities as you will be tapping into them alot
5. Respect and understanding

So once you understand these things it is now time to understand building a community online. To do that we have to understand the different phases of development in games and what kind of people would be interested in each stage of development you are in. It is important to note that even just having the idea of the game is enough to start community building. When you start out as early as you have the idea though please do not expect that a lot of people will buy into it. People will stay and follow YOUR DEVELOPMENT and to do this you will still need to present your idea in such a way that it will actually seem possible and show proof that you can execute your own Idea.

1. Defining the phases of development and community
  • Early Settlers - Early Development
The early settlers of your game will look for the philosophy and the why your game exists in the first place. They will care about being a part of your project and will be your very early support system. These guys can be your friends in real life. These guys can also be your online friends. I have found that in early recruitment for finding talent for your game is a good way to get people to read into your game and become a part of your community. (Posting in forums and asking for help) The early settlers are those who would be very happy to help you execute your dream game and support you all the way. Eventually they will be your friends that will stick all throughout your development and these guys are the treasure of every community. PLEASE WHEN YOU HAVE THEM DON'T LET THEM SLIP.

Maintaining these guys is simple - be a friend to them. Chat them up and ask them about their day. Create and build a long lasting relationship with them for when things go to shit in your development they will bet here to cheer you on.
  • Hipsters - Before release
The Hipsters are those that fall for a certain hook of your game. May it be the art or gameplay. The point is they see that your game is possible and has a proof of concept that actually works. An indicator for this is when they join your community only when they see a demo or a proof of concept. These guys are usually those that try out buggy games and take time to explore the world of indie and experimental. I am not saying that they are less important than your early settlers however . . . these guys needed proof while your early settlers believed you could when you had nothing. They will still be your friend and they provide the same support as early settlers do.

Maintaining them is simple aswell - Give them updates and give them an exclusive look at your game. Give them a special reward in game as a thank you. They are supporting you before your release and they fell in love with the idea and philosophy of your game. That is still pretty badass.
  • Bandwagoners - Released Game
These guys are those that needed to try the full release then joined in on the community. These guys are still a part of your community although they did not follow your development. However they still did like your game enough to become a part of your community. These guys are usually those who have heard this game through a friend or has seen someone in their community play it. This will be the bulk of your community already and although they didn't follow your development they still loved your game.

Maintaining them at this point is just making sure your game stays alive.

2. Choosing an Online Platform
An online platform for your community to grow is just like an emailing list. This is where people will go to get the latest information about your game. Although now it is where you can create a personal relationship with those of similar taste. So now I can see that there are 2 platforms that people usually use. . .

  • Discord Server
Creating a Discord Server seems to be the staple now a days and I can see why. The way they organise your community and the fast transaction of chatting makes it very personal. You can make jokes real time and get in context and create that wonderful moment at that time. Its not something that you think about it is something that is just fun to maintain overall. Chatting with them and getting live updates in their lives just makes it rewarding on my part to get to know them. Once you release your demo they will also post screenshots and find bugs for you. You can organise this content with channels in discord so it doesn't really lose t
  • Reddit Forums
Now I cannot be sure as to how this works I just know that there are studios that use Reddit Forums as a way to house their community. This is because you can make your own subreddit and this has a possibility of reaching more people within the Reddit Community. So I guess the advantage it gets is that where you make your community has a way to help you grow it as well within the site itself. I am not very knowledgable when it comes to this topic so please write down a reply to this thread for those who have tried reddit as a community platform.

3. Engaging your Community

So how does one engage a community? I have to be very honest with you right now. There is no right and wrong way to do this. (Other than totally shitting on them) You gotta know the people in your community to actually effectively engage them. For our game Twinkle Torch I am aware that the people in our discord are Voice Actors and Musicians who have joined our community through the recruitment we had. Now a lot of them are there just to get updates for the development of our game which is fine but there are a select few who have really been there to get to know the developers and these are the ones that we have come to really appreciate. To the point that we opened up a Role Play Channel in our discord for fun. Although it wasn't in the plan to do so. We had considered this simply because in that moment . . . these guys are the ones there.

So to effectively engage a community you have to LISTEN and address their needs.

If you want there is the usual ways which is hosting competitions within your discord channel and orchestrating a community event that could affect the game.
A good example of this is to create a faction within your game and let people choose sides. Perhaps when orchestrating these events it is better to custom fit it to what makes your game unique and extracting that to make a community event that could affect your game whether it is story, gameplay or bonuses upon launch. How you do it is up to you.

Now that we have that covered I would like to point out that growing your online community can be very difficult which is why I would recommend that you start it out by having a local presence. Which is why I would like to talk about the next topic.

Local Community Building.

1. If there are any local game development approach them, if there is none. Take the challenge and organise this for yourself.

I want to tell you of my experience in organising a local game development group in my city known as Cebu Game Dev and how it has helped our studio. When people say that the hardest part about making a game is the motivation that it takes to actually finish a game. This was easily solved for some of the developers in the org through personal feedback with actual people in your area. Don't take for granted your local community. These guys can be your best friend when all else fails. These are the guys that will know your story and where you are from which will create a strong bond that both of you will share. These will be the people that will always like you on twitter and join in and ask about your development. This is not an investment in marketing but an investment in motivation and impact. It has been my observation that joining in in these local game jams and meeting up on the regular meet ups encouraged me to do more in terms of growing in the game development. It gave developers purpose when it meant that they could show off their cool game in the next meet up for our little organisation. If anything this little organisation breath new life knowing that your indie game can inspire the next generation of game developers.

2. Connect with your local colleges who offer game development as courses

When you are building your local community, students would be the best human resource you will ever get. They are naturally curious and most engaging. Students are at the state where anything goes. If there is something that peaks their interest and opportunity to learn they will grab it. If there is a school that offers game development as a course then do not hesitate to do a demo in that said school. Your game can benefit a lot from feedback, new ideas, and most of all a following. If they like your game they will most likely follow it and support it. It would even be a big bonus that they know the developer personally. You could invite them to your Discord channel and have random chats about your game and build a relationship with them.

3. Local Game Jams

The benefit in joining in on your local game jam would definitely be a big breather while developing your game. Personally i am a marketing guy and I have seen the negatives and positives of these game jams. As a developer you will probably experience a burnout or receive a rush of motivation joining in on these game jams. So it must be approached with caution and self awareness. When I organise a game jam I make sure that developers join in with dev s that they don't know. This is because it is refreshing to work with someone new. When they actually do a good job working with you . . . You would have had gained a friend and an effective developer. These will be the developers that could support you in terms of over all knowledge and execution of your game. When you partner up with someone who isn't very effective you would have SCREAMED AND WANTED TO DIE had learned with the virtues you were taught like patience and understanding. Either way it is refreshing to work on a game that isn't your game. Events like these are important to give you fresh ideas and engage in the local talent.

4. Local Conventions

Local conventions can be inexpensive if you are in the area. You may need to shell out some cash for this but the returns can be very rewarding. So I have been helping in organising a local convention due to the amount of developers in the Cebu Game Dev group. There is a need to show off the games made for the developers to gain some encouragement in their endeavours as game developers as most of them are students. When they see people their game and have fun I could literally see the smiles in their faces as they can see that someone is enjoying their game. Now the point I want to make . . . Local conventions can be a good source of fans as you can personally chat with people who like your game. This does not have to be game development convention. It can be a cosplay convention and it would just be as effective. Just make sure to budget your time well for these as these conventions consume a lot of energy.

In summary, Create an avenue and meet people. There is always a chance that they will like your game if you let them try it. Your game can sustain itself and market itself if you have local presence and make sure to always convert them into your online platform this is somewhat a technique i learned from the Marketing Funnel.  It does not need to be expensive and you can definitely assess whether or not you can approach things this way.

When you are able to tap into these sources . . .
a. Always be interested in the other person, then they will be interested in you as well.
b. You are not only selling your game, you are also selling yourself
c. Listen to the people and genuinely care

Community Building is not about getting your game out there. It is about knowing the people that love and care about your game. It is in this sense that you will find fans and friends. Which will help you along in finishing your game.

https://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=65356.0 - This is a link to our game do take time to read it (Please T.T)
https://discord.gg/tVdS8BY - This is the community of Twinkle Torch. You can always reach me here. If you want to chat or something :3

Please do put in replies. for any insights that you have. It would really help me understand this subject matter more. Thank you very much for reading.[/list][/list]

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« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2018, 09:47:39 AM »

Great, Thank you very much for your article!
I'm curious to see some real example about community in Reddit. I imagine it is very easy to become a mess.

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