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Forum Suggestions / Improvements / Changes


Digital
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Hello all,

I am all about taking feedback and implementing changes. I am also very big on hearing what the community thinks. As a staff team we are also firm believers in community first, dictators second. 

I have gotten some feedback on some forum structure changes that I agree with, and went ahead and made them. They mostly just consolidate the forums into groupings a little and generally reduce the amount of forums on the homepage. I have also added a forum to the marketplace for our users to post assets and such for sale.

I am seeking feedback on these changes, and also am going to leave this thread open for any future feature/idea/suggestions that any member may have. Again - this forum is here for everyone to use and enjoy, as such everyone has a right to offer feedback and suggestions. Normally such changes would be discussed (as possible) before they are done, but since we are so small, the changes were made first.

Please keep debates over suggestions to a minimum. Not all suggestions are feasible, so please respect that. Ultimately the administration and staff have to make the decision, but we make decisions based heavily on what our community is asking of us as a whole.

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Well, I appreciate the changes to the forum groupings (obviously, haha), and I do think the new forum in the marketplace was a good idea.

As far as feedback goes, I like seeing that most of the new users are involved in the community to a good degree. It's nice having the close-knit community feel that that gives the forum. I also like that there is the "Days Won" feature on profiles. I don't know why, but that encourages me to post more. Somehow trying to secretly win is fun to me even though it means nothing.

I do have some suggestions.

My suggestions for the forum as it is now:

1. I would like to suggest that this forum uses a unique smiley set. Truthfully, I really like the Invision emoticons, because I spent my teens chatting on chatrooms that used those, and that surrounds them with some memories. But I think it's ideal for forums to use their own as it adds just a little touch to help forums stand apart. I have done a few smiley sets and will offer to create a set if you're interested (no charge). I can PM you some of the ones I made on my own. I may be able to create a set using digital art, but the examples I've done are in pixel style.

2. I don't see any way to access the rules or terms on service on this forum.

3. I'd like to see the "Store" menu expanded upon, simply because offering something worth buying will help this forum not run into financial trouble in the future.

 

My ideas for future features:

1. Allow game owners to run their own "shops" manually through a thread. The shop owner would be able to define what actions done on this site earn points and how many points per specific action (i.e. posting in the thread dedicated to the owner's game may be worth 2 points, winning a contest hosted on this site that is related to the game could result in 5 points, posting in any of the game owner's other topics may be equal to 1 point, and putting the game's banner in a signature may give someone 5 points). Members could then buy whatever benefits the game owner offers in their shop. For example, if I set this up for HellKeepers I may allow members to help design an NPC character (both art and character) or offer the ability to come up with a trinket (wearable accessory), keeper background, or other item on the site. I would also consider giving out custom avatars to use on the game when it's public and allow people to purchase the kind of preview they would like to see next (from a selection list) or purchase extra information about features or the world. Possibly, I would even consider making it so people can purchase some cash shop credit that they will be able to use later. All this would be something I'd be willing to do, because the truth is not enough people have been part of my preview posts (or other threads) in the past, and I think some of the feedback I desire is invaluable, and I'd like some way to secure getting more of that in the future.

2. A point shop for the forum itself where players can buy little creature characters. Each one starts from an egg and in order to successfully hatch it (or later: grow it), the forum member must meet a certain task. Each creature has unique tasks assigned to it. Let's assume there is a dragon-like, puppy creature and that the focus of this creature is forum posts. In order to hatch it, you'll have 7 days to make 20 posts (which is currently doable on this forum without spamming), and to grow it after that, you'll have 3 days to make 15 posts. Other hatching and growing tasks may involve referring members, posting topics, receiving likes, posting guides, or writing posts in a specific category of the forum. For the initial stage, if you don't successfully hatch the egg in the time given, the points you spent on the egg are wasted, because the egg will be taken from your account. After that, the creatures survive indefinitely. This may be one of those totally undesired features, but it's just a thought. It would give people something to do about points they earn through forum reputation (or possibly from posting). And you wouldn't need to make many species, either. Consider how few avatars Khan Academy has, and people are satisfied with that, because it's a side feature.

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@Hare @Matthew @Callum @kami @N_E_Wunn What are your guys thoughts on SingSong's ideas?

I like the idea of forum Adoptables, I think they are actually a neat idea.

I also like the idea of the points for game postings. Not sure about forum wide events, something to look into because I could see it having a larger ripple effect across things, but say if you wanted to offer a player x gold for a review, or x gold for a comment, such would be a very beneficial thing.

I know Minecraft servers offer such for server votes.

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36 minutes ago, Digital said:

Not sure about forum wide events, something to look into because I could see it having a larger ripple effect across things, but say if you wanted to offer a player x gold for a review, or x gold for a comment, such would be a very beneficial thing.

I don't think I suggested forum-wide events run by game owners, because I don't agree with that either. If you mean the part about contests, I had in mind that a game owner would create a contest related to their game, such as "design a marking style for the game" and the winner of that would get a few shop points.

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1 minute ago, SingSong said:

I don't think I suggested forum-wide events run by game owners, because I don't agree with that either. If you mean the part about contests, I had in mind that a game owner would create a contest related to their game, such as "design a marking style for the game" and the winner of that would get a few shop points.

Ah... gotcha. Makes much more sense.

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7 hours ago, SingSong said:

I would like to suggest that this forum uses a unique smiley set. Truthfully, I really like the Invision emoticons, because I spent my teens chatting on chatrooms that used those, and that surrounds them with some memories. But I think it's ideal for forums to use their own as it adds just a little touch to help forums stand apart. I have done a few smiley sets and will offer to create a set if you're interested (no charge). I can PM you some of the ones I made on my own. I may be able to create a set using digital art, but the examples I've done are in pixel style.

I am open to accepting any emoticons any user wants to submit, I think emoticons add a lot of unique emotion to a forum. If you wanted to get in touch with some, by all means!

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I think SingSong's ideas are fine. Personally, I would not use the forum more for any of the various incentives. I don't post on forums for the sake of posting, rather I post because I feel I have something to share. I'm not generally chatty, I have a very busy RL, and things like the "egg hatching" concept are not for me. It makes the forum like a game, and I already play enough games outside of the forum; games are just a small portion of what I do. Most likely, I am the exception here, not the rule. But I thought I should respond.

I should add that I'm not particularly in favor of rewards for postings, likes, etc. because there is too much risk of abuse. By that I mean people could sign up with multiple accounts to boost the rewards for the main profile. That just dilutes the overall quality of the forum content. 

:D

Edited by N_E_Wunn
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1 hour ago, N_E_Wunn said:

I should add that I'm not particularly in favor of rewards for postings, likes, etc. because there is too much risk of abuse. By that I mean people could sign up with multiple accounts to boost the rewards for the main profile. That just dilutes the overall quality of the forum content. 

 

Thanks for your input. As far as the rewards given out by game owners in their individually-run shops, the idea is for game owners to decide what actions are worthy of any points. Therefore, if someone was posting spam or something that was not worth any points in the game owner's mind, no points would be given.

 

As far as spam goes, I don't really predict any way for spamming to be beneficial to members. 1. As far as my game owner shop idea goes, this would likely just get them on the bad side of the game owner and not result in any rewards. 2. As far as rewards offered by the site in general, it's up to the forum staff to punish or ban the users that try to push the limits. Then again, I don't imagine members spamming for the ability to own adoptables, for example, on a forum they don't respect and at which they won't be a long-term member.

Edited by SingSong
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30 minutes ago, N_E_Wunn said:

I don't post on forums for the sake of posting, rather I post because I feel I have something to share. I'm not generally chatty, I have a very busy RL, and things like the "egg hatching" concept are not for me.

Such a game would not be designed to the focus of the forums, but more or less a mini-game. In no way would they be designed to required to even play. First and foremost, this is a community :) 

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3 minutes ago, Digital said:

Such a game would not be designed to the focus of the forums, but more or less a mini-game. In no way would they be designed to required to even play. First and foremost, this is a community :) 

Oh, I understand that completely. I just wanted you to know that is something that does not interest me at all and does not encourage me to spend more time in a forum site.

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I found that on my own site, our 'good deed' point system seems to have encouraged more activity and helpfulness. =D Though, that site is also a game and the points have in-game use. Not sure how helpful a point system is for a pure forum. I do really like the reputation system we have and the likes feature, don't think any points beyond that would be necessary imo. 

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2 minutes ago, Hare said:

I found that on my own site, our 'good deed' point system seems to have encouraged more activity and helpfulness. =D Though, that site is also a game and the points have in-game use. Not sure how helpful a point system is for a pure forum. I do really like the reputation system we have and the likes feature, don't think any points beyond that would be necessary imo. 

I chose this particular forum system for it's reputation system, as it is actually meaningful. I like like it for it's ability to have a Leaderboard, and awards for your forum reputation. If we did do a pet or adoptable type of game, the reputation system could be useful as well for leveling up pets, as I think it is better then posts because reputation is given by other users and is based on quality of your post versus just posting.

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32 minutes ago, SingSong said:

 

Thanks for your input. As far as the rewards given out by game owners in their individually-run shops, the idea is for game owners to decide what actions are worthy of any points. Therefore, if someone was posting spam or something that was not worth any points in the game owner's mind, no points would be given.

 

As far as spam goes, I don't really predict any way for spamming to be beneficial to members. 1. As far my game owner shop idea goes, this would likely just get them on the bad side of the game owner and not result in any rewards. 2. As far as rewards offered by the site in general, it's up to the forum staff to punish or ban the users that try to push the limits. Then again, I don't imagine members spamming for the ability to own adoptables, for example, on a forum they don't respect and at which they won't be a long-term member.

I think a lot depends on how big this forum becomes. I participate a couple of other gaming forums, none of which have enormous membership or participation. I'd be interested to see how many people would be needed to make the game owner shop idea worthwhile (for the effort put into it by the shop owner).  I'd hate to see staff having to step up to "punish or ban" members who overstep their bounds; I like the idea that this can be self-policed. 

I'm not trying to dump on your ideas, I'd just hate to see people putting a lot of effort into something that isn't going to produce the desired effect. Do you see this as an idea that will drive people to this site? I'm trying to figure out how the forum will be promoted to gain new members. (I already recognize a few names from other sites, lol)

Edited by N_E_Wunn
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2 minutes ago, Digital said:

I chose this particular forum system for it's reputation system, as it is actually meaningful. I like like it for it's ability to have a Leaderboard, and awards for your forum reputation. If we did do a pet or adoptable type of game, the reputation system could be useful as well for leveling up pets, as I think it is better then posts because reputation is given by other users and is based on quality of your post versus just posting.

Totally love the reputation system! And I also like the adoptables idea too and can see how that would work with reputations. You definitely don't want to encourage meaningless posting. Though, would it be a problem with players giving each other rep boosts? Would that take away from the 'reputation' building part of the reputation system? On our site, only staff can give those points that you turn in for items, and I haven't had any experience with sites that use a rep system for that.

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1 minute ago, Hare said:

Though, would it be a problem with players giving each other rep boosts?

Reputation is easily monitored and tracked from the administration side, and since it can only be given as a one point per post, it is also limited in how much you can give. So it is a valuable resource that is not really abusable, but easily noticed if it is.

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Sounds like reputations might work out for that then, I did used to go on a Pokemon forum that had a reputation system with perks, this was a while ago for me though. They also had a downvote available. 

Edited by Hare
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30 minutes ago, Digital said:

I chose this particular forum system for it's reputation system, as it is actually meaningful. I like like it for it's ability to have a Leaderboard, and awards for your forum reputation. If we did do a pet or adoptable type of game, the reputation system could be useful as well for leveling up pets, as I think it is better then posts because reputation is given by other users and is based on quality of your post versus just posting.

I think both post count and reputation obtained are equally important. Someone that makes 50 okay posts is just as valuable as someone who earns 25 reputation points from making a smaller amount of great posts. For a forum to be successful, there needs to be a lot of participation and threads being created (with new ideas and topics), otherwise there's less incentive to log in.

 

32 minutes ago, N_E_Wunn said:

I'd be interested to see how many people would be needed to make the game owner shop idea worthwhile (for the effort put into it by the shop owner).

Yeah, that's something I can't really say for now. Honestly, my goal would be to have at least 15-20 people getting involved on a regular basis in my game-related threads (but even that number may be hard to reach). I figure, personally, the effort is worth it even if I can get 3 people to participate in my threads more. It's worth it to try something at least.

 

36 minutes ago, N_E_Wunn said:

I'm not trying to dump on your ideas, I'd just hate to see people putting a lot of effort into something that isn't going to produce the desired effect. Do you see this as an idea that will drive people to this site? I'm trying to figure out how the forum will be promoted to gain new members. (I already recognize a few names from other sites, lol)

Oh, don't worry about it. I like hearing opinions (it's better than hearing nothing), and I am not immensely attached to either of these ideas. I'm just trying to brainstorm anything that can be used to give members and game owners a benefit of using this forum over something else.

I think that feature could possibly give reason to join this site instead of another. The adoptables would act like achievements in a way, only they would be a little more unique and hopefully more fun to acquire.

 

The main things I think this site has to accomplish in order to gain and retain members are these things:

1. Be a place for aspiring game owners to receive information from current game owners about game development, marketing and advertising strategies, and what worked and what didn't. I would love to see threads made by these people that basically document their journey through making a game (and all the ups and downs along the way). Or threads about how game makers increased revenue or what events or features created outrage among players and why.

2. Be an active community that is helpful and consistently creating new conversations that are informative or fun.

3. Give game players a benefit for posting or participating here. Whether that means they'll get access to early previews or be allowed to suggest things and have their opinions taken into account or be given access to exclusive rewardsthere has to be something.

4. Make it a place that current game owners want to post. Whether the incentive is through having a place to advertise or build bonds within the industry. I certainly believe having people in this community that know their stuff is important to creating a forum that is both taken seriously and also helpful to its highest potential.

 

How all of this can be accomplished will be somewhat difficult, but I guess that's what this brainstorming thread is for.

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Not to add a third topic to this thread, but if I were to sell a monthly membership to the site, what would users find be useful or want to see as a result of making that worthwhile? Obviously the monthly fee is to support site, as some of you have said you have no problem supporting the site, but I don't want you supporting the site for no gain on your side. I feel it is important to be a give and take.

Idea's and thoughts?

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1 hour ago, Digital said:

Not to add a third topic to this thread, but if I were to sell a monthly membership to the site, what would users find be useful or want to see as a result of making that worthwhile? Obviously the monthly fee is to support site, as some of you have said you have no problem supporting the site, but I don't want you supporting the site for no gain on your side. I feel it is important to be a give and take.

Idea's and thoughts?

There is at least one other site that has a similar focus, my background in marketing tells me that a newcomer to an area that already does not have a huge audience has a lot to overcome. I think anything that limits participation (such as fees unless there is a huge benefit to the user) may be an impediment to growth. I know that financial support is vital, but the end user has to feel that this site is better for what they want. Why does a user want to come to this forum? What will they get...discussion? tips? clients for whatever service they offer? It is important to focus on the purpose of the site. It's nice to have "side projects" but why does a person want to come here?

There are lots of sites to discuss gaming. NeoGAF is a leader in this area. Reddit has its own boards for various gaming topics and they have sizable participation, as another example. Plenty of news and discussion there. There are plenty of sites to discuss specific games. Gimmicks to entice people to come to a site are good for generating initial interest, but how do you maintain interest and involvement? In a forum, much depends on the people and the discussion (thus, the success of Neo and Reddit). Is there really a place for this kind of board? Or are other social media venues replacing this kind of environment? I guess what I'm saying is this appears to be a somewhat saturated market with lots of established places for people to discuss what they want. What is going to make me want to spend my time here?

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55 minutes ago, N_E_Wunn said:

I guess what I'm saying is this appears to be a somewhat saturated market with lots of established places for people to discuss what they want. What is going to make me want to spend my time here?

For the sake of this discussion, what is the reason that you joined in the first place? Did you just think "Why not?" or did this type of forum appeal to you for some reason even though there are similar options out there?

What you're saying is true though. There are many places to discuss games already, but I suppose the appealing factor for a place like this would be the community. I think in order for it to be truly successful, game owners would need to be involved in the forums, and the forum would have to be a place that aspiring creators can learn from those already in the industry. But it will be difficult to get that kind of activity in a new forum.

Honestly, the thing I'd like the see the most would be a collaborative project made by members of the forum. Places like Reddit (which usually have visitors coming and going) or bigger forums (where members go unnoticed) wouldn't be able to accomplish something like that as easily. I've always thought that there should be that kind of benefit in being involved in a game development community. What's the point of having so many talented people in the same room and everyone just doing their own thing? 1. That means the few potential game members (the non-game creators) are spread thin among all the games trying to make it. And 2. With everyone wanting to do their own projects and also having to pay for coding or art, there's a higher chance those games aren't going to make it or that it will take a long time to complete the project.

Even if there was just a small community project made, like a quick game, I would like that.

3 hours ago, Digital said:

Not to add a third topic to this thread, but if I were to sell a monthly membership to the site, what would users find be useful or want to see as a result of making that worthwhile? Obviously the monthly fee is to support site, as some of you have said you have no problem supporting the site, but I don't want you supporting the site for no gain on your side. I feel it is important to be a give and take.

Idea's and thoughts?

Hard to say, because I hate memberships and subscriptions and monthly payments. I try to limit myself (and currently, I have Adobe's Cloud subscription, car insurance, a phone, and I may get Netflix, and that's about my limit). I would, however, be willing to do a one-time payment for smaller benefits.

So, let's see. What would I pay for?

Unfortunately, I think most things I'd consider paying for would require a larger membership base. But here they are:

1. An ad banner on the site.

2. A special forum section that I would be in charge of.

3. A sticky on the top of forums.

4. (If the Adoptable thing came into play) Adoptables that reflected characters on my game.

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21 minutes ago, SingSong said:

For the sake of this discussion, what is the reason that you joined in the first place? Did you just think "Why not?" or did this type of forum appeal to you for some reason even though there are similar options out there?

@Callum invited me. Honestly, I thought I'd check out a new site since VPL was down. So yeah, it was curiosity.

I see there is more of a benefit to game creators than to game players. Ideally, you need a mix of both. I like to know what's going on development-wise as well as game play, so I fall somewhere in between.

28 minutes ago, SingSong said:

What you're saying is true though. There are many places to discuss games already, but I suppose the appealing factor for a place like this would be the community. I think in order for it to be truly successful, game owners would need to be involved in the forums, and the forum would have to be a place that aspiring creators can learn from those already in the industry. But it will be difficult to get that kind of activity in a new forum.

That goes back to my point about how do you draw people in to a new site. I don't know that there is enormous dissatisfaction with what is out there currently. Again, I look at this from the perspective of an extensive career in marketing and an understanding of what makes people tick. Community is essential for any site like this, but how do you plan to build and promote it? What specific aspects of "community" are most important? I get the part about game creators being able to get together to share insight and resources to get the most bang for the buck, so to speak. But is that enough to help the site thrive?

As you said, you have bills to pay. So do most people. And unless you are already successful, you are very careful about where you spend your funds in a virtual environment. You want to know you are getting something worthwhile out of your experience.

How would you fill in these blanks? Thegaminglist is the (unique point of difference) for (target audience) because it provides (tangible benefit). Once you can answer these questions it is easier to focus on how to build traffic to the site.

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43 minutes ago, N_E_Wunn said:

Thegaminglist is the (unique point of difference) for (target audience) because it provides (tangible benefit).

The Gaming List focus (as I individually envision it) is unique because it brings game owners, developers, artists, and players together to improve and discuss how to build better games that are more engaging, immersive and intuitive then these groups could do individually.

The goal is that as a community we can do better things together then we could accomplish separately. This is achieved through guides by members, discussions on game development and design, art, and writing. Discussion on popular games and their mechanics.

We fit in the very melting point of game design, development, promotion, and advertisement essentially, but do it though community instead of traditional advertising and marketing methods.

I had mentioned the idea of membership as it was mentioned before. I am myself hesitant as we are young and I don't feel we have value. I feel that we need to build that value in the community first. The reason I mentioned it was to make sure it was explored and not forgotten. 

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