Arcen Games

Other => Game Development => Topic started by: TechSY730 on May 10, 2013, 01:34:14 PM

Title: How did you do it? (The community that is)
Post by: TechSY730 on May 10, 2013, 01:34:14 PM
How did you guys make such a great community?


There are very few places here on "teh internets", especially with users communicating with devs, where this sort of community is present.


How did you guys pull this off? It would be great if this sort of general culture for internet communities could be more widespread.
Title: Re: How did you do it? (The community that is)
Post by: Mick on May 10, 2013, 01:54:12 PM
I think a big part of it is that the developers actually interact with the community.

In many others, they don't, or when they do it becomes a BIG DEAL. I think that leads to a lot of "typical" forum behavior because posters are basically doing whatever they can to provoke some kinda response, or make sure to shout others down so a dev response isn't "wasted" on something they think is trivial.

That dynamic simply doesn't exist here, because the people we actually want to hear back from post all the time.

If Chris Park decided that no one in the company was allowed to post any more, and he only gave brief sound bites that were market tested and approved once a week, this place would become a sewer faster than you could blink.
Title: Re: How did you do it? (The community that is)
Post by: x4000 on May 10, 2013, 01:55:39 PM
Mainly:

1. Appealing to an older demographic from the start, which set the tone.  20s and 30s (and up) are more common here than average.  A younger crowd was brought in by Valley 1 and so forth, but the tone was already set.

2. Appealing to a highly intelligent/educated demographic from the start, which set the style for grammar and so on.

3. Setting personal examples by trying to set emotion aside and mostly succeeding.  Eating crow and accepting mistakes rather than trying to hide them, and so on.  Typing properly ourselves.  All of these things help to set and reinforce the tone.

4. Actively moderating people who are abusive, which happens rarely, and giving them warnings or even temporary bans.  We haven't had to do that in over a year, I don't believe, and it's been less than 10 times overall in the life of the forums, I think.  This cuts down on the language and so forth, though.

5. Posting a clear set of rules, with the reminder in them that tone is not conveyed through the written word very well.  This seems minor, but honestly seemed to help as we had fewer temp-bans and incidents after this than before this.

6. Treating new folks with enthusiasm and respect, and generally not showing favoritism in any way to people based on post count.  This again is something that the community then tends to emulate, as the tone of welcoming newcomers really is a positive thing.  More likeminded souls for them to communicate with, a larger community, etc.

7. Having a small community, particularly at first.  Things have shifted each time we've had a major growth period, and it's gotten a little less personal and has had more problems.  I don't know what the breaking point is past which this style of community is no longer possible, but there is such a point I am quite certain.  Hopefully we never reach it.

8. Actively enlisting players in helping to improve the games we make, and giving them a real voice.  This is huge, because it shows literal respect from us to them.  It binds the community together, as well as giving a common purpose.  It helps take the emotion out of things on the player side, because people don't rail on us in futile frustration: they say something, we and the community listen and either have a back and forth, or archive it for later, or implement it soon or now.  Even if their suggestion/complaint/whatever is not addressed, they know it's been read and fairly considered.  It didn't just go into a black hole, or have some snarky phone operator trying to shout them down.

9. Giving generously.  Our habit of doing lots of patches and so forth that are more than just bugfixes, plus doing really-excellent-value expansions, again sets a tone.  Players are then generous with us in return, both in terms of time spent helping improve the game, money spent buying the game for friends and so forth, and effort spent telling people about the game in other places.  It becomes symbiotic, because it's clear that we're not greedy and so players don't resent us for that either.

10. Being open about the state of the company, and asking for help when we need it.  Pointing out that if players want more of the sort of stuff we create, we need to stay in business and that we need their help to do that.  This gives players a sense of investment and of being a part of things, and also helps to make the addition of "new blood" into the forums a source of joy, rather than "ugh newbies."

11. And finally, creating the sort of games that foster creativity and deeper thought.  When someone comes and asks a "noob" question, people don't scoff: they're proud to share their knowledge, or their strategies, or both.  It's a mark of pride that they know the answer, and they want to help share that knowledge with others.  There's enough going on that players don't feel like they have to hoard their best strategies or they fall behind.  Part of that might also come from the fact that all our games are solo and co-op, not PVP.  So there's less inherent antagonism right from the start.


TLDR: It's kind of a perfect storm of things, really.  In a positive sense.  Some of these things were deliberately done on our part in order to make a safe, positive place.  Other things just kind of unexpectedly happened, and still other things were byproducts of decisions that we made that were wholly unrelated to this topic (such as the kind of games we make).  It's a topic I've thought a lot about, actually.
Title: Re: How did you do it? (The community that is)
Post by: x4000 on May 10, 2013, 01:58:18 PM
@Mick: That's a really good point, too.  Specific to game forums in particular.  But if you think how many cesspools exist in news site comment feeds, or other such places, I think it goes beyond just that.  In those cases, no response from the writers is really expected or (to my mind, generally) desired.  Though I guess on places like Gamasutra, since the article writers tend to interact with the people they are writing for (since it's all professional colleagues anyhow, for the most part), that tends to stay super professional as well.
Title: Re: How did you do it? (The community that is)
Post by: Mick on May 10, 2013, 01:58:27 PM
I think #8 said what I was trying to convey quite eloquently.
Title: Re: How did you do it? (The community that is)
Post by: Mánagarmr on May 10, 2013, 02:44:55 PM
Arcen is likely the only company where I would buy every game regardless of whether I intend to play it or not. Arcen is the very model of how a game company should be run with regards to its customers.

Now, I understand that it's absolutely not feasible for every company to be run this way. Bigger AAA studios simply do not have the time, nor the manpower, to interact with their fanbase on this level. That doesn't mean that I won't throw my money in their direction when they do ;)

I'm a moralist gamer, these days. My money goes towards what I feel is right. Arcen is the shining beacon in an endless sea of greed and selfishness, spotted with small islands of light. It might sound overly poetic, and it likely is, but my feelings for Arcen as a company are as close to "love" you can get in a customer/provider relationship.

You guys are awesome. Nuff said.
Title: Re: How did you do it? (The community that is)
Post by: x4000 on May 10, 2013, 02:49:47 PM
Awwww.  :D
Title: Re: How did you do it? (The community that is)
Post by: chemical_art on May 10, 2013, 03:21:10 PM
Having the ability to say to the admin "I don't like a facet of what you are doing" and the admin saying "I understand, although I disagree" goes a long way to diffusing fuses.

That happened just today.
Title: Re: How did you do it? (The community that is)
Post by: Oralordos on May 10, 2013, 03:34:05 PM
I agree with Moonshine Fox. Arcen is probably the only place I would buy every game they make whether I intend to play it or not. So far though, Tidalis is the only one I haven't found interesting enough to keep my attention. And even it is quite nice. Arcen just makes good games, and maintains a level of interaction on the forums that most places don't.
Title: Re: How did you do it? (The community that is)
Post by: Lancefighter on May 10, 2013, 06:02:42 PM
Id like to think that the early members of the community had a lot of say/influence in how the community developed as a whole. I think Chris did mention the precedent that was set pretty early in the life of the forum, and that for the most part we never really encouraged behavior that wasnt 'proper'. (edit: how did a 'whatever..' get here?)

I'm actually not sure what to say outside of agreeing that community/dev interaction was a big deal of why I am here.

Also, people should visit #aiwar more :( new people often come there to look for games, and often there arent enough new people to play together. (and I am not actually a big fan of throwing new people into my diff-8 hybridfuntimes, mostly)
Title: Re: How did you do it? (The community that is)
Post by: x4000 on May 10, 2013, 08:19:43 PM
Right, exactly -- the early people that were in the forum helped set the tone, and it then there's a certain amount of peer pressure (in a good way for once) after that. Early on there were some people screaming in my face that I responded calmly to and then they became super huge supporters after they realized I actually listened to them. And so I think that was related as well. It was multi factor all over he place. Basically everyone early on wound up being reasonable and polite with very few speedbumps, and that is the sort of thing that can exert some gravity on newcomers.
Title: Re: How did you do it? (The community that is)
Post by: Wingflier on May 11, 2013, 05:18:13 AM
Ignore everything that's been said here.

It's basically subliminal messaging from the game itself. Cooperate with your fellow man, or die to your emotionless, intellectually superior creation.

We've all been crushed so many times by the AI that we're humbled :D

That actually gives me an idea of how to achieve world peace...be right back.
Title: Re: How did you do it? (The community that is)
Post by: TwelveGaugeSlug on May 26, 2013, 02:22:04 PM
Hi.

I'm new, but would like to think I fit the demographic of the community! :)

I'm 32 years old. I do try to keep the grammar in check, although I do sometimes fail. lol

I also use "lol" too much.

I am however, in love with Arcen's games! I cannot believe their facebook page only has a few likes! We need to help get the word out to the masses about this company and its games! Glad to be here and hope I can add to the discussions.
Title: Re: How did you do it? (The community that is)
Post by: Mánagarmr on May 26, 2013, 02:24:46 PM
I'm 32 years old.
Nice to see I'm not the only fossil around here ;)
 
I am however, in love with Arcen's games! I cannot believe their facebook page only has a few likes! We need to help get the word out to the masses about this company and its games! Glad to be here and hope I can add to the discussions.
That's a common issue with indie companies, unfortunately. Also Arcen has a very niche audience, which further hampers "universal adoption". But it's slowly growing!
Title: Re: How did you do it? (The community that is)
Post by: Cinth on May 26, 2013, 08:57:04 PM
I'm 32 years old.
Nice to see I'm not the only fossil around here ;)
We aren't fossils yet. We are just in various states of disrepair.  ;)
Title: Re: How did you do it? (The community that is)
Post by: iozay on June 07, 2013, 07:57:16 PM
You are as old as you feel :)

But yes, it is the people who set the tone and make the community what it is, mostly guided by the work of Arcen :)
Title: Re: How did you do it? (The community that is)
Post by: relmz32 on June 07, 2013, 10:53:38 PM
...
TLDR: It's kind of a perfect storm of things, really.  In a positive sense.  Some of these things were deliberately done on our part in order to make a safe, positive place.  Other things just kind of unexpectedly happened, and still other things were byproducts of decisions that we made that were wholly unrelated to this topic (such as the kind of games we make).  It's a topic I've thought a lot about, actually.

Honestly, I think this post from Chris should be put in a blog or some sort of article.