The merits of community to the success of any art project – especially in the indie space – are obvious. This post is meant for anyone that would like some general insight into what I believe are the intentions needed when creating a community for your game. I apologise in advance for how many times I say “community”. I’d replace that with “cults” but we don’t want to get on a watch-list…
Communities serve a plethora of purposes (isn’t plethora a great word). They help spread the word and are essential to the long-term evolution of a gaming company. For the purpose of this post, communities will be represented by all these damn cats!
The value of community is traversal and size should never be indicative of future success. I’d advise anyone looking to expand their user base, to take steps that also help improve the industry as a whole. If your peers thrive, you thrive and it’s all one big happy squishy affair. For example Weather Factory offer a mentoring programme to help support up and coming indie game creators and those in need of advice.
In an ideal world, communities offer feedback, either in respectful formal manners or brutal but fairly critiquing dialogue and devs will be receptive to it. Then the studio decide, what can be implemented for the betterment of the game while acknowledging fan insight that they don’t agree with. Also remember that budgets and time are a constant master. What I’ve noticed so far about the community built around Weather Factory is that they are an ideal example of what you’d hope for.
Engaged thoroughly in the content, supportive to those joining and in need of aid and almost as importantly, the memes relating to Cultist Simulator are so spicy and on point, we have to share them on our social platforms. But not all of them…not all of them. Also the fan artwork is ridiculously good!
That said, I’m going to potentially break a lot of Cultist Simulator hearts with the following game references but please bear with and forgive, thank you. Think of the relationship of a gaming company and its community, like the standard role options in a multiplayer game such as…Overwatch.
The games company is the hulking (yet tender) tank – replace absorbing attacks for creativity, goals of investors and their colleagues- and the community as support, for example, offering much-needed feedback to boost the morale of game creators and helping them spot weaknesses in time. In some cases, like Mercy, they can even completely revive a game.
That reference is over now, you can come back!
So what are the basic tips for a wholesome (I’m going to regret using that word aren’t I) community to thrive?
Interaction and Exposure – The decent kind of both please! These are the two main rudimentary goals when running a community.
Transparency – Be honest from the beginning until the end. If you’ve made a promise and can’t fulfil it be forthright and prove you will replace or strive to make your game the best version it can be. I value transparency in a lot of factors of my life, in terms of working for a company you can’t always have a say in that and their methods may not entirely align with yours but with Weather Factory, I can honestly say that Alexis and Lottie need no schooling in this area.
Lottie needs to be schooled in classics like the Golden Girls though.
Think outside the box – Try to be personable in your communications, take non-offensive risks in community events and game showcasing. Your community will value your need to experiment.
Geo-consideration – Mmmm marketing buzzwords. Reach out to those fans across the globe. If you have a massive budget when it comes to events, try to not stick to just capital cities that are rampant with events as it is and see where your player base are and do something locally. This will mean a lot to your community especially those that don’t live as close to capital cities.
Do not jump the gun. Take time to investigate issues and identify fact from blatant hearsay.
So in short, but not really because I waffled on a bit, your gaming creation will likely be discovered thanks to the power of the internet, but how far it reaches and its ability to retain growth, will be rocketed by your community. The symbiosis between both, handled well, can lead to everyone being happy or at least less grumpy.