Discord is one of the most popular communication platforms for gamers. In this article, we'll be going over our journey of building up our community through the popular social app, Discord.
We'll be discussing how to build a Discord server, the various features, and why you should even make a server in the first place, as well as the process on how we decided to build and tailor the server to fit the needs of our studio and community.
For those unaware: Discord is a hugely popular communication app, especially in the gaming community. It allows users to join a server (Like ours!), and connect with other users to chat via voice and text, as well as video chat in private groups. According to Statista, Discord has over 200 Million registered users as of December 2018, and that number has surely grown in the time since.
Discord has many different, unique features that help users interact with each other. Users are able to join many different types of servers at a time. They can organize these however they would like based on their own preferences. In addition, those who run servers are able to customize them however they'd like by adding various channels, bots, user roles, and more.
The Benefits of Discord
As mentioned before, the ever-growing popularity and vast Userbase of Discord within the gaming community makes it the perfect place for developers to bring their fans together.
Discord's various methods of communication allow for developers and users to interact seamlessly and quickly with one another. A common feature in servers centered around a specific game and/or studio are channels dedicated to feedback and/or bug reporting.
These channels allow users who are playing or testing a game to very quickly give feedback on what they like or not about a game, and also allows them to report bugs they encounter during gameplay. The beauty of this is that these issues tend to get reported and fixed much faster, and developers are able to communicate back to the Userbase in real-time.
Another feature of Discord that is great for developers is the @everyone feature, which allows someone to notify (or "ping") everyone in the server when something important comes up. Typically with a game-oriented server, announcements include things like updates/patch note releases, beta sign up opportunities, server maintenance times, and much more. The feature is a great way to get information out to everyone in the community quickly, efficiently, and effectively.
Having a community helps news about a studio's game get out faster, and is a great way to spread news about the game through word of mouth. Users can create server invites whenever they would like, simply by clicking on an invite link. As a result, inviting friends to a server is extremely simple, so users that particularly enjoy a game or even just the game's community can have their friends join and find out more about it.
Similarly, the announcement and feedback features in a server can have a huge impact on the development of a game. As an example, Behavior Interactive's Deathgarden experienced a lot of negative feedback on its initial launch, much of which was communicated through their Discord server.
The feedback allowed Behavior to work with the community, figure out what wasn't quite working with the game, and as of this past month, Behavior successfully relaunched the game as Deathgarden: Bloodharvest. Before the days of Discord, games were often dead in the water if they weren't well received on launch, which typically would lead to poor sales and ultimately layoffs at studios.
Without a dedicated community surrounding a studio, it can be much harder to interact with users and really figure out what does and doesn't work with a game. It's more important now to build a solid community surrounding your game or studio than ever before!
Over the course of this article (originally published as a series), we’ll be going on our community-building journey. This series is designed to share tips and insights to help others build up a loyal fanbase and dedicated group of followers. Learn what works - and what doesn’t work - from our experiences. If you’d like to be a bigger part of our quest, please join our server!
Action Plans - Why, What, and How?
An action plan is exactly what it sounds like - it’s a roadmap of the tasks you need to perform. In this case, that roadmap leads to a thriving Discord server. But why do you need an action plan? There are several reasons.
First and foremost, it helps put everything in perspective. Organization is key when it comes to setting up large scale projects such as this, so it’s important to make sure your objectives are crystal clear and carefully thought out.
Action plans also create a clear timetable for when tasks need to be completed, and who needs to complete them. In some cases it may be necessary to break tasks up among multiple people, depending on their specific skill set or area of expertise. For example, one member of your team may be great at finding ways to promote your game through various marketing efforts, whereas another member may excel at using the Discord app itself.
Creating your action plan is also a great time for brainstorming. Your peers may have ideas that you may not have thought of. If they are valuable enough, they can be added to the action plan as tasks.
An Action Plan... In Action
Your action plan should include a multitude of things, namely: questions that need answers, existing implemented features that could be improved, and a table for things that need to be done, as well as who will be in charge of completing said tasks.
Below is an example of how the table can be set up, listed with tasks and who is assigned with completing them. Here, we can see a list of several names: Kyle, Bobby, Nate F, and James. Each of these members have a different skillset and have thus been given tasks that pertain to them.
Kyle is skilled at using the Discord app, so has been charged with tasks that specifically involve setting up the server itself. Bobby is great at things like wikis, so he has been tasked with setting up two wikis for our game. Nate is a coder, so he’s been assigned with getting Rich Presence up and running in the server. James is our marketing guy, so he’s in charge of setting up a giveaway as well as setting up any other outside marketing to get people into the server.
Action plans will vary from server-to-server. A server based on a whole studio with many games will have a different action plan than a server centered around a single game, for example. In our server, we have channels set up for each of our games, and different tasks pertaining to each one. A server for a single game will have different needs, and all tasks will end up pertaining to that game.
Plan To Win
Having a well-thought-out action plan will greatly increase your chances of success in creating your server. Once everything is clearly laid out and planned, it will give you and other members of your team a much clearer perspective on what needs to be done, and who needs to complete the tasks. Although an action plan is vital to making sure everything that’s necessary for setting up your server is completed, it’s just the beginning - the first piece in an otherwise much larger project.
Think of your action plan as the box of a jigsaw puzzle, whereas setting up your server is the jigsaw puzzle itself. The box shows you exactly what it’s supposed to look like in the end, but it’s still up to you and your team to put the pieces together to complete the puzzle. Without the box, you have no idea what your puzzle is supposed to look like, and it’s only after you’ve begun putting it together that you’re able to figure out whether or not you’re missing any pieces. Hopefully, in the end, your puzzle will match the box.
Steps for Styling
It’s the little details and extra effort that will make your server appear more professional. This is especially important if you are running your server for a game or studio. Appearing unprofessional gives the impression that the studio doesn’t care, about their game or their community. Beyond improving presentation, polishing the server can also make it more eye-catching.
Polishing your server involves multiple steps, but the end result should be that your server appears more organized, visually appealing, and functional:
Step 1: Get Organized
Before you begin polishing, take a step back and make sure everything is ready to go. Do you have the necessary channels? Do you have your user roles set up? Have you written out the rules and FAQ and given them a channel (or channels, if you split them)?
If not, make sure you have that down before you worry about polishing.
Step 2: Add Custom Emojis
One thing you can do to add some flair to your server is adding emojis to channel names or even the category names. This isn’t necessary, and you may or may not like the look, but it’s certainly an option. We don’t use them in our server, but that’s simply a matter of preference. Plenty of servers use them to good effect.
Step 3: Personalize The Artwork
Another common way to add a personal, custom touch to your server is adding custom artwork themed to the game or studio to post rules and FAQ. This will help users actually see and (hopefully) read them. People respond much better to visuals, so if you have some nice looking graphics, people will be more inclined to engage with them.
Step 4: Color Code Your Server
One more thing you can do for adding some more visual appeal and organization is to color code the various roles in your server. Discord allows server admins to organize and color code the different roles, as well as have each role separated by the role hierarchy (roles are organized from top to bottom based on your list of roles in your server).
This not only adds some color and personality to your server, but it gives users an immediate visual cue as to who’s who in the community. If you make all of your Mods or Staff blue, for example, community members immediately know that when they see a blue name, they are a mod.
Not only does color coding look better and more organized, but it creates an important distinction between users. If everyone in the server has the same white color, users don’t know if they’re speaking to the server owner or some other random member of the community.
Do It For The Fans
Taking the time to make sure your server is looking and functioning well is one of the biggest differences between Discord amateurs and veterans. Having everything in its proper place, keeping it all organized, and color coding improves the visual appeal and enhances the server’s organization.
It’s perfectly possible to run a server without going through all of these steps, but taking that extra step shows that you care about your server, your product, and most importantly, your community.
Attack of The Bots
So, what exactly are “Bots”? Aren’t they those things that people use in RuneScape to level up automatically? Well, yes, but not in this case.
In terms of Discord, a Bot is a sort of plugin you can use for your server to perform many different functions that a normal user cannot (at least not easily). They are typically maintained and deployed through user commands or pre-set through a configuration page. Bots can be programmed to do almost anything on Discord, and as such, there are many, many different bots that all do different things.
For example, bots can do things like keep track of user stats/metrics, award points based on activity in a server (or even a specific channel), hand out user roles, play music through a voice channel, auto-moderate your chat, and so much more.
In fact, there are bots for almost any purpose and function. To avoid overload, the first thing you should do is narrow down which bots you should consider using in your server.
A Robot Army
Now that you have at least a vague understanding of what Bots are, here are some that are particularly useful across most types of servers:
MEE6 (yes, it is a reference to Mr. Meeseeks from Adult Swim’s Rick & Morty) is probably the most popular Discord bot. You’ll find it on many different servers, mostly because of its multipurpose nature and ease of use.
It doesn’t require any commands to use (though you can set them up if you’d like), and it can do a multitude of different things, all of which it does very well. It can moderate your server through word filters, notify you when users go live on Twitch or upload a YouTube video, post messages on a timer, and award points based on user activity across the whole server, or in specific channels.
There is a caveat, however. Certain features of MEE6 (and parts of some of the free ones) are only available if you purchase MEE6 Premium, the most significant being the previously free Role Reward feature. It can be pretty pricey, but depending on your budget and how badly you want to use the features, it can be worth it.
A MEE6 alternative that will level up users and award roles for free. Arcane’s description actually takes a bit of a jab at MEE6, saying “We will never charge a dime for our core features, ever. Levels with rewards, auto moderation, music. Dyno, Rythm, and MEE6 combined!”
But seriously, if you’re looking for a Level and Role Reward bot but don’t feel like shelling out for MEE6 Premium, Arcane may be the bot you’re looking for.
If you’re at all familiar with Twitch.tv, you’ve likely seen Nightbot in a few channels before. If you’re a streamer, you should definitely consider adding Nightbot to your Discord server as well. Commands are cross-compatible with the Twitch version, so users can use the same commands in both places. It also features auto-moderation, which can be handy if your server becomes quite large.
While there are many, many different bots already out there for users to download for free, sometimes there isn’t one that can do what you’d like it to do. Maybe you have a specific need that isn’t covered by another Bot. In this case, it may be worth it to create your own (or hire someone to make it for you).
For example, The Messenger Discord server (discord.gg/themessenger) has a couple of unique custom bots, one of which is the Clockwork Concierge, which awards Time Shards upon people “joining the #dojo”. If you have a specific need or theme to your server, a custom bot may be the way to go.
The Tip of The Botberg
There are many other types of bots, like economy bots, team-finding bots like Guilded, and music bots like Rythm. Rest assured, there are plenty of options for you to tailor your server to your needs. They can add a ton of personality and functionality to a server, which can play a big part in getting users to stick around longer and stay active…
Speaking of which, that’s exactly what we’ll be covering in the finale of Building A Discord. Check out and follow our blog, and stay tuned for our final blog in which we’ll talk about how to get people into your server, and more importantly, how to get them to be active and stay in your server.
Note: This article was originally published as a multipart series on the Mega Cat Studios blog, and is republished here with the kind permission of the original author. Links to the original parts of the series are below. A firth part (not included above - go check it out!) will also be published covering how to build and maintain an active community.
- Part 1: What is Discord and why should you use it?
- Part 2: Creating an action plan for building and developing your server
- Part 3: How to add polish and flare
- Part 4: Adding bots to your Discord server