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This is partly why I think expanding to showcase member games more is going to be pretty important.. as I think the community can also grow around showing end results of their work.   The screenshot showdown has gotten way way more hits than I thought it was going to.. which was really surprising to me.  

 

But there is a huge problem that needs a solution.  At the end of the day I think every developer and author are largely clamoring for the same things.. that when you build, write, create something you want somebody out there to acknowledge it hopefully for the good.   If it's an article you want feedback to know if it sucks or not, or to know that you helped people.. or to even know that it is getting read by people who appreciate your effort.   If it's a project you may have different motives, whether as a beginner maybe you just want encouragement about your progress.. or if you are trying to break out as an indie that you are trying to build an audience that might want to buy your game when it comes out.  There are literally dozens of variations of this.. for example, what motivates a mentor to help a beginner anyway?

 

I think there is a world of game development left to explore.. and the growth side may be not as programmer-centric as it used to be due to all the fragmented communities around these days specific to one technology.   

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We are a great site for beginner programmers and those wanting or needing their hand held. The site excels at that demographic.
We are a good site for intermediate programmers who are looking for discussions about choosing algorithms and working

through issues in designs and in code.
We are a good site for advanced programmers who are looking to mentor and help the groups mentioned above.


As a beginner, I got value from GDNet giving and explaining answers - I often learned more from the discussions that came after an answer was given, and not just from the answer itself.

As a more intermediate programmer, I currently get value from having discussions with others on technical subjects or design-related subjects, or by reading the discussions others are having on subjects that interest me but that I have no experience in.
"Subjects that interest me that I'm not experienced in" currently includes: AI (a little), networking, procedural generation, component-based design and other higher-level architectural design, and 3D rendering architectures.

I also get entertained when procrastinating by helping others with their problems and from reading articles and development journals.

This is why I like the 'categorized' approach to subforums, rather than the 'platform' approach, because I happen to enjoy certain categories. Other people happen to enjoy certain platforms and want subforums for their favorite platforms. But platforms change every couple of years... APIs also change and die and new ones are created. General topics remain static for decades.

Here are the current technical subforums:

27sc.png
 

  1. What types of questions are you really expecting under 'Game Programming' that couldn't just as easily go under 'General Programming'?
  2. Maybe in it's place, a "Game Architecture" subforum would give clearer purpose. But I'm interested in the subjected, so I'm biased. Actually, "Software Architecture and Design" would be even more encompassing, but perhaps less clear to programmers looking for where their thread should go.
  3. As someone inexperienced with 3D rendering, I don't really get the need for DirectX and OpenGL to be anything more than just heavily-suggested tags used in the Graphics Programming subforum.
  4. Or, why aren't OpenGL and DirectX sub-sub-forums of "APIs and Tools", along with SDL, SFML, Ogre, Unity, UDK, and etc...? I'm not suggesting you do that - [SDL] and [SFML] have been working great as tags so far - so why not do the same with "OpenGL / DirectX / UDK / Unity / None" as heavily enforced/recommended tags in the thread-creation page's forum interface?
  5. If you want to bring new users in, how about having a GameMaker and RPG Maker VX sub-sub-forum under APIs and Tools?
  6. Does the Networking subforum really handle things like Split-screen gameplay? If not, you could probably drop the "and Multiplayer" part from the forum name.
  7. Likewise, we discuss 'theory' just as much as practical matters on these forums, so the "Graphics Programming And Theory" name could be shortened to just "Graphics programming".
  8. As someone biased and interested in the subject, a subforum dedicated to Procederual Generation would be great.

Note: The subjects I mentioned I'm interested in are not forums you'll find me active in, either in discussion or in helping others. These are subjects I lurk in only (and occasionally ask questions in) because I'm neither experienced in, or actively learning/using, the subjects.

Is the 'Mobile and Console Development' subforum so overflowing with posts that more subforums are needed?
If not, couldn't you just rename it, "Mobile (iOS, Android, etc...)" to make the category clearer?

To find topics that interest me, my usual site-visiting behavior is:
1) Glance at the articles on the front page. Open interesting articles in new tabs, to read later.
2) Glance at my messages when people are quoting me, and jump to those topics.
3) Open "Watched Content" and open in a new tab every thread I'm watching or participating in, opening it in a new tab.
4) Open 'New content', and open every thread with an interesting-sounding topic in a new tab

...so I rarely go directly to a specific sub-forum, except when creating a new thread, so any changes you do make won't affect me. I'm not holding on to my sinking ship wary of change.

I'm not opposed to new subforums, just wary of dozens of new ones - like one for each platform - right after GameDev.net just cleaned up the too-many-subforums earlier this year. You've added a few new ones already ("Coding Horrors" and "Build Systems and Source Control"), and a few more wouldn't hurt, but they ought to make sense before being added. Will those subforums still be applicable ten years from now?

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...what motivates a mentor to help a beginner anyway?

 

I view mentorship is a long-term commitment - one that I'm not currently making anywhere. But if you mean, "Why does someone occasionally answer questions on the forums?", then to analyze myself, it seems to be a mix of:

 

A) I'm at a boring part of my code, or I'm exhausted from doing some physical labor and don't want to code, or I'm waiting for a question *I* asked to get some responses, so it's a way to entertain myself while still tricking myself into thinking I'm being productive.

B) Someone else was answering the beginner's question... and they were wrongohmy.png

C) Pride. It's a bit of, "See, I know something!"

D) As much as I hate to admit it, the reputation system as an extrinsic motivator does have a small but noticeable effect. That's why I'm not as active on Stack Overflow - I find myself getting too caught up in the, "I got a point!" of SO, so I force myself to not go there too frequently. With GameDev.net, it's more like what you mentioned, validation that my info or contribution was correct. We actually were discussing this on the game design subforum a week or two ago.

 

[A] gets me to the site, [B] gets me posting (because of [C]) if [A] didn't already, and [D] creates positive reinforcement.

 

I also view writing an article as a huge commitment of time - because I feel it articles must have a high level of quality.

My previous post above this one took me an hour to write, because I think it through alot. Writing this article took me an entire day. laugh.png

I have some ideas for a few more articles to write, but man, the time investment for the "quality" I demand of myself wards me off from doing so. But then I waste just as much time lurking and posting in the forums anyway.

Edited by Servant of the Lord
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Touching a subject I have previously briefly posted and that was brought up again in these last few posts you guys did, I will try to distill my suggestions to the core, and I think this is mostly it:

 

I feel the lone-wolf (semi) professional game developer doesn't have a "home" anywhere on the web (or I would be there ;) ).

 

This is a somewhat dense phrase so I will break it up on some points:

- The semi-pro game development is a new area/market that didn't exist 10 years ago, and is huge today due to the new digital distribution channels (mobile, console and Steam)

- The process as a whole has many facets, from programming to design and marketing

- Some (or all) of these areas have a established independent site (not always a very good one)

- No site encompasses all these areas

 

 

I agree that we should focus on newbies, and for them this applies as well. Actually, maybe even more, since as a newbie you are still lost on the process of how to make a game, and searching information on several different sources only makes it worse. Having a home since the beginning will also make that home the first place he will ask when a technical question comes, the first place he will look for images for his game, or where he will discuss his next game idea, or showcase the game he developed.

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Following Servant's example/idea, let me describe a bit some of my development cycle/activities/needs, and my opinion if/how GDNet could help. Give or take a bit, most or all of mobile game developers I know follow a very similar path.

 

- Idea generation/gathering: not helped very much by sites or forums. GDNet could help on this a bit, probably through the forum itself, but not much.

 

- Programming: I'm helped mostly by Google (which 90% of the time drives me to SO) and sometimes IRC. I dont think GDNet would help me much (but I could help newer people and people who like to post more than I do, I rarely post), but eventually I could ask some more tricky or ambiguous problems which are hard to Google.

 

- Game art - initial phase: I usually do some basic drawings myself, and grab free icons from iconfinder/iconarchive just to get the concept done. Sometimes I some images from opengameart. When I need a photo I usually get the water-marked version from a photo-selling site (so I can purchase it later if I end up using it). For audio usually opengameart. GDNet could help A LOT on this (when the marketplace has enough content for that).

 

- Game art - polishment: after the game is getting more ready and I have a clearer picture of which exact images I want, I subcontract with someone. For this I usually talk to a friend (or a friend of a friend). GDNet could help on this (find people with talent, see their portfolios, their "score", price, etc).

 

- Testing: I usually test the game myself or ask a few friends. GDNet could help on this (volunteers on the forum, and/or via the game showcase thing).

 

- Showcasing my game: I usually think about making a landing page but end up not doing anything. GDNet could help a lot on this (already will, with the showcase)

 

- Support/Feedback for clients: I offer an email for support only, sometimes a Facebook group/page. Having a small forum would be great for this. GDNet could help on this (already will, with the showcase)

 

- Monetization: I usually discuss and read a lot about it on some forums or sometimes Googling, and discuss a bit also. Values paid by ad companies change every day, new companies are formed, strategies change (2 years ago selling your app was the rule, now ads are the rule), etc, so a forum is the best place (due to its ever-changing dynamic nature). GDNet could help a lot also (forum itself).

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All of what you just mentioned sounds as though it would be suited to a Developer's Journal with only specific questions coming through the relevant forums. Given that you already have systems in place as to how you put a game together, walking and talking others through that in a journal as you work through the stages on your current/next project would enable others on the site to benefit from your experiences.

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Well, while I agree that a dev journal would allow others to benefit from my experience (and I might try that, but will probably experiment with a video format), it doesnt solve the original problem. The problem to be solved is: where can lone wolves (and small teams, startups) game devs find an environment to accelerate and facilitate the development process, a process which hardly existed 10 years ago (for single-person "teams"), and now is very much common. Without such an environment it's still doable, for example the way I described. But it's far from efficient. If there is a place where all the agents (programmers, artists, musicians, testers, marketing guys...) hang together, it's better for everybody. While it's hard for me to find good drawings to use on my game, or testers, or an artist to make the concept art, etc, I'm sure that for these guys it's also hard to expose their work.

 

My suggestions focus mostly on the forum, because I believe that having a big active community either solves most of the problems, or paves the way to the solution (since to have a properly working marketplace you need demand, and the forum/community would bring that).

 

What I'm talking about here is a market opportunity. Someone will eventually solve this. I think that GDNet is on a good position on this "race", but the biggest question comes back to: where does GDNet want to go?

Edited by Rottz
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