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#1 Rottz   Members   


Posted 20 July 2013 - 01:45 PM

Hello guys!


I believe the topic/suggestion I will introduce may have been discussed a few times, but I want to bring my 2 cents. I haven't planned what I'm gonna write (except for the suggestion itself), so lets see what comes up.


GameDev.net is a reference for game development for a long time, since GPMega days. I've never been a heavy poster, but used to read and follow the forum a lot (#1 source for game programming info, both technical and design). Then I leaned more to a corporate career for many years, while sometimes doing a little game programming as a hobby, and didn't follow the gaming scene much more.


Comparing GameDev.net from back then to today, I noticed an increase in articles: there used to be articles back then, but for me GameDev.net was a forum with some articles as reference, and now it seems to be an article database with a forum. I'm not saying this is BAD, I'm just saying it's different. But it doesn't feel very much alive anymore as a community.


The Game Programming and General Programming forums were the main forums back then, and they still seem to be, but with much less posts. This is understandable: back then we didn't have StackOverflow (and related) to find the solution to 95% of our programming problems, so most people would ask the questions on forums (or IRC). And GameDev was strong on that (when the topic was game programming, of course).


Another big change, besides StackOverflow, was the market itself. Back then Windows games were dominant, and now they are dying (lets not discuss this please, but as much as I hate this fact, since I'm a PC gamer - but yes, they are dying), and the mobile gaming industry is totally dominant.


Some may call it (the mobile/tablet gaming) a trend. Well, it might be, but I highly doubt it - well, unless you call a 10+ year multi-multi-multi-billion dollar a trend. In that case you could call Windows, Linux and Mac gaming a trend also. Mobile gaming will not die anytime in the next 5 years, actually it will only grow - and a lot.


Now I arrive on my point: hundreds of mobile games are being released every single day, several thousands are in production, and there is a legion of mobile developers. Then shouldn't GameDev.net shift a bit of its forum focus towards this market? This is still game development, I'm not saying to GameDev.net become a cooking website. Just give a bit more focus on mobile.


Let's create a community on this: there is not a dominant forum on mobile game development - GameDev.net could be it.


How to achieve it? Well, that is hard to answer, but for starters I would suggest: create an iOS sub-forum, Android sub-forum, Windows Phone sub-forum (or "Others"), Indie Mobile Gaming Scene sub-forum. Get people who know those markets well to post content, answer questions, create tutorials (informally, on the forum, similar to how NeHe started, and not formally published peer-reviewed articles), ...


Sorry for the long post, I just wanna see GameDev shine even more smile.png.


And hopefully my forum age/id will increase the credibility of my post: I'm not a kid recently seduced into mobile gaming buzz.



- Pedro / Rottz / RoTTer


(EDIT: Just to make it clear, all my suggestions are strictly related to the FORUM/Community part of the site. I would rarely read the articles back then, and I rarely read them today, so if there are a lot of articles on Mobile Gaming, which I dont know, good, but thats not my point)

Edited by Rottz, 20 July 2013 - 01:47 PM.

#2 Michael Tanczos   Staff Emeritus   

Posted 20 July 2013 - 04:14 PM

Holy moly..  Yeah, a user id of 452 is pretty damn old..   I first of all want to thank you for the commentary.   Second of all, I think there is a lot of wisdom in your words.   I would love to have a more substantial discussion about this because for some time I've wanted to rethink the forum topics.


I would hope that we don't substitute articles for forums, but that the two go hand in hand.   Our end goal is simple.. be an awesome place to share game development information between developers. 

#3 Rottz   Members   


Posted 20 July 2013 - 08:52 PM

Hey Michael. 


I'm just waiting a bit for more people to jump in the discussion, I think they're shy :P. Come on people. Thoughts, ideas, suggestions?


If I didnt want a discussion I would have emailed GDNet directly :)


Well, continuing on the topic:


Certainly the articles must not die. Not even reduce, I believe: I think it's great to have a vast repository of more formal and well-written content. But for GDNet as a whole I think the forum part must grow to make people return every day (or hour, or minute) for more information, more questions, more debate. Articles are great, but people probably visit here once a week to check the articles, not every minute.


I like the idea of "hand in hand" you mentioned, I had never thought about that. Make somehow the forums and articles interact more (again, NeHe comes to my mind). When I read your "hand to hand" idea I imagined something like this (just brainstorming here): a series of articles on how to make a complete game (mobile, of course :P), and for every article posted a forum thread is opened for questions and discussion, and the next article of the series can be influenced by this discussion, and even reference information, images or parts of code from posts on the forum, this way making people go to the forum thread (and vice-versa, people reading the forum thread would go to the article to get more structured information).


What did you have in mind when you mentioned the article / forum collaboration? Was it something like this?



#4 Michael Tanczos   Staff Emeritus   

Posted 20 July 2013 - 11:41 PM

I think I'd like to have other's chime in before I pollute the discussion with my own ideas.  =)   Each article does have it's own discussion via comments, but not a forum thread.

#5 Alpheus   GDNet+   

Posted 21 July 2013 - 01:30 AM

Well if we want more "mobile content" normally the way to do it is make "mobile contests". But how would we go about doing that? We had the 4 seasons contest and the Ninja vs Pirates contest, IIRC. But how does GDN get people to create mobile content and therefore get people asking about mobile content in our forums?


And honestly, I never thought much about it, because Phone apps aren't my thing. It would be interesting to see how many developers here do make phone apps.

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#6 Rottz   Members   


Posted 21 July 2013 - 03:44 PM

My suggestion is exactly to bring new people here to the forums - since GDNet focus isn't mobile, there probably arent many here currently. I dont have the numbers, but certainly today is the time in history where there are most game developers in the world. But they are mostly working alone, or in their isolate silos, and using Google + StackOverflow when they need any external input.


GDNet could be the #1 source of information for those newly arrived developers, as long as there are different elements here that people can't find on Google + StackOverflow.


The first biggest advantage I can see is the sense of community: GDNet (mostly the forum part) is a community with information, while Google + StackOverflow are strictly sources of information (OK, SO has some community elements, but it doesnt feel like a community at all).


Other advantages of GDNet to the lone wolf (who only uses Google now):


- GDNet has a marketplace for images and sound, and that is essential for indie devs that are actually making commercial games, and not a hobby. GDNet didnt have this, this must be something "new", and I love it. It just needs more demand, so there is more supply. An active forum with people making commercial games (that is, the mobile devs again) could solve that.


- GDNet has well-written, structured articles. In Google+SO you usually find solution to specific problems, and not decently written articles with an introduction, explanation and conclusion.


- GDNet has forums and articles on other sides of the game development cycle (ie, business)



To conclude, I touched subtly on two subjects on this post that I want to stress a bit more:


1) 10-15 years ago, the vast majority of people on GDNet (and any other game development source), including myself, were hobbyists. They were learning to program, learning how to make a simple game, discussing ideas of more complex games, making a prototype or an incomplete game just to practice, etc, but VERY FEW were actually making commercial games, because back then there wasn't an easy way to distribute your game. Now we have many channels (mobile, Steam, XBOX...), so it is certain that the number of professional game developers increased A LOT (I had stated generically about game developers on my first post, but more than that, the key here is game developers making real COMMERCIAL games).


2) And to make a full commercial game, you need several resources. Google+SO are good for the technical part, but for the rest there aren't established sources. And GDNet has the potential to concentrate all those resources under a single roof (some on the forum, and some outside, such as the marketplace and the articles). I'm talking here about activities such as: idea discussion and gathering (what game to make? where are requests of games, lists of successful recent game styles and elements, etc); common images and sfx database, both free (such as http://opengameart.org/) and paid; where to subcontract someone to do specific art to your game (concept art and real art); where to get some testers for your game; etc. You can find a place for each of these activities, but not a single place where you can do all that. And I guarantee: there are thousands of people (or small teams) doing these activities every single day to release a commercial indie game (mostly mobile, but also Steam/XBOX games).


Well, again a long post, but hopefully with more discussion elements :)



- Rottz

#7 Gaiiden   Staff Emeritus   

Posted 22 July 2013 - 08:41 PM

Articles used to have comments that were in a forum thread on the old site (pre-2010), however that thread was in its own forum, not in the forum that was the topic of the article. A major downside until recently was trouble following discussions in articles, but now you can properly subscribe to be notified when new responses are posted so we've seen several articles have lively discussions of late.


We have everything in place to give mobile developers the opportunity to create a community here. We've never really promoted a community before, at least I've never been part of an effort to do so. If people are not posting many articles/threads on mobile here then there's obviously better places to go. How we would attract those users to post here is, as you said, to offer other valuable services alongside the articles/forums. That is gradually happening as we continue to expand the marketplace, classifieds, and soon our indie showcase. Again, I don't see us actively pursuing mobile developers but we will of course be offering more services for people to take advantage of in addition to discussing and learning about mobile games.

Drew Sikora
Executive Producer

#8 Michael Tanczos   Staff Emeritus   

Posted 22 July 2013 - 08:45 PM

Again, I don't see us actively pursuing mobile developers but we will of course be offering more services for people to take advantage of in addition to discussing and learning about mobile games.


Just to be clear, revamping what we focus on in terms of topics is always on the table.   I'm always looking for ideas on ways to bring new people into the fray.   We have always taken an "if you build it they will come" approach.. but at this point in time being fairly late in the game with mobile I think promoting it is a necessity.

Edited by Michael Tanczos, 22 July 2013 - 08:50 PM.

#9 Rottz   Members   


Posted 22 July 2013 - 08:57 PM

A simple first step in my opinion would be creating a full "Mobile" forum section, and inside forums for each mobile technology, as I suggested on the first post.


Mobile (section)

- iOS Game Programming

- Android Game Programming


Future (I dont think there would be enough people as of now for these):

- Windows Phone GP

- Indie Mobile Gaming


A second step I believe would be getting some active and knowledgeable people on those subjects to answer questions, post new content, start new discussion, create some tutorials...

#10 Dany0   Members   


Posted 23 July 2013 - 06:35 PM

I agree, the mechanics of mobile games, mainly due to the new inputs is so different it has become another branch, if not another era of game development, it totally deserves a new discussion platform. Here's my 50 cents, maybe you could collaborate with big mobile dev forums like xda-developers? (unity3d forums are also sizeable iirc) Add some inter-linking, I think it's totally appropriate given how the subjects (app and game development) touch a lot.

#11 Dragonsoulj   Members   

Posted 23 July 2013 - 09:20 PM

I'll throw in a little thought to this. I agree bringing in more mobile could enliven the community, but a whole section dedicated to it I am not sure of. Games, regardless of platform, have the same sections -- you have graphics, input, potentially networking, gameplay, sound, AI, math and physics etc. Why split off and have mobile as a whole other section of the forums, with iOS, Android, Windows Phone and other subsections? If we do this, we may as well have a PC (in the personal computer sense) section with OS X, Windows, and Linux subsections. (I do notice we have a mobile and console development section, which also makes me wonder why we divided it as such.)


If we do wish to have sections dedicated to various operating systems, why not have a platform section, with PC, Mobile, and Console subsections, splitting off into OS X, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, Firefox OS, Windows Phone, XBL, and so on? Leave these areas for questions/threads pertaining to those platforms. Maybe not have specific operating system subsections, but just tag posts with the operating system in quesiton.

#12 frob   Moderators   

Posted 23 July 2013 - 09:41 PM

The site tends to have a core of beginners and education. Most people who read the site range from beginner to intermediate developers.

The site does a lot of hand-holding discussion. That is good. There is absolutely a need for that.

Mobile development tends to be a subject that is... well, not for beginners. Cross-compiling for a non-native platform, debugging on emulators and devices, and using less-than-stellar tools that are available in the mobile space are hard enough even for intermediate to advanced developers. Things often do not work as advertised. Tutorials and documentation are out of date almost as fast as they are written, and frequently don't match the shipping libraries. One piece of advice seen frequently in the Mobile & Consoles forum by those struggling with a library is to ignore the documentation and ignore the tutorials, but dig in to the actual source. These are added difficulties that beginners don't need.

Because most mobile developers are experienced developers the resources they generally need the most are API-details and gotchas. There are currently three major types of sites for mobile develpers. There are the general discussion forums (such as XDA Developers), there are tools-specific discussion forums (like Unity boards) and there are the primary documentation sources (like Developer.Android or Developer.Apple).

First in the list are sites like XDA Developers. If you frequent them, you'll notice the main discussion boards mostly consist of product announcements followed by updates "doesn't work on..." and "tyvm" posts. Then there are the device-specific questions that are sometimes answered but very frequently get no answer other than "please help me too" and "...anyone?" bumps. The specific questions are usually too specific for general discussion so they often don't see specific replies. XDA Developers has some gems in the mix, but the signal-to-noise ratio is pretty terrible in my experience. Answering that type of question usually requires direct experience with those devices, which few people have. This makes it difficult for ANY site to have discussions on the topics; they are either unrelated or over-specific for good discussion.

Then there are the tool-specific discussion forums. These are maintained by their own expert communities and it would be hard to compete. I'm not sure how we could cooperate more than we do. Generally there are links from here to there because their sites have complete answers written by experts on their tools. I'm not entirely sure how we would expand our resources here; when someone needs help with Bullet or Unity or Havok, each one has their own boards dedicated to their support, so why go here instead? I don't have a good answer for that, but I'd love to hear suggestions.

Last are the primary SDK sources. If you are looking up something in the SDK you generally don't need much hand-holding and discussion. You are generally looking up very specific notes on a very specific function. If that documentation doesn't have the answer I spend about 60 seconds on Google trying to find the exact phrase. It usually turns up nothing, so I go source diving myself.

For me, when I want information my sources are almost always either the SDK/library documentation, and then the source code. I suppose I could start creating resources myself by documenting the results every time I go digging.

I am an advanced developer and I learned to program during the 1980s and early 1990s. I used paper books and source diving because the Internet and simple tutorials didn't exist as they do today. Beginners today even want video tutorials for programming, which really doesn't make sense in my mind. So in some ways I'm out of touch with the teenage beginner, and I think from a more mature software developer perspective.

I have a hard time finding ways to provide value in addition to or in augmentation of those three types of sources. They don't seem to fit the hand-holding, for beginners style of the site.

I would also love to see some ideas that we can expand on for mobile developers.

Check out my book, Game Development with Unity, aimed at beginners who want to build fun games fast.

Also check out my personal website at bryanwagstaff.com, where I occasionally write about assorted stuff.

#13 Rottz   Members   


Posted 23 July 2013 - 10:46 PM

Great analysis there, frob.


Let me break my post into blocks:


- Mobile and beginners: well, I agree that mobile programming is not for complete beginners (who don't know how to program), but from my observation, it is one of the major entry point for programmers these days (due to its market size mostly, not because it is easy). And since it is increasingly popular, the tools are becoming easier and more accessible.


- Mobile fragmentation and complexity: it is not a reality anymore. It was a reality back on BREW days and custom OSes. Now that we have only 3 OSes you rarely have to think about the hardware or specific issues. I am spending some time on #android-dev on IRC and rarely during the discussions and questions specific hardware models come up. Also tools are simple and well tested. The only things that "fragments" the knowledge when making games are the different libraries (if I ask an AndEngine question then a Cocos guy won't be able to help me), and I agree that most libraries aren't well documented. But that's one of the roles of the forum: to distill information to beginners.


- Having Library-specific forums: I don't agree, since those libraries usually have their forums as pointed by frob, and those forums are of course the #1 source for that knowledge. We have not much to add. But there they don't have all the rest we do (game business discussions, idea, Indie Projs, marketplace, etc), so I as a developer of a certain library would rather spend my time here, and then occasionally go to the specific library forum when I have a major complex question (as long as my "normal" questions are properly addressed here by other devs with similar knowledge as me).


- Having OS-specific forums: I completely agree. Back when I was active here, the Game Development forum was the main discussion forum, and there wasn't OS-specific forums. OK, but the world has changed! Back then, 95% (probably more) of the discussion in that forum was Windows game programming (DirectX, OpenGL, bare Win32, etc), so it WAS in fact a "Windows Game Development". Simply there wasnt a market for the other OSes in gaming and/or game development. Now we do, so I definitely think we should have more specific forums, as long as there is a balance so we don't end up with 30 different empty forums. For example, I, as a dev, don't feel comfortable asking Android questions, starting Android-related discussions, posting Android tutorials/challenges... on a generic Mobile forum.


To sum it up: I don't think we should be reference for very specific technical problem during your game. For that there is SO and specific forums (such as a library you might be using). I think we should be where game devs gravitate around while making a game. He spends time here during his whole development cycle, but also go to some other places where GDN failed (on purpose or not) to provide him the needed resource. But he comes back because this is where he is showcasing his Indie game. This is where he finds images/sounds for his games. Reads some articles for inspiration. Discusses some ideas... etc

#14 Rottz   Members   


Posted 28 July 2013 - 11:14 PM

Sorry to bump, but how about we start giving some practical suggestions/brainstorm?


Just to start it, what about:

  1. Technical Discussions - Platforms
    1. Windows
    2. Other PC OSes
    3. Consoles
    4. Mobile iOS
    5. Mobile Android
    6. Mobile other OSes
  2. Business Side
    1. Mobile Monetization (including advertising/awareness increase)


Obviously all the other technical and business forums would continue to exist, I just mentioned the ones with proposed changes or creation.


On the business side, theres huge and specific discussions on mobile monetization, so in my opinion it deserves forum on its own. But certainly dont need to separate iOS/Android/Windows Phone/etc, the discussion topics are pretty much the same anywhere. Discussions here would cover topics such as: best paying ad networks, difference of ad types, average eCPM, monetization strategies, in app purchases, "how much did you make on your last/current game", how to get more downloads, app store SEO optimization, etc.


On the technical side I dont know about console and other PC OSes, my vision will be from 10 years ago, so I step back to someone more experienced on the current market of this to suggest.


On the technical-mobile side, I dont think a "Mobile Other OSes" is really needed - the market is just too low right now for them. People wanting to discuss that could be directed to a more general forum. But at the same time, since there's not much market on this, maybe there are also no forums on this, so why not have it and see if it grows?


On the creative side I didnt propose any changes because I think it is basically the same process or discussions on any platform, but that doesnt mean it cant change also.


Well, those are my 2 cents stepping out of the theory and proposing something practical.

Edited by Rottz, 28 July 2013 - 11:17 PM.

#15 Rottz   Members   


Posted 11 August 2013 - 10:17 PM

So guys, any other ideas?


Michael, you mentioned you didn't want to spoil the topic by adding your ideas too soon... well, I think now is the time :)

#16 Servant of the Lord   Members   

Posted 11 August 2013 - 11:17 PM

Sometimes newer users improperly place their threads in the wrong sections - I wonder how much that might increase with additional subforums?

Will people be more likely to put general programming questions in the iOS section just because they happen to be coding on iOS? (Only iOS-specific questions should go into iOS)


And there's some overlap between OSes to: Does a Windows 8 phone fall under 'Windows' or 'Other phones'?

Does an Android-based console like Ouyu fall under Mobile Android or Console development?

How about an Android-based laptop? Is that an 'Other PC OS' or a 'Mobile Android' thread?


How about just have a "Touch devices" subforum, and let people tag it [iOS], [Android], [Win8], [BlackBerry], [Symbian]?


I'd love to see two separate subforums directed towards Monetization and Marketing - though it'd be great if it was open to all platforms. It'd be nice to discuss shareware, Free-to-play, in-game microtransactions, in-game ads, subscriptions, and DLC even for desktop or console games.

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#17 Bacterius   Members   

Posted 12 August 2013 - 01:52 AM

Will people be more likely to put general programming questions in the iOS section just because they happen to be coding on iOS? (Only iOS-specific questions should go into iOS)


Probably. I'm not inside the average user's head but if they came from google and are eager to get an answer they likely won't be looking for the right subforum and will simply post their thread wherever they happen to be - in other words, the iOS subforum they googled up. Because from a new user's perspective, all the subforums look very much the same. Besides, on one old forum I was there was a combo box of all subforums to choose from before posting, which I thought was pretty clever.. until I noticed that the Assembly section was getting most of the traffic.


But I think that's not too much of a problem, really. I don't think there would be a huge inflood of new members suddenly dumping questions everywhere at random, and a lot of members tend to stick around after their first post anyway cool.png so yeah. I think subdividing into more subforums like you suggest would be a good initiative, but the problem with these kinds of subforums is that they end up mostly empty if (1) nobody notices them and (2) not many questions are going to fall in there anyhow, leading to (3) members posting elsewhere to actually get answers because nobody is viewing their thread in the right section sad.png

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#18 Rottz   Members   


Posted 12 August 2013 - 03:15 PM

Regarding the overlap of subjects, I agree that might happen, but most of the topics mentioned are (in my opinion) niches that don't deserve a forum of its own, or we will fall on the problem of having many empty forums. Those subjects should be brought either to the "wrong" or a more general forum, or even not brought at all.


Grabbing something Michael mentioned earlier on either this thread or on the other suggestion thread ("Should we focus on dev more..."), I feel it's best to have a couple of specialized forums being a reference with heavy discussions and info, than having general shallow forums. Shallow forums makes not much sense to me most of the time, since a forum is a place to go to find people to talk about a very specific subject.


I believe that we should have forums on big subjects only. I (as a user) don't feel comfortable on having different subjects on the same forum as suggested by Servant. I don't post as much on such cases. Having a specialized forum makes me comfortable on posting anything on that theme, regardless of the thread being an easy or a very advanced topic. Speaking as a user again, if there was already an Android forum (and/or a monetization/marketing one) I would be reading, replying and posting there heavily (while these last weeks I have only visited this Ideas subforum).

#19 jbadams   Senior Staff   

Posted 12 August 2013 - 08:26 PM

I (as a user) don't feel comfortable on having different subjects on the same forum as suggested by Servant. I don't post as much on such cases. Having a specialized forum makes me comfortable on posting anything on that theme, regardless of the thread being an easy or a very advanced topic.

Do a lot of other people feel this way?


Please speak up if you agree or disagree with this, as we'd really love to know if this is a common or rare point of view!

- Jason Astle-Adams

#20 Dragonsoulj   Members   

Posted 12 August 2013 - 10:03 PM

I'm split on that matter. If we have less divisions that makes areas more active due to covering larger areas, but those that specialize in certain areas may not find that niche as easily and be able to reply to the threads within their field of expertise. The posts may get lost in the newly created masses.

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