Forum Neighborhood

As the deadline draws nearer for when game company forums at the Forge to become archived as part of the Forge entering its Winter phase, I'm considering my options and wonder what other folks are planning to do to keep in touch with people who want to talk about their games.

What are the good forum programs or services? Would anyone be interested in having some kind of virtual neighborhood for these forums so we can keep some of the community we've built and create more? Is there anything like this already?

(I'm not sure exactly where to put this thread, so feel free to move as needed.)

Comments

  • A fine place for this question, and a fine question as well.

    I know of at least one other person who's really interested in this sort of question as well.

    Thanks!
    -Andy
  • The way RPGGeek is structured, every game and every publisher entered into the database essentially gets a dedicated forum for discussions.
  • I also think http://www.rpggeek.com/ is the way to go!
  • My first on opening this thread was that it would be an appeal for adding a 'neighborhood' function of some kind to this site.

    Which I think is a good idea. So, hey: Andy, you should totally do that.
  • edited December 2010
    Mister Kitkowski's Story Games Neighborhood.

    Every morning when I come in, I take of my oversized Nike athletic windbreaker and change into another oversized Nike athletic windbreaker, then I lace/unlace my Onitsuka Tigers.

    Then I take a cool shot of ice-cold sake, to kick things off.

    image

    Won't you be, won't you be, please won't you be... My Neighbor.
  • I was super excited to check out Ribbon Drive on RPGGeek and find out that there were reviews, AP posts, musings in mix CDs...
    RPGGeek seems like a good place to build up conversations, and it already has a large population.
  • If that happened all it would take (in my mind) is having a forum topics setting in your profile. A few standard and the rest opt-in. Right?
  • Some thoughts:
    Posted By: Levi KornelsenMy first on opening this thread was that it would be an appeal for adding a 'neighborhood' function of some kind to this site.
    Levi: What would you like to see on such a function? Just curious re your thoughts.

    As for the original topic. Here's some ideas:

    * Do it yourself.
    Pros:
    You get to create a community in your image to some degree.
    Tightness of function.
    Most forum software is blindingly easy to install and setup; so you get to learn a bit about that stuff as you go along.
    Cons:
    If something breaks, you gotta fix it.
    Asshats.
    Your own community == harder to get people to join (vs attaching to an established community).

    * Latch on to another: like Facebook, RPGGeek, RPGNet etc.
    Pros:
    Already a large crowd of people on the site/tool, so not hard for them to join (they won't have to create a new account, etc)
    You don't have to do any coding or troubleshooting if things break.
    Cons:
    Little control over the functionality or form, or community that arrives.

    -Andy
  • Posted By: AndyLevi: What would you like to see on such a function? Just curious re your thoughts.
    Someone (who hung out here, I think) had set up a vanilla forum that included "Goggles"; the ability to turn specific hard-coded categories of posts on and off. I've always wondered why Praxis wasn't implemented that way, and now I wonder that about this.

    So, under the "Discussion filters", imagine three big ticky-boxes.

    O - General Discussion.
    O - General Design.
    O - The Neighborhood.
    (And under The Neighborhood would be a bunch of little boxes)

    So, normally, the first box would be ticked - and that'd be the forum we have right now. If you ticked the second, all the Praxis posts would appear. If you ticked the third, discussions of specific games would appear (and you could turn individual games on and off). Unticking a box would vanish posts in that category.

    Which gives you all the real estate of a place like RPGnet, without the "echoing silence" feel of unused subthingies.
  • edited December 2010

    What I'd really like is an aggregator. I started setting this up on my own and got in over my head technically, but I'd be happy to work with someone who can make it happen for real.

    An RSS feed is usually just a switch in forum software, and often just a url. A blog, properly themed, that kept track of activities on other fora would be really great. You could keep a sidebar of bookmarked favorites by user, and then use it to discover new ones.

    I was reasonably confident that I could do this with Wordpress and some help, but then I couldn't keep prioritizing the project.

    In case it's not obvious, the benefits of interoperability (instead of a single, central resource) are:

    • Graceful failure. When my forum goes down, yours doesn't. If the RSS feed dies, it could even say that on the aggregator. If the aggregator goes down, it doesn't take down my forum.
    • A wide variety of moderatorial voices
    • Founders choose aesthetics chosen according to the topic of the forum, rather than a single, least offensive option.
    • Storage, bandwidth, and processing are distributed. The Forge took a big boot the the gnuts about a year ago because the database had become just so big. The resulting crash cost threads and, more importantly, a week of Vincent's time. If the aggregator goes down for real, someone else can eventually pick it up. It's much simpler to keep running than a single giant forum.

    The site could also host fora, so people who didn't want to do the technical parts would still be able to get the moderatorial benefits. The hosted fora would go in the same list, in the same way, as fora aggregated from elsewhere.

  • The thing about RPGGeek is that there's already so much stuff there, that new community like the Forge Diaspora would just be lost in the muddle. I think that Planet Story Games is a start in this direction, but I feel like Emily is talking about something a bit greater. I'd definately be interested in a neighborhood of some kind myself.

    Peace,

    -Troy
  • edited December 2010
    I love my Vbulletin software, but it is for pay, not free.

    VBulletin is probably too much for one small press game, but the Vbulletin package powers RPG.net. So it could totally act as the forums software for a group of small press games.

    -L
  • Perhaps another thread, but am I the only person that thinks the layout of Boardgame/RPG Geek is a horrendous muddle?
  • I came to this thread to say that Andy looks like a total Bro.

    Also, a bunch of us who want game forums and currently use or were planning on using the Forge could probably pool and form a new forum. Webhosting and setting up free forum software (like the fine software we have here, Vanilla!) isn't that hard.
  • As the token guy who buys games, I would really love it if there was a family of game-specific Indie forums somewhere on the internet. It was really nice when the Forge game forums were cooking.

    Could you rent space from RPG.Net? Their backoffice is pretty good at keeping a giant forum running 24/7 and a fair number of your online fans are already on there. They've already got an alternate forum running on the same software dedicated to science fiction, I believe.
  • Posted By: Keith FyansPerhaps another thread, but am I the only person that thinks the layout of Boardgame/RPG Geek is a horrendous muddle?
    You are not! I use BGG as a certain kind of resource, but for foruming, it sucks!
  • Posted By: Troy_CostisickThe thing about RPGGeek is that there's already so much stuff there, that new community like the Forge Diaspora would just be lost in the muddle.
    Lost how? I would think that, as games with a culture of discussion and AP posts around them, Forge-type games would have an advantage in getting attention on RPGGeek, if more people from this community started using the site.
    Posted By: Keith FyansPerhaps another thread, but am I the only person that thinks the layout of Boardgame/RPG Geek is a horrendous muddle?
    Probably another thread, but... do you mean the front page or the game/publisher/etc. specific pages?
  • Posted By: Emily CareAs the deadline draws nearer for when game company forums at the Forge to become archived as part of theForge entering its Winter phase, I'm considering my options and wonder what other folks are planning to do to keep in touch with people who want to talk about their games.
    I've been thinking about this as well. My options seem to come down as follows:
    • Don't have a personal forum anymore; no killer, people can discuss things with me at my blog or non-dedicated forums or by email or whatever. The advantage is that there's no work involved, and in truth most of us don't need any sort of dedicated forums for our business or artistic work anyway.
    • Wait for somebody else to do something and then ride on their coattails. The advantage is as above, and you don't have to join whatever effort comes up if it's too hipster/American/low-brow or whatever else.
    • Start up a new forum with some concept that matches my own needs. Examples include "Forum for myself and any other indie publishers who want a subforum, with some common discussion area", "Forge Europe", "Nordic Haute Couture RPG Forums", "Just like the Forge", "My Webstore Now Has a Forum" and "Bi-Lingual Finnish/English RPG Forum", among others. The advantage is that my own subforum doesn't die on the vine if it's part of an otherwise functional forum community.
    • Start up my own forum solely for myself. This is the worst option, I think, as my dedicated audience is an order of magnitude too small to maintain any sort of active community. Dead forums are a waste of time.
    Those are roughly in the order of preference. At the moment I'm leaning towards the first two options, but I guess I could theoretically start up a new forum at some point if I felt like it had a chance to develop into a viable community; I'd be especially interested in something that managed to break new blood and viewpoints into the Forge scene, such as attracting Jim Raggi onto the same forum with myself. No chance of me starting up a Arkenstone-only forum, those small forums with a dozen messages from the owner and no discussion since 2005 are pathetic things.

    Joshua makes a good case for cloud-operation aggregation, but there is a big downside to it: what separates a forum community from an aggregated cloud is that the forum member has a priori privileges as regards participation in any discussion that catches his eye; a cloud of blogs and especially forums doesn't achieve the same sort of intensity because people like myself simply won't bother to sign up and log in at some forum just to answer some discussion thread. There are people with different web attitudes, of course, but the friction here would basically make for more cliques and less discussion than an unified forum catches. As an example of the phenomenon, one can consider the fact that it took me three years of observation before I joined the Forge, and I only joined SG in 2008 to cynically market my games.

    Story Games supporting publisher-specific sections, especially with some usable filtering options, would be pretty nice - SG is not as good as Forge is in cultural terms (too hipster and nice for me, not enough patriarchal intellectualism), but the crowd is good from a publisher perspective and the general content here is more in line with the typical publisher forum's content already; at the Forge the publisher forums have a noticeably different tone from the rest of the discussion. Don't know if this would be compatible with the SG culture in general, though; might be, especially if the publishers wouldn't moderate their own areas and so on. Ultimately I suspect that this would be pointless, though, considering the structure of the Vanilla forums and the SG culture; there's no actual benefit in categorizing discussions on the basis of game publisher that isn't gained in the current set-up already.

    If anybody wants to start up a new forum of publisher/designer-specific subforums, seems reliable as a maintainer and makes the culturally right choices in the forum trade dress and such, I wouldn't be averse to joining that. The Forge system wherein each publisher moderates their own small section is interesting in how it encourages the designer to hang around and be reliable about discussing things with people who play their games. Something like this wouldn't even need to be particularly active as long as there was a large enough line-up of publishers and some reliability to the publishers really following their own sections.
  • I'd be willing to set this up and wrangle the hosting and whatnot for it. Hell, I'd even be willing to pay the entirety of the hosting cost unless bandwidth got obscene. My little contribution to the hobby or whatever. It's up to you if I'm reliable or not. I'd just want to know that a relative handful of people would be interested in jumping aboard before I committed to it.
  • Posted By: Levi KornelsenSomeone (who hung out here, I think) had set up a vanilla forum that included "Goggles"; the ability to turn specific hard-coded categories of posts on and off. I've always wondered why Praxis wasn't implemented that way, and now I wonder that about this.
    Woah. That sounds pretty hot, actually. Unfortunately, I cannot find any documentation (at lussumo.com or otherwise) on "goggles", but if you can find that let me know. That's actually exactly what I was looking for when I made the split; lack of it (plus lack of coding skillz to do it myself) meant that I had to create the second DB.

    If you can find this extension/whatever it is, or point me at it, I'll see what I can do to remerge Praxis back with S-G. Two DBs is a pain in the ass.
    Posted By: Luke WheelI love my Vbulletin software, but it is for pay, not free.
    It's been a while since I checked it out. But at that price, for what it now does... that's pretty hot, actually. Hmmmm. Hmmmmmmmm.

    There are alternatives like phpBB, SMF. The only problem with them being that if you don't stay on top of every single little patch, hackers will bite off your dick.
    Posted By: DannyKCould you rent space from RPG.Net?
    You can request a fan forum that people could join if they knew about it. The only problem with that is that, while RPGNet is a great place for gamers, you're also basically buying into the uranium-dense Tangency as well. Which IMO sucks. But don't get me started on that (or JDCorley, cause he'll get banned).

    -Andy
  • Posted By: Keith FyansPerhaps another thread, but am I the only person that thinks the layout of Boardgame/RPG Geek is a horrendous muddle?
    I don't think this is unrelated at all. The design (or lack of) itself would certainly keep me from ever visiting it, unless there was no other option. I don't want to visit noisy, disorganized websites regularly.
  • edited December 2010
    I was thinking more of asking Skotos, the company that runs RPG.Net if they'd be interested in running a separate server space for y'all. I love RPG.Net, it's my virtual home, but it kind of sucks for this purpose.

    Also, I would totally kick a few dollars in to a "Forge in all but name" project, if somebody else does all the work. That would be awesome.
  • edited December 2010
    Posted By: Joshua A.C. NewmanGraceful failure. When my forum goes down, yours doesn't. If the RSS feed dies, it could even say that on the aggregator. If the aggregator goes down, it doesn't take down my forum.
    The actual name for this is "failsafe", in other words, it "fails safe". And now you know.
    Posted By: AndyThe only problem with that is that, while RPGNet is a great place for gamers, you're also basically buying into the uranium-dense Tangency as well. Which IMO sucks. But don't get me started on that (or JDCorley, cause he'll get banned).

    image
  • edited December 2010
    Posted By: AndyYou can request a fan forum that people could join if they knew about it. The only problem with that is that, while RPGNet is a great place for gamers, you're also basically buying into the uranium-dense Tangency as well. Which IMO sucks. But don't get me started on that (or JDCorley, cause he'll get banned).
    I love RPGnet, and Tangency, and every single little thing about it, bless it's goddamn cotton socks. But, man, is it exactly the wrong kind of place for the vague, ill-defined concept I think is being pitched around.

    "Neighborhood" kind of implies that people own their own homes. That community comes in terms of "fellow travelers, in parallel", rather than a group in unity. That whole aesthetic, you know the one.
  • I agree with Levi here. RPGnet is like the mall. It's got a bunch of different shops and venues and tons of people you can meet but going there inevitably means leaving your neighbourhood.

    I also agree with the messy layout of the RPGGeek (& Boardgame geek) sites. It's a great database with a lot of activity, but I always get a brain aneurysm just trying to find the right tab to click on to get where I want. Maybe I'm just dumb.

    Aggregates are cool, but Joshua is right, I think. An aggregate just collects data, it doesn't necessarily encourage discussion or bring people closer together.

    If you just want a page for your game/game company, I think Facebook is actually a pretty great idea. Facebook is inherently a social network, so you're just latching onto it etc. But it's probably not good for finding customers or anything, just established fans. BWHQ recently got a page.

    But if Story Games can handle this and expand with something like the aforementioned Goggles, that would be great. Or even if a new, sister site would be put up. I'd even pitch some $$$ if it was done right.
  • edited December 2010
    I'd love to see a common site with forums that anyone who'd like to can use. Bret that is a generous offer! It would be ideal if it could also include aggregation. I envision something with an rss feed of Planet Story Games, with an on-site set of forums and then links to off-site forums and blogs. Eppy made the comment the other day that it would be great if there was a small press etsy. I wonder what number of companies would be needed for critical mass.
    Posted By: Levi Kornelsen
    "Neighborhood" kind of implies that people own their own homes. That community comes in terms of "fellow travelers, in parallel", rather than a group in unity. That whole aesthetic, you know the one.
    Yeah, I guess I'm thinking of a co-housing type model. Where some people live in the common house, but there are other houses built to spec for other folks who also want to share the garden and have parties and barn raisings together.
  • What ever happened to web rings? Seems like folks running SMF/Vanilla/whatever could add a web ring embed to their header/footer and find anyone who joined into the "neighborhood."

    I also like the idea of an "RSS of everyone's RSS"--kind of like the digg of Indie RPG forums. So any post above a certain threshold (new threads? specific posters? a weird combination thereof) pushes a new RSS item to the aggregator, which is what folks who want the "neighborhood" subscribe to. (Folks who want to "watch a house" subscribe to the particular game's/publisher's forum.)

    I'm VERY close to using RSS only for forum watching--clicking into a What's New search on a regular basis isn't very practical for me, anymore, and it's not easy to do on my phone (like using my RSS reader is). Sure, if I want to post, I click through. But it's fast getting to about 80% of threads I ignore... and yet they keep bubbling up into the New Posts views of the forums, if popular. With an RSS feed of new threads (and a fast way to click "RSS for Comments in THIS thread") then I'd probably never visit the "front end" of a forum site again.

    Google Me will make all this crap obsolete, by the way. ;)
  • It sounds like some folks are describing something similar to RPG Bloggers, but with the addition of a communal forum area. Which actually sounds pretty cool to me.
  • edited December 2010
    If anyone just wants a place to share space, and thus community, I would be more than willing to offer up space to designers on my own forum. It already has a relatively active community built in.
  • edited December 2010
    BTW, not really here nor there, but if folks wanted to see what Vanilla 2 is like (the new version of Vanilla, with lots of good features, and lack of others like Whispers), I set up a dumb little playground over here to test it out:

    http://story-games.com/van2test/

    I turned off the "Apply for membership" bit in favor of allowing folks to sign up so they can test it out.

    Test it, play with it, bomb it, wreck it. Test out its features.

    Stuff I like:
    * Simple, straightforward, like Vanilla.

    Stuff I don't like:
    * No whispers: I like having a private conversation in the middle of another conversation.
    * Quotation doesn't work.
    * Only one style, it doesn't seem that users can select their own style.

    Migration? ... ... ... ...still waffling. At this time, don't think so until more features are solid.
  • Heya,

    I’ve been trying for the last three days to locate a link, but alas, I cannot find it. Anyway, I’ll explain it. Back after the RPG Theory and GNS forums were closed, there was a lot of talk about creating new, central community website. I know Vincent and Clinton were two of the guys who really talked this up. I want to say NinjaJ had a lot of good ideas too.

    Anyway, it went sorta like this. The front page would be like a newspaper. There’d be several columns. In one column would be headlines. These headlines would be Blog entries. I think Planet Story Games was started as a result of this idea. In another column would be Most Recent Posts from the Forge and Story Games and/or maybe a forum hosted on the site. In another column would be peer-reviewed articles written by a small group of designers working together under the umbrella of independent RPG publishing. I think RPG Theory Review was inspired by this idea. Finally, at the bottom, would be a store. I think the Forge Bookshelf or IPR were mentioned as possibilities for this. The idea was, the Diaspora would be aggregated on this Newspaper site so everyone could still stay in touch. I think other ideas like a guest book and FindPlay were tossed around too. Maybe some classifieds for artists and playtesters?

    All that’s from pretty foggy memory from five years ago, but I think those desires still remain. The above is what I’d like to see as a “Neighborhood” for the publishers and fans of indie rpgs.

    Peace,

    -Troy
  • Posted By: Troy_Costisick The front page would be like a newspaper. There’d be several columns. In one column would be headlines. These headlines would be Blog entries. I think Planet Story Games was started as a result of this idea. In another column would be Most Recent Posts from the Forge and Story Games and/or maybe a forum hosted on the site. In another column would be peer-reviewed articles written by a small group of designers working together under the umbrella of independent RPG publishing. I think RPG Theory Review was inspired by this idea. Finally, at the bottom, would be a store. I think the Forge Bookshelf or IPR were mentioned as possibilities for this. The idea was, the Diaspora would be aggregated on this Newspaper site so everyone could still stay in touch. I think other ideas like a guest book and FindPlay were tossed around too. Maybe some classifieds for artists and playtesters?
    That would be awesome. Getting the peer reviewed articles would be a task unto itself, but aggregating blogs by having a feed of planet storygames frex would be easy. Having it tied to a market place would be ideal too. I think Vincent has had ideas about having reviews of games on the un-store. I wonder if there could be something where folks publicize their products and sales at the Newspaper site, with links that tie out to the various fulfillment & distribution sites like the unstore, IPR, DriveThru etc. I wonder how new social media like Twitter and Facebook could tie in?
  • I want to have the crack house in the new forum neighborhood, and sit on the front stoop looking menacingly at whoever passes my way.
  • Posted By: JDCorleyI want to have the crack house in the new forum neighborhood, and sit on the front stoop looking menacingly at whoever passes my way.
    Are you my dad?
  • To those considering a move to rpggeek I was told on the related site boardgamegeek.com that it is Aldie's house. To whit:

    You are welcome to contribute to cleaning and decorating and making the place generally better. However, the decoration can only be of a certain type and never complain if you want to paint the place in any other colour than magnolia. It's Aldie's place, after all.

    It says it's a community but doesn't seem to allow any sort of diversity or dissent. I have review a few boardgames there and people got a tad upset a couple of negative ones. However, these get about 5 times more thumbs than the straight analytical ones.

    The moderating process is utterly opaque - I got banned for calling someone a "see-you-next-Tuesday." I don't dispute that I should be banned for this. However, this guy was talking about the profoundly negative effect Gary Gygax had had on gaming in the thread that announced he had died, and about four hours after Gygax had actually died. The worst thing about the incident that the utterly insensitive and provocative post got pulled. With the Forge if you're an arsehole it generally stays on there.

    I get tired of being lectured by Texan Christians who have microbadges that say "BGG is a community" and "Christian." In my experience diversity is essential to prevent a community becoming a horrid little clique. Instead you get lectured about how it is Aldie's House. I now use BGG to see what new boardgames are around. I can get better info on RPGs at places other than rpggeek.

    plus there's too much D&D/Savage Worlds talk for my liking and not a single review of Dogs in the Vineyard.

    I like the distinctiveness and diversity of the indie games world and that you can enter into a thought-provoking discussion. Wherever people end up I'd like to see those characteristics that made the Forge a wonderful and frustrating experience present also.

    [/rant]
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