I’ve been setting the forum back up for the last few days, installing the mods to get it modern and such. SimpleMachines forum software is highly customizable, but originally came out when the big contact points were AIM, YIM, MSN, and ICQ. You gotta put some work in to bring it up to the now. The Discord has been set up since Team Pank started playing GTA V again and migrated to it from Steam Chat since we had to have it be voice-activated but with sensitivity adjustments. Gamepad controls don’t have a voice chat button and can’t be edited.
Simon, watching me fight with various website components over the last two weeks, questioned whether it was worth building community features before, you know, the game itself was built. And maybe it did seem very cart-before-the-horse but the fact of the matter is you need to be facilitating community-building before you get anywhere near releasing a game these days. There are tons of games on Steam that would be great multiplayer experiences, if only they had multiple players to play them with. Multiplayer games with no community at launch are dead in the water.
So Discord is an obvious choice as far as community facilitation goes, but I also wanted a forum, which might seem like an antiquated option in this day and age.
Probably my biggest argument for a forum is that it’s just nostalgic for me. I met half of my crew, Logan and Cyborg, over ten years ago on the Hitmanforum. I joined up a year or so before Blood Money came out so the place was way different than it is now. I still look back on that time fondly. We still have inside jokes from HMF.
And though I’ve moved on to reddit for that same exchange of ideas, in most cases, subreddits lack that sense of community. You don’t really read people’s usernames n there unless they give you a reason to. There’s no avatars or signatures in the discussion pages, so there’s nothing that immediately makes one user recognizable from another. Insular communities that forums provided have been superseded by larger social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, and tumblr, because they are convenient and you can one-stop-shop them. I know I’m not alone, though, in wishing for the old days when you didn’t just submit opinions for karma, but to hear what people you actually knew and recognized thought of them.
Too, I think people prefer to play with people they know over randoms, so a forum is a good way to let people get to know each other and coordinate crews from there.
There’s also, I think, an argument to be made that a forum might work better early on because you’re not expecting immediate feedback there. I actually debated too on not opening the Discord until I had a larger community behind the game. Discord is, ideally, supposed to be real time, but if you are a small community, like we will be, you’ll have to check back on it unless you happen to catch someone in there. Which makes the forum and the Discord functionally similar, but the expectation of the experience is different.
Ultimately, I decided that sooner is better than later and if both are available, you can decide which one you prefer.
However, I also don’t want you to get the impression that because I’m going out of my way to provide community space that I’m discouraging you from making a subreddit or the like. If fact, I think it is important that you have spaces that I am not in charge of.
Like, can you imagine how much shit we would not have been able to talk about PAYDAY‘s “Black Market” update if it weren’t for reddit and tumblr? The only other proper PAYDAY community was on the Steam forum, and Overkill had their mods policing that like a military state. I think reddit especially was instrumental to getting the micro-transactions reversed, since we were so vociferous in our fury that “Fuck you overkill” made it to the /all, alerting the entirety of the fourth most visited website in the world to their bullshit, and there was nothing Overkill could do about it. Like, I don’t ever want to give you a reason to need those communities in that way, but I do feel you should have them if for no other reason than that.
Participation in The Take! community, regardless of where, is the best thing that you can do to support the game. I hope you like what I’ve built for you, and would love to know if you build anything yourself.