Game Websites

edited May 2015 in Directed Promotion
(I wasn't sure what category to put this in, so I'm considering the target audience of this category; people who have games promoted or ready to promote.)

So, one of the things the pros will tell you is that you have to have a website for your game. Being a web developer, I'm down with that as a concept. But what should you put on your website? What sorts of things do you find most useful about other games' websites?

Comments

  • Because this thread is self-serving as well as community-serving, I'll start with the reason I ask. This is a thing now: http://daytrippersrpg.com/

    I've installed a Forum, and I'm wondering what topics might work best in it. But since the site is brand-spankin-new, I'm still open to all other sorts of changes and ideas, so I'm asking y'all.

  • I rarely visit games' websites.

    When I do, I think I most enjoy and appreciate seeing the following:

    * Easily accessible downloads/materials. Makes me want to come back often. Sites which make a lot of rules documents or materials available are attractive (as opposed to, for instance, having to log into DruveThruRPG to download a character sheet).

    * An active community. (Not necessarily in the site's owner's hands, of course.)

    * Lots of good Actual Play reports (or, more likely, links to the same)

    * Interesting discussion (e.g. blog posts) on the design features of the game in question. ("Here's how the experience system in our game works, and why we designed it that way: ...")

    Overall, I enjoy seeing less advertising/selling and more open discussion or analysis.
  • Same here: posts about design goals tied with Actual Play reports in particular (I came with X mechanic because Y, see how that ends up working in scenario Z/AP).

    Information about the game, along with a collection of reviews (or links to reviews) done by other people is always nice.

    Downloadable resources would be the main things for me - character sheets, con scenarios, fan-made stuff, all that action.
  • edited May 2015
    Pretty similar:
    - Download section (from developer, as well as fan hacks)
    - Introduction to the game (sample pdf, short video, intro web page)
    - Links collection (all reviews, where to buy etc)
    - News
    - Project Status/Milestones (i.e. like Evil Hat's Project Status page)
    - No own forum please (preferrably G+)
    - One thing often missing: photo of game developer! (+ some personal background)
  • Show, don't sell. Fan material is the most inclusive vibe.

  • I'd be interested in links to actual play recorded sessions on twitch, youtube or soundcloud.

    I'd also be interested in some type of matchmaking service for fans. Right now I'm trying to run a realitypunk game on Roll20, but I'm having trouble getting interest. A forum would work, but I'm not sure a local forum is the best choice. A link to a subreddit might work just as well.

    BTW: I had no idea there were so many realitypunk games right now. There's another one popping up every day. Here's mine.

  • General agreement with what other people have said.

    - Brief descriptive information about the game
    - Links to places you can get the game
    - Free stuff for the game - "previews" or adventures, or playbooks, or whatever is appropriate.
    - Information about any upcoming products
    - Links to fan content/AP reports/etc.
  • Thanks very much, people! I'm working on it!

  • - No own forum please (preferrably G+)
    I kinda agree on this, certainly it's taking on more work and posting stuff in more places, which is a PITA. And you have to watch it closely, lest your forum be overrun by arguments that have nothing to do with the topic. But I'm so fucking jealous of Vincent's forum, it makes me reject decades of web marketing experience and believe it can work.

    Paul says "Active Community" - of which I think a living forum would be one good indicator. Other folks: what are your thoughts on game sites with forums?

  • Speaking purely for myself, I prefer to see links to communities I'm already a part of, whether S-G, Vincent's forums, G+, or whatever else. It would take some serious convincing for me to sign up for a new forum for no good reason.

    But things like a plethora of downloadable fan materials and links to active play threads on another forum create a clear sense of community for me; it doesn't necessarily all have to be hosted "on site".
  • I like blog posts that describe what's happening with your game - it got reviewed by this lady, it got played at this convention and here's what it was like, etc.

    If nothing's happening with your game, then don't worry about your website.
  • edited May 2015
    - Download section (from developer, as well as fan hacks)
    - Introduction to the game (sample pdf, short video, intro web page)
    - Links collection (all reviews, where to buy etc)
    - News
    - Project Status/Milestones (i.e. like Evil Hat's Project Status page)
    This is pretty much all I look for. Usually less than that, in fact; I generally won't bother watching a video, unless you're so seriously amazing at making them that you could actually make a living doing that. And I guess you can skip News and Project Status stuff if there isn't any of either; a website that's just a virtual billboard and one-stop link aggregator is fine.

    Oh -- except to add that I like to be able to easily find FAQs about all the things in your game that people find confusing. Errata, best practices, explanations, that kind of thing. It's nice when a developer actually takes the time to answer questions, clarify things, and go back to fix things that turned out to be broken, and the less I need to Google for that kind of information, the better.
  • Yeah, I think frequent news/updates/blog posts are key, even if it's just linking to reviews and commentary. Gives people an incentive to keep checking in.
  • Huh, just to add a data point, my site is all about stuff. Rules to download, web based toys/utilities to play with. No blogs, no community.
  • What is it called, when you create users that will be using your service?

    Anyway, I normally go to a game company with a specific task in mind, and that's if I need anything during the game session. It can be the game rules, character sheets, or maps.

    I can also go to a gaming company's site if I really like one of their games, and wants to check out what other products they have. But to do that, the URL must be easily accessed, like being on the box and/or the rulebook. So a pitch of the games and more material (reviews or previews), if I want to dig deeper, is a must.

    I have never started to read game theory articles and then wanted to pick up the author's game, unless what they write about are general ideas with examples from other games and then - after a few articles - they make the game as an example to show their game theory. (Talking about game theory with their own games in focus will never make me interested in their games, because they are trying to sell their games more than their theories.)
  • edited May 2015
    Principally game support, in the form of free character sheets and scenario ideas etc. And thanks for asking, I'm currently wrestling with this one myself. Wrt to whether you're serving yourself or the community: if you're providing free downloads etc. you are serving the community.
  • edited May 2015
    Huh, just to add a data point, my site is all about stuff. Rules to download, web based toys/utilities to play with. No blogs, no community.
    Out of interest Tod, why did you decide not to have a blog or community?

  • edited May 2015
    As far as DayTrippersrpg.com is concerned, it's a Drupal site, which means I can install more community features at the drop of a hat. I currently have a forum installed there, which is a community-type module. Of course with DT being a new system and all, I understand there's no "community" to speak of yet and therefore much of what I'm doing falls under the category of "marketing", or more specifically, "brand awareness".

    But my situation is a little more complex than a simple yes or no. Because I need to consider how to spread information around a bunch of different platforms, without feeling like I'm being redundant or - heavens forbid - predictable in any one of them. In addition to the daytrippersrpg.com site I have a Google+ Community, a Google+ "Collection", then there's my company website (AsIfProductions.com) and Patreon page (patreon.com/asif). I actually do post "blog-like" stuff on all of these platforms, at least once in a while. But I know that nobody (except me) reads all of them. So my personal question is larger than a single website. It's like: Which things should be released where? I suspect you're in a similar position, Catty.

    ETA: I realize this is a tangent to the OP, though. Separate question.

  • edited May 2015
    Honestly, it's probably for the best for developers to stay away (far away) from whatever community springs up around their game. Let fans be fans: let them make their things and fight their wars and celebrate each other in their own space without your oversight or input. Just having a way for your customers to ask questions and get answers is enough positive community-building for any developer, IMO; no need to host and run an entire forum for them. If they need one, they'll make one on their own.

    Unless, of course, you want to spend an increasing amount of time moderating forums and worrying about internet drama and dealing with spam and getting way too familiar with a small subset of your customers. (It sounds completely insane, but I guess some people DO want that?)
  • (Talking about game theory with their own games in focus will never make me interested in their games, because they are trying to sell their games more than their theories.)
    (Rickard, you've talked a lot about your theories here on this forum, and I would imagine it's made a good number of people interested in your games... I could be wrong of course! But if I ever see one of your games on a bookshelf, I will definitely flip through it, based on my interest in some of the things I've seen you write here on this forum.)

  • edited May 2015
    Yeah, me too. We're the type who seeks such information out. Then again, we're the type most likely to actually read it, whether we sought it out or not. :-)

  • (Rickard, you've talked a lot about your theories here on this forum, and I would imagine it's made a good number of people interested in your games...
    (Yes, but then you ... ah, whatta heck) Yes, but then you read the theories first and later on moved on to the game. My side note was about disguising how they want to push their game by dressing blog posts up in game design talk. So "game -> theories" wont sell me the game. "Theories -> game as an example of those" will.

    But that's just me.
  • edited May 2015
    Well, sure, if the posts are dishonest, that's no fun. But if they're interesting and informative, I'll read them happily.

    I like read "design journal"-type posts, for example. "After the last playtest, we changed such-and-such a rule because [reasons]." Those give me a sense of whether I like the direction the game is going and are interesting to read even if I have no interest in the game (which may change after reading several such posts). I have an insight into the designer's headspace, which gives me an idea of whether I might like the game (or even just enjoy reading the rules) and if something catches my attention, I'll want to learn more.

    However, I don't claim to be representative of... anyone!
  • I enjoy it as well, and even when it's used as a tool for a soft launch I don't feel it to be disingenuous or a poor way to push a game; I think that's one of the best ways to lead up to a release of a game.
  • edited May 2015
    Out of interest Todd, why did you decide not to have a blog or community?
    To be honest, I already have plenty of social media sites that I'm a regular on; here, Fear the Boot, Sunday Skypers, Facebook Groups, G+ Communities, Yahoo Groups, and heck I've even plugged my site when I've guest hosted on other podcasts (invited to do so, of course.) So, I really don't need my own stage to sing and shout from (or maintain with new content all the time.) :-)

    Technically, by being a part of larger game communities, I have a larger audience than what my one site could support. People thrive on variety, something that I can't constantly provide as a part timer.
  • @zircher Fair enough.
  • edited May 2015
    Another advantage of G+: You can cross-post & share very easily on similar forums, thus expanding your reach.
    A forum with 12 posts (half of them by the designer) is not very inviting. Comment section like on blogs can do the job in my opinion.

    Don't share Accountingfortaste's argument that the developer should stay away from the community. Being in a forum where the author is involved (active, not dominating), exchanging with him, asking specific questions is a huge plus in my book.
  • To be clear, I was arguing less for the developer going and hiding in a cave where they can't bother their game's fans, and more that a developer should let fans make their own spaces rather than trying to do it for them. If fans want a forum or a mailing list or a treehouse or whatever, they're perfectly capable of building it themselves. And if/when a developer goes to visit those fan-made spaces, they can then just be a friendly guest, answering questions and whatnot, rather than the center of attention and final voice of authority.

    (Although some days, hiding in a cave does seem like the best option. I mean, just think of all the work you could get done! ;) )
  • edited May 2015
    @AccountingForTaste I'm totally with you regarding developers entering fan-made spaces as visitors rather than creating those spaces themselves. However, if you're relatively unkown, that's not very likely to happen (at least not in the short term), so from that point of view setting up an interactive forum or blog makes good marketing sense IMO.
  • I think this is a tough call. (And I have a forum that doesn't have much activity www.ComposeDreamGames.com.)

    Really I think the 3 most important things are:
    1. Info and Downloads for the game
    2. Where can you get the game
    3. Providing regular updates in some fashion (this doesn't need to be a blog or forum, it could just be you updating content semi-regularly).

    3 is important because people like to feel like they are part of something that is currently being supported.
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