New HobbyGameDev Online Community

Mar 10, 2014

Lately I’ve been trying something new. I’m always experimenting with new ways to help get more people further into hobby game making, however this latest effort is especially a change of approach.

I’m starting a forum.

It’ll be less about me talking (as tends to be the case on this site, for better and for worse), less about me engaging in short one-on-one (as I occasionally do with @HobbyGameDev on Twitter), and more about helping you connect with others in the same boat. Obviously, I’ll be chiming in too, but I’m every bit as interested in listening and supporting while helping you find others that share your (our!) passion for hobby videogame development.

What’s It About?

This space is specifically being designed for people doing non-commercial hobby or extracurricular videogame development. That means that zero budget goes into it, and zero revenue comes out of it. On the one hand, we’re not looking to keep anyone out just because they set up their game as donation-ware, experimented with putting a price on it for awhile out of curiosity, or maybe even tried putting some ads up during the loading screen. We’re not going to punish curiosity, or the hope that hey, maybe it’ll takeoff.

My point is mostly that we’re not going to be discussing ad deals, in-app purchases, sales timing, sponsorship, publisher arrangements, KickStarter pitches, or in general aspects of videogame making as-a-business. We might talk “marketing” in the sense of raising awareness through video trailers of gameplay put together on zero budget, but that’s about as close as we’re going to get to overlap.

We’re instead discussing videogame making as videogame making, with a clear focus on the creative freedoms that come from when we can find ways to do it without the pressures and obligations of doing it as a business.

What’s the Benefit?

I’m hoping that we’ll be able to better support one another’s good development habits: staying consistent in our progress updates to keep us on track, fielding one another’s development questions to get new perspectives, and sharing the fruits of our labor. It’s also a chance to grow your network of other developers, getting to know some peers who you may in turn want to connect with for future game making endeavors.

For projects made partly through involvement in the community, at the discretion of course of the leads on that project, I can help draw more attention to those works through HobbyGameDev.com’s Games section (which has been too long without an update anyhow) and @HobbyGameDev’s network on Twitter.

Who’s It For?

This forum is intended first and foremost for people that are really into making things, finished things ready for release into the world. These don’t have to be the fanciest, most famous, or groundbreaking projects ever. By design we’re not looking for professionals or specialists. We’re expecting the kind of modest plans that are realistically achievable by people working for free in their – our – spare time.

As soon as there’s a solid foundation of membership in place and momentum in a productive direction, I want to welcome in anyone and everyone interested in hobby videogame development, regardless of their skill level or level of accomplishment. I’m not sure yet whether that’s going to be a matter of weeks or months, but I can say for certain that it’s not going to be easy to set up and it cannot happen overnight.

Until that culture of constructive support is in place, for now I’m manually filtering (and selectively recruiting from my past network) people to join. I’m looking specifically for people that have completed at least one non-commercial game, as either the solo developer or as one of the lead contributors to the project. Projects larger in scope and schedule than game jams or week sprints are preferred, however solid results from multiple game jams or similarly rushed periods will be considered.

This is definitely not out of any kind of elitism or avoidance of beginner troubles. Heck, I maintain this blog because I love helping out with the challenges that beginners face. However if we can begin by establishing a critical mass of participants that have already figured out one or twice before how to get things done then we’ll be, as a whole community, far better able to welcome more people into our circle in the future with a firmly established pattern of good habits and values of craftsmanship.

How to Join?

For people that haven’t quite finished their first project, but are within striking distance of completion: I hope that this can serve as added motivation to wrap it up as part of your transition to something new and better. I want to see you in there with us!

If on the other hand you’re still starting out but don’t anticipate having your first project finished in the near future, and are interested in checking it out once the forum opens up to everyone, joining the HobbyGameDev monthly email list is one way to ensure that you won’t miss when it goes completely public –

Otherwise, if you’ve already completed one or more non-commercial videogame projects, email me at Community@HobbyGameDev.com with the subject line: Collaborate

In the body of the message provide one or more links to some way that I can check out one (or up to a few) of the projects that you’ve completed. Video of gameplay is ideal, if possible, although if that’s not available then screenshots (if a downloadable or non-cross-platform game) or a link to play in-browser (if supporting a browser-based technology, Flash and HTML5 and Unity included) will do.

If you’ve made a game before but have never yet figured out how to take a screenshot or get evidence of your game online, believe me when I say it’ll behoove you tremendously to learn how to do so. It’s also a heck of a lot easier than developing a videogame. You can figure it out.

I’m doing this welcoming message work by hand initially, on top of my ongoing obligations, so please be patient if it takes me a bit of time to get back with a reply on how to proceed. I’ll process all messages as promptly as I can.

Where’s It Headed?

My goal is to steer this community toward some of the benefits enjoyed by members of the Game Creation Society at Carnegie Mellon or VGDev at Georgia Tech, two videogame development clubs employing processes that I established to each consistently finish 5-8 projects every semester, with teams of 2-6 members (often starting mostly as inexperienced strangers) working in 3-5 month cycles. These processes have now led to well over 100 finished games, of the kind seen here and here.

This gives everyone a flexible structure to create two or more finished games per year, each on teams going beyond what any one of us could do alone, and on a bigger scale than we see coming out of Game Jams, or even 1-week and 1-month game sprints. Opportunities abound in those situations to work on the aspects of games that interest you, for the kinds of games that you want to be a part of. Many members have even found enjoyment in splitting their contributions in small ways across a number of different projects, doing sounds for one, art or another, programming on another one they lead, and so on.

I don’t want participation in those kinds of structures to any longer be a privilege for people that happen to be students at one of those institutions. I want to make that experience available to you and everyone else, people everywhere that have the passion, persistence, and personal interest to engage in their hobby and extracurricular projects with similar intensity.

And if you’ve finished at least one non-commercial videogame project, I’d really appreciate your assistance in making this possible.



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