The past: Work on this site started late 2019 after I bought the domain name aregames.art, and was trying to think of something funny to actually do with it. At that time I was already feeling tired of my time in social media, and was pining for a silly place I could talk about gamedev, so a forum seemed decent. Around 2020 I invited a few folks to test it out privately, which eventually faded out as the pandemic began. Twitter’s implosion in 2023 seems as good a time as any to try this out again.
The future: There are a lot of directions a site like this could go - while I have some ideas in mind, my priority is to try and support what people actually want/need in this weird moment instead of just chasing down the ‘glory days’ of forums.
The most simple answer is that different tools excel at different things.
Forums are designed to hold long-standing asynchronous conversations about projects and honing crafts. You can update progress whenever you need, and users will be able to see the previous iterations of your work. Or if a hot debate is ongoing, but you were asleep in another timezone, it’s still there in the morning for your you to give your take. You can return to a conversation from months ago when new insight is available, and everyone will still have all the context they need to reignite the discussion.
Over time Twitter seemed to become the de-facto location for indie game projects because of the promise that it could serve communities who were used to forums, while also allowing developers to build a following. Shifts in monetization (and management), and “algorithm-based” for-you-pages have made it much more difficult for actual developers to stay in touch. Even so, Twitter is still a vital place for marketing, essentially the only site that isn’t a marketplace, shown to be effective for building a crowd around an indie game, or helping artists secure work. Taking this away completely would do more harm than good to everyone.
The idea of this forum is not to replace your social media presence, but to separate the concerns of a dev community from building an audience. Let each tool perform what it does best.
There are really only a few things the site needs -
- CONTENT! Please please please post about that cool thing you are making. Then post what you think about someone else’s cool thing. Then ask them a question. Then post something dumb but funny in the etc category. Then make a thread about an obscure topic only YOU know about but want to share. Then post a guide on a skill you have. Quality doesn’t even really matter - your “boring” topic may be the launchpad for someone else to bring up something cooler! The point is to thrive the site just needs people chatting!
- ADVICE! Things are in flux right now, and there’s a lot to think about and do in order to make sure the site is supporting everybody how they’d like. The meta category is the space for discussing and figuring out the direction of the site. Give some feedback on the rules, suggest a question for the FAQ - say what’s important about forums for you, or what you are looking for in a place like this. Now is the perfect time to work towards something that is tailor made specifically to the communities’ liking.
- HELPFULNESS! This site is brand new, there’s not a lot of established culture so entering something this ‘wild-west’ is pretty daunting. It’s a lot to ask, but anyone who joins somehow needs to be both the newbie and the welcome committee. Everyone needs to help each other feel like they are part of something new and exciting. Don’t plan on having 20 in-jokes and the most riveting intellectual conversation of your life in the next week. If a conversation is using low-level terms, help out those who might not know them. Let’s first try to focus on topics people from any skill level, or discipline can participate in easily.
It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to tell your friends, your coworkers, hideo kojima, anybody, that there’s this new cool forum on the rise. But it’s not a requirement to do so.
I’m tuckie. I’ve been in and around indie games since my teens. These days I bounce around between more low-level graphics/engine work, and some web development. I remember pretty vividly the shift around 2016 or so from smaller dedicated spaces like forums over to generalist social media. A lot of what I’m putting into this site comes from my experiences around or before that point, but I do recognize the culture surrounding making games is very different today. My hope is that we can combine modern morals and values in game design with the communal and collective power that can only really be harnessed in spaces ran by and for their communities.
I also want to recognize that there is no real reason why I specifically am running the site - the only real claim I have is grabbing a funny domain name, setting up a VPS and messing with css. I want to keep the process of running the site as democratic and open as possible, which is particularly important as it finds an identity. So please, if there are any thoughts or questions, or you can lend some experience or advice for keeping a healthy community, I’d love to hear from you.