Community Building Round Up

I asked this question earlier on twitter yesterday:

twitter question

I got some really great responses.

twitter response 01 twitter response 02

It’s been known for a while now that with how saturated the game market currently is, you can’t just put your game on Steam and expect an audience to find it.

You also can’t really rely on press to discover your game. They’re bombarded constantly all the time by so many new indie games now.

I decided to take a look at the different platforms,  how I’m currently using them, and what I can do to better my efforts.

Twitter - This is the platform I’m probably the most active on. I post a lot of development updates here (along with a few dumb jokes). More recently I haven’t posted as much visual stuff as I’ve been dealing with saving and loading system, instead of level designing. However, that should change pretty soon.

Twitch - I’m also really active here. I’ve been streaming on average 4 – 5 hours a day, every day of the week. Sometimes even more than that. It’s been a fantastic experience, and the community there has been awesome. I’ve improved so much as a programmer since sharing my process up through streaming. You’re able to have instant discussions about the specific problem you’re facing, which is the best way to learn, as opposed to some abstract example in a textbook.

I’ve also gotten a few tips on how to improve my work pipeline in Unity through this. For example, I learned about vertex snapping on stream because one of the viewers asked me why I wasn’t using it. I just hadn’t known about it then. Since learning it, I’ve been using it all the time.

Streaming also has the added benefit that it helps me keep schedule and maintain focus. I’m in the last stage of the project, and it really feels like a drag a lot of the times. It’s all the boring and tedious details that were avoided early on in development, now coming back to haunt you. Streaming has been really helpful in getting through these rough spots.

Discord - This is really just an extension of the twitch chat. I hadn’t been super active there for a while as I was knee-deep in code, but getting back into it.

Mailing List - I set up a mailing list years ago for Manifold Garden announcements and put up a link to it on the Manifold Garden website. It now has over 3500 subscribers, and I’ve still yet to send a single email there. From William Pugh’s response above, emails seems like a really great way to reach people, so I think I’m going to start sending biweekly updates through the mailing list.

Facebook - I don’t really use facebook in my personal life so I keep forgetting to log in and check the Manifold Garden page. I should post weekly updates here.

Steam Forum - There seems to be a small but fairly active group of people posting on the Manifold Garden steam forum. Considering the game isn’t even out yet, this seems normal. I’m going to start posting weekly development updates there.

Water + Portals + Saving & Loading

I finally got water going through portal working with saving and loading.

water through portals

It’s not perfect, but the basics are there.

This is a really big step. It may not look like it, but there are a TON of really complicated systems at work here.

Level streaming loading, persistent save system, portal, water, etc.

The next step will be to refine this.

Of course there’s a bunch of edge cases, so the beta testing for this will be very interesting.

Save System

Learned a lot today about deep copy and serialization.

The save system is proving to be quite the challenge.

Turns out open world persistent save with level streaming is quite hard.

Getting close though!

Json Utility

Switched to using Json utility for serialization instead of binary serialization.

It was having problems with ScriptableObjects.

Using it in a separate thread. It is giving me an error even though the docs say that it is ok to use Json Utility in background threads.

Consolidating Code

Feeling like I’ve made some major progress with consolidating all the code for the game.

Refactoring the save system is going well.

Getting really close!