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Re: RFOR: Is LGDC really crap?

On Thursday 03 January 2002 01:51, Steve Baker wrote:

> Christian Reiniger wrote:
> > So - is it really that bad? What is missing, what needs to be
> > improved, what would be nice to have?
> I don't think it's bad - there just isn't much happening to make it
> good.
> There is an issue with "know your audience".  Much of the content seems
> directed towards games *players* rather than *developers*.  I don't

Do you really have that impression?

> think you should aim at the players - HappyPenguin already has that
> covered IMHO.

I really try to *avoid* player-specific content. Of course there are some 
links to and news about games X and Y, but that's simply because that's 
what most submissions are about. People who've written (or are about to 
write) their first game are eager to get much publicity. Of course they 
don't get it via lgdc, but try explaining them that :)

> What we don't know (and this is a major flaw of the survey) is whether
> the people who were dissatisfied with LGDC were game developers, game
> players or some other audience group.  If games players visiting the
> site are dissatisfied with it, you may not care - so long as your core
> audience of designers are ecstatic about it.

Sure. I'm taking these numbers with a big load of salt. The main point is 
that I simply don't know what people expect from lgdc - poll or not.

> I'd like to see news about tools that games developers are interested
> in ("New release of GDB - Has these great features" - for example).  I
> don't have the time to look at Freshmeat and 99% of the things it
> covers are useless to me.  When a bug is discovered in something that I
> care about (Mesa for example) - it would be great to see a report of it
> and it's eventual resolution or work-around.

No comment. Well perhaps a little one :)
I know that kind of stuff is very important - in fact some (longer) time 
ago I posted ~2-5 news items a day. The problem is that (1) I find this 
posting work quite annoying and (2) it's hard to e.g. pick the important 
new features in Mesa or comment on an advanved 3D Gfx tutorial if one has 
never written a single line of OpenGL code.

> I like to read game design post-mortems (of the kind posted on
> OpenGL-Gamedev recently about how we think HALO does some of it's
> tricks - or the kind of thing you see in the Game Developer magazine
> "We wrote it like this - but we would have written it like that if
> we'd had the time").

> > * The site content is almost static currently - no new news items, no
> > new articles, no new/updated links. I know that's my duty but, well,
> > I simply won't ever do this as much as I should. By a far shot. These
> > tasks simply aren't something I enjoy, and since I work on lgdc in my
> > spare time I'll concentrate on the "fun" stuff. And of course there's
> > the thing that I never ever developed a game :)
> I think you should go the slashdot route and have a number (say three
> or four) people whom you get on with and trust who can each contribute
> items - then put up a mailing list where anyone can send ideas and news
> snippets to those people for posting.  This divides the workload of
> posting items by a factor of four or five - and increases the volume of
> news by some larger factor.

Exactly that would be great, yeah.
The problem is finding these people. lgdc had *many* "maintainers" over 
the years, but all of them became quiet or disappeared after some 
(typically short) time. Finding good and dedicated people is extremely 
difficult in OSS land (especially when the work to be done is *not* 
coding) :(

> If you manage to put up enough interesting items that don't duplicate
> other news sources (or at least scoop them so you tend to be first with
> the news) then your readership (and hence contributors) will grow. 
> However, without readership you won't get contributors and hence you
> won't get readers.
> To get past the initial 'bootstrap' period, you and your trusted
> co-editors may have to hunt for news yourselves.

That's what experience dictates, yes.
But I'm not sure if I want that, if all this really is worth the effort 
for me. I mean, spending all that time on (for me) boring / annoying work 
so that others have a great site (as I said I'm not a game developer), 
only getting the occasional (1-2/year) "Hey, nice site, dude" mail for it.

> > * The poll clearly lists the mailing list as the least valuable part
> > of lgdc (14 votes, with the others at 35, 38, 39 and 41), and the
> > mailing list traffic also indicates that.
> When you need it - it's there for you.  My thread about keyboard
> problems for example - was promptly and accurately answered by people
> who knew what they were talking about.  I don't know where else I could
> have asked that.
> However, one doesn't have questions like that on a daily basis.
> Mailing lists don't have to be high traffic to be utterly invaluable.
> Quite the reverse in fact.

Of course you're right. But seeing that ~90% of the traffic somes from 
the same ~5 people still indicates that it's only useful for a tiny 
fraction of the "community"...

> > There's a group of 10-15 people who
> > know each other (partly got to know each other via lgdc, granted) and
> > post to the list from time to time, but that's about it. So lgdc's
> > original goal of building a (and serving as common "communication
> > platform" for) a Linux game development community has not been
> > reached.
> Just how many active game developers do you think there are?

I don't know, but surely quite a bit more. Just think of freecraft, 
worldforge, freeciv etc - I don't think I've seen anyone from these 
projects here yet. Probably it's because these "big" projects already 
have their own communities..

> It would be interesting to do some kind of a search on the named
> authors in the HappyPenguin database to get some kind of an idea.

Hmmm. "some kind"... :)

> Once again though, content is king.  More people would subscribe if
> there was more good stuff on the list - if more people subscribed there
> would be more good stuff (unfortunately, there would probably also be
> MUCH more junk - but that's life).
> > Not even remotely.
> > I don't think I can do much about that. As I said before I'm no game
> > developer...
> Perhaps a mailshot to every author in the HappyPenguin database asking
> if they'd like to join in?  That's perilously close to SPAMming them
> though.

Much too close IMHO.

> > * I have some plans to allow everyone (well, everyone with a valid
> > site account) to post, edit and delete news and resources. Of course
> > all changes only take effect after someone trusted has reviewed them,
> > but it allows everyone spotting an error, a missing thing etc to
> > simply "fix it on the spot" (using the nice web forms that are
> > currently reserved for maintainers) and it simplifies the
> > maintainer(s'|'s) job of handling such changes.
> You risk lowering the quality by doing that.  I think that would
> perhaps be worse than having too little content.

I don't think so. After all the maintainer(s) still has to approve each 
post, and that all posts can (and should) be edited before approving 
them. It's basically the same as a mail-based submission system, with the 
only difference being that with mailed submissions I typically get some 
text targeted at *me* ("You might want to tell your readers that I just 
released GameLib 0.3.1. Changelog is at ..."), and I then need to compose 
the "real" newsitem from that. With web-based submissions posters are 
"forced" to immediately target the site visitors, so I can more or less 
directly use the post => even less work for me

Note that everyone still is / will be free to submit stuff via mail.

BTW: Everyone and their dog already *can* "directly" submit newsitems. 
The thing is: (1) nobody makes use of this so far (only exception: Jorrit 
& his CS announcements) and (2) I'm the only one approving and editing 
the submissions, and I'm (a) not at the computer 24/7 and (b) currently 
stuck with a pay-per-minute net connection. => "Old News" are generated

> > Side note: The poll lists the resources section *after* articles.
> > IMHO resources are *more* important than local articles, simply
> > because it's much easier to link to many good articles than to write
> > many good articles anew (and the ones we have are a bit dated..).
> Yes - the articles section seems a little redundant.  Anyone who is
> writing games will almost certainly have a place to post articles of
> that sort (mine is at http://www.sjbaker.org/steve/omniv BTW).  I don't
> see the point in placing the actual text into the LGDC site - although


> it might be good to mention the arrival of a new article there,
> maintain a link to it, and give people a place to comment on it.

No problem. The mechanism for that already exists. And it just occurred 
to me that the article itself could be displayed in an <iframe>. Hmmmm

> > Perhaps the
> > situation would be a bit different if there were a big community with
> > several good writer-gamedevelopers around lgdc - and even then it's
> > much easier (and better) to link to e.g. Steve Baker's ramblings
> > (http://www.sjbaker.org/steve/omniv/index.html) than to convince him
> > to write them on lgdc ;)
> Er - yes - it is. ("ramblings"? **RAMBLINGS**!! Humph! :-)

Hmm, Interesting - I didn't actually think about that word. It just was 
so *natural* to use it in this context ;-)

Christian Reiniger
LGDC Webmaster (http://lgdc.sunsite.dk/)

...to paraphrase Churchill, while representative  democracy may be
terrible, it's still the best system that large corporations can buy.

- David Weinberger JOHO January 25, 2000