GDC 2019: Building a Community for Your Game From Scratch

Speaker: Mike Rose

Company: No More Robots

Link to talk here

There was once that “One big thing”. It used to be Press then it was Twitch, then it was Youtubers

Well community building never stopped being useful but right now it’s the one big thing again.It has always been there like forums.

How to start a community from nothing:

Tools: 

Why Discord?

  • People who use Discord play games.
  • Bots allow for specific customization as needed drive engagement.
  • When someone joins your server they have shown that they are interested.

CZ Side note: This is the middle funnel “Interest” level. Discord fits really well in the middle of the funnel.

So how to build a community around a discord server and run a promotion for your game. Side note Mike recommended you only do this a few weeks before your game launch. That is because this is a very time intensive and discord server subscribers start to tire of the meta game. So it should be a short run.

PART 1

Create your server and get it verified. Discordappl.com/verification

  1. This makes it seem more legit
  2. You get your own custom url and can link it

PART 2

Standard channels to setup.

  1. Welcome and Rules – roll that into one place
  2. Announcements channel – only the moderator talks here.
  3. Need a mod channel. – You will have chaos and it will be so crazy and people abuse your server using commands you didn’t know existed. There will be tons of permissions that you need to set. You will fail
  4. Intro channels – force people who join your server and it forces them to do a thing before they join your server. For instance on the Discenders they had a “pick a side” channel. They couldn’t use the server until they picked a side. The rest of the server opens up.
  5. Dynobot – it is a plugin that does a bunch of permissions stuff

Part 3

Get the Hook for your game

CZ Side note: Everything here below is basically a lead magnet. Same thing that I encourage for joining an email list.

Determine why people want to stick around in your server. For descenders it was pick a team, and then weekly challenges. For example “We want you to battle it out by doing fan art for your team” “Then do trash art for your opponent teams” Do little things to keep them engaged.

Whatever team won the challenge they would get a special player kit in the game when it launched. They also could earn special letters for their team.

For their game “Not Tonight” they made it so that people on the server could earn money. They could see their home channel and it would open up places to work. Then they could type a command to go back home.

Unbelievable.pizza – it is a bot that tracks currency. You can give subscribers things to buy when they get the currency. For example you can buy a character in the full game. You can name a pub in the game. It just worked by itself and you didn’t have to do anything for it.

Hypnospace – He setup a 90s internet on a discord server. It was too much. It was fun but it is too much to maintain. Mike suggests that you start small when you are first getting into Discord Servers.

The setup is:

  1. Decide what your server looks like, Get it setup and ready to receive
  2. Run your closed beta to fill your discord server with engaged players
  3. Run a meta-game that ties into your game world for maximum launch hype.

Really look at discordbots.org to find functionality.

Part 4

Setup a channel for your beta

People sign up on their google form – they enter their email address.

Most people will not just join a discord server to hang out because they have so many other discord servers. They come because you have a beta. Aim to have 5,000 people signup.

Don’t worry if you give away a key in a beta and they never buy it. That is because even freeloaders are generating buzz, and then are talking directly to the developer. That will convert people and even someone who was there for a freebie can become engaged and buy the game.

You can distribute keys on Freesteamkeys.com

PCGamer also does beta giveaways with their viewership – this can be useful. Give them 5000 keys and that will bring extra people.

Sharing Beta:

  • Steam – make a separate beta product on steam. He buys a separate produce for $100.
  • Pick a weekend to run campaign
  • Email all your signups through mail chimp
  • Run all your bug reporting through Discord
  • Collect feedback through google forms.

Make your betas limited run. Like say only 3-5 days because it causes FOMO. 

If you can get 8000 steam wishlists by launch you get more featuring. 

Part 5:

After the beta:

  • Server filled with 1000s of people
  • All these people have an early build and hungry for more
  • There invested in you and your game and are waiting for final release.

At this point he runs meta games for all the people in this holding period. You want to keep them busy until the lunch of actual. They will buy your game because you are so invested in your game. 

Example of their meta:

  • A government was elected, then given horrible decisions to make each day
  • There were spies rebellions and coups
  • A kings coronation ended with me singing and a bomb going off. 
  • They could vote who they wanted to be prime minister.
  • Then Mike closed the channel and the only way to see what happens next is to get the game. Because the game starts with a bomb going off
  • He also picked one person to be a spy and then announced it at the end of the week. Then everyone was engaged in figuring out who the spy was.

There was also someone who was picked as a king. Then they put his pictures in the actual game. 

The goal of your meta-game is to keep the hype rolling in your server all the way to launch. By participating in your meta-game, players want to buy your game toes how the meta factors into your game.

Launching with a strong community 

  • You have an army of people who will scream about your game on launch day.
  • These people will flood your steam page with positive user reviews
  • This launch day boost can shoot your game up the steam charts and cause more people to see it
  • Anyone who needs help can now join a community for assistance. 

Other Notes from questioners

Mike recommends not making a company specific Discord instead only make one Discord server per game. CZ Note: I feel like this is a bit relevant from a publisher perspective. As an indie who I want player

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