Original post by Ortu
I’ve thought about this from time to time myself, honestly think it is a complex combination of factors with no one over-arching culprit to blame.
This may sound gloomier than I mean it to be, and while there are certainly positives to balance these things, this is a thread about problems, so here are the problems as I see them, in as honest and objective an opinion as I can give.
Focus split into too many directions. – DBP, GDK, AGK, FPSCR, that cloud thing that never even took off. – While each fills a different niche for different people, splitting the time of a (very) small team across so many projects means that each lacks the kind of attention and updates required to keep up with the pace of the general gaming industry.
Community population divided. – FPSCR has completely separate boards, while FPSC users didn’t have a huge presence in the other language boards, their loss is clearly felt in the common areas like modeling and general chat.
Lack of engagement with community. – The newsletter has become sporadic, It’s about to be september, the last issue was what.. may? and the one before that? Even when it’s out, its all about FPSCR, maybe a quick nod to AGK… Many of the Mods have grown as quiet and absent as many of the members. How many official contests, challenges, or events have there been in the last year and a half? How many of those just faded away with no official results ever being announced?
Lack of exposure / Inability to draw in new members – Each new product they come out with is generally marketed to existing users of a previous product. DBP -> AGK, FPSC -> FPSCR. This does not bring in new blood and some old users will inevitably not move to the new product, such people will stick around for a time, but many will leave when progress stops on the old product. No effort seems to be made to reach out and bring in new people. It feels like TGC is fighting a defensive war of slow retreat and is unwilling or unable to mount more than a half hearted offensive push to reclaim lost ground.
Experienced users move on – This is to be expected, it would not normally be a -problem- per se, but when paired with “Inability to draw in new members” above, it piles on much worse than it otherwise would. most of the old time members have moved to more powerful / more standard languages. C++, C#, Java, Python. Unity draws a lot of people, experienced and new comers alike. It’s free, you can get good looking graphics without a lot of effort, it’s an attractive package. It is the nature of people to continue to move forward and advance themselves, this is a good thing, but many of these people used to feature large in the lifeblood of this community and their absence is felt.
Lack of new and engaging game projects – Few new WIPs are started, old WIPs go un-updated for long periods of time. (I must commend Chris Tate for his long running and consistent efforts) Many WIPs are for technical plugins and tools, and while these things are great, and often interesting, they are not games. Games are why we are here. The dream of the game is what draws people in. If no games are being made, then the tools go unused. People often mention projects they are working on in private, but for one reason or another, never share or post it. I’m as guilty of this as anyone
Low percentage of completed WIPs to Games – Particularly in large scale attention-grabbing projects. No real surprise here, and pretty common to any game developement forum, but everytime a project is dropped or abandoned or ported to another language, it is a hit to general morale and interest. This can be countered by new projects going up, but… ^^^
Do it yourself. All of it. From ground 0. everytime. – Ok a bit of exaggeration, I’ll admit, but in general, we are some of the most stubborn DIY-ers I’ve ever come across. This one is partly TGC, partly member at fault. Most of us have little to no interest in working on someone else’s project as we are each caught up in our own, and then combine that with the strict rules on taboo team requests and we have pretty much stiffled the chance for collaboration. When the rare team does form privately, the team members often have no experience in working as a team and the collaboration almost always falls apart within a few months, if that. I’ve also always wondered why there has never been more collaboration between the programmers and the artists. I still don’t know, but I think that lack is a big reason why there are almost no artists left. 2d has always been fairly quiet, but the 3d board was once one of the more active places in these forums with a lot of talented people posting daily. That board is now silent. I can’t help but feel that it was a vast and untapped resource that is probably lost for good now.
DBPro cant do this, such and such is broken – It is easier to give up and move on to something else, but for whatever problem or shortcoming, there is almost always a work around. Should we have to bother with work-arounds? in an ideal world no, but you are going to hit bugs and problems in anything you do. Whether it is with a core language or a third party library, this is honestly not unique to DBpro. Programming is problem solving, plain and simple. DBPro certainly has problems, but there are a lot of clever users with a lot of experience in solving them. Don’t use this as an excuse in and of itself. If you want to learn another language, thats great! but I just don’t believe that there are deal-breaker problems with DBpro which makes it -incapable- of completing a project.
Not much to read, not much to say – Again I’m guilty on this. The less active the boards are, the less active I am on them. I don’t generally start conversations, but do enjoy contributing to them. if there are not many conversations going on, then I don’t have much to say, which only contributes to less being said by others. This is honestly the biggest factor for my own withdrawal from the community. I used to browse daily, several times daily, and actively posted on multiple boards. Now I check once or twice a week some weeks, sometimes once in two or three weeks. And here is what kills it: when I have been away for 2 weeks and check back in, only a handful of new threads have been posted, most old threads have 0 – 2 new replies. I get caught up in 10 minutes, have nothing to contribute, -> go check the next forum.
Now of course there are reasons, explanations, exceptions, and excuses, and causes for any given problem. The issue is complex, has been growing for a long time, and just as there is no simple cause, there is no simple solution.
Obviously, what TGC can do, will do is out of our hands. What can we do?
Post, Share, Present, Collaborate.
Working on a project, but don’t feel its ready for a WIP? Post it. Talk about it. We are all doing the same things, everyone understands that a huge amount of work can go in to something without it looking visually awesome. Tell us about it. Talk about where it is going, where it has come from.
Not working on anything? Start something. big, small, pointless or epic. Grab a few others to work with. Even if you dont finish it, you will probably learn something new. Post it. Talk about it.
When it comes to work in progress, post early, post often. feedback will almost always help improve your work.
I’m guilty, I admit it. So I’ll tell you what: I pledge to have my own project posted up as a WIP before the weekend is out, and further, I pledge to tell 2 people about it who are not currently active members in an effort to drive new traffic in.
Could it be more polished? For sure. Would I be more comfortable in waiting until it was further along? Yep. Will it ever get to a point where I feel that it is -ready- to share? probably not! There is always something more that I am going to feel needs to be done, but then that’s why it is called work in progress.
Do I expect anyone else to do this? of course not, but if you do happen to be sitting on something, you have nothing to lose by posting it up.
Let me be clear, I am not encouraging anyone to spam the boards, nor am I advocating team requests. I am simply encouraging people to post and share any meaningful activities that they are engaging and progressing in more publicly and consistently.
TGC has lost heart. The members have lost heart. A few flames still flicker and offer up some light, but they need some real fuel to catch and spread.