Community Matters

It was a shorter week this last week because of Easter and progress is continuing on the coding of the trading mechanics. There isn't a lot to show off just yet, but expect a detailed behind-the-scenes post on development for next week's update.

For this week, however, I'd like to outline my vision for the community, call attention to community building, highlight how the different social media channels will be used, and to solicit your feedback for ideas.

The Vision

The vision for Junction Gate as a whole is to provide a smart, fun game that tells a very personal story set against the backdrop of larger human events. Players will have agency to make choices that will have profound effects on the player character and the game universe, choices and effects that will hopefully provide room for and provoke real-life reflection.

In the same way, I'd like the community to have agency with the development of the game and with each other. The open, transparent development and marketing of Junction Gate is something only a few other games have tried before and my hope is that it will inspire an equally open and helpful community that becomes more than just about the game.

There are multiple ways to look at a community, but I'm going to outline some qualities I'd like to inspire from the perspectives of the community's involvement with each other, with development, and with marketing. I believe it's important to start this early in the process to lay the foundation for what's to come.

Community Interactions
  • Mutual Respect - Gamers can have some pretty strong opinions. I love that passion. Those voices should absolutely be heard, but I encourage everyone to express themselves in a way that you could easily shake hands with each other afterward. A great way to do this is to focus on ideas and issues, not people.
  • Helpfulness - I'll do my best to make a game that's easy to play and to try to answer as many questions as possible, but as the community expands, I won't be able to get to everyone. My hope is that the community will step in to help each other, pointing to resources and answering questions.
  • Friendly & Encouraging - The Junction Gate community should be a welcoming place for everyone. I've seen story after story of people with illnesses or dealing with depression and lonliness finding refuge or escape in video games. That's not an ideal solution, but for some, it might be all that is available. It's part of the reason I'm adding accessibility features like keyboard support to the beta, to open up the game to a wider audience who might otherwise have limited options to cope with life. Let's be a shelter in the storm for people in the community. We don't know what a person is dealing with behind the screen, so let's make friendliness and encouragement the default responses.
  • Creativity - I absolutely encourage community creativity around Junction Gate. If you want to write fiction, create art, or compose music related to Junction Gate, please share it with me and the community. There will be more lore released in the future to make this easier and if enough people join in, there might eventually be a regular community content spotlight. Just keep it relatively family-friendly.
Community Development
  • Tester Feedback - Junction Gate can only be as good as the feedback provided, so I need your help. There is a growing list of beta testers, but I need more vocal feedback on balance, gameplay, and bugs. I don't have the resources to test every environment, so if you don't say something, it might not get fixed.
  • Design Feedback - If you don't feel like testing, there will be a chance to give feedback on the design and development of upcoming features. For most major upcoming features, I'll be posting planning documents in advance of development. It'll be your chance to impact what features make it in the game and how they are implemented. It's far easier to change something in the planning stage than after it's already been implemented.
  • Ideas Welcome - If you have ideas that you'd like to see in the game, please share them and be as detailed as possible. There is a roadmap, but there is also still some flexibility for what can be included in either the free or premium versions of the game. I can't make promises that any given suggestion will make it in, but I will listen to the community as much as possible. Also, if you see someone else offer up an idea, be sure to provide feedback on their idea because it will let me know how popular it is.
Community Marketing
  • Social Proof - Social proof is a marketing concept that involves people becoming more interested in a product when they see that it is popular. If you don't want to actively participate, you can help market the game by simply following one or more of the Junction Gate social media accounts.
  • Social Sharing - If you like the game or a particular blog post, please share it with your social network, whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, in an email, or on a forum. However, please try to share with people who are likely to be interested. We don't want to spam or earn a bad reputation. If you want to be really strategic and know of people who have a lot of influence on social media, you could try sharing with them.
  • Reviews - In the short term, I would love to have some reviews of Junction Gate to put on the front page of the site. If you leave a several sentence review of Junction Gate in the comments or on social media, I may use all or part of it to promote the game.
  • Your Marketing Ideas - If you have ideas on how to market Junction Gate, I'd like to hear them. You can share the idea publically or send me a private message, either works.
  • More To Come - There will be additional ways the community can help market Junction Gate in the future like submitting it to review sites and aggregators, Let's Play videos, etc. However, it may be a little early for some of those initiatives so I'll address the more in the future.

Community Building

Junction Gate is a single-player game, so creating a community around it presents some infrastructure challenges that might not be present in a multi-player game. You won't meet or interact with people in-game, so the community needs to be built outside of it. Below are some of the ways that will be attempted.

Strong Community Involvement

As outlined above, there are a lot of ways that the community can get involved in Junction Gate. My hope is that the involvement will lead to a sense of ownership and that the community will grow as a result of that shared experience in the story and creation of Junction Gate.

Full Transparency

I'm going to be as open with the community as possible regarding the development and marketing of Junction Gate. Things may change over the course of the development, but you'll know about it when it happens and the reasons behind it. I'll also do my best to be accessible to answer questions and listen to feedback.

Regular Content Updates

A lot of developers create their games in stealth-mode or go a long time without communication. For indie-developers, this can be devestating when it comes time to release their game because they have no audience. I don't want to release Junction Gate into a void.

I'm the only person working on Junction Gate, so there is a limit to what I can do in terms of content without taking too much away from the development of the game. Right now, it looks like an update once a week, usually sometime on a Tuesday, is working well. If I can find ways to do more in the future without impacting the game, I'll do that, but it will take a while to work up to that point.

There may be some weeks where an update is late because of getting sick, family emergencies, etc. An occasional vacation will also be needed. However, I'll do my best to let you know in advance if there is any changes in schedule.

Third-party Sites

In future weeks and months, I'll be investigating ways to gain exposure for Junction Gate with third-party sites. First up on the list are IndieDB and possibly Kongregate. The goal with these sites is to bring more people into the community beyond just organic growth.

Strategic Relationships

I'm going to start reaching out to other indie developers in the hopes of some cross-promotion opportunities. Because of this, you may see some retweets and comments about other games from time to time. This will largely occur on Twitter, but may occasionally happen on other mediums if the game is of a similar genre to Junction Gate.

Forming strategic relationships will also extend to talking with press, YouTubers, and indie gaming sites. I don't have a solid strategy here yet, but it's something to start looking at.

Social Media & Junction Gate

Very briefly, I'd like to highlight how each of Junction Gate's social media accounts and community features will be used.

Twitter

Twitter will be one of the more active Junction Gate accounts. Check there for any updates, news, in-progress thoughts or short updates on development, and retweets of other interesting games.

Facebook

Facebook will be updated when there are new blog posts, new screenshots, or new videos. You can use Facebook to provide longer-form feedback or to ask other questions.

Reddit

Reddit will be updated in the same circumstances as Facebook. It's also a great place for the community to ask each other questions, provide feedback, or post their own Junction Gate-related content.

Discord Chat

Discord Chat will be a combination between Twitter and Reddit in terms of content. You'll also be able to chat with other members of the community in real-time without having to download an app.

YouTube

YouTube is still a work in progress. I'm experimenting and researching with different video options, but video takes a while longer to get set up. There will be more here in the future.

Email Newsletter

The regular email newsletter is a weekly digest of blog posts from the Junction Gate website, sent out on Fridays. From time to time, it may also include special announcements. You can sign up for it below.

Your Thoughts

A post about community wouldn't be complete without your feedback. What are your ideas for how the community should interact, function, and grow? What would you like to see?

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