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Improving the AG community - your thoughts on Kickstarter idea

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I want to ask all of you for input on how we can continue to improve AG and make the community better. We have some ideas for how to do this, but we need your help.

We last revamped the site two years ago, adding user reviews, a search tool, tons of new ways to find and browse games, and many other new features. At the time we also moved 13 years worth of content from our old system to the current one, which was a crazy undertaking (but we made it!).

Unfortunately, there were several big things on our wishlist that we couldn’t do at the time. We’d still like to tackle them now, but we’re not in a position where we have money to spend on site development. That’s why we have been thinking of setting up a Kickstarter campaign to help fund essential improvements to AG.

We envision two major improvements, both of which I’m sure many of you will be excited about:

1. New forums

Frankly, our current forums suck. Circumstances forced us into choosing this forum software, as we simply ran out of time and money during our last big revamp (these forums came bundled with ExpressionEngine, the system that the site runs on). We really want to move to a better forum platform that everyone can truly love.

We have an eye on a wonderful forum package called IP.Board, which has a great user interface. It has rich text editing for posts, you can easily include images or videos (so no more awkward uploading to Photobucket…), it works great on mobile, it’s got RSS syndication and notification feeds, and much much more. You can read more about IP.Board here, or for an example of forums that use IP.Board you can check out Idle Thumbs.

Moving to IP.Board would not be trivial. We’d need to:
- Set up IP.Board on Adventure Gamers
- Move 3000+ topics, 18k+ member accounts, etc. from this forum to the new forum through a custom-made import process
- Move nearly 600,000 topics from the archived forums (yes, we want to bring back all the old threads!)
- Implement a user account bridge so that IP.Board properly integrates with the main site

While it would be a lot of work, we believe it would properly set the community up for the next however many years, and we’re confident that you will love using IP.Board.

The second improvement is for the site itself…

2. Game information wikis

Our database of adventure games has steadily grown to over 3000 titles. Our long-held wish has been to make all of the game information pages completely writeable and editable by anyone. We believe that fully opening this up to the community is the best way to go, as together we could create the ultimate information source for adventure games.

We envision redesigning the game info pages around a large text area that can be edited much like a wiki. It will also be possible to upload screenshots to the gallery (though we may restrict this to established members to avoid moderation bottlenecks).

In addition to regular wiki functionality, we’d also keep track of people’s contributions, so that we can show who contributed most to a page, or to the wikis overall. Wiki points (or something to that effect) will be displayed on user profiles.

This is again not a trivial feature to implement, as we cannot use an off-the-shelf wiki solution: it will have to integrate fully with our existing 3000+ games that already contain tens of thousands of screenshots, database tags, content associations, and more. However, we have found the perfect programmer who can make this happen for us, if we are able to fund the project.

Of course, there are many other smaller improvements we can make to the site (and we’d love to hear your continued feedback) though these really just rely on our time and not so much on having funds available. It’s the forums and wikis that we can’t make happen without some source of funding.

We want your input!

We are really interested in hearing your feedback on this. Firstly: do you think a Kickstarter is the way to go? And is this something that you would back?

This kickstarter is perhaps not as ‘sexy’ as backing a creative project like a game, but on the other hand the project is relatively low-risk and well scoped. The required budget to hire two freelance web developers to help us build these improvements is roughly between $6000 and $8000, which is pretty modest as far as kickstarters go (this number could still change though when we get more detailed estimates).

Another thing we’d love feedback on is rewards. We’d love to set up a ‘supported by’ page where the names or usernames of backers will be listed. Beyond this, we don’t know! What are some rewards we could offer? (Keep in mind that the effort involved in them would need to be appropriate for the level of funding we’re seeking – so no bronze statue of you with our logo characters or something Wink )

Finally, we’d love your feedback on the forum and wiki ideas themselves.

This is already a long post, so I’ll open this to you now. So if you have any questions or suggestions, please let me know. Finally, I should say we’re still just gauging the interest level in this, so there’s not yet any guarantee we’ll go ahead with a crowdfunding campaign. But of course, if we do go ahead with it we hope we have your support.

     

Retired AG founder

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(P.S. Some of you might be wondering why it costs thousands of dollars to add a wiki and a forum. After all, many wiki software packages are free, and an IP.Board license costs only $150. So I’ll clarify this right away. For the forum the costs are mainly in the migration of all current threads, a process for which no existing tools exist. For the wiki, the costs lie in the tight integration necessary to make a game wiki work on AG. We could install free wiki software, but that would only get us an off-site ‘blank slate’ wiki that doesn’t tie into anything else and would thus be hard to access and quickly forgotten. Our budget estimate is for the development of custom modules and import scripts   made just for AG.)

     

Retired AG founder

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My first though when reading this is that it sound like an ambitious project.

Your biggest challenge will probably be to integrate everything into each other, and especially integrating the wiki with the main site and the existing articles, so that it doesn’t fell like separate sites or entities that are just bunched together. It is very easy to underestimate the challenges in this.

Importing the old forum threads into the new should be a bit more straight forward, though it of course depends a lot of what kind of access you have to the data and the functions both the old and new software has for this. (I have actually done hundreds of similar type of conversations myself on far more complex data)

Anyway what you really wanted to know about was the kickcstarter, and I think there will be many forum members who would be interested in at least contributing with a small amount, it is after all us that have to use the forum, so it would be in our own best interest.

Regarding rewards, then I don’t think you should have any physical rewards, the cost and trouble of making these might not be worth it. One thing you however could consider is to have different titles or badges attached to the users in the forum depending on how much they backed the kickstarter with, though that could also backfire as some might be offended by the fact that non-backers would also be exposed in this way.
Otherwise I don’t really have any ideas.

     

You have to play the game, to find out why you are playing the game! - eXistenZ

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Actually, physical rewards are my main concern right now. For example, to print a tshirt and have it shipped within the US by a fulfillment company costs around $10. That becomes more for international shipping, and that’s a one-colour tshirt only. To do a tshirt (or anything else) right takes time and money, which might make more sense if you are asking for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. We’d have to increase the target by several k’s and spend considerable time arranging and delivering rewards.

Virtual rewards feel much more appropriate for this funding target, but I wonder if people think that’s enough of a reward. I’d love to hear from more people about the pros/cons of backer forum badges/titles.

Regarding project ambition: as you say the forums are easier to do. The wiki functionality is much more of a custom element. Since you’re technical and might be interested in the details: what I’ve been discussing with a developer is building a custom module that adds revision history and revision points tracking to existing ExpressionEngine data fields. EE already comes with the ability to let a user submit text, images, or anything else from the front-end (exactly the same way we do from the back-end); all we need to do essentially is to add revisions and moderation/revert functionality to this. So things are looking pretty good for integration, we just have to make sure we think carefully about what other functionality we need.

To avoid bloating the wiki project it really will be focused on editable game information pages only. People won’t have the ability to start a blank new page for a particular franchise, object, character, etc. the way that totally open wikis would allow. If we wanted to go down that route we’d be looking at way higher costs/risks.

     

Retired AG founder

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Iznogood - 22 September 2014 08:46 AM

Anyway what you really wanted to know about was the kickcstarter, and I think there will be many forum members who would be interested in at least contributing with a small amount, it is after all us that have to use the forum, so it would be in our own best interest.

Regarding rewards, then I don’t think you should have any physical rewards, the cost and trouble of making these might not be worth it. One thing you however could consider is to have different titles or badges attached to the users in the forum depending on how much they backed the kickstarter with, though that could also backfire as some might be offended by the fact that non-backers would also be exposed in this way.
Otherwise I don’t really have any ideas.

I think a further problem with forum badges is that after any Kickstarter campaign is over any new members here wouldn’t have the possibility of acquiring one which could be seen, in the future, as a bit of an “us and them” situation.

Would I personally contribute without any reward(s)? I most certainly would as I enjoy it here and better forum software would enhance that enjoyment. However - would many do that and CAN you do a Kickstarter without rewards?

But just like Izno I can’t think of anything that would work in reality. What could a forum offer any donors? An original photoshopped screen image from an adventure game done by some of our more talented people here? (Don’t look at me as I’m useless at that sort of thing.) And how many would we need?

I’ll be going out for a beer or three in an hour or so. I might come up with something once my brain has “relaxed”

     

Never cry for something that can’t cry for you.

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I can follow Jabod’s sentiments. Rewards for us are going to be difficult, and without rewards only a number of regulars can be expected to back.

The only reward you can realistically use is going to be free advertising for a year or so, and that’s aimed at companies, not us users…

     

Now playing: Blade Runner (post-CPT) | The Witcher: Enhance Edition (on hold) | Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (on hold) | Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy (3DS)
Recently finished: Whispers of a Machine (CPT) - 4/5 | Beneath a Steel Sky (CPT) - 3/5 | 3 in Three - 3.5/5 | Puzzle Gallery: At the Carnival - 2.5/5 | The Fool’s Errand (replay) - 3.5/5 | The Dig (replay) - 4.5/5 | Return of the Obra Dinn (CPT) - 4/5 | Beavis and Butt-Head in Virtual Stupidity - 3.5/5 | League of Light: The Game (CCPT) - 3/5 | realMyst: Masterpiece Edition - 2.5/5 | Contradiction - 3/5 | Tex Murphy: Mean Streets - 2/5 | The Last Express - 3.5/5 | South Park: The Fractured But Whole - 4/5 | Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (replay, CPT) - 5/5

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go for it Marek, and ‘I’ dont see the reward essential or would be considered a motivation, at this case (so to say), we are all rewarded ‘big time’ by being a part of this ‘nicely’ ,moderated and ‘in good will’ controlled forums, i can say ‘formyself’, we are blessed to have.

kickstarter would be totally appreciated, and those who will back it, ‘Will’ do it either ways , rewarded ‘physically’ or not (i like to believe so), its time we ‘reward’ you guys back for the excellent and hard-constant work you guys have been giving/doing us, and freely for years .

     
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for a potential KS campaign, maybe it is possible to ask someone to make a cute backer only AGS adventure game? Also, I would ask for steam keys from developers, the big guys must have some interest in improving adventuregamers.com.

     

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Joined 2011-02-27

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That’s a good idea, but unfortunately steam keys are not allowed by Kickstarter. Their rules say that any rewards have to have been created for the campaign specifically (basically that means no ‘prizes’).

     

Retired AG founder

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I would back (probably to the tune of $20) and wouldn’t really expect any reward although of course jaap’s idea of a cute backer only game would be fun :-) But I enjoy this site enough that you continuing the great work you’ve been doing is enough of a reward for me.

     
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Marek - 23 September 2014 06:50 PM

That’s a good idea, but unfortunately steam keys are not allowed by Kickstarter. Their rules say that any rewards have to have been created for the campaign specifically (basically that means no ‘prizes’).

Is that a recent policy? Didn’t kickstarters like Broken Sword and Tesla Effect have the old games as rewards in some tiers?

I would back a kickstarter indepedent of the reward (probably would get a Tshirt if available but if that increases the cost of the kickstarter a lot it would probably not be worth it).

     
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“Frankly, our current forums suck.”

While I am all for making things better, I would disagree with the above statement. The forums only “suck” if you want to do something different with them. I think they are just fine the way they are.

The only reason I can think of for changing the current format is to bring in more advertising revenue. That is an admirable objective. But, if that is the real objective, and I believe it is, then doing a Kickstarter to achieve that objective is just wrong.

     

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You might recall there was a significant backlash when we moved to these forums. Many people did NOT like them at all. The forums might be fine for you, but there’s obviously a lot of room for improvement.

If you think this is some kind of cash grab, think again. The only reason the idea of a Kickstarter has come up at all is because we don’t have the money to just do this ourselves. We want to make the site better, and this a possible way to do it that’s worth exploring.

Sorry, but this really rubs me the wrong way. You can argue these improvements are not necessary from your point of view but the last thing I expected was to be accused of cynical exploitation.

     

Retired AG founder

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That “free advertising” idea that I pitched earlier might not be such a bad idea. I just found this Kickstarter campaign that used free advertisement promises to great effect.

Getting a few companies to back with 500$ in exchange for advertising is going to up the tally a lot faster than a bunch of regular members backing with 5-20$...

     

Now playing: Blade Runner (post-CPT) | The Witcher: Enhance Edition (on hold) | Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (on hold) | Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy (3DS)
Recently finished: Whispers of a Machine (CPT) - 4/5 | Beneath a Steel Sky (CPT) - 3/5 | 3 in Three - 3.5/5 | Puzzle Gallery: At the Carnival - 2.5/5 | The Fool’s Errand (replay) - 3.5/5 | The Dig (replay) - 4.5/5 | Return of the Obra Dinn (CPT) - 4/5 | Beavis and Butt-Head in Virtual Stupidity - 3.5/5 | League of Light: The Game (CCPT) - 3/5 | realMyst: Masterpiece Edition - 2.5/5 | Contradiction - 3/5 | Tex Murphy: Mean Streets - 2/5 | The Last Express - 3.5/5 | South Park: The Fractured But Whole - 4/5 | Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (replay, CPT) - 5/5

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Wouldn’t that cut into the regular advertising revenue?

     
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subbi - 24 September 2014 06:48 AM

Wouldn’t that cut into the regular advertising revenue?

The adverts would need their own designated spot aside from the already existing banners and the likes… Maybe in a separate page about the Kickstarter campaign, or in newsletters, or even in a sort of “thank you” page that stays on for five seconds when you visit the main site during the first month after the campaign…
Could be anything really.

     

Now playing: Blade Runner (post-CPT) | The Witcher: Enhance Edition (on hold) | Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (on hold) | Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy (3DS)
Recently finished: Whispers of a Machine (CPT) - 4/5 | Beneath a Steel Sky (CPT) - 3/5 | 3 in Three - 3.5/5 | Puzzle Gallery: At the Carnival - 2.5/5 | The Fool’s Errand (replay) - 3.5/5 | The Dig (replay) - 4.5/5 | Return of the Obra Dinn (CPT) - 4/5 | Beavis and Butt-Head in Virtual Stupidity - 3.5/5 | League of Light: The Game (CCPT) - 3/5 | realMyst: Masterpiece Edition - 2.5/5 | Contradiction - 3/5 | Tex Murphy: Mean Streets - 2/5 | The Last Express - 3.5/5 | South Park: The Fractured But Whole - 4/5 | Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (replay, CPT) - 5/5

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