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Geek Culture / Regarding Forum Activity

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Dark Java Dude 64
Community Leader
8
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Joined: 21st Sep 2010
Location: Neither here nor there nor anywhere
Posted: 5th Jan 2016 03:10 Edited at: 5th Jan 2016 03:12


Check it out! That's a graph of this forum's activity each year since 2004. I obtained the values as accurately as I could using the wayback machine. The graph speaks for itself -- between the forum's high point in 2006 (and a very near high point in 2009) and now, forum activity has dropped 91%. Here are the specific numbers:


I wanted to create a thread regarding this problem. I love being a part of this forum, and seeing it die like this is pretty sad; I firmly believe that every other active member here wouldn't hesitate to agree.

What can we do about this, if anything? And why is this trend occurring? I am hoping that this thread can serve as a place for us to discuss this issue, why it's happening, whether it's feasible (or even worth it) to fix, and how we can go about doing so.

A large part of me senses that this trend was to be expected, considering this forum gained its popularity off a product that's effectively obsolete and no longer actively updated (DBPro). AppGameKit and GameGuru are this forum's only hope for revival; granted, the latter of those two has its own forum.

What do you guys think? Is this even a big deal worth pursuing?
"It also shoots blue flames sometimes, which is startling in the most exquisite of ways." -- Self

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Crazy Programmer
AGK Developer
14
Years of Service
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Joined: 6th Sep 2004
Location: Lost in AGK
Posted: 5th Jan 2016 03:34 Edited at: 5th Jan 2016 03:38
Well TGC gave up on these forums awhile ago. Proof enough is GameGuru has there own and the agk website doesn't link to here. For many reasons I would assume. But my main concern would of been....So many young kids wanting to click together a game get curious of how it works. While you are browsing threads on GameGuru....All you get is GameGuru. You will never venture off into the many types of threads you can find here. This could be inspiring to a lot of young minds.

Follow Lee Bamber on Twitter. I have never seen him mention anything other than GameGuru.
Besides once when he mentions the Open Source Possibility of the new and improved DBP? Which by the way he ran off and left in the dark.

They want to keep us oldies away from the newbies. Hardly any trails lead back here. Kids who purchase AppGameKit on steam wont make it here from lack of bread crumbs. And people who purchase GameGuru will never be inspired from lack of exposure. Sure few will venture off. But how many are left in the dark?

I always wondered how well off TGC is. They are either banking the bucks and don't care or hardly swimming. Either way I love the community. I love TGC. I just wish they still had the twinkle in their eye they once had.

Edit: And as of recently people wont get the monthly reminder of what amazing products they are missing.
Things are just falling apart and have been for some time.


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SpecTre
Developer
16
Years of Service
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Joined: 24th Feb 2003
Location: UK
Posted: 5th Jan 2016 04:18
It's a shame really because this is the best and friendliest forum around. The steam forums are no where near as used or as interesting as here and the GameGuru as mentioned has it's own. I never even go on that. I went on the AppGameKit steam forum for a while to look around trying to direct people to here but it has gone quite boring on there and I just use these good old pages now.

There does seem to be the good old regulars on here and I have noticed that there are not as many newcomers any more.

It is almost as if TGC is coming to a stand still and the excitement is fading away.
The newsletter has gone and there doesn't seem to be much shouting out from the TGC staff about their products or the ones we are interested in anyway.

Lets see what happens but 2016, new year and all that!!! AppGameKit Pro????
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Thraxas
Retired Moderator
13
Years of Service
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Joined: 8th Feb 2006
Location: The Avenging Axe, Turai
Posted: 5th Jan 2016 04:48
Just going by post approval things new members weren't joining for a long time before the activity started dropping. When TGC decided to move GameGuru to its own forum, I felt that this forum would suffer, as new blood keeps things going. Older users have left for other things... All the people I used to interact here have left, and as this has always been my favourite place on the internet it's pretty sad for me. I just don't see it changing. The same thing happened to another forum I used to frequent daily until it died and no longer exists.
Yodaman Jer
User Banned
Posted: 5th Jan 2016 05:19
I think a lot of it has to do with competing products being released - Unity was released just a year or so before I discovered DarkBASIC, and wasn't very popular and only available for Mac at the time, and most other engines available were something like Blitz3D and... that's about it.

One Unity became available for Windows (which was 2008 I think), lots of places started to take hits in traffic. However, I think TGC has made a few critical mistakes and this is why people have left, most likely.

The biggest one - GameGuru has its own forums. Why? Why couldn't they just remove some boards that aren't used anymore and replace them? And why are we so bad at communicating new ideas to the users?

I'm hoping the new blog format for news will help a lot, maybe we will discover they finally do have a "DarkBASIC Elite" of some kind, or perhaps AppGameKit Pro, or maybe even something which takes on Unity/Unreal.

And speaking of Unity/Unreal, it seems a lot of people aren't really interested in programming anymore, which is what this forum is about. People want instant results, and Unreal/Unity kind of promise that... kind of. So I think that's why activity has dwindled to "less than piddly", although we REALLY seemed to pick up in December, which makes sense as those who were at University had the time off!

If TGC doesn't do something soon, however, I wouldn't be surprised to see these forums diminish after another year or so.

But hey, the AppGameKit Product Chat boards are receiving tons of new posts, so that forum should be fine for a while! It's just Geek Culture that is suffering so badly, for some odd reason.

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Hockeykid
DBPro Tool Maker
11
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Joined: 26th Sep 2007
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Posted: 5th Jan 2016 08:27
I think a big reason for the decline in activity is because back in the day there was so much going on and very little of it had to do with TGC's new products (the community mostly sustained the forums). Here are a few examples of what used to keep the community active: FPSC Classic was (and still is) open source and one huge thing that kept people excited and coming back to FPSC were all of the mods that were constantly released for it which always sparked interest and discussion. Also the FPSC Work In Progress board would often have some promising games from people who pushed the tool to its limit. For DBPro, community members always shared their cool projects and much like FPSC, DBPro's plugin system sparked interest and discussion as people were actively creating new plugins (and making game making utilities) to help expand DBPro's command set and allow people to do cool new things. I also feel like there were many more competitions (FPSC, DBPro, AppGameKit, 2D Art, 3D Art, etc) throughout the forums (especially in the FPSC boards) that gave people motivation to make something (like Ludum Dare Jams do).

Essentially there was always something going on, something to look forward to, something to check the TGC boards for updates on. I feel like nowadays there aren't many big "projects" (plugins, mods, libraries, software) or competitions and because of that there isn't much for the community to do. If you look at something like "AGK Product Chat" it's mostly just a few users every once in awhile asking for help with an issue and once their issue is resolved the community goes dormant until another issue/question is asked. To get the community active again there needs to be more to the forums than just an AppGameKit question here or there, something for members to engage in. I suspect there are many forum members that still read the forums every so often but don't feel they have a reason to post (for example, I don't post nearly as often as I used to but I still read a lot of threads).

Quote: "All the people I used to interact here have left"


Hey! I'm still here



Sean
BatVink
Moderator
15
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Joined: 4th Apr 2003
Location: Gods own County, UK
Posted: 5th Jan 2016 08:49
I agree that splitting the AppGameKit community in 2 was not a good move. I never check the Steam forums because they are clunky and have no organisation, but also because my time is already limited so I don't want to be looking at 2 different forums.
If I need an answer to a problem, I know that it will come from these forums, and will spark discussion and even better solutions.

I thought that Steam was drawing all the discussions away, but I just checked and there have only been 4 active threads this year, less than 1 a day.

What we need is a good competition, they always spark up interest. It needs to be fairly generic, plenty of scope for interpretation, and be accompanied by a free product trial that lasts for the duration of the competition. Although it will be in TGC's interest to promote AppGameKit, it should also include DBPro users.
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Ortu
DBPro Master
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Joined: 21st Nov 2007
Location: Austin, TX
Posted: 5th Jan 2016 19:58 Edited at: 5th Jan 2016 20:03
The graph puts it into pretty stark perspective, but I'll just quote myself from back in 2014 because nothing much has really changed and it still applies.

I'll note that after this, I did post my project and increased my personal activity for the better part of the year, some other good projects were also posted and things picked up in the first half of 2015 but have since dropped off again.

In my case, I took a new job that has cut into my time quite a lot

turns out my complaint regarding the newsletter was just the link in geek culture and I didn't see the emails, but now it actually has been dropped so...

On the plus side, dbpro is up on github, but I think it is going to be too little too late.

me wrote: "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.

TGC problems:

Focus split into too many directions. - DBP, GDK, AppGameKit, 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 -> AppGameKit, 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.

Member problems:

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.


TLDR >>

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."
Seditious
5
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Joined: 2nd Aug 2013
Location: France
Posted: 5th Jan 2016 20:03
I don't think TGC still support any of the products these forums are designed for, do they? I see that there is still an AppGameKit section but even that has its own Steam community now.
Crazy Programmer
AGK Developer
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Joined: 6th Sep 2004
Location: Lost in AGK
Posted: 5th Jan 2016 20:41
Quote: " Steam community now"

The Steam community is hit or miss. For sure most copies of AppGameKit are sold through steam I would assume. Even that being the case the agk community hub is a hit or miss. I pop in 1 week and its really active. The next it is a lost cause.

TGC really needs to funnel the traffic back to these forums. One because they are the best and everyone loves it. Second because I'm a selfish prick who does not want to move on. Three because it is the best thing for everyone.

GameGuru nubs see the awesome stuff we do and want to buy AGK.
AGK Steam Users get the help they deserve.


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Michael P
13
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Location: London (UK)
Posted: 5th Jan 2016 23:08
It has to do with the way the market has changed, lowering demand for DBP (and I imagine FPSC too).

Back when DBP first started it didn't have much competition, and at the time if you wanted to make a game, nothing came close. Now days there are lots of competitors which are very good.

Also - there has been a shift away from PC; people are using their PC less; consoles and phones/ipads are in use much more. I only turn my computer on now days to code really, rest of the time I am on my phone.

TGC moving towards its more successful products is good, but it has probably hit the forum. Especially as people mention there's a separate forum for AppGameKit and GameGuru.

I still read these forums every now and then...
Phaelax
DBPro Master
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Joined: 16th Apr 2003
Location: Metropia
Posted: 5th Jan 2016 23:43
There's another AppGameKit forum?

"I like offending people, because I think people who get offended should be offended." - Linus Torvalds
Crazy Programmer
AGK Developer
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Joined: 6th Sep 2004
Location: Lost in AGK
Posted: 5th Jan 2016 23:53
Just the wana be steam community hub phaelax.

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Kezzla
10
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Joined: 21st Aug 2008
Location: Where beer does flow and men chunder
Posted: 6th Jan 2016 01:31
It is sad to see it so quiet.
Granted I am guilty of only stopping by occasionally these days.
I am working on a C# Project ATM, it is not a game but a piece of software I can sell easily to my industry.
Between long working hours and my spare time going to this project, Game design had to take a back seat, then the boot...

I used to come here a lot for help and advice. And to catch up a little on Geek Culture, and then a lot on Geek culture.
Now I tend to go to MSDN or Stack overflow for information (nothing personal, it is just where my searches always point and receive answers).

But that being said everything I can do now I learned here. I hate to see it dry up.

I don't know how to stop the trend, but as long as it is still here I will drop in and say hi.
To Err is Human...
To Arr is Pirate!
LeeBamber
TGC Lead Developer
19
Years of Service
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Joined: 21st Jan 2000
Location: England
Posted: 7th Jan 2016 11:00
Hi All, as you will know I rarely visit the legacy forums these days so sorry for the shock post My friendly neighborhood moderator kindly sent me this link so I could chime in with a few words on the state of play regarding forum and product fall off. One of the sad aspects of running a development company for over 15 years is that you have to let products fade (hopefully gracefully) to make way for new products. It's fair to say we did not always get this right, and sometimes caused product fade prematurely, but the intent to provide great solutions was always there (even if it was not always backed up with the goods). I think it's also fair to say that DBP and later FPSC had a huge role to play when game makes where thin on the ground (2004 through 2008), and certainly fair to say that our small 8-bit dev team in the UK could ultimately not compete with the might of triple A engines which started life costing $250,000 per title to being given away for free. I would have happily continued working on DBP (as it remains my fondest programming language) but I also had a responsibility as CEO of TGC which meant making decisions which would keep the company solvent (and wages paid), which meant looking into new things like cross-platform technology, the emerging app economies and recently the Steam distribution channel. In another 5 years, who know what the world will look like, and I hope I continue to help make good choices so TGC can stick around a little longer.

In an effort to ensure the continued survival of these great products, however, I open sourced FPSC Classic a while ago (https://code.google.com/p/fpscreatorengine/) and recently open sourced the latest DBP on GitHub (https://github.com/LeeBamberTGC/Dark-Basic-Pro) which features the faster compiler and latest toys such as shadow mapping, e.t.c. The Google Code repository, however, ends in 2016 so I will be looking to re-open source it under GitHub along with all the TGC owned model packs (free of course) in the hopes that communities will continue to have access to them, and have the possibility of improving them over time.

For my own grand plans for the future, I'm aiming to make GameGuru one of the easiest game makers to use (rather than the most comprehensive like Unity) and for AppGameKit to provide rapid cross-platform development for programmers (as opposed to drag and drop). As we're still a small team, these two alone should keep us very busy, and the more side tasks we can remove, the more time we have to code and respond to users. It's one reason you don't see me here much. Far from TGC winding down, we're probably busier than we've ever been, but all the crazy mad progress is happening in GameGuru land (at least for me). If you are interested, I write a daily dev blog which acts as a sort of diary of my day: https://www.game-guru.com/devblog/
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Dark Java Dude 64
Community Leader
8
Years of Service
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Joined: 21st Sep 2010
Location: Neither here nor there nor anywhere
Posted: 8th Jan 2016 04:31
Wow, excellent points folks! Lee Bamber himself showed up even!

Well, it does appear then that what's happening is an unfortunate but inevitable result of moving forward with the times, and that's alright. I had an idea, but I'm not sure how practical it would be. It would somehow involve merging this forum's Geek Culture board with the GG forum's Off Topic board, allowing the GG forum to boost this forum's activity. Perhaps the posts of each board would be merged, then the merged board would be hosted in a location common to both forums. This would moderately expose GG users to the non-GG world of TGC products which, while not currently the hot topic, may still be of moderate interest to them, resulting in activity from the GG forum spreading to this forum, all without scaring or overwhelming GG users with the non-GG aspects of TGC and its forums.

Quote: "Far from TGC winding down, we're probably busier than we've ever been"
Fascinating! Myself and likely quite a few others indeed suspected just the opposite. I'll have to check out your blogs. And hey, congrats on TGC's current success! Or at least, I presume a highly busy development company to be a successful one.
"It also shoots blue flames sometimes, which is startling in the most exquisite of ways." -- Self
Airslide
14
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Joined: 18th Oct 2004
Location: California
Posted: 11th Jan 2016 23:31
Shows you how well I've been paying attention, I didn't even know there were other forums or that this was the "legacy" one

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