Advice for getting my little game dev community "out there?"

So for the past year and a half I’ve been running this game development group called Bit Phoenix Software (formerly “Watercolor Games,” I need to update my username here lol) as a hobby. I’m looking into turning it into a full-time career and into an actual company when I get out of highschool and finish college. First I’d like to spread the word about my little community and see if I could actually manage it.

I have a few questions about it though and I could use some advice. For those curious, I’m hosting it at (I need to get a new domain name, I know) with the help of @HAWK and @pfaffman (those two are awesome. :))

So…here I go I guess.

How can I properly organize my categories?

I’ve been looking at some blogs and some posts here on good practices for category organization but I’m really not sure if I’m on the right track.

I want to be able to post updates for my own games, while also allowing people in my community to freely discuss programming/game development, etc, and ask for advice much like I’m doing here. I also want to create a general hangout spot.

Finally I’d like to have a place where people can post their own games and get feedback from the rest of the community. I feel like that could really help people get their foot in the door when it comes to building a community around their games as well as seeing if their game would be well-received.

Where would be some good spots to spread the word about this community?

Our community is very small right now and I’d really like to grow it. I’m about to release the first alpha build of my game as well and I myself would like to see how well it’s received. I know I can’t just roll up here or on some rando forum and advertise it, and YouTube suffers from the same sorts of issues when it comes to getting the word out, so… I’m really not sure.

One of the issues I’ve definitely noticed as well is our Discord server despite being inacyive a lot of the time because of the small community, it’s way more active than the forum. Seems like people tend to prefer the Discord over it and I’d like to give people a reason to use both. Announcements/updates are easier to post to the forum for me, I can do it from school, and things posted on the forum are more “permanent” in that they don’t get buried by other topics as much. Keeping in mind that a Discord chat is… a chat… so naturally there’s a frequent amount of little messages going in rather than a forum where there are less frequent posts going in but they’re more in-depth.

What would you guys recommend I set up for my use case?

Are there any plugins I should install, settings I should set, etc., for my use case? I’d like to get the most out of Discourse because…out of all the community platforms I’ve tried over the years (phpBB, MyBB, Drupal forums, etc)., Discourse has the best user experience and feels the most modern to me. I really like how clean it is even though it’s definitely not as easy to set up as something like phpBB.

Thanks for reading, and thanks in advance for the advice. :slight_smile:

EDIT: So that’s a bit of a sack in the face… I just found out my domain name’s about to expire next week so I need to get the Discourse instance reconfigured… Yikes…


Our general advice is captured in


Note that when your community is very small you might actually be better off with a chat solution as @erlend_sh noted . However, for any kind of medium to long term updates and your own ‘research notebook’ purposes, you’ll probably want a more permanent location in Discourse.

We also have Discord integration you can set up.


Oh, there’s Discord integration? Awesome! I decided to set up Discourse on my new server (someone in our community offered to host the new website for us since they didn’t have literally any other use for one of their DigitalOcean VPSes so now I have root access to it.)

Two things I definitely need to figure out before I officially roll out the website is some sort of Discord integration so announcements I post get linked in the Discord automatically, and OpenID Connect login. I’d like all my community members to sign in using their Bit Phoenix Account which allows them to sign into more than just the Discourse instance. The OpenID stuff is out of the scope of this question though.

Anyway, thanks for the links. I’ll look into them. I think the big issue is there’s no healthy bridge between our Discord and Discourse.

Edit: I have created a separate topic regarding my OpenID Connect issue.

Edit 2: This one’s specifically for @codinghorror.

How can I convince my other community admin to like Discourse? He’s being really stubborn about it and prefers I use phpBB for the new site…which I can’t really do since its openid connect support is barbaric at best. He complains mostly of the “Latest” screen looking like a clusterf-gorilla, and categories being not able to be nested beyond one level… both things that can either be configured or, in the case of category nesting, aren’t needed.

How can I sell him on it in at least two sentences? I REALLY want to keep using Discourse. From a security, backend, extensibility, and usability standpoint… this thing’s awesome.

Hi @Watercolor_Games, first of all, best of luck with your project from a fellow gamedev community manager. :slight_smile: It’s a tough but rewarding endeavor, as I’m sure you’ve already noticed.

So for the Discord piece, the Chatroom Integration Plugin (discourse-chat-integration) should suit your needs. I use it on my own forum(s) to do exactly what you’re describing here.

One thing to consider though, either as an alternative or an addition, is Babble - A Chat Plugin. I mention this because although Discord is great and obviously very slick, you don’t own any of the data or relationships that come of it. That’s not to say it’s all out bad, but definitely something to consider. There’s also something very nice about having chat live on top of (or “within”) Discourse, including its self-moderation features (flagging) and even just a paired chat/forum in the same UX.

As for categories, try to avoid the temptation to over-categorize. I learned this the hard way despite others warning the same, and it would have saved me a lot of work if I had just put more thought into properly using tags instead.

For plugins, check out #plugin if you haven’t already. There’s lots of cool stuff there. In particular though, I would recommend:

I use several others, but these stand out as my favorites for the moment. :+1:


Already this kind of stuff is miles ahead of phpBB and those extensions prove it even more. I’ll check them out tomorrow once I get my OIDC fixed :slight_smile:

Another feature I really dongle-ing like:

" replying…"

I got in a PM conversation on my forum with one of my moderators who’s also working on a logo for it. It actually feels like we’re in an IM chat despite not being in one, simply because I can see exactly when he’s writing a reply and he can see when I am. Couple that with the features I mentioned above and it makes for a very fluid experience and I love it so much.