Jump to content
VCH

What depopulated the forums?

Recommended Posts

I've been a member of this forum for a long, long time. I used to have member number 200 or so, after Jeff switched over from an older version of the forums, and I started the famous Nephilim vs. Slith topic (for those who remember; albeit under a different user name). I've never been much of active member, but I have dropped in from time to time through the last 15+ years. Any way, point is, I've seen this place be founded, grow and then, it seems, die a bit. 

My question to the members is—what happened here; why has the frequency of posts gone down so much? General used to be a hub of activity. And now, it seems, a handful of posts a month is a hard maximum. 

When did people stop using the forums to hang-out and chat, and why hasn't a new generation taken up where the last one left off?

(Looking forward to Queen's Wish) 🥳



 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The longer time between game releases is one reason since there hasn't been players asking questions. Also since Queen's Wish is a new engine there isn't the information out there for questions that can be answered until Wednesday. Then the screaming will start *heh, heh, heh* as players find out this isn't what they expected. Because we all know players don't want to read the instructions and they don't have the excuse that beta testers had that there were no instructions for 4 months.

 

There also has been fewer interest in both Blades games with few new scenarios compared to when you were more active. Also not a lot of posting games from years ago in General.

 

Welcome back and congratulations on making post 3500.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know about that...

 

The most pronounced drop in activity took place from late 2006 through 2008 or so.  Blades was already a pretty small part of forum traffic in 2006, and most posters in General were not brought here by Blades.  (Already quite different from the state of the forum in 2001 or 2002, but not any less active.)

 

IMO the biggest factor (leading to a chain reaction of other factors here) was the rise of social networking, which changed the dynamic for many people -- especially the very young crowd who previously made up a huge proportion of forum users -- in how they interact with others online.  Web-based message boards, while still alive today, are orders of magnitude less prominent in any analysis of group communication on the internet than they were in the early oughts.

 

During the same period there was a corresponding shift in tone and feel here.  This is well represented by TM's permabanning, which kicked off the aforementioned 2006-2008 period.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually, all things considered, it 's a miracle these forums are still up. It's a miracle that Spiderweb Software still exist either in a world where AAA companies are so "noisy" and getting all the fuss on the internet.

 

Yeah, a miracle.... and I should be here more often. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've only been a member for six years, but I do agree with Slartibus that the biggest drop off that I have seen has been in the younger crowd as they have stayed with more modern social media methods, but some of that group, which was very vital to these forums when I first joined, also moved away to non-company owned/non-PG forums.  I can also think of a couple of people who were very active and probably not in the youngest category, who have dropped out probably due to real life getting in the way, and they of course have not been replaced.  While the purpose of the moderators is not necessarily to generate post counts, just looking at the list of moderators reminds me of several people who I have not seen post with any frequency in a year or more.

 

While there seems to be enough activity to maintain the usefulness of the site as a customer service tool, the social aspects (polls, games, surveys, etc) seem to be below a critical mass right now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the rise of non-forum social media is the major contributor to the lack of new faces, while the older members have other things going on in our lives, so there's an overall slow trend towards less activity. We'll see if there's a substantial reversal after Queen's Wish is released, even temporarily. I've felt like recent releases haven't created as much General activity as was once the case. People come to ask game questions, if they don't just stick to Facebook, but not to talk about their political leanings or form meme cults.

 

—Alorael, who also thinks it's self-perpetuating. Many people, him included, are more inclined to respond than to initiate discussions. If the first posters (not first reply "FRIST POST!!!" but real beginners of threads) aren't around, nothing gets started and no number of potential participants actually make a discussion in which any can participate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are probably the biggest cause of the decline, I agree. I don't even use those anymore, though. I talk to three friends whom are hard to reach through other means, I follow a handful of musicians, and that's about it.

 

I'm in a long-term psychiatric hospital. I spent 6 months in an acute one before transferring here, and when I came here and got Internet access, I quickly decided I didn't need to have any more of my life sucked away.

 

I'm given to understand, from what I've read, that the postmillennial generation places little emphasis on social media in their lives, using it more as a tool than a way of life, as millennials have. They look at my generation with a lot of bemusement and frustration, with regard to what we've valued, and what danger we've underestimated.

 

I haven't done in depth research on this, but it's what I've gathered from news articles. Veracity unknown.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, "millenials use social media as a way of life but postmillenials don't" is the kind of thing that shows up in NYT style section headlines because it sounds meaningful to people who don't use social media and don't know anyone under 35, not because it actually means anything.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another part of the forums deflating could be said to be due to Steam and GoG.

 

Now, I'm not going to pretend to know what fraction of Spiderweb customers go through what platforms, but what are the chances they stick to the likes of the Steam communities and pages rather than coming down to Spiderweb's own forums? Again, I can't say, but I can say how often I personally have gone from other Steam purchased games to their publisher's sites - effectively never.

 

The forums will always fluctuate with activity given the release cycle, but so long as there are other, larger, competing places for similar "community" content, that's going to siphon away any new traffic or engagement these forums get. And what do you get for coming here that you can't get anywhere else? Other developers might shepherd players to their own local forums and such where they provide direct engagement in an environment where they control, but here? Not so much. So... why should anyone visit the forums - join the community, contribute to the discussion?

 

I don't have any compelling answers for that, and to me, that's why these forums don't amount to a whole lot these days. People have other places to go that are just as if not more convenient, and so long as those platforms continue to take up an increasing part of Spiderweb's presence and sales, it's only going to continue.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Newer forms of social media have their uses, but I feel like a lot of communities have a forum-shaped hole in them. I noticed a lot of communities had a fundamental shift when Discord came around and forums started to get depopulated. Discord's good for extemporaneous discussions, but bad for periodic, ongoing ones. And if you've created something you want to share with the community, you need a friendly mod to pin it for you, otherwise it gets lost immediately in the noise. On the other hand, if mods do this too often, Discord just becomes a worse forum.

 

(Twitch chat is this x100.)

 

It's hard to form a cohesive community over microblogging services like Twitter or Tumblr, though in their defense they were never designed for that sort of thing. In an odd sort of way, they remind me of the way the web was two decades ago, where if you didn't link share with the right people, or be part of the right webring, you languished in obscurity.

 

 

 

There's also my general sense of unease over communities moving from "let's create a website, host a message board, and congregate there" to "let's use this company's services to run our community", but that's just my FOSS paranoia talking.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Personally i just think the lack of new content to discuss within the realms of this forum is the main driver for this, like... I think a lot of us have exhausted most conversations to be had on any of the previous games. The remakes didn't leave much of a room for discussions of more than mechanics and any other conversations can be had more easily and freely(not that the restrictions in place are not appropriate) anywhere else. I think Queen's Wish deff would create room for more activity. I'm to start it today and in his interview Jeff said they wrote and had a lot of content for this, and as its a whole new world, and not a sequel i feel the exploration could be much deeper on whats there to talk about. Regardless i don't think the forum actually dies most people just like. Watch waiting for actual content. This post itself seemed to have some... 180 something views despite only 12 replies or so. So i want to say the people are around. And these forums deff have the most content related to the game in any of its forms so new(may be an overstatement) coming back at new releases. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1%_rule_(Internet_culture)

 

It's not just a Spiderweb thing (and has its parallels in meatspace too), but communities need a critical mass in order to keep turning the 90% into the 9% and the 9% into the 1%, and once they drop below that critical mass, there's no incentive to become part of the 90%, let alone the 9% or 1%.

 

EDIT: Back when I was planning on releasing an actual BoA scenario, I was going to have a dialog box pop up at the end and ask players to just send me a quick e-mail saying they played it, just to get a sense of what BoA's 90% actually was (because it really felt like the only people who still played BoA scenarios were BoA scenario creators).

Edited by Dintiradan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dinti, your first post in this thread struck a chord with me. I’ve found that not having a forum (for want of a better word) where longer-form and more thought-out conversation can happen has left me basically not communicating with people in a meaningful way over the internet. Sure, I’ll FB message friends I know and see in real life, but I think back to 5/10 years ago and I had friends in all reaches of the world that I communicated with solely through text. 

 

I’ve tried Discord, Twitch and the like, but nothing quite compares. I think a lot of that has been because I’m a completely different person (ha), but also because communication now seems throwaway. Chatting on Discord is something to do while you’re focused on something else, compared to posting on a forum where your attention needed to be entirely on the current conversation.  

 

We’ve definitely lost something in our rush towards instant messaging, and that makes me sad. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I happen to be craving some meaningful discussion with regards to forums right about now, so I'll bite...

 

With regards to Spiderweb in particular, I'm stuck in the past. And I'm OK with it. This means that my first SW game was Nethergate (the original one!) and my next was Avernum II. Back then, I was a child, money was not abundant, and the games cost $30 each. On the bright side, they came on a gloriously printed CD in one of those cool clamshell cases (which I wish Jeff still sold). I've since nabbed the rest of the original Avernum trilogy, BoE is now open-source and free, and the games, lovingly made as they are, are now more accessible and affordable than ever. On the down side, I've not had the free time to invest in the newer games or the remakes. Even worse... I've not managed to coax myself into doing so, either. And so, I've become locked in the past. Andrew Hunter and Phil Foglio's artwork populate the lands of the underworld in my imagination, and I feel no desire to move past that. And because that's all in the past, what do I have to contribute now?

 

Moving a little bit forward - I played the Geneforge demo till it could be played no more when I was young, but games like Avadon just didn't draw my attention. The engines and graphics of those games simply did not capture my imagination like those first Avernum and Nethergate games did. Perhaps Queen's Wish is different, and would be something I'd like? I'm sure it would be if I find the time - Jeff does fantastic work, after all. In the meanwhile, I just don't feel stirred enough to make such a change. The reason for this sentiment is as follows: what do the new games do so well that the old ones have not done already in terms of their mechanics? I've played many games focused on grinding, and after years of grinding in real life, that mechanic just doesn't appeal to me any more. There is no doubt some degree of realism to it, but the way in which characters advance by this method is not wholly convincing. In fact, such a method just seems tiresome to even contemplate. Because I am admittedly stuck in the past, my sentiments could be completely wrong, but I've not been steered otherwise. I've not been sold on a pitch that convinces me that my sentiments are wrong! And so, if I feel (key word there) like no innovation is taking place, why would I hang around?

 

...Perhaps the problem here is a consumer's dilemma. The Blades games let writers and developers go forth and create, but the heyday of that activity seems to have passed. What you are left with, therefore, are mere media consumers. This should not be taken as a smear on those people - all individuals on this forum are part of their number. But, solely being in such a position does not generally promote much of a lively conversation. Namely, a brief question is asked (I have done so several times), answered, and then the poster moves on. There just doesn't seen to be a whole lot of intellectual discussion going around when the majority of posts are focused on consumer issues rather than creative issues. Forums in general are centered around niche interests. So, if your niche interest happens to be games made by a certain company, but all you can come up with are consumer issues, how can you expect to have enlightening discussions? You need to have enlightening discussions in order to connect with other forumites and therefore have a community in the first place!

 

So, in my opinion, if something can be done to break the "consumer's syndrome," that would be the first big step. The sad truth about solving said problem is that it's up to the individual consumers to solve it! As per being stuck in the past, that's my own fault. But, it's also a niche issue, and it's why I'm even here at all. As per what inspires us and what attracts us in games - ideas and innovation - perhaps that needs to be more of a focus here? It isn't to say that no such conversations occur, but the afore-mentioned consumer's mentality doesn't do much to keep those conversations moving. Unfortunately for me, I've seldom looked for that sort of content here, not found much of it, and when I do make it, it's generally on a different forum.

 

To close with a question to which I have no answer: "How do you build an online community?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is only so much that can be discussed about Spiderweb games. I'm afraid that most topics have already been handled. On the other hand, I understand that the lionshare of content on these forums was posted by a tightly-knit community basically going about silly things, with some Blades discussions mixed in. The big days of the Blades games are past - as you stated - and the core of the Spiderweb community has mostly moved on. This is all to be expected really; the issue is that too few new people are flowing in to keep the community alive.

As to "being stuck in the past", like you, I also prefer the older Spiderweb games, especially the early 2000's Avernum remakes. My field is computer science & software engineering and I really don't like the newer technologies that are taking the lead. In my free time I write CLI programs and do m68k assembler on my QL-emulator.  But that doesn't make me feel stuck in the past, retro computing is just what I enjoy. My disdain for the newer programming languages doesn't make me dislike computer programming all together, and my preference for retro computing doesn't prohibit me from excelling at new and upcoming technologies. I think it's a stretch to say that you're locked up in the past because you prefer the old Spiderweb games and can't find interest in playing the recent Spiderweb games. In fact, I believe many on these forums prefer the early Spiderweb games.


You stated: "And so, if I feel (key word there) like no innovation is taking place, why would I hang around?". Am I misunderstanding or is innovation of big importance to you? I'm fine with innovation, as long as it doesn't escalate into change just for the sake of change. Too many people seem to think that innovation is an infinite given. At some point, the product is done and futher innovation will actually be a detriment or simply impossible. Also, innovation is a double-edged sword: sometimes things change for the better, and sometimes for the worse. Not everyone will always like every change, and Jeff is well aware of that, since he has stated this numerous times. I wouldn't lose hope if I were you. Who knows what the future will bring? If innovation is what you seek, I would definitly give Queen's Wish a try.

 

About building a community, I think a fabricated community has very little chance of succeeding. Usually, a community forms around a couple of key people getting along well, with more people tagging in. When those key people lose interest or simply move on, the community usually fades, as is the case with the Spiderweb forums.

Edited by Unbound Servile

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Agreed that the majority of posts were related to BoE and BoA. There were sub-groups related to the niche (non-Vogel) games, and abusive satellite forums that memed here. I'm still astounded that so many encouraged the RosieCat stuff. This place was quite the Lord of the Flies zone back in the day. Jeff and his moderators/admins have done an admirable job balancing community quality and quantity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If the the 1% rule is true, maybe that means more people played my scenarios that I thought before :p

 

Back in the day, there was always Terror's Martyr and everyone always wanting to know what outlandish or crazy thing he would say next. :p

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most of the main points have been touched on upthread (evolving social media, lack of 'new' games, many traditional topics explored over the years (favorite books, movies, polls, etc)), but I don't know, the demand for 'anything' Spiderweb is there.

 

Twp days ago Jeff set up a Dischord server.  Now maybe I'm just old & don't understand the chaos of one thread for each of the game series', but there are 75 people online there right now & another 150 offline...after two days.  I'm reasonably sure that those numbers are going to fall off a cliff in a few days once the newness wears off, but the people are out there wanting 'something' that relates to SW (me too for that matter).

 

I'll be the first to admit that I don't participate all that much around here except for when a new game comes out.  As one of Jeff's (windows) beta testers, I'm more than happy to help out/share my experience deeply playing the game (however Randomizer generally gets the answer out well before the time I wander by...), but that only goes so far once the initial excitement dies off (as it pretty much does a couple of months after release & most people have finished at least one playthrough).  But with, for the most part, nothing but specific questions to answer, what's there to talk about?

 

Solutions?  I have no idea, maybe it's just the way of things to evolve & die away.  But I'd love to see the forums thriving once again if possible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/26/2019 at 5:42 PM, TriRodent said:

Twp days ago Jeff set up a Dischord server. 

I hate Discord... It seems to be a useless chat room to me.

 

By the way, no chat room or shout box here? I'll give a shot at the new Discord but I would love to have a shout box here! :D

Edited by ladyonthemoon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Unless you're including them in the broad scope of social media, aggregate forums like Reddit have also steered traffic away from little communities. Our longtime members grew up and moved on and there hasn't been much new blood to take their place. When I first joined the forums over 20 years ago, now, there was a lot more personality thrown around and this place felt more like a village than a sort of niche news hub.

 

It's not a bad thing, just a sign of the times. I'll occasionally lurk through every couple of months and check out who's still active. You were a part of my upbringing and I love you all. ❤️

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And now Spiderweb have their own Discord... the place I'll never be. I tried it but I really don't like it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

yea discord doesn't have pages apparently so every post to thread is 1 long list and to keep unread msgs list short need to check it frequently and also to allow users to make threads like here would mean giving them extra perms and that could be a lot probs to mods.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll start posting again, that'll kickstart this place. Get ready!!!

 

Edited by Jukai

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...