I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, especially all the times people say they thought the game was dead until we put out a release or made a podcast.
There are a few dozen development-related messages on the developer Discord most days so we’re very much alive, but the people we often need to prove our aliveness to most can’t see that. And when they become disenfranchised because there hasn’t been a post on the dev forum for a month, they leave and suddenly it looks to us as developers as if there’s no longer community support. A feedback loop ensues.
I agree however that we need a private space. Many times it isn’t obvious whether a conversation could be made public or not in the moment. Not that there’s anything we wouldn’t want public in them per se, but as mentioned above it can be easier to talk when you know there are no expectant eyes watching.
The trouble is we use the Discord exclusively. This has always been a problem, even with the Slack group that predated our dev Discord. Putting things on the forum takes more effort, needs to look more presentable and can often feel redundant when more often than not you’re having the same discussion faster in Discord. Plus, when you know no one else is using the forum, you know no one else will reply anyway.
All this makes the dev forum a bit redundant, really. I’m starting to question its existence at all, but then we’d be left with an even bigger void of information for the average fan.
We could take the conventional gamedev route of keeping dev discussions private and posting updates to social media, but I don’t think this is possible with the open-source nature of the project. Non-devs need to see how development works to know whether they want to join or not, or it could even encourage them to join when they weren’t initially thinking about it.
Or we could use the dev forum more. I’ve tried getting people to do that for years and it hasn’t really worked out.
I don’t really know what to do, to be honest.
I would argue that still counts as working on Thrive. Documenting work is as important as getting the work done in the first place in team-based projects. And of course it fits what I said above about making productivity known to outsiders, benefiting the project in the long-run.