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Help us make devlogs better (What should we do with this board?) Sticky

A topic by leafo created Jul 07, 2018 Views: 1,345 Replies: 20
Viewing posts 1 to 14
Admin (3 edits) (+2)

Hello, thanks for taking a moment to check out this topic.

When itch.io first launched its community, there was no way to post to a blog on project pages, so we added the Devlogs board for people to post their updates. 

Fast-forward a bit and we added the ability to post devlogs directly to project pages, and we integrated it into the creator dashboard. Over a thousand posts a week are published through it.

I left this board around because there are a handful of people running interesting topics. It's pretty confusing that there are two places to post devlogs though. Additionally, there are some logistical issues with this board that we never really fixed. There are quite a few disadvantages with this board:

  • Confusing with devlogs feature, should you be posting in both places? 
  • The rules aren't clear: should you post a new topic per update, or have one topic with posts for updates? (you should be posting in 1 topic!)
  • We weren't strict about moderation: many of the topics are lower quality link dumps. The topic listing shows a lot of lower quality and abandoned posts that you need to sift through
  • There's no way to sort the posts, and no clear way to follow the progress of the game. (For topics, you have to subscribe to get notifications, but I think it's more valuable to get people to follow your itch.io account)
  • Where the best place to post to drive traffic to posts? This board could potentially be a source of traffic, but it's unclear how much. We've put more effort into making browsing tools for the proper devlogs feature: https://itch.io/devlogs

I've created this topic to get to get feedback about what to do next. The devlogs feature on project page is here to stay, so I want to decide the fate of this board. The format of having a devlog be a message board post is used by a lot of older indie game communities, and has its merits. Do you like this format? Is it important that this board stays around? What are ways that it could be improved to make it more useful assuming it's kept?

I'm also open exploring different ways to format this board. Maybe it could be used to share links to your devlog posts?

By the way, here are some example topics that are doing a good job of having devlogs:

If we make any big changes, then I'll definitely look for a way to make sure these posts are migrated and can live on.

Thanks

I was already keeping up a devlog on the forum when the devlog feature launched, so I had to post my updates to both to keep them consistent which was a hassle, so not having to duplicate things would be nice. It was a very major driver of traffic for me back then. I feel that https://itch.io/devlogs is very crowded, it is very hard for me as player to see things I'm interested in playing, so having an option to filter there might make discovery easier. More metadata might also be nice there, since each entry tells me about the contents of the devlog posts, but almost nothing about the game itself. I really like the pop-up that appears when you hover over a thumbnail on other parts of the site, and having that here would help me a lot to understand the context of the devlog update on the devlogs page of a game I don't know.

On the forum, I like that all recent update are all visible on a single page, it allows me to just scroll past things and just looking at all the images until I see something that interests me. On game pages, posts are only discerned by a title and how long ago they were posted, more metadata there might be nice, maybe even a "Show All Posts" option? A view of devlog posts on the main game page similar to https://itch.io/devlogs with displayed images and excerpt for each post might help devlog posts be a more visible and prominent part of the game page.

I also feel that posting a smaller update (like just a screenshot) on the forum is more acceptable than posting a small news item with the devlog feature, because it feels more like a "News" feature in which you always post significant amounts of text about game updates or something. On the forum you can have a more relaxed conversation around the game, and I don't feel bad about posting "Didn't work on the game much, but here's one cool GIF of something I did work on!" there, where as with the devlog feature everyone gets notifications putting more pressure on me to actually write something meaningful. But maybe that's just me.

(+1)

"Confusing with devlogs feature, should you be posting in both places? "

I assumed the project devlogs were a way to update followers, and the devlog forum section was where I could post the same updates, in hopes of attracting new people who are not aware of the existing game page (and subsequent devlogs).

"The rules aren't clear: should you post a new topic per update, or have one topic with posts for updates? (you should be posting in 1 topic!)"

Although it's true - I believe it's also common sense (to post updates to a singular topic). I think the only people doing this are 1) new to forums in general (as most forums have a rule of "post updates in the same topic" or 2) doing it on purpose to try and gain more views because their old topic has no replies/little interest.

"There's no way to sort the posts, and no clear way to follow the progress of the game. (For topics, you have to subscribe to get notifications, but I think it's more valuable to get people to follow your itch.io account)"

The inability to sort posts is a problem... at least in the sense that it can take much longer to discover what you're looking for in terms of games. I don't think there needs to be an additional way to follow the game via the forum devlogs. I would think anybody interested would look at the game page and then follow it. after discovering the public devlog

"Where the best place to post to drive traffic to posts? This board could potentially be a source of traffic, but it's unclear how much"

This is true, but it's almost impossible to be accurate without detailed feedback:

- how many people viewed the devlog and then viewed the game?
- how many people viewed the devlog, viewed the game and then downloaded it?

Would it be possible to track views from devlogs, similar to how tracking many views your page gets from a direct link, or from searching the "new" or "platform" section? (ie. 6 views from people looking through [windows] and [new] games.

Also, allowing devlogs (in the public form) to be tagged with their platform (windows, osx, linux, android etc) and being able to search for devlogs tagged with those platforms, might help boost views. Similar to how you can tag it with a completion percentage.

> search for all windows games 50% complete or more
> search for everything 70% complete or above, regardless of platform
> search for devlogs tagged with "linux" or "android" only

I'm not sure if that would be too granular, or if people would use the system enough to warrant the effort required to implement such a system.

Moderator(+1)

While working on my latest project, this board proved very useful, because it allowed me to post a bunch before creating a project page -- something I'd rather not do too early, for various reasons. And it was popular! People read it, and even answered. Once I did have a project page, that allowed me to post a couple of more involved devlogs, and in turn link to them from here. So in my opinion the board complements the project devlogs. But yes, it can be abused, and how to fix that is a good question.

Admin(+1)

I agree this is a good use case that I didn't list above. There are quite a few people who post without project pages on itch.io yet.

I might be being stupid  but  if they can’t already I think you should be able to sort to newest first for posts so the most recent update is the first the thing you see

Admin(+1)

There's no way to control the sorting of posts right now, so this would think about adding want if we're keeping the board and improving it.

(+2)

I've been using this board for around a year and I personally enjoy sharing my progress on my game here. I've also gotten good feedback on this board. 

I like the devlogs except when I don't post after a while, I have to click on "Next Page" a couple of  times until I can find my devlog. This can be tiring.  Having the devlogs in the Community section and linking these devlogs to our game pages would be great!

(1 edit)

I started my my devlog  for Error Ware 2 in this board in 2016 (thanks for mentioning it OP!) and I'm still getting views (about to hit 5000) and a few  comments. Since the "real" devlogs started, I copy the new post to the new devlog  as well, but I've no idea how many people actually see the posts there. 

Is there any way to see the views on the new devlogs?

If I'd know that visitors actually read the new devlog, I'd be OK with fully switching over to the new system, but it would be a shame to lose all the old posts I made (50+) before I started the copy + paste.  It would be cool if my old posts can be archived (making the board read-only?) somehow without me having to manually copy all the old posts over.

Personally, I like the Devlog feature on GameJolt better right now since you can  easily see how many people interacted with the post  and its more visible on the game's page (on itch.io page it's all the way on the bottom and only text links, on GameJolt you see  the Devlog button right under the header with previews.

Admin

Hey, thanks for the feedback. I definitely agree that devlogs need more visibility on the project pages. I'm working on some updates that should hopefully get them more attention. Based on the feedback I've gotten in this thread, I don't think I'm going to remove or archive this board anytime soon, so you can keep doing what you're doing. But I do want to focus on making things better for the built-in devlog feature.

I noticed that my devlog posts are not showing up on the main page so I figured a post here would help with it being seen at least somewhere since I don't have many followers on itch.io. I am sticking to the single post rationale with subsequent replies for updates. Saying that, I think the community part is a bit redundant but it would be good if the main devlog would display new entries from everyone and maybe few more options to sort / prioritize the feeds on the main devlog page.

I have noticed no one reads the devlogs on the project page and found out ppl on this board actually read the devlogs. I don't know the best salutation to fix this but please don't remove the devlog forum.

I have seen some really cool games through the devlog forum section than I would ever see at the project devlog. Yeah I do post on the project devlog(at or before peak times) but it doesn't really capture any traffic.

What I've always wished for (no gamedev forum has this) would be an image for each devlog instead of (or next to) the user avatar.  Maybe not as many devlogs could be seen at once but scrolling is so easy. With a good sized image I would find it easier to recognize projects than only seeing the title name.

(Another possibility would be the devlog as it is now, but the large image appears when you hover over it. I do prefer the first solution though because the eyes are multitudes faster than the hand+CPU, and the page may be less complicated and less CPU intensive.)


I prefer the message board devlogs.

(+1)

Hi, I'm sort of new to this, and only just found this area of the forum. I've seen some amazing games here in this section, but they don't seem to gather any comments or feedback, so my question really is there any point in posting dev logs here? I'd like to know if anyone's had any success (increased sales/downloads etc) by posting here or is it just an exercise in vanity? 

Admin (1 edit) (+2)

Since this topic was created we've added a lot more functionality to the proper devlogs feature. If you're looking to maximize your exposure then I recommend using that instead of posting at topic here in the community here. We have a dedicated link in our header for the Devlogs page for people to discover those posts. This board still exists for people that like to use a thread format for their devlogs, but the amount of traffic through this section is a lot less, and likely mostly other developers.

As a side comment, building a community through devlogs can be challenging. There's no guarantee that someone is going to want to participate in the comments on your posts. If you're writing posts just for the sake of advertising your project then it may be even harder to draw attention to your project. I recommend trying to write posts about something interesting about your project if possible. I wouldn't call it an exercise in vanity though, I think that marketing indie games is challenging and you should experiment to find what works for you.

Thanks

Since I was also interested in finding out whether this section might or might not be useful, I've analysed the threads on the first page.

  • I've only opened those who had at least 1 reply, for a total of 10 posts out of 20.
  • Of those 10, 7 actually contained only posts by the original author itself.
  • Of the only 3 posts left, 0 of them contained more than very few replies by others.

Make of this what you like.

(+1)

I feel like it'd be great if we could have devlogs on the devlogs page without a game page, which would probably negate the need for this.

I like being able to post all my content on one link instead of to a page where people have to search for my game. I haven't uploaded it on itch yet and its probably quite some time away so I can't use the existing Devlogs page, but I like itch and want to keep posting here, but actually its heaps easier on Tumblr for example to put them all in one place. 

(+1)

You can create your game page without uploading the game itself, and you can start creating new devlog posts right away, even if there are no downloads available.

However, if I understand correctly, if there are no downloads, your posts won't appear in the public list.

(+1)

Thanks I hadn't thought of that, I'm just using the community devlogs. I'll try a game page one. I'd guess I'd like to group my community devlogs under one thread. They do seem to be getting read so that's a plus! 

(1 edit)

I was semi-considering using the board devlogs as maybe an early dev posting thing. Then maybe, once a project is further along, I'd use the project specific devlogs if I want to communicate any detailed news about something.

I tend to use project specific devlogs for things like notifying when I might take a hiatus, for things like either last minute editing, or if I might extend a project. (There was a time I'd write a lot of web serials.)