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Read December 19, 2010, 01:30:05 AM #0
motorherp

Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

Hiya folks, it's been a long time since I last dropped in properly, I'm glad to see a lot of you still here Smiley.  This is going to be a long post but please do read it, it's relevant Smiley.

Firstly I'd like to appologise for all the trouble with the site going down for an extended peroid not long ago.  The issue was due to my credit details changing and I forget to update them on the host.  Until today I wasn't even aware of all the mess and concern it caused or even how long the site had been down for.  I've only just today found the2bears blog posts about the downtime and seen the external forum he put in place to keep the community together.  I was in the dark about the whole thing at the time with me not being contactable, so I'd like to extend my thanks to the2bears and everyone else for trying to keep things going.  I'll admit that it did cross my mind not to renew the site, after all I'd been paying the bills for a long time whilst having no real interaction or involvement with the place to justify it.  In the end though I decided this site was too good to just let go and it was unfair to do it without warning or making all the resources we've accumulated here available else where.  Besides, I figured I could afford it and I still wanted to support the indie scene even if I wasn't getting directly involved.

So where have I been? 

Well the last year and a half or so have been a real rollercoaster ride for me, the type that makes you feel ill and want to get off, not the nice fun type ;p.  It all started off with some deeply troubling issues in my personal life which took a fair while to resolve itself and left me really down for quite some time.  That was then followed up with me being made redundant from my job at Sony (the Psygnosis studio) after the order came down from above that major cutbacks were required which resulted in the studio downsizing to one dev team.  I'd been a happy employee of Sony for 5 and a half years, having survived several other smaller cutbacks at the studio in the past, and I'd made a lot of good friends there.  Fortunately I've got a pretty good track record and friends in other places in the industry so I managed to get a few offers and eventualy settled for a job at another local studio who for now will remain un-named.  Sadly though, due to the current lull in the games market and the falling out of popularity of certain genres, my current studio is now facing shutdown due to poor sales despite their strong heritage and having recently released a game which gained high critical acclaim.  Therefore unless another publisher steps up and buys the studio very soon I will once again be made redundant.

So where does that leave me now? 

Well right now I'm in a kind of stasis or purgatory.  I'm not really able to act on anything since I'm still employed and there's a small chance the studio may yet be saved, but there's no harm in planning ahead whilst I wait for a resolution.  I am of course considering moving to another AAA studio should I be made unemployed again, but I'm increasingly feeling more discouraged by that prospect whilst at the same time getting quite excited about the idea of taking a turn in my life.  There's quite a few factors now which are all putting me off persuing my AAA gamedev lifestyle.  For a start there's very very few studios left in my local area and I'm currently anchored here since my new girlfriend (who've I've now been with for nearly 9 months Grin) is still finishing her uni course and I've no desire to move away from her.  Secondly the AAA game industry is so unstable right now I'm not exactly excited by the idea of uprooting, leaving all my friends and family here behind, and starting all over again when I could very realisticaly just be dumped back into this same situation within another year or two.

So what does the future hold?

Right now, barring my current studio being saved or some promising new startup studio surfacing in my area, I'm very seriously considering becoming a full time independent game developer.  Quite frankly when I think about it the idea scares the hell out of me, and yet the more I research into it the more excited I'm getting at the prospect.  Obviously that's going to require some pretty major changes to my life style, the least of which getting used to not having a monthly pay cheque, or in fact any income at all for some time whilst I get established.  Frightnening stuff.  Fortunately though I have a large reserve of funds saved up and the full emmotional support of my girlfriend whose been really great through this whole thing so far.  I figure that at the minimum I can at least churn one game out and see how things pan out and whether I wish to stick with it.  If I decide its not viable for me after that then by that time perhaps some other local studios will have surfaced or some existing local studios will be expanding, and if not then we can consider moving since my better half will have finished her course.  Alternatively things could always work out great and I'll have found a much more free and fulfilling lifestyle Smiley.

So (finaly Wink) what does that mean for shmup-dev?

Well (of course again assuming that I do in fact go indie) like I discussed I'm going to have to dig into my personal money reserves for a while.  That will mean I'm going to have to be more vigilant with my expenses since I'll admit that I tend to waste a lot and have become complacent with money in recent years since I'm on a fairly respectable wage for a gamedev.  I did therefore consider whether I should finaly stop paying the bills here and let it close, but you'll be glad to hear that I have a better idea Smiley.

Part of being a successful indie developer is being close to your community and getting lots of exposure in your target market, and right here I have access to the perfect platform to give me the boost I'll need to get going.  Dont panic, that doesn't mean I'm going to turn this place into my own personal marketing playground, shmup-dev is staying true to its roots.  If I do go down this full time indie developer path though then my current intention is to give this website a much needed reboot which would involve sorting out the issues with the forums people have been complaining off and getting the major attractions rolling again such as the big sponsored dev competitions and such.  In return for paying the bills and diverting development time away from my games to this site I will place the odd cheeky ads to my personal stuff on the site and the compo splash banners and stuff like that.  Hopefuly that way this site will pay for itself whilst providing me with much needed exposure.  I hope you all agree that's a fair trade.

One final word.  Dont get your hopes up too high about a shmupdev reboot just yet.  Like I've said, my future is still uncertain and out of my control, but should I be made redundant again and nothing miraculous happen and I do go full time indie, I assure you that my intentions to reboot the website are honest.  Its going to be at least a month or two till I will know one way or the other or be able to speculate further so hold tight.

Motorherp out.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2012, 02:27:21 PM by motorherp »

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Read December 19, 2010, 10:36:16 AM #1
Squirrelsquid

Re: Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

I know how the Gameindustry is, bud - I can hear ya! ;3

as for the reboot - yea, would be sweet!

Good luck! ( and don't forget to barrelroll )
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Read December 19, 2010, 10:59:55 AM #2
motorherp

Re: Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

Hehe yeh the industry sucks pretty hard right now  Wink.  Cheers mate.


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Read December 19, 2010, 12:02:33 PM #3
lagonie

Re: Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

very good to hear from you. I wish the best for you whatever may happen Wink
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Read December 19, 2010, 12:22:48 PM #4
motorherp

Re: Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

very good to hear from you. I wish the best for you whatever may happen Wink

Thanks lagonie, I appreciate it.  I've started to get pretty excited about the ideas I'm having and even if things dont work out in the end it will have been an interesting diversion and much needed breather from my current AAA gamedev career which is leaving me feeling pretty burnt out right now.  For now I'm having to keep myself restrained though, I'm still uncertain what the future holds and I dont want to start anything or make any promises that I then cant finish.  I'll keep you all updated though Smiley 


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Read December 19, 2010, 05:12:57 PM #5
legion

Re: Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

I am a long time member of this site, although I hardly ever post. I have used this site to learn many things about programming video games. I search for code snippets and was very attentive to what you and other write and do in this site. I have seen the changes from when you used to run it and how popular it was to what it is now and was hoping it would not die out and was hoping for someone to take over and bring it back to life.  I am happy to hear of your intention to bring it back to life and hope you never have to shut this site down.

I have never worked in the game industry myself but I assume it's like any other business "make money for the boss or else". I have learnt to hate working for others. and I also have considered becoming an indie developer for a living. I know of two developers that are making money developing casual games and do pretty good at it. I have started on a game myself to see if I have what it takes to make it but only time will tell.

I want to tell you to stick with becoming an indie developer as I can tell what you are capable of doing from your posts here but only you can decide what is correct for you to do.  what ever route you take I wish you the best of luck.

if you are not aware of this, here is something that might motivate you:
http://www.humblebundle.com/
something to consider for this site.
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Read December 19, 2010, 08:06:00 PM #6
motorherp

Re: Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

Thanks for the support Legion Smiley.  I've seen that humblebundle before, its a really interesting concept.  I've been following a lot of different indie developer blogs lately too and come across all sorts of cool things.  In a similar vain there's one guy who put two buy buttons on his page for the same game, one for £5 and one for £2, with a little explanaition that it was completely up to you which one to use and the product you'd get was identicle in every way.  He left it up to the buyers concious to either go for the cheap option or support the developer.  Interestingly about 2 thirds of the people who bought it payed to higher price Smiley.


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Read December 19, 2010, 11:33:04 PM #7
the2bears

Re: Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

motorherp,

Glad to see that you're doing reasonably well given the year+ you've had.  Interesting choices facing you, re:indie development.  Good luck with making the right choices, and the community will still be here in some form or another backing you up.

Bill


the2bears - the indie shmup blog
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Read December 20, 2010, 12:11:22 AM #8
mpersano

Re: Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

Not that much to add, except good luck, and thank you for keeping this site alive!
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Read December 20, 2010, 06:05:44 AM #9
monoRAIL

Re: Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

Good to hear you're keeping the site going Motorherp.

Don't expect too much revenue from the website though - GameArtisans.org makes under $10,000 / year and it's one of the biggest art forums on the internet, it hosts the Dominance War competition every year which has hundreds of entries and major sponsors. Read about its financial problems here: http://www.dominancewar.com/2010/en/article_5.php

If you're going indie and want to make money, I strongly recommend looking at iPhone development, or if you're allergic to Apple (which I know many people are) there's always Android. Trying to make much money off Windows or Xbox indie games is a lot harder, unless you invent another Minecraft.

Lastly, I don't know what you're paying for hosting, but I use Dreamhost.com and they're very good. $10/month for unlimited bandwidth and storage. If you sign up with the referral code "monorail" you'll get $50 off and I get 10% off my bill.
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Read December 20, 2010, 10:14:14 AM #10
motorherp

Re: Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

Thanks for the support people, it is indeed going to be interesting times ahead if things develop the way I think they might.  Regarding shmupdev, the intention isn't to try and earn revenue directly of the website, I've no intention of filling the forums with google ads and such for the pittance that would bring in.  Rather, because this website attracts a fair amount of traffic from people directly interested in indie games as well as indie game review sites and such, especialy during competition times, I'm hoping that by getting the main attractions rolling again and creating a direct correlation between this site and my personal endeavours through the use of link backs and personaly sponsoring the events here, I can generate much needed exposure in my target market to my personal projects and also build peoples confidence in myself as an indie developer.  You just cant pay for advertising that good Wink.

I'm aware the money isn't going to be great and for a while I'm going to have to rely on my own reserves, but if it works out and I can sustain myself it will make for a much needed diversion whilst maintaining and improving my game development skills.  Should I then want to re-enter the world of AAA development later, this diversion wont have damaged my employability, if anything it will have improved it Smiley.

As far as mobile platform development is concerned, I'm aware of the huge potential that presents, however I'm also aware that given the shortcomings of the app stores it is also a huge gamble and a good 90% of phone developers dont make their money back.  The key to success in that market is being able to create your own paths to product awareness, usually through daisy chaining products such that you set up a cycle of releasing your initial and older games for free to establish a user base and advertise to your newer pay products and/or expansions directly in those apps.  To rely soley on the marketting tools already in place such as the app stores and review sites is to leave yourself purely at the mercy of the people who run those placess and feature your games, and there's just far too many apps released all the time for them to give the majority of apps their fair chance.  Therefore the mobile market is something I would only feel confortable tackling after already building some exposure and having my own marketting strategies in place.

Lastly, should it come to it, I do intend to move shmupdev to a new host.  I've kept the site on the current host despite its higher cost and shortcomings until now as a favour to Matt since he requested it, I beleive because he has friends at the host who helped him a lot in getting setup.  We've already capped out the host limits several times though and always hovering dangerously close, plus I will need to reduce my expenses.  My intention would probably be to create an umberella site which contains both shmupdev and my personal indie site.

Anyway thanks again for all the support.  I'll keep you up to date on how things develop and whether this is going to become a reality.  If it does then I will likely also begin a personal development blog so you'll be able to keep up to date on how things are developing.

Keep shmupping people Smiley


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Read December 20, 2010, 10:51:06 AM #11
motorherp

Re: Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

@monoRAIL

PS: Also out of interest regarding mobile development, I've taken a browse through your development site and noticed that you've jumped between PC and iphone/ipad development.  If I remember correctly you used Torque2D to create Drone Swarm, have you stuck with that engine for cross platform development?  Also as far as I'm aware Torque are going out of business, if you dont mind sharing and you're still with them, what would be your plans if Torque dissapears?


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Read December 21, 2010, 10:17:20 PM #12
monoRAIL

Re: Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

Yes I've stuck with Torque2D so far - it's a great engine for Windows/Mac development but the iPhone tech is not as robust. Torque have lost their financial backer and are looking for a new buyer so they're in an uncertain state at the moment. I've got an iPad game nearly finished but I was hoping for a few engine bug-fixes before I have to release and that's looking very uncertain now.

If things go bad for Torque I will probably switch to Unity. I've done a few classes on it and played with it enough to decide that if I ever need to move onto 3D games, or just have to abandon Torque then I'll probably switch to Unity.

If you're already a strong programmer and want to get into iOS dev then Cocos2D is a good option.
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Read December 21, 2010, 11:41:01 PM #13
hima

Re: Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

Hi motorherp! Just wanted to say it's good to see you here again ^ ^
Thank you for still taking care of this site, regardless of how busy IRL you are.

As for the domain, I have to second Dreamhost as well. Been using it for many years and haven't had any issues with it yet. The service is pretty good too Smiley
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Read December 22, 2010, 12:45:25 PM #14
motorherp

Re: Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

@monoRail - I imagine its going to be a bit of a headache to swap engine after getting used to Torque for so long so good luck to you monoRail.  I think you're making a good choice though, I've played around with older versions of Unity in the past and it seemed very capable, the new version 3 looks pretty amazing too even though the licenses are pretty steep. 

Personally for PC and mac development I'm currently playing around with C4 Engine since I'm much more comfortable coding in C++ and having access to the raw engine source code.  It works more like an SDK which you program around rather than a game development tool which you write scripts for.  I'll be sacrifising a bit a development speed and cross platform compatability but it matches my usual work flow more closely so I feel much better doing something like that for my first endeavour.  If things work out and I want to start branching out into other markets then Unity it definately high up on my list of engines to consider.

@hima - Cheers mate.  I've also been considering hostGator but I'll definately check out Dreamhost before making any final decisions.


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Read December 23, 2010, 12:14:02 AM #15
monoRAIL

Re: Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

Motorherp - yes the biggest downside to Unity is lack of source code so you have to work around that. However if you are developing a large scale game they do source-licenses. You just have to negotiate with them. C4 sounds pretty good, some of the students where I teach use it and have got good results.

Lastly - with regards to Dreamhost, the biggest benefit for me is that you can host unlimited domains for no extra cost. You just pay one hosting fee ($10/month) and you can put as much as you like into it. I have about 5 domains on my plan. So long as you've registered them there's no extra cost for hosting. Droneswarm.com, harpooned.org, banthisgame.com, and cokane.com are all on the one account (basically they're all sitting on the same computer somewhere in California) and I have over 150Gb of mocap data on an ftp account and they never even mentioned it. It's literally unlimited storage and bandwitdh which is kind of hard to get used to at first Grin
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Read December 24, 2010, 11:44:24 AM #16
motorherp

Re: Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

Large amounts of storage is definately something I'm after from a host.  This site takes up quite a lot of space in itself but as well as that I'd be looking for a place to make regular backups of my perforce database.  The last thing I'd want is for my computer to destroy itself and for me to loose all my data after x amount of months of development.


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Read December 25, 2010, 04:24:31 AM #17
moosa

Re: Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

Quote
The last thing I'd want is for my computer to destroy itself and for me to loose all my data after x amount of months of development.

That's what RAID is for, right? If you're a professional I don't think there's any excuse not to use it. Smiley

Anyways, it all sounds exciting! This place could definitely use a nice big breath of fresh air. Smiley And you'll have all my support if you decide to go the indie route. Of course I can't really say that I wish for you to lose your current job either. Wink
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Read January 13, 2011, 02:11:59 PM #18
Matt McFarland

Re: Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

I'm glad to see you back motorherp.  I'm also glad to see that a reboot is possible.  I'm all for this, and I've been thinking about it a lot actually.  It's also great to see that I didn't start this website up in vain!

My only regret is making all those subforums.  It was a bad decision on my part, and I did it because I wanted to make the site seem "BIG!" like gamedev.. But ultimately simplicity is always better.

I've been researching community sites for years, as running them can be very fun and rewarding. Should we start doing competitions again, I'd like to help with finding sponsors and being on the panel.

Now if you are doing a reboot, here's some suggestions.. Although maybe we should have a "reboot thread" where we can all put forward ideas.

I think that that we should upgrade to an HTML 5 based forum software (ITS THE FUTURE!!).  I believe that PHP will soon be obsolete, with the birth of HTML 5.  HTML 5 can run community based sites and is filled with amazing features.. 

HTML 5 crosses all platforms (unlike flash, which does not get past the iPad barrier).  While HTML 5 is still in beta, there are already CMS (Content Management Systems) using it and they look EFFIN SWEET!  Also, it is predicted that HTML 5 will replace Flash, Java, and other web-applications within the next 5 years.  It is also predicted that most electronics will be using web-apps instead of OS like apps, and HTML 5 is paving away to make this possible.  It includes hardware acceleration, WebGL, and much more.

I'm currently using the Youtube HTML 5 beta, and the videos buffer a lot faster than using the aging flash video app.

LINKS:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML5
http://www.richardleggett.co.uk/blog/index.php/2010/02/01/the-world-is-moving-to-html5

http://www.youtube.com/html5 - Youtube HTML 5 BETA Signup
http://xenforo.com/    - HTML 5 skinnable forum software (its the future - dude!)
« Last Edit: January 13, 2011, 02:19:15 PM by Matt McFarland »

<a href="http://www.mattmcfarland.com/flash/myFlashSig.swf" target="_blank">http://www.mattmcfarland.com/flash/myFlashSig.swf</a>
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Read January 13, 2011, 06:10:38 PM #19
motorherp

Re: Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

Cheers Matt.  If/when it comes to it, all the help I can get will definately be appreciated.  I'm in agreement that this place could be improved a fair deal with some re-arranging and converging of the forums, as well as perhaps including some newer content based features such as proper dev journals for users and flashier competition pages that are better integrated into the main site.  Perhaps even some kind of open source initiative would be cool or a proper resource repository.

To begin with though I would likely be starting small with just sorting out some of the existing problems rather than going for a complete site redesign or switching software.  I'm really not experienced with web development so going down that path would likely involve a massive time investment for me which I'm not sure I can invest.  The last thing I'd want is for this site to become a full-time job for me given that I'd have so many other new challenges to face should I go pro-indie.  Also there's a huge amount of content and history here already which is something I'd be terrified of reintegrating into a massive site change and possibly somehow destroying or loosing chunks of it given my inexperience.  Switching software is not completely out of the question but its likely only something I'd consider further down the line if I find the time and confidence to do it.  Besides, I think in the short term that this site and community would benefit much more from better content and community projects rather than a slicker interface.  I'll do some research into it anyway.

A 'reboot suggestions' thread is a good idea but for now I'd ask you to hold off on it.  I'm still unsure about my future and I wouldn't want to raise hopes if I couldn't then deliver.  I appologise for the lack of information and direction regarding this situation but unfotunately at the moment I'm at the mercy of my studio's parent company and information hasn't exactly been free flowing.  Further more what little information I do have it wouldn't be my place to spread publicly over the internet.  It's fustrating I know, even more so for me, but all I can ask is that you're all patient, a resolution will come soon and then I'll be able to plan properly and start acting.


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Read January 14, 2011, 03:07:33 PM #20
Matt McFarland

Re: Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

Ok, let's hold off on reboot suggestions for now.  I hope things work out in your favor! 

I think everyone would be perfectly fine with just a revamp and re-organization of the forums...  I do think this copy of SMF is dated and needs to be upgraded if we keep it.  In fact, I am willing to start moving topics and shrinking the forums starting this weekend if you want.

If you go indie or want to do a major oberhaul and retain all of the data I am willing to provide my services. 

My Experience(not limited to):
General webhosting & web design - 1998 to now
cpanel Web Portal: 2001 to now
Linux Server Managament: Apache(http)/SSH/FTP/MYSQL/PHP/POP/SMTP/Misc - 2003 to now
Installing / Managing / porting PHP based CMS - 2003 to now
CMS/Blog/Forum Administration: - 2003 to now
Search Engine Optimization - (META/TITLE/LINKS/KEYWORD RESEARCH) 2009 to now
« Last Edit: January 14, 2011, 03:45:19 PM by Matt McFarland »

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Read January 14, 2011, 04:23:08 PM #21
motorherp

Re: Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

Yeh the SMF version we're running here has been out of date for ages, it's something I'll have to get onto fixing as well as putting in more up to date registration verification since the spam bots are getting through pretty frequently these days.

I'm going away with my girlfriend for the weekend so wont be around to check on the site for the next couple of days but if you want to start re-organizing some of the forums I'm all for it, I trust ya Wink.  Also thanks for the offer of help.  Having someone involved with experience of these things is going to help tons  Grin


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Read January 17, 2011, 07:29:56 PM #22
Matt McFarland

Re: Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

**This thread has been moved to the new and exciting SHMUP-DEV board, which contains the latest news and discussions about this site.**
The SHMUP-DEV board did not exist at the time of this thread's creation, in case you were wondering Smiley
« Last Edit: January 17, 2011, 07:32:04 PM by Matt McFarland »

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Read February 12, 2012, 10:51:27 AM #23
AvrDragon

Re: Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

this site looks....dead Sad
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Read February 13, 2012, 03:50:48 AM #24
monoRAIL

Re: Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

It's a little quiet at the moment because we haven't had any competitions or prototyping challenges recently, but it's certainly not dead.
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Read April 13, 2012, 05:16:51 AM #25
Pixel_Outlaw

Re: Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

Sorry to hear about your misfortune buddy, I really feel for you. I need to get back myself. Here's to the good old days and a better future. Smiley



Aviator sunglasses are pretty much the shmups of the sunglasses world.
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Read May 03, 2012, 12:37:33 AM #26
mpersano

Re: Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

Anyone up for another prototype compo?
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Read May 15, 2012, 01:36:38 PM #27
Apt Pupil

Re: Shmup-dev reboot ........... possibly

Speaking as a newcomer, I thought it might be useful if I gave some feedback on the site.

The one thing that's bothered me most about developing my shmup is the sneaking suspicion that I'm reinventing the wheel. Sometimes my solutions (and the ones I've borrowed from others) feel more like an approximation of standard functionality, rather than functionality that was implemented back when shmups were at their peak.

To give you an example of the sort of information that interests me, please refer to the following link, which leads to an article regarding pseudo-3D aka "the "Outrun effect":

http://www.gorenfeld.net/lou/pseudo/

This is incredibly enlightening. Shmup-dev does have articles along these lines, but they often deal with specific issues - and collectively, they fall short of providing a unified methodology that budding developers can refer to.

If such a thing exists elsewhere, I've yet to find it.

I realise there are many different ways to skin a cat, so to speak, and so a unified methodology may not always suffice - but I really feel like my ability to develop a shmup would be greatly enhanced with a basic and accurate understanding of how developers have tackled the genre in the past.

As a beginner, I sometimes wonder if shmup-dev is for me. For better or worse, most developers here assume a certain level of competence which I think some might find off-putting. I'm definitely, definitely not saying it's elitist - all of the threads I've read here suggest a group who are most willing to offer friendly advice - but I do sense it might be more attuned to those with a pre-existing level of competence, to the exclusions of those seeking a starting point (such as myself).

In short - and again, this is entirely from a beginner's perspective - I really think shmup-dev would benefit from being a fully-fledged site, and not just a forum. I also feel like this would make the community more accessible, as registration to the forum somewhat inhibits people's ability to chime in with their thoughts, whereas they might be more willing to contribute were information presented in a blog or article format, as comments tend to be a more immediate way of doing things these days. 
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