You see, that’s what I’m seeing in terms of the commonalities between all these projects is COMMUNITY. Each of these projects will live or die not because of the strengths of their technology, but the dedication and efforts of members of their community. Torchlight has a lot of cache from fans of Fate and Mythos, and those people are going to buy the game just on the reputation of the developers. If they had essentially ignored those core fans, then you would not see the word of mouth that has happened to spread word of the awesomenes of the game.
Unity’s toolset will live or die as well based on it’s community. They probably spend as much time cultivating relationships, helping users, and making fixes based on user-input as they do building core code. As a result of this, they are growing leaps and bounds, their toolset is now free for indies (looks like their userbase has exploded 50% in just a few days!) and the future looks bright for them.
So, my advice to you is this – if you want to build something successful that lasts more than just a few days after you release it you MUST cultivate an avid community — which means LISTENING, BEING AVAILABLE, and actually making changes based on community feedback. It cannot be a one – way street. If you try to present some closed up application that you hold very close to your chest, you will find yourself with something dead. If you let it free, and let if evolve , it will take on a life of its own and ultimately surpass your expectations.
For another perspective on community – check out this post from Chromacoders.
I want to learn more about this! If you know of great videos, podcasts, posts or other links, please add comments to this post. I’ll post again soon on my findings.