Unity, Torchlight, YUI3 and Community

3 completely different events happened this week, but I’m finding all kinds of synergies between them. Unity 3D is now offering a free version of its development tool to all indies. This is huge for them, especially now that it will allow whole new communities to emerge around their tools. YUI3 recently was released, and is an open source javascript library that anyone can use, and anyone can help improve. It is a complete rewrite from YUI2 and represents the best of breed ideas, techniques and methodologies from many other js libraries like jQuery. Also this week, Torchlight was released, an awesome Diablo – style game with amazing graphics, accessible gameplay and a growing and dedicated community of players and future modders forming around it.

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.

This same kind of dedication to community is evident with the YUI team and it seems to be paying off in a BIG WAY. You can look at YUI2 vs YUI3. Someone inside Yahoo looked at the javascript libraries out there that were getting lots of traction, as well as ones that were highly popular. Based on that they brought in the community at a very early stage and iterated over and over with community feedback. As a result they have come up with a new js library that rivals jQuery and Dojo in terms of speed, ease of use, and performance.

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.

  • http://twitter.com/InfiniteUnity3D Infinite Unity3D

    Great post. I think that the success of many indie game endeavors (games/companies/sites) will depend on the ability to foster a growing and supportive community. Big companies know this and that's why suddenly they want to be my “Friend” on facebook. I hope that our communities will learn to give and take to blossom in this new age of community driven decision making. As facebook spreads outside its caged garden the success of websites might come to rely even more on word of mouth.

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