A labour of love - a strategy game forum

Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
706
Bitten by the bug I'm going to go in off the deep end and start a new forum for strategy gamers.

If there's a gaming style I enjoy most it's strategy, be in RTS, worldbuilder, 4X, turn-based. I started with Red Alert in 1996 and I've played dozens of different types. It's a subject I am passionate about, a subject I know about and I subject I can write about.

So why am I here? Why not just do it? Because I want to lean on you fine folks to see to my success. I have already secured hosting and a domain name. I now need to choose the forum software. Ideally I'd like to go back to vBulletin 3.8.x (and 15 years back in time if that's ok please and thank you) but I know that's not an option.

I've just put out a forum using XenForo - https://humankind2021.com (ironically for a strategy game!) and I feel like XenForo is the most obvious choice for a new launch. What are thoughts on vB5 or Invision (never ever used Invision) or something different such as Flarum (which looks beautiful, by the way).

Stage one: Choose a software
Stage two: Set up the site
Stage three: Marketing and promotion basics (social media, ads maybe? promotions)
Stage four, five and six: Content, content, content
Stage seven: TBC

Sticking with Stage one: Choose a software; what are your thoughts?
 

zappaDPJ

Administrator
Joined
Aug 26, 2010
Messages
7,476
I've just put out a forum using XenForo - https://humankind2021.com (ironically for a strategy game!) and I feel like XenForo is the most obvious choice for a new launch. What are thoughts on vB5 or Invision (never ever used Invision) or something different such as Flarum (which looks beautiful, by the way).

I and I'm sure an overwhelming majority of forum owners would say stay well away from vBulletin 5. While it does have some nice features and they have managed to crush hundreds of bugs, the underlying code is pretty dreadful and it's still riddled with hundreds if not thousands of bugs. It's also missing a lot of essential features and there's literally no third party add-ons or support available for it unless someone else knows different.

Xenforo or Invision Community would be at the top of my list. At this point in time my preference for which would vary on the nature of the forum. If it was a fairly plain startup I'd probably go for Xenforo. If I wanted a lot of additional functionality or if I was planning a migration from another platform Invision would be my choice.

Flarum would be a brave choice. I quite like it but I don't think I'd want to launch a new forum on it at this time.
 

Nabix

127.0.0.1
Joined
May 20, 2010
Messages
489
If you were able to start that forum with a new code base like Xenforo or IPB. Then theme it in a retro style to match the old rts days. That would be the bomb.com. Seriously, retro style forums with modern functionality are super cool. I own a domain based around rpg games but never got around to doing anything with it. That was my goal was a retro themed community but on modern software. Gives it that old school feel but with the latest features.
 
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
706
...stay well away from vBulletin 5.
Staying away from vbulletin. Shame. Loved 3.7 and 3.8.

Xenforo or Invision Community would be at the top of my list.

I’ve never used Invision. That’s my issue. Do I risk an unknown or stick with the reasonably familiar? I’m getting used to xF and it seems most popular. I don’t think I’ve even registered on an IPB forum before.
I’ll review their features and see if it’s tempting.

If you were able to start that forum with a new code base like Xenforo or IPB. Then theme it in a retro style to match the old rts days. That would be the bomb.com. Seriously, retro style forums with modern functionality are super cool.
Stop it! You’re turning me on!
 
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
706
Looks like IPS is much more expensive than xF. Just the core suite and forums is $200. Adding pages, blogs and more increases the cost significantly and it's a 6 month rather than 12 month (on xF) renewal. The question is, is it worth the extra investment?
 

Taylor J

Fan
Joined
Mar 13, 2010
Messages
882
It really depends on what you want. Do you want just a forum? Or do you want more? If a forum go for XF if more go for IPS.
 
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
706
XenForo I think then. I want a community first with articles/reviews which I know I can spin with add-ons.

Thank you all for your input thus far.
 
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
706
I’ve chosen XenForo and the boards are up (but closed). I’m now considering a custom theme. I’ve contacted skinmyforum and pixelexit (I think) for quotes. I want this to stand out and not look like anything else out there. As Nabix said;

Seriously, retro style forums with modern functionality are super cool.

And that’s the look I’m going for.

My next question: I’m using xenporta on HK2021 and I do like it, but are there alternatives for an article portal? I’m going to have reviews and news as front page with the forums sat behind.
 
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
706
Stage two: set up the site. The forums are up but locked. I've tried to keep the starting forums limited to avoid the look of a barren wasteland. I opted for XenPorta for the homepage, simply because I'm familiar with it. Thoughts on layout please? Anything you'd change?
 

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l3ta

Enthusiast
Joined
Feb 14, 2020
Messages
115
I don't see the new $3K style. Other than that, I wouldn't change a thing :)
 

haqzore

Devotee
Joined
Dec 6, 2012
Messages
2,509
My opinion:

Combine "News" and "Help and Support" into a single "News & Support" forum.
  • "Help" and "Support" are the same thing, no need added value or clarity by stating both.
  • Require + Use prefixes to label topics (Help, News, Feedback, etc etc...).
  • There shouldn't be so much site news that it drives its own forum. If there is, you're either communicating minor updates members don't care about, or you're making too many big changes too frequently.
Separate your "Intro" forum on its own + drive value beyond "hi".
  • Ex: Introductions & Strategy Gaming Background
  • "Say hello & tell us your favorite strategy game / most recent strategy game / least favorite strategy game / single or multiplayer / tabletop or video game / etc etc etc
  • Potentially use post macros plugin.
It feels out of place to have "Other Games" under the "Strategy Gaming Network" category.
  • Feels like you're lumping "Other Games" in with the core focus of your entire site (Strategy Gaming Discussion)
  • For now, keep them in the same category.


What's the scope of your site? Tabletop? Digital/video? Both?
This info could also come into play & benefit from prefix usage within your News/Reviews/Discussion forums.
 

enivid

Aspirant
Joined
Sep 11, 2011
Messages
24
Sorry for asking, but do you have some plan for dealing with competition from Reddit/YouTube/Fandom who totally pwn gaming niche nowadays?
 
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
706
haqzore
- You're right about news/support. I'll merge them.
- I will split out the intros when we get busier. That was always in the plan. I do like the idea of 'driving value.'
- There are a number of other strategy forums currently hidden. RTS, turn-based etc. Eventually there'll be Civ series, Total War series etc but for now it's one forum as I don't want to dilute content. Eventually generic gaming will move to the Community Central section.
- Scope is digital currently. If there's enough interest I'll break out into table top too.

Thanks very much for your suggestions.

enivid
- Reddit etc are a good source of content. I am aware they're the major competition. Many strategy gamers are a little older than the typical FPS fan and there is a niche for traditional forums. I've found one well developed, funded and established competitor but there forums leave a lot to be desired. I want to get back to 'community roots' with this.
- There are a number of options available to set us apart. Crucially feeling like you're part of a community is core to stickyness. Reddit etc don't give that same 'vibe' to me. I will also be running contests/giveaways of game keys (I'm currently building a catalogue for keys for early contests to draw traffic.

Thanks for your question. It's good to be challenged. Makes a man think of what he's going to do to compete.

Want to have a look at the site now it's unofficially opened? https://strategygaming.net
 
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
706
I've implemented some of the changes suggested by haqzore. Added News, reviews and strategy discussions under the one node. Moved the general gaming forum into the community central node with intros as a standalone and merged news/support. Thanks for the suggestions I think it works much better.

With activity I'll start to separate the strategy game forum into genre-specific fora. But that's a way down the road when we have a few more threads/posts.

Please keep the suggestions coming.
____________________________________________

Stage three: Marketing and promotion basics

I've got a Twitter account and I'm starting to build a following/connections with other's in the niche. There's a Facebook page set up too but it's not being used as yet because I'm waiting for the final look for the forums to develop before linking it into Facebook. I'd like a specific theme throughout the forums and social media. Also added a Pinterest, because why not? It might get me one or two hits.

Consideration to advertising - paid adverts. I am not keen of Adsense. I don't think it's overly successful a system. Does anyone have any other suggestions for ad services?
 
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