My passion project - Board game community website

gogoblender

shiny happy pantless
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Feb 20, 2006
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Hi TAZ community.

This will be a long post, I hope this is the right place to post. Combination of asking for feedback, just sharing my ideas and my thought-process etc.

I've had several websites/forums over the years (mostly for specific PC games or PC game guilds), but one that have always stayed on the back-burner was having a board game community website. That was simply because I knew that it would require a monstrous effort, and I'd need a big budget. (as there is currently almost a complete monopoly situation with boardgamegeek). But now the time has come... :)
Also, I have previously managed my board game club by using various other tools, but neither have worked well.. And I just didn't see any platform where I could get it all in one package. (club, member management, tournament brackets, modern website & forum, event planning and so on).

I am well aware that any new website in these times need to really provide something unique and a great experience, to be able to compete with established sites like BGG, or something like Reddit. (r/boardgames has 2.7 MILLION subscribers. How do you compete with that?).

So I asked myself, "why should you visit our website and use it? What do I offer, that Reddit or BGG doesn't do (or do well enough)?"

Most important:
- Emphasis on the social aspect of board gaming, with unique features tailored towards this.
Of course the forum is there, but also managing your own board game club (either local club, or online), with it's own page, member roster, event calendar, private discussion area etc. You can also play in/host tournaments for your board game nights, with the system managing brackets, entries, statistics etc. It is planned to allow you to either join as club vs club, or individually. (getting this custom integrated).

- Modern, clean and responsive design, which works perfectly on any device.
This is a huge issue when using BGG. The website is a mess (a billion different menus and functions, but you can go years without knowing half of what each do or where they are), it's horrible to use on mobile (prepare your zooming efforts), the design and layout is from the early 2000s. So yeah..
But some don't mind it that much, so this is obviously not enough.

- Board game database, with plenty of filtering and sorting options, and all relevant information about every game is shown/linked to on the details page.
This isn't unique to our website (BGG has a massive one, you'll never surpass the raw amount of information stored there), but it is vital that we provide a useful and elegant database of games, to provide to the visitors. This will be tightly integrated with other parts of the site, for example XF MG galleries linked to X game in db. Same goes for XF RM resources linked, and forums linked. All showing on the game details page for each entry, to provide the best user experience and finding everything on one page.
A solution like this does not exist currently for XF (not even close), so I have contracted a developer to make a custom addon here, to get the best possible solution. I knew this beforehand, hence the high budget needed.

- Unique content, feature articles/guides/reviews.
This is also very important. Most hits to BGG (well over 50%) are from Google/search engines, and you need to have a high SEO rating to succeed here. Quality content is vital in such regard. I have my own editor plans, and I have another friend who will do pieces here. This isn't expensive, just requires lots and lots of work/time.. :)

- Board game marketplace, where you can sell board games, accessories, request for buying something special etc.
Another feature that isn't unique, but it is a part of the complete eco-system, and to elevate the whole package.

Any other things.. =) (also got some more plans, but they are further away from being ready).

One account, modern platform, sub-systems being well integrated, unique features for board gamers. Etc. That's the mantra.

Thoughts? =) Something missing that I should be thinking about? Do you love board games, does this sound interesting? Or are you satisfied with the current options?


I was in love with board games for many years... Talisman FTW! That single game has caused so many hoarse voices with us all yelling at each other for how a rule should be interpreted.

With your history, have you made a number of online friends?

This resource can propel your forum right from the get go...launching with friends is fun, creates instant content and keeps everyone motivated
:)

gogo
 

Frode789

Participant
Joined
Dec 16, 2014
Messages
91
I was in love with board games for many years... Talisman FTW! That single game has caused so many hoarse voices with us all yelling at each other for how a rule should be interpreted.

With your history, have you made a number of online friends?

This resource can propel your forum right from the get go...launching with friends is fun, creates instant content and keeps everyone motivated
:)
gogo

A few yes. I have at least one other friend that is very much interested in helping with this project :)
 

nick47274

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Joined
Jul 1, 2010
Messages
12
Were you considering integrating your site with Discord for those who might play online with a game such as tabletop simulator? This literally just came to thought again after thinking about it yesterday. Discord could open up an avenue of a younger forum base if you decide to promote your passion project there as well via different server listings.

(Using yesterday as if it's still Saturday where I live, but it's not. graveyard shift worker FTW)
 

Frode789

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Dec 16, 2014
Messages
91
Were you considering integrating your site with Discord for those who might play online with a game such as tabletop simulator? This literally just came to thought again after thinking about it yesterday. Discord could open up an avenue of a younger forum base if you decide to promote your passion project there as well via different server listings.

(Using yesterday as if it's still Saturday where I live, but it's not. graveyard shift worker FTW)

It's on the list of possible options yes =) I have used it on the past on other projects, so it's definitely something I'll investigate further.
 

overcast

Adherent
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Mar 17, 2019
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486
I wonder if you ever plan to make your own board game considering you are playing a lot of them. I am sure you must have one idea atleast?
 

Frode789

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Dec 16, 2014
Messages
91
I wonder if you ever plan to make your own board game considering you are playing a lot of them. I am sure you must have one idea atleast?

I do. Got some really fun ideas. But it would require a lot of work 😅
It is however on my list sometime when I have the time in the future 😊🔮
 

Frode789

Participant
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Dec 16, 2014
Messages
91
ALPHA version of my new database addon. Work is progressing though =)

Some sneak-peaks: (This is not my main style, but I still have some style issues on dark backgrounds that I need to resolve first.. :p)
Annotation 2020-06-20 230033.jpg
Index page. Sidebar with lots of sorting and filtering options (sidebar continues further down). Nice table with the various entries in the center. Easy filter for quick search of a game at the top of the table.
PS: Delete button is hidden for everyone else.

Annotation 2020-06-20 230108.jpg
Game Details page. Description, mechanics and categories. At the top is the most important information.

Annotation 2020-06-20 230126.jpg
Review tab. At the top you have the highest rated review. (other users can rate reviews, from "not helpful, OK, very helpful" etc.
Then the rest follows, and you can filter those (by score (from other users), or by date).

Annotation 2020-06-20 231748.jpg
Forum tab. Shows the threads from the connected forum. Filtering options, and quick button for post new thread.

If the game has any expansions, it will also show their sub-forums and with its own expansion tab on the main game. But that's currently WIP.

Annotation 2020-06-20 230208.jpg
Files linked to the game from XF RM.

Annotation 2020-06-20 230540.jpg
Media linked to the game from XF MG.

Annotation 2020-06-20 230606.jpg
When you are browsing media, resource and forum of the connected game, you have the "game bar" to get you easily back to the Game Details page again.

Annotation 2020-06-20 230711.jpg
Same with the forum. Game bar.

Annotation 2020-06-20 231556.jpg
Publishers and designers have their own pages in the database. Users can find these to easily filter and view all the games they have made/published.

And more to come.. :)

Also working on improving the features of the group addon, and integration between database, tournament and group. (since that's my primary advantage).
 

koraldon

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Joined
Sep 9, 2015
Messages
26
Regarding expansions, I would advise not going down bgg route and have sub forums for them. It is just messy, with users posting all over the place - better to use tags or prefixes...
 

Frode789

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Dec 16, 2014
Messages
91
Regarding expansions, I would advise not going down bgg route and have sub forums for them. It is just messy, with users posting all over the place - better to use tags or prefixes...

It's the plan to use prefixes extensively. So you can filter directly in the tab by various prefixes. Just not implemented yet.
As for expansions, noted. Maybe I should just use prefixes for those as well.
 

Taylor J

Fan
Joined
Mar 13, 2010
Messages
870
Can't wait to see and use the final product! I've been looking for a 2 player board game that my girlfriend and I can play via tabletop simulator lately and will definetley use your site to help find one.
 

Frode789

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Dec 16, 2014
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91
So it seems like I've hit a pretty significant problem in the process here.

I am working on improving the group addon (from ozzy) to allow integration with my database addon and the XFA tournament addon, but while doing that sbjsbj pointed out that having thousand forums (nodes) is simply not possible from a performance standpoint. I didn't think this would be a problem, as I've seen forums with millions of posts, and most of my forums would be hidden from the index anyway, only about 10 would be visible there.

So now what... I need each game to have a dedicated area where you can view threads about game A (as per the images above), and effortlessly post a new thread that is put into that category.
This is how BGG.com does it, they have over 100 000 games (!), and each one has its own forum (+ many sub-forums)..

So right now I was thinking about prefixes, but that also might not be possible with thousands of them? And sbj suggested custom thread fields, but not sure how feasible that is to have it do what I need it to do. I was kind of relying on forums here..

Damn, didn't think my choice of XF was gonna pull this kind of stunt on me :\ (though I don't know if something like this would be feasible on IPB anyway) Matt M ?
 

Frode789

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Dec 16, 2014
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91
Just to know why, how is it not possible to use nodes?

Sbjsbj posted this on the topic:
As far as I know the permission stuff makes everything slower. I once was in the same boat as you, see: https://xenforo.com/community/threa...-forum-will-cause-performance-problems.84494/

In the past years I have seen many threads where people with a lot of nodes noticing really slowness due to the amount of permission checks and caching.

Also see Xon's reply from 2019: https://xenforo.com/community/threads/how-many-forums-nodes.166981/#post-1359267
Xon said:
There is roughly a limit of ~1000 forums because permission combinations start taking increasingly long to generate for every forum. It is recommended to have a lot less than that if you can.

There is an add-on "threadmarks" (XF1.x free, XF1.x paid, XF2 paid) which allows marking posts in a thread to automatically build an index out of them, with the ability to have a 'reader mode' (for paid versions) which only shows threadmark'ed posts. I effectively maintain the free version, and own the paid versions

This combined with Thread starter alerts paid add-on (XF1.x version, XF2 version), and Word Count Search free add-on (XF1.x version, XF2 version) work quite well for alerting & navigating thread-lists.

Note; licences for the paid version cover both XF1/XF2 versions.

This combination is used on a bunch of user fiction/stories oriented forums.

And I got this from the dev team:

Paul Brogan:
There are sites with several hundred nodes, but they will typically have a very bespoke and expensive server set up.

Anything more than several hundred will result in UI issues long before any performance related issues are apparent.

Front end performance won't be the main issue, it will be to do with rebuilding caches, node permissions, adding and deleting nodes, etc.
All of that requires rebuilding and will take time to complete.
 

zappaDPJ

Administrator
Joined
Aug 26, 2010
Messages
7,392
Anything more than several hundred will result in UI issues long before any performance related issues are apparent.

A forum with several hundred nodes must contain literally millions of posts or it simply won't work. Imagine going to a library with one or two books in each section, it's pointless. On the other hand a box of books by the library front door might get a few takers.

When you reach a point where you have enough content to justify several hundred nodes you will have long since gained enough income from the forum to fund the infrastructure needed to support it. Until then I would recommend using thread prefixes.

A new forum with one node and a few hundred posts has a chance to grow. Conversely a new forum with a few hundred nodes containing one post each is guaranteed to fail.
 

Frode789

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Dec 16, 2014
Messages
91
A forum with several hundred nodes must contain literally millions of posts or it simply won't work. Imagine going to a library with one or two books in each section, it's pointless. On the other hand a box of books by the library front door might get a few takers.

When you reach a point where you have enough content to justify several hundred nodes you will have long since gained enough income from the forum to fund the infrastructure needed to support it. Until then I would recommend using thread prefixes.

A new forum with one node and a few hundred posts has a chance to grow. Conversely a new forum with a few hundred nodes containing one post each is guaranteed to fail.

I am well aware of the traditional sense of doing this. You should never have more nodes than you need, and content should come first.. :)
But this isn't a regular site. You are looking at this the wrong way.

Here I am future-proofing the site, to make sure I make the right call in regards to how each game entry page should be setup. I don't want to end up changing fundamentals like this down the road when I DO have lots of posts and 500 game entries in the database, it would be a massive undertaking to change.

This isn't a conventional forum where you have a forum index where I'd have all 500 nodes visible on it. It is all managed through the game database addon, which displays all relevant threads, images, files etc for that single game, and users can subscribe to the game to get notifications when something new happens in that game.
Think of it like a wiki, where I have added the 500 most popular board games. All those 500 forums would be hidden on the forum index, and you could access it through the game database forum tab.

On the forum index it would just be the usual "general" sections, which would be trimmed down at the start, and only expanded upon when the need arises.

But I can't really have a database with lots of games and them not having their own sections. Each game MUST have a separate area.. It doesn't matter if it has 0 posts at the time of the entry being added.
If a user want to check out threads about game D, and maybe make a new thread of their own, then they would need a dedicated place to post it. They aren't gonna bother reading about some other game in the same category, even if it's a related game. It just wouldn't work for this type of site.

Prefixes I am thinking about using extensively. Someone here have experience with using hundreds of them? :p
 
Last edited:

koraldon

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Sep 9, 2015
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Why are you trying to emulate bgg structure?
I think that it is almost a lost quest to successfully recreate the games database they have in the same format - having dedicated forums to each game and enjoying the same success as they do.
Multiple site have tried and failed to my knowledge.
Probably will require dedicated/optimized software as they do.

I liked your earlier approach of offering a more social experience better.
 

Frode789

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Dec 16, 2014
Messages
91
Why are you trying to emulate bgg structure?
I think that it is almost a lost quest to successfully recreate the games database they have in the same format - having dedicated forums to each game and enjoying the same success as they do.
Multiple site have tried and failed to my knowledge.
Probably will require dedicated/optimized software as they do.

I liked your earlier approach of offering a more social experience better.

I am not trying to emulate per-se. They have a billion sub-forums and forums separated for every single tiny expansion. It's a mess. I was just intending to have a single forum for each game (even if it has 10 expansions), and utilizing prefixes heavily with "news", "strategy", "help" prefixes.
Each game should have a dedicated area where you can talk about it. It's just how it is.
If it's done with prefixes, then that's fine. If it works with custom thread fields, then that also works. Tags? Sure, if it's possible to get a workable solution with it. The important thing is just that it works, it's easy for the users to understand and find/post content.
Forums was just the easiest way of doing it I thought. :)

And I'm not trying to do better than BGG in this area. But I need the database for the other social parts (clubs, tournaments etc), so it's just that I need this part done right before moving onto the more unique and social related features. Think of it like the connecting piece in the machinery, even if it isn't the main point of my site =) So that users can link the games they play in their group, show what games they have in their collection, view tournaments by game, etc. And you'd need an in-house solution for that.

Hopefully it cleared that up =)
 

koraldon

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Sep 9, 2015
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I understand better - A semi-related question, can you use bgg API ? If yes it will make your life easier but I think they restrict it for database competitors.

I know sites like https://geekgroup.app/ do use it. This can make your life easier.
 
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