Charis Reid, Brand Manager at Radical Forge, discusses the importance of automation in maintaining player happiness at IndieGameBusiness Sessions. She emphasises the role of communication and consistent engagement with the audience without compromising development time. “As a Community Manager you may get a little bit sick of answering the same questions over and over again and you kind of want to be a little bit more creative”, says Reid, pointing at automation as a solution.
Reid highlights several essential steps before implementing automation. First, setting clear expectations with the audience is crucial. Having a website is vital to provide information about the team’s size, working conditions, and project status. This transparency prevents unrealistic demands from players who may not be aware of the team’s limitations. “Players can be super demanding until they discover that your team consists of only four people.”
Limit support to 2 channels
Additionally, focusing on quality over quantity in social media presence ensures that developers can effectively engage with their audience. Reid suggests making relevant information easily accessible, particularly on platforms like Steam, where players can find necessary details about the game.
To streamline customer service, Reid recommends limiting support channels to a maximum of two. “You can’t be everywhere, because it’s going to take up so much time from you.” Scheduling dedicated time for player interactions helps establish consistent engagement and fosters better relationships with the audience. By dedicating specific periods for communication, developers can manage their time effectively. “Instead of going in and out checking discords or forums throughout the day, do it first in the morning and then do it before you finish at night. That’s all you should really be doing.”
Four main needs of players
Reid introduces an acronym, SACC (support, access to information, connection, and content), representing the four main needs of players regarding communication. She explains how automation can address these needs, starting with support. Discord is suggested as an ideal platform for automating support, utilising bots like Decky. Players can log bugs, issues, and suggestions through commands, which developers can track and manage easily. Automating this process enables faster responses, increases player satisfaction, and ensures a smoother support experience. Other automation options include Bug Bot or even just Google Forms.
In terms of support automations, Reid recommends Steamy Bot for managing reviews efficiently. This bot centralises review notifications, eliminating the need for developers to constantly check multiple platforms. For Facebook pages, frequently asked questions and automated answers can be set up to provide instant information to users. Additionally, Facebook page messaging can redirect users to Discord for more personalised assistance. Twitter DM automation allows developers to automatically message new followers, providing updates and relevant links directly.
Areas for improvement
Automating access to information, connecting with fans, and generating content are key aspects in engaging with players effectively. Providing easily accessible information, such as FAQs and pinned posts on platforms like Steam, can reduce repetitive queries. Leveraging platforms like Reddit and Steam forums for searchable information, as well as using video formats with automated captions, can enhance accessibility. Conducting usability tests with individuals unfamiliar with the game’s information can help identify areas for improvement.
Effective automation requires comprehensive documentation during game development. Commands on Discord and tools like “If This Then That” (IFTTT) can automate responses and streamline information flow. Social media scheduling systems like Quill bot and Lately can optimise posting times and suggest engaging content. Auto-captions through apps like Subcap improve video content accessibility. Transcribing developer livestreams with tools like Otter AI allows for easy dissemination of information through blog posts or other written formats. Automating connections with fans can be achieved through Discord roles, automated email marketing systems like MailChimp, and Google Forms to gather volunteer information.
Cut it loose!
Utilising news aggregators like Flipboard can keep communities engaged by sharing relevant content related to the game’s theme. Creating content aggregators allows fans to share their content across multiple social media platforms, fostering engagement and user-generated content. Discord bots can automate polls and questions of the day, adding interactivity and maintaining interest. Automation of content generation can be achieved using graphic design tools like Canva and Adobe Express, providing templates and inspiration for social media posts. Content scheduling tools like Later can help organize and schedule posts, while using IFTTT to populate a spreadsheet with tweets can ensure a steady stream of evergreen content.
After all that Reid emphasises that this is all your own choice: “You do not need to automate everything. If something is taking you more time to automate than it is to do manually and you don’t actually enjoy it, cut it loose!”