NearbyGamers has been growing steadily without a lot of direct action on my part. I’ve been bugfixing and moderating, but aside from some performance improvements in November, it’s been quite a while since its had any user-visible improvements. Mostly this has been because I keep distracting myself with side projects: they’re deceptively simple to start but always have some area(s) of significant non-obvious complexity and a need for time-consuming polishing and refinement. I’m going to finish them off and then give attention to NearbyGamers.
What I plan:
- Performance Improvements
- Despite what I did in November, some parts are still laggy; on the Internet if it isn’t instant, it’s slow. I’m aware of FireRuns Manage and NewRelic’s RPM for production performance monitoring. I’ll almost certainly end up with Manage (30-day trial) because RPM’s trial (30 minutes of data, useless for a small/young/low-traffic site) is so weak, but I’d really appreciate comments if anyone knows of other good tools.
- News Aggregation
- There are a lot of tabletop gaming/board game/RPG blogs and hand-edited news sites, and I think NearbyGamers would do well to aggregate those similar to Reddit/Digg. It’d bring gamers back to the site more regularly (rather than the common ‘signup, leave for a few months until someone new messages you’) and drive discussion, which is the best way to meet folks.
- One of the biggest uses of the discussion forum is folks trying to organize gaming groups. Now that I’ve seen this happen a few times, I can build proper support for groups: a marker on the map, a dedicated forum per group, and advertising open slots for gamers, to start. Then there’s the next obvious feature for them:
- With or without a group, it should be possible to display upcoming events on the maps. List date and time, attendance information, link to a homepage if one exists, maybe have a dedicated forum.
- It would also be good to list gaming stores on the map, which are oddly often difficult to find. This especially relates to the previous; I’d love to see what events my local stores have on their calendars. I also think gaming stores are nicer for browsing than websites, I’ve found so many interesting random games at stores that I wouldn’t have glanced at online. I’d like NearbyGamers to help stores stay in business and grow because they incubate local gaming communities.
After I finish with the small projects, I think these features will probably take me a solid month to implement. NearbyGamers is developing a regular community, and I have a responsibility to help it thrive. What I’ll do afterwards is its own couple hundred words for tomorrow.