As part of your modern day group/clan/outfit there is a need to have a central website to allow players to consume information but to also discuss it.There have been various combinations of blog/forum/cms/community software that could be employed to handle the task of managing a group of strangers and their gaming habits.
Historically I used e107 for this purpose, scripting plugins and themes to tweak every last drop out of usefulness from the product. I became so comfortable with using it I designed a cut down version to run my blog. More recently it’s moved to VBulletin with CMS elements added on for ease of use.
Fast forward a good few years and in the available software front not much has changed for the guild looking for a place to rest their virtual heads. We have however seen a rise of community sites such as Guildlaunch, shivtr,enjin, GuildPortal and more. There has been a jump int he number of these sites around as their services removed the hassle of hosting a community website and come with features that appeal directly to gamer guild needs.
Driven by experiencing their use with the How To Murder Time, I have looked at how this rather inobtrusive Steam bolt on has the potential to replace the need for guild software.
- as these are linked to your steam account the usual account validation doesn’t need applying
- Messaging is already built into the system
- What is missing here is the ability to have more member ranks to allow more control over access.
- Members list is available
- Each group has it’s own group chat that members can use
- The group chat sports the ability to use Steam’s voice systems
- Each group has announcements that can be consumed like a blog includes a RSS feed
- Steams discussions cover this, you have the ability to subscribe to threads to be notified on Steam logon.
- You can add sub forums as needed and lock forums to different levels of access.
- Scheduled events
- For event planners Steam groups allows scheduling of game activities, meetings etc.
Currently I think that Steam groups offer quite a good set of tools for a community, of course this isn’t going to be the solution for everyone. The lack of ability to add customised tool that are unique to certain games may hinder group migrating from guild hosting sites and self hosted software.
That said for smaller or more generic groups or maybe those looking to run on a budget of nothing, Steam Group maybe a good option, even if it’s just a spring board into more traditional hosted solutions in the future.