Long-time IGA members will remember a period in 2016 when we were really starting to hit our stride as a company. We were growing faster than we could handle, and our website and other technology was not up to the task. To solve this problem, Matt went pretty much radio-silent for four months, tore IGA down to the studs and rebuilt it for the better, and the current IGA website is the result of that effort.
Four years later, IGA continues to grow at a pace that our technology and our staffing level hasn’t been keeping up with. Everything is working, but *not quite as well as it should* or not with all of the great bells and whistles we’ve thought up over the years. We’ve added things as time has gone on, but adding all the new features that weren’t part of the original design has made the site a little challenging to navigate, things aren’t integrated as tightly as they could be, and some needs just weren’t anticipated.
We’ve also got the benefit of four more years of industry experience, tons of great feedback from members and minions alike, and a slew of new wild ideas, and we think it’s about time we turned the tabletop industry on its ear.
Starting August 1, Matt Holden (IGA’s Executive Director and chief technologist) will be stepping back from daily customer support duties to focus on the development of an entirely new, redesigned-from-the-ground-up Indie Game Alliance. Part of that will be a brand-new website that is already under development. But it’s not just the code that’s getting redone; we’re taking every single IGA service and feature, analyzing what works and what doesn’t, applying seven years’ worth of experience and feedback to it, and “cranking it up to eleven.” We’ll be adding a host of brand-new services to the IGA portfolio, and designing each service to seamlessly integrate and augment all of the others for a cohesive IGA experience that is simultaneously simpler and more powerful than ever before.
Over the course of the next few months leading up to launch, we’ll be offering previews of the IGA 3.0 experience, and asking for your feedback. We want to make sure that IGA 3.0 lives up to all this hype! We’re looking for a few members and a few Minions to join a focus group to get bleeding-edge previews, give early feedback, and help us test things.
We’ll be announcing new features as we go, but most of the new stuff will launch simultaneously with IGA 3.0. A few of them will find their way into the world before then, though, and who knows, before this is all done, Matt just might answer the #1 most frequently-asked IGA question… “What IS Project Pharos?” (It’s NOT the new IGA website.)
Want a sneak-preview of the goodies to come? Here’s two:
Playtesting Network 3.0
We asked for your feedback on what feature needed love first, and you overwhelmingly told us the playtesting system could use some improvements. We agree. We’re pleased to report that active development is underway for our third-generation playtesting service, **which will be developed in the IGA 2.0 system** so that it can be utilized right away with COVID still impacting our industry. We’ll do a full write-up on this as it launches, but here’s the highlights:
- Not only will digital platforms (Tabletopia, Tabletop Simulator, etc.) be permitted for official playtests, we’re rearranging things such that the system *prefers* digital playtests over other means, so as to save members time and money on prototypes. (That’s right, no more “four prototype minimum”!)
- Each game under playtest will get a mailing list automatically generated, so that designers and playtesters can communicate in real time about playtests under way; no more “would you pass a message” stuff. Plus, it’s easier to schedule playtests between volunteers and the designer, or just between volunteers. Have non-IGA playtesters? You can add them to the IGA-hosted mailing list, too.
- Playtest groups will last until they’re closed by the designers, meaning a playtest is no longer “five plays and you’re done” — encouraging longer-term engagement with the playtest crew working on your games.
- We’re turning the detailed final report that minions would complete after their last playthrough into the default survey for all playtest games, meaning you’ll get that level of detail on *every playthrough* rather than only at the end. So, what about the final report?
- Minions no longer need to do a final report! Since the playtest ends when the designer ends it, and they get the feedback every time the game is played, there’s no longer a need for the final report. So, when do the Minions get their bonus Loot Points?
- Playtesters are encouraged to stick with a game as it evolves. Therefore, instead of a triple-Loot Point bonus once when the final report is submitted, Minions will earn triple Loot Points on all plays of a playtest game as long as they report a minimum of three plays of that game in a calendar month. Play it three times next month? Get the bonus AGAIN! Rinse, repeat, until the designer says the game is ready for Kickstarter!
- If four Minions playtest a game together, which one gets to report the playtest and claim the Loot Points? We answer that question all the time. So, let’s answer it once and for all, the way we should have in the beginning — ALL OF THEM. Play with your fellow Minions in a playtest environment? If all of you fill out a report and a survey, you all get the Loot Points and that single play counts toward your three plays for all of the players in the game.
We expect this project to be completed sometime in 3Q 2020.
An Easier Way to File Demos
We love our designer and publisher members, and we try to add goodies for them as often as we can. But Minions, we haven’t forgotten you! We’re pleased to announce that we have, in active beta testing, a mobile app for iOS and Android devices for filing demo reports! This app further simplifies the interface for demo reporting, gathering player surveys, adding convention and venue details, and submitting photos, and even lets you track your Loot Points so you can see how much great swag you’re racking up! Email us if you want to get on the testing team. Our unending thanks to Minion Austin Hunter, who has worked tirelessly for the last two months building this app for us. He’s done a fantastic job!
So, what about customer service?
Matt’s stepping back from customer service to focus on coding, but IGA members already know and love his replacement on the front lines. Victoria Holden, our convention director, is expanding her duties to include most front-line customer service and Minion assistance. If you’ve met Victoria at one of our many convention appearances, you know she’s a blast to work with — and now you get to do it all year round while grumpy ol’ Matt retreats to the lab to resume having very long arguments with computers over proper pixel placement.
We know that in the past, a great many members and Minions have grown accustomed to sending Matt a message on Facebook directly or emailing him directly when they need help. We respectfully request that you now redirect any support questions you may have to any of the following official support channels, all of which Victoria will be monitoring during our support hours of 9AM to 5PM Eastern Monday-Friday:
- Twitter direct message @IndieGameAllies
- Facebook direct message to the Indie Game Alliance page
- Facebook post in the IGA Developer’s Lounge or IGA League of Minions groups
- Our Discord server at http://www.indiegamealliance.com/discord
Matt’s personal contact methods will continue to be monitored, but support requests sent to his direct email or Facebook will likely be significantly delayed – so if you want a quicker answer (and likely a less-frazzled one), use the methods above to talk to Victoria.
Also, please note that some members – particularly those with Gmail addresses – have been reporting that some of our emails have been going into spam filters. We are working to resolve this issue, but in the meantime, please whitelist the indiegamealliance.com domain to make sure you are getting our support responses, demo reports and newsletters.
Matt will still be doing consultation sessions, but these will be by appointment for the remainder of 2020. IGA Lite and Pro members can book a 2-hour session at http://igamatt.youcanbook.me. We will be adding more appointment slots in the coming days.
A note from Matt:
I’m really excited about what’s coming next for IGA, and I can’t wait to share it all with you as it continues to take shape. I’ll miss interacting with you all as much as we’re used to for the next few months, but you’re all in the best of hands with Victoria, and I’m not going to *completely* disappear in the interim. This is a massive undertaking, and one which I do not begin lightly — but I am supremely confident that when IGA 3.0 is ready, it will have been worth the work and the wait. Catch you on the flip side — and do me a favor and get rid of COVID-19 while I’m gone, k?