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SoulHow to get your questions answered (GMC)

June 15, 2008

NOTE: Comments are locked. I no longer answer questions about the Game Maker tutorials on this blog; I suggest you take any questions to the Game Maker Community. For more info, view the FAQ page.

Skill Level: N/A

What’s up guys. I’m here with another SoulHow article. This time, I’ve decided to stray from articles strictly related to Game Maker, and post something about the GMC (Game Maker Community).

More and more I’m seeing questions on the GMC’s Q&A forums which are impossible to answer, or impossible to convince someone to answer. Here, I will explain techniques to get your questions answered expediently, accurately (depending on the member!), and satisfactorily. But I’m not stopping at the Q&A forums. I’m going to cover all of the following: Novice and Intermediate forum, Advanced forum, Game Ideas forum, and Distributing forum.

Novice and Intermediate Users (Novice Q&A) Forum

This is the biggest section because it usually has the largest number of poorly composed threads. When looking to get help in this forum, you have to do three things: get people to click on your thread, get people to actually read your thread’s content, and get them to figure out the answer for you.

The first task, getting people to click on your thread, is pretty easy. All you have to do is write a good title. It has to be short, but snappy and descriptive. Always sacrifice brevity for description, however, because topic titles like “HELP ME!!!” usually drive people away. The reason is because people don’t know what your problem is about, so they don’t know if they’ll be able to fix it. Clicking on the thread, then, can very easily be a waste of their time. That translates to fewer views, in case you for some reason had no idea where I was going with that.

The next task, getting people to actually read your thread, sound pretty retarded because it should be obvious that once someone brings up the thread, they’ll read it. But actually, that’s very untrue. The main reasons someone could bring up your thread and not read it are the following: Too long, too big, and too annoying. Too long, means that if the post takes up four screens of space, nobody will want to have to read all of that just to understand your problem. Too big, means that you wrote too much without linebreaks. Nobody wants to read a wall of text because it’s too easy to lose track of your place. Too annoying, means either you used too many exclamation points, you used too much internet lingo (0h mai g4wd), or you used too many unnecessary typefaces. Keep your posts simple, to the point, and on the short side.

The last part, getting people to figure out the answer to your question, is tightly related to another task that I didn’t mention above: getting people to care. Getting people to care doesn’t mean raving about how they’ll get some huge shrine in your credits. It means intriguing them with your question or making them feel smart if they answer it. Again, details, details, details. Describe your problem simply but completely. When reading the thread, they should understand the problem just enough to start wondering what the solution is.

Now here are a few overall guidelines:

  • Don’t give too much.
    • People don’t like having to understand heaps of code before being able to fix your problem
    • People don’t like having to write heaps of code for you
  • Don’t ask for too much.
    • Believe it or not, you will never get someone to write your whole game for you. So don’t make posts like “Hey can someone help me make an RPG? It has to have experience, levels, enemies, inventory, weapons, stats, bosses…”
    • Likely you’ll just get your thread filled with replies telling you to go away.
    • If you have more than a few questions, ask one or two in a thread, then wait a few days and post a new thread. Overwhelming people with 8 questions at once is the same as giving them too much to handle.
    • Read the second line of this post by KC LC on the Game Maker Community (GMC).
  • Always give your GM version.
    • People may assume you’re using GM7 (being that it’s the latest version)
    • If the code is incompatible with your version (e.g. 5.x) you’ll have to go back and tell them
    • They might not visit the thread again and others have more of a chance to think your problem is solved due to the replies you’ve already received.
    • Bumping makes you look stupid and/or desperate.
    • Desperation (and stupidity) drives people away.
    • Any replies you do get are likely going to be tell you not to bump.
    • You could get a big fat report and a mod will come and eat your thread.
  • If you get a RTFM (read the f*cking manual) reply, do it. That means the answer’s in there.
  • Post your code!
    • Nobody can help you if you don’t post your code.
    • People won’t know what they’re dealing with.
    • The few people who will take the time to reply will only tell you just that.
  • Write correctly!
    • People won’t take you seriously if you don’t at least use a spell checker.
    • Especially with mistakes like spelling “certain”, as “surtan” (true story)
    • Incorrect spelling and grammar can cause people to leave your thread, because they may not understand what is being asked, or they may just be annoyed by the poorly composed message.
    • Most people also tend to assume that those who write poorly on the internet aren’t smart, so potential problem-fixers might not want to take the time to type something when they don’t think you’ll understand it.  It’s a stereotype, yes – but it’s still there.

Advanced Users Only (Advanced Q&A) Forum

I’d first like to mention that all of the above general tips for Novice and Intermediate Users applies here as well. That being said, there are a few more points I think are necessary to get your question answered here.

First, make sure it’s an advanced question. Better yet, make sure you’re an advanced user, because any answers you will get will (should) be advanced as well. The way to check if you’re posting in the correct forum, is by using the following question list. If you answer “yes” to any of the questions below, do NOT post in the Advanced users forum.

  • Does the question consist of only one line?
  • Are you asking “if it’s possible to” do something?
  • Do you very rarely answer questions (correctly or at all) in the novice forum?
  • Do you frequently post questions in the novice forum?

The reason not to post in the Advanced Users forum is not because we hate you and think you’re a n00b, but rather we want you to get an answer that you can work with. People give advanced answers in advanced forums. Also, don’t post in both forums “just in case”; you’ll only annoy the mods and that’s never good. When in doubt, choose the Novice and Intermediate Forum. Finally, if you don’t have code to post for others to take a look at, the thread automatically should go in the Novice and Intermediate Forum. Knowing which forum to post your question in will get your question to be seen by the people who will best be able to help answer it.

Game Ideas Forum

Here you’re going to (hopefully) discuss your game’s design. You *could* ask for ideas for your game, but these types of threads generally turn into swamps with random ideas (and recently are being locked). Were it up to me, I would have wanted to keep the forum as the “Game Design” forum and moderate it more strictly, but I guess the GMC administration had other ideas.

The reason I have to suggest not posting such “gimme ideas” topics is that you’re putting your game in the hands of tens of thousands of strangers. I wouldn’t really want to do that, but if you really can’t think of weapons to use in your scrolling shooter then go ahead I guess. If you’re doing it to make a unique game, it won’t be unique, because others are coming up with the ideas. Therefore my advice is to get your question answered, take the time to come up with the answer yourself. You may be surprised at what you think of.

Distributing Forum

Here you can post threads pertaining to the distribution of your Game Maker games. Many people post questions here, but again aside from those strictly related to Game Maker I would discourage it, especially the legal stuff. The reason is that we have 60,000+ members at the GMC, about 5 of which actually know the truth about anything related to the law. That’s a 5/60,000 or 0.008% chance of getting a correct answer. The rest won’t post, or won’t know the correct answer (and will post anyways). So to get your question answered, call a lawyer.

That’s all folks.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider checking out the rest of the blog.

Categories: GMC/YYG, SoulHow Tags: , , ,
  1. September 22, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    I find this very useful. This explains why the posts on the advanced thread aren’t helpful for me to read, because I don’t even know enough to answer questions in the easy forum, right? Okay, well, bad way of putting it I suppose, but when you mentioned that, it clicked in my head.

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