Hey there, Gamers and Game Makers!
I've been hearing a lot about peoples views on online communities in general and the pros and cons. So, I decided I'd share my thoughts and experiences on the game dev side of communities. I'm a solo indie developer for the most part and what that means is that I do pretty much all of the development on the game with exceptions dependent on the project.
Now it would be foolish to say I can do all this without any input from others. For a lot of indie devs, they rely on a game dev community for feedback and other supports. Now, my thing with game dev communities and just communities in general is, they don't always serve your best interests. If you are in a game dev group of a few thousand developers, you're going to get mixed responses to a post you may put up looking for feedback. You'll get the feedback from people who a genuine in their thoughts and have experience with the type of game you are trying to make and they'll do their best to help guide you. Then you'll have the obvious noise that comes from the inevitable trolls that always find their way into large groups. Thankfully, these are easy to spot and ignore.
Now, the problem comes when you have people that may not even play the type of game you're making who will give you feedback that may not be correct since they don't have any experience in these games as either a dev or a player. They can be genuine in their attempt to help but it can sometimes set you on the wrong track. The other downside to groups and communities of any kind is the political agenda that will always exist among a certain number of people within the group. This results in favoritism towards some in the group and exclusion of others. I've seen this happen time and time again from the big online groups right down to the local scene in Ireland.
When it comes to communities that will benefit your game and help it grow, I think that community is the one built out of the people who are actually fans of the type of game you are making and that are playing your games. They play your work for a reason. It's what they like and they like your style of game development. They'll be in the best position to give feedback on what your making because they already know what you do well and what you don't.
With that said, don't get me wrong, I think there are some great communities out there for game dev. I personally found the Unity forums and Unreal forums to always be very helpful.It's also worth pointing out that while a community as a whole may not always be the best, you'll find a subset of folks from that community that are very talented and generous with their time when it comes to helping out other devs. In the end, I think you have to experience a few communities before you find the one that suits you and helps you as much as you help them.
Until next time!