Once upon a time, back in June 2003, I started a little website for my hobby games. The first game on this site was "Tales of Lemma 1" (I wish I had chosen a different name now!) which was a free little visual novel about a guy and a girl who get lost on a camping trip. Along with this mini-novel, I started a small forum for people to talk with me about the games I made. It didn't get much traffic, but it was a nice place. People were polite, encouraging, and the community was close-knit.Lemma's Post Summary wrote:Be nice to each other on the forum
Things glided along nicely, and in February of the next year, PyTom emailed me asking for permission to use the ToL1 heroine, Miko, in a demo of his new visual novel engine.
I gave him permission plus my IM name, and we started talking. It turned out my short little game had helped to get him interested in visual novels, and little did I know what this would all turn into!PyTom way back when wrote:For the past week or so, I've been working on a Ren'Ai engine, written in Python using the PyGame libraries. (My working name for it is Ren'Py.)
It's intended to make developing Ren'Ai games easier by separating the coding of the engine from the game logic, in the same way interpreters like TADS, INFORM, and ADRIFT made writing interactive fiction easier. Ideally, an artistic person would be able to write a game without worrying much about the details of the implementation.
Anyway, I'm almost ready to release the engine, so that other people can look at it and evaluate it. I'd like permission to use the graphics found at:
to make a demo of the engine. I'd also like your permission to use the name "Miko" for the images of Miko, if it's okay with you.
Let me just take this opportunity to thank you for providing those images on your web site, in standard formats. Having some nice data to use was really motivating.
Ren'Py didn't have nearly the feature set back then that it has now, but it took care of all the core elements of a visual novel: text screens, menus, picture display, music, and sound effects. PyTom's engine was gaining popularity, and so we made a dedicated Ren'Py section on the forum. People had already been discussing visual novels on the Lemma Soft Forum, so this cemented it as a place for people to talk not just about playing VNs, but now also about making them.
LSF life continued on, and more people joined. The main place to discuss visual novels before this had been Megatokyo, but it had a reputation for having some harsh critics and very opinionated regulars. Many people found comfort in a smaller forum that was devoted to original English-language amateur/doujin works.
Word spread, and hundreds of people joined. Then thousands. It was exciting to watch, but I couldn't help but notice the encouraging atmosphere and closeness of the community had been dwindling with the community's size. Such is the inevitable fate of a growing community - people don't know each other as well and don't care about each other as much. I'm not talking "care" like "oh, I feel as you feel, my brother on the internet that I have never met or seen writings from before this post!" No, I'm talking about caring about each other's feelings and generally being positive. Kindness and politeness are virtues in real life. Why not in cyberspace?
Still, I got busy with other things in life. Grad school, jobs, other game projects... you name it. I dropped by the forum once in a while to participate and make sure nothing blew up, but I didn't spend as much time encouraging the same warm welcoming atmosphere that the forum originally had. I chalked much of this up to the forum's size, but there really should have been more promotion of positivity and politeness. Free speech is great, and so are diverse opinions. But that doesn't mean people need to be jerks about things, and more often than before, people were being jerks. It's sort of like a 4chan or Megatokyo syndrome, like a big metropolis versus a small town. People feel anonymous and impersonal, and manners tend to go out the window.
Lately I've been re-engaging with things here, and I've heard so many things about people's experiences behind the scenes. The forum is still a very friendly place compared to many forums of this size (129,000+ posts!) However, there is much room for improvement. It starts with each of us doing something we (should have!) learned as kids: Be kind to others.
Crazy thought, right? On a big internet community! Be polite! This is how LSF started, and this is how I would like it to continue. We have visual novel beginners, players, creators, professionals, and everything in between! Let's encourage the beginners and give helpful feedback to creators. A pro can take a different level of bluntness and criticism than a beginner. Think of the forum as a conversation. Yes, it's a giant public conversation, but it's still a conversation with real live people, and when you direct something at someone, to them it can be like you're saying it to their face. What's the big difference? Location, that's all. The words, tone, and message still matter.
I don't mean for this to sound like a scolding of the community or anything like that. Again, compare this board to Yahoo! News, Something Awful, Megatokyo, or just about any other forum with a ton of activity. Most of the people here are awesome and kind. I like where we are. I like more where we can be
Try to have understanding, courtesy, and forgiveness for our fellow forumites (people!) With more of this, the original Lemma Soft Forum spirit can return in full force. The other mods and I are planning some improvements for the forum that should help give it a more friendly, inclusive feel, where members can take more ownership and be more involved. Please help us out as we get back to the original LSF spirit!