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I`m interested in developing a few variants of a DIY board game in open source fashion. For a start, I need to choose an online platform for that.

What could be a solution for public elaboration and publicizing? Is there something like SourceForge (a hosting, bug tracking and community site for open source software), but for board games?

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I don't think that there's any single thing designed for this; it's quite a small niche. However, you might be able to piece something together.

To me, a wiki sounds like a very natural fit for hosting and editing the rules for your game. But the general idea seems solid: you can have a page or many, organized how you need, for the rules, include pictures when necessary. You can easily create offshoot discussion pages, linked to as appropriate, group them into categories/listings, put boilerplate at the top to indicate status of the discussions, and so on. An alternative with a steeper learning curve and and startup effort for contributors would be to simply keep your rules in text format in a hosted version control repository and then use other features of the hosting (particularly issue tracker) to do the other things.

You'll probably want to do a lot of iteration and playtesting. I've been pretty impressed with what I've seen people pull off with Vassal modules. Vassal is a generic game engine, which lets you create boards, pieces, cards, tiles, and so on. You can play the games with others online. There's a designers guide as well as a FAQ page on creating modules. This would give you the platform you need to test things out. You'd probably want to store the module in some sort of version control; unfortunately it's an all-in-one file, edited within vassal, so you won't be able to much in the way of branching and merging, if there are many collaborators. Depending on the scale of your project, it might be sufficient to simply have file hosting, and store numbered versions, or you might want more.

Note that SourceForge might actually be a great candidate for all of this! It supports project wikis, file hosting (for your vassal modules), and revision control repositories (perhaps for your rules, if you don't want them on a wiki). You just have to decide how you're going to use it. Just think: a board game isn't that different from a computer game. It's just written in a "programming" language that humans, not computers, understand!

(I know this isn't a terribly complete or specific answer; perhaps others can contribute more.)

  • Great insights, thank you! Vassal is definitely something to try. I guess I`ll just go with a personal wiki - sourceforge is a megastructure, which claims to be for software in definition, so hooking into it seems risky. – Justinas Dūdėnas Jan 13 '12 at 22:05
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    Feel free to hold off on accepting the answer if you want to encourage other people to post! I'm also happy to edit things into my answer if people have specific suggestions. – Cascabel Jan 13 '12 at 22:11
  • ok, let`s wait for some more insights :) – Justinas Dūdėnas Jan 13 '12 at 22:12
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I'd recommend something like Tabletop Simulator. It lets you set up an online digital table (you can add a password so that only your collaborators could get in, or playtesters). In there you can create custom components and even use the built-in ones for quicker prototyping.

Then for keeping track of rules and so on, you could use Google Drive, which allows you to give editing privileges on documents or spreadsheets, etc. So then you can all edit at the same time, comment in threads on particular rules, add suggested changes before accepting them, get notified of all changes, that kind of thing.

The other people's ideas are good too. I guess they all revolve around using a digital, online tabletop application, and a collaborative editing tool. You can just add these to the list ;P

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