Show Your Game

Because Free Doesn't Have To Mean Cheap


Your Homepage - Your Blog - Your Wiki - Your Lens - All That Jazz - A Few Dollars More

This page was inspired by my discovering another roleplaying game out there using ad-laden free hosting to create a website which was little more than a less-than-glorious wrapper around their Microsoft .doc file.  This game was clearly a labor of love, and it broke my heart to see it presented in a fashion that guaranteed it would never, ever be taken seriously.   This doesn't have to happen.

My frustration with that page led to the creation of this page.  I'm going to use all the tools and utilities available to you to create a decent web presence for your game that looks good, reflects well on your game, and won't cost you a dime. 

I'm going to preface this with a simple fact - I'm not a layout guy or a web designer by profession. If you want advanced tips, there are better places to find them.   The advice and suggestions here presume little more than basic computers skills.  

First Things First: Your Home Page

You're going to need a home page, the place to serve as the central point of reference for your game.  While it's not necessarily expensive to get hosting, five to ten dollars a month can add up, so this is the first place where we're going to save some money, and start with a free service. There are plenty of options out there,  but nothing is entirely free. Almost all such sites are supported by advertisement.  That's not such a bad thing in its own right, but its appearance can be a real problem. 

For purposes of illustration, I'm using Google pages to host this because I consider it the least painful of the free options.  The URL doesn't have a lot of strange characters and numbers, and more importantly it has no pop up advertising.  Nothing makes a site look worse and seem more chintzy than  pop up adds, and if the site has prominent banners, there's a good chance that they'll spawn pop-ups. 

EDIT: Google has recently decommissioned Google pages in favor of the similar Google sites.  This will offer a number of new features, and I'll be updating this page soon to reflect what that means for you.

Now, for the moment we're just assuming that you want a single page that people can go to and find out what your game is about and download it, and for that, a page like this can cover your needs.  If this is all you are looking to do then once you set up the page, it's as simple as posting your file to your site and linking it in.  

From the site manager, you can upload your game, as I did with my bogus document.  If the document is something you intend to update on a regular basis, you might want to consider using google docs to post your file where you can also edit it, as I have also done with the bogus doc 

What's In A Name?

The name of your site is a big deal, and there's a good chance that the name you want is not available.  There may be a temptation to do some variant on it that substitutes number for letters or otherwise dips into slang.  Don't.  You want a name that you can be successful with, so just go ahead an take a little time to start considering other ways you could say what you want.  One useful trick is to either use your own name, or to combine words, as I did with "Show Your Game."

Part of the reason you want something distinctive is that you want to be able to re-use it.  You may want to, for example, get an email address that uses this name (such as showyourgame@fictionalservice.com) or a blog or wiki. If you can use the same name from site to site, it makes it much easier for anyone who is interested in your game to remember where to look.  For example, the blog for this project is showyourgame.blogspot.com, the wiki is showyourgame.wikidot.com and I've set up a showyourgame email address at yahoo.com (the gmail one was taken).

Graphics

You don't need graphics, and if you don't have any, you can still present a clean, professional looking internet presence.  

But they help.  A lot.

First and foremost, you'll want some sort oficonic image that you can re-use in a number of ways.  Maybe it's the cover for your book, maybe it's a piece of art you're using in your book, maybe it's just an icon you're fond of.  Whatever the origin, there are a few things you'll want to  take into account.  First, if the piece is large and complicated, then you need to simplify it - find a smaller part of it that you like and use that.  Second, it should be usable as an icon for sites you visit.  To be a good icon, it should be square or have some element that you can put in a square.  It also needs to look good at 100x100 and 16x16. If you can find an image that can do that, you can use it as an icon at any site you visit, and in time it can get clearly associated with the product.

Beyond that, you'll want illustrations anytime you've got large swaths of text, because it breaks up the flow of the text and makes it easier on the eyes.  The illustrations you use in this way don't need to be very complex or fancy - look how simple the graphics I'm using here are - but they should be consistent.  If you want to use cartooney images, use cartooney images everywhere.  If you're using photographs, then use photographs everywhere.  You can make an exception for diagrams if you must, but even those should be consistent is you can manage it.

Next Steps: What Else Should You Do?

It is possible that you don't need to do anything more than just create a page like this one, upload the file, and call it a day.  If so, that's great, but if you want to go a little bit further, you might want to consider setting up a blog, a wiki or a lens to support your game.  Even if you don't need any more, you might want to think a little bit about jazz a little.

For Reference

I've set up a blog and wiki for this project, if only to illustrate the advantages of doing so.  If you have any feedback, comments or questions, please feel free to leave them at the blog.