Show Your Game: All That Jazz

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

These are by no means any kind of hard and fast rules, but they are the kinds of easy to implement ideas and suggestions that you might want to look at when you want to publicize your game.  Some of them are layout tips that might apply to your game as easily as they do your website.

Use Art - It doesn't have to be great art, but there's no  shortage of free or inexpensive source of art out on the net.  If you have the skills and tools to produce your own art, then you're set, but if you don't you can make up for it with a little work and creativity.  Some of my favorite sites for images include istockphoto, stock.xchang, flickr creative commons, Bibliodyssey and the Library of Congress.  You're also going to want to muck around with the pictures a little, if only for resizing and such.  You'll need software to manipulate the images, but you will mostly just need to crop and resize images, so anything you use for your photographs will probably suffice.  If you want to get fancy, you can check out something like the gimp,  or  google up 'free graphics editors' and see what you find.

Don't Fear The Art - Look, there's a lot of terrible art out there. Some of the clip art that may have come with your computer may well fall into this category, and a lot of the free stuff you can find on the internet is going to be similarly terrible.  So be picky - you have a lot of choices, and if something seems like it might be cliche or overused, it probably is. 

Complex Images - There's lots of good art out there that is going to look awkward is you just drop it down on the page.  These are usually larger images with a lot of complex details, like old woodcuts or illustrations.   Assuming you're not a full bore graphic designer, consider this simple trick: just use a part of the picture.   Where the whole picture might overwhelm your text, just showing a segment with a part that catches your eye may bring it to life. There's an example of this on the wiki.

Respect the Fonts - Use fonts that are legible. I don't care how cool they look, if you can't read them, then don't use them.  Try to limit yourself to two or three fonts.  One for the body and one for headers is fine, and if you need a third for sidebars or one-off comments, that's fine, but try to limit it to that.  Also, avoid overused decorative fonts (such as  Comic Sans or Papyrus) like the plague.  Also, please, take a moment to read the license on any free font you download, and definitely avoid pirating fonts.   Creating a font takes a lot of work, so please respect that.

Other Avenues of Promotion - Take a look at del.icio.us and StumbledUpon and consider making note of your own sites once you have them set up.  You could consider setting up a twitter account solely for announcement about your game.  Even if you never follow anyone else's twitter, it's an easy way to get out quick messages.

Build Your Community - Your blog will be a useful location for conversation so long as the number of people talking is reasonably small.  Assuming that you're successful in reaching out to a larger audience, your blog is eventually going to be too small to handle the conversations.  Before that happens, you should already be ready by setting up a group and a mailing list, using either Google groups or Yahoo! groups.  Both of these are very useful options for handling a larger community, and while both are good choices, I'll suggest you go with Google groups if you have no other reasons to go with one or the other.  Since these groups can be used for email and for file storage, you might want to consider initially setting it up as private, and invite the same folks you invite to your wiki.  That will give you a chance to get used to using the group before you open it up to the world.

Editing: Good for Your Game, Good for Your Site -  Ok, confession time. I'm terrible at editing my own stuff, including pages like this. If you can get another pair of eyes to look at your work, then that's incredibly helpful.  Even if you can't, then come back to your text from time to review and reconsider it.  You may be surprised what you find.

Another Perspective - An interesting entry on why indie rpg web sites suck.