Due: Saturday, April 2nd at 11:59 pm
For this assignment you will construct your game website. Your website is used
to market your game to people. That means it should be external facing. It
also means that it should make people want to play your game. With that said,
we are not expecting you to go all out; the website should not eclipse your
game. By looking at the examples below, you should get a better idea of what
we are expecting from your game.
This is a fairly easy and straight-forward assignment (which is good, as you should
be concentrating on alpha release). Therefore, we are not going to have a communication lab about
it ahead of time. Instead, we want you to make the website first, and then we
will revise it in the communication lab afterwards.
Effective Usage of Websites
The purpose of the website is to get people excited about playing your game,
even when it is not actually finished. You should think of yourself as an
"indie game developer". No one has actually heard of your game, and so you
need to build up awareness. In practice, this would actually involve a lot
of viral marketing on social networks, but we are not going to go that far
in this class -- we have other things to do.
You should not be thinking of your games as AAA-titles. Instead, you should think
of them as indie games. That means your website should be constructed with that
type of audience in mind. To give you an idea of what indie game webpages look
like, here are a few examples:
This game was the 2004 IGF winner. This type of game is something that
any group in this class could aspire to.
- Spiderweb Software
This is a very established indie RPG company. They have been in business since
1995. I have used their games as examples in several lectures.
- Blitwise Productions
This is a local game studio in Binghamton. Mike Welch often comes to
the GDIAC showcase.
The big decision with your website is whether you are simply providing information
for a visitor, or whether you are actively trying to build a player community.
In essence, this is the static Web vs. Web 2.0 debate. However, there are
specific reasons for taking each approach.
Providing Information About Your Game
At a bare minimum, we expect your webpage to be a place in which we can learn
more about what your game is about, and what its gameplay is. Think about
the information in your concept document. However, we have changed audiences once again. In
that document, your audience was the producer. Now it is the customer.
Think about how that changes your presentation.
At a bare minimum, you want some description about how your game is played.
This is often a very condensed version of your game manual (or a quick
start card) that lets everyone know how to get started. It covers your
core mechanics and outlines the basic challenges.
After the gameplay description, screen shots are your primary marketing tool.
They show off the various gameplay modes from your gameplay spec and give
players an overall artistic vision of the game.
This is the age of YouTube. Why describe your gameplay when you can show it?
BioWare's gameplay videos
for Mass Effect 2
are an excellent example of this marketing tool.
There may be other material related to the game that fans are interested in.
This can include concept art (as long as it is polished) or music. Short
fiction (again, very polished) may be appropriate as well.
Building Your Community
Indie game developers live or die by their player communities. They give them the
word-of-mouth, which allows them to keep going game after game. Many of these ultra
fans become their community moderators or beta testers. To build a player community,
you need to spice up your page with a little Web 2.0.
Forums are an absolute must for an indie game. This is where you build up your hard-core
fans. They establish online identies in your forums, and become the ambassadors of
your game to new player. With that said, these are a lot of work and we do not recommend
these for this class. They are something to think about should you want to market your
Blogs make sense if you have already put out a successful game and are trying to hold
on to that audience for the next title. They allow you to build up anticipation as you
work by letting your fan base feel like they are participating in the development
process. Again, we do not recommend these for this class.
Do you have a game with a high score component? Why not make your website your go-to
place for players to compare scores and achievements. We have had students do this in
the past for this class. However, if you do this, please remember to design your game
so that it still functions if the website goes offline forever.
You have a level-editor; do you plan to make it public? If so, your website might be
an ideal place for players to share the content that they make. However, be warned, as
community management is a lot of work. Think about how many phalluses were created
when Spore released its creature editor.
Creating Your Website
You do not have to adopt all of the features listed above; indeed, you are encouraged
not to. We are leaving the website design is entirely up to you. However, we do require
that you website at least have to following:
- An overview page describing the high level concepts in the game.
- Your game story and characters, if you have them.
- A description of your basic gameplay with screenshots and/or videos.
- A download page with system requirements (this is how you will distribute)
Anything else is great, but not required. Again, please think very carefully before
implementing any play community features.
In addition to these requirements, your website must be public and accessible by
the outside world. This means no private sites that require passwords. Second,
the website must remain live until the end of summer (and not just the semester);
this may be difficult if you were planning on using a personal web server.
Unfortunately, we are not able to provide you with hosting services, as Cornell no
longer supports personal web pages. However, there are options available on the
web for free. Google Sites is an excellent
resource so long as your game does not become too popular. And if it does become
popular, then you have other problems. With that said, if you are interested in
other alternatives, please contact the
Websites have not changed too much in this class, and so we have plenty of examples
to show you. Unfortunately, most of the more dynamic web pages have gone dark, as it is
hard for us to mirror them. However, we do have excellent examples of webpages that
show off the minimum requirements for this course.
This game is an old CIS 3000 classic that predates our move to XNA. It set the standard for
classic platformers in this class, and has a well developed website.
A turn-based strategy games are underrated, and this is one of our favorites in this class.
And as you can see from the website, the instructor plays a starring role.
This simple strategy game is a nice variation on the tower-defense genre. It is also, hands down,
one of the best websites ever made for CIS 3000.
Not an assignment goes by where I do not use Lifted, the 2010 GDIAC showcase winner, as an
example. Yes, it is just that good.
Due Saturday, April 2nd at 11:59 pm
The primary goal of this assignment is to choose a website provider and make
an initial skeleton of your website. You do not have to make the website
available to the entire world for right now, but it should be accessible
course staff. Furthermore, we would like it to be public for the
GDIAC showcase. Please keep this in mind when choosing your
You should submit a text file website.txt
This file should contain the URL of your website, as well as information that the
staff needs to know in order access it (should you have temporary access restrictions).
You do not need to submit anything else.
The day after this assignment is due, we will look at your websites and evaluate
them. You will receive feedback as part of the next
communication lab, which you will use to improve your website.
It is important that you continue to keep your website up to date after this
assignment is due. This is only the grade on your first attempt at the website.
You will be graded again on your website, in much greater detail, when you turn
in your final portfolio at the end of the semester. We will be paying attention
to how much work went into the website over the semester.