Creating your games template

I talk to a lot of people who are interested in building a browsergame, but never really know where to start. I tend to recommend that they draw up their plans for what their game will be, and then come back to me once they have that – from there, they’ll be able to figure out what to build.

But there’s a nebulous step in between designing your game and actually building it, that a lot of new developers tend to miss: your game’s template.

While we’ve been working through how to build a game, we’ve been creating some very basic HTML for our templates – but nothing fancy, and definitely not what you’d want to use for a game you planned on releasing to the public.

So what’s a developer to do? Most of the developers I know couldn’t design their way out of a wet paper bag – no matter how much they may try to delude themselves otherwise. If you’re a developer reading this and you actually can design, go celebrate – you are a true rarity among developers.

Thankfully, for those of us who can’t design, there are options out there. Here’s a couple of sites that will help you out with building your template:

  • Layout Gala

    Layout Gala is one of my favorite websites for this sort of thing – 40 CSS based layouts written with valid CSS and HTML, and good cross-browser compatability. Whenever I’m building something, I tend to start with a LayoutGala layout and hack it to suit my needs. They’re all free to use, and as far as I can tell there’s no license placed on them stating you need to attribute their author – although I tend to leave a comment in my source code for anyone who’s really interested.

  • Arcsin Templates

    Arcsin Templates has a lot of neat, free templates – both for regular websites and Wordpress. The only rule is that if you use their templates for free, you need to leave the link back to their website intact – but if you’re willing to spend $20 US, you can pay for the rights to remove the link. The benefit to using an Arcsin template over one from LayoutGala is that it’s already nicely styled and graphic’d – with a LayoutGala template you’ll need to re-style it yourself, whereas an Arcsin template is ready to go right out of the box.

  • Elance

    Finally, if you’re willing to shell out a bit more cash for your design and get it done by a professional, you can use services like Elance – all you have to do is put up your project and a detailed description, and watch people bid on it – then you choose which bidder will do the project for you, and wait. While I haven’t personally tried Elance, I’ve heard a couple of raving reviews over it – much moreso than any other online outsourcing service.

These are just a few of the options available to you when looking to build your site’s template – and everyone’s preferences are different. While I prefer Layout Gala templates and then modifying them to whatever I need them to be, you might prefer something pre-built like Arcsin’s templates, or even getting something build-to-order with Elance. They’re all valid approaches, and they’ll all help you hammer out that template before you start building anything.

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Luke is the primary editor of Building Browsergames, and has written a large portion of the articles that you read here. He generally has no idea what to say when asked to write about himself in the third person.

Monday, June 23rd, 2008 design, gettingstarted, templates
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  • Thanks for pointing out OSWD, Sunchaser - it looks like I've missed a few good resources for templates.

  • I take templates from here http://www.oswd.org/

  • Hey John,

    Thanks for pointing out YUI - it looks like a pretty cool addition to this list, and a great tool for developers who are interested in building their own template.

  • JohnMunsch

    I'd like to strongly suggest an alternative to the Layout Gala (LG) choice. Yahoo! offers a CSS file as part of their Yahoo! User Interface (YUI) package that makes it easy to build grid based layouts with multiple boxes in multiple sections.

    The YUI website is http://developer.yahoo.com/... but the specific page for the grid stuff is http://developer.yahoo.com/... and they offer a very simple to use tool on that page where you can layout your page interactively and then it will give you the HTML to use for that layout.

    The resulting HTML is a set of nested div tags that is very easy to work with and the CSS file you include for the grid system is a mere 4K. They also offer some other excellent CSS files to strip away formatting differences and standardize font sizes between browsers. Yahoo! also will host the CSS for you if you're looking to cut down on bandwidth usage.

    All their stuff is well documented and YUI as a whole has hundreds of examples. Plus, Yahoo! tests all their stuff on every major browser on every major platform.

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Building Browsergames is a blog about browsergames(also known as PBBG's). It's geared towards the beginner to intermediate developer who has an interest in building their own browsergame.

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