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 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 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.
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.