Monday, March 31, 2014

Rollin' with JQuery

After doing as much research as I could on jQuery and the things you can accomplish with it, I've decided that my site framework needs to be redone.  It will not look much different to the end user, but it will function in a much more user-friendly manner, and the controls will mimic those of an app rather than a website.  I've been brainstorming up tons of ideas for the site, and I've got about a half-a-dozen I'm dying to get started on, but for now, I'm starting with the framework.

The layout for the index page will look pretty much the same, but the content will be layed out a bit different.  I'm compressing the layout by one column, and adding panels that expand/contract from the right and left sides.  I'm doing a terrible job explaining this with words, so we'll go with a screen of my concept:

The new login/registration panel

The above screenshot shows the panel I was trying to describe.  There will be a welcome message to new visitors at the top, followed by an expanded login sub-panel.  The registration and "Add A Game" panels can be expanded by clicking the appropriate header, and the login panel will collapse when needed.  

When you click to preview one of the games/demos/articles/etc., the entire right panel will hide, and a panel on the left with more details will open up.  Closing this left panel will re-open the right panel automatically, eliminating the need to adjust the content in the center.  Since only one panel will ever be open, and one will always be open, the "content" in the center of the screen will only shift position to the left and right, but will never need it's layout updated.

Concept work for the upcoming 'content preview panel'

I intend to use this system for my search page as well. I've come to the realization that the search system in this website needs to be absolutely top-notch, since chances are it will be the resource most used by members.  Granted, browsing through the featured section is nice, but when I'm ready to search for a game, I want to put in what I'm looking for and get easy to navigate results.

The updated search system, however, is for a future blog post.  As are all the other ideas I've added to my To-Do list.  Needless to say, jQuery will be changing this site drastically, but it will be a much easier to use website in the end.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Completed (Beta) Account & Profile Settings

So I've completed the systems for the account & profile settings for members.  The forms work exactly the way I want them to for now, and the workflow for managing everything is pretty stream-lined.  I finished up my avatar image uploading code, and the system now offers the option to click the button to browse for a file rather than opting for the drag & drop interface... I've tested this on a Windows 8.1 tablet and an Android tablet and both work exactly as expected.

Final (Beta) version of the profile & account settings systems

The profile info form is almost completely dynamic, meaning I can add any number of inputs and textareas, and as long as I name them using my system, then they will function with very little effort on my part.  This is going to come in handy with future forms:  when I manage an Indie game profile that I'm working on, I'll be able to drag and drop 10 images from my desktop onto the site itself and begin organizing them almost immediately.

I'm excited to see systems start coming together at a faster pace now that the registration and login systems are nearly complete.  I haven't decided when I will make registrations available to the public yet, but the first priority is to continue adding content while adding the ability for future members to add content as well.

S**t Just Got Real

I've been working the same job for quite a while now.  I haven't had any reason to learn new technologies since the job has remained pretty much the same.  I've dabbled with Unity3D and SmartFox for fun, but beyond that, work has pretty much been the same-old Coldfusion work.

Since I'm starting from the ground up with, I decided to start looking into new techs that could help improve my website.  That's when I decided to give jQuery a shot.  I'm blown away by the ease-of-use and the power of this system.

I will never program websites the same again...

Avatars Added To Gamer Profiles

After finishing up my work tonight, I decided to make more progress on  Using jquery, I've created an avatar system that allows you to drag & drop any JPG image onto the 'profile settings' of the page... from there the system will automatically crop, resize, and generate thumbnails for use with your account.

Preview of the new avatar system, complete with drag & drop interface

I will be adding code tomorrow to allow a file browsing window to open when the image is clicked for those who prefer the older method of file uploading.

For now, it's time for some desperately needed sleep.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Updated Profile Settings & Various Small Fixes

I started my work on today with fixing a small inconsistency that has been bothering me.  As you can see from the image below, edges on the right side of the page were not lining up correctly.  It wasn't always obvious, but when it was it was hard to ignore.  I've since fixed this with a little touch-up CSS work.

The CSS layout bug that I couldn't ignore any longer

In keeping with the theme of little things that were bugging me, I decided to change how header titles are displayed as well.  Gone are the bright and somewhat-distracting '{}' wrappers, replaced with grey brackets that are barely noticeable but still highlight the header.

The new header-wrappers are much less distracting

And I liked the look of that so much, I decided to use a variation of the same styling on my account settings page.

Updated account settings page that ties the whole theme together

Time to stop fartin' around and get some more in-depth programming done or this registration system is never going to get used by the public.

Related links: 
Official Website:

Friday, March 28, 2014

Account & Profile Settings

I have finished the registration system for, bu ti have not posted it yet since there is literally nothing for a new member to do besides browse Un-Indie games, which they can do without registering.  So, before going live with registrations, I'm getting some more content done for the site.  So far this has included an account settings and profile settings system that I am working on.

The new Account & Profile settings system

Once this is completed, I will be putting together a simple profile for the individual members, as well as working on a rating system which will allow registered members to start building a taste-profile by rating Un-Indie games.  This will aid the system in providing members with Indie games that are suited to their play-style and themes.  

The registration system was, as is always the case with registration systems, long and tiring.  Forgotten password scripts, validation, error checking, confirmation emails, etc., etc.  That being said, I'm very happy it's done, because once it is live, all the content I create from there on out will be getting used by gamers.  And that's what this whole thing is all about.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Login/Registration Nearly Completed

I have just about completed the login/registration system for  Right now I am in the process of putting the finishing touches on the email confirmation system.  After that I've got another round of tests to run, and if all goes well, visitors will be able to register for the site.

Preview of the upcoming login & registration system

Once this is completed, I will be able to very quickly build a system that allows you to rate and/or favorite any of the current Indie & Un-Indie games, so that I can start building taste-profiles for the users.  This will allow the site to recommend games based off of your personal preferences, games you already enjoy, and what platforms you have (ie. XBox, PS4, etc.)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

MMO & Multiplayer FPS Demos

I've spent some time getting a couple more demos available for visitors on the site.  There are two more added, both coming from the SmartFox websites examples section.

The first is a Multiplayer FPS game that uses SmartFox Server technology for creating/maintaining games.  The use of SmartFox allows games containing more players than Unity's standard Networking will allow.

The second is a demonstration of SmartFox's new MMO technology, which comes standard with the latest version of their server software.  This demo include NPC bots as well as player-controlled characters.

I think these two demos will serve as great examples of what I'm trying to accomplish with the site.  I can't wait to get more work done so Indie developers and studios can start sharing their own Unity Web Player files as well.

Related links:
FPS Demo:
MMO Demo:

Official Website:
Official Twitter: @foreachgamer

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Genres Added To Search

I've finished running my loop to correct the absence of a genres column in my database, and all data for the current list of games is populated.  I've gone ahead and added a drop-down option for limiting search results by genre.

Genres drop-down added to the search system

Next on my to-do list is getting the registration/login system live.

Related links:
Official Website:
Official Twitter: @foreachgamer
My Twitter: @eatsleepindie

Instant Un-Indie Game Search Results

I had about 30 minutes left of work on the system for searching the 'Un-Indie' section, so I figured I'd get that done last night before turning in.  The search results are now completed, and any search results are displayed without the need for a page refresh or post.  There is also a simple search form in the footer that posts to the search page, making the system easily accessible from any page.  And the most recent update, the page buttons at the bottom now work as expected.  I've also realized I forgot to add genres to the database table for the games, but luckily I planned for such a mistake and have a very easy to use hierarchy of xml data that I can loop through to remedy this.  Once completed, this will allow me to build a very simple recommendation system that can display results in various locations, starting with the unindie game profile page.

The completed search results page (version 1)

My plan for a future version of the search results page is to show a handful of results for each category (ie. Un-Indie, Videos, Tutorials) so you can easily see relevant content for each.  A quick click will narrow the results down to any of these categories.  This way, a quick search for "FPS" will yield not only Indie games on the topic, but the latest news articles, blog posts, screenshots, videos, etc. on the topic.  If you're looking for just Indie FPS demos to play, you're only one click away from getting pages of results.

With the first version of the search system completed, it's time to put the finishing touches on the login and registration systems.  Once the site is capable of having members, I'll work on giving those members the ability to rate games as well as add them to favorites lists.

Completely off topic, I have created the twitter account @eatsleepindie for personal use if anyone is interested in following it as well as the offical twitter for this page @foreachgamer

Related links:
FEG Official Website:

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Updating Un-Indie Game Search Results

I've now go my search results system working using ajax rather than old-school form posting.  When you hit the search button in the search options section, the system will now load the first page of search results without the need to post to a new page. 

Searching Un-Indie Games has been updated to use AJAX
I still need to put some more work into the query that grabs the data, but for now a simple LIKE '%{var}%' search is good enough.
As you can see from the above screen, I've also added a search bar to the footer, so games can be searched easily from any page.  This system uses an old school form to simply post to the search page with a query string.
Time to get the page buttons at the bottom to work...
Related Links:
Official FEG Website:
Official FEG Twitter :

Searching Un-Indie Games

I've put some time into a search page which, for the time being, will be used solely for searching the Un-Indie section of the website.  The search query is very basic at the moment, but I will be adding relevance ratings to the results later on.  For now, I simply wanted a way to easily search the data I've gathered thus far.

The beginnings of the search page
Next I will be making the search form asynchronous so that your browser never needs to leave the current page.  I'd like to add some form for quick-view button for the search results so that opening a new tab or navigating to a new page isn't necessary to get some extra info.  I haven't decided how or where the results will be displayed, but I've got time to let the thought simmer.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Demos Are Coming

After my last post, I decided I really wasn't in the mood to program form validation for the search system.  Instead, I decided to start working on the Indie Games showcase, since this will make up the majority of the website content.

I want a website where I can not only read about works-in-progress from other Indie Developers, but also a place I can easily demo them.  I want to give the devs complete control over their project, while making updating their project's page simple and quick... I prefer to spend my time programming my game rather than fighting with websites to keep my followers up-to-date.

Enter the Unity Web Player.  Not only will Indie studios & individuals be able to showcase their games screenshots and videos on the site, but they'll also be able to upload a Unity Web Player version of the game, so members of the site can demo right in the web browser.

Showcasing how the site will allow members to play demos directly in the web browser

Angry Bots is the first Demo added to the website.  It seems fitting considering it's the first Unity Project I got any experience with, it's ready to go out-of-the-box, and it showcases what Unity3D can pull off in a web browser.  When you visit now, you'll see that in the Demos section, ANgry Bots is now the only listing.  When you click the link to view the Angry Bots profile, you're shown a handful of screenshots, some info on the game, and the demo itself.  I put a holder image in place for the WebPlayer files since I do not want any games starting in my browser until I give the go-ahead.  The holder image, seen below, is created procedurally via CFML using the first screenshot.  I can easily create some scripts that will allow indie members to select with image they would like to use for this place-holder, and the rest will be taken care of automatically.

 The place-holder image for the Web Player, created procedurally

This definitely isn't a final design by any means, but it works for what I was intending to do, which is get across the point that we will be hosting .unity3D files for demos.

I will probably start looking into the new Unity3D asset package they put out recently to see if I can get another demo or two out of their projects.  If not, I have enough experience in Unity to create a few demos myself when/if I find the time.

If you are a Unity3D developer and have a .unity3d file you would like to host on the site, we'd love to work with you.  Granted, there isn't a whole lot of site here yet, but it would be free advertising and would really help me showcase what I'm trying to accomplish with the website.  If you are interested, contact me at the following e-mail address:

Related Links:
FEG Offical Website:
FEG Offical Twitter:

Friday, March 21, 2014

An Un-Indie Profile

Experience has taught me that when you finally decide on something 100%, it's time to clean up & optimize your code.  I've eliminated straggling functions, and rebuilt the cfml scripts responsible for the index page from the ground up.  Now, everything gets passed into a single "datablock" template via a cfloop, and the script takes care of the rest... even how many page buttons are required for the situation.  It sidetracked me for a while, but the resulting code is much cleaner and easier to work in.

It doesn't look much different, but the code is much cleaner

Having settled on the main design & layout for the site, and having redone the code for the main page, I figured it was time to give this website's sitemap a second entry.  The result is the beginnings of a game profile page for Un-Indie games:.

Beginnings of the Un-Indie Game Profile

It's not much yet, but filling that template with data will be relatively easy now that everything is setup... which means I'll probably leave it for another day.  Right now, I'm leaning towards working a system for searching for the Un-Indie Games I've collected thus far.  If nothing else, it will allow me to browse through the list of games in the database, and I honestly have no idea what 99% of them are at this point.  And it will give any visitors a little something to do, although the search results will probably be pretty disappointing until I'm done data-scraping. 

FEG Offical Site (Work-In-Progress):

Oodles of Data

Right now I've got my local Windows Server, which I use for development, running a script that scraping the web for data on video games and grabbing images.  This data is being added to the database automatically, and images are being ushered into appropriate folders.

I am then periodically taking the new data and images and uploading to the live server.  From there, the live server runs a loop that takes every image downloaded and creates two more copies... one resized to a width of 640 and a thumbnail that is half that width, both cropped to a 16:9 ratio... all done automatically with a little CFML.

So I'm going to sit back and eat a bagel while my website fills itself with data on tons of games.  Who knows, maybe I'll fire up the XBox for a round or two of Halo 4... if I'm in the mood for an all-out-lagfest that is.

More Progress on Filling the Layout with Data

Just a quick screenshot to show the websites progress... I now have every cell filled with a game, and I'm really liking this layout.  I'll be getting the updated code published to the server soon.

The new layout completely filled with data.  

I have a 10" tablet that runs at 1366x768, and the layout fills the screen almost perfectly in both Landscape and Portrait views.

Finally Starting to see A Website In There

I've finished my script for grabbing data via the API, and the website is now being populated with a wide assortment of game data rather than repeating the same five games over and over as before.  Here's a screenshot of the updated layout with new data from the API:

Populating the new layout with data from the API

As you can see, the website is really starting to pull together visually.  The dots below each section fade from one story to the next, and I had planned on getting a video recording of just that, but I do not have the software installed at the moment so this screenshot will have to suffice.  I'll be updating the site with the new code shortly anyway.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Leveraging an API

I'm currently working with an API which will provide the website with data for the 'Un-Indie' section.  This area of the site will be for anything non-Indie related, mostly for your blockbuster gaming hits and news.

Pulling data with the API is a bit slow-going at the moment, since I'm finding the results aren't very consistent, which is causing error messages in my script.

Hopefully I can get this wrapped up today and start pumping the data into profile pages for the individual games.

More Updates to the New Website Layout

I decided to do a bit more work on the site after finishing work for my client tonight.  About a half-an-hour later I have updated the new layout of the website to the following:

More updates to the website layout.

My plan is to make the dots underneath each of the boxes scroll that box to the next page.  I'm hoping to get that done in the next few days, and maybe get some more temporary content in my database to provide some randomness to these feeds, at least temporarily.

I've got to admit, I'm happy I decided to scrap my previous version of the website. This layout is capable of fitting a lot more data, and does so in a layout that is more streamlined and easier to read.  Your eyes immediately go to the content rather than the websites graphics, which is exactly what I was hoping for.

Another busy day tomorrow...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Fresh Face For A Two-Day-Old Website

After a little inspiration from Bob, and help browsing the internet for inspiration from my girlfriend, I think I've landed on a much more appropriate page design.  It's concise, nothing about it is distracting, and it's going to make the website tailor itself to your needs with a single click, no matter what you're looking for.

FEG design version 2.0

First thing, the colored text on the grey bars are buttons.  Click 'Play', and the website will update accordingly, offering you the latest Indie game releases, info on demos, etc.  Click 'Learn', and the website will update and show you articles, dev blogs, tutorials, etc. on anything game related.

Further down, clicking 'Indie' will adapt the site to show you the latest updates and posts from the sites Indie devs.  Naturally, Un-Indie is anything from dependent studios, and everything else is pretty self-explanatory.

I've also left a bit of a coding joke in the design... which makes the website look as though it is the contents of a function, ending with the footer bar which scrolls with the page. 

Edit.  Forgot to mention, if you want a live preview of the new design, it's available at the following link: 

I'm loving this new design.  Time to switch everything over...

A Step In The Right Direction

Here's a rough draft of what I'm thinking the new layout will look like.  This is just a representation of one featured article on the site.  What I'm excited about is that I can write a script that does this all automatically.  So, if I had uploaded the screenshot shown in the image below, my server would have taken that screenshot and created this entire text article preview from it.

A preview of what the new article preview layout will look like

This is probably a little ways off from what the final design will be, but it's definitely a move in the right direction.

Starting Over

I'm starting over, but not from scratch.  I like the look of the website, but at the same time I don't.  It looks like every other gaming site out there, and I'm not making every other gaming site.  I'm not targeting gamers, I'm targeting gamers who have taken the ambition to start creating games, for whatever reason.

So, the website design, in-so-far as graphics, is getting scrapped.  Granted, it catches my eye and makes me start looking around the content, but that's where it loses me.  The graphics are so busy that it's hard to pull any content out of the page.  Time to start from scratch.

The good news is that after a 30+ hour programming tear with no sleep, the registration and login system are just about complete.  It took so long because I was adamant to adhere to a few rules:

  1. No pre-written code.  I have several login systems that I've built over the years, any of which I could have grabbed quickly and thrown into the site.  But I'm a better programmer than I was 2 years ago, and I wanted to start from the ground up with brand new code.
  2. Security.  I've encrypted, hashed and salted the shit out of everything.  Right now the only thing stored on the database in plain text is your username.  It may seem extreme, but I wouldn't want my e-mail address sitting in plain text on someone else's DB (although I'm 100% sure that in a lot of cases, it is), so I'm not going to do that to my members.  Same goes for my birthday, my phone number, my zip code (none of these are even included in the registration form on my site, but if they ever are, they will be handled the same way). 
  3. I tried to break it.  Over and over again.  And was successful repeatedly.  It sucked, and it's still not quite done, but every way that I've managed to break it, I've fixed.  So now I know that other people won't break it doing the same thing.  That brings peace of mind.
  4. The majority of things I told myself I could finish later, I've already finished.  This is not the first time I've launched a website before, and I know from experience that there's a good chance that the chance for "later" may never come.  Best to get it done now.  Which means relentlessly testing forgotten password links, confirming email address, breaking forms with ignorant mistakes, encrypting or hashing anything stored in the database concerning users, building an easy to use UI, etc. etc.  It's all done.

So, I'll be deploying the new registration and login system within the next week or so.  I've still got a few monotonous things to fix with the forgotten-password and confirmation-email systems.  For now it's back to the drawing board in-so-far as graphics.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Adding Some Interaction to the Layout

I had intended to start working on my registration and login systems, but I got a bit sidetracked.  I ended up spending this morning making the elements on the screen more interactive.  Everything below is data driven, and any repeats you see are the result of not having enough games listed in the database.

You can now scroll through the featured games (upper left) of the screen using the orange dot buttons

I also added a second collection of games below the "Latest Screenshots" section, which will eventually hold the latest videos for games.  Both the upper featured and the lower (video) featured boxes operate independently, and eventually the site will remember their position even after leaving the page.

Now that the data on the page is being updated correctly, and is also being populated by a nice setup of handy functions, I can move on to the registration system...

...after a much needed break.

Rating System Started & Layout Updates

I just got done adding columns to my database for a rating system, and now my code is running like a dream.  At least for the time being, games are rated on a 5 star system, which is actually a 1 to 10 system that uses half stars every other value.

I also played around with Google's Font API and got a nice shadow effect added for the content headers.

New featured section complete with rating system

I think it's time to grab another cup of coffee and get my login/registration system in place.

Social Networking and Refilling Content

I want to leverage any bit of traffic that the website pulls as a result of this blog, so adding social networking links was pretty high on the priority list.  I went with the standard three, Facebook, Twitter and Google+.  They are now all available via buttons on the website.

I've also started getting my data back into the updated layout.  I'm basically working my way down the page, but so far I am incredibly happy with the results.  This is definitely coming together faster than I had thought it would when I started this project yesterday.  I'm psyched to see where it will be a month from now.

The latest version of the site.

Up-to-date website is available at:

Monday, March 17, 2014

More Progress On The Graphics

The new logo inspired me to keep working on web graphics to get a better feel for the overall look of the site.  Since the logo, things have really begun to fall in place visually.

The website currently has a simple background color, but I intend to create a dark hex pattern for the pages background.  I want gaps between the hexagons that can light up, which will be a merger between the images below.

If these two images had a ByteArray baby, then my background design would be done.

The upper 2/3 of the layout above is actually a transparent div layer that is hiding in front of the background but behind everything else.  My plan is to create a hex grid like the one above, and then create the lit pathways as a second image that would lay on top of the hex grid, giving the illusion of them being the same image.  The purpose of this being the end-user could then create custom layouts using various colored versions of the overlay and the background.  You could change your layout from a light grey grid pattern with teal lighting to a black grid pattern with orange lighting.  I am building this site with the intention of using it on a daily basis to follow games that interest me.  I want it to be easy to use, and I may want to easily swap to layout with a light background and black text for easier reading.  It allows me to use a color scheme that is eye-catching and display it to new visitors, while providing a solution to existing members that is easier on the eyes, especially for reading purposes.

I have just a little time left before I need to start work for tonight, so it's time to fill that layout with the data that I had added last night.

Updated Logo

So far, I've updated the logo for the website.  I have always been a fan of the dark grey & bright orange combination, so I am leaning that way for my main design.  I have an idea that may work which would allow anyone to change the color scheme of the entire site with one click, but the list of things that have priority over that feature is pretty extensive at this point.  Next time I need something more creative and less results, I'll play around with that idea.

Anyway, back to the point for this post, the new logo:

Nothing special, but I really just needed something with the color and glow effect that I want for the final version.  Tied into a website with a dark grey as it's main color is really going to make this website pop.

At least that's the plan.

Busy, busy day

I have to work tonight, and house life has me pretty busy today, so blog posts will probably be few and far between.

The goal today is to beef up the graphics a bit, since I'm not happy that the website looks circa 1995 at the moment.

Time to fire up PaintShop Pro...

A Few Header Titles to Choose From

Unable to decide on a font for the title, I created a quick script that loops through a few every time you visit a page.  Now that they're easy to compare, I'm definitely liking my most recent one the most:

My favorite of the header title options

Considering this website didn't exist at all when I woke up today, I'm pretty happy with the results thus far.  The time I can devote to it will be pretty limited until Wednesday, but I should be able to get a few things done in between now and then.

For now, it's time for some sleep.

New Featured Games and Project Profiles

I've now got a system that allows me to set specific games in the database as featured, and those games will cycle through on the index page.

New Featured Section that automatically cycles through any project marked as featured

I then hyperlinked the title of the games on that page to a profile for the project itself.  I threw together some quick custom headers for each of the games to prove my custom-css concept as well.

Battle Chess Project Page

Final Fantasy Project Page

Pulling Data Into The Layout

I've got my database setup and connected with my website.  User sessions are setup, and I'm now querying data on current projects and filling the index page with the latest entries.  Currently I am using some of my favorite games from childhood as temporary content.

I've also started playing around with colors, getting a very rough draft of logo placement and a matching background color.  Still have a lot of work to do as far as that's concerned, but that is for another day.

I'll be adding data/content to the featured game panels next, and then creating a profile page the projects themselves.

Logo Model

I've completed the model for the logo, and as my work day winds down, I'll be moving back to programming.  Here's what I ended up with for the night, and the color I've chosen is going to be the starting point for my web graphics.

For now, it's back to filling that CSS layout with data.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Proving the Logo Concept

After fumbling around with Blender3D's array modifier, I ended up with this:

...and after some more work deleting cubes to create the letters:

I'm definitely happy with the results thus far.  I'll be working on lighting next, and I have exactly ZERO experience with this when it comes to Blender.  Google Search to the rescue.

Logo Ideas

Taking a quick break from programming, I decided to sit in front of the TV for a bit and sketch up a logo.  I plan to do the logo in Blender, and although my drawing skills never evolved past a 5th grade level, I ended up with the following:

The first step was to lay out the shape of each letter.  After that, I tried fitting the letters together, but found that I needed a full edge at any point the letters were going to touch, since I am assembling this logo using arrays of cubes in Blender3D.  The final draft, located in the lower right, will consist of several cubes spaced slightly apart, with a soft light emitting from the center or entire object.

It may seem early to be working on the logo, but I have an idea for a logo and not much of an idea for the rest of the sites graphics layout, so I'm going to start with what I've got.  Chances are the rest will come into place once the logo is completed.  I needed to shift gears from programming for a bit and let the creative side take over, so the logo is getting done early.

Time to fire up Blender3D, in which I am still very much a beginner.  This is going to be fun.

Additions to the CSS Framework

After taking an hour to grab a quick bite to eat and then spend some time with my daughter before she went down for the night, I got right back to getting the framework for my CSS layout done.  I haven't included the tabs for the news section as of yet, but so far, things are coming along pretty well:

The website, and any updates that are posted in this dev blog, can be viewed at any time by visiting

We also have social networking pages for the following:

From Paint Shop to CSS

I've started laying out my CSS template in Dreamweaver.  So far, here's what I've got:

The dark grey area at the top will be the header graphic.  The lighter grey area underneath will act as banners to promote indie games, videos, etc.  The white area is the main container, which will have a few vertical columns containing the majority of the pages content.  Finally, the footer (light grey area at the bottom) will be for your personal account settings, updates, alerts, etc.

Time to start cutting up the main container into columns and get some data pulled into the page.

A Crude Web Layout

After a little inspiration from Bob (inside joke, don't fixate on that last bit), I decided to throw together a quick layout in Paint Shop.  The main layout will probably change when the site gets going, but for now I know I need to focus on the developers themselves.  If devs don't register and use the site, then there's no content for people who play games rather than design them.

So, the first layout is going to be geared towards designers.  Lucky for me, I consider myself an amateur game-designer, so the easiest bet here is to go with what would interest me.  If I'm coming to my own site to check out what's going on within all it's code and data, what do I want to see?

I want to know if anyone else has shown interest in my game.  How many hits did I get?  Did anyone post something constructive on my last gameplay video?  Tell me everything new that has to do with my own project, and show it to me in a way that makes navigating everything feel natural.

If I'm here to take a break from working on my own game and just want to see what everyone else is up to, my tastes change dramatically. I want to know what's new.  And when I'm done going through the new stuff, I want to see the stuff I've been interested in for a while.  After checking in on those, I want to check out some inspirational graphics work or read someone's blog about how they got around the Windows Store touch-keyboard problem in Unity.

I need to cram all of this into the index page somehow.  So far, here is my layout, which after some really dirty CSS work I will be filling with data.

The Silver Lining

I've been dabbling with Unity3D for about 2 years now.  I love working with Unity, and after several attempts to create and publish my own game, I've decided that my skills may be better suited for helping others accomplish this.

As the father of a daughter who is about to turn 1, and the sole administrator of a popular social networking site, I don't get a whole lot of time to work on my own projects.  The little time I do have is usually spent playing around in Unity3D, Blender3D and PaintShop (yes, I use PaintShop Pro, not Photoshop... oh, the horror).

I knew building games was a time consuming process... I did not realize how much time would start to fly-by after becoming a father.  Months go by like weeks, and my math-obsessed mind is still reeling 11 months later from a complete inability to make sense of the shorter days.  Regardless, fumbling around in Unity3D (due to my lack of knowledge) was a whole lot of fun, but I hadn't finished a single project yet.  It's definitely time to change gears.

So, my plan is to take my 20 years of website programming experience and create a website that I see a HUGE market for:  a website that merges social networking, indie game development, and Unity3D's awesome Web Player.  The goal is to create a friendly, informative website for any Unity3D developer, whether they have years of experience or are just starting out.  I want it to be as simple as possible: if I've never even downloaded Unity before, but want to get started, click this link and the site will walk you through it.  Having a rough day and need some help, quickly search Unity Answers, Unity Forums, and the Script Reference, all with one click.  I'm not sure I can pull all of that off yet, but I like to aim crazy-high.

Right now I have nothing done except a vision.  No concept work, no code, nothing.  Just Macromedia Dreamweaver 8 (my preferred HTML coding software), Paint Shop Pro open on separate screens and more ambition than I know what to do with.

More posts will follow in the upcoming hours, but for now, it's time to get started...