Making Your Video Game Website

Disclaimer: This guide is NOT for those of you who are looking for a high-end “professional” solution such as your own registered domain or guaranteed 100% uptime *expensive* hosting. This is for broke indie developers like me who still want to present a customized, semi-professional site for the world to see.

So far in my indie game developer career I’ve stuck to a variety of simple platforms to get my message out there: YouTube, more recently GitHub and Facebook, and of course this WordPress blog. All of these services are easy to use and, more importantly, free. However, there comes a time when all of us will have to present a more “professional” solution to our market base. You don’t see Epic Games operating out of a WordPress account, do you?

I’ve been thinking about making my own site for quite a while now, but of course with such an undertaking there comes a lot of issues:

  • Which provider to choose for website and file hosting
  • Whether to get a custom registered domain name
  • Paying for uptime and quota charges
  • And the 1000+ little problems that come with any web development project

…in other words, pretty much everything I don’t want to deal with — at least, not right away. So I got to wondering…is there an easier way?

Turns out, there is. First we’ll tackle the host: Google Drive. Using a cloud service for hosting a website is not a new idea; people have been using Dropbox for this very purpose pretty much since Dropbox was invented, and almost all major cloud services support public file sharing. You can find a step-by-step tutorial on how to do it here.

By now I’m sure you have a few questions, such as, “Why not use an actual web hosting service like 1&1 or Weebly?” Well…I’m not telling you not to :P. There are countless such services online, and most of them provide a “free” option with certain restrictions. But:

  • I have a Gmail account that comes with Google Drive, so why not use it?
  • I trust Google, which is something I can’t say about other hosting services
  • Sometimes they’re too restrictive

But hey, it’s your site.

Assuming you decided to go with Google Drive, the next step is to use this neat little free tool. What this will allow you to do is get a shortened version of the Google Drive URL to your site mapped to any alias you want. For example, my gdriv.es alias is http://gdriv.es/willygproductions. It’s as simple as that.

There are a few really awesome pros that come with using Google Drive. First off, you get to have custom CSS and JavaScript support, which is a big thing for me. Second, there doesn’t seem to be a quota limit. I’m assuming if you start getting hundreds of hits a minute Google will do something about it, but honestly I doubt that will ever happen for my site. And if you are getting that many hits, I’m sure you have no problem going to a paid solution.

Oh, and if you’re no professional web developer, here are some links to a few places where you can get free webpage templates. As an example, I got my website template from HTML5 Up! and had a working version online literally an hour after I started Googling for web hosting services. And yes, I am using the word “literally” correctly.

The only gripe I have with this solution is that there is no support for server-side technologies like PHP or JSP. But…I’m experimenting with a workaround. I will have more on this later.

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