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Blog, Forum, or Website?

Started by Ayyavazi, August 28, 2009, 04:02:31 PM

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Hey all.

I need some help getting a design setup for my game systems. The way I envision things is having a blog detailing my latest innovations in game design for my own games, and a companion forum where people can discuss the three or four games I am designing, post about play-tests, set up group meeting times and such for my game systems, and pretty much discuss the design of the systems. I also want to include a paypal link so people can opt to pay me for my fledgling game systems if they choose to download them in their unpolished form. Will a Blog or Forum site allow me to put such a link up and have the other portion (blog or forum) I want? What will happen regarding the copyright and profitability of my work? I know some sites have a simple policy that basically says once you post it, they own it. So do I just need to get my own website and a host for it, or are there free forum/blog sites out there that allow me to accept payment?

Thanks again for any help you can offer,


Yes, you can post a PayPal link on any sort of site imaginable. Blogs and forums are two separate things, so you will need two separate code solutions for each part, but it is very easy to link them together.

Also, it would likely be best to get your own domain for your work, rather than try to run things off a free service. You'll have to check the terms of any website service you use to see if you are allowed to place a payment button on your site.

Finally, what do you mean "what will happen to the copyright or profitability"? What, specifically, are you wondering about or concerned about?
Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio


My main concern was that I post my game info for download via the forum or blog, and then when I try to make money off it (through the pay pal link) they come back and say that's our stuff, you can't make money off of it. Essentially, am I signing over the copyright by using their service.

And thanks for the response. I will probably go with a personal site that I design to make sure I get what I want out of it.


Do yourself a favor and set your site up with some kind of content management system.  You want your time and energy put into your product, not your website.  I favor Drupal, because it has pre-written modules for almost anything, including two separate E-commerce modules that will handle getting paid-for games to your customers. It also has blog and forum modules that can be tweaked to your needs.  In fact, right out of the box it's a decent blog and forum.

If you can find a web meetup in your area, there should be some people there who use Drupal.  They can get you pointed down the right path.
Clay Dowling - Online Campaign Planning and Management

Eero Tuovinen

OK, so I'm guessing that you don't know a lot about web technology, which means that your best bet is to get somebody who does to help you - and not just by giving advice at a forum, but by working with you to figure out your needs. Chances are that what you need is best served by getting a dedicated, paid server package of some sort (expect to pay something like $100 a year for that) - not only are free solutions likely to be limited in what you can do and potentially encumbered by advertisements or such, but they'll also seem cheap to others and are unlikely to offer the amount of blog/forum integration you want.

However, the above only holds if a full-blown website with both blog and forum functions is really what you need and want. This is not a given. Some of my experiences:

  • My experience is that making up a forum as the first step in creating your web presence as a publisher is idiotic unless you're much larger a cultural presence than a starting publisher can be. You likely have an audience a couple of magnitudes too small to make for a functional forum community, considering how forums work. It's likely that you will benefit by making some common forum your own and just encouraging discussion of your game there. Having your own forum comes off as unnecessary and pretty lame when the forum is almost empty even after a couple of years of activity.
  • There are benefits to separating your publisher website from your blogging. One of these is that if you use a dedicated blogging service, they'll take care of the technical upkeep of your blog. Another is that people are not companies, so by separating your company website from your personal game design blog you get a more natural and sensible environment for your blogging.
I know that big companies in the cultury industry are nowadays all about community creation, but we're not big, so why try to ape them? It is likely that you would be better served by creating contacts and working up a personal presence in public forums instead of trying to create your own cult of personality. This is not only more sensible and better marketing, but also technically easier and more stylish. I speak from experience here: my decision in 2004 of making my (Finnish) company website highly dynamic has brought me literally hundreds of extra work hours. When I created a new English-language website in 2008, I was smarter and made a point of making the website completely static: it's technically simple, easy to update and what's best, it doesn't start feeling dusty and neglected when I forget about it for months at a time.

(Also, you might find it interesting to look at how I implement the blog and forum functionalities: I have a personal brand blog completely separate from my company website, and insofar as I have a "publisher forum", it's the subforum here at the Forge. What this means is that I maximize my visibility and connections to the community while minimizing the maintenance load I have to take care of myself.)

Also, as I intimated above, not having integrated forums and a blog at your website does not mean that you can't have community: you can very well share a community with others with similar interests. The Forge is actually a very good example, considering how many publishers have specific subforums here: we each of us don't really have dedicated fans who'd post every day at a publisher forum like you're envisioning, but we certainly do have lots in common with each other, which means that our combined presence makes for a lively environment here at the Forge.
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.


Thanks Eero,

I think you just saved me hundreds of hours of work and plenty of money. I don't need a site right away (though I would like one so I can make money off of my alpha, if people want to pay for it), and I don't need a cult of personality (which I now see is what I was trying to create).

So, thanks a bunch!


M. J. Young

I am going to echo Eero a bit.

We've had our forum at Gaming Outpost for quite a few years, since they first made the move to create forums for companies to use.  They are no longer creating them, and apart from us have become a pretty slow place, but having the forum at a site supported by multiple companies and gaming interests generally is a very positive thing.  You can do that here at The Forge; since I'm not in the market for such a thing I don't know where else might be good.  Talk to Ron and/or Vincent, but you do qualify for a forum here; they'll expect you to moderate it, but it's the place you want to spend your time, because it is the most interactive option you've got.

If you do a web site (and I think it a good idea) you'll want to make something that is straightforward and informational, which links to your other sites.  That is, get yourself a domain name that's going to be easy for customers to remember (the name of your flagship game, if it's memorable, works).  Post there information about the game, how to find your forum and other sites, and how to buy the game.  If you want to do direct downloads, you can do them with PayPal and a secure system, but you might do better to connect with DriveThru RPG or with Lulu (the latter will also print your books for you) because they have the systems in place to sell your product and pay you the profit.

Put the blog somewhere else.  As Eero says, it's a much more personal mode of interaction.  You'll be posting information about your progress developing games, but in a sense distancing your identity as game designer from your identity as publisher--which means you can to some degree promote the games you're selling almost as if you were an outside party.  That is, you can say, "my publisher is putting out my game Flex this week, and I'm really happy with the way it's come out", and not sound nearly so self-serving as you would if you wrote how wonderful it is on the official forum or web site, because the blog is expected to be an expression of your thoughts, feelings, and opinions, and thus inherently more subjective than the other media.

If you go with Lulu (and maybe with Drivethru, but I've not yet done that) you'll also have access to a "storefront", a section of their site devoted to selling your products.  This is advantageous, because you can link between the blog, the forum, the web site, and the storefront, and each promotes the others.  (Having relevant links from different domains is a plus with search engine placement--that is, if the Flex forum at the Forge, the Flex blog at Gaming Outpost, the Flex web site at and the Flex storefront at Lulu all link to each other, when someone is looking for "Flex" in the search engine they are more likely to come to the top of the list, because the search engine will see those as relevant links, that the various domains have identified each other as significant on the subject.)

I can recommend Gaming Outpost for the blog.  As far as I can tell, blog sites don't really cross-promote blogs well, and Gaming Outpost still gets some gamer traffic and some articles, so you can promote the blog elsewhere and pick up some people directly from that site.  I don't know much about other blog sites, though.

I hope this helps.

--M. J. Young

Eero Tuovinen

Agreed with M.J. on all points, good stuff.

This is a total stab in the dark, but you might consider starting like this:
1) Get yourself a blog at Wordpress, Livejournal or some other blogging site.
2) When you have a product of some sort that you want to sell on a low burn (that is, don't have any sales goals for), just get a Paypal button and put that into your blog. This arrangement serves you well enough when your sales are numbered in the low dozens over the year; no need to pretent to be any bigger than you are.
3) Get a proper website when you have a real product and a definite, compact user experience you want to impart to visitors. Be sure to get somebody realistic and web savvy to help with the set-up.
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.

Selene Tan

There's some more good advice about setting up a web presence for an indie RPG at Rob Donoghue's Show Your Game.
RPG Theory Wiki
UeberDice - Dice rolls and distribution statistics with pretty graphs


Some really good advice here! Another thing I would emphasize is that you really need to set aside a lot of time for not only getting up this web presence and maintaining it but also for promoting it. If you intend to get a somewhat dedicated audience and even make money off of them you are looking at some tedious promotion. Unless you're already well known within the gaming community. Forums like these alone will more than likely not suffice.

I really wish you all the best with this endeavor but the fact is that many people kind of have misconceptions about having a commercial website. So definitely do your research but don't do it too long - or you'll miss the point of going ahead and "just doing it". If it turns out not to your liking you can always step back. Even if that means you lost a little money.


Why not get your own domain/hosting, is pretty cheap, there some free hosting companies, but they have ads