The Website is probably the most important thing for any company. It’s the online image and the proof of a legitimacy of a business. But for a game company, a website is more than that, it’s a place for fans to learn everything about the company and its games, an art gallery for said games, a forums for support and discussion, and perhaps even wikis.
However, for an indie game development company, a website is
a way to establish trust and gain new followers. It’s a powerful tool to
connect with fans and share our creation. Despite us knowing that, we couldn’t
really find the time to take good care of our website and establish it in a
good way(Until now for that matter). This was mainly for two reasons:
1- The core mechanics of Call to Valkyrie proved to be quite the challenge. Not only do we build complex AI systems, but, we are literally balancing a new formula of RTS games that was never been done before. That means all our programming and art needed to be done in a way that makes it easier for us to tweak and change on demand which of course means more time on development and art.
2- None of us really knew web development or design that well. We all worked extensively inside the game development industry and nothing else.
However, we couldn’t publish the next pre-alpha version with a broken website. Especially when people started messaging us about it. For this reason, I managed to collect a two days’ worth of time to re-skin the website.
“But, Kamal…” I hear you ask, “Just use a WordPress theme, it’s not that hard”. Well, the site was built from scratch. I believe it’s going to be cheaper and more flexible on the long run (which I’ll prove right in a moment). So free themes and easy to use plug-ins are not an option.
“But, Kamal … Why don’t you hire a web designer?” And to that I answer, why are you reminding me of my empty wallet?
So, you know, there’s really one option left … To learn Web design and re-skin that piece of broken CSS in two days … And here’s how it went.
Okay, you seem unsatisfied with that, here’s the more detailed version of the story. I already had basic CSS and HTML knowledge. And I already had a two years’ experience in ASP.NET. So that gave me a starter boost. I began by studying CSS structure and learning all about CSS3 and HTML5 from W3Schools. After that, I isolated the design of each page in a different style sheet and refactored everything … That means renaming ids and classes, redoing all styles and establishing responsive rules, as well as organizing the back-end code into MVC pattern. AND YES, all of that only in two days.
Now here’s what I have to say to my fellow indie developers … Don’t ever be discouraged to learn a new skill … And if you have money on you, don’t ever think that paying = better job; NO ONE will care more about your work than you. And YOU CAN definitely do anything once you put your mind into it. I was never been able to do original designs. Now I’m a Gimp master (not in those two days though, also, not that good of a skill, lol). I needed trailer videos, learned VSDC and I’m editing videos like a pro. Lastly, needed a good looking website, learned the necessary skills, combined with my background and here we are. A new, optimized website with 0$ and two days’ worth of work. The Point is, we work in one of the hardest tech related industries out there, so don’t be discouraged to learn something new, it’s almost always going to be easier than you think.
Of course, at some point you’ll get too busy or need a very specific task to be done and this is when you’ll need to hire a specialist. But until then, and as an indie dev, you can, and should, do a lot of the stuff yourself. You’re not only gaining more knowledge and experience, but you’re also becoming wiser in making business decisions, because you'll know how to estimate every task more accurately. Now, go, make your dreams come true. And if you wanna help me with my dream, kindly join this Discord ... we throw parties to new comers!