Thursday, August 20, 2009

How to make your own flash game portal: Part 6 – The Essential Wordpress Plug-Ins.


I'm going to start you off with 3 essential wordpress plug-ins so that you can get started. These are the first 3 I added immediately to <a href="http://swaggames.com" target="_blank">Swag Games</a>.

Step 1, just like adding the theme, you want to add the plug-ins directly from your dashboard.<img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-168" title="Picture 1" src="http://mikeedla.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Picture-1.png" alt="Picture 1" width="170" height="121" />Click on "Add New".<!--more-->

The most important plug-in in my opinion is going to be to upload FLASH content, because wordpress is not set up for this. A lot of people recommend different plug-ins for this, I'm a fan of SwfObj, because it makes uploading FLASH a natural part of your post, by adding a link to your "Upload/Insert" toolbar.

<img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-169" title="Picture 2" src="http://mikeedla.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Picture-2.png" alt="Picture 2" width="997" height="56" />

SwfObj changes your toolbar from:<img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-170" title="Picture 3" src="http://mikeedla.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Picture-3.png" alt="Picture 3" width="251" height="57" />to:<img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-171" title="Picture 4" src="http://mikeedla.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Picture-4.png" alt="Picture 4" width="264" height="47" />Notice the <em>f</em>. That will be the button you use to upload flash. Yeah, you have installed the first essential plug-in. Feel free to write a tutorial on how to use it for me, or maybe I'll write one later, but now on to the 2nd most important wordpress arcade plug-in.

Ok the 2nd essential plug-in is "All in One SEO pack", this plug-in has a lot of features, but the one I use vigilantly is the <strong>descriptions</strong>. The descriptions are what will show up in google search and are the next most important thing after the title for SEO purposes. This plug-in gives you control over the description for each and everyone of your posts, use it!!!

<img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-173" title="Picture 8" src="http://mikeedla.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Picture-8.png" alt="Picture 8" width="1090" height="68" />At this point you might be asking your self, Why do I keep putting a pic that includes the plug-ins name and description and version and author. Because a lot of the plug-ins have similar names if not almost the exact same, so make sure you are getting the right one.

The 3rd and almost more important thant the rest is the "google xml sitemaps", because no-one will no you exist without it, or at least search engine users won't.<img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-174" title="Picture 9" src="http://mikeedla.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Picture-92.png" alt="Picture 9" width="1086" height="73" />

I've been generally lazy on this post about how to use these plug-ins, but I'm going to give you a screen shot of the options I use for Google XML sitemaps plug-in, because this plug-in cannot always work the way you want, and you want to make sure it is telling search engines about all of your games. So with out further ado.....(by the way did I mention I started <a href="http://adoogames.com" target="_blank">adoogames.com </a>giving php arcade script a 2nd chance, as of now I still totally prefer wordpress arcades).<img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-175" title="Picture 10" src="http://mikeedla.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Picture-101.png" alt="Picture 10" width="620" height="551" />I'm not exactly sure where to go next with this series of tutorials, any suggestions? Well having these plug-ins should keep you busy, because now you get to start uploading all your flash games. What's that? Good Questions and that will be answered on Part 7.

How to make your own flash game portal: Part 7 – Where to Download Free Flash Games for your site?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

How to make your own flash game portal: Part 5 – Adding your own theme.


Today I am going to show you where to look-up themes and things to pay attention to when picking one.

I will also show you where to look-up plug-ins and tell you about 3 essential plug-ins you should probably start with.

I will also show you the easiest method of uploading the theme and plug-ins into your site. [Warning! don't do it the long way, as in don't download a theme or plug-in directly to your computer, why bother]

So go here to choose a theme: <a href="http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/" target="_blank">Free WordPress Themes</a>. <em>I like to choose from the most popular</em>,<em> because you know there will be more support for it. </em><strong>Don't download it here.</strong> Instead either remember or write down your theme name.<!--more-->

Then go log-in to your admin page. And click on, Appearance &gt;&gt; "Add New Themes"<img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-142" title="add new themes" src="http://mikeedla.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Picture-6.png" alt="add new themes" width="164" height="151" />

Once inside, you can search for your theme there, and upload it directly, hastle free:

<img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-144" title="Picture 10" src="http://mikeedla.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Picture-10.png" alt="Picture 10" width="426" height="225" />Then click on "Install"

<img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-145" title="Picture 11" src="http://mikeedla.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Picture-11.png" alt="Picture 11" width="351" height="364" />

Now click on Activate, and there you have it, go check out your new site.

<img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-147" title="Picture 12" src="http://mikeedla.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Picture-12.png" alt="Picture 12" width="403" height="226" />

on to:
<h2>How to make your own flash game portal: Part 6 – The Essential Wordpress Plug-Ins.</h2>

Thursday, August 6, 2009

How to make your own flash game portal: Part 4 - Setting up your first wordpress arcade.


Today I'm going to show you how to set-up Wordpress on your hosting plan.

1st of all most hosting plans automatic set-up but sometimes it is for an out of date wordpress. I recommend you set it up yourself, this also will help you get familiar with the files and database, which will be very important for tweaking your site.

This post will demonstrate in detail the process of the WordPress's <a href="http://codex.wordpress.org/Installing_WordPress#Famous_5-Minute_Install" target="_blank">famous 5-minute installation</a>.<!--more-->
<ol>
<li>"Download and unzip the WordPress package, if you haven't already." - I am going to recommend you <strong>not</strong> install the newest version, but rather install 2.8.1, because all the important plug-ins are not updated yet. So this is how you get to Wordpress 2.8.1 - You go to the Release Archive and download the very plain looking 2.8.1 zip file - here is the url: <a href="http://wordpress.org/download/release-archive/" target="_blank">http://wordpress.org/download/release-archive/</a></li>
<li>"Create a database for WordPress on your web server, as well as a <a title="Glossary" href="http://codex.wordpress.org/Glossary#MySQL">MySQL</a> user who has all privileges for accessing and modifying it." - I will walk you through Host Gator's process for now, your host might be similar or atleast the names of where you click:<img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-118" title="host gator database" src="http://mikeedla.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Picture-7.png" alt="host gator database" width="344" height="112" /> Click on <em>MySQL Databases.</em>
<img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-119" title="name your database as your domain" src="http://mikeedla.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Picture-9.png" alt="name your database as your domain" width="445" height="108" />Type in your new flash portal arcade <em>all words together, all in lowercase</em>. Then click [Create Database]<img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-124" title="fulldatabasename" src="http://mikeedla.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/fulldatabasename.jpg" alt="fulldatabasename" width="391" height="100" />Your Complete Database Name will have your personal server account name and the database you just created. Remember to <em>Write This Down</em>, because you will be using it later. For this tutorial we will use psan_swaggames<img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-125" title="databaseuser" src="http://mikeedla.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/databaseuser.jpg" alt="databaseuser" width="471" height="356" />Step A, Now you are going to create a user name. Click [Create User], then press back. Step B is adding the new user name (i.e. psan_mamaj) write yours down, remember the host will attach your personal server account name to the user name you created. To add the user to the database, select the new user and the new database and click [Add]</li>
<li>At this point you should have 3 things written down: 1) database name (i.e. psan_swaggames),2) your full user name (i.e. psan_mamaj), 3) your user name password (i.e. whatever). Now it is time to "Rename the <tt>wp-config-sample.php</tt> file to <tt>wp-config.php", find this in the word press folder you just downloaded.
</tt></li>
<li><em>"</em>Open <tt>wp-config.php</tt> in your favorite <a title="Glossary" href="http://codex.wordpress.org/Glossary#Text_editor">text editor</a> and <a href="http://codex.wordpress.org/Installing_WordPress#Step_3:_Set_up_wp-config.php">fill in your database details</a> as explained in <a title="Editing wp-config.php" href="http://codex.wordpress.org/Editing_wp-config.php">Editing wp-config.php</a> to generate and use your secret key password."<img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-126" title="Picture 9" src="http://mikeedla.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Picture-91.png" alt="Picture 9" width="459" height="231" />Inside your wp-config.php file look for my sql settings. Remember your database name, user, and password; fill them in now. DB_HOST stays at localhost (atleast for host gator) if it doesn't work on your host, ask your host for help, it is an easy question for them to answer.</li>
<li>"Place the WordPress files in the desired location on your web server:" Ok now <em>copy all</em> the files in your wordpress folder and ftp or uploaded to your host. I upload into a file called swaggames.com, but you are probably uploading into a file called public_html</li>
<li>"Run the WordPress installation script by accessing <tt>wp-admin/install.php</tt> in your favorite web browser." So you go into any web brower (i.e. Firefox) and type in your domain name followed by the above (i.e. http://swaggames.com/wp-admin/install.php).</li>
<li>Now it should be working, I would go change the permissions on your install.php, or even delete it!!!</li>
</ol>
!!!! You should have a word press working on your domain now, I hope you entered the correct email address!!!!!!

Now play with it all you want, you can always delete posts, pages, categories later. Go to wordpress.org and browse themes and plug-ins and whatever, until next time:

<a href="http://topfiveblog.com/how-to-make-your-own-flash-game-portal-part5/" target="_self">How to make your own flash game portal: Part 5 - Adding your own theme.</a>

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Where to find free music and free sound effects for your Flash Games


I just wanted to throw out some sites I use when I need free music:

<a href="http://www.freesound.org" target="_blank">www.freesound.org</a> - you need to register, but has a bunch of good sound effects.

<a href="http://free-loops.com" target="_blank">free-loops.com</a> - no need to register, and good music to use, and explains Creative Commons

And last but not least if you are willing to wait for a response, many audio creators will let you use their music at <a href="http://www.newgrounds.com/audio/" target="_blank">NewGrounds</a>.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

How to make your own flash game portal: Part 3 – Arcade Script vs. Wordpress


First let me say a few words about <strong>Arcade Scripts</strong>, not a fan.

Have you ever noticed that so many arcades basically look the same? They are all made from generic arcade scripts. With their top members, most popular games, advertising galore, and so much crap going on.

But I can't be completely negative. They do get a lot of viewers quick with all their link exchanges, and if we are going to make an arcade we need to play nice with all other arcades.<!--more-->

That isn't even the worst part, the worst part, is when you end up purchasing an arcade script, let's say the most common PHPAS , and find out it isn't as easy to set-up as you thought it would be. Let alone it barely works.

My wife and I when thinking about a redesign for <a href="http://hoodamath.com" target="_blank">Hooda Math</a> tryed out a bunch of free arcade scripts, then I on an impulse bought PHPAS, then decided I wanted to use it for TopFiveGames, so I had to get special permission to switch domains, and in the end it was like $50 down the drain, and I eventually set up Wordpress.

Feel free to go through the process yourself, here is a good starting point, and also a Forum you should get to know well:

<a href="http://www.talkarcades.com/scripts-software/" target="_blank">Talk Arcade - Scripts and Software</a>

<strong>Wordpress</strong>

Why Wordpress? Well as I forgot to mention Arcade Scripts are rarely updated. On the other hand, wordpress themes are constantly being updated as well as the plug-ins. If you don't end up liking your theme, you can easily change it, and still keep all of your files. You can try out plug-ins (rating games, SEO, etc.). Themes are original looking, go directly to <a href="http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/" target="_blank">Wordpress</a> for examples.

What is also so great about Wordpress, it's <strong>FREE! </strong>The themes, the plug-ins, everything. Though it would be nice to donate, after you have made some nice money.

Also the support, almost every theme has a site and a forum. And these are used a lot, and since wordpress is used by a lot more people than flash game portal owners, the forum is visited and questions are answered a lot quicker.

So what do I look for in a theme?

Originality, I look for a theme that looks cool to me (because I will be looking at it everyday) and looks different than other arcades out there (which isn't hard, since most look like the standard arcade script format.)

Also (which hinders future originality), I choose a theme that is very very popular, normally in the top 20. Because I know it is well made, and maintained with regular updates. Also the forum will be used by a lot more people, and thus more help for little changes I want to make. And there will be a lot of little changes you will need help on. This also goes for arcade scripts, but you will be waiting for ever for help and it may not be very helpful.

I say this all as an impatient person, I want my site Now! I use wordpress, I don't like the theme because I chose it too quickly, I can always choose another without starting completely over.

<a href="http://www.emanueleferonato.com/2009/06/19/triqui-mochiads-arcade-plugin-for-wordpress-released/" target="_blank">Emanuele Feronato</a> has made a theme for arcades as well as a plug-in for mochi game feed.

So, now that you have hopefully chosen the free route, you will be able to continue using my tutorials on arcade creation.

Part 3, you spent no more money hopefully, and thus are still only about $16 in the hole, good job.

My next tutorial will be free as well :)

<a href="http://topfiveblog.com/how-to-make-your-own-flash-game-portal-part4/" target="_self">How to make your own flash game portal: Part 4 - Setting up your first wordpress arcade.</a>

Saturday, August 1, 2009

How to make your own flash game portal: Part 2 - Hosting Plan


So you have got your domain name and are now ready to think about hosting?

If you purchased your domain at godaddy.com you are now -$7.14

Now godaddy and most places you buy a domain offer free hosting. There is always a catch, they will advertise the hell out of the banner spot. Do you really want to advertise for godaddy on your site? Hopefully, once you get your arcade going the cheap $10 it costs to host your site monthly will be nothing compared to the amount of adsense revenue you are making. Also when you put up your own ads you get to choose the location, and thus can take the users focus back to your domain name on top and not go daddy. <!--more-->

Also people take your site more seriously, if they don't see a sparkling godaddy banner on the top. Honestly, when I first started <a href="http://hoodamath.com" target="_blank">hoodamath.com</a>, I used go daddy's free hosting, but then I wasn't concerned about revenue. I thought I was just going to be hosting games for my students. Read about<a href="http://www.emanueleferonato.com/2009/06/01/case-history-creating-a-succesful-niche-flash-arcade-site/" target="_blank"> the Hooda Math story</a> on Emanuele Feronato's blog.

I eventually did start using GoDaddy Hosting Paid Plan. It was good for about a few months, and most importantly convenient and easy to use. GoDaddy has great customer service, but they aren't the only ones. After about 6 months, my site had grown tremendously and the traffic was too much for my godaddy plan. Apparently they have a limit on the bites downloaded from your site. I noticed my games were taking longer to load everywhere = lost in users.

What did I do? I started searching for a new hosting plan. Not google searching but reading blogs and forums. I kept seeing <a href=" http://secure.hostgator.com/cgi-bin/affiliates/clickthru.cgi?id=mikeedla" target="_blank">Host Gator</a>. I was hesitant until I saw they had a money back guarantee. I am a sucker for a money back guarantee. Anyways I figured I would try them out, anything was better than my games not loading. <a href=" http://secure.hostgator.com/cgi-bin/affiliates/clickthru.cgi?id=mikeedla" target="_blank">Host Gator</a> offers unlimited space and unlimited downloads. If you read around, old posts talk about how <a href="http://secure.hostgator.com/cgi-bin/affiliates/clickthru.cgi?id=mikeedla" target="_blank">Host Gator</a> does not allow Arcades to be hosted there. It is no longer true, now they encourage it. Arcades use up a lot of byte transfers and thus you want a plan that has unlimited byte transfers.

<a href=" shttp://secure.hostgator.com/cgi-bin/affiliates/clickthru.cgi?id=mikeedla" target="_blank">Host Gator</a> has 3 main web hosting plans. The first plan starts at $4.95 a month (probably with a year contract) so it might be some change more, but still not bad, for unlimited disk space and unlimited bandwidth. I chose the 2nd plan that advertises as $7.95, but I'm paying $9.95, I probably should sign up for a year contract one of these days. The biggest advantage of the 2nd plan is that you also get unlimited domains. Thus I can host all of my websites for only $9.95 a month, this helps when you are starting up your 2nd arcade and don't want to pay for another hosting plan for a site making no money, then you can just piggy back of your successful arcade.

YIKES, I was way off, it actually costs $8.95 for the smallest plan, but $6.95 if you sign up for a year, and only $4.95 if you sign up for 3 years, who knows if you even want to run an arcade in 3 years?d

The key thing to remember is that <a href="http://secure.hostgator.com/cgi-bin/affiliates/clickthru.cgi?id=mikeedla" target="_blank">Host Gator</a> has unlimited disk space and unlimited bandwidth and is still cheaper than GoDaddy hosting. Also, they transfered my files over from GoDaddy for me, I'm not sure if they still offer that.

I will try to update this blog with other options as I learn about them, but a lot of arcades are using <a href="http://secure.hostgator.com/cgi-bin/affiliates/clickthru.cgi?id=mikeedla" target="_blank">Host Gator</a>. So feel safe in knowing that.

By the way, assuming you are paying monthly for the cheapest plan, you are now -$17.90, not much to pay for your own arcade, and no landlord to deal with. In all honesty, since we are suppose to be following my new arcade: <a href="http://swaggames.com" target="_blank">Swag Games</a>, I actually just added it on to my hoodamath account, so it was free. Something for you to look forward to down the road, trying out new arcades for only the cost of buying a domain name.

What's Next? <a href="http://topfiveblog.com/how-to-make-your-own-flash-game-portal-part3/" target="_self">How to make your own flash game portal: Part 3 - Arcade Script vs. Wordpress</a>

In the mean time, throw some money my way by purchasing your hosting plan via the ad below:

<a href="http://secure.hostgator.com/cgi-bin/affiliates/clickthru.cgi?id=mikeedla" target="_blank"><img title="HostGatorbanner468x68" src="http://mikeedla.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/HostGatorbanner468x68.gif" alt="HostGatorbanner468x68" width="468" height="68" /></a>

Thursday, July 30, 2009

How to make your own flash game portal: Part 1 - Domain Name


The first thing I do is come up with a name. This is the fun part and maybe the hardest part. For years I wanted to make a site of some sort and always believed OO was key to the web (i.e. yahOO, and gOOgle). Do you think this is a coincidence? Most people do, but recently I was reading a book on American Breweries and it talked about beer names during prohibition. All of the near beers ended with an -O, so maybe there is some kind of marketing behind.

Well back to my point. My first game portal was <a href="http://hoodamath.com" target="_blank">HoodaMath.com</a>. I basically searched baby names for OO, and came across hooda. The math part was easy b/c I'm a math teacher and my site hosts math games, math movies, and math tutorials.

Now, it is easy to get addicted to buying domain names, and you only need one. To me part of the creative process is having "light bulbs" and buying a domain, only to change my mind and buy another one later, but atleast I own the domain for a year. Like <a href="http://topfivegames.com" target="_blank">TopFiveGames.com</a>, I bought that in February, and am now just starting to work on it.

Lets see this summer, I bought this blog topfiveblog.com to be a sister site to topfivegames.com, we'll get into why you might want to have a sister site for SEO in a future post. I also bought <a href="http://swaggames.com" target="_blank">SwagGames.com</a>.<!--more-->

So where do you buy domains? Lots of places, just google search for it. Where do I buy domains? GoDaddy.com STOP!!! Don't type that in. Search for it on google, and then click on the GoDaddy ad that says $6 or $7. Everytime I buy a new domain, I do that first, and GoDaddy lets you do this each time. If you go directly to the site you end up paying $10, and for an DBA (Domain Buying Addict) like me, every dollar counts.

<a href="http://topfivegames.com" target="_blank">TopFiveGames.com</a> is this blogs sister site, and a place for you to upload your top five games, once you get your site going, and hopefully can afford to sponsor or make your own games.

This blog will follow the progress of <a href="http://swaggames.com" target="_blank">SwagGames.com</a>, because I just started it yesterday, and already I'm behind in keeping up with these tutorial posts.

In keeping with the theme of this post, how did I come up with the name SwagGames.com. Hmmm, did I use google trends? which can give you some ideas. Did I browse other blogs for keywords? Did I use a thesaurus to look up alternatives for keywords? Did I go back to google trends to check the value of the keywords? Did I google search for the name Swag Games? [yes, but I should have chosen a different name, since now I have to compete with addictinggames for the top placement of google search: Swag Games] Did I use urban dictionary? Did I randomly browse?

<strong>Answer</strong>: All of the above, plus more.

Actually, I some how came across a new site PencilKids.com and it reminded me of my Junior Highers and there club called Swaga Kids, and then I used Urban Dictionary, decided on Swag rather than Swaga, and then chose games rather than kids, again for SEO purposes.

Conclusion, I hope you understand there is a lot of factors in buying a domain name, but the most important one is don't hesitate, it is only $7, and you can always buy another one. (learn from me I hesitated and lost HoodaGames.com, whoops)

See you on the next post, Hosting!!! (sneak peak: if you buy your domain at GoDaddy, you can host for free, though I'm sure a lot of the dealers offer that)

<a href="http://topfiveblog.com/how-to-make-your-own-flash-game-portal-part2/" target="_self">How to make your own flash game portal: Part 2</a>

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Where to find free music and free sound effects for your Flash Games


I just wanted to throw out some sites I use when I need free music:

<a href="http://www.freesound.org" target="_blank">www.freesound.org</a> - you need to register, but has a bunch of good sound effects.

<a href="http://free-loops.com" target="_blank">free-loops.com</a> - no need to register, and good music to use, and explains Creative Commons

And last but not least if you are willing to wait for a response, many audio creators will let you use their music at <a href="http://www.newgrounds.com/audio/" target="_blank">NewGrounds</a>.