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Old 03-14-2005, 01:40 PM   #1
Sanvean
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We're gearing up for a revamp for our site and I'm looking around to find a company that can handle what we want - a redesign of the front page's look and organization and overall look of the site, and producing templates for the several different types of web documents we have so they have a coherent feel.  I was wondering if other MUD admins had used professional services and if so, if they have any they would recommend.  

While there are plenty of volunteers among our staff and players, I'd like to find someone who is trained in design, does this professionally, understands the nuances of information organization, can show me some samples of their work and who won't mind reworking the design until we're happy with it.  If you want to post here, it might be a usefult thread for other admins, or if the info's sensitive in some way (I.e. "whatever you do, don't work with Company X"), please drop me e-mail at sanvean@armageddon.org
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Old 03-15-2005, 06:54 PM   #2
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Well, the only professional web developer I've known well enough to recommend is the owner and designer of www.wotmania.com (an extremely popular Wheel of Time/Other Fantasy site), from which you can get a good idea of his style. Nothing particularly flashy or artistic, but clean and friendly-looking. Except for the chat, the entire design and code of the site, forums, features, etc. is his work.

I don't think he's very familiar with text mudding, though, if that's a concern to you. And he's currently working on his doctorate in Telecommunications, so it could be he's concentrating on that full time.
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Old 03-16-2005, 05:38 PM   #3
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I am interested in this as well - so if you can, please make sure to post the info here. Also - how should one expect to spend on this kind of endevour. I've looked around and see prices fluctuate greatly. Is there a good "base price" to shoot for?
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Old 03-17-2005, 04:25 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Lanthum @ Mar. 16 2005,16:38)
I am interested in this as well - so if you can, please make sure to post the info here.  Also - how should one expect to spend on this kind of endevour.  I've looked around and see prices fluctuate greatly.  Is there a good "base price" to shoot for?
It's pretty variable. Each of our websites (check my .sig) was designed, minus the text content, for between $2500 and $4000. A big corporate web design firm would charge far more. We use a contractor we found by posting a job listing on Craig's List and asking people to submit prototypes for the first website we wanted done. A lot of web designers bitched about that and said we were just looking for free work, but whatever. We chose a guy in the end whose design we liked the best, and then had him do a completely different design for us. I'd refer you guys to him but we're keeping him busy right now and for the forseeable future.

The key is to really look around. If you are going to pay web designers to do it, you can find yourself a great deal by working with individuals rather than corporations and just treating them respectfully (paying on time, etc). Go on Craig's List or whatnot. There are a metric ton of web designers looking for independent contracting work.

--matt
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Old 03-17-2005, 10:35 PM   #5
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You may also want to confirm that you have the server facilities to support what you intend running on your website -

PHP/cgi-bin/ASP, MySQL, secure areas, upload directories and so on are fairly standard features, but it'd suck if you paid out US$4,000 only to find out your server can't run the pages you've paid for.  
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Old 03-18-2005, 04:30 AM   #6
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I doubt many of us can afford to shell out US$4,000 on a website, so that point is pretty moot anyway.
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Old 03-18-2005, 05:09 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Molly O'Hara @ Mar. 18 2005,02:30)
I doubt many of us can afford to shell out US$4,000 on a website, so that point is pretty moot anyway.
Well - I think it depends on what you are planning on doing with your game.  I am designing a game that I hope might bring in enough money to sustain itself over the long haul - so I could justify spending some money on a good website.  But, that was before some very recent (read - today) changes in my family's job structure.  So, we'll see what I can afford now.  

Another question - about what time in the game's design process should you have the game's website done?  I was originally thinking that it could help to have it sooner, because you would build enthusiasm with it.  But not sure if the early costs justify it.  What has everyone else found?
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Old 03-18-2005, 09:39 AM   #8
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Lanthum wrote; Mar. 18 2005,049
Quote:
Originally Posted by
Another question - about what time in the game's design process should you have the game's website done?
Isn’t the answer to that pretty obvious?

You want a WebPage at an early stage, because you want the world to know that your project exists.

On the other hand you don’t want to put a lot of money – or even work – into the design until you are reasonably sure that your project will fly. And if you are planning a P2P mud, I guess that would be when the game is up and running and fully operational, and has enough original features implemented to make it attractive to players.

So the most natural thing to do would be to start up with a rather simplistic, pure text page, where you present the essential facts about the game as it stands, and the plans and project you have for its development. Then you can also use that page to post about any updates being made to the code and zones, any major events, (such as opening for test-players, getting out of beta testing etc.). And you can also use it for tossing out ideas for the development, and getting input by discussing those with your development team and others.

Won’t cost you a cent, and it also has the advantage that without any graphics, the page will load very fast.
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Old 03-18-2005, 03:17 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Lanthum @ Mar. 18 2005,04:09)
Another question - about what time in the game's design process should you have the game's website done?  I was originally thinking that it could help to have it sooner, because you would build enthusiasm with it.  But not sure if the early costs justify it.  What has everyone else found?
Typically what you'd do for a commercial game is put up a teaser site possibly with forums once you're past the concept stage and are far enough into development that it's worth getting some people excited about what you're doing. Some nice eyecandy, some basic info about your game, but nothing particularly elaborate. Think of it as a brochureware site, optionally backed by forums.

If you release the site too soon you risk exciting potential players and then letting them down with the long delay between site release and your alpha or beta period. If you release the site too late, you miss out on the potential to build the excitement of your potential starting playerbase. Kind of a judgement call.

Whatever you do though, you do not want to release a crappy looking site. First impressions are hard to overcome.

--matt
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Old 03-27-2005, 01:38 AM   #10
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The guy currently working on our new site is great. I cannot recall the location of the sample work I'd seen, but you're welcome to contact him. He incorporates a lot of identity and branding strategy into his design, which looks like it will work out fantastically. His name is Eric Nowina and his email address is eric@nowina.com

Good Luck,

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Old 03-28-2005, 03:23 AM   #11
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I always recomend Dataworx Consulting Services(www.dataworxcs.com). I did my 1 year internship there, they're a great group, have some big names behind them, and so alot of smaller work aswell.
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