Sometimes you get what you ask for

On my gaming blog, Gameblaster64, in September of 2012 I wrote an article complaining about the lack of risk-taking by Nintendo with regards to games on the Wii U. At that time, the console’s game library was almost entirely movie licenses and Just Dance clones. I gave two examples that came to my head as the type of games I’d love to play but thought Nintendo wouldn’t have the balls to make. Here’s my second idea (the first being a worldwide Animal Crossing game):

Platformer U
Think of the music sequencer from Mario Paint except you build a platformer instead of a song. Hundreds of assets are included (and some sold in DLC packs on the Wii U store) including the ability to place classic Mario characters and items in your levels. Share said levels with your friends and everyone online.

I thought Nintendo would never allow the public to use Nintendo assets for their own games, even in a limited fashion, as it would require them to give up control. Imagine my surprise when I read this article about Super Mario Maker on Wikipedia today:

The game was first announced at Electronic Entertainment Expo 2014 with the name Mario Maker. The game was originally conceived as a tool by Nintendo’s internal development team, to be used only within the company. The team, however, quickly realized the tool’s potential as a game and pitched the idea to senior game designer Takashi Tezuka. Meanwhile, Tezuka had been wanting to make a Wii U followup to Mario Paint that utilizes the Wii U GamePad.

Sometimes, you get what you ask for.

Moving a site from Drupal 7 to WordPress

I’m in the process of moving my videogaming blog, GameBlaster64, over to WordPress. The most recent security vulnerability with Drupal coupled with the fact that core updates must still be done manually has pushed me to head in that direction. Drupal has always been a lot more work than WordPress and I didn’t really need all the extra functionality anyway.

In under a month, GameBlaster64 will be 4 years old. There are hundreds of posts, thousands of pages, and tons of images. It’s going to be 301 redirect galore. To help with this, I wrote a small PHP script to grab the URLs of the taxonomies and articles I’ve been writing. It uses WordPress functions to import blog posts, along with their attached tags from the Drupal 7 database.

Here is my script. If you’re moving from Drupal 7 to WordPress, you’ll hopefully find it useful.

An experiment in front page design

My gaming site and gaming persona, GameBlaster64, has been online for just over 3 years. In that time, the front page has never changed in any significant way. It’s still a blog layout, much like this one. Given that it’s more of a videogame review/preview/opinion site combined with a sort of wiki archive, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to have it this way.

So, tonight, I changed it.

GameBlaster64 Front Page
The New Layout

Instead of articles listed in chronological order with full bodies, only the 9 most recent article titles + one thumbnail each will be displayed, with no pagination, in a grid. People who go to the front page of a site aren’t interested at all in articles that are months old, so why bother offering pagination? They want to see, immediately, what’s new and what’s changed since the last time they hit the site (if they don’t already subscribe to the RSS).

The content on the site is categorized by taxonomy, aka tags, so users who want to look at, say, all the articles on Minecraft, are totally free to do that. The taxonomy pages are laid out just like the front page, except with pagination, since those folks are probably looking for an article in particular or just want to read from A-Z. The most popular taxonomy tags and posts are available in the header.

The only other site I can think of that eschews pagination on the front page in favor of a grid layout is Google News.

Hopefully my users will like it!

Some web traffic data for my part-time video game blog

When I first started making websites, I went looking for web traffic data for other people’s websites in an attempt to set a sort of realistic goal post. I wanted to know: what sort of traffic is realistic for a site that’s just starting out? How will I know if the site is successful or popular? Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of information available. So, for those that come after me, here’s what my video game site, GameBlaster64, has looked like traffic-wise since day one (January 20, 2011).

Traffic for gameblaster64
Click/tap for larger image

My site is not entirely popular, but it’s not barren, either. I post sporadically, maybe once every week on average. The content quality is good, though: all of the posts are original articles, not found anywhere else on the web. I’m always on-topic and share my posts on Facebook, Twitter, G+, and Stumbleupon. I don’t pay for traffic. All of this is organic.

Looking at the data, I find it interesting that although I have hundreds of articles, the ones about popular or trendy topics are right at the top of the popularity chart. Though it’s only one data point, my site’s traffic data seems to support the notion that following trends returns greater interest than long-tail but focused content, i.e., writing things about Minecraft is more popular than covering older/indie/non-mainstream titles or news, even if the latter is much more numerous in post count.

I do run ads from Google AdSense and make some money from Amazon affiliate links, but it’s not enough to quit my day job. Not even close. Still, it pays for our Minecraft server, which is professionally hosted in NYC by the amazing people at Nuclear Fallout. And, I get enjoyment from the creative outlet, covering the industry I love.