So You Want To Be A Webmaster Too?
Another look at creating your own gaming website
by Steve McGrew
So you want to start your own web site?
First things first. You're not going to make any money on the deal. Banner ads bring in a pittance and
probably won't cover your costs, let alone food and PC games. Don't expect to compete with Blue's News.
PlanetQuake has been around for over two years, has financial backing, GameSpy, an excellent team, and
just recently started getting out of the red ink.
The first thing you'll need is a reason. You just want to spout off? Everybody else has one? Ok, good
The next thing you'll need is web space. If your ISP doesn't provide it, you can get it from a service
like Tripod or Geocities. The plus side to a place like this is it's free. The down sides are a long URL,
poor tools, usually long load times, and often annoying banners.
It has been said that no one could ever have a successful site on Geocities. It has also been said that
the world is flat. Desiato and crash started their pages on Geocities, and went on to be hosted by game
page hosting services. Crash managed to help thousands of Quake players before closing down his page, and
Desiato's Spew has over 100 Real Audio shows.
What is a successful site? One you think is successful. If you get something back from it, whether it's fun
or the warm feeling you get from helping someone, you've succeeded.
More on success later.
Along with your web space, you'll need some content. Presumably, you have that lined up or you wouldn't be
thinking about launching a site.
The next thing you need is visitors - your content does little good if no one sees it! The first thing you
should do after posting is to take care of your meta tags, then visit the gaming search engines, and the
top fifteen general search engines and register your site. Next start a "links" page, link sites you think
your visitors will enjoy, and write the webmasters and let them know you've linked. Some will like your
site and link back.
In last week's article "So You Want To Be A Webmaster?", Fairuz Lokman stated "Gaming link sites [are]
Generally a no-no. If you're insistent, get your own domain name. And get a links database CGI script.
Remember that lots of links will be dead or unupdated. Try not to accept links from Geocities or Tripod
as their sites never come close to the bigger, better ones. The moment you have a single dead link, your
reputation is compromised."
A no-no? Why? Agreed, a page with nothing but links would be little visited, but it's your page, do what
you want. I would caution against GCI link scripts - you can only have quality links if you check them out
yourself. You don't want to link to Pete's W4r3z. Or maybe you do? You still want to check it out.
As far as Geocities and Tripod, granted, there is a lot of garbage there, but there is also a lot of garbage
with domain names. Don't chuck somebody's page just because it's on Geocities!
Doing it by yourself?
Fairuz Lokman said, "Doing this by yourself? Forget it. You'll need a whole team to get it up and working.
Maintaining such a website is a full-time job, not a hobby. Unless you have a REAL company or sponsor to
back you up, you're gonna end up wasting your time. You'll be up against publications that have been around
since the eighties, so think before making the leap."
I can't agree with this. Yes, the actual creation of a good site takes a lot of work, but so does perfecting
your backhand. Once the site is up, maintenance doesn't take that much work. If you spend your weekends playing
golf, are you wasting your time just because you can't beat Jack Nicholas?
"forget using a free website host like Xoom or Geocities You'll definitely need a domain name for this kind
of site since you'll be going up against some really big corporations."
In my experience, this is oft repeated nonsense. My site's URL used to be http://www2.famvid.com/mcgrew/quake/quake2.htm
(Flamethrower called it the "url from hell"). Its new url is http://fragfest.gameplex.net; easy to remember and type. But
your site won't be advertised on TV or the side of a bus, people will get there from Infoseek and Joe's Game Palace. My
visitor count hasn't gone up one bit since getting the new url.
"General Gaming Site - Reviews/Previews/Etc: Doing this by yourself? Forget it. You'll need a whole team to get
it up and working. Maintaining such a website is a full-time job, not a hobby..."
Again, look at my site. Other webmasters linking to it often mention its huge store of content. I'm just one guy,
and it's just a hobby. It's "Quake only", but could easily be expanded to cover all sorts of FPSs.
Success is in the eye of the beholder
What is a successful site? Yours, if you get enjoyment from making and maintaining it. Mine only has an
average of 1000 visitors per week, but I consider it a success. I've had a ton of fun with it and become
somewhat known in the Quake and gaming communities. The biggest success was last December, when an email
came with a technical question and the statement "if you could fix this it would make my Christmas"- and
I had the answer.
So you want to start your site? Do it! You have absolutely nothing to lose, and everything except cash to
-- Steve McGrew
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