WordPress vs Ghost, who wins?

I had tried out WordPress years ago (think mid 2000’s), and thought it was clunky and somewhat difficult to use. Therefore when starting the blog for SIMMER, I decided I wanted to try something different.

After some research I found a blogging tool called Ghost. I really liked that it supported markdown and HTML directly, and was also a fan of the server running on node.js vs instead of PHP.

I’m not one to get in huge wars about programming languages, but but in my experience PHP is slow and difficult to develop and debug. Node.js is the future. Additionally, a 15 year old codebase like WordPress is bound to be a little rough and inefficient.

So, I tried out Ghost on their official website — where they provide the actual hosting service. The price was a little steep 29/mo but I wasn’t too deterred because having a fully managed service (upgrades, support, etc) was worth it to me.

But I ran into a pretty big snag with their trial–the biggest problem is that, with a custom domain (blog.simmer.io) I wanted to use HTTPS. Their guide suggested that I put my entire site behind a cloudflare CDN. I tried this but it did damage to my other subdomains–so I had to back that out. I contacted Ghost support and they said there was no way to do SSL without Cloudflare.

OK, so there was no way to do SSL with their managed service. But, since Ghost is open source, you can self host it. But I wanted at least a semi-prebuilt solution. So I headed over to Digitalocean which offers a preset installation of Ghost on one of their “droplet” servers.

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This process wasn’t too bad. And eventually I was able to set up all my DNS servers to point to the correct server.

A few months later, I went to upgrade Ghost, and this was a far more difficult process. I managed to get my server hosed pretty bad and I had to call in the big guns (a technical director that I used to work with) to get everything back. I was almost certain everything had been deleted. It ended up being a permissions issue, but it was pretty infuriating and killed a day.

So I had been using Ghost for 8-10 months, somewhat happily. I liked editing articles in Markdown format, but one nitpick was that, for workflow reasons, I like to take screenshots to the copy buffer, and paste images directly into the article that I’m writing.

Additionally, while I thought that I liked writing in Markdown, I did find that it sometimes ruined my flow of thinking when I was trying to remember a command rather than simply typing out a thought.

At that point, the admin panel reminded me that I needed to update again. Ugh, I didn’t want to go through the hassle and pain of the upgrade process.

Additionally, I had been watching a great course on online marketing that highly recommended using WordPress as your CMS / blogging tool of choice. The reasoning was that, there are thousands and thousands of plugins for WordPress built specifically for marketers. And literally 31% of all websites–all websites on the internet run WordPress.

So after a little bit of comparison I decided to use siteground. I like that they automatically update WordPress for you and that they support let’s encrypt SSL.

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So far the going has been a little bit rocky with the migration. My major challenge (again) is getting SSL up and running properly. Siteground’s chat support has been pretty solid, but I still don’t have this 100% figured out.

Anyway, so far I’m enjoying using WordPress, and I’m excited about the additional plugins and flexibility that it will offer me over Ghost.

Free Responsive WebGL Template

The default Unity WebGL templates are a good starting place for web games, but they only run at a fixed width and height!

With the SIMMER.io Responsive WebGL template, you can export your game so that it fits optimally in the entire browser window. If the user resizes the browser window, the Unity WebGL canvas automatically gets resized. The template also maintains the aspect ratio of your game, and adds letterboxes where appropriate.

How To

After importing this package, go into Player Settings (edit -> project settings -> player).

playerSettings-1

Go to the HTML5 player settings (shown in pink above) and then select the "Responsive" template (shown in green above).

Next, do a normal WebGL export. (file -> build settings). Add the appropriate scenes to the build, and click "Build and Run"

buildSettings

Give your build a name, and you should be up and running!

Modifying the Template

If you need to change anything in the template, you can edit WebGLTemplates/Responsive/index.html. Specifically, you may want to remove the small SIMMER.io backlink:

<div class="simmer">template by: <a href="https://simmer.io" target="_blank">SIMMER.io</a></div>

Obviously I would love it if you keep that link in your deployed build, but it’s definitely not a requirement :-).

About SIMMER.io

SIMMER.io is the simplest place for Unity developers to share their games on the Web.

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I created some scripts for the site that do some magic to resize the unity canvas for the site, and I thought I’d share them with the community–so I built this asset!

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Anyway, if you want to try sharing a game on SIMMER, simply make a WebGL build, and drag the build folder onto the upload page. Note that this "Responsive Template" is not required–a WebGL build with the default template works just fine.

Support

If you need help or have suggestions, you can reach me at: https://simmer.io/support

Like or follow SIMMER:

It really makes a big difference!
https://www.facebook.com/SIMMERdotIO/
https://twitter.com/simmer_io

Thanks!
Rocco 🙂

Share your Global Game Jam Games!

Global Game Jame is coming up, January 26 – January 28, 2018! GGJ is a game jam that occurs at sites all over the world, where developers just like you get together to build a game in 48 hours. It’s an awesome concept, and it occurs at nearly 500 sites across the world.

Last year I noticed that so many game developers were building cool stuff, but not sharing their work, so I built SIMMER, a site that makes sharing WebGL games as SIMPLE as possible.

Here’s what it looks like to share a Unity WebGL build:

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It’s easy! Click the upload now button below to try it!
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No Fuss:

There is very little fuss associated with sharing your game on SIMMER, but don’t take our word for it, check out what early users are saying:

Technically your site is great, you have a big competitive advantage compared with Wooglie and Kongregate as uploading builds is extremely easy compared with the other two.

I think this platform is going to be awesome man, it’s a lot more convenient for small things than the other platforms out there, I will definitely be avidly using it!

Just Do It, Get Noticed!

The biggest mistake you can make as a game developer is to not share your work early and often :-). Game development has become very, ehem, crowded. One great way to start building an audience is to get your work out as soon as possible, and SIMMER can help you share your GGJ game directly to the web (with zero friction!). We also help with the discovery aspect–once a game is on our site people are likely to find it via our "More Games" panel on the right side.

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I personally got my start in the game development industry at age 14 when I shared a game called Arcade Superpack to the AOL Games channel. (Remember AOL?). My game got over 50,000 downloads and it jumpstarted my games career, where I worked on games in popular franchises such as The Sims, Rock Band, and Mortal Kombat.

superpack

The simple truth is, the more you put yourself out there, the better chance you have of getting noticed.

Without further ado, I invite you to upload your Global Game Jam game today!

Introducing IO Games!

Just a quick site update! We’re adding externally hosted "IO Games" to our lineup here on SIMMER–starting today!

IO games get their name from the IO domain name. Popular IO games include Slither.io, Frogar.io, and Agar.io. IO Games are generally multiplayer, and many of the games have a common theme of "growing" or scaling your character or territory.

That means that in addition to being a free hosting and discovery service for Unity WebGL games, SIMMER is also becoming a portal for games hosted elsewhere.

Soon, anyone will be able to share their externally-hosted games on SIMMER. I’ve built out most of the system for this, and I’m using it internally for the next few days to iron out any kinks.

Here’s what it looks like:

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If you’re interested, I need some help with testing out the feature. Shoot me an email at rocco@simmer.io if you have an IO game to list, or want to help build the index of existing IO games.

Just in case I forget to update this article when I roll out the feature to everyone, the link to be able to share games via URL will be located at https://simmer.io/upload.

Sell More Unity Asset Store Items By Sharing WebGL Builds

Sharing a WebGL demo of your game or asset lets people preview what they’re buying before taking the plunge. Creators see a 67.33% increase in downloads when sharing builds to the web.

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OK, I totally just made number up, as Unity doesn’t share asset sales figures :-). But before building SIMMER, I randomly emailed a few asset store creators to learn about their experience with WebGL.

One creator, who’s prolific on the store, Justin Garza started out without any WebGL demos. In my interview with him, he told me that sharing WebGL demos substantially improved his sales.

I talked with another developer, Deck of Dev, who had some assets with WebGL demos, and some without. The team told me that the assets with WebGL demos did substantially better on the store.

SEO

Search Engine Optimization is the process of gaining higher ranking on search engines like Google. These engines all work similarly to rank search results.

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They look for quality and quantity of backlinks to a particular page. So if somebody searches for "crossy road clone unity asset store", and there are five Crossy Road clones available, your asset page would likely rank higher than the other four if you had high quality backlinks from sites like the one I run.

Discoverability

One of my core goals with SIMMER is to help people find the great games and assets. I’ve designed the site very much like YouTube. The main game is shown on the majority of the screen, and suggested games and assets are listed on the right hand column.

Cursor_and_Mutant_Snake___SIMMER_io_--

That means that anyone visiting SIMMER has a chance to stumble upon your asset–and possibly make a purchase.

Honestly, our system for showing suggested content is pretty rudimentary right now, but I’ve been looking at the latest recommendation algorithms from Netflix and Microsoft to improve this.

About this site

SIMMER is a website for sharing WebGL games built with the Unity Game Engine. The site is mostly for games, but it’s also great for sharing demos of your assets from the Unity Asset Store.

This can help improve sales and discoverability of your assets.

A Quick Intro

For those of you not familiar with the site, sharing a build of your asset is a piece of cake–substantially easier than other indy games sites.

  1. Make a WebGL build of your Asset
  2. Drag your build folder onto our upload page.

SIMMER Example

After uploading you provide a brief description and backlink to your asset:

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Who’s using it?

Check out our "Unity Asset Store" page to see demos of other assets.

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Give it a shot

Uploading to SIMMER is truly drag and drop, and SIMMER has a whole host of features that set it apart from other indy-games sites. Upload a demo of your asset today!

Share WebGL games on Kickstarter with SIMMER.io

Why share a video on Kickstarter when you can share a playable game demo? Today, I’m excited to announce that SIMMER.io is the only way for your audience to play your game LIVE on Kickstarter.

And did I mention it’s free?

A quick intro

SIMMER is a place for sharing WebGL games created with the Unity Game engine. Uploading is as simple as exporting a WebGL build and dragging that build to a dropzone:

SIMMER Example

If you have something great to share, hop on over to our upload page to add your game.

Add your demo to Kickstarter

Once your game is up on SIMMER, it looks like this:

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Over on your Kickstarter page, click "Add a video"

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In the case of the above game, the url is https://simmer.io/@Nannings/mutant-snake. Paste that in the URL field of the "Add a Video" dialog.

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When you launch your Kickstarter campaign, your audience can play a live demo without ever leaving your pledge page:

ScreenFlow

Stand out from the pack

With SIMMER.io’s Kickstarter embed feature, your game can stand head and shoulders above the crowd. A live demo can give your game a critical boost and increase your likelyhood of funding success!

A Milestone: Too much content for the front page!

I launched SIMMER beta version in early September, and developers have been loving the ease of sharing their Unity games on the site!

People are using the site for their classwork, to share assets on the Unity Asset store, and to share games that they’ve built for places like Ludum Dare and Global Game Jam.

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I’m pleased to announce today that there’s officially too much great content to share only on the front page.

Therefore, I’ve gone ahead and built out seperate pages for "founders club", "tutorials and tech demos", and "unity asset store" projects. There will be more categories, as well as filtering and search coming soon!

Look for the new buttons at the bottom of each section:
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I’m super excited that the site has started to gain some traction, but I know that I can’t do it alone. It’s all you awesome game developers that are making the site a hit!

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter to hear updates about all the latest indy games and developers that join the site.

Upload your game today to become part of SIMMER history ;-).

Put WebGL Builds on Patreon with SIMMER.io

We’ve built an integration with Patreon so that you can embed WebGL builds of your Unity game to share with your supporters.

First, upload your Unity WebGL build to SIMMER using the standard method.

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Once your game is up, hop on over to Patreon, and create a new post:

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Choose "Video" as your post type.
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Paste the URL of your game as the "video" URL (eg. https://simmer.io/@TheRoccoB/flappy-bird-style)

flappy

Finish writing your post, and click publish. Here’s the result:

Unlisted on SIMMER

While we definitely prefer that you share your game publically on SIMMER, we realize that you might want to give your audience exclusive access to the content on Patreon. All uploads to SIMMER are unlisted until you make them "public".

Unlisted games usually have a gnarly URL like this:
https://simmer.io/@TheRoccoB/~d2e5563e-dcbd-9783-e1bc-afd8a43bc2b3

You can paste the "private" link into Patreon too. Full disclosure: it would be possible for someone to leak that URL by viewing the source code on Patreon.

That’s it!

Sharing in-progress builds is a great way to connect with your audience on Patreon (and earn more patrons)! Go to https://simmer.io/upload today to share your latest creation.

How to Embed a Unity Game on Any Website

Embedding a WebGL game onto your website has never been simpler! If you’ve ever embedded a YouTube video, you can do it. You only need basic HTML skills.

Example

For example, here’s an game embedded directly on our blog. Click the play button to try it!

1) Build your game for WebGL

Check out this quick tutorial about how to build your game for the web if you don’t already know how to do it.

For this example, let’s assume that we’ve named our build "WebGLBuild".

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2) Upload your game to the web

Go to https://simmer.io/upload and sign up for a free account if you don’t already have one.

Drag your "WebGLBuild" folder onto the drop area.d4e4qeqogxrz
You don’t need to zip the folder or change anything.

Once you upload and save, fill out some simple information about the build, and select a screenshot to continue.

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3) Embed the game on your website.

Your game is now on the web! The final step is to embed it on your page.

Click embed:
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Then copy the code to your clipboard.

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Paste the <iframe... embed code into your site’s HTML code.

You can also modify width and height in the style attribute if you want your game to display at a different size.

Pro tip: If you want the game to autoplay without requiring a click, add the following code to the url attribute of the iframe &autoplay=true.

Here’s a codepen example if you’d like to play around with it:

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Join dozens of other early adopters using SIMMER to embed games on their own website. Don’t delay, embed today!

Still working on your game? Stay tuned here.

How to Build a Unity Game for the Web as WebGL

Building a Unity3D game for the web is simple! Once you build a game as WebGL, you can play it directly in your web browser.

In this article I’ll also show you how to upload it to the web with ease.

1200px-WebGL_Logo.svg

A Fractal Example

For this example I’ll use a 3D fractal from a Catlike Coding tutorial. You can download the unitypackage file from that tutorial and import it into Unity if you want to follow along.
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First, open up the scene file and click "Play" to make sure the asset is correctly running.

Build your game for the web

File -> Build Settings
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Select the WebGL platform and add any scenes needed for the game. Build & Run.

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Optionally you can click the "Player Settings" button if you want to change options like the width & height of your Unity export. For this example I’ll leave those settings alone.

Once you’ve clicked "Build & Run", give your build a name. I chose "CatlikeWebGLBuild".
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Grab a cup of coffee.
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Boom! Your Unity WebGL game is now running in the browser.
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Upload your game to the web

Go to https://simmer.io/upload and sign up for a free account if you don’t already have one.

Drag your "WebGLBuild" folder onto the drop area.d4e4qeqogxrz

Live Example

Here’s an example of the completed Unity WebGL demo. Click the play button to see a live demo:

Want to see how we embedded the above example on this blog? Check out Part II: How to Embed your Game on any Website