July 30, 2007

Downloadable Game Page

The first version of my downloadable game page is now up at trazoi.net/games. It’s also on the nav bar for easy access. Currently it’s rather spartan and there’s only two games available (Brixtar, and Pierre and the Fish) - I’ll need to fill that out soon with more info and preferably more games!

I spent a while studying the WordPress help pages to figure out the best way to put in something like an archive of downloadable games. In the end though I just tinkered around with pages to get something done. I’m hoping it’s globablly workable; please tell me if something isn’t working right.

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July 25, 2007

Today: IE fixes, Lunch

I made a few tweaks to the CSS, and it now seems to be working in Internet Explorer (at least for version 7). The functionality isn’t quite the same but at least the nav bar is usable now. I’d be grateful if IE users could mention if anything is amiss.

I also met my first GameDev.net member face to face today, when I had lunch today with “Avatar God”. I can vouch that he’s still alive and well. Tomorrow he’ll be heading over to Melbourne for a few days if anyone wants to keep an eye out for him.

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July 24, 2007

A fresh coat of CSS

As you can see if you’re reading this, I’ve moved the journal to the front page. It seemed to make sense given that currently it’s the only thing here. I’m still up in the air about whether I’ll keep this here or move it into a subdirectory once I put some more content in the site, although I’d like to keep news postings and major updates on the main page if possible.

You have also probably realised that I’ve put in a fresh coat of CSS. After an intense amount of tweaking, I’ve finally got the basics of a journal-style CSS theme up to a presentable level. It’s still not perfect; I’m still playing around with colours, and there’s some glitches with Internet Explorer that I haven’t tracked down yet (seems works fine in Firefox, Opera and Safari, however).

I’ve also installed two plugins that will be a great boon in the future. The first is the Semiologic theme for WordPress. This is a fantastic theme that adds in a lot of functionality to extend WordPress from a piece of blogging software to something more. Although I haven’t yet dug fully into it’s capabilities the amount of tweaking it allows from the dashboard is extensive. It’s great if you don’t want to spend ages mucking about with PHP to do minor changes.

The second is Democracy, a plugin that allows you to run simple Internet polls which you can see on the side of the site. I’ve been wanting have a poll in my GameDev.net journal for ages, because they’re great tools for getting feedback or just having a bit of fun. And now I can. Currently I’m just playing around with them, much like I am with the rest of the functionality here, but eventually I’d start using them for development related purposes.

I’ll continue to add more to this site this week. I hope to get things up to a good baseline by the weekend so I can start posting more on the website than just details about the website.

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July 20, 2007

Choosing the right tool for the job

After trialling out Joomla! and Drupal over on their test pages and reading through miles of documentation and comments on various CMS systems, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s probably best if I just use WordPress for my site.

My reasoning is that I just don’t need the full power of a total CMS system. All I really require is some blogging software to post progress, with some static pages for things like articles and game pages (possibly with commenting). WordPress will easily allow me to do all that.

Furthermore, there’s the whole time issue. If I have to choose between spending my time managing a website, or actually doing something worthy to post about on the website, I’d choose the later. From the looks of the more advanced CMS systems I reckon it would take me weeks to get them properly set up, and that’s time I can’t really afford right now.

I’ll start crafting the new site on the weekend. My current inclination is to make the journal itself the front page (since that’s what a regular visitor will be wanting to see), so the location of this journal may change.

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July 19, 2007

WordPress or Joomla! or Drupal?

The more I read about CMSes (Content Management Systems), the more confusing the options become. There are a number of powerful CMS systems out there, each with their adherents and detractors, and choosing the right one for the site will involve some research.

From my studies, I figure there are three feasible CMS systems, WordPress, Joomla! and Drupal. Here’s my current take on their pros and cons (please correct me if you feel I’m mistaken; I’m a total newbie at this):


WordPress is designed as a blogging tool, and the consensus is that in this area it really shines. It’s a snap to set up (especially on DreamHost). It’s probably the easiest of the three to get running and learn how to work with. It’s also very easy to configure the look and feel, and there are many plugins.

The main downside is that, as a blogging tool, it’s not really meant for CMS although it can be extended to do so. However I may eventually hit a wall if I strain it too much.


As a CMS system, Joomla! has a lot more functionality than WordPress. It’s also easy to set up under DreamHost, but will take a fair bit longer to get running. However it has a lot more capability to be extended. I’d also need to install a fair number of plugins to get the functionality I need; I’m not sure if blogging comes in the base install, for example.


My understanding is that Drupal is even more powerful than Joomla! I know it’s used in a lot of high-powered applications. However it does not have a “one-click install” function under DreamHost, so it’s a lot harder to install. However I’ve read it’s probably the hardest of the three to learn to use and configure. I’ve also read some negative comments about the amount of resources it uses, which is an issue on a shared account at a hosting company. I need to look into Drupal a bit further to figure out what it is capable of.

I’m very undecided about what is best. I’m leaning towards WordPress or Joomla! purely for the ease of installation. I really don’t want to have to spend months learning the intricacies of PHP and SQL to use my website; I’ve got far, far too much on my plate already! WordPress has the advantage that it’s already got the blogging commenting built in, which is mostly what I want for my journal and articles. Joomla! however is more feature rich.

For you more web savvy people out there, what do you recommend?

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Plans for WordPress

For the next couple of days I will duplicate journal entries at both my trazoi.net journal and over at GameDev.net. On the weekend I’m going to try and expand my website, and there’s a fair to middling chance I might accidentally lose the contents of my WordPress blog; not a big loss seeing how it’s new, but worthy of mention. I’ll try best to keep the database intact but due to my unfamiliarity with WordPress there’s always the risk of data loss.

I’ve starting making plans for the changes I need to implement with the site. After reading through a lot on WordPress I’m thinking it might be best to base the whole site through the WordPress system. Given the journal is going to be the thing that changes the most it would be best to signify updates on the main page, and since I’d like the main page and the journal to look similar it appears to make sense to just use for the WordPress the whole thing. I’ve had a look at a few people’s web sites done in WordPress; Dan Marchart a.k.a. “Obscure” has a nice one over at www.obscure.co.uk; and I think it will do most of what I want it to, making it a heck of a lot easier to manage the site.

The main annoyance is that I’ve installed WordPress into a subdirectory, the journal URL, as that’s what I originally thought I would be using WordPress for. So I’ll need to shift the URLs around to the root directory without making too much of a mess. There’s a danger I might break something while doing this, so I’ll give you fair warning that things may go awry. There’s also a chance I’ll break any links here; if possible I’ll try to keep the main journal here at the journal subdirectory, showing updates on the main page. However what I actually end up doing depends on a combination of my final ideas for the site structure.

So don’t be surprised if things are acting weird on Saturday. I’ll try to plan everything I need to do in advance so the process is as painless as possible, but as I’m new to the whole webmaster thing I’m sure to have a few unforeseen snags. Still, I’ve got most of Saturday planned off to get this site rolling. It seems like a good day to spend indoors, so I don’t have a repeat of that time where my brilliant plan to head to the shopping centre just as it opened to beat the crowds on a fine Saturday morning was foiled by a horde of tiny wizards.

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July 18, 2007

The whats, whys and wherefores of trazoi.net

I was a bit surprised to see that I didn’t have any comments when I checked the site first thing this morning, only to find that I’d left manual moderation on for the journal. I’ll have to experiment with what’s the best settings.

A good question is what I’m actually going to do with my fledgling site here at trazoi.net. While I am going to use this as the place to put things I want to put online, the primary use of the site is as my own test ground for web site development. Since this is my personal site I won’t mind too much about making the inevitable screw-ups while I’m learning the ropes, so when I need to make a more professional site I’ll have a greater chance of making smarter decisions first time.

That is also part of the reason why I’ve picked “trazoi.net” as the name of my site. I’m sure those of you from GameDev.net can figure out where the Tra-Zoi part comes from - but as a word I quite like the sound, and it has an advantage that it doesn’t really mean anything (except in Albanian apparently, where “trazoj” means something like confuse or agitate. Sorry if I’ve confused any Albanians!). Apart from in Albania I think it’s got potential as a name to publish my games under.

I’ve decided to go with a dot-net address because I consider that more appropriate for a personal address. If I decide to eventually go commercial and sell games on-line then I’ll start up a more formal sister site over at trazoi.com, which I’ve currently got parked. Once I put in a proper index page I’ll point the dot-com site to here for now.

Even though trazoi.net is my personal site, it is a dry run for potential commercial sites in the future, so I am going to try my best to make it look professional. So what can you expect from the site in the near future?

  • Top priority is a main index page for the site so there’s actually something at the root address. I haven’t yet figured out the best way to create this; while I know my way around HTML well enough to knock something off pretty quickly it might be better to use a more WYSIWYG method to make the process of updates more clean and to easily manage sidebars and links. It might take a little while to research what’s available (and I’m open to suggestions).
  • I also need to properly configure this journal. There seems to be a zillion different things you can do with WordPress, and it’s obvious it will take some tweaking to make it just right. One thing I’m definitely going to do is to try and find the right theme, maybe even making my own.
  • I’ll also put copies of some of the resources I’ve got up at GameDev.net over here, such as my games “Pierre and the Fish”, “Brixtar” and my Inkscape tutorial (which I really need to continue some day soon, once I get more practice).

In the not-so-close future, I’ll be putting up more things, such as games when I complete them. I’ve also had a strong compulsion to start a web comic, and now I’ve got my own web hosting that’s one less reason not to; although there’s still the point that it would be mighty hard to balance being a postgrad student, game developer, web comic creator and staying sane. I might have to just opt for the first three.

I’ve still got a bit of time this morning to work on web stuff, so I’m off to see what good methods are out there to create my main index page. Hopefully I can get that up sometime in the next day or two.

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July 17, 2007

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3…

Hello, is this thing on?

Welcome to the start of both my new journal and my new website, trazoi.net. At time of writing there is not a lot here, not even a main index page. There’s just this journal that I still haven’t properly configured yet. If you are reading this soon after the posting date there is likely to be big changes in the next couple of weeks as I play around with the site. In retrospect I probably should have waited to the weekend.

For those who don’t know me, my name is David Shaw, and I’m a Australian postgraduate student. While I may briefly touch on some of my academic studies, the main focus of my journal will be on my hobbies, prime of which is developing computer games. I have another journal on GameDev.net, where I post under the name “Trapper Zoid”. This journal can be considered an extension of the one I have at GameDev.net. At present I am uncertain as to the future of my old journal; most likely I will still keep it running with an executive summary of game development posts on this journal.

I am mainly starting a new journal here so I am regularly using my own web space. The main reason for me starting up trazoi.net is get experience in running my own web site, so it makes sense for me to be updating things over here. Additionally, since this is my own web space and not managed by another party I’m more free to do whatever I like with it. While I am fairly happy with my GameDev.net journal there are serious limitations on what I can do which now no longer apply. I also have an awful lot more web space to play with for images, music, programs and so on.

Furthermore, there have been numerous occasions where I’ve sorely wanted my own web space. The most recent example was when I hosted a short game development competition over at GameDev.net; I needed to ask for volunteers for hosting space. While I’m lucky there are many generous people out there who are willing to help me in situations about this I figured it was about time to go get hosting of my own; it’s not like it’s that expensive these days.

Thus the reason for this website, and by extension this journal. Tomorrow I’ll post some more about what I plan to do with this site. For now, I’ve got some more tweaking to do. Don’t forget to say hi though if you’re here!

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Made with WordPress and a healthy dose of Semiologic • Trazoi Bounce Box skin by David Shaw