Good Taste: A Few Corporate Websites

From what I have already mentioned, I want to make a website in the style and taste of the 1990s. However…

Tinglar_News

…I missed the mark.

This is not “Brutalist.”

This is not “historically accurate.”

This is embarrassing.

Looking at this, I think the reason why I ended up that way is because I did not exactly know why websites in the 1998‒2001 “sweet spot” had that style. At the time I was designing this website, I looked into old versions of websites that I knew.

Actually, there is a worthwhile example from this search.

Wizards_Old

There is plenty that I like here. The top menu is classy yet useful. The banner gives the message immediately and clearly. Also, the website’s use of color theory with the purple and yellow Pokémon is clever. The Type symbols fit the theme yet are appealing and attract attention to the menu items. I also like the drop shadows that the icons and banner have; they give that “sweet-spot Internet” look. The news items have those icons that, if not relevant to the news item, fit the theme at least. The “NEW” news icons actually have the “NEW” text cycle around the PokéBall, making an attention-grabbing, pleasing sight without being obtrusive.

I actually found other traits that I liked, but, once I found again and took a good look at the Web Design Museum, everything “clicked”. Even the other traits I liked were more clearly visible in the museum exhibits!

road-runner-2000

The color scheme takes that of the Road Runner character but is not afraid of expanding on the color palette when necessary. There are 2 menus here, each of which serve different purposes. The way that the two menus are connected with a curve gives a dynamic feel that, in the end, fits the “speedy” motif. The “go” button next to the zipcode textbox is also sweet. However, every link of importance (even the dial-up and DSL buttons) is accessible.

Plus, implementing a character known because of his ridiculous speed both suits the service and is in good taste.

kodak-2001

Honestly, there is some clutter here, which makes the webpage confusing. What I do like is the middle image that has a color that stands out from the other sections and is inviting in both expression and content. The shop@kodak logo and “Shop Worldwide” menu item are also in good taste.

There are actually more examples (from both the previous search and the museum) of good taste, but, after seeing all of the examples, I found that these are the examples that had the most impact to me.

In light of this knowledge, I drew up this prototype:

MainTinglarReference

This is just an exploratory design.

One thing that I did not want to change is the color scheme because my website has a “story” in which you are traveling to the beach. (The pink is a prototype-exclusive that represents a border.) A cute logo with the website name and tagline grace the sky. Riding the water are the menu items. There are 3 menus: one orients the new browser, another lists the games (complete with their icons), and another list other links of interest. At the top-left corner of the water is the search bar, making a more organic transition between the two menus. Below that are the language flags. The sand has the content. After a banner (that actually only “advertises” my games*), there is a big image that gives big news. After that image is a list of news items that have a relevant icons. A “New!” image animates itself to news items that are up to 3-weeks-old. After the news are some small link-buttons.

There are actually a few changes from the concept image that I would change, but this design is far better.


  • = Though the inspiration of putting a banner was in reference to the old Nickelodeon website, the idea of self-advertising banners came from Earthbound Central.

…though, now that I think about that, Nickelodeon’s banners were usually self-advertising… the banners at the old Cartoon Network website were also normally self-advertising, too.

Advertisements

Production…

My website had been temporarily shut down because the website did not have the funds. When I came to restore the website, I found that the plans have changed. Because Nearly Free Speech has to handle a lot more distributed denial-of-service attacks, my web host had to raise their prices.

I feel sad that they had to do this, though I was wondering until recently how they handled those attacks. I actually have no problem with paying those prices, especially when I know why.

Currently, there are 3 tiers:

  • Non-production websites (those that are just “see what I can do” websites) pay 0.01 USD daily and get 1 GB of bandwidth per day.
  • Production websites (websites that are part of a business) pay 0.05 USD daily and get 10 GB of bandwidth per day. They also get access to dynamic content (PHP, Ruby on Rails…).
  • Critical websites (websites that are the business themselves) pay 0.50 USD daily and get 100 GB of bandwidth per day. They also get access to dynamic content and extra help in website issues.

Yes. The higher prices are that low. One of the main draws of Nearly Free Speech is their astronomically low prices. The only problem is that, you cannot turn a production website into a non-production website or a critical website into one of the other two.

Though my website qualifies under “non-production” because my website is a beta version website, I chose a production website. I mean, eventually, I would have to switch anyways because, if I “make it big” (so to speak), I would have to worry about all of the bandwidth my website would have due to all of the visitors my website would have. (My website may be my business, but my business currently neither has the need or generates the revenue that justifies the critical plan.) I also need to check how the dynamic content works with my website. There is also the fact that I actually like their hosting service and want to support them.

Besides, the price is just 0.05 USD per day. That would make… 18.30 USD per year?

After this… I should deal with iptables hacks and firewall rules…

The Tinglar Difference: Integrity

This is actually a sort of rewrite from the “Parents” page from my website.

I may just be overly fixated, but, these days, most of the popular games seem to be M-Rated. The ones that are lower than that rating seem to be either Nintendo games or shovelware.

Why should that be?

The M-Rated games congregate at the Sony and Microsoft consoles which serve the gaming addict. I mentioned previously that this addict would rather buy only M-Rated power fantasies. I wonder why M-Rated, though. My guess, other than a sick culture, is that these addicts want a “grown-up” game. “Accurate” portrayal of the power fantasy they crave would explain the heavy violence, but what about all the other “bad stuff”? Is, for example, profanity necessary in a power fantasy? I think that the gaming addict would seek out a “sick” game that Sony and Microsoft would wholeheartedly serve… only for the gaming addict to get “sicker” from “feeding” from the game.

While, thankfully, Nintendo managed to provide some healthy and fun alternatives so far, this “sickness” extends beyond electronic games into all media. In one example, a lot of movies are at least PG-13, a lot of them even getting into R. I would not be so narrow-sighted into thinking that this phenomenon is new, but this is not a good climate at all. “Sick” people make a “sick” culture from “sick” content that “infects” more people.

Even though I would actually like legislation that would require others to tone down their content out of the health of, well, everyone, taking out the “sickness” is only part of the solution, leaving a void in culture. Content providers need to provide “healthy” content in turn, this “healthy” content healing both culture and people.

That is one big goal of Tinglar. I want to make games that are both fun and healthy. Nintendo managed to provide such a combination time and again, attracting an audience that is not only larger and healthier but also more varied than the gaming addicts that seem to be the norm today. My integrity is the main reason, actually, why I insist on making “healthy” games.

The Tinglar Diifference: No Microtransactions

Simply put, I am not willing to exploit you mentally or withhold part of the game from you.

I am not sure if I am going to avoid downloadable-content, though. After all, I plan on developing and releasing a full game, first, then, maybe, give additional stuff that should substantially enhance the original full experience.

Then again, the games are free in not only price but also freedom. If I try something odd, you can simply audit and even modify the source code.

The Tinglar Difference: Fan Involvement

Recently, there has been controversy on how Nintendo dealt with the Metroid fangame AM2R and the Pokémon Fangame Pokémon Uranium. This is not a new phenomenon, either; Nintendo has also effectively shut down Pokémon Evoas. Nintendo is not the only one involved, either; Sega shut down the Streets of Rage Remake while Square Enix shut down both Chrono Resurrection and, later, Crimson Echoes. No matter what you think on the morals of both the fangames and the shutdowns, whatever the motivations, the game companies have effectively punished the fan’s loyalty to the games the companies made.

Of course, one way to avoid this issue is making a game that copies or grows the previous gameplay while not actually using anything from the original setting. Freedom Planet grew from Sonic the Hedgehog while Axiom Verge grew from Metroid, yet they even got released on official consoles! (That is right; Nintendo let a sort-of Metroid fangame on one of Nintendo’s consoles!)

Even the official developers, disgruntled by how their companies handle the developer’s games, left their companies and made their own spiritual sequels. A lot of employees left Rare, the publisher of Banjo Kazooie, and are making Yooka-Laylee. Koji Igarashi left Konami, the publisher of Castlevania, and is making Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. More infamously, Keiji Inafune left Capcom, the publisher of Mega Man, and made the Mighty No. 9 and is making Red Ash.

My game, Wuu Shyng (working title), is based on this principle.

More specifically, Wuu Shyng is supposed to be a spiritual successor to the Pokémon games, though Wuu Shyng not only implements ideas from other games (notably The Legend of Zelda and Zelda 2: the Adventure of Link) but also takes into a different direction the original ideas that became Pokémon. In fact, Wuu Shyng fixes some issues that fretted fans of the original Pokémon games; accuracy and evasion do not exist in Wuu Shyng, if I were to give a quintessential example.

Even so, I had several important reasons on making a spiritual sequel instead of a fangame, even if I did disregard the risk of Nintendo shutting down my game.

  • This was a college project. I would have at least given my college a big embarrassment if I were to make a game that used an official company’s previous assets!
  • Though this is more a reason why I spent so much effort in differentiating Wuu Shyng from Pokémon, a blatant clone would be rightfully be considered a rip-off of Pokémon that misses the point why the original games are popular. (Who cares about all those clones that litter App Stores?) After all, I actually plan on Wuu Shyng eclipsing Pokémon while taking in, and making feel at home, fans that are dissatisfied with the original Pokémon games, lofty that goal may be.
  • I get to avoid any baggage that the original games have. For example, some Pokémon designs were flops, yet a fangame, even if implementing only the best Pokémon designs, would still, by implication, call back to every Pokémon design, not just the good ones. Making my own game would make a clean break.
  • The biggest reason is also the most emotional: a spiritual successor would make the game mine. I would not be bound by the settings of the originals or the mentalities of the makers. I can do whatever I want with my game. I have full freedom. This is important, because…
  • …I would be able to freely license my game. All games by Tinglar are (at the time of writing) licensed by the GPL. That way, fans can add to, remix, or even tribute my games without legal issues that would just hurt everyone. I want to reward the dedication my fans have and, in fact, want to give them my approval. (Of course, the GPL would require fans to make any derivatives under the GPL, but I would rather keep the freedom flowing rather than use a less permissive license.)

The Tinglar Difference: Customer Service

Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft give out their own game consoles, but all of them seem dissociated from the customers they are supposed to serve. Both Sean Malstrom’s and my own observations lead tot he following conclusions:

  • Nintendo is concerned in making games that serve Nintendo itself, not the customers. One example would be the issue with the Super Mario Bros. series: the customers want 2D games, but Nintendo instead puts its heart into (and subsequently pushes) the 3D games while leaving the leftovers to the 2D games. An oddity is that, even when Nintendo puts 2D elements and long-time fan requests into the 3D games, the actual 2D games outsell the 3D games.
  • Sony only listens to a particular kind of gamer: the addict who would buy anything that the mainstream industry releases while basing an unhealthy self-worth on games instead of the outside world, at least. Apparently, these addicts only want the same M-rated power fantasies, albeit in packages that are not that different.
  • Microsoft manages to combine the above two problems; Microsoft, after serving itself, serves the addicts. (That would explain Microsoft’s recent depression in the gaming realm…)

Tinglar aims to serve everyone else who is left out of the mainstream industry of electronic games. Though I have also plenty of ideas myself, I shall gladly make games out of what everyone else wants, especially specific game ideas! I shall strive in serving a wide variety of customers through a resulting wide variety of games. Both of us would benefit!

Of course, I have to be reasonable on which wishes do I serve. I am not going to honor a request of yet another M-rated power fantasy!

The Idea Behind Tinglar

In the “Parents” section of my website, I mention that the tagline of my business Tinglar is “Games That Everyone Can Play.” However, the actual scope is actually far greater.

You might have noticed that I called my business “Tinglar,” not “Tinglar Games” or even “Tinglar Technologies”. The fact is that I intentionally left the name open-ended because Tinglar was meant to be a catch-all name for any business I may host, even if those businesses have nothing to do with games. Right now, though the main focus of Tinglar is electronic games, I also would do hardware repair under the Tinglar name. Future plans include shipping non-game software and even art commissions. In essence, I am selling an identity; the Tinglar brand explains not only who I am but also what I do.

Despite this open-endedness, though, the focus of Tinglar was, from the beginning to the end, the electronic games I develop. In fact, my end goal would have Tinglar be primarily, though not necessarily exclusively, the Nintendo of Puerto Rico.