Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Using Google Sites For Your Campaign

So a while back, Google replaced Page Creator with Google Sites. Since I utilize a lot of different Google products (Mail, Feedburner, Groups, Analytics, Docs, etc...), I decided to give it a spin for creating a website for our Irrin homebrew setting campaign. Here's what I ended up with.

The above site is for my upcoming HARP campaign (yep, I decided to give it another whirl). (I'm also running a Castles & Crusades campaign based in Irrin, but that site is another project for another post). I just opened it and the discussion group to our players this morning, so this is still pretty new. As you can see, it isn't the fanciest site in the world, but I do think it is pretty functional. There's still some items and some organization that need tended to, but there's plenty of time for that.

My review? Google Sites was pretty easy to use, especially for a design-challenged individual such as myself (I can understand where folks more adept at this sort of thing would want more customizable options, but that's nothing I need). Creating new pages, hosting files--all of it was in a nice, friendly, Google-style interface. Then again, there are some parts and missing features that give it an unpolished feel. Here's a little list of the pros and cons for Google Sites I've encountered:


Pros
-Free (you knew that would be #1)
-Easy to create and position new pages
-Can edit background and banner images
-100 MB free storage (may be a con if you are planning to use it for your prime storage)
-WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor makes typing what you want easy
-Integrates pretty nicely with other Google Tools (this is an area that continues to improve. Not long ago, it would have been under the "cons" heading)

Cons
-Ugly domain names/does not allow for naked domain
-Limited templates/design choices
-Little features, like a spell checker on the edit page, are missing
-Poor sorting options for files
-Cannot load larger files (had trouble past 10 MB or so)

So, as you can see, if you're looking to create a campaign website, Google Sites has some things going for it, and likely some things that you'd like improved or changed. The good news is, it's free and easy to try, so if you don't like it, there's always something else.

(For those that have trouble with hyperlinks, here you go: https://sites.google.com/site/zacksrpgstuff/)

14 comments:

clash bowley said...

Hi Zachary!

What does "does not allow for naked domains" mean?

-clash

Zachary The First said...

It's the difference between http://www.rpgblog2.com and just typing http://rpgblog2.com. Nitpicky, I know. :)

Zachary The First said...

I should specify: that’s only if you want to redirect your Google site to another web address. The second example would be a naked domain.

clash bowley said...

Thanks, Zachary!

I'm probably moving flyingmice.com to google sites. I need to move it somewhere, and the price is right! :D

-clash

John said...

Zachary,
I am considering Google Sites for a school organization where there will be a "public" part of the website and a "private" (login required) part. Well, that requires two Google sites since public/private is set at site level. My question that I can't get a clear answer for, is this: do the users of the private site have to have a gmail account to be able to login, or can they use some other email? Would a Google Apps premium account provide this flexibility? I have a problem asking 50 to 100 peolple to create gmail accounts to view the site. Don't know if you got this far into the security model, but if so, any advice would be appreciated. Thanks, John

Zachary The First said...

Hi Jonathan: I’m really not entirely certain, since I didn’t get to or need that level for what I was doing. But that’s an interesting point. I know for google groups, I have people I invited with yahoo accounts, and they’ve subscribed just fine. But in short, I’m not for certain how that’d work. I will bum around a bit tonight and see if I can find an answer. Thanks for the comment!

Zachary The First said...

Hmm…my post is not showing up on RPG Bloggers. This happens from time to time. Bummer, though. If it happens tomorrow, I’ll have to let them know.

Stargazer said...

Hmm, that seems to be a pretty good use of Google Sites I haven't thought about yet. I think I will have to check that out.

And using Google Sites is probably more easy than fiddling with the slightly complicated wiki I use.

Rob Lang said...

(RSS feed is ok, Zach, showed up in Google Reader)

This is a splendid idea. There are lots of tools to help GMs get organised and communicate with their player group. The horse has already bolted for my current campaign but for the next one, I might consider this. For those that don't already have their own domain, this is certainly a good idea.

I wonder what other free tools online can help a GM/player organise their gaming lives? I can feel a post coming on.

Chgowiz said...

I have to admit, Obsidian Portal has everything I want, aside from file storage. I've been very pleased with it.

Zachary The First said...

Obsidian Portal is something I'm still messing with. I've checked out your Dark Ages site over there, Chgowiz, and it looks pretty nice. Their site redesign was a big plus, I think.

@ rob: Thanks! With google porting feedburner feeds, I wasn't sure if something messed up. My old feed redirects to this feed, and I think that was what was throwing off the RPGN: http://feeds2.feedburner.com/rpgblog2

Micah said...

Thanks for the link (and nice comments) about Obsidian Portal. We're doing our best to beat Google, at least as far as hosting RPG campaigns is concerned...competing directly with Google is usually a no-no ;)

Zachary The First said...

@ Micah: Thanks for stopping by! As I said, I really like the redesign you guys have done. I have some more work to do over there, but it's a nice resource for our hobby to have.

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