What Happened to this Site?
It’s a little embarassing to admit that http://sugarpillstudios.com has looked like the image to the right for the past seven years (to the month). Clicking through the site is now more like thumbing through an a old scrap book than a new magazine.
I’ve recently been working on some game projects that I’m excited to share more details about over this coming summer. So a site refresh seemed in order. And what better time to revisit the graphical design, tech stack, hosting service, and domain name. So let me briefly address each of these updates in reverse order.
sugarpillstudios.com has been a good domain over the years, but with two increasinly bothersome qualities. First, the name is just a little longer than I’d like (especially when trying to enter it into a smart tv or game console that does not have a proper keyboard). Second, the name itself does not convey that it leads to a site about games and game design. A little bit of searching lead me to find and register the new domain: sugarpill.games (from porkbun.com for only about $8). Over the coming year, I plan to phase out sugarpillstudios.com in favor of sugarpill.games… So update those bookmarks everyone!
The old site changed hosting providers several times: the last going from ixwebhosting to site5 as a result of a buyout or merger of some kind. I really haven’t had many problems with any of these providers. But have always felt like I was overpaying for what my modest site was using. Part of this is a result of the industry practice that introductory rates are typically 1/3 to 1/4 of what is charged after the first year. But my site hasn’t been very active, nor is it very demanding of resources. So I just setup an AWS account with Amazon. The first year is free, and my impression is that they do a much better job of only charging for what is actually used after that.
The old site used wordpress to organize its content and style. Maintaining site contents in a database and hacking php templates to display that data feels like unnecessary bloat. And the data is never quite in the form you really want. A little google-fu lead me to find and adopt Jekyll for this site. This tool compiles static webpages from a directory of liquid templates, yaml headers, and other assests. This makes it relatively easy to define and use whatever data you want each post or page to contain. But the number of different kinds of linking and redirection that this tool supports still makes my head swim a bit. Hopefully as I get more used to this site and tool, I’ll be able to consolidate and improve its organization further.
To tie all of this together, I spent some time designing the new logo that you see at the top of every page in Inkscape. I’m proud of its use of negative space and its inclusion of the pill shapes: both containing the text and more subtly within the letter As. I also leaned into that pill shape for images displayed, and managed to get some css to alternate which half of the pill is displayed for each entry.
Only time will tell which of these decisions stand the test of time. But I’m certainly more excited to post and share news through this site!