Games that don't suck (gtds.net) was born of an odd combination: hobby, experiment, and relief work.
The hobby part stems from my enjoyment of flash games. Flash games are incredibly accessible, unmatched in originality, come from all corners of the globe, and best of all they're something you can pick up and play for 5 minutes or 5 hours. Not to mention they can be played just about anywhere with web access, which these days is virtually anywhere. Beyond that, flash games are a rare industry in that they are still largely independent, diversified, and generally built because of a love of game design - an environment which breeds unrivaled creativity. Anybody with some programming skill, a good idea, and the Macromedia Flash application can build an entertaining flash game.
[This was written sometime early in 2005.] The experimental side of gtds.net was due to curiosity. I wanted to build a website with lots of good content and run it with a zero annoyance factor. No annoying ads, no forced memberships, etc. I found online games to be an excellent arena. Until very recently, gtds.net has been entirely ad free. About 2 weeks ago I realized gtds had to start generating enough income to support it's own hosting costs, or I would have to part with it, which would undoubtedly result in annoying ads being put up by the new owner. It seems the more annoying an ad is, the more it earns. Go figure. I found text ad's to be fitting, as they are both the most relevant and non-intrusive option available. The text ads are doing a good job of allowing the project to support itself.
Building gtds.net began also as a diversion to keep me from getting burned out working on an online RPG I had been building with a friend for the past 5 months. As it turns out, that project has been sidelined for quite a while by a few different things. I hope to resume working on it and take it public at some point in the near future.
Beyond just creating a friendly, annoyance free website to house web games, I wanted to build a collection of the best free online games out there. While everyone has their own favorites, I try to keep the bar relatively high for games that make it here. I don't post games that lack decent controls, animation that matches movement, some element of challenge & fun, etc. Independently developed flash games are more often than not hobby work, and those game developers don't have teams of play testers to debug and make suggestions before release. In some cases, these web games are just proof-of-concept builds or portfolio pieces, so they can get noticed and hired to build bigger, better games or a complete version. Online games are also widely used in viral marketing campaigns due to their tendency to spread across the web very quickly by word of mouth (or mouse). That's why some flash games seem to have loads of untapped potential and don't retain replay value for very long.
I built the games that don't suck website in late September 2004. It took about 2 days to code, and was quite basic. The layout was 80's retro with a black background, and although it worked for the mass majority of users, a few quirks made it display awkwardly on some browsers/resolutions. I later coded a simple tell-a-friend form, which has seen a moderate amount of use. In early 2005 I decided to rebuild the site with a new layout, which should be compatible with just about any system. A couple weeks ago I added a page of dialup friendly web games (small games that load quickly), for those folks still on 56K modems. On May 25th 2005 I decided to add a referrers list to the front page, and built a simple comment system so users could leave feedback about likes/dislikes of a particular game. A friend of mine (Scott) recommended I add it in, so I did. Blame him if it asplodes your head.
For those of you curious about some statistics of the project, November 2004 totaled around 6,700 visitors who viewed about 38,000 webpages, give or take. March 2005 saw more than 21,000 visitors who viewed 134,000 pages. May is shaping up to be about 50,000 visitors looking at 365,000 pages.
Stats update: June served up 163,000 visitors and 645,000 pages, and July will finish around 180,000 visitors viewing 750,000 pages. Since the site was created back in late August 2004, 8-12% of visitors have bookmarked gtds.net each month.
No money has been spent on advertising, and thankfully the text ads are covering the bandwidth bills. This month, gtds users burned through about 250 Gigabytes. I wonder how much that works out to in "hours my boss thought I spent working".. =)
February 2009, the new user system is ready, along with an entirely new design. After a rather lengthy hiatus, back to new games every day.
I'll update the history whenever more history happens.