Sunday, August 20, 2006

How is Lost Garden doing today?

I originally promised myself that I’d blog for at least a year and see where it went. The promise has been kept and the content keeps flowing. I thought I’d drop some numbers and see if folks are still enjoying the site.

The site has been hovering around 4200 page views and 1800 visitors a day. That works out to 130,000 page views in July and 58,000 visitors. Overall, the numbers are increasing steadily over time, but I do not have great faith in my data. :-)
  • Atom.xml downloads make up a big chunk of the daily traffic.
  • One image on my site has become insanely popular, in a viral cross-linked sort of way. It is not the image I would have expected. Awhile back, I posted some a couple different graphical styles for a space strategy game. One was cute and the other was cool. This cute image has taken on an extensive life of its own as an avatar on numerous forums, My Space account and bizarre Russian humor sites. It isn’t hurting my bandwidth much, so I’m interested in seeing how far the little space people meme will spread.

I would pay good money for a reasonable stats tracking application. I personally find forum links to be one of the more interesting pieces of information contained in log files, but many reporting systems seem to strip off everything but the referring domain. What are other blog masters using?

I suspect that once you strip away all the fluff, you’d find that Lost Garden is a friendly little site in a very niche topic with a few core folks that keep it worth visiting. Big thanks go out to everyone who contributes to each new essay. Sometimes I feel that much of the ‘meat’ of this site comes from what everyone else writes. That is pretty darn cool.

I can’t find anything!
One of my personal goals was to use the site as a collection of research for future reference. There are now over a hundred essays on the site these days, many of which are quite lengthy. Unfortunately, I can rarely find the essay that I’m looking for due to poor site design. I’ve made some minor modifications to make it easier to find old materials.
  • Directory of Essays: I’ve organized all the essays into a concise directory. It isn’t the most attractive design I’ve done, but it should be a lot easier to find things if you can remember the general category. Let me know if the categories make sense or if there are other ones you’d like me to use.
  • New Search Engine: Google, in its never ending fight against blog spam saw necessary to remove most blog entries from its search results. Unfortunately, that makes Google pretty much useless for searching my site. Common search terms would come back empty or with only one or two items. I’ve now got a new search engine hooked up that, while less attractive, is at least comprehensive in its coverage.
Future direction
After trawling through my old comments, it is apparent that I have about a 20% chance of completing an essay if I mention it in the blog as ‘coming soon.” :-) So I won’t try to predict what will pop up next. My biggest thrill recently has been seeing the enthusiasm that met the last set of graphics I dropped out there for free. The energy of L33t kids discovering games for the first time is invigorating. I started dabbling again with tiled graphics after an 8 year absence and realized that both the available tools and my skills have changed dramatically.

Rust. It is an unfamiliar sensation that I’m unsure whether I should accept as an inevitable part of aging or rebel against. I would guess that anyone under thirty would advise that I rebel for all that I am worth. What do wise folks over thirty-five recommend? :-)

How is everyone else doing? Out here in glorious Seattle, wedding planning is in full swing, various medical traumas abound, and my new job is beginning to exhibit flashes of passion. Big greetz go to Jonathan, Jones and the Anark crew that I met up with at Gamefest last weekend. I also had a blast playing some fine board games at JiggaFest here in Seattle. Ray, that loveable fellow, still owes me a best selling novel.

Life is good. :-)

Hope everyone is having a lovely summer,


  1. Glad to see your site is doing fine. Contrary to most sites, your feed sends the full article, not just a heading, so most times I quickly scan the article and come here if it interests me. If you ever need to save bandwidth, you know where to start ;-) Good luck!

  2. Have you tried/can you use Google Analytics? It should at least separate out the RSS fetches.

  3. Ehem... the first comment is mine, seemly it is by default in Anonymous. Also, I would suggest AWStats. I use NoScripts, which don't let Google Analytics to work.

  4. *scream* Sorry for the spam. It seems clicking Preview would select the Anonymous option instead of the second one, which I had previously selected. *sigh*

  5. Hmm...just looked up Google Analytics. Looks quite nice and seems easy to set up. I'll see if any data rolls in by tomorrow.

    I've used AWStats in the past and quite enjoyed it. It wasn't installed on my new host. Good to see the link to the official site.

    take care

  6. it is apparent that I have about a 20% chance of completing an essay if I mention it in the blog as ‘coming soon.”

    You too, eh? For the majority of my first blogging year, a sure fire method of killing a post was to promise its arrival. I'm working on throttling that particular trend.

    I use a plugin for Wordpress to track my blog traffic, but it only tracks pages, not images (much like Google analytics). I tend to find Statcounter's presentation less cluttered and faster loading than Google's.

    Keep up the great work, Danc. Thanks for a thought provoking blog.

  7. Hmm, sounds like you might be doing some game design.

    Any chance The Circle might come alive? Or, hell, any game at all?

  8. I came across your site a few months ago and i have it now as my startup page, so i admit that a few of those extra hits are mine. I do enjoy your page and I am going to Full Sail and getting a Game Development degree. If anyone has a few minutes to drop me a line and give me their oppinion on the game industry or anything that might be usefull to know, I would appreciate it.

    My email is:

  9. I'm the site owner of, and pass by Lost Garden daily in my search for valuable info. The reason is pretty obvious: some of the articles are super and can't be found anywhere else, like "Playground game design as a sustainable competitive advantage" for example. If my site had been up at that time, I'd definitely posted a link to it :-).

  10. I have been a fan of the lostgarden before it was a blog... I imagine I'll check in here long after it has become something else new and trendy...

    I do wish Danc would post more of his sketchbook stuff to his gallery. I enjoyed all his sketchies, even the tiny stuff, when he would put it up after various world adventures. :)

    As for the blog, you occasionally have an insight worth reading, I suppose... though I think you're mostly full of...

    Oh wait... no... bad Ray...

    This is a good blog... :)

    Wub you! I hope you and Aya are well. Hope the wedding plans quickly become wedded bliss. Life really doesn't start til after you've made the commitment to perpetuate life, and stop worrying so much about your own needs, and get to worrying about the needs of what the IRS calls Dependents. :)


  11. I've enjoyed your blog for quite some time now, since i found the link from...I think it was Jane Pinckard's blog.

    Keep up the good work! love your arts and arguments

  12. Hi Danc,

    I check your site regurlarly, because it's probably one of the best blogs about "games". Keep up the good work!

    As someone else suggested try google analytics. It isn't perfect, but it has a lot of nifty features.

  13. Hey Danc,

    Still loving the site.

    But what is the current status of SpaceCrack? I still want to play it.

    Colm Mac

  14. "I started dabbling again with tiled graphics after an 8 year absence and realized that both the available tools and my skills have changed dramatically."

    Tools for drawing tiled graphics (and how a master like you uses them) are a very interesting topic; for example, is the software you were familiar with 8 years ago unavailable (why? Proprietary and left behind, for a fossil platform, ad hoc and overspecialized?) or something better that we should be aware of has appeared?

  15. The tool I used was Brilliance on the Amiga. I also used a lot of DeluxePaint. Both of these fell to the wayside when 24-bit graphics came on board.

    Since then I've adapted nicely to Painter, but it still missing some basic functionality for building nice tiles.

    In the past, there was a tool call a brush. You could cut out a brush from the canvas with a single motion and then reuse it multiple times. The selection and duplicate function in Photoshop and Painter come close, but both of them are a bit fiddly when it comes to using grid snapping. I can't even get snapping to work with Painter most days.

    The result is that it is remarkably difficult to tile objects inside a modern paint program. It comes down to feedback. I want to be able to make a change and see how that change looks ASAP. With previous programs. I grab the items as a brush, click a couple of times and voila. I see exactly where it fits and where it doesn't.

    I'm playing with workarounds (like using an HTML page with a predefined layout of tiles) but this requires me to chop up my graphics for export. It is just a pain.

    Now admittedly, I'm old school and there are maybe 50 people left in the world that are still attempting this sort of thing. The tools aren't going to change. Artists always work within the constraints of their tools and make them do amazing things. So that is my challenge. :-)

    take care

  16. Would you please repost or link to the "space strategy" designs you mentioned. As I'm from Russia (though not frequent visitor of Russian bizarre humor sites), I'm interested to know if this thing is familiar to me or not.

  17. Dan, I used a while and it seemed quite good.

  18. Well, scientists say that the cute reaction produces among the strongest neurological responses humans can have to any visual stimuli. Sexual stimulus is stronger, it's true, but it only lasts a very short time, and doesn't stick for some reason. That's probably why your cutesy spacemen were meme material, while the cool stuff, the pinup girl etc... were not.

    Coolness can stick with people, though, especially if you make it awe-inspiring enough to elicit this reaction.

    Really depends on what people are in the mood for culturally right now, and it varies between groups.