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Post tutorial RSS Designing and customizing your mod/game profiles

Learn how to customize your mod/game profiles on ModDB and IndieDB, with your own design.

Posted by on - Advanced Website

Nov 25, 2020 Update: you can now customize game and mod profiles on your own using the customize tab. Also, please note that ModDB and IndieDB themes are separate and that two slightly different stylesheets have to be edited to enable visitors of both sites to see theme changes made for indie game profiles.


ModDB is a website that aims to create a lasting database of mods, games and indie games. Sometimes, as a developer, you feel it necessary to have a customized design for your content, to represent it effectively. Thus far we never published any tutorial on the way to do it properly, and that is what we aim to help you with today.

This tutorial is considered as "advanced" and will use words and terms about web customization, such as CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and HTML (web coding). Worry not, we will explain how it works.

Phase 1: Understanding how customization works

First of all, please notice customizing requires some specific skills, particularly when it comes to programmation and design. Hopefully, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox now propose a web inspector, which would be really useful for this tutorial. We'll be using the one provided by Google Chrome, as it appears to be faster and more user friendly than Mozilla Firefox. That doesn't mean you can't do it with Mozilla Firefox, not at all.

Here is a list of what you need to know about how customization works:

  • Customizations won't replace the main CSS of ModDB. Your modifications will be added into another one, which will be implemented into all of your pages.
  • Your modifications need to be staff approved, that means you will need to give your customized CSS to our staff at our support email: support@moddb.com. Modifications are generally approved and applied within 2 business days. You can edit the CSS of your profiles using the customize tab on your own now.
  • If you want to use a customized design created by someone else on the site, you will need to get the express authorization from the author.
  • If your modifications break the site in a sense of conflictual CSS and/or HTML elements, your modifications won't be approved until you solve them.
  • The ModDB logo and the user bar can't be removed. However, you can edit them, visually speaking.
  • Your modifications can be applied on both ModDB and IndieDB.

The circle of media

In our previous tutorial, we discussed about why it is important to create an effective profile (for your mod, game or engine). It means you are capturing the attention of your visitors and keeping them there for as long as possible to generate interest. And designing your pages in correlation with the identity of your project is a part of it. That why it is necessary to design a page that can represent it perfectly.

As an example, you are not going to make a modern design for a medieval project, aren't you? That's why to optimize your identity, you should focus on creating a design that is similar to what you're doing, as it would seriously impact the attention of your visitors. Remember, we want to help you succeed!

Here's a great example of what you can achieve thanks to this tutorial:

There are three different kinds of customizations

Whether you are an artist that wants to make a complete design or someone that just want a different background, you can all customize your profiles. What truly matters is how you will proceed.

Here is a list of three different kinds of customizations before we start:

  • Complete customization: That means you want to change everything on your page (like Sins of The Prophets). This advanced customization requires a lot of time, as you will need to be methodical and organized. Worry not, we'll show you how to do it properly.
  • Medium customization: That means basically you just want to change the colors, the backgrounds, some images and stuff like that, which is not really complicated.
  • Light customization: That means you just want to change your background, and add a background picture from your project.

Phase 2: Web Inspector (or DevTools)

So you had a fantastic idea about a new design for your project and you want to have a stunning page to represent effectively your stuff. Perfect! You'll need to use the web inspector from Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox to follow this tutorial. I'll be using the one provided by Google Chrome for the reasons shown above, mostly for compatibility between browsers.

Open the web inspector

To open the web inspector, simply use Ctrl+Shift+I on Windows or Cmd+Opt+I on Mac OSX. You can do it as well with a right click somewhere on the site, and then click on the button "Web Inspector" or "Inspect this page". For this tutorial we'll be giving explanations on how to edit your page, so let's use your own page.

So, you are on your page, the web inspector is opened but you don't know what to do. On the left, this is your page, in HTML5. On the right, the columns represent the codes from the main CSS. You don't need to use other tabs such as "Network, Sources..." as we just want to change the design.

Let's change, for example a single element, but you don't know how to pick one. You just need to click on the search icon, so that when your cursor will be on an element of the page (such as text, images...) the web inspector will show you where it is in the programming.

Once you clicked on the icon, we will move the cursor on the project name. Then, you should see a blue background color which represents the position dedicated to the name. Click ...

... and then the web inspector will show you the exact position of your element in the HTML code.

Changing elements

You will notice on the right that you have design properties attached to your title. This tab will be the one you are going to use the most when you'll be customizing your page. There are plenty of properties (background, border, text, color...) but we won't show all of them.

Remember the "name of the element" represents the property you want to change. Be careful, because If various titles on your page are using the same property (element), all of them will be changed. The unique reason for some of them to be different is that they have a specific modification, applied with their respective section/div. It's getting a bit complicated here, but worry not, I'll explain how specific modifications work later.

For example, let's just change the color (click on the color property), and replace "#FFF" by "green" or whatever you want as long as it's a recognized color.

Saving your modifications

Congratulations! You made your very first modification. That's one small step for you but one giant leap for your page. Now that you have a customized element, you'll need to save it into a .CSS file. We recommend you to use Notepad++ for Windows or TextWrangler for Mac OSX to save your modifications.


Phase 3: Preview

It's done! You believed you customized what you wanted, that it's the time to see how it looks. There are plenty of ways to do it, but let's use the easiest one.

Using the source code as a reference

Get back to the summary page of your project on ModDB such as "moddb.com/xxxx/xxxxxxxxxx". Then, right click and select "View source" or if the button doesn't show up, click on the URL at the top (browser) and add before it "view-source:", like that:

view-source:

You should be able to see thousands of lines representing the source code of your page. What we want to do is to test your modifications. To do so, we'll need to implement the latter ones in this code. Listen carefully as this is a bit difficult. First of all, save the whole source code in Notepad++ (Windows) or TextWrangler (Mac OSX). Once it's done, you need to implement all of your modifications in this portion of code, just before the div called "Column Span-all".

Once it's done, your code is ready to be previewed. All you need is to save your file as .HTML and then open it with Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. You will be able to see if your code works perfectly fine or not.

Phase 4: Common issues and solutions

You now understand how customization works. Brillant! Like I said previously, we can't give you a list with all the possibilities you can do with your CSS. There are plenty of tutorials on the internet from specialized websites. Now, let's focus on the problems you may encounter.

Usage of the "!important" property

If you're making a stunning design, you will notice that some specific elements won't change despite your modifications. It's normal, in fact you will need to use the "!important" property for each element that doesn't show up properly. You will recognize them as they are likethat.

However, the fewer "!important" there are, the better. Remember these are exceptions. To make one, you will need to proceed like that:

div.headerbox ul.menu {
  background-color: #000!important; // LIKE THIS EXAMPLE
  list-style: none;
  margin: 0;
}

Compatibility with browsers

It is essential to ensure your code is compatible with all browsers. Although today a lot of elements are automatically compatible, some of them are still irritating for all web designers, like specific gradients, keyframe animations, box-shadows, text-shadows and so on... Fortunately, a lot of tutorials on the web have solutions for that. Worry no more!

Phase 5: Design examples

Here's a short list of pages using a total customized design, if you don't have any inspiration or if you'd like to contact their respective authors, to get the authorization to use one. Click on the pictures to see the pages on the site.

Phase 6: Send us your CSS modifications

That's it! You made it, your awesome modifications are ready and you want to publish your customized design. Therefore, you will need to send it to team via our support email: support@moddb.com. As we said previously, modifications are generally approved and applied within 2 business days.

We recommend you to upload your CSS file somewhere else like Dropbox or to paste your CSS modifications on pastebin.com, unless you only made minor changes.

Nov 25, 2020 Update: you can now customize game and mod profiles on your own using the customize tab.

Feel free to email us at our support email about any questions about this tutorial or the problems you may encounter while customizing your respective profiles. Good luck making great profiles! Remember, do or do not, there is no try!

Comments
Erayser Author
Erayser

I hope you guys enjoyed our tutorial. If you have some questions, we'll be happy to help. Good luck making stunning pages!

Remember, if you're an indie game developer, your modifications can be applied on both IndieDB and ModDB.

Reply Good karma+17 votes
ChrisBryant
ChrisBryant

It's nice, but wasn't there already an official tutorial for this a while ago?
Or maybe that was just IDb?

Reply Good karma Bad karma+1 vote
Erayser Author
Erayser

Nope, my colleague Henley and I never published any official tutorial on the way to customize your profiles until now. However there are some tutorials made by the community such as the way to implement HTML content in your profile.

Reply Good karma+5 votes
simcoachgames
simcoachgames

I can't figure out a way to remove the "Embed Buttons" from the top of our game page. I see that most games don't have it but there doesn't seem to be an option to remove it in the Edit Game options.

Reply Good karma Bad karma+1 vote
Erayser Author
Erayser

I'd suggest you to add the "display: none;" attribute to the element.
Remember however to do this carefully as you may remove other content than just the embed buttons :)

Reply Good karma+1 vote
Dragonlord
Dragonlord

Can you also make a tutorial to forcefully disable custom profile themes? Often they are annoying and so off the moddb/indiedb one it is very hard to navigate or use them. Forcing them to moddb/indiedb default would help a lot.

Reply Good karma Bad karma+2 votes
Erayser Author
Erayser

Noted, I'll see what we can do with it.

Reply Good karma+7 votes
Reborn:X
Reborn:X

Finally nice to see some progress on popularizing the customization of pages.

Reply Good karma Bad karma+7 votes
Unikraken
Unikraken

Thanks for using us as an example!

Reply Good karma Bad karma+5 votes
mdvhimself
mdvhimself

a list of fancy profiles would be nice in the end, just for encouraging

Reply Good karma Bad karma+3 votes
TKAzA
TKAzA

My blog has the list.

Reply Good karma Bad karma+3 votes
Erayser Author
Erayser

We added 3 other pages (Page 2).

Reply Good karma+3 votes
OrangeNero
OrangeNero

Interesting.
Maybe now I can get rid of those black bars at the side.

Will a customization look good on all the db sites?

Reply Good karma Bad karma+3 votes
Erayser Author
Erayser

They should work the same way on IndieDB and ModDB, though some minor changes might be required on IndieDB. We use almost the same template on our sites.

Reply Good karma+4 votes
Bisszy4ever
Bisszy4ever

Hail Erayser sexy French admin almighty HTML God!

May he continue to help make dank profiles!

Reply Good karma Bad karma+6 votes
GodRage
GodRage

The site doesn't accept map+area HTML tags when we edit the profile.
You will visibly add by hand the CSS we send in our pages...
My asking is, can you also add some HTML code? :)

Reply Good karma Bad karma+2 votes
Cyber_Lord
Cyber_Lord

amazing :)

Reply Good karma Bad karma+2 votes
HopeLessCatE
HopeLessCatE

That's cool changes in customization rules! Thanks for it, now it's time for testing this feature :3

Reply Good karma Bad karma+2 votes
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