Since we went public with the Newgrounds API beta, one of the observations I have made is that people have a hard time distributing their work.
Distribution is a key ingredient in maximizing the revenues your flash ads generate, because it exposes your game to a variety of large markets.
For example, Newgrounds has long been a prime location for showcasing work to a younger game-savvy group of people. Here, you can really succeed with hardcore gamers and people with a twisted sense of humor. So when you make a catchy puzzle game, you get some great reviews and initial attention, but the general audience here would rather move on to something with a lot of shooting and combat action.
This does not mean your game is a failure in any way, you simply haven't gotten it to the right demographic.
Most game portals have a pretty good mix of user types, and webmasters from smaller sites are always fishing them for swf files to swipe. Back in the day, having people host your swf without permission was always frowned apon, but in this viral market it is the best way to get your ads running on as many sites as you possibly can.
So now that you know the advantages of distributing your game... where do you actually submit to, and what can you do to streamline the process a bit?
Unfortunately portal sites each have their own style and presentations. This means icons and screenshots are never the same size for more than one or two sites, and one could spend an insane amount of time dealing with these problems.
Before you start submitting, I suggest taking the time to tackle these image formats first.
While all the portals out there have varying sizes, one thing that is somewhat common is the size ratios, and image designs.
The most common design style is the icon. Icons tend to be based on the following ratios: 1:1 (square), 7:6 (slightly wide), 4:3 (wide).
Icons can range from 46 to 100 pixels in width. These icons are usually too small for a lot of text or elaborate logos, but can really pop out if you have a nice image that can relay the overall feeling of the game.
Not all games do well with a screen-shot for an icon. If you have a cool character, you might want to use that as the base for your icon rather then trying to show actual gameplay in sucha tiny image.
When you have the design planned for your icon, make versions at the folloowing sizes: 60x60, 70x60, 100x75.
Make sure when you save the files, you put the dimensions in the filename... ie mygame_icon_11x75.jpg (I would recommend saving as jpegs with the quality set at 8/10, but be prepared to make gif files for sites with extreme filesize restrictions).
Now that you have the base ratios set up for your icons, you can resize them and save them as new files to cover most of the image sizes you will encounter. Here at newgrounds, we use 46x46 icons... so you would simply resize your 60x60 file to accommodate.
Here is a lits of some icon sizes you will probably be asked for:
1:1 - 60x60, 50x50, 46x46
7:6 - 70x60
4:3 - 100x75, 93x73, 96x66 (these ones don't ratio up perfectly so design your 100x75 with a little bit of free space so you can crop as needed).
After you have your icons together, you can prepare the other common format which is a larger image, often a screen shot. These images are almost always a 1:1 or 4:3 ratio.
These images give you a little more creative freedom since they are larger than the icon formats and can fit more text and logo imagery. If your game has enough action, a screenshot will work great, but you should try and make something that stands out a bit more.
Think about the game section at your local electronics store. Every game company has dropped a lot of money into graphic design to make their covers stand out, and the covers never show the actual in-game art. Your images should follow that premise and make the name of the game really stand out, while showing some imagery that makes people want to see how the actual game looks.
For these, I would suggest starting with bigger images, 250x250 and 320x240. These won't really be used for submissions, but they give you more room to work before scaling down, and we'll be using them later when we package a distribution file together.
After you have the images prepared, you might want to scale them to the following sizes:
1:1 - 250x250, 125x125
4:3 - 320x240, 160x120, 168x118, 129x98, 120x90 (again these aren't all dead-on 4:3 sizes so let your master image allow for some cropping).
Then, just to be safe, take a few screen shots of the game in action and save them as 320x240 files. I would suggest 3-5 images.
You will likely run into other image sizes, so keep your base files handy.
Now that you have the image work done, you can prep up your text stuff. Open up a new text document and write up a few descriptions for your game within these basic guidelines:
Brief Description: 1-2 short sentences relaying the premise of the game
Short Description: A short paragraph describing the game
Detailed Descrption: A full description of the game with general instructions.
Instructions: An breif outline of how to play the game and a list of controls.
Save your file and you now have everything ready to go.
Once you have these files ready, throw them all in a zip file with a copy of your swf file, you can use this for sites that do not have submit forms.
Now you can start hitting portal sites, and simply copy and paste in your descriptions, and upload your pre-made icons, or email your zip file.
Here is a list of sites you might want to submit to:
* These sites do not allow in-game ads on submissions, be sure to use the API settings to disable ads for them. Other sites will grab your swf from these sites, and they are pretty high traffic, so they are still worth submitting to. You might even win a prize or be offered a non-exclusive sponsorship.
A lot of these sites do not have submission forms, so look for 'contact us' or 'suggest a game' links.
You may also want to shoot an email to sites like Jayisgames.com and flashgn.com with a link to your game and a little press release on your game.
I'm sure there are other high-traffic sites I have overlooked, so feel free to drop some links in a comment if you know any.