But isnt Nationstates in effect just a series of dynamic webpages which is the point of PHP?
Not PHP. Anything but PHP!
As you are just starting out, picking one language is ideal. Keep focused as best you can.
This guide should help you choose.
You know what, I know NOTHING about Nationstates, and I still realize that PHP is not the solution!
To add to this, PHP is in fact all you need, it just is a horrible, horrible mess of a language(The only common web backend option i can think of that is more painful to work with would be ASP(the old one, not .Net, The general suckiness of the old pre .Net ASP is also the main reason why PHP got popular, it was the lesser of two evils back in the day, today there are plenty of better options to choose from), There are hower two really good reasons to use it even today:
1) There is a crapton of PHP code out there under permissive licenses that you can reuse for various purposes.
2) If you pick a random extremely cheap webhost odds are really good that they do support PHP but nothing else. (big webgames tend to need a more expensive host anyway though).
Personally my favourite for web development is python+django but i do use PHP alot, simply because it has been around for so long that it gets hard to avoid it completely.
Edited by SimonForsman, 08 August 2012 - 03:08 PM.