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Interested in Beginner advice for Online Web game

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I am planning on making a hobbyist-level game, and I'm interested in learning what different options are available to me for programming / scripting the game.

So far I have very little programming and web development experience. I've been studying Java (I just finished reading the Head First Java book), but I'm open to all my options.

The game will not use any graphics engine. It will have a 2d Map of squares laid out in a simple grid. The squares will be populated with images from information in the database, and the player will need to be able to scroll through the map. Players will be able to explore the grid to expand the world. There will be game mechanics coded in to prevent players from exploring too far.

There will be a database which contains the information about each of the tiles the world is made out of and player information. This will all be fairly simple, and should boil down to a set of variables and information about where players have built buildings on what tiles, etc.

There should not be anything that is very complex or hardware intensive. I admit I'm a newb, but I think the most intensive processes will just be querying and modifying the databases, along with some pathfinding (for only one unit at a time, with no need for it to work instantly). I'd like to be able to run everything through a browser for the convenience of the users. I'm not sure if I could do that purely with a web page, or if I'd need to use an app or plugin of some kind (so the pathfinding and other things get run by the user rather than server-side). I still want it to be basic enough to be useable on smartphone browsers though.

I believe my biggest potential stumbling blocks here are login security, payment methods, and exploit-ability. (I'd need to at least recoup the money I'd spend hosting the game, probably with Amazon Web Services.) I'm hoping there are either free or cheap options I could use to solve those issues? I'd prefer to avoid it if possible, but I'm open to the idea of facebook login. I'm guessing paypal probably has free secure ways for payment? As for exploit-ability, I'd need to run the program through a system I could secure to prevent the user giving the game false game results.

Anyway, I just don't even know where to begin, which is why I'd really appreciate some people spelling out for me the different options and some simple pros and cons. I value portability and ease of programming over speed / preventing short hang ups.

Right now I'm thinking my most realistic and best bet would be something like a Javascript webpage user interface with facebook or OpenID login, paypal payment, and Amazon Web Service running a MySQL database. And possibly that would require PHP or something like that to splice it all together?

Thanks for your suggestions!

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