Improving the magazine

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Timothy Lumsden
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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by Timothy Lumsden » Sat Aug 14, 2010 1:28 pm

one thing I certainly wouldnt want to see is homebrew expanded to 6 pages as Darran was hinting (unless I misread). That's a lot of regular pages for any feature.

Generally the main problem with the homebrew for me personally is that the review page just looks a bit thrown together. If they reviews arent going to go into the main section, then maybe they could be subdivided a bit into Browser games, free PC window downloads, emulated games for old systems etc.

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TMR
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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by TMR » Sat Aug 14, 2010 1:59 pm

Timothy Lumsden wrote:one thing I certainly wouldnt want to see is homebrew expanded to 6 pages as Darran was hinting (unless I misread). That's a lot of regular pages for any feature.
i'm keeping out of that one... i mean, if he wants six pages i can probably manage it but i had a quick "bugger, my heart just stopped in sheer terror" when he said that! =-)
Timothy Lumsden wrote:Generally the main problem with the homebrew for me personally is that the review page just looks a bit thrown together. If they reviews arent going to go into the main section, then maybe they could be subdivided a bit into Browser games, free PC window downloads, emulated games for old systems etc.
There's already some division; the first two pages are for classic 8- and 16-bit systems, the third is a mixture of current hardware (PC, XBLIG, NDS and at a push GBA because it fits more there than the two previous pages). There's usually only one web-based Flash game an issue, that's in the Flash Boredom section under the news on the third page, although if anything exceptional appears (and it can preferably be downloaded to play offline) it gets treated as a PC game.

i've got a few thoughts about how i'd like to see the layout changed that i'll have to nag Darran and Stuart about (as well as a draft to write of an occasional alternative use i've got in mind for the fourth page that might get done now that our kids are back to school) and i still like the idea of covering an old public domain or shareware game once an issue too - if nothing else it gives me an excuse to buy the newly updated version of Raptor: Call Of The Shadows and censored about it in print! =-)

Gabe
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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by Gabe » Sat Aug 14, 2010 3:15 pm

TMR wrote:
Timothy Lumsden wrote:one thing I certainly wouldnt want to see is homebrew expanded to 6 pages as Darran was hinting (unless I misread). That's a lot of regular pages for any feature.
i'm keeping out of that one... i mean, if he wants six pages i can probably manage it but i had a quick "bugger, my heart just stopped in sheer terror" when he said that! =-)
Well he did also hint at maybe drafting in some help if he was going to extend it .

Whilst we're on about the homebrew section, do you feel you score a bit too generously? It seems to have come up a few times.

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thevulture
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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by thevulture » Sat Aug 14, 2010 3:17 pm

Past few post`s brought up some bloody fine points:1) As an ST owner at the time, was a huge fan of the P.D scene, used to spend lot of cash on various demo`s etc, so would love to see a feature of sorts. 2)Yep, ST/Amiga kinda do get barged out the way by the console side at times-Balance issue here, could do with some adressing, ST/Amiga had some wonderous stuff consoles could only dream of (Hunter, Midwinter 1+2, Warhead, Robocop 3, Falcon, Cybercon 3, Killing Cloud, Millenium 2.2, etc) Maybe time they had some of the spotlight?. :? 3)Personally i love the homebrew section, always amazes me what folks are getting out of ye olde hardware and as it`s gaming on a RETRO platform, do feel it deserves it`s place.

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TMR
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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by TMR » Sat Aug 14, 2010 3:58 pm

Gabe wrote:Well he did also hint at maybe drafting in some help if he was going to extend it .
Depending on where it goes and what is needed i can probably handle six pages a month, i usually find that the killer is the interview and have made noises about finding alternative uses for that page. so that i'll have to do less of 'em. =-)
Gabe wrote:Whilst we're on about the homebrew section, do you feel you score a bit too generously? It seems to have come up a few times.
[Scratches head] i'm honestly not sure... Darran and Stuart have always left me to my own devices and there were no scoring guidelines or anything when i took the section over so all i've really done is try to make sure that my scores are relative to the previous homebrew reviews. It's a topic i'm enthusiastic about though (which is sort of how i got the gig in the first place, i've been writing reviews of homebrew for the 8-bits since the mid 1990's for fanzines and then the web) so i suppose that might influence the scores i give, but in my "defense" there's only been one occasion i can remember where Darran felt the need to actually alter one of my scores so that's not too bad for about a hundred reviews over two and a bit years!

i'm not really a fan of percentage scores personally because i suspect that people are almost fooled into thinking that there's something scientific involved in working them out so if there have to be scores i'd be happier with a scale of 1 to 10 and should Darran decide to remove them entirely from the homebrew section i wouldn't miss them.

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Timothy Lumsden
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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by Timothy Lumsden » Sat Aug 14, 2010 4:15 pm

I've never seen (and this goes for all review sites/mags) that percentages are the best way to go. I means, if someone asks how was the footy game last night, you'd never go: 78percent good mate.

I've always thought reviews could be done in a more empathetic way, games could be summed up with little labels: Must try, OK, Avoid etc.

(none of this is directed at TMR by the way! Just using the thread to muse on better ways to get across reviewers feelings on a game. )

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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by Jet Pilot » Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:13 pm

TMR wrote:i'm keeping out of that one... i mean, if he wants six pages i can probably manage it but i had a quick "bugger, my heart just stopped in sheer terror" when he said that! =-)
I've got no problems with the homebrew section and its current size. Even though I have no interest in the homebrew scene, I know there are those out there who love it. 4 pages is a lot for a regular feature and is an ample amount of coverage for each issue. I certainly don't want to see this section scaled back as that wouldn't be fair to the people who enjoy this coverage, however I also don't want to see this section expanded when it already has a generous 4 pages when there are so many other requests for coverage throughout the magazine (which is apparent in this thread) for topics that currently get little to no coverage.
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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by lanky316 » Sun Aug 15, 2010 10:07 am

HalcyonDaze00 wrote:One of the things I remember most about gaming from my younger days is how many arguements there were about the top games of the time. You only have to read this forum to see that even now, as adults, we are all capable of getting into slangi.....debates regarding the latest games (VF v Tekken, BFBC v MW etc).

Would be nice for the mag to do something like a small article on something like Sensi v Kick Off or Street Fighter v Mortal Kombat (there are hundreds to choose from). Something like this would be sure to stimulate debate and perhaps forum members could be invited to play both games and see if 20 years later they would still choose the same game as the better version.
Quite like this idea as an alternate for LAP every now and then. Similar layout but people arguing over the various things (stages, characters, special moves, etc) over two games. Changes up LAP a little and sparks a discussion.
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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by CraigGrannell » Sun Aug 15, 2010 1:23 pm

On homebrew, I'm glad it's in the mag, but I'm not sure it needs any extra space, with the possible exception of very occasional very interesting projects that are very closely related to titles readers would care about.

On the ratings for that section, I'd say they remind me very much of a period in the Newsfield mags that Lucy Hickman was responsible for. All of a sudden, pretty mediocre stuff was getting rated 50%+, with mildly good stuff getting 75%+, which was at odds to the rest of the mag. You already said elsewhere, TMR, that your personal ratings idea is to 'average' at 70%, whereas it's pretty clear RG goes lower (judging by ratings guidelines Darran's sent to me for the odd review I've penned for the mag).

Of course, it's tricky to change, since that would lead to inconsistency with previous columns. But it does look from an impartial standpoint like a lot like homebrew gets rated higher because it's homebrew, whereas commercial product doesn't, despite the fact plenty of the homebrew reviewed has a price-tag attached. The funny thing is, the reviews themselves seem fine. They are critical when they need to be, and praise solid, playable titles. It's just the reviews never seem to tally with the ratings.
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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by The Master » Sun Aug 15, 2010 2:02 pm

I think you should use divisible pictures of my head as ratings markers, with a maximum score of four-and-a-quarter Master's heads for things like Pac-Man, and Gorf (because five Master's heads would violate the laws of space and time!!!!)
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Timothy Lumsden
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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by Timothy Lumsden » Sun Aug 15, 2010 2:39 pm

I'd have to say Craig that RG seems to me to go a lot higher that 70% for the average game. (I'd always put it down to enthusiastic retro loving though - if you love a genre you mark it higher - as you pointed out with homebrew)

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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by jdanddiet » Sun Aug 15, 2010 2:57 pm

i'm all for getting rid of percentages anyway.
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SqueakyG
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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by SqueakyG » Sun Aug 15, 2010 2:59 pm

Darran@Retro Gamer wrote: One-Off Features
The mag can be heavily templated at times, so we're aiming to get more one-off features into the mag to keep it fresh and exciting. We do them every now and then, but we're planning to get at least one into each issue. Topics will include copy protection, car booting, the amiga public demo scene, tabletops (this is proving a bloody nightmare so expect it as a possible mini collector/price guide as it's proving a nightmare to find anywone with any real knowledge), type in features, preserving tapes, emulating and much much more.
Features on copy protection and BASIC type-ins were already done in the Live Publishing issues. Not to say you couldn't come up with fresh new things to say about these things.

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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by Gabe » Sun Aug 15, 2010 3:20 pm

lanky316 wrote:
HalcyonDaze00 wrote:One of the things I remember most about gaming from my younger days is how many arguements there were about the top games of the time. You only have to read this forum to see that even now, as adults, we are all capable of getting into slangi.....debates regarding the latest games (VF v Tekken, BFBC v MW etc).

Would be nice for the mag to do something like a small article on something like Sensi v Kick Off or Street Fighter v Mortal Kombat (there are hundreds to choose from). Something like this would be sure to stimulate debate and perhaps forum members could be invited to play both games and see if 20 years later they would still choose the same game as the better version.
Quite like this idea as an alternate for LAP every now and then. Similar layout but people arguing over the various things (stages, characters, special moves, etc) over two games. Changes up LAP a little and sparks a discussion.
These 2 posts have just given me a thought which could either add some sparkle to occasional-LAP articles or be a spin-off from it, again involving the forum: You select a multiformat game, and set up dedicated threads for each system it was released on (though for practical reasons it makes sense to pick just 2) - and then the opposing camps make their arguments for why their version was the best! It can be as serious or playground as Darran wants, but would create a bit of (hopefully) good-natured debate/gentle ribbing/some love over the machines, rather than the games - because let's face it, fanboys existed back in the good old days, we just hadn't thought of a name for them yet!

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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by Gabe » Sun Aug 15, 2010 3:24 pm

Timothy Lumsden wrote:I'd have to say Craig that RG seems to me to go a lot higher that 70% for the average game. (I'd always put it down to enthusiastic retro loving though - if you love a genre you mark it higher - as you pointed out with homebrew)
I'd agree with this - personally I've always taken the RG reviews with a pinch of aged-salt as I find the scoring is very generous. Nothing wrong with that across the whole of the review section, mind, as at least there is some consistency there.

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