Improving the magazine

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hydr0x
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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by hydr0x » Wed Aug 18, 2010 3:08 am

MulderWasTaken wrote:I'd like to see an article/s about Spanish developers or games.
Finally some feedback I can agree on. Not only Spanish though, but European ones in general. There have been so many great Spanish, German, Dutch, French and Italian developers and games and almost none have been featured yet. This is especially surprising as I have no doubt most of them are a lot easier to get hold off and speak to than the average Japanese dev.
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joefish
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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by joefish » Wed Aug 18, 2010 5:21 pm

Spanish developers, definitely.

My take on the 'user-generated-content' is that the snippets around the letters page, readers questions for interviewees, etc. are all interesting. It's always good to see someone else's take on a subject, and like the letters themselves, the editorial team can pick and choose a few pertinent or eloquent quotes to represent the spread of views, rather than just have text dumps of everything.

Having said that, and coming from the points (that not just me) made in another thread, I'm just not that interested in four pages of it for one game under the 'Let's All Play' title. While I wouldn't want to say straight out it has no place, it does seem like a lot of mutual backslapping for those on the forum as it goes on. I just don't see the point of bothering to read pages and pages of unending uncritical and frankly amateurish praise for a game, with any actual criticism (if such is printed) relegated to a tiny corner.

Of course, everyone who's made a contribution will get a rush from looking over the pages to see if anything they've submitted is included, but after that moment's passed, does anyone really read everything that everyone else has done?

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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by Havantgottaclue » Wed Aug 18, 2010 5:52 pm

I'm happy that RG caters for an international audience. But I must admit that I would say to those of you outside the UK - where are your own country's magazines? Now, if one or two of you are gearing up to post a furious response, let me just say that this isn't a childish 'get your own magazine!' argument - it's more the fact that I would be really interested in reading a retrogaming magazine from another country. And I'd expect the perspective to be local, too, and again that would be enjoyable; it's fascinating to read about which computers and consoles were popular in France, Spain, Germany, Brazil, the US, and so on - and nobody can really tell the story like the people who actually lived through it. My French is just about good enough to gain a decent understanding of sites such as Gros Pixels, but a magazine would be even better. In fact, something like Der Retroische Spieler might actually encourage me to take my German from little more than the ability to order a cup of coffee to the ability to hold a conversation! I've always meant to learn, and I can't think of a better incentive ...

Oh, and a US Retro Gamer magazine might have a bit less bloody ZX Spectrum in it, which can only be a good thing [runs and hides].
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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by Antiriad2097 » Wed Aug 18, 2010 6:16 pm

joefish wrote:Of course, everyone who's made a contribution will get a rush from looking over the pages to see if anything they've submitted is included, but after that moment's passed, does anyone really read everything that everyone else has done?
Yes, I read it all. But I do make a point of avoiding that bit of the forum so its all new comments to me, not just stuff I've read here already.
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Jet Pilot
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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by Jet Pilot » Wed Aug 18, 2010 8:27 pm

Havantgottaclue wrote:Oh, and a US Retro Gamer magazine might have a bit less bloody ZX Spectrum in it, which can only be a good thing [runs and hides].
While that would be nice, the reality is that it is very difficult to make money from of a print publication in the US. Magazine prices are typically much less here which drives down revenues and with the country being as big as it is, distribution costs are significantly more expensive. It will likely never happen. That's why I was so happy when I found out about Retro Gamer magazine.
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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by SqueakyG » Thu Aug 19, 2010 3:50 am

It's always fun to watch the Angry Videogame Nerd when he occasionally briefly reviews things on the C64. He considers it a massive chore to load things onto the C64 from floppy disk! And he didn't even mention the concept of tape loading, leading me to think that Americans never used the tape deck with the C64, and probably didn't use any other 8-bit microcomputers. That got me thinking about how different an American's gaming childhood must have been.

That would make a couple of good features. A nostalgic piece about tape loading. Then perhaps get a bunch of American retro fans to sit down with real Spectrums and Amstrads, and make them load the games from tape, and make them play a bunch of Speccy games they've never heard of, and get their opinions. It could be a laugh :lol:

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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by the_hawk » Thu Aug 19, 2010 4:26 am

Not sure if I'd get much of a laugh reading the opinions of whiny-arsed punks gurning about how sh-te the things I really enjoyed in my childhood were though.
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hydr0x
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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by hydr0x » Thu Aug 19, 2010 4:41 am

Havantgottaclue wrote:I'm happy that RG caters for an international audience. But I must admit that I would say to those of you outside the UK - where are your own country's magazines? Now, if one or two of you are gearing up to post a furious response, let me just say that this isn't a childish 'get your own magazine!' argument - it's more the fact that I would be really interested in reading a retrogaming magazine from another country. And I'd expect the perspective to be local, too, and again that would be enjoyable; it's fascinating to read about which computers and consoles were popular in France, Spain, Germany, Brazil, the US, and so on - and nobody can really tell the story like the people who actually lived through it. My French is just about good enough to gain a decent understanding of sites such as Gros Pixels, but a magazine would be even better. In fact, something like Der Retroische Spieler might actually encourage me to take my German from little more than the ability to order a cup of coffee to the ability to hold a conversation! I've always meant to learn, and I can't think of a better incentive ...

Oh, and a US Retro Gamer magazine might have a bit less bloody ZX Spectrum in it, which can only be a good thing [runs and hides].
Of course Germany (and at least also France) have own retro magazines but that's not the point. Retro Gamer has in reality long left being british behind. At least in terms of sales I'd bet so. It's available in stores across the globe and I bet quite a relevant percentage of subs are outside the UK. You cannot compare a German mag to an English one. English is understood around the world and I'm sure RG has the goal of being the leading english retro gaming mag. As such, it just has to cater to an international audience or it'll be surpassed by something else. Apparently IP and Darran realised this as the the non-UK content has been on the rise.

Also, you have to stop assuming you're talking about whole Europe when you're in fact just presenting a british POV. Europe in general is much closer to the US in terms of retro gaming than to the UK. Sega or Nintendo? Nintendo. 8-bit computers? C64 > CPC > MSX, no spectrum, etc etc.
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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by CraigGrannell » Thu Aug 19, 2010 5:34 am

On the UK/international thing, the reality is that the mag sells most of its copies in the UK, but of course would like to expand. The US, for example, is a massive market. If the mag can get more exposure and sales there, it would do wonders for its lifespan. Ultimately, though, all that the in-house team has cared about since I started writing for the mag is relevance. I've covered games on various platforms and with developers from the UK, USA, France and Japan. If a game is good or interesting in some way, it makes the cut; if not, it doesn't. There's a certain amount of subjectivity in this, of course, and we are reliant on people wanting to speak to us for making-ofs, but those are really the only barriers to entry for at least some coverage in the mag. Naturally, more popular games (mostly) get more space, but that's so we don't fill 50 pages with some obscure Oric game and immediately lose half the readers.

On overseas mags, there are other retro publications dotted about, but the UK publishing industry has long held a position of catering to niche and managing to worm its way on to international shelves. I suspect that's down to the model used—reasonably high cover prices bolstered by subs, and less emphasis on advertising. In the USA, there's no way in hell Retro Gamer would ever happen, because the model there is utterly advertising-led. Print mags are loss-leaders (you can usually subscribe to the likes of Wired for $1 per issue, which is totally crazy), in order to drive readership levels up and therefore justify charging an arm and a leg for ads. This worked well pre-internet, but it's a model with serious problems today, not least because the perception of value of US mags has dropped to almost nothing. (Sadly, this also affects foreign mags—some people from the US don't get why Retro Gamer isn't selling subs for something like $20 per year; clearly, Imagine would rather the mag remains solvent!)
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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by Timothy Lumsden » Thu Aug 19, 2010 6:30 am

US magazines are probably so cheap as they are 50 percent advertising! (and the few that I've read over the years arent terribly good quality either). Hey! Something Britain does well! Big cheer! :D

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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by Havantgottaclue » Thu Aug 19, 2010 7:19 am

hydr0x wrote:Also, you have to stop assuming you're talking about whole Europe when you're in fact just presenting a british POV.
I hope that's not a response to my post, because I assumed no such thing. I don't know enough about gaming in Europe to make such assumptions. I'm glad to know that there are retrogaming magazines in other countries and I'm sure they're worth investigating - that's the only point I wanted to make.
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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by Mayhem » Thu Aug 19, 2010 7:39 am

SqueakyG wrote:And he didn't even mention the concept of tape loading, leading me to think that Americans never used the tape deck with the C64, and probably didn't use any other 8-bit microcomputers.
They did, I've got some commercial C64 US releases on tape (mostly Synapse) but tapes pretty much died off by 1984 over there.
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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by Jet Pilot » Thu Aug 19, 2010 8:25 am

CraigGrannell wrote:In the USA, there's no way in hell Retro Gamer would ever happen, because the model there is utterly advertising-led. Print mags are loss-leaders (you can usually subscribe to the likes of Wired for $1 per issue, which is totally crazy), in order to drive readership levels up and therefore justify charging an arm and a leg for ads. This worked well pre-internet, but it's a model with serious problems today, not least because the perception of value of US mags has dropped to almost nothing. (Sadly, this also affects foreign mags—some people from the US don't get why Retro Gamer isn't selling subs for something like $20 per year; clearly, Imagine would rather the mag remains solvent!)
That's spot on. It's rare to see a subscription in the US that charges more than $1.50 per issue (about £1). Usually its less. About 18 months ago, a long-time (20 years) gaming publication went under even though its circulation numbers were in the several hundred thousands. They simply couldn't make money because they offered subscriptions for dirt cheap and often free. They do this to get their circulation numbers up and to stay competitive with the other magazines. If one magazine is charging $20 US for a sub and another is charging $80, it's going to be a hard sell for the $80 sub, unless the content is highly compelling (that would be RG...which was $130 when I first subscribed...that's about the equivalent of 8-9 regular magazine subscriptions in the US).

The distribution costs are very expensive as well when you consider getting a magazine on every newsstand shelf in a country the size of an entire continent. RG gets around that here by partnering with a select nationwide retailer to stock the magazine, which is smart. But for a magazine in the US that is trying to sell as many copies as possible under the current broken model, that wouldn't work.

Timothy Lumsden wrote:US magazines are probably so cheap as they are 50 percent advertising!
Just about. You should see some of the women's magazines here (not girly magazines :lol: ). They are about 90% advertising. Whoever came up with that idea is brilliant. They get advertisers to pay for 200 pages of ads, they put 1 article in the magazine and then sell said book of advertisements to women who get suckered in because they see the inciting article plastered on the cover. Every time I see someone flipping through one of those piles of trash it amazes me that someone was stupid enough to buy it.
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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by mikeb » Thu Aug 19, 2010 8:53 am

I'm very much in favour with the idea of covering games and game companies from across the globe, not just the UK, US and Japan, although I think the mag has always kept a nice balance in covering those three areas, arguably beacuse they were probably the most influential in the evolution of our little hobby. But of course there were plenty of influential, interesting developers from other countries as well - France (Delphine, Cryo, Silmarils,Titus, Infogrames, Ubisoft) Germany (Rainbow Arts, Ariolasoft, Factor 5, Blue Byte, Thalion, Kaiko) Sweden (DICE) Finland (Bloodhouse, Stavros Fasoulos) Spain (Dinamic, Paco Suarez who created Bugaboo the Flea) Italy (N.A.P.S Team of Shadow Fighter fame) Australia (Melbourne House, Interactive Binary illusions (Flight of The Amazon Queen)) New Zealand (Acid Software (Skidmarks)) to name just a few. I think many of the above (and plenty of others) would be great to see in RG.

I covered Kaiko with the Apidya feature in issue 67, in fact I have a bit of a soft spot for many of the German developed games I played back on the C64 and Amiga. Actually, recently I've been trying to track down a few of the Rainbow arts/Factor 5/Blue Byte guys to talk to, and I've a couple of game making ofs coming up that might be relevant - one being an Anglo-Danish co-production, the other a fondly remembered French title about the American Civil War :)

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Re: Improving the magazine

Post by Havantgottaclue » Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:50 am

As far as US magazines are concerned - wow! That's a bit of an eye-opener. So no US Retrogamer ... shame.
Soon you will have forgotten all things: soon all things will have forgotten you. (Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book 7)

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