|primemover003 RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16|
It is growing on me a bit, but I really liked the 3E logo.
Well, you might be happy to know that I'm the same guy who designed the 3E logo. And the Mutants & Masterminds logo. And the Star Wars RPG and TCG packaging. And the interiors of the 3E rulebooks.
I've been around a bit.
Well, overall I enjoyed the magazine more than normal. One of the sections I was never very fond of was the fiction. I love a good story, but I read Dragon for D&D rules / supplements / ideas. I also liked the 1 page treatment to each core class, but am afraid that the section may get repetitive and boring if it is to repeat each month. But overall,I'm enjoying it, and looking forward to the next.
Thanks gigz. Goober. :)
Public Disclosure of Facts: gigz is one of my best friends, and was my roommate before I moved to Bellevue to take this awesome job at Dragon. :)
Y'all may now return to your regularly scheduled forum. :)
Thanks for answering some of the questions I posted in my previous post. You stated that you changed your typeface because it is scientifically proven easier to read? Who did the study and what where people reading? What typefaces where used in the study? Where they reading a fantasy Magazine, textbook material, or a novel? Just because there is a study doesn't mean it applies to all situations. I don't trust anyone who says it is scientifically proven unless I know the exact experiment that was done. As far as comprehension with material in Dragon with the old typeface, I remember many articles that I have read once that I want to go back and use in my campaign. It was not the typeface that allowed me to do that but the content of the article.
As far as the white space it is just plain empty. It gives readers the impression that there is less material (even though you may have the same amount). Again where are the graphics. I don't think I have seen this technique used in any reputable magazine before. I can easily find any article I want using the Table of Contents.
The Masthead I assume you mean the title on the front cover, may be a typeface from the 19th century but it just is not the same, it just does not feel like fantasy. I guarantee that I could see Dragon out of the corner of my eye if it was on a news stand with the previous Masthead.
As far as why I call it a techno-geek magazine it is the inside with all the plain block graphics with lines for headers. This does not have the look and feel of fantasy like the previous magazines.
Advertisements didn't bother me.
I have started reading the magazine and have got just passed the Samurai vs. Knight article and so far I am not impressed with the content either. I plan to post an article by article critique when I finish reading the magazine because I am worried about the direction my favorite and only magazine I subscribe to is going.
I think we should start a count to see how many people it takes logging in and writing in saying "I don't like all the white space in the magazine no matter how you try to justify it as "progressive" or modern" before it sinks in to the editing staff.
I have to agree with some of these guys here. When you say "it's a scientific fact that white space is good. . . " no one cares. If it looks bad and folks who subscribe to your magazine (and help pay your salary) say "I don't like this" in significant numbers then you might do well to take notice.
Not trying to be rude or confrontational, just want to avoid the whole Dunge/Polyhedron fiasco again, :]
I concur my good fellow or fellowette as the case may be.
Any idea in design is worth a try, sometimes things dont work and you move on to something else.
I'd like to know more about the process. Are ideas mocked up and then gone over in comittee? Or is there a sole person responsible for implementation? PS, InDesign, Illustrator? or other suite of programs?
Also, examples of this sort of design thats been succesful?
I honestly don't want another subscription if this the way Dragon is going to continue to go. It was downright bland, and that's what sticks in my mind. FOr the first 36 pages all I remember is a lot of white with advertisements in between. It was like looking through a magazine at the doctors office, or flipping through a periodical. There was a lot of empty space, and if I were I new gamer I probably wouldn't have given the magazine a second look. I mean the massive amounts of white started with the cover, which simply looked horrible. Sure you could read the name of the magazine, but if trying to get new people to buy that isn't going to work. White, white, and more white. I'm gaming, I'm not studying.
Krail Stromquism wrote:
You can look at magazines like Car (from the UK), Giant Robot, Play, GamesTM, Wired, etc. to see the use of white space to create lead-in points for articles. Wired is probably the closest to our magazine in terms of types of content (some small digestible bits, many short departments, and long feature well articles). I think they've solved the problem pretty well, and it was certainly an inspiration point for us (not as far as visual design, they are a tech magazine and we are not), but we really drew from a lot of areas to find what works.
Our process is a collaborative one between the art and editorial teams, with a few rounds of approvals by Wizards of the Coast. However, there is no design by committee on projects that I take part in. That only results in watered down work that is unpalatable and boring.
For production, we use pretty much every application available. We use InDesign and InCopy for layout and production and editing, and use Photoshop, Illustrator, Freehand, and whatever else is necessary to put together everything else. There's no one magic program we use for everything.
As I stated before, the magazine is a living thing. And we knew that some readers would react negatively to any change in the magazine (we gamers, myself included, seem to really, really hate change -- look at the uproar over 3E, and now most everyone realizes that it completely revitalized the game and the industry, and that is was a good thing).
The magazine will continue to change, both based on feedback from the readers (who as a whole, although not on our message board, have liked the redesign), and feedback from the art and editorial teams, as we decide what works and what doesn't. It is not a static design that will not change. Any magazine's first redesign issue will be a bit rough around the edges. It's the same with the editorial mix, reader's feedback will help determine what goes in the magazine.
To address the questions of readability of the old body font versus the new one, there's been a lot of readability studies over the years, and they all point to the same thing. In every instance, for long bodies of text, humanist serif typefaces provide faster reads, better comprehension, and better retention. Humanist sans-serif typefaces come in second.
Typefaces like Equipoize (the old body font) are generally considered "display faces" and are not good for bodies of text. The character spacing, letterform design, and general readability of Equipoize is low. There are no magazines on the newsstand using that typeface, because it does not work for magazines or for books. We're helping you guys read, learn, and remember what is in the magazine. You can send us thank you notes later ;P
Stylistically speaking, we wanted the magazine to feel like a magazine, not like another Wizards of the Coast RPG book, and not like the liner notes for a speed metal, death rock CD.
We'll see in six months were we end up though.
Just my opinion:
The white space sucks. I want to see more artwork.
The Buyers Guide is a tremendous waste of space. 17 pages of extra advertising. I know it helps your bottom line but it's completely useless to me.
Samurai vs. Knight. Who the hell cares? How often does this question even come up? How is this even relevant to D&D? What a waste.
I'm OK with the rest of the mag but really, you have be more selective about the content. I've always been a big supporter of both Dragon and Dungeon but this issue in particular was a bit dissapointing.
Like the content, hate the blandness. You must have gotten tons of people complaining about how hard it was to read. Or you're cutting back on ink. ;) Anyway, I like the way it looked before - some color, anything, instead of all that white space. It looks like parts of the articles are missing. Images, symbols, quotes from the article in big font...anything to make it look complete. An off-white, parchment-like background would be nice, like a toned-down version of the pages in the FR supplements.
I don't remember if it's been mentioned in this thread already, but the buyer's guide was added onto the magazine; it doesn't take any space away from the usual content. Issue #323 is one of the longest issues in recent years partly because Wizards of the Coast paid to add in an extra 16 pages for their Buyers Guide. Even without the guide it would be 8 pages longer than usual.
Well, this article harkens back to the heady days of Dragon's beloved past, when general interest informative articles appeared frequently. With the re-envisioning of the magazine, we decided to pay homage to our roots. One of the ways we decided to do that was with articles that can appeal to gamers without directly involving the game we all love so much. Dragon of the 80s often had articles such as "History of the Shield" that provided an in-depth look at some aspect of the real world that ended up in the game.
Articles like these are only as relevant as you want to make them, of course. Maybe your campaign doesn't have a Western/Eastern cultural divide, but if it did an article like "Samurai vs. Knight" might prove useful whenever your Western-inspired characters meet an Eastern-inspired NPC. :)
If there are certain types of articles you'd like to see in the future, please feel free to slip over to our Article Requests forum and let us know. Of course, as always, one of the best ways to see an article in the magazine is to submit an article for the magazine. ;) Go check out our submission guidelines at...uh...well the link is on the main Dragon page (paizo.com/dragon). ;D
Stick with us to see the results of all our tweaking. As any of you who know magazines might guess, it's too late for us to make changes in time for issue #324 (which is still pretty darn groovy), but I'm betting you're going to like what adjustments we've made for issue #325. :)
I liked the new Dragon except one thing...that Masthead really bites in my opinion. I like the old one...when I picked it up I was hmmm is this even the magazine that I use to subscribe to? From the cover design I thought it was a new company trying to create a magazine and get subscribers off a known name but didn't have the graphic talent found on some of the amateur websites. I guess I feel this way because I am a fan of fantasy and was a fan of the way the masthead use to look, thought it fit well. As a graphic designer I understand wanting to have it so its easier to cover up parts and still be recognized but lets not get dull here. People could recognize the old mast... I always did from across the room in a new store...like I said thought it was a cheep knock off when I first saw it.
WoW! You guys at the editorial staff amaze me. How man folks since yesterday logged on said "i don't like the white space," and still you guys fire back with "Well, but we like it," and "research blah blah blah," and "everyone else in the magazine industry does it so we should."
It seems that maybe you guys should be equally concerned with what your paying fan base thinks as much as you are with magazines outside the industry, or ones that aren't concerned with the industry at all.
So far I've seen folks write in and say "the articles are cool," or "I hate this article" etc etc on a variety of issues, but all of them also seem to include: "dump the extra white space, looks ugly, don't like it" seems like you guys would see that common thread and take that into consideration.
WoW! You guys at the editorial staff amaze me. How man folks since yesterday logged on said "i don't like the white space," and still you guys fire back with "Well, but we like it," and "research blah blah blah," and "everyone else in the magazine industry does it so we should."
That is not what I said. The question was asked "why did you guys choose to use white space as a design element throughout the magazine?" and I responded with our reasoning. There is no leave it or lump it attitude here. We have good reasons for making our design choices, which I feel I've explained fully, many of which have to do with making the magazine accessible to a much wider audience of players, ones who might be turned off by a magazine that doesn't look or read like other magazines they buy.
However, that being said, we will change the magazine as is necessary to befit the audience and the desires of the art and editorial teams.
We're certainly not interested in losing readers, only in gaining new ones.
I think I posted over on EnWorld that the only Mag I could think of that used 'white space' was Play, the big difference (HUGE difference) is that they lay in a really nice juicey graphic in it and it sets it off. In the Dragon we see that 50% on the time. The intros that work or feel OK are the ones with a graphic stuck in there and the jilting ones are the ones with just text set off by a snow field.
I dont thnk the fonts an issue at all.
Mastheads, I dont actually mind Dungeons but wow is dragons bland, snoresville.
hey...wait...theres a kid crying out side...fell on scooter, hell live.. anyway.
Not only am I a D&D dork but I'm also a high falutten Graphic Designer, for about 6 years now and from where Im standing your moving away from your goal and not towards it.
A fantasy game mag should look and 'feel' like a fantasy game mag, new readers may find it accesible but wont find it engaging because theres little to emerse themsleves in. As GDs we should know that the content isnt going to hold people there its how good the content looks and how it makes the reader feel. I know your editors and writers arent going to like that, but its true.
So spring for some awesome mindblowing art and put it in that whitespace and you'll be a LOT better off.
PS I loved the demon stone and product section, at least visually, I wished the entire mag could look like that.
Overall I liked the new design. I liked the articles, though I too was a bit disappointed by the Samurai vs Knight article. It was very scholarly, and the author clearly knew what he was talking about, but I too expected something more than "the best man wins." Not being a magazine person, I have no idea what white space means, but I thought the content was exceptional. This was one issue where I found something I can put in my game on almost every page of content.
I look forward to seeing how this evolves.
Here are my reactions to the new format:
1. Boring design? yeah. Although as long as there is more raw information I don't mind. White space? This isn't Art Forum. The design should reflect the content. Does it have to scream Medieval Times on every page? No. But I did notice a, how shall I say, lack of artwork on pages. Example: page 24. aproximately 1/3 of the page is blank. It should have a graphic, even if it was just a blown up photograph of one of the miniatures, or one of the graphics from their stat cards. I would ask for more white space if it reflected in the price, but I would rather pay more for more special effects. C'mon a imagine a D&D movie with no SFX.
2. Stuff in the front of the book should have been in the back and vice-versa. Novel Approach? back. Chocobo stats? back. I like the Chocobo stats, kewl. But say it in the Title. Riding Bird? C'mon we know we are nerds we shouldn't hide it. Comics? I read them all and L-O-V-E ZoGoNIA. Never the less, back.
3. Samurai, hands down.
4. We play this game because it is not a Video Game. There are RPGS on the computer and the are super-cool (they use the words "super-cool" in France and Africa all of the time, I've been there). Video game inspired stats belong in the magazine, but not so many pages devoted to it.
5. I love the magazine and will continue to buy it and Dungeon each month. I will probably subscribe to both. Keep up the good work and hey, you aked for our opinions.
I'm happy to see readers posting their opinions about the redesign of the magazine, and I look forward to seeing more opinions. Please understand however, that a dozen or so people's opinions don't represent the plurality of our audience.
We take the feedback from our messageboards, but we're also reading emails sent to Scale Mail and paying close attention to issue sales and subscriptions. We premiered issue 323 at Gen Con this year, and we sold six times the normal number of subscriptions we typically sell at the convention. We've also seen a general increase in subscriptions to the magazine since the release of 323.
That said, we will be refining our approach to the design and content of each issue as we recieve more feedback. Already, issue 324 and 325 have less white space and more art. However, the magazine's general design philosophy—which emphasizes ease of reading, easy entry to articles and the issue, and an enegetic feel—is not likely to change.
Dragon needs to appeal to more than the hard core D&D player; it must appeal to the casual D&D player and the new player as well. Their needs are somewhat different, and so each issue will contain a broad array of content. Will every page or every issue of Dragon be appealing and immediately useful to every player who picks it up? I hope so, but it's unreasonable to expect that.
If you'd really like to change the direction of Dragon, tell us what you liked and what you'd like to see. It's nature of people to say something when they have a complaint. Few go out of their way to compliment. Thus, when we don't receive much comment on something, we assume people liked it, but without real positive feedback, we don't know for sure why people liked something—making repeating that success difficult. If you liked something, in issue 323 or from older issues, and want to see more of it, let us know what and why.
Krail Stromquism wrote:
Remember that Play gets all it's art for free, being a video game magazine. We're not quite so lucky. ;P
I've been art directing for about 6 years now, and working as a designer for the last 11 years. I've won a lot of awards for my work, and I feel like I know the industry pretty well (seems like a lot of fans feel that way too). I designed the 3E look and feel, so I know D&D. Krail, Perhaps you'd like to open up some of your work to a public forum? ;P
I also know magazines. Our goal with Dungeon and with Dragon was to let the art shine, rather than coating every page with parchments and jewels and graphic junk. I'm not into special effects and filters and such. I find much of the work that is done in the fantasy genre trite and overdone. We had contemplated doing something like this but the amount of work that sort of design takes time-wise makes it impractical at best for a monthly magazine, and wasted effort at worst. (and before everyone says "That's so sweet! That's super cool! Why aren't you doing that!" we know it's cool. That's why we thought about that as inspiration.)
Magazines are not the same as books, where the designers have months of production time. We work on a very tight schedule, but the upside is that it does allow us to change the design from month to month. We can react much faster to the audience than you can with book design.
Could we have gone too clean with the redesign? Possibly. But that's why we take in all the feedback from the fans. We do listen to all of you guys (whether we like what you say is an entirely different thing, but I'm not designing for me, I'm designing for the people who buy the magazine).
Like I said several times, we'll probably end up somewhere in the middle of clean and "fantasy."
Well, I'm not sure if I made it clear in my earlier post, but I for one plan to stick it out. I remember the transition from second to third edition was a little rough, too. But things got better than ever, until the arrival of Dragon each month filled me with glee. The more I see people tear your work apart on this forum, the more I feel bad about my post.
I'd like to apologize if I was untactful, but I stand by what I said on the editorial policy. I love the shift in focus to players, but I fear that the vast amount of departments might lead to bland articles. I would like to see larger departmental pieces that don't recur in every issue. Things like spells and magic items have been departments that often get treated like features, and I really like that. “Patterns of Shadow and Light” and “Sneaky, Stealthy, and Stylish” from #322 are perfect examples. I loved both articles. SS&S, especially, was a beautiful article with neat content and artwork.
I think the white space *in the back* is a little much, but I realize you're not done tweaking.
I really like the idea of non-game background pieces. I just think this was a bad one to start off with. I remember, when it was posted on Fark it got the same reaction. But the other ideas mentioned in here all sounded interesting. The title spread was very eye-catching, and a good opening to the well.
Actually, I felt like the front of the book was a little overwhelming, with the well buried pretty far in. There was a huge contrast in the density of these departments compared to the back. The density of graphics (especially when you factor in adds and the comics) was just a bit much.
I did not care for the “Demon Stone” article. My big problem with it is that it takes up one of only four feature slots with non-game material. Features are the articles I like best in Dragon. Three-twenty-two had over twice as many features, or articles that felt like features. In such an issue, losing a single feature to a video game wouldn’t have bothered me.
“Seven Deadly Domains” was good. The whole article was beautifully designed, and I liked having each mask by its domain. I like the morally ambiguous content. The sidebars were attractive, well-placed, and helpful.
“See No Evil” was a little bland, but quite acceptable. The concept was a good one, I just wasn't particularly interested in the direction they went with it. I do think that one design element that would have improved it would have been a different title font. I noticed this one gets used a lot throughout the book, unlike the font for “Seven Deadly Domains,” which was one of the things that really made it pop.
I’ve already said how I feel about the departments in the back; just imagine it again with nicer words. One thing that I really liked was having the illustrations of the magic items. I really like thematic issues, and tying a theme in with the Class Acts sometimes might really help it.
You guys usually put out a great magazine, and I have full confidence in you. I only criticize because I love what you do so much. So I hope you don’t hate me, because I may very well submit an article.
Matthew Sernett wrote:
Nice to see you drop in and post. Mike came in and replied to most of my concerns with this issue in the Dungeon thread yesterday (which I alluded to here in this thread), as did Sean, but thanks for addressing them again yourself and in such a timely fashion. I was happy to see your concern and to hear of the weight with which you give the concern of your posters, readers and current subscribers, no matter how far in the minority their oppinions might be! Also glad to hear that Dragon did so amazingly well at Gencon and in the days following the much anticipated release of issue 323. Looks like your job security is pretty much locked down for some time!
Personally, I would like to chime in to say I like the focus of the magazine and the inclusion of some new and old articles (class acts, ecology, etc.), but am not a fan of the white space. Will it stop me from buying the magazine? Not a chance. Similarly, would it get me to buy the magazine? Probably not. I think for the most part, its content and a catchy cover that sells.
Having said that, I will make one comment on the Ecology of the Choker. I found it kinda bland. Informative? Yes. But more like an encyclopedic entry for some central african country - accurate, but about as rivetting as paste. For me, the main failure was lack of mood and tone for the article. Right from the beginning it failed to inspire or grab anything more than a passing interest. In any event, I might be completely off base on this and alone in my opinion.
Aside from this, I like the new look and feel, and give a hearty congrats to the Matt and the staff at Dragon.
First I want to say I love Dragon and I have faith that you guys will fine to the Magazine to so that as many people as possible are happy.
That said, here are my opinions:
Has Potential but did not care for this issue:
Did not like:
I know there were a few more articles but I only wanted to talk about the ones that I liked, disliked, or saw potential in.
Thanks for listening to what I had to say. I know that the guys at Dragon can fine tune their changes. I am definitely curious on how it will affect the upcoming issues.
One last opinion: Themed Issues Rock!!! Bring them Back.
Alright I think it's time to give you guys a better reply, then that incoherent rabble about white before. It will be easier now, especially since I'm no longer tired, cranky, and this time it's not 3 AM.
I still don't like the white space, it looked like another resource book. You're dealing with people who take dice and numbers, and turn them into creative ingenuity. You have to appeal to that side of them, as well the side that flips through resource books hours on end just to find that one rule, feat, or spell that will get the results they want. Clean, easy to read, ect. that's great, but at the same time you have to make it catch there eye, and spark that imagination of theirs. Design wise I prefered the set-ups of Demon Stone, Seven Deadly Domains, and See No Evil. And when I did my first skim of the magazine these were the first ones that caught my attention and the first ones I read.
I also must say the first articles I read were also the most interesting. But even though Demon Stone sounds incredible, it was not something I was looking to read about in Dragon. I found "samuria vs Knight" and the ecology article less than rivetting. The former felt very indifferent, while the latter came off bland. The Class Acts was an interesting addition, I found the sorcerer section very intriguing, as well as the cleric section. I do believe that doing all six classes a magazine will burn out new ideas quick, and I wouldn't mind if this sections were a little expanded on. I think two classes a month would be a good idea, and making them theme based would give them an extra flare. Like in your next issue, you could do Bard that deals with undead, something I think would be interesting. And if you picked two classes, you could mix it up and put in some the nonstardard base classes(Psion, Wilder, Phychic Warrior, Soulknife, and Artificer).
Well keep up the good work, and I hope this post was better than my last two.
"Play gets all it's art for free", the minis article was a good representation of using existing art. One would think the relationship with WoTC would foster a more open use and approach with at least some of their material.
"Krail, Perhaps you'd like to open up some of your work to a public forum?" What GD doesnt have their work on a public forum? I do a lot of web and flash based stuff (see below link). Crits are just part of the territory. I've never been one to get bent outa shape over it. You take it into account, judge the source and see if and how its applicable. Its been my experience that 50% or more of the design work that gets doen never sees the light of day. Why? Cause the clients got a vision. It doesnt matter if youve done great work, if the client doesnt like it, you scrap it and move on.
http://www.mythdrivinglegend.com (wow, this needs updated!)
One thing I'd like to note is the Demon Stone piece, I loved it, design wise. People have been saying it doesnt really belong, or shoulda had some crunch in there and that may be true. The thing to remember is the game industry (PC, Consoles, mobile) make gagillions of dollars. Thats not scientific but its true. More spent on games then on movies. If theres ever an overlap to draw in new readers its Electronic games. Silicon Sorcery is always on of the best features, Chocobos are awesome and Demon Stone was cool but could have used some crunch in there to make everyone happy.
"rather than coating every page with parchments and jewels and graphic junk. I'm not into special effects and filters and such." Life is more than just lens flares, yes its true. Im not suggesting for a moment of doing an over the top Limborache layout. Just by doing different parchment BGs and have them match a theme, good, evil, elf, orc or whatever and then dropping in a phat graphic on top would be both simplistic and unintrusive but also lend to atmosphere and nostalgia. When art isnt available then youve still got cohesion for the article and the reader aren't feeling 'gipped' (sp?) Even if it was scaled back to a header at least you have a way to set tone. you know?
Anyhow, all this talk of work makes me want to do training pieces for recursive computer programming!
Well I’m glad to see that this thread (which I started) seems to be going very well… Great that the magazine staff is chiming in and very interesting to hear what everybody else thinks I’m back because over the week I TRIED to work through Dragon #232 again to no avail.
I’ll stand by my decision to continue buying the magazine for a couple of issues more, hoping to see it improves. I guess my biggest request after going over it again is to make it useful for ALL fans of the game. I can live with occasional articles on computer games and even with the catalog at the end, but the whole magazine seems aimed at the newer player, the gamer who is just picking up the magazine after his first couple of games, Give us old games something too!
Well I’m not that old anyway… Here is wishing 324 is an improvement. I encourage all you posters to come back to discuss 324 when it come out.
Phillip Longman wrote:
One of the things I've loved about Dragon since 3E is the willingness to try new things with design. Sure, it may not have always worked, but you didn't see any mainstream magazines using a building cross-section as a ToC. Why has it suddenly dropped back to such basic, boring stuff?
Phillip, I am the former art director to Dragon magazine and was responsible for the layout you described. I am Lisa Chido's predecessor, as she preceeded Sean Glenn. The three of us all have different design backgrounds and personal tastes. You've undoubtedly seen the shift from my work (issues 274-289ish), through Lisa's (290ish-recent), and now Sean's.
Sean Glenn is no stranger to design though the magazine may feel sparse. This is not to excuse or apologize for Mr. Glenn's work (which I've admired for many years even before his work on Dragon). Sean is a consummate designer...a designer's designer...he has an impeccable eye for good design. First, for you critical readers, give him some time to find a proper rhythm and you will realize that you are in great hands. He's done excellent work within the gaming industry for many years and I've stolen more than a few of his innovative ideas.
An art director/designer has some fundamental concerns when approaching magazine design. There are functional constraints...you cannot design and produce a magazine under a production deadline to the degree you might without a deadline. As a "survivor" of magazine design, it's probably okay to reveal that most magazines are created in about one gnarly week of work. Take a look at the credits pages (near the front) and see how many people are working on the magazine then look at any other magazine on a retail shelf and you'll see what an astonishing feat this is. Dragon's staff is really, really small. It's the cost of not being a web-based magazine. Magazine design is a specialized field as there are a billion little "rules" to follow while trying to remain innovative, intuitive, and deliver the content in a supportive way. Magazine designer certainly is a prestige class...though it should probably be called "Insanely Creative Workaholic."
Safe design is almost always better than unsuccessful design. When my first issue of Dragon came out it featured all kinds of junky textures. It looked like Janis Joplin's tiedyed blouse after a heavy night of drinking. It just wasn't very legible but it sure was fun to create! Readers from all over felt compelled to let us know how much they hated it and how fired I should become. We toned it down and found other opportunities for innovation.
Innovation takes time and meditation; two luxuries magazine teams rarely have. The only way that we could find time to explore fun things like the exploded-view map/Table of Contents (or my personal favorite, the Caves of Contents in 287) was by neglecting other important aspects of the magazine. The idea came after illustration commissions were long past and I drew it myself...like the shields in 274s Heraldry article...like the isometric views of so many Sage Advices and Dungeoncrafts. My motto is, "If you want something done half-assed, do it yourself." The only bonus to this approach is blasting Slayer in the office at 3 in the morning.
Attentive readers like Longman may recall the disasterous ToC that had the pages all splayed out without illustrations (Shannara issue I think). Readers didn't get it, didn't want to get it, and thought that having me tarred and feathered would be more fun. We realized that just because I thought it was a cool idea didn't actually make it a cool idea.
Cost is always a concern. Illustrating a magazine is no inexpensive proposition. Illustrators need to eat and they should be paid for the professional work that they do. More illustrations means more expense, more ads, perhaps higher subscription costs, and certainly less textual content. It's a give-and-take.
In the end, I'm not very fond of the new look of Dragon. Not because it doesn't look more like what I would have done with it (well, maybe just a little), but because it hasn't found it's rhythm yet. I've never found a redesign's first issue to be satisfactory...it comes with time. And it WILL come...I have every faith in Sean's work (he kicks ass), and in all of Dragon's excellent readers to trust the editorial team's judgement.
Congratulations on your new magazine, guys!
I believe the new layout misses the point - it IS a fantasy magazine for a fantasy hobby. It doesn't need to be easy to read! It should look cool - exciting - fantastical. How boring would a comic book be if it was easy to read?
I haven't talked to a single person that likes the new look - I think people are excited about the proposed new content - dungeon for dm's and dragon for the players. It's anticipation that this is a great idea that everyone I game with and meet are excited about.
Sean's work with 3E was awesome - bring that feel to Dragon and start with a new logo! Make it feel like a fantasy game which it supports. The current new logo is boring.
As to Sean's remarks about newstand distance and all that - BS - the magazine is displayed on the bottom shelf on the fourth level (so it's well hidden from a consumer standing) in the corner at the popular bookstores and it's only findable by someone looking for it - I know - I had to ask the friendly counter person if there were any in stock - her computer said yes and I had to look three times to find it! However, it is displayed prominently at the gaming/hobby store where what attracts readers to a fantasy magazine is a really cool fantasy picture on the cover (ie - hot babes in leather with swords - a cliche yes but it works).
Give us our fantasy with glorious pictures that immerse us into our imaginary world - not boring text on white space!
Read the post stating that readership was disappointed with the review of the D&D worlds. That's a shame really as I thought it was really cool. I suppose or bet that's a demographics stat - those 30 and older loved it while the younger readership was bored with it.
Too bad as I was hoping it would become a regular column. There is so much really cool stuff out there in the archives. It's really amazing how much content came out of such a small company. Off the board topic - anyone redoing or have rights to redo all the old mods into 3.5ed? I can't help but think the newer players have really missed a key understanding to what is d&d without playing some of the classics - giants, tomb, slavers, heck - even the Village of Hommlet and In Search for the Unknown (the module every one of us old farts have played) and Keep on the Borderlands!
Ok - posted about the layout and retro'd a bit - might as well post my two cents about the content - I found it overall rather good.
There's always quite a bit that I won't ever use every month but find interesting. Every now and then is something I find useful for my campaign, but that's the way it is when writing a magazine for a game as in depth and varied as D&D. The thought is to be able to pick and choose from various ideas. I'm surprised that there will be enough new and good ideas for a new class every month and a new x every month as issue hints at - we'll see and I wonder if that will need to be toned down in the future.
I can do without the computer game review as that is covered better and more extensively in computer game magazines. Don't need to pay for the same material in two different magazines.
I do like the historical perspective and think it could make a rather interesting column. I found the historical art of war timeline rather interesting and a great summary of all those history lessons some 20+ years ago. I would think there are enough readers that would enjoy learning more on historical Europe - knights, castles and the like - with a D&D viewpoint. I've been to the UK a couple of times and the highlight is hitting castles and trying to place the location into a fantasy D&D setting. I'd like to hit Germany and France for the same reason.
I like the Wizards ads in the back - it's an easy reference - does the monthly price go down if they add more? How about the same sort of support from Kenzer, Malhovic, Green Rohin, etc.
On that thought - since you are now independent of Wizards - how about reviews of third party players aids, dungeon modules, settings, miniature figures, models (paper, foam, resin), paints, dice, etc. By reviews I don't mean rehashing marketing BS - how about real reviews with pros and cons (actual opinions!) of the products in real use. Johnny Wilson use to have a motto in the electronic gaming that no software review was done unless the review played the whole game. While I know Mr. Wilson is now on to other things - that motto should stand as a legacy for Piazo (by the way I have a long history of CGW sitting on my shelf).
So there it is - keep up the content and focus on paper gaming - not electronic gaming and you'll be headed down the right path.
More on Dragon's logo -
Found it fun and interesting to go through the Dragon covers on-line - just a lot of fun.
For those interested - the way I see it the original logo in issue #1 (1976) was very amateurish - but that's what it was. It was changed on issue #27 in 1979. That Dragon logo was good to last until issue 274 in 2000 when the scripted Dragon logo was introduced (21 years!). Now it was modified a bit here and there along the way. Issue #128 added the word magazine in 1987. Issue 181 elongated the text in 1992. Finally on issue #225 it was pyramid'd (only thing I can think of to describe it).
I'll apologize now, sorry Sean and everyone else that worked on it, but I hope the current logo goes the way of the dodo bird.
Please give us back a logo that says fantasy and high adventure! Something cool and exciting.
By the way - there have been some really great covers over the years, but I must say that I really like the newer - in particular 310, 311, and 316. Great artwork!
I would tend to agree with the masses that the computer game and samurai vs knight articles seemed like filler and weren't really on target for what was touted to be new era of a D&D magazine. I did like the prestige classes. I would like to see more feats, skills and equipment too. Personally I found the WotC catalogue in the back a nice reference.
Re: Dungeon upgrades, Perfect ! I can tolerate one low level adventure so long as I get my mid level and high level adventure every month. At first, I didn't think I would like Wil Wheaton's article, but after reading it with an open mind I was pleasantly surprised and look forward to more.
What would I like to see in the future?
More Dungeon Tiles, especially Poster Maps in Miniature Scale.
The Cauldron campaign has been fun to run, I look forward to the next adventure path too.
Please do not post the maps on the web, I don't want my players to have free access to them.
All in All, I really like the new magazines, I renewed my subscriptions at Gen Con and collected the T-Shirts. Thanks for those too.
Please keep up the good work.
When I heard Paizo was redesigning and rethinking Dragon, I was thrilled. I have disliked Dragon ever since 3e came out. The approach seems to be far too heavy on new PrCs, magic items, spells, monsters, racial variants, etc. Just not my cup of tea. I liked TSR's approach far better, with optional rules that covered things not in the original game books, historical campaign ideas, campaign designing, etc. And the covers.... well, there is no comparison. TSR focused on evocative covers that actually told a story. But WOTC and Paizo seem to prefer the comic-book style of presenting a character or monster in a "pose", with no story behind them at all.
"I would tend to agree with the masses that the computer game and samurai vs knight articles seemed like filler and weren't really on target for what was touted to be new era of a D&D magazine."
I agree. No more of that kind of thing, please.
I also agree with the many art complaints. It was a worthy experiment and there were good THEORETICAL reasons to try it, but, well, the customers have spoken, haven't they? Pretty darn monolithically, too. Buyers want a magazine that looks like Dragon, not Wired. Go back to the old issues, see what worked and go with that. We're not warming to it now and we won't start later.
If you'd really like to change the direction of Dragon, tell us what you liked and what you'd like to see.
The one thing I'd love to see in Dragon would be a continuation of the article index from 112. Talk about way overdue. 112 has to be the most versatile and useful issue I have.
I REALLY miss Ed Greenwood's supplemental geography articles on the FR that he'd create now and then. THAT'S the kind of material I get the most use out of now. Edition irrelevant and loaded with details about X region. I'd even like to see non-FR material setup in that format.
Rick Anderson wrote:
That's up to them. Wizards of the Coast paid for the addition of those sixteen pages. We'd be happy to run a sixteen (or eight, or thirty-two) page ad catalog for any company that wants to pay for it (hint hint other companies). :)
Rick Anderson wrote:
This is something that comes up frequently, but it bears repeating. Wizards of the Coast still owns Dragon. Paizo puts it out as a licensee (much like Sword & Sorcery puts out Ravenloft as a licensee).
As far as reviews go, whether of Wizards of the Coast products or third-party products, they are unpopular among most of our fans. There's not really much that we can say about a product that hasn't already been said four times on the internet by the time our magazine comes out. Besides, in five years (or maybe even five months) the products we review will be stricken from the collective memory and those pages devoted to reviews will seem like wasted space. In other words, with the speed of change provided by the internet today, printed reviews in a monthly magazine just aren't as effective as they were when Dragon was the only go-to source for D&D information.
Now, that said, we do provide a little sampler of "things we think are cool" in every issue in the "First Watch" and "Dragon Talk" sections. Sometimes these are gaming books or accessories, and sometimes these are only marginally connected to gaming but that seem really neat. Sort of a heads-up for what's out there. :)
Thanks for your input Rick and everyone else! :)
Readers of these boards shouldn't take the expression of some of the posters in this thread to mean that the plurality of readers dislike the new design or content mix. There are multiple outlets for feedback to the magazine. ENworld had a long thread of folks happy about the new design, we've received many positive emails to Scale Mail, we received an overwhelmingly positive response to the new magazine at Gen Con, and (the ultimate indicator) subscriptions have picked up since the redesign. The balance of those opinions leads us to believe that Dragon's new design and content mix is on the right track but requires some refinement.
Even so, the number of readers who've chimed in with their opinion of the new magazine hasn't exceeded a couple hundred. That's a tiny fraction of the more than 60,000 readers of the magazine and not enough information to make informed decisions. To get a better sense of what our readers are looking for, we'll soon be putting a survey online. It should be up within a few days (I think) so when it's online, please take a minute or two to tell us about yourself and what you think.
Well if nothing else we are a VOCAL minority.
I too don't like the new look. The title Logo is BORING!!! As I read through #323 I kept feeling like I was chewing a Fart. There wasn't the same substance as last issue... and that was all about shadows!!!
I know we need to keep our minds open about change. I am particularly resistant to it. I'm a modern day Mordenkainen, all about the status quo. But that's not how life works. So I'm going to wait a few more issues, I have 4 left before my subscription runs out. We'll see.
I've been subscribing for over 10 years to both Dungeon (which is excellent now, save the Masthead) & Dragon. This is not a magazine in which you'll see it prominant on any periodical shelf outside your FLGS. Period. If you want eye grabing, let the cover illustration do that.
The articles and features do seem different too. Magic shop is a boring title... was bazaar of the bizarre too niche??? Or copywritten? Minor gripe...
Knight vs. Paladin. Conclusion: Better fighter wins! NO DUH. Thank you Captain Obvious. Neat, concise, well researched, but ultimately coma inducing.
Ecology of the Choker: Cool monster, lackluster article. It somehow didn't measure up to the Ecology articles of the past. I loved the Monster Hunter's society, great angle to use when describing monsters. Even the ecology of the Hobgoblin had a typical stronghold as a bonus (nice touch).
I'm no GD or even more than a Hack Illustrator who doodles in the margins of my notebooks... but if this is what your several month search for illustrators brought in... look again!!!
I am a long-time reader and a short time subscriber, from #289. I have not commented about the changes in Dragon, feeling that with all new things a chance should be given for review and reflection.
However, one of the things that attracted me to Dragon and Dungeon for that matter was the unique and exciting logo as well as cover art. I grew to enjoy the articles and enjoyed the fiction as well.
I must add my name to the growing list of subscribers who are not impressed with the changes. My specific critique is the Logo. It no longer holds the excitement and uniquness of the previous design. I gives the reader the impression of a generic product, inferior and unsubstative. Not the eye catcher that the previous logo held for me. It is; in one word, Boring.
You have a lot going for you, and a renewed interest in Gaming, you need to bridge the growing gap between longtime, loyal subscribers and the new potential subscribers. That needs work.
Good Luck, I will be watching for attempts at improvement.
I hope this thread isn't dead and someone actually reads this but even if not oh well here it goes:
I've read every post so far in this thread and I agree and disagree with many of the things that have been said. I think that ultimately the appreciation of an article comes down to how interesting, useful, or informational it is to the reader and as every reader is individual in his/her preference the like or dislike will vary. For instance, I personally appreciate Silicon Sorcery immensely. It may not always provide me something I can use but it usually at least lends itself to some creative brainstorming on my part and often it does feature content from games I've played and enjoyed and seeing it being "translated" from that medium to D&D is great. This doesn't seem to be the primary problem with the content though, on the other hand the depth, creativity, and appeal of this content does. I for one relish the creative and imaginative content provided by Dragon and Dungeon but sometimes an article or a section of an article, such as that found in each classes' section of Class Acts, falls short - sometimes far short. Take for instance the information provided on pgs. 91 and 92 in #324 of Dragon. These two pages ("A Rogue of a Different Color" and "Barbarian Culture") provide nearly useless or already thought of ideas to anyone with a slight amoung of intelligence or imagination - and I think it's safe to assume that the people who play D&D are a rather creative, imaginative, and hopefully intelligent lot.
"An example: Two kids, Albert and Bernie have never played D&D before. Albert picks up issue 322 because he sees some creepy guy looking at him. Flipping through it, he sees dark castles of shadow, adventurers exploring a cave by torchlight, pages that look like they're out of old tomes, and creepy characters in long robes. Bernie picks up issue 323 and also flips through it. He sees for the most part black text on a stark, clear, clean field of white, a two-page picture of a Samurai and a knight, what looks like a lot of products that are coming out, some plastic minis on a white field, a big article on a video game, and a catalog, which is oddly more colorful than 90% of the rest of the magazine. Does it really matter that the text is easier to read or that the articles might be scientifically proven to be more easily understood? Albert's imagination has been sparked. He's more likely to read the magazine, to buy it, and maybe learn more about Dungeons & Dragons."
The border art in Dragon has always appealed to me visually and has given the magazine "soul". It's part of what makes the inside of the magazine so darn cool to look at. The fact that it doesn't look other magazines such as "Car (from the UK), Giant Robot, Play, GamesTM, Wired, etc." only adds to its spirit. The "cloned" look of the borders in #324 is lacking and unimaginative.
I must say though, I still will probably buy Dragon and Dungeon, and the content is by-and-large is still great. Those who work on it are fantastically talented. I just hate to see some of the aspects that I appreciated so much disappear.
The new Dragon to me seems very...Level 1. just the degree of "basic-ness" over the first two new issues feels so souless.
also i think the new distribution of feature articles (none until page 35-45, as opposed to page 14-16 for the previous two issues) is a negative move. i was left at page 30 thinking..where's the meat!