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Issue #14 - Suspense & Decision PBM magazine - Printable Version

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Issue #14 - Suspense & Decision PBM magazine - GrimFinger - 08-29-2016

Work on Issue #14 has already started. I haven't made a lot of progress on this next issue, yet, but I do have things under way, already.

Here's hoping that the magazine's readers found something in our last issue to enjoy, and I invite one and all to send me something to include in a future issue. Art, articles, photographs, and various other things such as thoughts, feedback, and memories from days of PBM gaming past all make for a more interesting magazine to read.

If you would like to be worked into a future front cover for Suspense & Decision, then be sure to send me a photograph of yourself that the cover artist can use as a visual reference. You could end up as a hero, as with Jim Gagliardi on the front cover of Issue #13 in the role of his Tom Krieger character (aka Baron Mazas) from the game Phoenix:BSE, which is run by KJC Games over in the United Kingdom, or you could end up as the victim of some strange beast from who knows what kind of setting. This concept is aimed at giving the magazine a more personal feel, one which plays on our sense of humor. I think that it's a good way to promote PBM gaming with one's friends.

You may not know it, yet, but Bernd is still out there. He may contact with me shortly after I published Issue #13, but before he knew that it had been published. I don't know, yet, in what capacity that he will be returning, but you are likely to begin reading something from Bernd, again, sometime soon. For those who may be new and not know who Bernd is, Bernd was Suspense & Decision's assistant editor, previously. He may be, again, but he's also been ruminating about possibly starting up his own game-related zine. Either way, it appears that the future will hold more of Bernd for you, rather than less of him. Rather than de-Bernd, there will be re-Bernd.

Though Suspense & Decision has had rough spots that it has endured (the delay in publishing Issue #11, and Issue #12 being completely lost to the sands of time, as I look back over the span of time since Issue #1 was published, the magazine has had its high points, also. I really do think that we get a few things right, even though I never seem to manage to do a good enough job of proof reading each issue before publishing them for your reading pleasure. Personally speaking, I like the fact that the magazine is free. I also like the fact that the magazine embraces some kind of free advertising model. I wish that more people took advantage of it, but so far, it hasn't proven to be unduly difficult to give ad space away, if I spend any time, at all, making game companies aware of the chance to advertise for free.

The forum here has died off, in recent months - again. It goes through phases of growth and death, it seems. If you would like to see this forum become a more thriving place, then contribute to the overall effort by posting a message or starting a new discussion thread, each time that you visit here. It's when site visitors notice that something new has been posted since their last visit here that the forum seems to enjoy its greatest spurts of growth.

One of the changes with the return of Suspense & Decision that I will be making an extra effort to focus upon is in the area of dialogue. That's the primary reason that the Down the Whirlpool section of Issue #13 was as long as it was. It wasn't just about beating poor Rick McDowell of Alamaze fame over the head. Rick feels that my writing style is almost as acerbic as his own, but he likes acerbic, so as the saying goes, all's well that ends well.

The big picture, which is what my increased focus upon dialogue is geared towards, isn't about any given individual, although from issue to issue it might very well seem that way, if you lose sight of the big picture. My core aim is to generate and to grow a sense of dialogue across the PBM community and PBM industry. It's about getting people talking, about getting people to participate in dialogue about things PBM related.

Think about it this way - when was the last time that various personalities in the PBM industry gathered at a PBM convention and discussed things related to PBM games in person, face to face? There aren't any PBM conventions, anymore. Paper Mayhem magazine is gone. Flagship magazine is gone. The various PBM magazines that Bob McLain was involved with in the past are all gone, now. I'm not saying that' its Bob McLain's fault, of course (even though we might could do an article on that possibility in a future issue). Rather, I think that a variety of different developments down through the years have harmed, negatively impacted, or taken their toll - both individually and collectively - on play by mail gaming, and some of those developments may get overshadowed by other things (like the advent and growth of the Internet).

Maybe I should save some of this discussion for future issues of Suspense & Decision magazine, though. If people don't send me anything to include in Issue #14, then I'm going to have to fill the pages with something, after all.

Anyway, give me some feedback on Issue #13, what you liked about it and what you didn't. Let me know if you're glad that it's back, or if you dreaded the day of its return.

Regardless, it has returned, and as I said in Issue #13, it's returned with a vengeance! To find out what that means, though, stay turned, and join us in the next issue - and in issues that will extend out on past Issue #14.

As always, happy reading!


RE: Issue #14 - Suspense & Decision PBM magazine - ixnay - 08-30-2016

(08-29-2016, 01:53 PM)GrimFinger Wrote: The forum here has died off, in recent months - again. It goes through phases of growth and death, it seems. If you would like to see this forum become a more thriving place, then contribute to the overall effort by posting a message or starting a new discussion thread, each time that you visit here. It's when site visitors notice that something new has been posted since their last visit here that the forum seems to enjoy its greatest spurts of growth.

Hear hear!  There are a few of you who drop in once in a while to check and see if anyone's posted anything new.  If you post even just a short note commenting on some thread, giving feedback on some S&D article, or posting an interesting link, we can start back on the road to making this a premier spot for PBM...


RE: Issue #14 - Suspense & Decision PBM magazine - BobMcLain - 08-31-2016

Grimfinger wrote:

> Paper Mayhem magazine is gine. Flagship magazine is gone. The various PBM magazines that Bob McLain was involved with in the past are all gone, now.

Gee, that goes back over 30 years, in my case. Why are they gone? Mine are gone because they didn't make enough money to justify continued production. I made more money selling the magazine to zealous would-be publishers than I ever made publishing the magazines myself. Nicky Palmer sold off his interest in Flagship to Carol Mulholland in the late 1990s for much the same reason. Carol had to diversify Flagship into a general games magazine to eke by. David Webber kept Paper Mayhem going until his death, but his day job was working for a printing press (where I'm sure he got discounts) and Paper Mayhem was never anything but an on-the-cheap fanzine. There were a few other UK-based PBM fanzine-type publications in the 1990s; none of them lasted long. It'd be a financial disaster to launch a print play-by-mail magazine today - in most cases, it'd be a financial disaster to launch ANY print magazine today.


RE: Issue #14 - Suspense & Decision PBM magazine - BobMcLain - 08-31-2016

PS. Now that I think about it, I wrote an article for Steve Jackson's "The Space Gamer" way back when about why I gave up publishing PBM/Gaming Universal. If you'd like to republish it, I'll find it for you. I probably have that issue around here somewhere. Wait a minute... Maybe I wrote that article for White Wolf's old gaming magazine ("Ingame", or "Inquest", or some damn thing), and the one I wrote for Jackson was about the "death" of play-by-mail. I'm getting old, and often I become confused. You can have them both, if you want.


RE: Issue #14 - Suspense & Decision PBM magazine - GrimFinger - 09-01-2016

(08-31-2016, 04:46 PM)BobMcLain Wrote: I'm getting old, and often I become confused. 

It is my understanding, Bob, that you became confused long before you became old.

Getting old might just be a McLain ploy of some kinds.

I am receptive to articles. I try to avoid any unnecessary copyright problems, though.

If you're really and truly getting old, though, Bob, then perhaps the time is ripe for you to bless the world with a new article.


RE: Issue #14 - Suspense & Decision PBM magazine - GrimFinger - 09-01-2016

I appreciate you filling in some of the details associated with the 'why' behind the closure of the various PBM magazines in question.
Why the closed, however, while each closure was and is interesting in its own respective right, their closings - both individually and collectively have resulted in a reduced amount of dialogue on the subject of PBM gaming.
Not much time to respond, at the moment. I've got to depart.
Take it easy, Bob!


RE: Issue #14 - Suspense & Decision PBM magazine - ixnay - 09-01-2016

What about Nuts & Bolts? Money issue? Maybe I should just re read the article its editor wrote in S&D some time back.

I am encouraged by the rise of numerous board game and war game magazines recently. All professionally done, and some available in print and PDF. Are they all doomed?

Maybe we should make a German language version available, since the board gaming center of gravity seems to be over there nowadays...


RE: Issue #14 - Suspense & Decision PBM magazine - BobMcLain - 09-01-2016

Nuts & Bolts went out of business when I acquired it from Rich Buda, the owner, in 1983 (or thereabouts). Although N&B was the first publication to cover play-by-mail exclusively, it was more of a sideline hobby fanzine than a serious, money-making enterprise.

The magazine industry as a whole is in deep trouble these days. Circulations are down across the board. Why pony up subscription money when nearly everything is online, and available free?


RE: Issue #14 - Suspense & Decision PBM magazine - GrimFinger - 09-03-2016

(09-01-2016, 07:25 PM)ixnay Wrote: Maybe we should make a German language version available, since the board gaming center of gravity seems to be over there nowadays...

I did give some thought to incorporating a German section in Suspense & Decision, but so far, getting an English version published has ranked as a higher priority for me than trying to do a translation for a language that I, myself, have no fluency in. My overtures to date to the German community tend to go unresponded to. The communication barrier doesn't help, I'm sure.


RE: Issue #14 - Suspense & Decision PBM magazine - GrimFinger - 09-03-2016

(09-01-2016, 08:07 PM)BobMcLain Wrote: Nuts & Bolts went out of business when I acquired it from Rich Buda, the owner, in 1983 (or thereabouts). Although N&B was the first publication to cover play-by-mail exclusively, it was more of a sideline hobby fanzine than a serious, money-making enterprise.

The magazine industry as a whole is in deep trouble these days. Circulations are down across the board. Why pony up subscription money when nearly everything is online, and available free?

Looks like we have come full circle back to a sideline hobby fanzine, eh? The more that things change, the more that they remain the same.

Free certainly doesn't seem to hurt the size of the Internet. It's certainly a hobby interest for me that drives Suspense & Decision to get published. Personally speaking, I rather like the free model. In fact, I built upon it by incorporating a free advertising model into the free magazine model. It doesn't appear as though all PBM companies necessarily value free advertising, although Suspense & Decision's relatively small readership base likely plays a factor in that.