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Full Version: Issue # 6 (April 2014 Issue) - Suspense & Decision PBM magazine
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NOTE: Click on the image above, in order to download Issue # 6 of Suspense & Decision magazine, a PBM magazine for the 21st Century!

Our apologies for it being a few days late!

Please, if you will, take time to post your opinion of Issue # 6 in our poll at the top of this particular forum thread. Thank you in advance for your consideration, participation, and input!

Happy reading!!
You are also free to post your opinion about Issue # 6 (or any issue, for that matter) in the thread, itself, if just clicking an option from the multiple choice selection of the poll question just doesn't cut it for you. I'll lead things off, by posting a few comments of my own, off the top of my head.

1. I like the front cover. The monster guy at the top right was included, in order to fill empty white space. The three guys in the background coming out of that boom tube looking thing, they were added to replace a boulder. Initially, the girl was busting a boulder, but I wanted a connection to PBM, which is why she is faced off against an influx of turn result envelopes. FWOOSH! I also suggested that the guy with the sword have his sword to actually penetrate that one envelope, to skewer it with his blade. I'm a Jack Kirby fan, which is why the front covers tend to incorporate some elements that remind me of how Jack Kirby drew comic books.

The Suspense & Decision name at the top replaced the previous lettering scheme for the magazine's title, simply to reduce the footprint of the title on the front page. I came up with that lettering, with the Suspense part in white and the Decision part in black, with the dividing point being the and sign, to facilitate more art being displayed and unobscured on the front page. The main concern for me, on the title and its lettering is that the title be legible.

Our magazine's front covers tend to be a tad different, from the approach used by Paper Mayhem and Flagship, PBM magazines that preceded the existence of Suspense & Decision. But, and this is just my personal opinion of one, mind you (with which you are all free to disagree), I think that our magazine's front covers have been at least as eye-catching as the front covers of either or both of those old PBM magazines.

The front covers are rendered in black and white, instead of color, for two primary reasons: I really am a fan of inked comic book artwork, and the black and white look is a nod to the retro nature of PBM gaming, a nod to an earlier age, to the golden era of play by mail gaming.

The issue and date on the front cover, I sort of worked around the art, itself. They are easily visible, but neither of them are the highest priority, where front covers are concerned.

In this particular front cover, I thought that the fishnet stockings and the long gloves were nice visual touches, as well as the envelopes in the girl's hand.

Issue # 6 was late, and missed the publication deadline. It was the biggest miss, by far, of all issues published, to date. Ultimately, all other considerations must yield to the consideration that the issue actually get published, regardless of the particular reasons why a given deadline might get missed. I dislike missing the publication deadline. But, staff is limited, and I do the bulk of the layout and editing, myself. Not making excuses, just offering up some insight, for any who might be interested in such.

My own footprint on the magazine, article-wise, is way too heavy. But, quite often, some of the better material that gets submitted actually arrives late in the process of compiling the issue. Two of the very best articles for Issue # 6, the one by Rick McDowell and the one By Bernd Jaehnigen, arrived in May, not April.

Ideally, all material for a given issue would be submitted by the submission deadline. But, that's in an ideal situation. That's not the situation that I find myself in. The submission deadline is more of a guideline and a reminder, than it is an actual hard deadline. The view on the outside looking in is all fine and dandy, but the view from the inside looking out reveals a different picture.

Couldn't I just push any material submitted after a given month's submission deadline forward to the following issue? Sure. I could. But, I don't abdicate discretion, simply to accommodate an arbitrary deadline that I picked out of thin air. The priority is the magazine, not the deadline. Deadlines exist to facilitate the magazine, not the other way around. I didn't create the magazine, just so that I could try to meet a bunch of deadlines.

Those PBM and PBM-like companies that advertise in the magazine don't tend to send me new ads, each issue. So, a lot of the ads, which is where a lot of the magazine's items of visual interest come from, tend to get recycled, to get used over and over again. Is this ideal? Hardly, but it is the actual situation that I must work around. To reduce reliance on advertisements for visual interest would require that I off-set space allotted to ads with actual art. Kav is our front cover artist, and he has been kind enough to continue to create front covers for us. There's no actual staff artist, per se, as far as someone whose job it is to create art for the interior pages. As there is no real budget allocated to publish the magazine, accordingly, there's no budget allocated for art for the interior pages. Free advertising doesn't generate revenue to fund interior art. But, it is beneficial to game companies and game moderators that want to try and get the word out about a particular game. The magazine was never intended to be a vehicle for revenue generation. Rather, it is geared towards growing interest in play by mail and turn-based gaming.

I included a few photos of myself in Issue # 6, including a couple that I picked for their humor value. I did it to encourage others out there who read the magazine to send in photos of their own. Photos are a visual interest mechanism. They fill magazine white space with points of visual interest. They can be used to off-set masses of text (articles), by injecting visual balance to the interior pages - but, without the cost of utilizing custom artwork, yet sparing the readership base from repeat visual performances of a parade of well-worn advertisements. You're not going to look any worse than the photo of myself with a soft drink bottle on my head. If you ever do something like that, though, after you finish playing around with the bottle, be certain that you do not set it on top of your wife car. Because, if you then drive off with your window open, the drink might just fall inside the car and spill all over everything. Just saying. A little public service announcement, there, for you. It seemed like such a good idea at the time, too. Beyond silly episodes intended to make my son laugh, photos also serve to imbue the magazine with personal elements, which are geared toward sending the message that PBM isn't dead, and that average, ordinary people like you and I play PBM games - and that, by extension, others should feel free to do so, likewise. Where the magazine is concerned, there tends to be rhyme and reason to why I do particular things, even if I don't bother to explain the why behind it all.

Furthermore, when I browse old PBM magazines such as Paper Mayhem and Flagship, it's nice to come across photographs of PBM moderators and PBM players. Those photos tend to ramp up the nostalgia factor. It could just be me, I suppose, but my gut feeling is that there's something of a formula to be gleaned from such, a formula that I might be able to inject into the Suspense & decision equation of trying to grow interest in play by mail and turn-based gaming.

The reason that I mentioned one of the PBM Industry Awards in this issue was because a Phoenix:BSE player had posted in the Phoenix:BSE forum, wondering aloud about that particular award. I don't tend to be a big fan of PBM moderators hoarding player numbers, nor of them trying to guard against competition by trying to stifle discussions about other games - which I have run into, in the past. Some numbers touted about, I am suspicious of. If a given game has a lot of players, then common sense dictates that, somewhere out there on the Internet, players of such game are likely to be discussing it. That's just the way that I look at it, anyway.

Facebook numbers are shared in Suspense & Decision, not because they are particular impressive, as far as sheer quantity of Facebook likes is concerned, but because comparison of such numbers can be easily done. As a metric of growth, PBM moderators do not control those numbers. Facebook numbers also show that there's a lot of work that needs to be done, on the social networking front, if PBM gaming is to flourish anew, as in the days of old.

On the reader feedback front, in order to publish reader feedback, I must first receive it. I haven't published all reader feedback, yet, but I have published most of it. People tend to prefer to play games and to read about them, than to actually write articles or author letters to the editor. That's just a fact of gaming life, one that seems to have remained a constant across PBM magazines at various points along the time spectrum of the hobby.

At any rate, I am hungry, and it is well past what should have been my lunch time.

Comment on Issue # 6, if the notion strikes you.
I clicked "New Reply" right away. I didn't read anything..., I didn't think anything.

Well, I did think..., "I bet you that somewhere..., somehow..., I got a notification that told me about issue #6.".

Am I still logged in ???
You should have gotten an e-mail notification. You also received notice via Facebook.

I may need to send one from a different e-mail account.

It shows you as being logged in.
I think this cover is the best one yet. Truly awesome art. Really distinctive and engaging.

I haven't had a chance to read much, yet, but without a doubt I will read every article. Are you listening, potential writers? There is a built-in audience that will pore over your every word, should you decide to contribute to issue 7!