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New PBM Magazine from PlayByMail.Net
#1
For some time, now, I have given thought to creating a new PBM magazine, one whose primary focus is the postal genre of gaming. Would such an undertaking be worth whatever time, energy, and effort would be required to get it up and off the ground and published?

Honestly, I don't know. But, what I do know is that I would certainly like to try.

What would go in it, that I don't already post here on the PlayByMail.Net website? Again, I don't know. Maybe that's the challenge - perhaps the biggest challenge of all, for me, personally.

What I do know is that I don't want it to simply be a compilation of material already posted on the website here. Sure, now and again, we could inter-splice a few articles. But, by and large, what I hope to aim for would be original material, not just a rehash of existing material.

Both Carol Mulholland and David Webber, the former editors of former PBM magazines, Flagship and Paper Mayhem, respectively, have been on my mind, of late. I have been torn by the dilemma of which of the two of them that I would like to commemorate the first issue of this new PBM magazine in honor of.

Unfortunately, David passed away a few years back. Carol had a stroke, a while back, but she is still with us. Over the years, many individuals - countless individuals, perhaps - have played a pivotal role in the development and progression of the postal genre of gaming. Yet, because the focus of this particular undertaking is the creation of a new PBM magazine, I believe it to be especially appropriate for the maiden issue of this new publication to be figures closely associated with PBM magazines from the past.

Even that narrow category would properly have many names associated with it. Yet, even still, it is Paper Mayhem and Flagship that I, personally, have the longest first-hand association with.

The very first issue of any magazine holds special significance - for those who publish them, if no one else. Likewise, such holds true in the current instance, with the first issue of this new PBM magazine, as well.

And, for the very reason that the first issue holds special significance - extra special significance, if you will, all the more reason then, I think, for the first issue to be dedicated in honor of more than one person.

I could easily see either David or Carol as being properly deserving of having the first issue dedicated in their honor. That's not the part that troubles me. Rather, the thing that I have difficulty digesting is publishing a first issue of a new PBM magazine, and either of those two individuals not being paid tribute to.

So, rather than pick one or the other, I choose to pick both. This is one instance where we can have our cake and eat it, too.

That said, I really do not think that a proper first issue of a new PBM magazine is something that I can achieve alone, without assistance from others.

However much PBM gaming may have fallen by the way along the years, nonetheless, it remains indisputable that a great many warriors well indoctrinated in PBM lore remain among our number. Now, whether they - whether we - choose to share part of our PBM gaming selves with others in the form and format of a new PBM magazine, well, that remains to be seen.

I have not yet decided on a name for this new PBM magazine, and neither have I decided on a publication date.

What I have decided, however, is to give it a go.

For ease of dissemination, which might prove to be helpful to the PBM hobby a a whole, electronic format for this new magazine is imperative, I think.

However, for nostalgia's sake, as well as for advertising purposes, I believe that print on demand will suffice to facilitate placing an actual, physical copy of this new PBM magazine into people's actual, literal hands.

Others who might undertake such an undertaking as this, I fully realize might well do things an entirely different way. I understand that. I accept that. I respect that.

However, like the PBM magazines that came before, as each of them did things their way, this new PBM magazine will have to chart its own course. We'll have to find our own way.

I invite each and every last one of you, you Scions of PBM's Ever-Lasting Legacy - to join me on this journey into the future of PBM gaming.

Whether time proves this venture to be cursed, blessed, or neither, I nonetheless believe that the time is right to move forward with this project.

So as it is written, so let it be done!
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#2
In looking through old back issues of now-defunct PBM magazines from the past, I cannot help but to pause, and give the ads for various play by mail games that appeared therein a good looking over.

At times, the ads were more interesting that the articles in given issues of these old PBM magazines. The artwork wasn't always the best, but personally speaking, I think that that is one of their charms.

With regard to this new PBM magazine that I will be launching (no ifs, ands, or buts, anymore - I will make it happen, it will come to fruition), some model of advertising will accompany the publication, itself. Having never been a fan of the advertising models used by the PBM magazines that I have browsed over the years, I can't help but to think that, surely, there's got to be a better way.

I can't really envision publishing a new PBM magazine in this day and age that doesn't incorporate some model of advertising into its overall scheme of accomplishing what is to be accomplished. My take on advertising for this new PBM magazine is that it should properly be, first and foremost, a tool for promotion and advancement of the genre of PBM gaming, rather than as a tool of revenue generation.

Accordingly, a system which encompasses at least some form of free advertising for PBM games is something that I view to be imperative - imperative to the success of the overall mission, and imperative to helping any new PBM games that might come into existence going forward get a better-than-would-otherwise-be-the-case chance of succeeding, without free advertising being available to them, where this new PBM magazine in question is concerned.

Articles of some sort or other, rather than advertisements, themselves, should rightly be the the primary substance of the magazine. I think that ads and articles, both, make for a better visual blend, and that having both in a magazine of this sort will yield a more impactful publication, all things considered. Accordingly, a balance of sorts must be struck, or at least I think that such a balance should be struck, and as such, I will pursue both, with the overall aim being a more robust and healthy publication.

For PBM companies and PBM moderators wanting to advertise in a given issue of this new PBM magazine, I am leaning toward the equivalent of a half page to a full page of free advertising. In essence, they could each have one full page ad, or two half page ads, or four quarter page ads, or any combination thereof (such as one half page ad and two quarter page ads), for a given issue. Alternatively, I have considered limiting it to the equivalent of one half page of free advertising per issue, and reserving full page ads to either paid ad status, or simply at the discretion of the magazine's editor.
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#3
PBM stands for Play By Mail. It is about PBM gaming, games that are played by mail.

Modern variants on PBM games run the gamut from PBeM to MMOG. The acronym machine has run long and hard churning out a wide variety of acronyms, to try and put a better spin on the nut at the center of the gaming shell.

One thing that I want to try, using this new PBM magazine as a foundation, is a game played via a PBM magazine. In this particular instance, with what I have in mind, maybe the acronym of PBM will come to encompass Play By Magazine.

PBM magazines have historically and traditionally reported on various PBM games and carried articles about various PBM games. But, one thing that I have long wondered is whether a PBM magazine, itself, can be central to a PBM game.

Time will tell.
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#4

.jpg   Cover.jpg (Size: 448.69 KB / Downloads: 17) A long time ago (let's say 1979 but I could be off by a year or so) I had just been introduced to PBM by my long time friend who, as I did, loved to play games. He had stumbled upon Starweb. It took him just a few minutes to get me hooked and soon we were playing multiple games. I also got a neighbor playing as well. Soon I had a "cult" of friends, even relatives that were playing Starweb and other games. I too would try a few outside the one game and often thought a place for gamers to go would be great. By place I meant a magazine.
Starweb, being the main thrust of my PBMing, cried out for a guide to it's only Player/Character covered by a copyright. Teh Berserker, based upon the Character from Fred Saberhagen's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berserker_%28Saberhagen%29) book. I played that part many times and to this day am ranked as a Berserker.
Looking to expand upon the part I thought of starting a newsletter about the Berserker. It's name was based upon a play on words and robotics of the character.... The Nuts & Bolts of The Berserker. Just spreading the word to fellow "Webers" as we called ourselves led me to make it The Nuts & Bolts of Starweb (With Rick Loomis' permission)
The first issue was printed on the copier at my job, hand drawn and cut and pasted (for real -- typewriter to paper to cut & paste on stock) it was mailed out to its first few readers.
In a short period of time we went from:
The Nuts & Bolts of Starweb, to Nuts & Bolts of PBM to Nuts & Bolts of Gaming. There was a need for an indie Fan/magazine...
Attached is one of the later and far better covers... It is the triumphant return of NaBoG after a long wait....
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#5
No file was attached.
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#6
Wonder if that cover was talking about the old StarMaster game.
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#7
This sounds great Grimmy. Can't wait to see what you come up with.

Hatch
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#8
I've spent a lot of time, the last day or so, thinking about how to approach the launching of a new PBM magazine. Since it costs no more to wish big than it does to wish small, I have decided to shoot for a monthly rate of publication.

I am well aware that both Flagship and Paper Mayhem magazines utilized a multi-month approach, either bi-monthly or quarterly as their publication goals. However, since I stand at the very beginning of the entire process, and since I want to stir the dust that has settled on the postal genre of gaming, I am going to go out on a limb and try to take a bold approach to the launch of this new PBM magazine.

How do I intend to meet this goal, month after month after month? By publishing the magazine without regard for each issue having either the same number of pages, or for each issue having a minimum number of pages.

The idea - and the thinking here - is to establish the publication from the get-go as something that its readership can associate with regularity. I want to build expectation. If they know that it's coming out, then I think that they will be more likely to gravitate towards it.

I will publish it in PDF format. Anyone that wants to make copies of it, whether in electronic format or in paper format, and share it with others will be free to do so. This, I think, is the best way to maximize exposure of the publication to the masses. In the process, I will lower the entry barrier for anyone anyone may have at least a passing interest in the subject matter discussed in this magazine. The grand object, of course, will be to grow the PBM player base by growing the magazine's readership, going forward.

Under no circumstances, whatsoever, will this undertaking become a money sinkhole. I simply won't allow it. If necessary, I will publish issues in pure text form, incorporating images and artwork as opportunity allows. Content will be king, and by and large, text will wear the crown.

With regard to publishing the magazine each month, I am less inclined to pick a specific date publish each new issue (such as the 1st or the 15th), and I am more inclined to designate specific dates on a month-by-month basis, simply because this approach will allow me to publish issues in honor of various individuals or occasions. I think that this approach will yield a publication that I, myself, will consider to be more special, and consequently, because I will consider each issue to be more special than would otherwise be the case using another publication date method, I think that it will bode well for longevity of the magazine, as time passes.

As I browse through back issues of Paper Mayhem magazine, one thing that really annoys me, all these years later, is the very small font used back then in many of the issues that I have a copy of. Accordingly, I will likely use either a 12 point or a 14 point font, when publishing most of the text contained in each issue. Granted, by publishing the magazine in PDF format, readers will be able to use the zoom feature, if needed. But, if I avoid using really small fonts to begin with, then perhaps it won't be necessary to zoom, at all.

I have decided to set a time frame of one year for the publishing of Volume 1 of the magazine. After the 12th issue has been published, I will consider anew things that I am considering now, such as frequency of publication amongst others. If the first year goes well, then maybe we can continue - or even improve upon things. If not, then we'll cross the bridge of reconsideration at that time, and if necessary, perhaps scale our ambitions back a bit.

I do need to decide on a name for the new magazine. It's really proving to be a difficult decision. Even if you don't end up liking whatever name that I choose for it, I hope that you will bear with me, and judge each issue on its own respective merits and demerits.

As we proceed forward, if you think that a given issue sucks, then by all means, step forward with gusto and lambast us for all that you are worth. If you want to praise a given issue, then that's fine, too - although the things that we get right likely won't be where any problems lie. That's why criticism plays such an important role - such an absolutely critical role - in helping to ensure a longer lifespan for the magazine.

I appreciate Ixnay's perspective that this site, PlayByMail.Net, is the reigning PBM Magazine. However, I can't upload a copy of this website or attach it to an e-mail, in order to share it with someone else. Sure, I can post a link for them to click on, but I'm wanting something with a little more meat on its bones than just a link.

I am still debating with myself whether the first issue of this new PBM magazine will launch in October or November. The first issue will likely take a little longer, since I am going to have to set up some templates to facilitate publishing each future issue in a timely and reliable manner. I'll have to choose fonts and determine page layout preferences. Once the first issue is published, though, I will have until the last day of the following month to then get the next issue out.

Right now, I have absolutely zero material ready for the first issue. So, as you can see, I clearly have my work cut out for me.

Let's see how it goes!
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#9
The magazine is going to need a name. Here's your opportunity to offer suggestions on what to name it.
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#10
Turn-Based Gaming Monthly
Imperial Informer
PBM Star
PBM Globe-Dispatch
Gaming for the Heavily Caffeinated
Dead Genre Gaming
Tribal Starfleet Trade Report
PBM Universal II
PBM Frigate
Special Action
Thinking Man Game Post

I could go on....

By the way, can I write an article? Some ideas:
- PBM is Dead, Long Live PBM (an elaboration on ideas already posted here)
- Expanding the Horizons of Turn Based Gaming (how to recruit friends)
- Cluster Wars: The Review

Also, there is a HIGHLY entertaining bit of PBM fiction that was printed probably 20 years ago in The Space Gamer, called "The Conquering Worm". I don't know how to go about getting permission to reprint it, but if there is a way this thing is one of the major hooks that got me revved up in PBM. There was also a great article in The Dragon way back when called The Fatal Flaws of Crane, which could possibly be reprinted along with a review of the current game.

Let me know how I can help!
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