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Trying to be positive

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  • Wightman, Mark, WIGHTMM
    Hi everybody, I have apologised in private to Stephen for winding him up. It wasn t my real intention, but merely spleen venting on my part for the apparently
    Message 1 of 6 , Mar 1, 1999
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      Hi everybody,

      I have apologised in private to Stephen for winding him up. It wasn't my
      real intention, but merely spleen venting on my part for the apparently
      secret nature of the group.

      I still disagree with some of what is being said though and I will try and
      explain below.

      HDF -
      I have a small problem with this and believe setting up a new fund to pay
      for everything (whatever that is) would be a better idea. Later we could
      approach the ManorCon/MidCon organisers about transfering the HDF funds.
      This would allow time for the people who donated to the HDF to be consulted
      re it's use. Opinion is divided, with some people, including me, thinking
      the old fund should be used for more convention related items. An example
      could be paying the ManorCon deposit to avoid the problems of last year.

      I'm sure that Stephen and Nick would be excellent choices to administer this
      fund. I would gladly donate 50 notes also.

      Novice Package / MFG
      [John's MFG is a magnificent effort so, please do not take this a criticism
      of it.] Unfortunately, being yearly it is almost immediately out of date.
      Especially now, with 'zines droping like flies. Some of the United 'zine
      entries leave a lot to be desired too. Which leaves me thinking that,
      perhaps the whole thing is a little too big. If I think that just imagine
      what a newbie might think. OK. They could be impressed by the size of the
      hobby, but unless they read through the whole thing then it's pot-luck which
      'zine they try (if any). If they pick a folded one . . .
      My suggestion would be to split it up. Place the 'United' only 'zines in one
      section and everything else in another. Have both documents refer to one
      another and ask respondents to specify their preferences in the advert.
      More work for the editor, I know. You can have my help, John. If you want
      it, but please understand I know very little about United. [Dons flame-proof
      underwear and awaits the United players wrath].
      I would also be willing to contribute a few appropriate cartoons etc, should
      anybody have any ideas what might be suitable.

      CGS
      Explained in detail this doesn't sound too dreadful. My earlier comments
      were based upon stories told to me about the 70's version and from what I
      heard they tore the hobby apart then. My fear is they would do the same now.
      A CGS would also(in most instances) circumvent any existing novice 'zine. I
      suspect most new players would want a quick gamestart and would therefore be
      directed to the 'zine with the shortest waiting list. Looking at the last
      few issues this would not be Springboard. You could get around this by
      asking (in the novice package) if the player wanted to start in a novice
      game or dive straight in. I wonder which most would pick.
      Another dificulty might be that a CGS must, I think, tend to create one or
      two very large 'zines as they are likely to have the most lively waiting
      lists. The hobby would be much healthier with more viable 'zines and I don't
      see a CGS helping that any. It is obviously very dificult to launch a new
      'zine now and I'm curious if the old 80's/90's CGS helped back then.
      Stephen, John?

      Advertising?
      We all have slightly different approaches to this. We all seem to agree
      (even me). That the Diploamcy boxes, Game Store(s), Universities and
      libraries are good places to try. The rest aren't so clear cut. My view is
      that we should avoid spending large sums on unproven sources, but I have no
      idea what the proven sources might be. I have tried it in some underground
      'zines with no real success.
      When I used to organise Bedford's Wargames convention our surveys indicated
      that
      - Most people heard/read about our convention via word of mouth or by
      picking up a leaflet at another convention. The magazine advertising was
      used only to confirm the dates and details. Maybe Alex's stand at the PBM
      convention is the best idea yet?
      Hmm . . . Change that. It is the best idea yet.

      Novice 'zine?
      The question of a novice 'zine and it's relation to our adevrtising needs to
      be settled. Do we promote only the novice zine, all zines equally, or do we
      just present it as a novice option? Whatever your thoughts on this issue we
      must try and involve Danny in the discussion. Otherwise . . . Which leads
      me to -

      Involving everyone
      Paul stated in response to Stephen pulling out, that my opinion wasn't
      important. And much to my chagrin I suppose in a wider sense the thoughts of
      one person aren't. One of the joys of the hobby, for me, are that if I want
      to do something, I just can. The problem is I shouldn't. Imagine the
      situation if one group of people gets together and places some adverts here
      and there. Then a second group do the same. Chaos.
      Normally I approve of chaos, but in this case a little bit of fore-thought
      and democracy would be a better bet.
      I guess what I'm trying to say is that we need to involve more people. If
      that's not practical; because we want to act 'now', then consider carefully
      how to announce things to the wider hooby. 'There wasn't time to involve the
      hobby readership in general so, a few of us got together to discuss/take
      some immediate action and we'd like to involve more people in developing
      things further', sounds so much better than 'We held a state of the hobby
      debate and have decided to do blah, blah'. Not hijacking the HDF or
      uk.games.board would help in this regard.

      That's more than enough from me.



      Mark Wightman
    • Stephen Agar
      In message , Wightman, Mark, WIGHTMM writes ... As far as I am aware, ManorCon doesn t have
      Message 2 of 6 , Mar 1, 1999
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        In message <199903011341.NAA22115@...>, Wightman,
        Mark, WIGHTMM <mark.wightman@...> writes
        >From: "Wightman, Mark, WIGHTMM" <mark.wightman@...>
        >
        >Hi everybody,
        >
        >I have apologised in private to Stephen for winding him up. It wasn't my
        >real intention, but merely spleen venting on my part for the apparently
        >secret nature of the group.
        >
        >I still disagree with some of what is being said though and I will try and
        >explain below.
        >
        >HDF -
        >I have a small problem with this and believe setting up a new fund to pay
        >for everything (whatever that is) would be a better idea. Later we could
        >approach the ManorCon/MidCon organisers about transfering the HDF funds.
        >This would allow time for the people who donated to the HDF to be consulted
        >re it's use. Opinion is divided, with some people, including me, thinking
        >the old fund should be used for more convention related items. An example
        >could be paying the ManorCon deposit to avoid the problems of last year.
        >

        As far as I am aware, ManorCon doesn't have any HDF cash left. If MidCon
        does have and HDF funds left, it is probably less than 50 pounds (as it
        wasn't very much when I resigned from the MidCon Commmitee 3 years ago.
        Therefore, I don't think this is an issue.

        >I'm sure that Stephen and Nick would be excellent choices to administer this
        >fund. I would gladly donate 50 notes also.

        :-)
        >
        >Novice Package / MFG
        >[John's MFG is a magnificent effort so, please do not take this a criticism
        >of it.] Unfortunately, being yearly it is almost immediately out of date.
        >Especially now, with 'zines droping like flies. Some of the United 'zine
        >entries leave a lot to be desired too. Which leaves me thinking that,
        >perhaps the whole thing is a little too big. If I think that just imagine
        >what a newbie might think. OK. They could be impressed by the size of the
        >hobby, but unless they read through the whole thing then it's pot-luck which
        >'zine they try (if any). If they pick a folded one . . .
        >My suggestion would be to split it up. Place the 'United' only 'zines in one
        >section and everything else in another. Have both documents refer to one
        >another and ask respondents to specify their preferences in the advert.

        Depends. If I advertise in Minature Wargames I think there is little
        point in offering soccer games. Vice versa if we advertise in a soccer
        magazine. I think this is just making it more complicated - it's easier
        to have one document and let the newcomer self select.

        That said, I agree that MfG goes out of date very quickly. Maybe every 3
        months John could just delete folded zines and add new ones? Then do a
        small print run for newcomers.

        >More work for the editor, I know. You can have my help, John. If you want
        >it, but please understand I know very little about United. [Dons flame-proof
        >underwear and awaits the United players wrath].
        >I would also be willing to contribute a few appropriate cartoons etc, should
        >anybody have any ideas what might be suitable.
        >
        >CGS
        >Explained in detail this doesn't sound too dreadful. My earlier comments
        >were based upon stories told to me about the 70's version and from what I
        >heard they tore the hobby apart then. My fear is they would do the same now.
        >A CGS would also(in most instances) circumvent any existing novice 'zine. I
        >suspect most new players would want a quick gamestart and would therefore be
        >directed to the 'zine with the shortest waiting list. Looking at the last
        >few issues this would not be Springboard. You could get around this by
        >asking (in the novice package) if the player wanted to start in a novice
        >game or dive straight in. I wonder which most would pick.

        Which is what I used to do. On the other hand people responding to the
        flyer go straight to Danny anyway.

        >Another dificulty might be that a CGS must, I think, tend to create one or
        >two very large 'zines as they are likely to have the most lively waiting
        >lists. The hobby would be much healthier with more viable 'zines and I don't
        >see a CGS helping that any. It is obviously very dificult to launch a new
        >'zine now and I'm curious if the old 80's/90's CGS helped back then.
        >Stephen, John?
        >

        The old CGS which you dislike (as do I) was very good for new zines as
        it gave them a couple of games very quickly (and hence subscribers). My
        bet is that we won't have more than 3-4 people a month and we don't want
        them hanging around for games to start (and therefore lose interest). I
        would just put them in any zine which will get them a quick gamestart -
        which would probably spread them around as I would be looking for lists
        with 5/6 people on them.

        >Advertising?
        >We all have slightly different approaches to this. We all seem to agree
        >(even me). That the Diploamcy boxes, Game Store(s), Universities and
        >libraries are good places to try. The rest aren't so clear cut. My view is
        >that we should avoid spending large sums on unproven sources, but I have no
        >idea what the proven sources might be. I have tried it in some underground
        >'zines with no real success.
        >When I used to organise Bedford's Wargames convention our surveys indicated
        >that
        > - Most people heard/read about our convention via word of mouth or by
        >picking up a leaflet at another convention. The magazine advertising was
        >used only to confirm the dates and details. Maybe Alex's stand at the PBM
        >convention is the best idea yet?
        >Hmm . . . Change that. It is the best idea yet.
        >

        Magazines which have classified columns (i.e. cheap) and which go to
        people likely to respond have worked in the past - e.g. Wargames
        Illustrated, History Today. Ads in these magazine tend to cost less than
        10 pounds.

        >Novice 'zine?
        >The question of a novice 'zine and it's relation to our adevrtising needs to
        >be settled. Do we promote only the novice zine, all zines equally, or do we
        >just present it as a novice option? Whatever your thoughts on this issue we
        >must try and involve Danny in the discussion. Otherwise . . . Which leads
        >me to -

        I see it as just one available option. Many of the people we will
        attract won't be novices as much as returnees (in my experience).
        Practically no one buys Diplomacy for the first time these days.

        >
        >Involving everyone
        >Paul stated in response to Stephen pulling out, that my opinion wasn't
        >important. And much to my chagrin I suppose in a wider sense the thoughts of
        >one person aren't. One of the joys of the hobby, for me, are that if I want
        >to do something, I just can. The problem is I shouldn't. Imagine the
        >situation if one group of people gets together and places some adverts here
        >and there. Then a second group do the same. Chaos.
        >Normally I approve of chaos, but in this case a little bit of fore-thought
        >and democracy would be a better bet.
        >I guess what I'm trying to say is that we need to involve more people. If
        >that's not practical; because we want to act 'now', then consider carefully
        >how to announce things to the wider hooby. 'There wasn't time to involve the
        >hobby readership in general so, a few of us got together to discuss/take
        >some immediate action and we'd like to involve more people in developing
        >things further', sounds so much better than 'We held a state of the hobby
        >debate and have decided to do blah, blah'. Not hijacking the HDF or
        >uk.games.board would help in this regard.
        >

        I think you misunderstand the old HDF - it is so small to be a red
        herring. We need someone to organise the cash - whatever we call them.
        Still - we've got 160 pounds now - whoppee!

        >That's more than enough from me.
        >

        Nice to hear you being constructive.


        --
        Stephen Agar, Brighton, UK
        www.diplomacy.co.uk
      • Chris M. Dickson
        In message , Stephen Agar writes ... My thought about MfG is that not only should it have a
        Message 3 of 6 , Mar 1, 1999
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          In message <rJwswDAz3v22EwEq@...>, Stephen Agar
          <stephen@...> writes
          >That said, I agree that MfG goes out of date very quickly. Maybe every 3
          >months John could just delete folded zines and add new ones? Then do a
          >small print run for newcomers.

          My thought about MfG is that not only should it have a late deadline -
          no more reviews accepted after this date - it should have an early
          deadline too, so that you know that all the reviews are reasonably
          fresh, as opposed to being based on a zine's actions six months ago. An
          announcement of "get your MfG reviews in between *now* and *then*" may
          be enough to trigger people into doing them, particularly around about
          the two dates specified. I know that it would for me!

          >I think you misunderstand the old HDF - it is so small to be a red
          >herring. We need someone to organise the cash - whatever we call them.
          >Still - we've got 160 pounds now - whoppee!

          Indeed. Nick Parish was going to open the HDF account with a tenner, so
          I think that that makes onehundredandseventy, as they seldom say on the
          darts. (Unless there's a tasty "biggest checkout" prize to be had.) It's
          a shame that he isn't on e-mail, isn't it? I have offered him this old
          14k4 modem when I get a new one, its sloth being a positive deterrent to
          WWW surfing and other time-consuming activities.

          Stephen Agar: GBP 50
          John Harrington: GBP 50
          Mark Wightman: GBP 50

          ...if this is what Hobby Philanthropism Poker is like, I fold. :-)

          Oh yes! The real reason for this message: OMR really should be out very
          soon now; I had been holding it up for about a week, but GIT joined the
          rest of the 'zine on Friday. The zine may well have been printed and
          dispatched by now, depending on the Office World near chez Stretch and
          the Post Office. It would probably make more sense in the context of the
          rest of the 'zine, but if you want to download GIT, you can do so from

          http://www.dickson.demon.co.uk/GIT/

          The git18-*.doc files are in Word for Windows 6.0 (aka WordPad) format;
          the git18.zip file is an archive of all 25 pages.

          Enjoy!
          Chris

          --
          | Chris M. Dickson, Middlesbrough, England; Sports Editor, Flagship Magazine
          | Maintainer, ukgs-l and ilta lists; http://www.ox.compsoc.org.uk/~dickson/
          | Editor, "Games In Testing"; UK Game Show Page; chris@...
          --
        • John Harrington
          In message , Chris M. Dickson writes ... This would work if the John Harrington you had
          Message 4 of 6 , Mar 6, 1999
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            In message <VDPqaIAUky22Ewy$@...>, "Chris M. Dickson"
            <chris@...> writes
            >From: "Chris M. Dickson" <chris@...>
            >
            >In message <rJwswDAz3v22EwEq@...>, Stephen Agar
            ><stephen@...> writes
            >>That said, I agree that MfG goes out of date very quickly. Maybe every 3
            >>months John could just delete folded zines and add new ones? Then do a
            >>small print run for newcomers.
            >
            >My thought about MfG is that not only should it have a late deadline -
            >no more reviews accepted after this date - it should have an early
            >deadline too, so that you know that all the reviews are reasonably
            >fresh, as opposed to being based on a zine's actions six months ago. An
            >announcement of "get your MfG reviews in between *now* and *then*" may
            >be enough to trigger people into doing them, particularly around about
            >the two dates specified. I know that it would for me!

            This would work if the John Harrington you had running it were the John
            Harrington of 1985 or thereabouts. Sadly (or perhaps not) the days of
            me switching on the computer at 8.00pm on a Friday and not stopping
            until I'd finished a zine at 3.00am on Monday morning (OK, I stopped for
            sleep and occasional sustenance) are long gone.

            Frankly, what I need is some form of external pressure to get the thing
            done by certain deadlines - FurryCon (late May) and MidCon (November)
            might be good targets to aim for (or BayCon for the early one). What
            happens if I miss this target I don't know - my favoured penalty is a
            visit from Miss Whiplash and �50 an hour of chastisement - but I suspect
            general abuse from the hobby at large would do the trick.

            Currently what happens is I send out flyers to all the editors I know of
            asking them to return details of their zine to me by a certain deadline.
            At the same time I ask them to mention I am looking for reviews.

            After the deadline passes I try and do MfG as quickly as I can but my
            track record on this so far has not been good. Alex Bardy has offered
            to help with the lay-out and what have you and notwithstanding the fact
            that I think he is engaged to be married it might be that he has more
            spare time than me to do the "production" side of it.

            --
            John Harrington
          • John Harrington
            In message , Stephen Agar writes ... I am constantly amazed at the amount of work MfG is. If
            Message 5 of 6 , Mar 6, 1999
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              In message <rJwswDAz3v22EwEq@...>, Stephen Agar
              <stephen@...> writes
              >
              >That said, I agree that MfG goes out of date very quickly. Maybe every 3
              >months John could just delete folded zines and add new ones? Then do a
              >small print run for newcomers.

              I am constantly amazed at the amount of work MfG is. If 20 or so zines
              would fold or not run so many games it would make my life a lot easier
              ....

              Having said that, I think I could manage one every 6 months. That would
              still get out of date, especially as there is often a 2 month period
              between editors sending in their stuff and me finally getting MfG out of
              the door, but (adapting Stephen's idea slightly) I could produce MfG as
              the handbook and then produce bi-monthly appendices which announce folds
              of zines in MfG and add details of new ones which aren't.

              Of possibly more interest is continual updating of MfG on the Fiendish
              Games web site (URL at bottom of this mail). This would only extend to
              those zines with which I trade (which will hopefully be most of them
              soon now I am the Eddie George of the Zine Bank) and would still be done
              in fits and starts.

              John Harrington
              Fiendish Games - makers of Breaking Away, Office Politics, Devil Take The
              Hindmost and Traffic Lights
              www.fiendishgames.demon.co.uk
            • John Harrington
              In message , Wightman, Mark, WIGHTMM writes ... It doesn t have to be yearly. Initially
              Message 6 of 6 , Mar 6, 1999
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                In message <199903011341.NAA22115@...>, "Wightman,
                Mark, WIGHTMM" <mark.wightman@...> writes
                >
                >Novice Package / MFG
                >[John's MFG is a magnificent effort so, please do not take this a criticism
                >of it.] Unfortunately, being yearly it is almost immediately out of date.
                >Especially now, with 'zines droping like flies. Some of the United 'zine
                >entries leave a lot to be desired too. Which leaves me thinking that,
                >perhaps the whole thing is a little too big. If I think that just imagine
                >what a newbie might think. OK. They could be impressed by the size of the
                >hobby, but unless they read through the whole thing then it's pot-luck which
                >'zine they try (if any). If they pick a folded one . . .

                It doesn't have to be yearly. Initially I was going to go for quarterly
                but this is definitely more than I can manage. Half yearly should be
                doable though and that is the target I am setting myself. I positively
                seek kicks up the backside if I am overdue. Frequent reminders that
                Railroad Tycoon is not that good a game should have a positive effect.

                >My suggestion would be to split it up. Place the 'United' only 'zines in one
                >section and everything else in another. Have both documents refer to one
                >another and ask respondents to specify their preferences in the advert.
                >More work for the editor, I know. You can have my help, John. If you want
                >it, but please understand I know very little about United. [Dons flame-proof
                >underwear and awaits the United players wrath].

                Previous MfGs had a separate section on United. I would not argue that
                the two constituencies are almost entirely divorced (the big difference
                in my experience is that the United players are less interested in
                football than the non-United players!) but my own preference is for the
                two to think of themselves as one hobby. I think integrating the United
                zines in to the main body of MfG is one way of encouraging this view.

                Here's an idea though. In the next MfG I could have a section at the
                front covering the major postal games and list which zines run them.

                The major games in my view are Diplomacy, Railway Rivals, United,
                Breaking Away, En Garde!

                If we are going to put flyers in to 18xx games then 18xx should be
                included too. Personally I think all-reader games and quizzy type
                things (El Gordo, By Popular Demand) are not worth specifying as "major
                games" although they are undoubtedly popular.

                I've got about 83 other hobby discussion e-mails to respond to so I'll
                end here.

                --
                John Harrington
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