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Wireframe - a new gaming magazine (yes, on real paper)

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@Ianos I used the option on the website to get a number of free copies sent to the studio I work at but they've yet to arrive. Wondering if it's because I used my personal email address rather than my work one?

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2 hours ago, Mr Do 71 said:

 

Assassin's Creed Odyssey - 93%

8-Bit Armies - 68%

Catastronauts - 82%

No Man's Sky Next (Update Review no score)

Timespinner - 72%

The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep - 55%

 

 

How can it be an update review when they've never reviewed it before? :sherlock:

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1 hour ago, Eighthours said:

 

How can it be an update review when they've never reviewed it before? :sherlock:

 

It's review of the Next Update for No Man's Sky rather than a review of the whole game, Sherlock.

 

Enjoyed issue 1, currently writing for future issues :D

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Don't know how I missed this thread earlier but congratulations on the launch.  Issue #1 purchased.

 

I like the look of the Toolbox section - this is territory that Edge has almost entirely vacated, so there is definitely a gap in the market for folk like me who aren't in the business but would like to know more about what goes on "under the hood" of games.  Please, please keep a really good balance of games - genres, origins, age etc.

 

Spot on review of Assassin's creed too :wub:  .

 

Looking forward to the the RPG feature in the next issue.

 

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3 hours ago, BadgerFarmer said:

OK, thanks. I'd say it's probably out of place right on the first page like that as well.

 

But also it's an interesting point of view that the magazine as a whole could take seriously. How games deal with various cultural and emotional themes through gameplay or a combination of narrative and gameplay is becoming increasingly relevant, as are questions of their social impact. It's perhaps worth exploring these things, even from a development perspective. To give an obvious example, say, how does Nier Automata construct the relationship between player and game world, or make us reflect on what we're doing. 

 

Pitch! wireframe@raspberrypi.org. We pay real money.

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I've had the chance to read through the magazine in full, and I have... thoughts.

 

I'm worried that I might come across as overly negative here,* so I do want to preface my comments with the fact that overall I quite enjoyed the magazine and have subscribed to it, and particularly appreciated its inclusion of dev-side articles and technical/hobbyist bits and pieces, and its happy coverage of games and companies of all scales. It was pleasantly refreshing to have a slight but dense magazine to read too, not padded out with adverts and round ups. I also want to note that this is of course a first issue, and I imagine a lot, if not all, of the kinks are likely to be ironed out as the magazine establishes itself and finds its focus.

 

But, at the same time, exactly for those reasons I want to flag up the bits I felt were 'off'; if this were the tenth issue of the magazine then I would assume the design and guidelines were set in stone, but this being the first issue I'm hopeful that maybe some of this criticism will have constructive effect.

 

A few of the things have already been flagged up here (by me and others), so I'll cover them only briefly:

  • The opening opinion piece set unmet expectations; as much as it was explained in here that it was just an opinion piece and not meant to be taken as a statement of intent for the magazine, its placement and prominence naturally made it seem like it was leading into a magazine planning to deliver on the potential for games criticism as something more than a buyer's guide, making the mundanity of the reviews section quite the disappointment. An unfortunate juxtaposition.
  • The Kim Justice piece was a little... light. It was a perfectly enjoyable thing to read through, but for a magazine whose other articles are so clearly targetted at people already engaged with the games industry, it felt like it was pitched at an odd level.

Outside of that, I had a couple of other minor gripes

  • Ikaruga is described as a 'horizontal shooter'. I mean, that's obviously just a typo that's slipped through copy editing, but I'm a pedant and it made me wince to read it.
  • If that made me wince, the Will Luton article made me grimace throughout. A large part of that was preference - an article presented as something that 'all game designers' should use, when what it's describing are the mathematical underpinnings of compulsive game loops, is something I fundamentally disagree with. But bypassing that, on a professional level I found it a painful read - I'm an analyst by trade, so I'm pretty familiar with the mathematical concepts that were being discussed, and the way the article was structured just rubbed me the wrong way. The way it went jumping between mathematical equations, pretty charts, simple tables, and then anecdotes about how beautiful logarithmic and exponential curves are reflective of nature - ooh look at this shell! - unlike those ugly linear charts, yuck - struck me as exactly that moment where a new consultant has come in to the business and is talking absolute woo in order to win over the executive team on some new and exciting failed-endeavour-to-be. Perhaps I'm being unfair, but I found myself at odds with pretty much everything in the article.
  • More generally, the magazine doesn't quite seem to have a clear focus. Which is natural for a first issue. Does it want to be a reasonably heavy, technical, dev-focussed thing? Or is it going for lightweight, pop games history? Does it really need a scored review section to try and fit in with the crowd? I'm looking forward to seeing what it eventually decides on!

None of the above are dramatic issues by any means - reading an article I disagree with is hardly unique, nor are minor copy errors, and again the issues of direction are understandable in a first issue, but they did niggle at me.

 

My final issue, however, I see as a rather more unequivocal problem. It's an issue of, well, pedantry again, but this time with some significance beyond that:

 

My real problem is with the Python script in the Defender explosions article - or rather, its documentation.

 

This is an actively misleading script. There were a couple of minor things I can overlook; the formatting not following Python guidelines (the lack of parentheses when defining tuples in particular) was non-ideal, I'm not entirely in agreement with the choice of the particularly Python-newbie-unfriendly-to-install-and-use Pygame Zero rather than something integrated into an IDE,** and I think it could have been enhanced by offering suggestions for building upon the code (e.g. "Why not try randomising the colour of the particles too"), but those are more preference than anything.

 

What I can't ignore are the repeated references to 'arrays' being defined within the script, when what have actually been created are lists. This sounds pedantic, but it's a significant distinction, and one likely to trip up beginner programmers (or, indeed, experienced coders who aren't used to Python).

 

Python has both list and array data structures (and tuples, and dicts, and sets...), and they function quite differently from one another. I won't go into the details, but as an over-simplified summary: lists can hold any combination of things; arrays can hold one type of thing. 

 

While arrays have their uses (in fact, I think they could have been used in parts this particular code, they just weren't), they are generally much less commonly used in Python than, well, any of the other data structures I named. To the point where they aren't even loaded in by default; the array library has to be imported at the start of the script if you want to use them. Lists, by contrast, are probably the most fundamental data structure in Python, and indeed much of the initial challenge of moving from a language like, say, C or Java, is moving from array logic to list logic (and, indeed, vice-versa when moving away from Python).

 

To conflate the two is really not helpful. Again, this may sound very pedantic, but it's the exact type of error that could confuse and mislead anyone new to Python/coding in general, and is the sort of thing I'd really hope to not see published in a magazine, and particularly not regarding a data structure so integral to working with Python.

 

The thing is, I would love - love - for the magazine to continue fitting in little bits of script to type in, work with, explore. That's a fantastic idea. But it needs to be executed well; it needs to be written and edited by people who understand the language they're working with, because if the choice is between being given no example and being given a bad example, the former is preferable.

 

 

*shocked gasps from the crowd, no doubt

**I'm guessing its compatibility with Raspberry Pi may have been a factor here, in fact!

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I’ve ready the whole thing now, really enjoyed it overall and looking forward to subsequent issues. 

 

Toolbox was generally excellent, though I’m now on my third attempt at the curves article and haven’t managed to get all the way through (I think that’s pitched at a slightly odd level, where it says it’s going to be an understandable intro but is a bit dense).

 

I would love a bit more nineties retro, I feel like all the old games mentioned are ancient stuff I’ve never played, but again, demanding specific things doesn’t seem very reasonable of me :)

 

Loved the opinion and column bits, and wasn’t particularly thrown by the opening thing. Maybe lose the reviews though? That’s straying into the territory that got all the other games magazines killed: shit that the internet does better. 

 

I’m not against writing about a current game, but my issue with reviews is that they force you to write about it even if you’ve got nothing interesting to say about it.

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The percentage scale for a mag whose opening words are about how there's too much buying guide and not enough criticism is a really odd fit. And percentage scores are silly anyway, but that's a different debate.

 

I didn't quite get who the maths-of-curves article was aimed at. It felt oddly-pitched, like anyone who would get it would already know it?

 

Other than that and the layout, which is a pretty obvious "homage" to certain other mags' previous formats, I'll certainly applaud the effort and love that's gone into making it.

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I do think it could do with stronger editing to get things in to shape. It’s a reasonable starting point but it needed refinement.

 

The whole secrets of game design thing, although it’s an introduction to a series, was essentially two pages of the author saying how great he is. I expect this is an unfortunate effect of splitting a single long piece in to several chunks with this being the introduction. (“Why should you listen to me?”) but the potted CV at the start set out his bona fides and it really should have got on with it.

 

The BETA piece kept oscillating between saying it was a pre-release exercise in finding bugs and an honest admission of launching a game in a broken state, almost as though disagreeing authors collaborated on it.

 

That sort if big broad strokes stuff needs to be tightened up.

 

However I like the personal styles of the writers being apparent, and the how-to guides are the sort of thing that I really got inspired by back in Commodore Format and CU Amiga even when I didn’t quite understand them or even necessarily used all of them.

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I agree on the mismatch from the editorial piece and then having percentages on the reviews. 

 

After all - what is the defining quality or calculation that puts a game at 89% to 90%?  One percent in this case makes a massive difference to the impression of the game.

 

I would be happy to not have scores. 

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8 hours ago, Protocol Penguin said:

I think the above post explains why my copy ended up straight in the recycling bin after ten minutes or so. Give me an entertaining magazine, not a technical manual filled with charts and impenetrable jargon.

And you want to learn programming?

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8 hours ago, Protocol Penguin said:

I think the above post explains why my copy ended up straight in the recycling bin after ten minutes or so. Give me an entertaining magazine, not a technical manual filled with charts and impenetrable jargon.

 

There's plenty of alternatives out there for you. I'd like them to double down on the technical stuff, there's definitely a space in the market for it.

 

I think this is a solid first issue.

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27 minutes ago, Pixelbark said:

 

There's plenty of alternatives out there for you. I'd like them to double down on the technical stuff, there's definitely a space in the market for it.

 

I think this is a solid first issue.

 

It kind of reminded me of CU Amiga, which was very tutorial and project and tech heavy and I read tonnes of because it was the one Amiga mag you could get in our tiny backwater. There’s definitely a niche for that.

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8 hours ago, nakamura said:

And you want to learn programming?

 

8 hours ago, SneakyNinja said:

 

No, he wants to be able to program, skipping straight past the learning bit.

 

This seems a little harsh - Protocol's 'in the bin after ten minutes' comment is severe, but I can see why you might bounce off a games magazine for being a bit heavy going if that's not what you're expecting, and the chart-centric article they mention is certainly unnecessarily jargon-heavy, explaining a simple set of concepts in as many words as humanly possible. And, well, the magazine is in no way a programming guide, aside really from that Python snippet, so I don't see how criticising the magazine for being dry has any bearing on Protocol's interest or otherwise in learning to code.

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In my defence, I did get the magazine out to read Kim Justice’s feature, which was done well, on a topic that has been done quite often by various publications. Liked the short guide to Treasure games too. Just with all the technical stuff, I’m not the target market, so I find it utterly alienating. Sorry.

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On 13/11/2018 at 06:59, Protocol Penguin said:

I think the above post explains why my copy ended up straight in the recycling bin after ten minutes or so. Give me an entertaining magazine, not a technical manual filled with charts and impenetrable jargon.

WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO BE A PROGRAMMER?!????!!???!!!

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I got an email from the Raspeberry Pi store last Thursday to say it was 'on its way'.

 

I'm heading away from work until tomorrow night, so will see if it arrives tomorrow, otherwise might drop them an email.

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Lots to like about this in theory. Fortnightly's just often enough to fix the irrelevance of delayed reviews (without scores, I hope?); the publisher sounds like they'll permit full independence (uniquely); and the price is right.

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Mine arrived this morning. Only had a quick flick through it, but there's enough that I liked on first glance that I've taken advantage of the £12 sub offer.

 

Will give it a proper read over the weekend.

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