AA Neo: The Basics

Matt Barton's picture

Greetings, everyone. I'd like to start a discussion here about the direction we'd like to take AA Neo and hopefully form a coherent and exciting long-term vision for Armchair Arcade. Significantly, Drupal allows us some exciting possibilities for building a new and stronger community, but also a better means of creating, sorting, and distributing the high quality articles and news postings of the old site. Let me discuss some of the changes I'm personally most exicted about proposing.

First, Bill and I have been discussing the possibility of evolving from an issue-based format (like a print magazine) to an article-based format (like most web publications). Fortunately, this doesn't have to be an either/or decision. I submit that we take the best of both worlds. We write and publish articles on a "just-in-time" strategy that attempts to (a) strike critical issues when the timing is ripe, and (b) offers enough time for the editors to tweak and revise articles. This will allow us to keep up a steady stream of new features without suffering the dreaded "bottleneck" problems of issue-length publication. However, we don't have to give up on issues--far from it. Indeed, this method will allow us to create a backlog of features that can, at regular intervals, be compiled (and revised in light of reader feedback if necessary) into a downloadable PDF magazine. The "value add" of that magazine will be (a) cover art, (b) graphical layouts, and (c) print design. In short, the content on the site will be more focused on timeliness than design; we'll make up for that in the PDF magazines. My dream is that these PDF magazines will approach the design sophistication of online mags like The Escapist.

Of course, the ultimate goal would be to offer readers an amazing website AND a downloadable, printable publication in magazine format. Hopefully, this latter project will lead to an actual print publication--assuming we can garner enough funds for advertising the product in other print magazines and building up a subscription list.

I would also like for us to discuss user features and the look and layout of this site, but I've typed enough for today! :-)

Comments

Bill Loguidice
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AA Neo: Food for Thought

Obviously Matt and I have been communicating our thoughts via e-mail regarding how we'd like things to go down. These have been very fruitful discussions. In any case, I definitely agree in principle that it's a good idea to move away from the issue format, with the idea being that we post articles as they're ready, more or less. However, in keeping with the idea that it's actually beneficial to have big, splashy issues (for both advertising and perception), we need to figure a way to compile these articles into a type of issue when it makes sense. The key is figuring out what that will entail.

I'm no fan of PDF magazines. They're often too busy and too difficult to read on-screen, requiring the reader to print them out to make them usable (in my opinion). However, if we were able to offer a downloadable PDF for a small fee, a Print On Demand (POD) magazine/book with a color cover and black and white insides (only cost is to the end user) for a medium fee, and a POD color-color for the highest fee, then I think we'd have something. It would only be one effort on our part - creating the PDF - then just a matter of transferring it to whatever POD service we decide to use. The idea is that while it involves a lot of work, we LEVERAGE that work into as many things as possible. (as far as layout, both Matt's wife who is "in training" and an associate of mine, Rene' Jack (she does it for medical journals), can do layout, though I'd like to figure out some type of small royalty if we used the latter).

Idyllically, I'd love to eventually move us to a print publication, but two key things need to happen - 1) We need sales, which would consist of regular advertising not on the Website and 2) We'd need to have a decent subscriber base. Once that happened, it would be relatively (nothing is easy mind you) to take it to the next level, either on our own somehow or most likely with a partner or buy-out situation. Who knows?

In any case, it's time to get AA back to what it was intended for - to showcase our ideas in thought-provoking and interesting articles that you can't get anywhere else. All the other stuff is fluff as far as I'm concerned right now.

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Bill Loguidice - Armchair Arcade Co-Founder and Editor
www.billandchristina.com (includes Videogame and Computer Collection)
www.mythcore.com (creative development company)

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Bill Loguidice
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By the way, does anyone

By the way, does anyone notice how oddly this places new comments? It's not necessarily in chronological order!

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Bill Loguidice - Armchair Arcade Co-Founder and Editor
www.billandchristina.com (includes Videogame and Computer Collection)
www.mythcore.com (creative development company)
www.ar

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Mat Tschirgi (not verified)
Further food for thought with a touch of Tschirginess

I'm more of a fan of the articles coming out when they are reading. The Issue feel is nice, but we really would need tighter deadlines to pull off a monthly or biweekly issue.

A compromise might be to have a general rule that a certain amount of articles/news items/etc are written every two weeks and every two weeks we compile the headlines as a new thread as a new "issue." Or we could even have a separate blog called Armchair Arcade Issues where each new blog post summarizes the new additions for the 2 week update (check out our article on the greatest retro game of all- frisbee, etc..).

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Mark Vergeer
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article based Neo AA

I think that an article based form of Neo AA would be the better format. It should provide a better 'stream' of interesting articles. I was very keen on the issue format in the past but in between issues there's hardly any coherent information coming from the staff with the risk of the site appearing dead!

The magazine format needn't be totally abandoned, we could create 'special issues' focusing on one theme or another.

Me working significanly less crazy hours than before provides me with enough time to do research and actually write articles. And once one is in a habit of creating articles one tends to produce even more. Abandoning the issue format might actually increase our output. I for one am motivated to do more!

Matt, great to hear from you again!

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Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Tying it all together

Good to hear from you, Mark. I have missed talking to my favorite European immensely.

Let me present a vision of how this might all work together.

We can all agree on one very important thing: AA is about us presenting our intellectual views on various game and computer-related topics. We'd like to focus on producing and showcasing this quality material to as wide an audience as possible. I can't imagine any of us disagreeing with this, so I consider this to be the "foundation" of AA and a moot point.

Now, the question becomes not "what" but "how." I'd like to take an ecological approach to this question. In other words, I see the blogs, articles, and issues working to support each other directly (and necessarily). We use the blogs to report on news and begin discussing topics. This is the "seed bed" or "proving grounds" from which feature articles will emerge--but unlike the forums, which were mostly limited to the "regulars," these blog posts will likely be picked up widely with RSS and a good means of keeping non-participating people visiting the site frequently.

We can then take the best blogs and either work them into articles or use them as springboards to launch into feature articles. The key, of course, is that these articles will represent one of our views, which will (I hope) not be unanimous, but interesting in their differences. These articles will more or less represent well-thought out and highly polished reflective pieces; refined gold, if you will. We would need to advertise these articles in the usual outlets. I noticed before that some articles would get "scooped up" by places like slashdot or joystiq, while other articles would not. I think a more targeted, article-based approach might better ensure that every article gets a fair shot at an audience.

There are many ways to the next step. One means is simply publishing an "issue" when we have enough articles. These could be updated or improved, polished up with graphics and the like, and made available via PDF or POD. We could do an annual book-length project. We could make issues based on themes and stuff them with all the articles related to that theme. At any case, I think we would definitely want to do everything possible to add value to the issues, whether that be cover art, special features or columns, or witty editorials. At any rate, these issues would represent the cream of the AA crop.

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Mat Tschirgi (not verified)
One of the great advantages

One of the great advantages of the Issue format is how it gives a structure to the articles-- we're not posting random articles when we feel like it, but it comes in an Issue where most articles are thematically related.

I do feel the News Section should have a devoted News Editor. That part of the site should certainly be a blog and have 3 updates a day to remain current.

Depending on how we wanted to supplement the site, we could also try to do a podcast or a vidcast, but that might be stretching the focus of AA too much.

Tuppence for your thoughts.

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Bill Loguidice
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On the new site, we're

On the new site, we're definitely going to focus on articles, articles, articles. We'll worry about branching out into media after we get issue 8 out. Basically we need to get this site ready, create a bunch of articles and figure out a digital and print distribution method. Video and audio don't figure into any of that right now.

As for a dedicated news editor, it's probably sufficient with all of us regularly blogging about stuff we find. I certainly do a considerable amount of news posting now, and that won't change. Add Matt in there and you other guys posting, we'll be fine in that department.

I think some of the other posts from Matt and myself address a lot of the other ideas you touch on.

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Bill Loguidice - Armchair Arcade Co-Founder and Editor
www.billandchristina.com (includes Videogame and Computer Collection)
www.mythcore.com (creative development company)
www.ar

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