Sunday, December 03, 2006

(Almost) A Massive Waste of Time

On a recent flight I read the first issue of Massive, the new magazine about MMOGs. The poor thing is hovering perilously close to fishwrap quality.

Massive needs help. Chiefly, Massive needs a firm editorial hand:

  • Sure, it's interesting to read a blurb about the gender split of MMOG players-- but the pie chart accompanying the text actually shows the player base's age breakdown by gender.

  • A description of ArenaNet's new Nightfall expansion for Guild Wars both spells the company's name wrong and misidentifies the two new character classes as "factions."

  • The colorful (and memorable) phrase "800 lb. gorilla" is used twice in the magazine. Guess I should be happy it wasn't used twice in the same article.

    Nitpicky? Maybe, but it's too bad that Massive shows so little of the editorial zing and professional polish of its parent mag Computer Games.

    Other problems are more glaring. One huge section lists mini-descriptions of pretty much every MMOG out there, including some nifty-sounding ones I hadn't heard of before (Ooh!) but fails to provide URLs where you could, y'know, go learn about them or play them (D'oh!).

    The layout and graphics are solid, but one funny article about chatspeak suffers from a printing error, with half the untranslated lines of text missing.

    The best content of the magazine apart from the teasing URL-free catalog of current games is the selection of editorials from many of the MMOGinati, including Raph Koster, Nick Yee, Richard Garriott, and Richard Bartle (recapping his keynote from the 2005 Austin Game Conference).

    But even Raph notes that most of what can be written about MMOGs has been (albeit not necessarily in a dead-tree periodical), and the most interesting topics aren't quite ready to be talked about yet. Also, Massive may've shot their wad too soon given the sheer number of editorials. At this rate they'll burn through all the top tier developers and researchers in, oh, three issues.

    And I'm not sure what's served by peppering the magazine with irrelevant newsbits about knitting guilds and contested gold in the mountains of Chile.

    I may pick up the second issue, if there is one -- MMOG magazines have launched and failed before -- but here's hoping the folks behind Massive can regroup, with a l33t editor at the helm FTW.
  • 1 comment:

    Tiffany said...

    I saw this magazine and nearly picked it up, but now I'm glad I didn't. Thanks for the commentary! Strangely (given my line of work), I find the idea of a whole monthly magazine devoted to MMOGs fairly tedious. I like the approach taken by Computer Games, in which there is one section devoted to MMOGs. Oh, hehe, I got a kick out of "MMOGinati".