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In response to our recent redesign: Congratulations on making it this far!
However, I'm gonna have to say I'm not a fan of the layout. ... I have a long-standing and highly personal grudge against the sort of time-based navigation thing that is used to link to individual articles.
As for the individual articles, call me old-fashioned, but I liked having all the articles in order and linked to each other and being limited to a single print-like page at a time without scrolling. It was part of the charm, the sort of thing that lets you know "This is different than the other game sites." I liked that they were sorted by issue. ... Anyway, now I'm worried that I will miss articles from time to time. I'm sure you don't want that. My suggestion would be to keep having an index page for each issue, sort of like the cover pages that previous issues had, and give us a big old prominent link to the most recent issue rather than to the individual articles. In my mind, the reason that I keep coming back to The Escapist was because of its very distinctive "magazine" metaphor, with the main articles each week adhering to a central theme. The current layout is like cutting the articles out of the magazine and scattering them around. It may be easier to get at each one, but it's jarring and it doesn't match the style of content you're delivering.
- Bongo Bill
I like the visual style of the new design, but it's insanely busy and inelegant. With so much going on, it's nearly impossible to find my way around. In fact, almost everything in the right column of the main page could be removed and the site would be better for it.
Already I miss the magazine feel of it. I had to spend several minutes poking around to even find anything like the Table of Contents for issue 105, and even that reads more like a news feed than a magazine. The editors note is the last thing on the page, instead of the first where it belongs. And I still have no idea what the theme is of this issue. Please don't lose the structured feel of The Escapist.
I like the new look and structure of the articles a lot. Very cohesive and attractive. They're easy to navigate, have a nice selection of web 2.0 links, and give ready access to the related forum posting. Very nice job on this. In fact, you should make your issue contents page just like this, and add links to the next and previous article in the issue.
I do really like the Related Articles sidebar in concept, but it's presence is obscured by the surrounding ads and the "What's New" panel that has no business being on every page. When I want to know what's new, I'll go the the homepage. All I need in that sidebar is my login information, the related links, and perhaps a single advertisement.
As a website, it's infinitely better than previous iterations. As a magazine, it's currently a step backwards, though that's fixable.
I'm going to chime in and say that I will dearly miss the magazine layout, as it was one of the most distinctive setups I have ever encountered, and I really enjoyed it. BUT, with the addition of the ToC at the bottom of each article, many of my initial concerns are taken care of (I thought about posting yesterday, when this first happened, and refrained because I wouldn't've been nearly as friendly). ... In the end, it will take more than a format change to keep me from coming back, as the content is some of the best out there. Thank you for trying to address the initial concerns so quickly, you guys are all awesome.
In response to "Tabletop Gaming and the Hypnic Jerk" from The Escapist Forum: The one thing I like about those 'Perfidium' style stores is that they don't bother me unless I need help. If I want help I'll ask and they'll help me, if I don't they leave me to look around. That's how a store should be. Sure, there are a few stores that have grumpy owners, but those are easy to avoid. But some stores have an actual policy: "You must greet the customer, you must have a happy disposition, you must ask if you can help them find something". I hate that - it's a corporate version of The Stepford Wives. If I needed their help I have the intelligence to ask them. If I want to talk to them I should be the one to make that decision - not them. If I don't say 'Hi' it means I want them to leave me the hell alone.
I'm tired of this meet and greet nonsense in stores. I just feel the whole "We know best how to direct the customer" is inherently disrespectful. In some stores I've been approached by four people before I've even reached the area of the store that I'm looking for - it's ridiculous. In some cases I've had to ask my wife to run interference for me so that I can look for what I want without being distracted. This happens often in Circuit City, but it's happened in game stores too.
Another thing that's annoying is that the 'meet and greet' policy is actually bad for business: if someone helps you find what you're looking for right away it curtails any browsing activities that might happen while you're searching for the product you want. The thing is, with this policy in place if you go looking for one thing you'll be likely to get it and nothing else. If you go in a store that doesn't have a 'meet and greet' policy, you'll probably end up with the item you came for and a few other things.
'Meet and greet' annoys customers like me and it cuts profits. It's a ridiculous and oppressive system that's completely unnecessary.
I've been to both, the Perfidium of now, and of then, and I definately prefer the more open feeling. Im my neck of the woods, the one gaming store is always alive in the evenings. Every evening, something's going on, and it's become part of my routine. It's the inviting atmosphere that brought me in, and it keeps me coming back time and time again.
In response to "Richard Garfield" from The Escapist Forum: While the article has given me a love for Mr. Garfield as well as a validation of my magic playing years, its given me a new addiction as well. I casually wandered into Quadradius to see what thrilled Mr. Garfield only to find crack cocaine. That game is addictive! It fits right into the criteria from the article about German board games in this same issue. Thanks for the article, I have two new loves.
In response to "Pawn Takes Megabyte" from The Escapist Forum: This doesn't seem any different to the Asian market with computer games though.
I've heard (from this very website) that in Asia watercooler chat rotates around games - the latest Starcraft battle, the newest Final Fantasy, etc...
In Asia, games aren't just for kids which seems to be a general feeling in the USA.
I don't mean to be facetious about War and conflict, but given these types of conclusions, maybe the USA need to lose a war or two to discover something that the Asians and Germans seem to get that we (I say We - The UK and Australia are basically the same as the USA) don't.