Someone wrote in to the Escapist this week and griped about the fact that the articles don't really have much content in them any more. I agree: when it started, I liked 2-3 of the articles in each issue. Now, I'm down to only one per issue. (And the editor's comments and one or two of the letters - those're always interesting.)
This issue, for example, starts off with a whimper: Pat Miller writes an essay about SecondLife. It's a painfully pedestrian story which says literally nothing that hasn't been said before in the Escapist itself. He (or she, I suppose) also skips some of the most important points to the modern SecondLife situation: the way the economy is fluctuating due to Linden Lab's hostile takeover of real money transactions and the sudden changes in the teleportation rules.
It doesn't even contain any up-to-date content. What other purpose do magazines serve?
Patrick writes an article about alternative challenges and goals which probably interests someone, but is pretty old hat for me. No offense, Patrick. Just not news to me.
Bruce Nielson writes about money, and the expense of maintaining a game. Unfortunately, he doesn't actually say anything. At all. He says, "sometimes, customers want too much for too little. Maybe it would be best if they could create content for you, but maybe not. Maybe something else - I don't know what - is best." Except he says it in 1000 words.
Why not talk a bit about the fun chaos that is content creation, Bruce? I know you only had a spotlight - not many words to bandy about - but you wasted many of them on the rather pointless NWN example. I understand it's near and dear to your heart, but you didn't have enough words to talk about yourself.
Joe Blancato's essay on "Fraternizing With the Enemy" is probably the only essay I like in this week's issue, assuming Friday doesn't pull something amazing out of its ass. And it's not a "wow! Woo-hoo!" like. It's a "Huh, that's interesting" like, like the like I get from an article in a local newspaper. It's the same interest I get from reading that Boeing laid off its workforce again.
This is pretty much the standard success rate for me and the Escapist. It's been quite a while since I've given an essay in the Escapist two thumbs up.
I think the Escapist is in a good position, but, like a photon, I can't tell where it's going. Or if it's going. I hope that they can get some really solid content up soon, or they'll lose their inertia and some of their critical readership. However, looking at their future issues - concentrating on Blizzard, for example - I don't see how they could get more than one solid essay in any given issue.
In the interest of revealing potential bias, I must say that the Escapist did turn down my little pitch. However, this was due (I'm pretending) mostly to me thoroughly misunderstanding the deadlines. It doesn't change the fact that the most entertaining pages of the Escapist are the first three.
That's not good!