I don't normally take something like a piece of fiction or art or a map and give criticism without someone first asking. I say this because I can sometimes be downright brutal. My wife cringes every time she hands me something to proof or edit, as do many of my friends and peers. The other reason for not actively spouting advice on artistic creations is that I really never considered myself qualified to do such things as editing, proofing and critiquing. Yet people keep coming to me for advice on these types of things. I thought a little for warning was in order to let you know that before you take anything I say to heart, I'm not an expert (on anything) or a professional and I most definitely do not follow common practices or orthodox methods for editing or reviewing.
Yes, for the most part I did. But I find anything in the field of fantasy, mapping or gaming to be interesting. What made this even more interesting was the fact that it was taken from such a broad pool of creative input. Having most of it actually chosen from the public (the voting aspect of challenges) is one of the things I found most appealing. It means that anyone (members of the alliance, that is) has the potential to be featured. I hope that participation increases so much that an ezine would be possible on a bi-monthly or even monthly basis... we can hope, eh?1. Did you find zine interesting to read?
As with all published types of Creative Help (Dungeon Mag, Dragon, published adventures, etc.) that cater to the genre, it is always providing some type of inspiration; for me anyways. Even on its most basic level, it puts the mind into a process of creating for creation sake. Most people will always think of how they can input something into their current incarnation of gaming, even if for a split second to discard the thought of it not pertaining to their games.2. Do you think the zine is helpful in providing inspiration to adventure creation?
For me personally, the campaign arcs, the maps and adventure nuggets are what inspire me the most. Works of Fiction are probably the least. I love a good story, don't get me wrong, and as a writer and writing enthusiast, I love the fact that short works are included, but as far as inspiring my games in anyway, I rarely consider it. This is why I have a subscription to both Dungeon and Realms of Fantasy, one for writing and one for adventures.
Personal Preferences aside, I think overall it provides quite a bit of inspirational work for gamers and writer's alike.
I think in trying to keep true to the goal of providing a zine with tools for all your creative works that you do just that. The adventure is nice, the works of fiction are nice, but in the realm of 'tools' they are not. Put in articles for that actually provide tools to be creative, like a creative writing workshop that gives you ways to build your creative writing skills, for instance: How to create fantasy names or Do's and Dont's on Fantasy Names or Fantasy Names, the difference between Reading and Speaking. (I think fantasy names, terms and the like and how the impact a reader is something vastly overlooked by too many writers and gamers.)3. Are there any articles you would like to see in future issues?
For Campaign Building you could have articles on how to create a Story Arc or Creating Memorable NPCs or Villains or QADM: The Quick and Dirty Method for Adventure Creation (yes, a shameless plug on my part )
For mapping you could do articles like you did for the tutorial as well as something like: Cities: How to Plan, Create and Map a City or Symbols: How to find your style for a map or Labeling Maps: The art of good map labeling.
Those of course are all simple suggestions, but the options for these types of articles in all three aspects of the zine or near limitless.
Overall it was decent. I didn't like the general typesetting used for most of it. I think a softer font should be used and not such a 'blocky' font like Arial. It makes everything kinda bunch together, tiring the eyes over an extended period of reading. This coupled with no paragraph indention whatsoever made it even more difficult to read and follow. I was glad to see the double columns, this did somewhat save it from being totally unread. I would suggest finding a softer font that is easier and more pleasing to the eye as well as using paragraph indentions liberally. This also cuts down on the amount of line spacing you have to use to distinguish paragraph from paragraph.4. What do you think of the look and feel of the zine?
The Table of Contents might have a short description of what that article is about (i.e.: Dancing in Place short fiction by Robin Webb)
Finding a way to highlight you headers and topics within articles will also help break the monotony of the text format, perhaps a backdrop graphic or line coloring that offsets the text and catches the eye. Also, find a good bullet to use instead of an asterisk (creating an original one would be even better) the generic look of the asterisk doesn't pop like a snazzy bullet will.
I did like the boxed insets used, these made me happy for some unknown reason. I hope to see more of them though, and in greater numbers.
I know you personally worked hard on this aspect of the zine Rav, and what I listed isn't me pointing at what you did wrong, I've no idea what the standards are for right and wrong in the world of PDF creation... I still have not mastered my Adobe Acrobat Professional in any way, shape or form... I'm just putting down what I personally thought it should look like.
Keep up the hard work, ya'll did a great job. And if I can help at all, just let me know. I'll do what I can.5. Any other thoughts?