“A New Norm, A New Website — an Interview with Normal Happenings”


You are never too old to set a new goal or to dream a new dream.
-Clive Staples Lewis



-The Announcement-

Happy Birthday, TWRM! It has been three years since thewellredmage.com published its first article, a slipshod, unfunny “angry” review of Final Fantasy XIII, written of course and unfortunately by yours truly.

Since then, I’ve tried to move away from that kind of writing; I don’t believe that focusing on the humor of the writer or their faux anger at something that didn’t truly hurt them does any justice to the subject of their review, the game.

Since then, TWRM has grown from a trio of friends into a community of writers and readers spanning the world! It’s our interest in the same things that draws us together, not ideology, politics, or fandoms even, and there’s plenty of room for disagreement: unity without unanimity. Who knew that actually focusing on the games themselves would resonate with so many people?

Twitter, Facebook, The Well-Reddit Page, YouTube, MAGE CAST, Side Quests, TWRMstagram, Patreon, the mage crits, the columns, the essays, and Mage Chat on Discord… we must continue to try new things, make our mistakes, figure out what works, and seek new frontiers. Who knows what the future holds?

As our February 20th birthday was fast approaching, we decided it was time to give thee olde site a facelift. Actually, we’d been thinking about this for a while but a birthday seemed like the best excuse. I called upon the expertise of Matt from Normal Happenings who has been an integral component in this revamp, and who has been extremely gracious in helping out! All the thanks I can muster are due! I’m delighted to be able to conduct a bit of an interview with him today and put out some questions about what went into this project, as well as some queries about his own future plans.

There’s a lot happening right now, so stay put and read all the way to the end of the post for information about our giveaway and what’s coming next!


-The Interview-

Red: So the first question I really gotta ask is… why the heck did you agree to work on this monumental project of revamping thewellredmage.com??

Normal: You know when you’re playing a video game for way too long, far past the point where it isn’t even fun anymore? But you keep playing anyway, grinding for the sake of some masochistic form of completionism.

Well, it’s nothing like that.

The truth is two-fold. I love web design, and contributing my own accessible aesthetic. Any opportunity to bestow that could be enough, but add to that the honor of doing it for one of my favorite bloggers. The fact that, in all the blogs in all the world, The Well-Red Mage would call upon my assistance was an honor I simply could not turn down.

Believe it or not, though, working under the hood of TWRM was not as much of a challenge as you might think. You already had all the elements categorized and organized well. You just needed someone to come in and improve the efficiency of the site, that way the works of all these wonderful mages could be enjoyed for longer. Thus, I’m here to turn things away from “blog” and more towards “publication.” Form follows function, and the function of TWRM is far more than one of a simple blog. You impact lives through your ruminations of art, Well-Red, and now you can do that just a little more efficiently.

Red: Thank you! The organization was beginning to become a big issue with our previous theme.

So at Normal Happenings, you emphasize positivity and appreciating everyday magic, if you’ll pardon my particular paraphrasing. How did you come up with the concept for your blog? Did you just wake up one day and say “Eureka”?

Normal: What a tangled a convoluted answer this is going to be – bear with me, as I’m going to be pouring my heart into this particular answer.

My blogging tenure began in 2012, seven long years ago. For years and years, I sought the magic bullet of epic, viral success. All the while, I was talking to a metaphorically empty room, saying controversial things just to try to spark a rise out of the internet. In this age, before what I like to call my third great awakening, I lived my life unaware that I could provide it with purpose and intent through positivism.  

Normal Happenings was born, then, out of a realization that nobody was going to read something long-term that wasn’t sincere. Yes, I may have one day found that magic bullet, but the fleeting nature of the internet would not allow for more than a moment’s fame if I did. And as I found sincerity in myself, I also found it in other people. My own drive for optimism, no matter how much genuine work it takes, manifests itself in my writing, and I knew I needed a place to express my own creativity through prose and design.

So yes, to answer your question, February 26, 2018 – Normal Happenings’ birthday — was a “eureka” moment. But it was a moment that took seven years of pain, miracles, trials, and growing up to arrive at. And that, Well-Red, is why Normal Happenings means the world to me.

Red: You? Saying controversial things? I can’t believe that! What is your long-term goal for your site? Singular. What’s the umbrella goal?

Normal: Simple. My goal is nothing less than to change the world for the better through positivity. I’ve always had big dreams, and exploring those through writing is no exception. Five-hundred or 5 million readers, I just want them to see the world more optimistically. It’s not all bad out here, and there is so much to learn and experience!  

Red: What is one thing you want to change about the world of blogging as we know it today, be that innovation or direction?

Normal: Honestly, nothing that merits too much determination. Perhaps I’m insulated to the problems of blogging due to the greatness of our corner of the blogosphere, but honestly blogging has restored so much of my faith in people.

That said, I do have a small wish-list specifically for WordPress:

  • I’d really like WordPress to add some JavaScript functionality to WP Premium.
  • When are we going to get mobile color schemes for Chrome?
  • It sure would be nice to actually be able to save a theme and not have to work on it in real time for all to see… not that I would know anything about that.

I’m watching you, WordPress. Make it happen.

Red: Who are some artists who inspire you? Maybe let’s do 1 musician, 1 filmmaker, 1 writer, and 1 visual arts (painting, sculpture, illustrator, crafts, etc.).

Normal: Regarding musicians, the David Crowder Band is by far the most influential musical group to have ever impacted my life. And while they may be broken up, you can bet I’m still unraveling the literary themes from their work.

Ira Steven Behr and the rest of the showrunners for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, while not technically filmmakers but rather television creators, crafted in my opinion the finest stories to ever be put to the screen.

I have to go with a major cliché and cite J.R.R. Tolkien as the writer who has inspired me most – particularly when I was an introverted child more concerned with the inside of a book than the outside world.

Finally, I have a lot to learn about appreciating short-form visual arts, so I think I’m going to pass on that question for the present.

Red: You have a variety of upcoming projects, some of which may or may not be secret, but let’s see what I can pull out of you, beginning with a collab that’s been completed but may be… revisited. The Games That Define Us was this brilliant written collaboration discussing a variety of DNA-level games, titles that were most influential in the lives of the writers that participated. Word on the street is we haven’t seen the last of TGTDU?

Normal: The Games That Define Us was nothing less than the perfect storm of 35 highly motivated, incredibly talented bloggers talking about the games most influential in my life. And, if you’re referring to the rumors that a high quality video series based on those pieces is in the works, then I would say yes, they are on board for such a gargantuan project. But I don’t want to spoil too much right now.

If you want to support our efforts, the best possible way is Patreon… but I’m sure we’ll get to that later!

Red: Tracking Shells is another group collab we’re looking forward to in March, right? Why Mario Kart?

Normal: Yep, officially titled Tracking Shells: Our Mario Kart Memories. There’s something crazy about the Mario Kart series — it seems almost everyone, gamers and non-gamers alike, has memories of playing the games with their friends and loved ones at some point in their lives. Scouring the internet, I found precious little compilations of these stories. So, I decided it was time to make our own — 20 stories of Mario Kart nostalgia is coming at you like a blue shell.

Shoutouts to three of the mages joining us in this project! You guys are awesome!

Red: You’re also putting together a concept for a podcast?

Normal: We are indeed! Nikki and I are developing a podcast called Normal Talks. We sit down and have everyday conversations! There is far too much insincerity going on in the world, and we want to combat that by just sitting down and having some fun, quirky, chats about life. When it comes to podcasts, we think that’s far more more interesting than all the spectacle in the world. Each episode will be about an hour and a half and consist of five sections, including a Daily Inkling portion!

Red: Ok so let’s talk Patreon: one of the hardest things about crowdfunding is crowdfunding. Joking aside, you’ve decided to launch a Patreon campaign! It looks like you’re getting some traction, so what is your philosophy for crowdfunding and what do you hope to develop through it? I see a lot of Patreon pages that just say “So-and-so is making stuff, give me money” but I think you’ve more concrete plans in mind.

Normal: We have, and major shoutouts to you and the Bizzaro Mage for facilitating a way to be a Patron. You can tell I’ve gotten more comfortable talking about our Patreon, but as I always say, never feel any pressure to contribute unless you want to. Just by being here, you’re supporting both myself and one of the best bloggers in the world — that’s you, Red!

Our philosophy? We don’t believe in locking any creative content behind a paywall — that includes things like behind the scenes footage or exclusive blog posts. But what we do offer is early access to our very popular Daily Inkling writing prompts, as well as an invitation to our Normal Happenings Discord server which is launching very shortly.

Currently, our goal is to simply “break even” regarding the month-to-month cost associated with creating. That includes a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud and resources needed to make professional video content on YouTube.

We’ve calculated it out to be $42/month, and we’re currently sitting at about a third of that goal. You should first and foremost be a Patron of TWRM if you have the financial opportunity, but if you’re interested in helping an up-and-coming creative content producer get off the ground, we’d love for you to consider pitching in to Normal Happenings as well.

Red: Well, now that it’s all said and done, what RPG job class are you most like in real life?

Normal: Meh, I’m nothing special, Red! I’m just a Normal Mage.

…huh, maybe even The Normal Mage!

Thanks for having me on board! Again, it’s such an honor to be entrusted with thewellredmage.com. I hope you all enjoy the new look, and I look forward to working with you for years to come.

Red: Thank YOU!


-The Webcomic-

Leading up to February 20th, we put out a webcomic mini-series introducing some of the upcoming elements of the new site, and including some hijinks, for good measure. We’ve collected them here for posterity!

-The Giveaway-

And now it’s time to announce our giveaway. Here are the details!

This is the needle: goldmage

1,842,939 words, 16,294 comments, 907 posts, and 58 pages are the haystack.

The first person to send me a screenshot of the little gold mage (goldmage) hidden somewhere on thewellredmage.com will win a $33 Amazon giftcard! Threes… yeah you know cuz it’s our third birthday. Get it? Ah well.

You must send me a screenshot in a DM on Twitter, a DM on Discord, or by email. Those are the only three platforms I will be checking regularly. If I receive multiple screenshots, the message that is time-stamped the earliest will be the winner.

Good luck and have fun exploring the new site! Is the gold mage on my favorite post? Who knows? Look closely and read carefully, because that little dude is rather small…

The WINNER (if there is one) will be announced on March 1st. If anyone posts the location of the gold mage publicly, I will be forced to move him to another page.


-To The End Of Time-

So what’s next? Well, look forward to a special announcement on Patreon next week!


And as ever, thank you for reading, thank you and congratulations to the mages for building this place, and thank you once again to Matt from Normal Happenings, our Normal Mage, for all the work that went into the new look. Watching your genius and work ethic was a privilege and a pleasure!

Let us know in the comments what you think of the new look! Thanks for reading!

-The Well-Red Mage


Did you enjoy this post? Consider becoming a Warrior of Light and join us in promoting honesty and quality to games writing through thoughtful, long-form critiques. We’re building a future for games writers to get paid and find a fairer and happier alternative to mainstream coverage and culture. See our Patreon page for more info!


16 replies »

  1. Reblogged this on Normal Happenings and commented:

    If you want to know what has kept me busy over the past few weeks, this is the finished result. One of my favorite bloggers asked for my help completely redesigning his website, so of course I had to say yes! Through weeks of planning, we were ready to launch on his birthday!

    Join us over on The Well Red Mage for an interview and a tour of the new site I was able to develop.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congrats on three years! In an ever-changing landscape/industry/genre such as gaming, it’s amazing to see a project not only last this long, but continue to grow and thrive. Congrats, mages!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It definitely would be nice if there was some javascript support in WordPress… I’ve tried playing around with Ghost and a few other CMS packages build from the ground up with Node… I’ve even toyed around with the idea of building something myself in a “MEAN/MERN” stack, but nothing quite works the way you expect it to if you’re familiar with a standard WordPress setup with a regular old SQL database.

    Liked by 2 people

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