“No man can tell what the future may bring forth, and small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises.”
So it suddenly dawned on me… the sun this morning. After that, I realized that it’s been a while since I’ve published any kind of summary/announcement sort of post. We used to do the monthly summary posts but I eventually found those more tedious than exciting, and I felt weird about mentioning milestones every time. I’m not in this for numbers, I insecuredly want you to know. I’m in it for the vision.
However, lots of things are happening and have been happening behind the scenes here at The Well-Red Mage. Not all of that bleeds into the façade that is this specific website. I thought it wouldn’t do to leave off talking about some of the more important goings on, highlighting the big events that have recently happened and will be happening shortly, so here we go.
Spoilers: it’s a doozy.
The Layout Laid Out
First up, I want to spend a moment to thank Matt from Normal Happenings once again. Why? Because the man is a genius, that’s why. More specifically, he dedicated a hefty chunk of his valuable time to this community by working on our new site layout. A lot of time and energy went into this!
Launched in February on our 3rd birthday, the new layout emphasizes TWRM as a webzine publication with the main focus of the redesign going toward supporting more content on the homepage and getting more eyes on all our published work for a comparatively longer time. Because we publish articles nearly every day (at 5am Pacific time), more space for these articles to shine allows them the respect their writers deserve after crafting them.
I’ll always have nostalgia for the grid-based layout TWRM once featured, but our new design helps keep articles visible longer. The slider for game reviews underscores what this site is at its core about: video game critiques with a standardized format.
I am really happy with the end result. The redesign marks The Well-Red Mage as a community-led publication, different from a personal blog where one writer’s thoughts are shared, banding together writers from across the internet, gathering a multiplicity of ideas and opinions in flux and in unity without unanimity. This site is what it is because of its diverse thinkers who have each helped think it into existence. I don’t know what it’s going to become in the future but I know I want to continue to be a part of having fun taking games seriously.
Retro Thunderdome series
Brand new, as in it just launched today, is the NEW Retro Thunderdome series by the Thunder Mage (@BillTuckerTSP)! Actually, it’s new to TWRM but canny readers may recognize Retro Thunderdome from the website SkirmishFrogs where it originally appeared. That site may be closing this year, I’ve been told, so we’ve been offered the opportunity to pick up this series. I am delighted to host it!
Each episode will pit two similar games against one another in a head-to-head death battle… to the death. It’s a fascinating and deeply analytical venture which fits perfectly with what we’re trying to publish at TWRM. Check out the latest entry on Mode 7’s effectiveness and ineffectiveness in a battle between NCAA Basketball and Stanley Cup on the SNES. I myself came away knowing more about the ways in which the graphical feature was implemented.
Racing Game of the Week Column
You might have noticed our Tuesday column speeding by. Courtesy of the Purple Prose Mage (@AlexSigsworth), and guest columnists such as the Slipstream Mage (@JTorto40), the racing column’s year-long purpose is to provide a little more insight and depth of discussion for the racing game genre, historically underrepresented here, as well as on many video game review sites.
Each entry centers around a different racing title and we get a sense of the context, the gameplay, the historicity, the significance involved. Fans of racing games need look no further but of course the student of video games will be interested to learn more about this singular and high-speed facet of gaming.
Weekend Wizard Inn
On Fridays, the Weekend Wizard Inn opens its doors for business. Business, by which is meant relaxation and reverie beside a roaring fire, your favorite beverage of choice at hand. The Middle-aged Horror Mage (@Trashlevania) welcomes strangers, vagrants, travelers, and readers in to “rest for a spell” and chat about the games they plan to play over the weekend. No reservations needed. Come and join us Friday for the chit-chat!
We culminate just about every week with a single super-post, an essay on EarthBound written by the Bookwarm Mage (@wesleyschantz) transcribed from podcast episodes. If you think these are mere trips down memory lane for your Saturday or Sunday, think again. The essays pull out the deepest themes embedded into EarthBound, infusing them with cultural and literary context. They reveal the inner mechanisms of Itoi’s 16-bit masterpiece and I inevitably can’t avoid learning something whenever I read them.
Be sure to bring your thinking cap (maybe even a spare). You’ll need it for these.
The Sheffield Presentation
Our own Purple Prose Mage (@AlexSigsworth) was invited recently to speak at a WordPress conference in Sheffield, UK and the subject of his talk was none other than TWRM itself and himself (me)! Putting together a slideshow, he outlined the history of The Well-Red Mage and how we came to be the site we are today. It’s a long story, and one which I’ve only told in parts, but he managed to get the presentation on video which is uploading as we speak.
Look out for the presentation when we publish it for all to see online. Coming soon!
MAGE CAST and Side Quests
Did you know we feature two podcasts at TWRM? MAGE CAST is about in-depth gaming conversation, and intermittent silliness, with a rotating roster of magical guests talking about a single game and any contextual interests each episode. Side Quests is a supplementary podcast hosted by the ABXY Mage (@ABXY_Reviews), topical and bite-sized by comparison, with a variety of fun subjects per entry.
This month, I’m planning to put together episodes on Horizon Zero Dawn and Parasite Eve for MAGE CAST, and for Side Quests, you can look forward to episodes on boss fights and the pronunciations of weird video gamey words, like “Sephiriath”!
Anatomy of a Review
Video games have reached a point of complexity where we can begin to talk about talking about video games. The Anatomy series is all about how we study games, methods for examining and appreciating games, and making sense of why we experience games the way that we do. It’s dissective and invariably academic-sounding, but don’t let that scare you off; there are lots of fascinating things to consider. The most recent example looked at how reactions to games can fall along the line between emotional resonance and technical properties (a conversation with the Blue Moon Mage [@wrytersview]).
What’s next? Something I’ve been batting around, an outline on the question of whether objective observations (not value judgments) of game design are possible and an interpretative framework on how to reach them. Functionality, interactivity, and intention. That’s all I’ll say for now.
These don’t come around too often, and in fact, we have only published two in the past three years, but that’s because DualCast reviews require a lot of planning, preparation, and of course magic. However, the arcane DualCast (two mages, one review) has been attempted most recently by the Blue Moon Mage (@wrytersview) and the Sometimes Vaguely Philosophical Mage (@overthinkery1). They put together a critique of Kingdom Hearts III, exploring its reception through an interpretation of the KH fanbase and expectations.
The Well-Reddit Page
With the indispensable teamwork of the Sometimes Vaguely Philosophical Mage (@overthinkery1), we have successfully launched our subreddit: The Well-Reddit Page! Though methods for communicating in comment sections and on social media are innumerable, and we’ve got our core Discord, Mage Chat, for Mages and Warriors of Light, several of us realized that we needed some place where the discussions could happen at an easier pace. The goal of this subreddit is to facilitate great conversation but also serve as a platform where the writing community everywhere and aboard can come together to share their works. Check it out, become an Onion Knight, and join in the enjoyable talks.
Oh, and since we don’t really do much with news cycles here, the subreddit is a great place to discuss the current happenings in the industry.
GOTY and GOTD events
Our most recent Game of the Year event, TWRM GOTY 2018, was a tremendous success because so many readers and gamers and passersby decided to vote in our poll. We’ve decided it’s time to capitalize on that success, like any brand inevitably must do. Therefore, I’m pleased to announce that we’re going to be hosting more reader’s choice GOTY events by picking arbitrary years throughout gaming history.
We have about 14 nominees that we’re going to announce on Monday, April 22nd, at which point readers can vote on which game we should crown 1997’s Game of the Year! The polls will be open from the 22nd all the way to Friday the 26th, when we will announce the victor. So get your weaponized fandoms ready for this retrospective GOTY event. It’s going to be crazy.
Speaking of crazy, there’s GOTD coming in 2020. GOTD? Why, yes, that’s Game of the Decade. We’re ambitious here…
Speaking of insane ambitions (or just over-ambitiousness), it is time to finally announce that we are going to reach our 1000th post soon, and to celebrate, we’re publishing a massive collaboration nearly 40 writers strong: a list of 1000 staff-selected games you must play before you die. The nature of “must play” I’ve left open to each contributor to consider in their own way, whether they decided it by favoritism, enjoyability, influence, or historical significance, but the list itself is extremely diverse given this level of freedom and the amount of writers involved. It is so huge, in fact, that it will be published over the course of 10 days, from our 1000th post onward, 10 articles of 100 games each, making 1000 titles in total.
And to ensure that there’s absolutely no precedent at all for such a monumental project, we’re accompanying the 1000 games posts with a video entitled “1000 Moments”, a 30-minute montage of 1000 2-second clips from every video game on our list of must-plays, with custom music by our own composer-magnifique, the Iron Mage (@rus_gordon). Surely there will be games on this list that everyone has heard of and you can look out for your own favorites, too.
We’ve been putting this together for a month and we’re still working on compiling it all, but we should be launching the 1000 event sometime in May!
1 Bit Bonus Content and Patreon
This article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the new 1 Bit Bonus Content segments exclusive to patrons on Patreon. These are brief extras on episodes of our podcasts, deleted content, mini-essays, and thoughts from our guests. If you want more MAGE CAST and Side Quests, this is the ultimate reward for our patrons, the Warriors of Light, whose support has inspired The Well-Red Mage to become what it is. We currently have a handful of 1 Bit entries available as patron-exclusives, with much more to come!
Finally, in closing, I really just want to thank our Warriors of Light for supporting TWRM so consistently for so long. We have been able to reach many reward tiers, yet there is always more to envision, more to dream, more to achieve. All I know is, this webzine couldn’t be here like it is today without our patrons.
Thank you so much for your faithful support, ye Warriors of Light, former and current!
- 1st: Tony Brave – wakalapi.wordpress.com
- 2nd: Adrienne Figenbaum –ash1rose.wordpress.com
- 3rd: Bradley Keene – cheapbossattack.wordpress.com
- 4th: Ellen “Lightning” Hennigar –lightningellen.com
- 5th: Cameron Kim
- 6th: Geddy Lee – nostalgiatrigger.com
- 7th: NekoJonez – arpegi.wordpress.com
- 8th: Jennifer Arola
- 9th: Elizabeth L. Cesaletti
- 10th: Chuck Norton
- 11th: Rus Gordon –youtube.com/user/RussellGHello and seafooddisco.wordpress.com
- 12th: Zach Casserly – casserlysnotebook.com
- 13th: Joe Mags
- 14th: Will “The Keeper” – thecodexonline.com
- 15th: Julius King Chua –grimoireofrainbowmage.com
- 16th: DeQuimet
- 17th: The Wizard Gamers – @Rayneman001
- 18th: TheTrueDonnieG –@thetruedonnieg & twitch.tv/thetruedonnieg
- 19th: I am the Cheese – @replicantpinky & replicantpinky.wordpress.com
- 20th: Normal Happenings – normalhappenings.com
- 21st: Haley Renee Gray – instagram.com/haleybottlesfrometsy
- 22nd: Chris Cesarano – @ccesarano & ramblepak64.com
- 23rd: Craig Rathbone – winst0lfportal.wordpress.com & @winstolf
- 24th: Kevin Harbin – @kevinharbn
- 25th: Shadow Saotome – @shadowsaotome
- 26th: Joshua Knable – @PlayJakSayBack
- 27th: Stephen ‘Stev3l’ Lister – @GamingStev3l
- 28th: The ABXY Mage – @ABXY_Reviews
- 29th: Chris Durston – @overthinkery1 & overthinkeryblog.wordpress.com
- 30th: Lodestar_Valor – @Lodestar_Valor
- 31st: MailOrderNinja – @mailorderninja
- 32nd: Jon Tortomasi – @JTorto40
- 33rd: TriformTrinity – @the_NL
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!