With last week’s release of Retroaction issue 2, I thought it a great time to put their editor Nreive in the J-OMG hotseat, to find out a little more about how Retroaction is put together.
(Although… I expect after getting issue 2 online, he wasn’t expecting some sort of Spanish Inquisition…)
Cardinal Ximinez of Spain: NOBODY EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION! Give me that keyboard! I will be conducting this interrogation… Cardinal Biggles… Tie up this JOMG person! Cardinal Fang… prepare… THE SOFT CUSHIONS!!!*
Ximinez: Mr Nreive, Retroaction has a fantastic design & layout – how has this come about? CONFESS!
A lot of the ideas for Retroaction were thought of while I was doing the Amstrad Action tribute magazine. It was originally planned as more colourful, design wise (I’ve included a never-before-seen double-page spread of an early version of AA118), but was altered late into its production to be more faithful to the magazine of old.
With these ideas still unrealised, I wanted to create a traditional page format magazine, but with the kind of digital interactivity you would normally find on a website: hyperlinks, bookmarks, anchor links, and so on – a sort of print/digital hybrid.
Throughout production of issue one, there were many magazines floating around my head including Amstrad Action and MEGA (an early 90s Mega Drive magazine), so the has been subtlety influenced by them in some way. Seeing as the magazine would be designed solely as a digital format to view on a PC monitor, the landscape orientation was chosen over the more traditional portrait.
Ximinez: You mock me with your statements of truth! Tell me now, how many downloads did you get for issue 1?
Counting all format downloads/views (PDF, ZIP, and ISSUU), issue one’s figure is currently just under 13,000, although it’s increasing even more following issue two’s release. That’s the great thing about digital downloads; there’s no time limit on how long the mag is available, which means that no matter when someone pops into your site, they can download the current issue as well as the back issues.
Ximinez: Hmm, you make sense… but that does not mean you will be released early! Tell me, what did you learn, between creating Retroaction issue 1 & issue 2?
There was at least six months of planning, gathering ideas, and recruiting members of staff for issue one. But the production of issue two was crammed into three months. I’d passed my own deadline I’d set for completion of issue two, so a lot of burning the midnight oil occurred to get it onto the virtual shelves. In hindsight, I probably should have started design of issue two much sooner. Then again, I hadn’t really anticipated the mag to run up to 84 pages (although at one point – it was even more).
After completion of issue one, I also got the chance to look at the magazine from a reader’s point of view and, with the addition of constructive criticism from readers, knew that a few things needed changing. Although the basic design remains the same, there was some tweaking here and there with the reviews, the background images (which have been toned down where they might interfere with the foreground text), and the main index/reviews index (which were overhauled for a much easier read/navigation).
Ximinez: My spies tell me that you’re still seeking volunteers to help create this so-called “retro publication”. Is that so? Tell me, or I shall fetch THE COMFY CHAIR!
Yes, we welcome anyone who would like to write the odd article or two for us. People who are willing to review new homebrew games are especially welcome, as I’d like to take some of the pressure of our current reviewers. Someone who’s also willing to proof read our ramblings would be a godsend, as I’m sure there are many errors that creep in each issue.
Ximinez: I can see you are crumbling… Tell me now.. what interesting feedback have you received since the released issue one of the magazine?
General feedback tends to be very positive with most people praising the articles, reviews, or design. There have even been a few calls for the magazine to be printed. However, the negatives seem to stick in my head and there have been some bizarre comments posted around the web.
Although the vast majority of German gamers have been very positive about the magazine, there were some interesting comments on a website that I had visited soon after issue one was launched. Basically, the forum members commented on the garish design, that they couldn’t read the mag without scrolling, and that the look of the magazine made them vomit. Probably harshly translated by Google, but I got the feeling issue one didn’t go down too well in that particular forum.
A non-retrogaming forum thread posted the news of issue one’s launch, then the same user replied further down on the thread that no one should download it as it contains “amateur crap released in recent months,” and that the thread should be deleted!
Ximinez: Hmm, I shall release you know, ONLY because I have grown tired of torturing you. Off you go to make your so-called “Retroaction”.
Cardinal Fang, untie this “blogger” fellow, and hand back his keyboard. We shall depart.
(Cough, splutter… gasping for air). Get out!! Oh dear, I’m very sorry about that unpleasant interruption. I’ll have to lock my door when blogging from now on.
Now that you’ve got an appetite to read Retroaction, here’s an earlier J-OMG post with a quick preview of Retro Action issue 2, and a link to subscribe for future issues.