I don’t claim to be any kind of industry insider, but I do remember Jon Compton of One Small Step days, and I was pleased to see he is actively involved in producing the rebirth of ARES MAGAZINE. There is now a Facebook page for the magazine, and some clarification on the blog post I referenced in an earlier post:
“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
-Dwight D. Eisenhower
I am an engineer. I don’t feel things — waste of time and effort. But my coworkers and vendors feel something. They are energized about this project. They’re broadcasting the energy. And I feel it.
We’re on a mission.
What are the mission parameters? What are we trying to accomplish? Where are we going? How long will it take to get there?
All good questions, and I hope to find answers as we venture down the path set before us.
The big idea is to fill a void — to publish a new magazine that combines a stand-alone, unique, playable board game in every issue with a collection of fiction. The focus is science fiction, but we aren’t zealots. We will publish select other genres, including pulp adventure, fantasy, and alternative history.
We would like to squeeze out at least four issues per year, with each issue crammed full of enough amazing content to keep you busy until you receive the next issue.
We are soliciting content — games, fiction, and art — we need it all.
Our first attention is to funding, and our first method of funding the project is Kickstarter. We’ll let you know when our Kickstarter release is getting close.
If our Kickstarter effort is successful, we should go to press on Issue 01 within about 90 days of its conclusion.”
To which Greg Costikyan, who had a huge hand in the earlier incarnation of ARES, replied:
1. Think of this as not so much as a magazine as guaranteed sales of x copies of 4 or 6 games a year, where x is your subscriber base. Charge accordingly; I imagine we’re talking paper maps and no wood, but don’t go cheap and wind up having to mortgage your homes.
2. Pay a per-word rate for fiction that qualifies as a professional sale by SFWA’s standards. Find someone knowledgeable about the field and good at networking at SF cons; pay them as little as possible, but a good editor is essential.
3. Contact designers who contributed to Ares and are still prominent in the field; John Butterfield springs to mind. Chris Taylor, who is well known in digital gaming did a tabletop game for Victory Point Games; contact him as well. Allen Varney. Anyone else you can think of; get some commitments to design games for your project before you launch the Kickstarter; some can be ‘stretch goals’ perhaps. I’ve already said I’d be willing to do something. BTW, maybe consider tabletop RPGs in addition to boardgames.
4. Consider what remains of the retail channel as potential allies, even if you really want subscriptions; bagged magazine sales can be a small but useful increment.
As I have said before, Greg Costikyan has been there and done that as far as ARES is concerned, and that’s good advice.
Myself, I’m concerned about the fiction emphasis that keeps popping up. Just speaking as a consumer of both SF/Fantasy literature AND games, I would prefer a gaming magazine with some fiction in it over a fiction magazine with some game material every issue– unless they hire a real, honest-to-God editor with the chops to separate the wheat from the chaff. Digital publishing is releasing a lot of “bestselling authors” in a firehose stream; that doesn’t mean they are particularly good.
Still, fingers crossed.. I will back it!