07/25/2011 MM: "Out of the Closet, Part II"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
While I appreciate you trying to change-up your style in response to lackluster reception, I have to admit that this column didn't really do anyhting more for me than the first one.

If I had to analyze why I really disliked these two columns, I think it has to do with the type of persoanl stories you're trying to then connect to design. With those other articles about your personal life and experiences, the direct link between them and design has always been a step removed and tentative. The difference is that those personal stories actually are engaging tales in and of themselves. The swordfish runner story sticks with me as one of the more memorable things this column has ever done, even if I forget the design example you then drew from it. These last two weeks (obviously skipping the theme week) come accross more as you just saying: "here are some cool shirts" and then scrambling to connect them to Wizard's designer policy.

The link just isn't engaging on it's own. This really did not need to be a two-parter, especcially as almost half of every year is eaten up by either preview or theme weeks.
Great column. The first part wasn't as bad as some complainers said, but it was a bit meh. Part II though was funny, interesting, and relevant. Maro may be falling back on the "lessons from X applied to design" model a bit too much, but since Topical Blend #1 is probably both his best and most popular column ever, I don't blame him for using it as a template.

I think Maro listens to his critics too much. So far as I can tell the real motivation for all their complaints is that Maro is a goofy, geeky guy who is happy with himself for being a goofy geeky guy who also has a dream job and what seems like a nice life, and enjoys putting himself into his columns. Magic players are often people who are geeky and also take themselves a bit too seriously and may not have achieved total life satisfaction in various ways, and seeing someone who is both kind of goofy but also very successful, doing something they might love to do themselves, and likes to celebrate his own goofiness - I think it triggers resentment and a condescending attitude from some people.

tl; dr - Haters gonna hate. I wish I had some cool magic shirts like Maro does, but I don't.
I thought the first t-shirt column was fine.  Not one of your greater ones, but hardly offensive either.


Held in the fall of 2005, The Gathering 1 was the prerelease event for Homelands



Well...  at least one digit of this year is correct, I think, unless Wizards had a very strange retrospective event.  (Homelands came out in '95 I believe.)
I'm not jumping down a rabbit hole over this. Waste. of. time.
Well, I'll say that I liked this column more than the last one.  It still doesn't seem all that great, but it is a significant improvement.
A t-shirt with Bloodchief Ascension art?! I am jealous! That may very well be my favorite Magic card ever. The fact that your job netted you that shirt makes your dream job even more of a dream job, in my eyes.

I'm not jumping down a rabbit hole over this. Waste. of. time.


Not jumping down a rabbit hole? Does that mean you didn't read it? I hardly think it's fair to call something a waste of time if you didn't read it. This article was much better than the first one, in my opinion. I'd even go so far as to say it's one of the better MaRo articles I've read in a while. I'm very happy he did something different with this part two, and he definitely made up for the first one.
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I enjoyed the first article (and greatly appreciated your apology for the misspelling, thank you!), but this article's tie-ins to design definitely put it on a higher level than the first one.  There are a lot of moving pieces in this article (personal life, Magic history, Magic design), and it was a pleasure to read.
Thanks to everyone who helped with the design of the plane of Golamo in the Great Designer Search 2!
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Interesting acknowledgement of the reaction to Part I! But he didn't actually summarize what positive and negative feedback he got. Anyone care to summarize?

I guess I was in the "dreading Part II" camp. I thought the bits of Magic history were bland and inoffensive. But the T-shirts felt a bit... self-indulgent. And look, MaRo, I don't mean to criticize you for a bit of self-indulgence; I've gotten an incredible amount of personal enjoyment and edification from reading every single one of your columns over the last 10 years (not to mention the cards and sets you've designed!). But there it is.

Anyway, the difference between Part I and Part II was a bit too subtle for me; what did he do differently? Maybe, starting each story with the design lesson connection in bold?

Boring, and what is a man your age doing still wearing Tshirts?
Maro may be falling back on the "lessons from X applied to design" model a bit too much, but since Topical Blend #1 is probably both his best and most popular column ever, I don't blame him for using it as a template.



I believe the most popular is a Timmy Johnny Spike column =p

I do blame him though. It felt almost like sacrilege to use that to fix this.

I don't get the feeling there's much in here (but that's because a lot was said in GDS2 I believe) but the list of un-set influences is awesome, didn't know about many of them. That deserves a column on its own, how those mechanics were created for un and bended for real magic =)

Anyway, the difference between Part I and Part II was a bit too subtle for me; what did he do differently? Maybe, starting each story with the design lesson connection in bold?



The first one didn't have design lessons?
It's very easy to look at a set like Homelands and want to throw everything in it away, but there are many cards in it that have had a positive impact on Magic design technology, such as Autumn WillowBroken VisageCarapace,Funeral MarchIhsan's ShadeMemory LapseMerchant ScrollReef PiratesRootsSengir Autocrat,Serrated ArrowsShrinkSpectral Bears, and Torture.


I'm surprised that MaRo didn't mention An-Zerrin Ruins, the first card to contain the words "choose a creature type".

Well Mark, I liked Part II a lot more than Part I, although to me Part I was just one of your lesser ones and to me for someone writing a weekly column it is okay to have one of those every now and then.
But since I was wondering why I felt this way I went back to Part I and quickly scrolled trough it to try and figure it out. I'm not entirely sure I figured it out, but the answer I came up with is this:

Part II ties the T-shirts to design lessons which is one of the things I read this column for so I liked it. (@rexman07: Which design lessons in Part I??)

Most of Part I ties them to the reason they were made: as such I feel Part I was more about shirts and why they were made, and I am just not all that interested in that. (Since most shirts spell that out on the shirt itself.) Don't get me wrong; there still were some interesting tidbits in the things you said about the shirts, I guess I just felt as if there weren’t enough of those I found interesting. Because of that I got a bit bored by the column itself and found myself being more interested by the stories you hinted at in Part I but talked more about in previous columns (the topical blend one and the one about the invitational cards) and those were both early in the article, making the rest of the article feel like a bit of a drag.

what is a man your age doing still wearing Tshirts?



Working at an awesome job with a lax dress code?

My favorite Magic shirt that I own (which I sadly don't have a picture of) is just a red circle-ish design on the front with the red mana symbol in black in the center of it, with 'chaos' in white written under it.  It's so simple and awesome.  I used to have the black version (the black circle on a black shirt with a black black mana symbol was so hard to see), which said 'decay'.  I miss that shirt.
I enjoyed both articles.  However, I must make a few notes:

10.  I never heard much about that big event for Homelands, and wouldn't mind hearing more.

7.  I own that shirt, so yes it was made.  (Either that, or I have a very similar T-shirt with the same design)

6.  I would love to own a Boros Hybrid t-shirt.  (My color combination)

5.  The Dojo (and Jamie Wakefield) is why I believe there should be an overall HOF, and not a Pro Tour HOF.

4. Hurloon Minotaur wouldn't make a bad random common vanilla critter.

1.  The Unglued Prerelease was in 1998, not 1999.  It was my first Gen Con, so I remember it fondly.  And I do remember you wearing the chicken suit.
Reading this article is better than getting hit with a rock. Therefore not so bad. Personally I enjoyed it. I just started getting involved with wizards online columns and appreciate the chance to get a little insight into a true life champion. Also, maro could you possibly do something about getting more BAMF t shirts into the hands of the players. I have one and its too small. Rock on!
I was in the camp that didn't enjoy Part I, and I have to say, this second part is a lot better. Starting from the beginning...

Acknowledging that the layout of the first coloumn needed some rework is obviously a good beginning. Taking a moment to explain what happened and the unexpected rocking of the boat seemed to help spell out the problem so it could be adressed. Good thinking. As an aside, the first few paragraphs made something "click" in my brain...

So what happened? I've written plenty of Magic history articles before. Here's a two-parter about the Pro Tour (Part 1, Part 2), one about the Invitational, one about the first Worlds, and one about the first Japanese Grand Prix. None of these generated the response I got to "Out of the Closet, Part 1."


The column had a personal angle, but I've done countless articles with a personal angle many of which have been some of my most popular columns (such as this, this, and this). So what was going on? After spending a lot of time reading email and comments and talking to many people, I got to what I think the crux of the issue was. In the past I've tended to tie my personal columns into holistic design issues. My personal connection to all my past history columns was experience; I would talk about what I did at the event in question. What I had done in my T-shirt column was take two different things that have worked in the past and tried blending them together.



The thing that went "click" when I wrote this was something that I think ties into design philosophy as well; take nothing for granted. MaRo seemed to think that "these two things work together well" and went in on autopilot, combining them to get the Part I coloumn. And then it didn't work together that well anyway.

I can only speak for myself, but the reason that I liked the other personal stories was that they had one or both of the following qualities; Design talk or exciting stories. And Part I didn't. It had Magic History, which is fine I guess, and good to include, but is "filler" in a design coloumn. The other story coloumns I've read (most of them, anyway) has either had exciting/entertaining stories (the runner story mentioned was one of them) or talked about cards and card design philosophy (Roseanne did this).

Which is why I think Part II is a lot better. It talks about Magic design. As other posters have mentioned, it's sort of a well-known formula, but it still saves the coloumn from the awkward feel of the first half. I had read most of the design tips in it before (there are a lot of coloumns!), but I felt it still had some new light to shed.

Another, minor detail; MaRo talks about "firsts"; How important the first impression is. This is true for the coloumns as well; the first part started off with a really awkward pseudo-revelation that I didn't like. It was cliché while still feeling downright ignorant (I might be using too strong words here), and it opened the coloumn poorly and was followed by bland stuff.
The opening today was much better; It was head-on, it adressed the issues of the first half, and it didn't give up. I liked that. I liked the fact that MaRo took the negative feedback from 14 days ago as a challenge, and stepped up to it. It can be discussed how well he fared, but the coloumn certainly kept my interest throughout, unlike part I. I'd probably rate this 3/5, where the first part is closer to 1/5.

Also, he just had to tease us by mentioning Innistrad, didn't he? YES, we are excited for the set. I'll be glad to see the preview roll around. Until then, please don't tease Tongue out
Preparing for the M14 Prerelease - New article up! IN THE TANK - my very own blog for rambling about Magic!
The thing that went "click" when I wrote this was something that I think ties into design philosophy as well; take nothing for granted. MaRo seemed to think that "these two things work together well" and went in on autopilot, combining them to get the Part I coloumn. And then it didn't work together that well anyway.



I want to elaborate on this, I seemed to get lost in my own words. What I felt was central to "design thinking" is to take a step back and ask, "Why do these two things usually work well together? Is anything different in this situation?". My point was (as the rest of the former post explains) that the exciting thing about personal stories comes from the story's value, and that telling about T-shirts is a lot less interesting than talking about the romantic adventures of a college boy
Preparing for the M14 Prerelease - New article up! IN THE TANK - my very own blog for rambling about Magic!
Both were good articles.
I don't think you need to please everyone. I don't think you even need to please the majority.
Write what you need to. A lot of people read and apreciate but don't necessarily post to say it.

Also,

wearing goddamn whatever you want and think is appropriate a whatever age you might be is very important.

I would never wear what Maro wears even under torture,
but I'm glad that he does.

Your audience is a tough one. Don't forget that too!
It was obvious that MaRo actually read the comments and I commend him for adjusting to them.  Very respectable.  I found that even the slightest reference to design theory in this article made it bareable, unlike Part 1.  I still look forward to the return of the Real Making Magic Column next week, but I really do appreciate Mark's effort this week.  Way to roll with the punches!
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It was obvious that MaRo actually read the comments and I commend him for adjusting to them.  Very respectable.  I found that even the slightest reference to design theory in this article made it bareable, unlike Part 1.  I still look forward to the return of the Real Making Magic Column next week, but I really do appreciate Mark's effort this week.  Way to roll with the punches!



About next week... Any guesses as to what the ending comment means? Bloodthirst mechanic?
Preparing for the M14 Prerelease - New article up! IN THE TANK - my very own blog for rambling about Magic!

I didn't hate Part I, but this was definitely better.


My pet peeve (which I probably wouldn't have mentioned if JMason hadn't broached the subject) is this idea that t-shirts are ever any form of style.  They're not.  T-shirts are utility.  If I work from home a t-shirt will do, just like if I go backpacking I may go 3 days without a shower.  But I don't pretend it's normal or idyllic or has some redeeming social value.


None of my business if your employer "lets" you wear t-shirts.  (The word itself being an admission of lower standards.)  But silk screening a pattern onto a shirt doesn't make it style any more than printing a picture on a mug makes it a sculpture.

If you're on MTGO check out the Free Events via PDCMagic and Gatherling.

Other games you should try:
DC Universe Online - action-based MMO.  Free to play.  Surprisingly well-designed combat and classes.

Planetside 2 - Free to play MMO-meets-FPS and the first shooter I've liked in ages.
Simunomics - Free-to-play economy simulation game.


About next week... Any guesses as to what the ending comment means? Bloodthirst mechanic?



Has to be Bloodthirst week. Which brings several questions to my mind:

What does a mechanic need to have to be non-evergreen core set material?
How does having a non-evergreen returning mechanic affect design of a core set?
How did Bloodthirst come to be? (or was that one already answered in a column during its first run in Ravnica block? I don't remember)
What makes Bloodthirst a good mechanic for M2012 

And not so much related to Bloodthirst but still on my mind these days:

The difference between design and development of a core set especially on reprints remains unclear to me despite having read some columns about it. Or is it more of a deving thing?

          
    

Another, minor detail; MaRo talks about "firsts"; How important the first impression is. This is true for the coloumns as well; the first part started off with a really awkward pseudo-revelation that I didn't like. It was cliché while still feeling downright ignorant (I might be using too strong words here), and it opened the coloumn poorly and was followed by bland stuff.

Also, he just had to tease us by mentioning Innistrad, didn't he? YES, we are excited for the set. I'll be glad to see the preview roll around. Until then, please don't tease



I honestly felt somewhat offended by the psudo-revelation in the first article. Not enough to make me quit the game, by far, not even enough to make me close the article, but enough to make me glare through my monitor for a moment. And that definately did color the article from me, changing my reaction from 'meh' to actually bad.

And they always start teasing a couple months out. Maro may be the master of this - he managed to tease the world with art for Creepy Doll without actually showing it to us :P
Boring, and what is a man your age doing still wearing Tshirts?

T-shirts are all I ever wear to work. I can easily afford to wear a suit every day, but why be needlessly uncomfortable? If its really warm out, I'll accesorize my T-shirt with shorts and sandals. Otherwise, its blue jeans and tennis shoes. I think I might be older than Maro, but not by much.
Thanks for listening, and refocusing Part 2 on design. This shows why Wizards is so successful; they really listen to the customers.
I didn't hate Part 1, though I would have liked a little more design connections, and Part 2 was better but each shirt/lesson could have used more specific card examples to drive the point home. 

You know, some probably wonder why Mark doesn't learn his lesson about writing odd articles like this, and just stick to safe, utilitarian writing. Those people don't know Mark very well. His occasional misses are more than made up for by the excellent ones (though, something like this could have been a one-part article). I hope Mark continues to venture outside his safezone every now and then (both in writing and in card design). 


And I myself am thirtysomething-something years old, and as soon as I get home from work, I'm in t-shirts and shorts (weather permitting). Many of my friends the same age as me do the same, (one my favorites belongs to a friend of mine that likes to tinker with electronics: "I void warranties") . And if it's not a t-shirt, it's one of those obnoxiously loud "Hawaiian style" shirts. Seriously, of all the things to get bent out of shape over... 
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My pet peeve (which I probably wouldn't have mentioned if JMason hadn't broached the subject) is this idea that t-shirts are ever any form of style.  They're not.  T-shirts are utility.  If I work from home a t-shirt will do, just like if I go backpacking I may go 3 days without a shower.  But I don't pretend it's normal or idyllic or has some redeeming social value.

None of my business if your employer "lets" you wear t-shirts.  (The word itself being an admission of lower standards.)  But silk screening a pattern onto a shirt doesn't make it style any more than printing a picture on a mug makes it a sculpture.




What's so wrong about t-shirts? I dunno about you, but when I'm just hanging out with friends, going to a party, or a casual date in a casual environment, I'm not gonna bother wearing a suit. I'll just stick with a t-shirt and jeans.

I'll agree that (and this is just my personal opinion) that t-shirts with big pictures and a logo are kinda tacky. (I personally prefer plain t-shirts or t-shirts with an abstract design on them.) But if your pet peeve is people who think t-shirts are stylish, then my pet peeve is people who think the only kind of style is formalwear.

But if your pet peeve is people who think t-shirts are stylish, then my pet peeve is people who think the only kind of style is formalwear.

If I meet such a person I'll pass it on.  Wink  Personally I think you're ignoring a huge range in-between involving various materials, cuts, buttons, combinations, etcetera.

I dunno about you, but when I'm just hanging out with friends, going to a party, or a casual date in a casual environment, I'm not gonna bother wearing a suit. I'll just stick with a t-shirt and jeans.

As I said, they're utility.  There's nothing wrong with that.  I just get this image of MaRo strutting down the street going "That's right, it's a Jester's Sombrero.  Llllllllladies...."

If you're on MTGO check out the Free Events via PDCMagic and Gatherling.

Other games you should try:
DC Universe Online - action-based MMO.  Free to play.  Surprisingly well-designed combat and classes.

Planetside 2 - Free to play MMO-meets-FPS and the first shooter I've liked in ages.
Simunomics - Free-to-play economy simulation game.

If I meet such a person I'll pass it on.  Wink  Personally I think you're ignoring a huge range in-between involving various materials, cuts, buttons, combinations, etcetera.



Quite the huge range indeed as business suits and even smokings and tuxedos (iirc) aren't formal =p
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dress_code_%28West...

As I said, they're utility.  There's nothing wrong with that.  I just get this image of MaRo strutting down the street going "That's right, it's a Jester's Sombrero.  Llllllllladies...."



It's expressionistic. As a Johnny, I'm sure MaRo likes it. It also fits with his geek-pride attitude. It's not highbrow, but it is some kind of style.
If I meet such a person I'll pass it on.  Wink  Personally I think you're ignoring a huge range in-between involving various materials, cuts, buttons, combinations, etcetera.



I define formalwear as anything with a collar. (Okay, strictly speaking, I define formalwear as anything that if I wore while hanging out with my friends, they'd be all like "hey what's the special occasion?" Which generally lines up with shirts with collars on them. Except polo shirts, but more on that later.)

Personally, I think polo shirts (and golf shirts and rugby shirts and any related shirts) are tacky. "Casual" button-down shirts are an oxymoron and should be avoided at all costs. Sweaters and jackets are inappropriate for warm weather or indoor wear. And anything more formal than that is reserved for those 3 days out of the year where I'm in a social situation where wearing a tie is not at all unusual. (And of course, all of that is just my opinion and everyone has the right to disagree with me and/or yell at me.)

I suppose you might call that "utility". And you'd be right. They are useful. But I don't think utility and style are mutually exclusive. And I think some t-shirts are better looking than--and if I may say more stylish--than others. And I daresay that it's possible (and not at all difficult) to show up to a party wearing a t-shirt and jeans and look more stylish than that guy who's wearing a suit. (Both in and out of context.)

And if that doesn't count as "style", then I dunno if we're even talking about the same thing anymore.

As I said, they're utility.  There's nothing wrong with that.  I just get this image of MaRo strutting down the street going "That's right, it's a Jester's Sombrero.  Llllllllladies...."



If the only t-shirts you ever saw were tacky ones that had a silly catchphrase or joke or a logo or a cartoon character on them, then it's perfectly understandable that you'd think *all* t-shirts are tacky. But I'd argue that you just have bad sample data. There's a whole world of stylish t-shirts out there that don't just resort to showing a cartoon character with a catchy joke. Graphic tees with subtle or abstract designs can be both expressive and good-looking. The plain white t-shirt is arguably the core of many a man's wardrobe (followed shortly by the plain black t-shirt or the plain gray t-shirt), and most other colors of plain t-shirts have their uses too. And not just as undershirts for that button-down shirt your wearing.

And ultimately, it just comes down to personal preference. I like t-shirts with abstract designs on them and I dislike t-shirts with pictures, words, and logos on them. (Case in point, I love Magic, but I would never buy a Magic t-shirt (with the sole exception of the Phyrexia symbol t-shirt).) You on the other hand apparently dislike all t-shirts (at least from a stylistic aesthetic point of view). And someone else might have different tastes and likes. But just because you personally think they don't look good doesn't mean they have no style. Unless, of course, you're the editor of a world-famous fashion magazine. In which case I guess your personal preferences *would* dictate what's stylish and what's not.

I didn't hate Part I, but this was definitely better.


My pet peeve (which I probably wouldn't have mentioned if JMason hadn't broached the subject) is this idea that t-shirts are ever any form of style.  They're not.  T-shirts are utility.  If I work from home a t-shirt will do, just like if I go backpacking I may go 3 days without a shower.  But I don't pretend it's normal or idyllic or has some redeeming social value.


None of my business if your employer "lets" you wear t-shirts.  (The word itself being an admission of lower standards.)  But silk screening a pattern onto a shirt doesn't make it style any more than printing a picture on a mug makes it a sculpture.


t-shirts are normal, idyllic, and have redeeming social value

There are many, many t-shirts which bring joy to large groups of people. They tie people together, create enjoyable conversation, etc.

Yes they are not "style" but style is rather boring.