New magic books?

150 posts / 0 new
Last post
Is there any information about which are the next books that will be published? Honestly, the last couple of books (the one based on Zendikar and on Scars of Mirrodin) were pretty disappointing both in content and - especially - in completeness: the stories were substantially truncated.

My idea was to look at the books as a kind of "definitive" and complete version of the background story of Magic, but it seems like it's not going to happen...
Hello Redglow,

As of now we don't have any infromation about the next novels. It seems likely that the entire novel line has been discontinued.

If you are interested in the background detail of the worlds, Savor the flavor runs a planeswalker's guide to each plane, which gives the background details of the storyline. And various Savor articles also go into the story (we know alot about the Innistrad storyline from such articles).

If you are still looking for a story, there is a new Magic the gathering comic book.
… and then, the squirrels came.
I thought indeed that something like that was happening. Well, thank you then, I think I'll dig into Savor the flavor :-)

(to quote xkcd: so - it has come to this!)
Yeah, based on the pattern in the past we should have heard lots of things about the upcoming novel, but so far that hasn't happened yet. While that technically doesn't tell us anything about discontinuement, most of us here aren't expecting it anytime soon. The new comic books and Savour the Flavour seem to cover the story setting of Innistrad so far.
Show
Obligatory and Preliminary Smiley Reservoir: IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/Wee.png)IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/Dancing%20AIM.gif)IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/rawr.gif)IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/ghgh.png)IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/%5D%5D.gif)IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/luv.gif)IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/circle.png)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/sly.png)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/turtle.gif)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/jade.png)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/proud.gif)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/wilson.gif)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/ohmy.gif)IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/pcXQL.gif)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/blushing.png)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/proud.png)
Someone asked this very question on MaRo's tumblr, yesterday.

His response; "People weren't buying them."

That seems like the last nail in the coffin. ):
That's depressing on two levels. First, that the book line is done, and second, that no one bothered to tell us till now.

Not to be melodramatic, but I don't think we can deny it anymore: no one working at WotC actually cares about the storyline, or about us. Really wondering if it isn't time to pack things up here and give in to the inevitable.
Coming Soon to the Magic: Expanded Multiverse: FRAGMENTS: A Shards of Alara Anthology
(Click through to view the cover and announcement page)Want to get your work in the Expanded Multiverse? Come join the project! Oh, and check out my blog, Storming the Ivory Tower: making sense of academia, media, and culture twice weekly.

On the bright side, the flavor has been better than ever, and they are improving the way they tell stories through the cards.


It's sad that the novels are canceled, and that we had to hear it through the twitter of a designer, but honestly, how much do we miss, considering the quality of the recent novels? Most discussions on the latest novels have been about which parts we can ignore. I just hope they continue improving the other channels through which we do get the stories.

After the official forums lost most of their functionality, a once vibrant community of Vorthos was wiped out.The survivors founded a new place to discuss all things concerning with the art, flavor and storylines of Magic: The Gathering. Come join us.

THe problem is flavor is not storyline. There isn't much difference between the mechanical focused era of block design and the new flavor focused era.

This is effectively the end of the storyline. There's no reason to develope a storyline when all the reader will get is a Savor the flavor article.
… and then, the squirrels came.
I didn't say anything because I wasn't cleared to do so. (I'm still not; nor is Mark.) Yes, the novels are on hiatus for now. They simply weren't doing well enough to justify their continued creation and publication. There are lots of data I'd love to share with you about the novels' performance historically and recently, as well as my own theories about why more people didn't buy them, but that information is all proprietary and I'm not permitted to divulge any of it, which I assure you is more frustrating to me than to you.

I'll say this, though: By a very conservative estimate, 1 in 10,000 Magic players bought any given Magic novel. That's using the highest sales numbers among our books historically (not counting fat packs, which were priced in such a way as to make the book essentially free) and our lowest estimates of total Magic players. Given the meager profit margins on books, that's simply not enough sales to sustain that part of the business.

Is this the end of Magic story? Not unless the only thing that qualifies as Magic story is a plot complex enough to support novels. We're still introducing new settings and new characters regularly and we're advancing a plot with each expansion. Yes, that plot must be relatively quite simple compared to a full-length novel so the Magic-playing audience can follow it on cards, on the website, and in short videos. But players are responding to the story more positively and more vocally than ever before. For the 9,999 of 10,000 players who were never interested in reading Magic novels, Magic story is better than ever, because it's "baked into" the game rather than existing mainly alongside it. 

I know that's cold comfort for novel fans, but I hope you'll find things to enjoy in the absence of novels, whether it's the cards themselves, the IDW comic, the Planeswalker's Guides and other website content, or new Magic-related media that develops down the line.

Because of nondisclosure and corporate communications rules, I won't be able to answer many of the questions I'm sure you have, but I'll respond when possible.
 
I'll say this, though: By a very conservative estimate, 1 in 10,000 Magic players bought any given Magic novel. That's using the highest sales numbers among our books historically (not counting fat packs, which were priced in such a way as to make the book essentially free) and our lowest estimates of total Magic players. Given the meager profit margins on books, that's simply not enough sales to sustain that part of the business.


This is basically why I'm not being vocal about the issue. I mean, it's a situation that, despite what I love and have dedicated a LOT of my free time to, I can understand the decisions behind.
The books have never sold well, regardless of anything like promotion, and it's a shame, but this is a card game foremost to nearly the entire population amongst the demographics that are targetted. And that's understandable, it's what the product IS after all.
On the other hand, I'm sort of disgusted we had to hear this from Mark Rosewater rather than have someone come down here before and let us know. Particularly in the fashion which Mark delivered the news. A more compassionate delivery of the news might have salved a lot of the bruised feelings. Because Mark is design, not creative, and he told us with a callous attitude.

I know that's cold comfort for novel fans, but I hope you'll find things to enjoy in the absence of novels, whether it's the cards themselves, the IDW comic, the Planeswalker's Guides and other website content, or new Magic-related media that develops down the line.

Because of nondisclosure and corporate communications rules, I won't be able to answer many of the questions I'm sure you have, but I'll respond when possible.
 


Like I said, at least *I* understand the decisions, but here's something that I very seriously hope you'll take to heart.
Look at today's Savor the Flavor. It's about getting a JOB at Wizards. This kind of miscellaneous junk article is so far removed from what we want that it's caused a major backlash amongst a lot of the flavor crowd. Now, I'm not saying anything about Doug in particular, but there's a serious opinion amongst a lot of people that this is a constant waste of resource space. It seems we only ever get solid expansive pieces when the sets are coming out, which makes sense, given that the article is about stirring interest in the product.

But what about when the next sets are still months away? Would it kill someone to give us a short story? A couple thousand words that let us see into the world?
It's somewhat ironic that I say this given the reason Doug was writing about getting the job at wizards dealing with that resource management in regards to the creative team. Would I love that job? Oh hell yes, but I couldn't get it. I have a single associates degree and no experience dealing with that sort of thing. Still, it's something to pass on to whoever gets the job. We like short stories, they keep us invested. Innistrad did a really good job at stirring interest with short stories, but we need something ot keep interest up after the set is already out.

And I can't help but feel there's a double edged message in part of Doug's article about how to get a job. The "working for wizards even if you don't work for wizards" bit. Because you guys have stated in the past that you can't really look at those works lest something in those works end up looking too much like something you guys produced and the legal gray areas that spawn because of it.
I'm sorry I didn't speak up sooner. I wanted to wait for official sanction; I don't think Mark was even aware that I was waiting. I will say, regarding web fiction, that we regularly look at website usage data and do more of what gets the most views and less of what gets fewer views. Some topics appeal only to a small niche, however strongly. Fiction in particular takes more time and focus to produce than a typical staff column, and it doesn't get a higher number of views in line with the additional effort it requires. I don't want to make it sound like a dry R.O.I. equation, but given the ever-increasing number of card products, marketing efforts, game-like play experiences, digital games/tools, etc., it's tough to justify serving the web-fiction niche (even though we do from time to time, mainly because some of us love writing fiction!). There just aren't enough hours in a day -- and we work a lot of hours, I promise.
Do your web viewers only track how many people open the article, or how many people actually read them? For the past few, well, weeks, really, a substantial amount of the articles for me were roughly ten second reads, or the average time it takes to scroll down to the bottom in a pace slow enough to see that there is no information in there that actually interests me. While my schedule would rather not have flavoured masterpieces that suck half an hour out of my life every other day, on a personal level it is getting sort of disappointing that we aren't even getting those every other week currently.
So yeah, I'm mostly with Barinellos here, but don't rely too much on website data telling you things it doesn't actually tell you. I'll stop clicking on every new article that appears before reading the title, though, if it helps.

And nevertheless, thanks so much for actually coming here and telling us what you're able to tell us, it does mean a lot even if the news is disappointing :/
Show
Obligatory and Preliminary Smiley Reservoir: IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/Wee.png)IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/Dancing%20AIM.gif)IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/rawr.gif)IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/ghgh.png)IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/%5D%5D.gif)IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/luv.gif)IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/circle.png)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/sly.png)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/turtle.gif)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/jade.png)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/proud.gif)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/wilson.gif)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/ohmy.gif)IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/pcXQL.gif)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/blushing.png)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/proud.png)

Aside from that, I'm also curious if it tracks older article usage as well, because the stories get linked regularly. While some of the articles might have a high immediate usage spike on the day they go up, chances are they aren't constantly linked back to like the fiction or other, less relevance dependent, articles do.


Hell, your own article "The Known Mutliverse" is one I constantly go back to and link others to. The Battle of Fort Keff, the Mana Bonds that Doug did, even so far back as Precious Gold by Matt (an article six years old) probably get reread more than any other article barring Mark's... and I feel that's mostly because Mark is big on relinking his work. (That is not a criticism.)


I'm not saying the short stories will always see the traffic that you might see as justification immediately, but I do feel that in the long run it's something that will be revisited enough that more stories would be well received. I'm sure the Planeswalker's Guides have very solid traffic numbers.


On the other hand, I'm not in the same camp as Terti, in that I'd be fine with a new story every month. Truthfully, I don't feel that's asking a lot.


I feel, for the record of full disclosure, that I only read like... two articles commonly. Making Magic and Savor the Flavor. Even then, a lot of times I just skim each. I occasionally pull up and read From the Lab, and of course the Arcanas, but there are so many articles I don't even bother opening.


Anyways, I do want to express the fact that I appreciate the work you do. I appreciate the time you're taking to come talk to us as well, though I miss when you would just swing by. I understand there's only so much time and you're very busy, but honestly, Ari Marmell still swings by every few weeks and he only wrote the one book.

Biweekly is too much? IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/sly.png)
Show
Obligatory and Preliminary Smiley Reservoir: IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/Wee.png)IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/Dancing%20AIM.gif)IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/rawr.gif)IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/ghgh.png)IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/%5D%5D.gif)IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/luv.gif)IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/circle.png)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/sly.png)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/turtle.gif)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/jade.png)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/proud.gif)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/wilson.gif)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/ohmy.gif)IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/pcXQL.gif)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/blushing.png)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/proud.png)
Biweekly is too much?



You have to keep in mind that they have theme weeks, which usually dictate their biweekly content. The off weeks they can write about whatever they want, and quite frankly, I don't think making EVERY last one of those a story is a healthy endeavor.
Aside from that, you have to give them some time to both write and let creative juices settle. Once a month is a fair amount of time and shouldn't put a back breaking amount of stress on anybody. Aside from that, keeping in mind tertiary products, they could replace a story with some form of in world exploration (That genuinely only happens like once ever eight weeks, and yes, I'm being slightly petty and pissy about that. I admit it.)

For example, when Planechase 2 hits, I'm expecting another The Planes of Planechase article, and that would serve me FINE instead of a short story. It's not as in depth, but it's great expansion, focusing on breadth instead of depth.

But really, depth every one week out of four is reasonable, right? It doesn't even have to be a story, just something that gets us deeper into things, and no, a lot of times Doug doesn't provide us with that. Now, I'm not making any criticisms about the guy, and I generally defend him as often as possible, but once every two months is bothersome to me. I do want to go on record as saying the choose your own adventure game from last week was wonderful and an interesting exploration into the world in an unconventional manner. I'd love to see something like that (not precisely that for sake of variety) just once a month. It's all I'm personally asking as a fan.
Fair enough, as usual you're mostly right; and yeah, I kinda forgot about the adventure game. That was indeed a really nice article that had me coming back to it later to try out some of the different routes. Listen to him, Brady
Show
Obligatory and Preliminary Smiley Reservoir: IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/Wee.png)IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/Dancing%20AIM.gif)IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/rawr.gif)IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/ghgh.png)IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/%5D%5D.gif)IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/luv.gif)IMAGE(http://rsescape.net/forum/Smileys/RSE%20emotes/circle.png)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/sly.png)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/turtle.gif)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/jade.png)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/proud.gif)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/wilson.gif)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/ohmy.gif)IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/pcXQL.gif)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/blushing.png)IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/proud.png)
Yeah the job article was such a let down this week. Theres a reason when it's done in Makign magic and Latest developments it's a paragraph or two at the end: there is still content to be had if you aren't interested in the job. But this, well this is a week without a savor the flavor as far as I'm concerned. I can't decide if this is better or worse than they Savor articles that end up just telling me how to play a card. Damia Sage of Stone preview is the premeir example of those articles, and yes there are many. 

I get the novel being canceled, and I think we've all seen the writing on the wall. Weather we chose to admit it or not is a different story. But I agree with the others, if we are losing the novel line then Savor the Flavor needs to up the ante on delivering storyline/information about the flavor. 
 
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c8316b3bd9938ec0266b27a0cd8d77e8.jpg?v=90000) Thanks to Blitzschnell for the banner IMAGE(http://wiki.mtgsalvation.com/images/2/23/Phyrexian_Loyalty.png) Thanks to gamma-mage for the banner. You are Red/Blue!
You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator. Come see the Expanded Multiverse Project
Yeah, it's not even a question of a lack of stories in Savor the Flavor. It's a lack of, well, content. Whenever Doug previews a card he previews the card--not the flavor, not the character, but the mechanics. So, that ends up being kind of a dead week for us.

But, as with the novels, I can see how it would make perfect economic sense to do that, so I don't know that there's a whole lot I can say about the issue.

Wait, here's one question (that you probably can't answer):

Will we see more webcomics?

And,

Is there a possibility of some of the Planeswalker storylines being continued in the print comics--i.e. Chandra and Gideon's relationship, Jace and Liliana, Koth's efforts on New Phyrexia, and so on?
Coming Soon to the Magic: Expanded Multiverse: FRAGMENTS: A Shards of Alara Anthology
(Click through to view the cover and announcement page)Want to get your work in the Expanded Multiverse? Come join the project! Oh, and check out my blog, Storming the Ivory Tower: making sense of academia, media, and culture twice weekly.

@Skibo: I didn't mean to imply that flavor could somehow replace the story. But I just wanted to mention that not all is lost. Like Brady said, we still have stories, just different ways of showing things.


Like Barinellos, I understand the decision. If the books don't sell, it makes sense (from a business standpoint) to discontinue the novel line. It's a shame, but it's understandable.


I think the more important issue (for us, the flavor and storylines forum) that we (in general) have the feeling that we don't get any love. The part of the website dedicated to the Vorthos has more non-flavor articles than it has flavor ones. And I think I speak for everyone if I say that we don't want stories in Savor the Flavor, per se, they're just a bonus. What we do want is data about planes, characters and settings, in any shape. Or a look at how flavor is designed. I understand that we're a niche audience, but give us some love.


@Brady: Thanks for dropping by and explaining. I know you can't say much, but by dropping by and explaining you've shown you care about us.

After the official forums lost most of their functionality, a once vibrant community of Vorthos was wiped out.The survivors founded a new place to discuss all things concerning with the art, flavor and storylines of Magic: The Gathering. Come join us.

Website usage data: Our analytics are decent and apply to all pages published over the last several years (not sure exactly how far back they go). We have unique page views (so we see revisits), raw page views, and avg. time spent on a given page, among many other stats. Obviously unique page views are most important to me, because they tells us how much of the audience clicks through to a page at all. It doesn't matter much to me if only ten users spend ten hours each on a given page; that page would be an abysmal failure for its lack of reach.

Yes, the Planeswalker's Guides do well, although viewership of them starts high and declines with each subsequent installment. But you understand that they represent the distillation of months' worth of work, right? They are, in my opinion, our premiere offering.

Is monthly fiction asking for a lot? Well ... yes. Fiction that this group enjoys takes a lot of planning and craftsmanship. I'd say monthly fiction is roughly equivalent to four weeks' worth of staff columns (maybe three) -- in other words, it's about the same amount of time my team dedicates to free online content already. And for me that means potentially spending just as much time and effort only to serve a smaller audience than the one we serve now. But I'm still going to continue to explore the possibility, because as I said, we like writing fiction. It's just a matter of how often and in what venue.

And please remember that yes, it's free online content. Perhaps it increases some readers' investment in Magic, but as a corporate effort, it's a loss. It generates no revenue. It's labor-power we could instead put toward products that make money. A significant portion of the regulars in the story forums have said that they don't actually spend much money on Magic at all. Some stopped playing the game years ago. Some buy the books only second-hand or check them out from a library. To put it bluntly, I don't feel a strong obligation to serve those folks with free story content. Wizards gets very little if anything in return.

The IDW comic replaces the web comics for now. The web comics were very costly and far more work for the team than you might think. Their page views didn't justify the expense in time, money, and stress. In order to give IDW as much control as possible over their own comic -- which I think is important to get quality results -- we need to avoid micromanaging their story. That means other Planeswalker characters will appear in the IDW comic but probably won't be the protagonists. A lot depends on how the IDW comic does in the marketplace, what readers want, etc.

Website usage data: Our analytics are decent and apply to all pages published over the last several years (not sure exactly how far back they go). We have unique page views (so we see revisits), raw page views, and avg. time spent on a given page, among many other stats. Obviously unique page views are most important to me, because they tells us how much of the audience clicks through to a page at all. It doesn't matter much to me if only ten users spend ten hours each on a given page; that page would be an abysmal failure for its lack of reach.

*snip* *snip* *snip*




Reading this and your other comments about this news is genuinely making my heart sink, my stomach ache and almost in full flowing tears. If this is how it feels to lose hope like that in Innistrad in Dark Ascension then now I get how that feels.

I am trying to think of ideas, for suggestions or anything but even my mind is really stunned now on realizing on how seemingly useless it was to follow things around here religiously... All is slapped immediately by the business side of things.


Good luck with all the things you're going to do with whatever you're doing. I'm just going to cry this one out in my corner of the world, this is just so upsetting to me for some reason.
It's harsh, but quite frankly it's nothing that I didn't expect.  There are what, a dozen regulars down here?  We're a very small subset of the Magic playing population, and Wizards, as part of Hasbro, has a duty to its shareholders to put its money where it gets the most effect.

However harsh the truths that he has to present, the fact that Brady comes down here to talk to all dozen of us is a sign that, frankly, we're getting a ton of attention in porportion to our influience.

I think it's sad the the novels were hiatus'd when set design was turning to a more story-driven paragdim.  Perhaps I'm wrong, but I feel like they would have been more popular with an audience primed to look for plot by the cards.

Of course, I don't have the Market Research Data that the people making that decision no doubt did.

So let's hear it for the novels we enjoyed.  Here's to The Thran, The Brothers War, and Agents of Artifice.  Here's to Planeswalker and The Purifying Fire.

And let's hear it for Brady, who didn't need to come down here at all, much less provide direct answers to our questions and requests.  The corporate world is waht it is, and it takes a nice measure of human decency to make overtures beyond the call of duty.  Huzzah for Brady.

And let's hope that IDW does well, and brings to us a new era of flavor distribution more successful and satisfying than the last

"Enjoy your screams, Sarpadia - they will soon be muffled beneath snow and ice."

 

Follow me to No Goblins Allowed

A M:tG/D&D message board with a good community and usable software

 


THE COALITION WAR GAME -Phyrexian Chief Praetor
Round 1: (4-1-2, 1 kill)
Round 2: (16-8-2, 4 kills)
Round 3: (18-9-2, 1 kill)
Round 4: (22-10-0, 2 kills)
Round 5: (56-16-3, 9 kills)
Round 6: (8-7-1)

Last Edited by Ralph on blank, 1920

I think one of the things that made the old stories so much better is that there was a story to follow in the cards too.

I know the story of the Brothers War, for instance, and I never read anything other than the flavor texts of cards.  I think it would be nice if MtG would do that for the new 'flavorful' cards- though I guess it really doesn't matter in the long run- the stories are all the same and not that good now anyways.
I am a level 29 Necro-POSTER! "...And then the cheese came."
Is monthly fiction asking for a lot? Well ... yes. Fiction that this group enjoys takes a lot of planning and craftsmanship. I'd say monthly fiction is roughly equivalent to four weeks' worth of staff columns (maybe three) -- in other words, it's about the same amount of time my team dedicates to free online content already. And for me that means potentially spending just as much time and effort only to serve a smaller audience than the one we serve now. But I'm still going to continue to explore the possibility, because as I said, we like writing fiction. It's just a matter of how often and in what venue.



Regarding free OL content: What percentage of the MTG card buying population reads the articles daily? I'd wager MTG Daily could become MTG Weekly and most players would be fine with it. Whammo, there's some man hours. Quintipled. (Edit to clarify: By "weekly" I mean 2 new columns each week rather than daily.)

I've never read a ton of the books because they are a big time investment. If a novel goes south, I've lost significant time. But I happily can spare time for an occassional web short story or anthology. Hope they stick around.
On average, the books that came out at the same time as the expansion to which they relate did 50% - 100% better than the books that didn't. You'll notice that the books this group likes best came out long after the sets to which they relate, or didn't relate to a set at all -- (there are exceptions, such as McGough's Kamigawa trilogy, but most follow that pattern, including all those Tevish_Szat mentions above) -- another case of critical success being unrelated to commercial success.

I think that's a lesson about the difficulty of shared-world fiction and timelines. Not all the books that correspond to long-since-finished cards or to no cards at all are awesome in your eyes, but they're awesome to you more frequently than those that had to be produced in the very, very tight confines between completion of the world guide and release of the set.

It makes me sad. Although I can't control authorship utterly, and many times the novel was done in the nick of time so that deep revisions weren't possible, I have still spent hundreds if not thousands of hours on the novels. I will keep looking for places where I can serve those who want longer-form narrative. Conditions are still changing, and it's not inconceivable that we try fiction again soon, whether it's on the web, in e-books, or whatever.
Thanks for stopping by Brady.

It's really a no win situation. The books can't support themselves, and fction is a huge investment. And from a purely logicstal standpoint, Creative's time could be better spent on world buliding or working on new product.

I said the storyline is effectly over because without the novels there won't be a complex storyline, certianly not enough to support a thriving community. I've seen this community dwindle when the books were cut down to one per block, there was alot of dead space between book releases. Now we won't even have that. The planeswalker novels never seemed to stir up conversation on these forums, and while it's too early to say for sure, it doesn't seem like the comic is getting people talking.
… and then, the squirrels came.
It makes me sad. Although I can't control authorship utterly, and many times the novel was done in the nick of time so that deep revisions weren't possible, I have still spent hundreds if not thousands of hours on the novels. I will keep looking for places where I can serve those who want longer-form narrative. Conditions are still changing, and it's not inconceivable that we try fiction again soon, whether it's on the web, in e-books, or whatever.



Well, that's really all we can ask for at the time, and I'm at least appreciative that we have you to look out for the chance to give us what keeps us in the game. Mark likes to say Vorthos isn't a true psychograph, but I genuinely think he's wrong.
I play the game because of the world. The cards honestly don't interest me, but that heart behind them, that's what I look for.

I have something akin to 30 decks, all theme decks. And I don't mean they all run a theme of "burn" or "white wheenie" I mean they are based around something in the world. Most often, someone in the world.

I've loved some cards to death, genuinely thought they were awesome. But I don't use them, not unless i can play them like they would be in the world you guys create.

Thanks for watching out for those of us who love the world more than the game. Keelah Se'lai.

(Shut up, Mass Effect 3 just came out. It seemed appropriate.)

And let's hear it for Brady, who didn't need to come down here at all, much less provide direct answers to our questions and requests.  The corporate world is waht it is, and it takes a nice measure of human decency to make overtures beyond the call of duty.  Huzzah for Brady.


Amen.

Thank you very much Brady.


I think the biggest dissapointment for me (because, being the cheap &@#*% that I am, I've bought few magic books and all of those secondhand and so have never gotten very into them) is, as Skibo said, this place may die out almost entirely without the books. We may all have to move over to Keeper's blog *atempt at humor*.


But I feel this is an excellent combination of time and place to mention the M:EM. It seems to me that with official stuff coiming out less we need to get more of our stuff out there. As I understand, we'd essentially be providing a free service that we already like to do. Unfortunately, I feel it would be years before we amass enough work to anything more than a fringe group.

Ah, but I'm rambling. Point is these forums are my creative outlet and I hope they can continue one way or another.

Profile Picture taken with implied permission from Trildar.

KeeperofManyNames wrote:

Alright, new theory: these forums are an experiment in ultraminimalism. By Monday everything--yes everything--will be the color white, and typing any character will simply produce a solid rectangle of variable height and width.

Yes, you can all colonize my blog! It's basically a raft for doomed ideas, anyway, so a bevy of Magic Storyline Fans will fit right in :P

In seriousness, though, I do agree with 42. Originally part of me was viewing the Expanded Multiverse as futile after the books vanish, but, well, this is probably when we're needed most. I mean, I already wanted to explore the possibility of filling in novels for time periods that will never ever in a million years have gotten novels even if the novel line wasn't collapsing. Szat is working on Legends III, I'm still toying around with the concept of a novel (or, since we're not trying to actually market this stuff to anyone, an epic blank verse poem) based around the fall of Sedris and Vithia, and I KNOW we have enough material to write a novel on the Mirage War. I know because I compiled all the damn information.

So, maybe this is an opportunity.

Wizards won't fund an Innistrad novel because they can't.

What if we stepped into that gap and put together something ourselves?




Anyway, that fantasizing aside, I'm with Szat (now that I've gone through the five stages of grief). There were some great books published in Magic's line. I wish, I truly wish, they had gotten more attention. Planeswalker and The Thran are among not just my favorite Magic novels but my favorite novels, full stop, of all time. Agents of Artifice is up there too, actually. These are books that I'm going to hold on to not just for myself but for my kids, because I want them to be enchanted by the same Magic (oh god that was hokey, sorry) that enchanted me.

So here's to the novel line.

And here's to Brady. I wish I had known your hands were tied, although that would defeat the purpose of the tying to begin with, I suppose. It's tough, though, when we go so long without hearing a word. We get to feeling like you don't love us. Which is, on the one hand, really silly, but on the other hand is probably kinda true on some level.


Anyway, if you don't mind, Brady, one other question occurred to me.

How are minisites received? And similarly, how was the Innistrad letter game received by people? Because I think I speak for everyone when I say THAT STUFF IS AWESOME. And, it's material that I suspect falls under the heading of Promotional Materials, and therefore might be justifiable in a way that short stories simply aren't.

So, without asking for specifics, because I'm sure you can't say at this point: will we see more minisites/ARGs/storyline-based advertising?

I feel like maybe losing the novels isn't so bad if, in return, we get letters from characters sent to our damn houses. Just, you know, just maybe. ;)
Coming Soon to the Magic: Expanded Multiverse: FRAGMENTS: A Shards of Alara Anthology
(Click through to view the cover and announcement page)Want to get your work in the Expanded Multiverse? Come join the project! Oh, and check out my blog, Storming the Ivory Tower: making sense of academia, media, and culture twice weekly.
The minisites do okay. Anything that previews a card does fantastically well, of course. The Innistrad story-ARG-whatever thing didn't do as well as we'd hoped but we have some ideas about why and will likely take another stab at something of that kind.

I want to respond to Voila!'s posts over at MTGS, too. Please know that across the 66 published Magic novels, we have tried every combination of more/less creative control, more/less time, and more/less money. No combination of those elements guarantees a great novel. (And I'll reiterate that the novels you think are great are generally in the bottom half sales-wise, and the novels you loathe are generally in the top half. There are exceptions.) Great novels are rare, and many of them take YEARS to write.

Unlike publishing companies who usually buy a book and publish it only if it's already good enough, we commissioned books on spec and had to publish what we got (after a few precious weeks of revision), regardless of how the final draft turned out. Only one book differed so sharply from our expectation that we elected not to publish it. You can probably figure out which.
It seems like the best books came from authors who really took a world and embraced it (Kamigawa and Ravnica being good examples of this). So i can see where commissioning can be hit or miss.
… and then, the squirrels came.
The minisites do okay. Anything that previews a card does fantastically well, of course. The Innistrad story-ARG-whatever thing didn't do as well as we'd hoped but we have some ideas about why and will likely take another stab at something of that kind.



Are those problems things that you can share with us now or--

Wait. No.

THIS.

This is the kind of thing I bet a lot of people would LOVE to see in Savor the Flavor. All we saw was the final product with that ARG-whatever (glad you guys also at a bit of a loss as to how to describe it). It was something a lot of us really liked, if I remember correctly, and it's interesting to hear that there were problems with it.

Now, when something like that happens with a design or development aspect of the game, we usually get a full play-by-play of how things went and what people (er... MaRo, usually) think can be done to fix it.

So, rather than ask what you think went right or wrong with that here, is there a chance we could get a Savor the Flavor article about it?

It is reassuring to hear that the minisites and ARG-whatevers are more successful. I honestly feel like the storyline, despite Skibo's predictions, might be able to survive on that if the quality is as high as it was for Scars and Innistrad. I mean, that was cool stuff. I would love to see more experiments like that. Just... maybe in a form that actually works on most computers. The Scars site was a bit of a mess when it came to functionality. :/

I want to respond to Voila!'s posts over at MTGS, too. Please know that across the 66 published Magic novels, we have tried every combination of more/less creative control, more/less time, and more/less money. No combination of those elements guarantees a great novel. (And I'll reiterate that the novels you think are great are generally in the bottom half sales-wise, and the novels you loathe are generally in the top half. There are exceptions.) Great novels are rare, and many of them take YEARS to write.



It's interesting, we've been debating this back and forth for ages but I don't think anyone knew about the quality/sales disconnect. That honestly changes everything. I mean, things that I have criticized, and that people on Salvation are criticizing as we speak, just... don't really make sense to criticize with that perspective. As much as it makes intuitive sense to say, "Well, maybe the books would do better if they were of a higher quality" it apparently just is not so.

That's honestly quite a revelation.

So much for like half of what I argued back in the good old days of two months ago.

Only one book differed so sharply from our expectation that we elected not to publish it. You can probably figure out which.


I don't think this is particularly surprising to anyone, but, well, we've wondered for quite a while. It's nice to get confirmation at least that this is what was going on. (Although, the other competing theory was "they moved the release/cancelled it to accommodate the Innistrad novel," and that's pretty soundly debunked now, so yeah.)


God this post got a bit huge, sorry.
Coming Soon to the Magic: Expanded Multiverse: FRAGMENTS: A Shards of Alara Anthology
(Click through to view the cover and announcement page)Want to get your work in the Expanded Multiverse? Come join the project! Oh, and check out my blog, Storming the Ivory Tower: making sense of academia, media, and culture twice weekly.
I try to think back to previous blocks, and how little we'd know about them if not for the novels. I like to use Mirrodin as an example because almost none of the plot points come across in the cards, nor were any web articles really about it. If you didn't have the novels, i don't think you'd get 90% of the actual storyline.

Then i think about the Eldrazi, and the Phyrexians. Both of whom we learned the lion's share about from the website, and not from the novel.

But the thing is... i know facts about the Eldarzi, and i know facts about the Phyrexians, but i don't know stories about them. It is hard to articulate, but basically I don't feel invested in a storyline. Yes, i know Vess is trying to find Gris, and Garruk is trying to break his curse, but if you just tell me "Vess kills Gris, and Garruk breaks his curse" that's not satisfying. I want to go on that journey, i want to experience the story with them.

The planeswalker's guide is a good companion work to flesh out the world, but it is not a replacement for a novel.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thinking things over, there is no real good way to ressolve this. Novels are too expensive, the webcomics didn't pan out, and short fiction is not something everyone can devote time to.

About the only thing you could do is fan fiction, but there are many major hurtles to adopting fan made stories as canon.

I think the best solution would be to merge cards and story in a way that has never existed before. I think Ravnica came the closest to merging flavor, storylines, mechanics, and cards. But until storyline drives magic, not mechanics, and not flavor, i don't think you'll make up for the lack of a novel.
… and then, the squirrels came.
We get to feeling like you don't love us. Which is, on the one hand, really silly, but on the other hand is probably kinda true on some level.



I like to imagine that dealing with us is like dealing with one's children; being overwhelm with urges to hug and to strangle at the same time.
I certainly hope that M:EM is suffecient to fill in our novel/storyline needs, but tere still needs to be official story.

I see this as part of Magic's identity.  Storyline is what separates Magic from any other card games out there.  Magic is not a card game for the sake of card game, its a card game, in which each piece builds a world and creates a story.  Pokemon, Yugioh, Duel Masters, whatever, nobody really cares what the card is, so long as its good.  What's a charzard? Who cares! it has fireblast!  What is the story and origin of Dark Magician? Nobody knows, even within the official storyline, he's just a picture on a piece of cardboard. 

Magic on the other hand has characters and a world beneath the game.  Garruck, Gideon, and Tezzeret have distinct personalities, and they interact with our other pieces, like Garruck's Horde or Jace's Erasure, or just about any card in the game.  Without that interaction, the game becomes a lot less special, much less intellectual, and from a corporate perspective, less profitable because you begin to lose customers over time.

The other thing that separates Magic from other card games? The length of time that players stay customers.  All of us on this forum are intellectuals.  College students and graduates, amateur literary critics, hell I'm a high school student and a college I haven't even applied to offered me ten times their schools tuition as a scholarship to try to get me to go there (sorry, had to brag).  We are not the typical 14 year old card game demographic and we still purchase the products and look forward to the next release. 

Now with that laid down as a part of Magics identity, the quality of that part has been declining.  Since the Mending, we've had fewer novels, and the novels broke existing rules and were critically uninteresting (with the marvelous exceptions of Purifying Fire and Agents of Artifice).  I feel kinda embarassed now cause I got distracted in writing all of this, and I forgot the entire train of thought.  The point I intended to come to was that the death of the novels is excusable so long as we get storyline details some other way.  I don't mean setting details, like the planeswalker guides, I mean the segment of a major storyline that takes place in a set.

For example, on Innistrad, we know that Sorin, Liliana, and Garruck are present on the plane, and we know why each of them is there.  However, we don't know what they're doing there.   With the lack of a webcomic or novel, we don't know the nature of Garruck's Veil-curse, we don't know where or how Liliana is looking for her demon master, and we don't know how Sorin deals with the resentment that his people regard him with.  It makes the cards much less special.  Liliana of the Veil is seen by the player as "a character who came to this place to free herself from a contract.  oh yeah and she has a powerful artifact, but nobody knows what it does".  Similarly, Sorin, Lord of Innistrad is just "a vampire who came hear to fix stuff".  On the other hand we have carda like Geralf's Messenger who seen by the player is "a powerful zombie raised by a frankenstin-like looney named Geralf, who was having happy little undead wars with his classic necromancer sister, Gisa.  Eventually they get bored and destroy the last fortress of church power on the plane and ressurrect the symbol of humanity's strength."  There's just more there when you give us a story, more reason to stay interested. 

Check out my blog, Anarion's Last Stand, with such diverse topics as poetry, writing, and [insert blog topic here] Anarionslaststand.blogspot.com I am the stone that comes not from the sea. I am the blood but the blood is not me. I am the key to the door with no locks. I am the mainspring that winds broken clocks. I am your tears on the chains of the rack. I am your gift and you can't give me back.
Actually, there are stories, they would release them in places online.  Last I checked, Liliana had teamed up with Geralf after he lost the battle at Thraben (and him and his sister parted ways).  Liliana then revived Mikaeus as the undead....

That said, I would enjoy more cohesion.  All the random bits and pieces are fun, but it's not the same when all the little short stories and letters aren't well connected via an overarching plot.
Actually, there are stories, they would release them in places online.  Last I checked, Liliana had teamed up with Geralf after he lost the battle at Thraben (and him and his sister parted ways).  Liliana then revived Mikaeus as the undead....




My point was that Gisa and Geralf have good stories and that the cards that relate to them benefit from it.  The characters who we know already and are already part of a much larger story aren't getting any story details and are suffering from it.
Check out my blog, Anarion's Last Stand, with such diverse topics as poetry, writing, and [insert blog topic here] Anarionslaststand.blogspot.com I am the stone that comes not from the sea. I am the blood but the blood is not me. I am the key to the door with no locks. I am the mainspring that winds broken clocks. I am your tears on the chains of the rack. I am your gift and you can't give me back.
I certainly hope that M:EM is suffecient to fill in our novel/storyline needs, but tere still needs to be official story.

I see this as part of Magic's identity.  Storyline is what separates Magic from any other card games out there.  Magic is not a card game for the sake of card game, its a card game, in which each piece builds a world and creates a story.  Pokemon, Yugioh, Duel Masters, whatever, nobody really cares what the card is, so long as its good.  What's a charzard? Who cares! it has fireblast!  What is the story and origin of Dark Magician? Nobody knows, even within the official storyline, he's just a picture on a piece of cardboard. 

Magic on the other hand has characters and a world beneath the game.  Garruck, Gideon, and Tezzeret have distinct personalities, and they interact with our other pieces, like Garruck's Horde or Jace's Erasure, or just about any card in the game.  Without that interaction, the game becomes a lot less special, much less intellectual, and from a corporate perspective, less profitable because you begin to lose customers over time.

*SNIP* *SNIP* *SNIP*





This post, so GOLDEN. 

You have pretty much said the same reasons why I liked and continued to follow Magic's continuity/storyline after letting go of actually playing it. It's the underlying things, without them Magic to me felt/will feel dry.

I do hope that the posting of narrative won't end on the website (i.e. the Necromancer Sibling's letter exchanges, Jenna's story about Gideon's fight for example) now that we have the novel shelved.

Incidentally, my latest article deals with these issues a bit... and you can technically extend the argument to justify Bolas//Jace as a totally reasonable pairing, which I know people here will appreciate.


Also, Brady, if you're still around, I do have another question.

Would it help to have a list of the kind of things we're more interested in hearing about in Savor the Flavor? I mean, the kind of stuff you're telling us here would, on its own, make for a fascinating article, and I'm sure there's other stuff like that that we'd be interested in.
Coming Soon to the Magic: Expanded Multiverse: FRAGMENTS: A Shards of Alara Anthology
(Click through to view the cover and announcement page)Want to get your work in the Expanded Multiverse? Come join the project! Oh, and check out my blog, Storming the Ivory Tower: making sense of academia, media, and culture twice weekly.
Would it help to have a list of the kind of things we're more interested in hearing about in Savor the Flavor? I mean, the kind of stuff you're telling us here would, on its own, make for a fascinating article, and I'm sure there's other stuff like that that we'd be interested in.



I second this. The behind the scenes stuff is what's really cool. It's the kind of stuff that only the creators of the game can provide. That's why i like Maro's articles so much, he has insight into the game others don't. I'd like to see more of that in the Savor the Flavor articles.

* Also a follow up to "The known multiverse" entitled "The Planeswalkers of the Multiverse" would be awesome.
… and then, the squirrels came.
Would it help to have a list of the kind of things we're more interested in hearing about in Savor the Flavor?


Sure, couldn't hurt. But I feel like I already know what you'll say (I read the forums here and at MTGS regularly and always have, so I see the reaction or lack thereof to each column). And I hope I've made the point that this group's preferences and interests aren't necessarily in line with the columns that get the most page views.