03/28/2012 StF: "Thanks and So Long"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Savor the Flavor, which goes live Wednesday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Doug, thank you. So many of my favorite Daily MTG articles were your Savor the Flavor and I am going to miss my weekly shot of mothership Vorthosianism. I definitely know the feeling of deciding you need to step away from a project you've dedicated so much of yourself to for the sake of that very project (and your own!). Looking forward to your furtrher work with Wizards, especially M13 and dem Avacyn Restored articles! Take care, and Vorthos Forever.
Thanks for all the great stories you've given us over the years. Savor the Flavor was probably my most antiipated article each week, and it will surely be missed.  
I hope Wizards of the Coast sees the contradiction in putting the last weekly flavor column "on hiatus" at the same time that, as Doug rightly points out, the storyline and flavor are more important than ever before.

Best of luck to Doug in the future.

I hope Wizards of the Coast doesn't come to regret this.       
Thank you, Doug. I usually enjoyed reading your columns. There were some real gems. I wish you good luck in your future ventures.

I hope Wizards of the Coast sees the contradiction in putting the last weekly flavor column "on hiatus" at the same time that, as Doug rightly points out, the storyline and flavor are more important than ever before.

Best of luck to Doug in the future.

I hope Wizards of the Coast doesn't come to regret this.       



I really don't think they want to. They just need a good writer.
76125763 wrote:
Zindaras' meta is like a fossil, ancient and its secrets yet to be uncovered. Only men of yore, long dead, knew of it.

If they wanted a good writer, they could find one easily enough - me, for example.  But they don't want (or at least don't just want) someone who writes well - they want someone who writes what they're told, writes glad-handing syrupy stuff that will drive sales and further the The Company Cannot Fail image they are determined to create.  They will never hire me again because I am not an obedient corporate shill.  They don't lack for good writers; they lack for obedient corporate shills.

My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
Awww I'm a bit sad now!
Doug,

Thank you for all you've given us for so many years. Your STF columns have been a highlight of my week. We all know your passion for the game and how you've helped to enrich and deepen it.

I remember when I first saw friends playing in high school. The art captivated me and so did the whole idea of the many colors of magic. I remember looking at and reading the cards and feeling transported -- staring at the marbled border of an old-school Blue card and almost feeling I could hear the ocean. Becoming a Magic player was like having somewhere else, somewhere special, to go.

I've played the game for a long time now. And that enthrallment to flavor didn't die, but it lessened as I came to care about other things. I'm not completely a Spike, but I lean in that direction, and I remember one day many years later looking at the cards and feeling almost sad. Not because I don't still love to win or didn't from the beginning (one of my favorite moments was the day I'd become good enough to gun down the bully of the lunch table, who lorded over all of us with a mono-Black horror we'd all deemed unbeatable (he owned multiple Nevinyrral's Disks! What were lowly we to do?!?! Well, after months of determination, I figured something out ) but because those quiet moments of just holding a square of cardboard in my hand and murmuring "wow" seemed to be... gone.

Your stories and your commitment to the richness of the worlds of this game... well. I can't say they rekindled exactly the same feeling. My feeling now is still very different. Everything changes. But that awe, that excitement, that joy that a game could be so beautiful, in so many different ways... that's back. And that's something I've loved having one small part of my week devoted to, and I thank you very much for all you've given us. And all you'll continue to give us, even if you're not excitedly telling us about it every week.

So thank you. So very much. :-) Please do what you need to do, and I wish you joy and peace and some well-earned rest.

Love and respect,

Alexa
If they wanted a good writer, they could find one easily enough - me, for example.  But they don't want (or at least don't just want) someone who writes well - they want someone who writes what they're told, writes glad-handing syrupy stuff that will drive sales and further the The Company Cannot Fail image they are determined to create.  They will never hire me again because I am not an obedient corporate shill.  They don't lack for good writers; they lack for obedient corporate shills.


That's a bitter way of saying you won't do what the job pays you to do.
thx for all the fish

I for myself preyed like a vulture upon the planeswalker guides because they contained at least a little bit of story information. I'd diss planeswalker guides instantly for real stories. I don't need to know the exact structure of each different vampire clan on Innistrad, I want to read stories involving them and from there make deductions and guesses about them.
Abbot Pheldy OSM Mafia Awards 2010 Most Unique Playstyle Designer of Game of the Year 2010 Designer of Most Flavorful Game My achievements random hum
Good work, Doug. I appreciated the straightforward explanation. Writing good stuff takes a lot of effort and I agree it's better to let it be then do it half-way.
If they wanted a good writer, they could find one easily enough - me, for example.  But they don't want (or at least don't just want) someone who writes well - they want someone who writes what they're told, writes glad-handing syrupy stuff that will drive sales and further the The Company Cannot Fail image they are determined to create.  They will never hire me again because I am not an obedient corporate shill.  They don't lack for good writers; they lack for obedient corporate shills.

Yeah bro how dare these punk-ass employees try to sell a product.
"I'd rather stop than suck."

Not that I think you would, but I wish more people would take this advice (has-been NFL quarterbacks, I'm lookin' at you).
I've been a fan of the flavor columns since the start of Daily MtG back during Torment's previews. Doug Beyer has been the best writer and Savor the Flavor has been the best column of all these, and the Planeswalker's Guide project is the best that I could ever have seen in the MtG publishing line. Being also a D&D DungeonMaster, I always used the contents from these to improve and enhance my campaign in some ways (most of them are based in a MtG storyline anyway).

Maybe we can replace a full weekly column for a few tweets? Think about it. And let me know to follow.

Well, Doug, in case you're reading, you're gonna be missed. Really missed.

"No curse we can't reverse; no spell we can't break; no demon we can't exterminate; no plane we can't reach" - Motto of the Magnificent Order of the Planeswalkers, as said by the first time by Veritatis, its founder and the Grimmchester Brothers mentor

D&D Home Page - What Class Are You? - Build A Character - D&D Compendium

March 2012

"I've learned by helping to create Magic, and about being a creative professional in general, is that you have to change things that are known to be working."

OMG! You have learned this? So it is time to unlearn it - and don' t forget to teach how to do it to your co-worker fellows.

How about now changing things that ARE NOT working - such as Dominaria's storyline - and make them working again once more?

Well, for example, that thing concerning Karn's heart leaking phyrexian oil is simply one of the biggest absurds ever! Please, stop doing things like that! With or without "Savor the Flavor", please!  

"So why are you stopping?"

Because he knows how enormous is the mess left at story's continuity and he does not want to be part of it any more - specially after that piece of cr*p called "The Quest for Karn" and the creation of the "clockwork" ability (totally absurd power). 

I may be a totally naive guy regarding WotC affairs but all I know is that the recent stories upset me to often and none of them compares to the good old ones.

I wish you luck, Mr. Beyer! All the best!

JV

Honestly, I take Doug's reasons at face value. No shadowy conspiracy. No discontent. Nothing like that. But all I really have to say about his departure is:   ;-;
And once more, one of the greatest weekly columns of the site falls on the wayside only to be replaced with some more organized play oriented, mostly standard format netdecking drivel aimed at Spikes.

But then, that's where they make most of their money, so I can't blame them as long as it means I still get some fun cards to play with without needing to conform to whatever restriction the DCI invents.

And thanks Doug for giving us so much over the years.
If they wanted a good writer, they could find one easily enough - me, for example. But they don't want (or at least don't just want) someone who writes well - they want someone who writes what they're told, writes glad-handing syrupy stuff that will drive sales and further the The Company Cannot Fail image they are determined to create. They will never hire me again because I am not an obedient corporate shill. They don't lack for good writers; they lack for obedient corporate shills.

You act like Wizards wanting to increase sales is a bad thing. If Wizards wants to increase sales, that means that they want to improve their products, so more people will buy them.

How could writing about the setting of the next block allow you to comment on the business practices of the company? What kind of flavour text could you write that would imply Wizards is going to fail?
I hope Wizards of the Coast sees the contradiction in putting the last weekly flavor column "on hiatus" at the same time that, as Doug rightly points out, the storyline and flavor are more important than ever before.

Best of luck to Doug in the future.

I hope Wizards of the Coast doesn't come to regret this.

Doug says that the decision was entirely his own and that he was not asked to step down, so your criticism does not make any sense. Wizards' management cannot regret the decision, because they did not make it.
Doug,

You've always been one of my favorite columnists on the site, and I am very sad to see you go. While I am a big Rosewater fan, I always felt you were a better writer style-wise. You were more likely to make me smile and laugh, better at keeping my attention, and way less likely to repeat yourself. You are an awesome writer and I can't express the amount of joy your articles have given me over the years. I guess I can only be glad though if you stepping down means you get to focus more on your real job, and make magic more awesome for years to come. I'll be more than happy to see you around.
YMtC
Contest Achievements
I came in 3rd in "Butterside Down" #3 - http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75842/22060233/Butterside_Down_3:_A_Flavour_Contest?pg=1 I tied for first in a round of "Niklor's Art Down Speed Contest" (Round 27 ) - http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75842/25029389/Niklor%60s_Art_Down_Speed_Contest?pg=46 I got first for Round #1 of "You Make the Nation!" - http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75842/25560249/You_Make_the_Nation!GAME?pg=2 I got first for Round #1 of "MLSP" - http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75842/25581089/MLSP_-_an_Ongoing_GameContest_(Join_anytime)?pg=2
Winners of contests I have held
The Zephyr won "Inspiring Design" - http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75842/22300009/Contest_Inspiring_Design Game n' Watch's Super Short Mini Contest! (http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75842/25532701/Game_n_Watchs_Super_Short_Mini_Contest!_(Ends_11:00_EST_TODAY)?pg=1) 1st - Niklor 2nd - XJacobX 3rd - A Tie between Pacific Ninja and TheDamned
The most inspiration thing I have ever heard about Magic
"While Type Two, Limited, and Extended may be the money centers, Type One is the heart of Magic. It represents a spark of something original, the genius of human creativity. In spite of its gargantuan design flaws, perpetual imbalances, and powerful nature, it also demonstrates that chaos can be tamed. That the very nature of the game allows enough flexibility that nothing in Magic is so badly damaged it can't be addressed." - Steve Menendian.
It's sad to see StF go on even a brief hiatus, and I'll miss Doug's writing, but I'm glad that they are at least devoted to still bringing us world-building feature articles to kick off preview seasons.  They are articles I look forward to all year. I wouldn't have been playing Magic at all if it weren't for the articles describing the settings of things like Mirrodin and Kamigawa block, and Llorwyn wouldn't be one of my favourite blocks ever if it weren't for the compelling story behind the cards of that block.

Now, I am primarily a Johnny-Spike as a player, but the game wouldn't have the resonnance that it does without people like Doug writing articles and spinning stories that give blocks far greater meaning than simply a new batch of cards to play with.
~ Current Decks I'm Playing or Building ~ (Click a deck's name to see list) [] CorpseJunk Menace/Township Counters (Standard) [] Reanimation/Clerics Theme Deck - Commander: Ghost Dad [] Devouring Tokens (Planechase, Multiplayer) [] Krark-Clan Ironworks: 2012 Edition (Modern) [] Azorious Turbo Fog (Modern)
Doug,
Thank you so much for your work over the past years.  Yours was the only column I made sure to read every week.  I'm relieved to see you are going to be finishing things up for Avacyn Restored. 

And I know a lot of people seemed to dislike "Alara Unbroken," but I thought it was pretty darn good.  The way you had characters do things in the book that more or less were tied to their cards?  AWESOME.  

Thanks again, and please(!) keep up the good work keeping flavor alive.  

If they wanted a good writer, they could find one easily enough - me, for example.  But they don't want (or at least don't just want) someone who writes well - they want someone who writes what they're told, writes glad-handing syrupy stuff that will drive sales and further the The Company Cannot Fail image they are determined to create.  They will never hire me again because I am not an obedient corporate shill.  They don't lack for good writers; they lack for obedient corporate shills.


It's pretty astonishing to me that they haven't already rehired you.  You seem like a real team player: modest, respectful of others' opinions, and thoughtful in your criticism.

 

Goblin Artisans
a Magic: the Gathering design blog
Doug,

Your column was the best.  THE BEST.  Better than MaRo's.  My absolute #1 favorite.  It was the thing bringing me back to MTG Daily.

----------

Will Pell, that's probably the most astonishingly unprofessional thing I've ever seen someone write.  Show that to anyone and I wouldn't be surprised if they  resolved to never hire you.  I hope you aren't as angry and obsessed as your post makes you seem, and if you are I hope in time you'll let it go.
Doug,

Not replacing you for savor the flavor would imply that the others suck at writing. you know what?  you're totally right, dude.

At least you know when to stop when the brain juices ain't flowing...   that's the hallmark of great writers, and a clear distinction from the leeches. 

you could at least coach flores and bdm how to write.  if not, they should retire. 
You act like Wizards wanting to increase sales is a bad thing. If Wizards wants to increase sales, that means that they want to improve their products, so more people will buy them.



They drive sales by reducing the quality of their product so that it may be sold to the lowest common denominator.  Wizards is only interested in paying the bills and earning a profit for Hasbro, a typical example of the small-minded, short-term thinking that powers capitalism, and exactly why capitalism is completely inviable in the grand scheme of things.  Wotco wants to make sure people keep buying and playing Magic for the next ten years.  I want to make sure people keep telling the story of how Karn the silver golem surpassed his creator Urza's intentions and became the first artificial planeswalker, for the next ten thousand years, because it is (or at least could be) that good of a story.  If you owned the copyright on Beowulf or the Epic of Gilgamesh and went about dumbing it down so you could sell cheaply-made commemorative paintings of the characters to people who will grow up and forget about them, you would be doing much the same as Wizards is doing today.  The products are dust on the winds of history; the ideas that they contain can change civilization forever, and the best way to make that happen is to treat them with all the reverence of a religion's holy text or a culture's epic sagas.

One of the best decisions Wizards ever made after purchasing Dungeons and Dragons was the Open Gaming License, and they're still kicking themselves for it.  Thanks to the OGL, people who love D&D will have an amazing resource (the d20 SRD) to keep playing D&D long after Wizards closes its doors, as long as the Internet is still around.  Intellectual property withers when its' locked up in a closet and held for ransom; it flourishes when it is shouted to the far hills by those who genuinely love it and want to help it spread and grow.  Acts like the publication of the OGL are little short of miracles, and the same is true of writing a truly great story; both are ways to enrich the ideological heritage of the human race and quantifiably make life better on a scale that commerce can never even begin to measure up to.  The canon of Magic's multiverse, and the concept of the color pie which underpins it, is a mythological treasure which is not being treated with a tenth of the reverence it deserves.

How could writing about the setting of the next block allow you to comment on the business practices of the company? What kind of flavour text could you write that would imply Wizards is going to fail?



If by some miracle I obtained a free hand to write for Wizards, I would entirely ignore its status as a business, and write tales of flavor that would make the multiverse come alive for the people who truly need it to do so.  As I alluded to before, people who play Magic because it's a fun game will eventually grow out of it; it isn't important enough to them, and so I don't think it should be targeted to them.  I want to add value to it for the benefit of people who NEED it, people whose lives it has changed (such as myself, and AlexaM, and Matt Cavotta, and hundreds of others, as opposed to millions of bored teenagers with allowance money to burn which are more interesting to the company).

What I definitely would not do, for any reason, is allow this column to go unwritten for even a single week.  Nothing short of being smeared into paste by a tractor-trailer truck would stop me from continuing to feed and grow the saga of Dominaria, until it seemed a more real place than the far side of the Earth.  I have always believed that the quality of a product is its absolute value, and that nothing else matters but doing the absolute best job imaginable, even if you kill yourself in the process.  A creation crafted with enough love and pride is a thing of legend; it can outlive nations, like the Pyramids or the legend of Robin Hood or the concept of a life after death.  Humanity deserves nothing less.
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
willpell, you're the most obnoxious person ever (also hahaha tie-in storyline to a card game = the epic of gilgamesh). Love, everyone.
No doubt the Romans regarded Jesus as obnoxious, or the Klansmen of the early 60s did Martin Luther King.  Innovators and reformers must always be willing to bloody the nose of the villains who profit from the current quagmire.  The evil of our society is small-minded capitalism, and I will not apologize for speaking bluntly in condemnation of it.
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
No doubt the Romans regarded Jesus as obnoxious, or the Klansmen of the early 60s did Martin Luther King.  Innovators and reformers must always be willing to bloody the nose of the villains who profit from the current quagmire.  The evil of our society is small-minded capitalism, and I will not apologize for speaking bluntly in condemnation of it.



Drawing parallels between yourself and two legendary men that perished at a young age for their beliefs is not only insulting in its condescension
 - it's borderline megalomanic.  Wizards would be out of their gourd to give you a weekly column, and even then it would likely be called "Illusions of Grandeur" and would be an object lesson in effete ranting.  

Anyway: thanks for the good run Doug, and we'll all look forward to seeing more great things from you from behind the scenes.   

 
willpell might have some... issues (no offense dude), but it doesn't mean he's wrong.   MTG does get boring after 3 or 4 years if there's not some flavor to keep you (me) coming back.  (I've been playing for 9 years.)   I know the fantasy/flavor part can't be the main focus, and WOTC has to make some money....   But they have such a rich flavor history that can be used to keep the hooks in new players (once they've landed them with Xbox or whatever gimic).   Take, for instance, the big planeswalker poster from last summer.  Sure, all those dudes look cool.  But when you know some story and history about each of them, it draws you in so much more.   It keeps me coming back for more and spending more.  It allows me to explain to new players, or parents of my HS students that no, this isn't just a card game, it's a fantasy universe (multi-verse).  It's as much a part of my reality as Star Wars, LOTR, or Star Trek. 
And yeah, I know some of you don't care at all about the fantasy aspect of the game, but some of us do.
They drive sales by reducing the quality of their product so that it may be sold to the lowest common denominator.

How do you figure? They're not reducing the quality of the game at all; they're just designing for a different game today than they were in the past: Limited, while still giving Constructed players cool stuff, just typically at higher rarities.

Wizards is only interested in paying the bills and earning a profit for Hasbro, a typical example of the small-minded, short-term thinking that powers capitalism, and exactly why capitalism is completely inviable in the grand scheme of things.

Wizards of the Coast is interested in making money, which is required to keep the game alive. If they stop making a profit, the game disappears, and then all that flavor you love so much ceases to exist as well. If what Wizards wanted to do was tell a story, they'd be writing novels or making movies. Instead, they're making a game, and that means that first and foremost in their minds is making sure that the game plays well, and makes money; flavor is a tertiary goal to those two, though they are all interlinked.

Wotco wants to make sure people keep buying and playing Magic for the next ten years.  I want to make sure people keep telling the story of how Karn the silver golem surpassed his creator Urza's intentions and became the first artificial planeswalker, for the next ten thousand years, because it is (or at least could be) that good of a story.

Wizards wants to make sure that the game continues to exist (and thus be able to tell stories) indefinitely. Sure, the stories might not be as polished as those told by an author of novels, or a filmmaker, but that's because the platform they use to tell them isn't designed to tell stories. The fact that they manage to tell the stories they do tell at all is impressive.

If you owned the copyright on Beowulf or the Epic of Gilgamesh and went about dumbing it down so you could sell cheaply-made commemorative paintings of the characters to people who will grow up and forget about them, you would be doing much the same as Wizards is doing today.  The products are dust on the winds of history; the ideas that they contain can change civilization forever, and the best way to make that happen is to treat them with all the reverence of a religion's holy text or a culture's epic sagas.

You can't compare a one-and-done medium like novels to a continuing medium like a trading card game. Once the novel's done, you no longer have to worry about continuing to turn a profit lest you then lose the story that novel told.

The canon of Magic's multiverse, and the concept of the color pie which underpins it, is a mythological treasure which is not being treated with a tenth of the reverence it deserves.

It is treated with exactly the reverence it deserves. The flavor is just one part of the whole; if you focus exclusively on the flavor, ignoring the gameplay and the marketing, then the whole thing collapses.

If by some miracle I obtained a free hand to write for Wizards, I would entirely ignore its status as a business, and write tales of flavor that would make the multiverse come alive for the people who truly need it to do so.

Which is exactly what Savor the Flavor did. I don't recall seeing Doug Beyer continuously ramble on about "The relative value of this card as compared to other means of entertainment of similar price is much higher, so you should buy more cards" or any such marketing talk. No, he, and those who guest wrote, gave us things like "The flavor of combat is this!" and the Planeswalker's Guides which built a rich world, or the short stories that focused on characters who would never even appear in the card game, like the young woman in cathar training. How is any of that not writing tales of flavor that make the multiverse come alive?
Doug did a great job, and he deserves to be praised, not attacked moments after announcing what was probably the hardest decision he's had to make in a long while.

As I alluded to before, people who play Magic because it's a fun game will eventually grow out of it; it isn't important enough to them, and so I don't think it should be targeted to them.  I want to add value to it for the benefit of people who NEED it, people whose lives it has changed (such as myself, and AlexaM, and Matt Cavotta, and hundreds of others, as opposed to millions of bored teenagers with allowance money to burn which are more interesting to the company).

Hey, more power to you if you want to take the burden of all the money that those millions of bored teenagers spent on Magic all upon yourself.

What I definitely would not do, for any reason, is allow this column to go unwritten for even a single week.  Nothing short of being smeared into paste by a tractor-trailer truck would stop me from continuing to feed and grow the saga of Dominaria, until it seemed a more real place than the far side of the Earth.  I have always believed that the quality of a product is its absolute value, and that nothing else matters but doing the absolute best job imaginable, even if you kill yourself in the process.  A creation crafted with enough love and pride is a thing of legend; it can outlive nations, like the Pyramids or the legend of Robin Hood or the concept of a life after death.  Humanity deserves nothing less.

I don't know if this is an attack on Doug Beyer, or on Wizards of the Coast. It sounds like you're attacking Doug Beyer for thinking that working on actually crafting the flavor of the game is more important than a weekly column, but that contradicts your entire point about wanting the game's flavor to be made as good as it can possibly be. Doug knows that the game's flavor would suffer as long as he continued to take effort away from maximizing it, so he stepped down. I have to laud him for that, as it can't have been easy to give up on something into which he's poured so much time and effort over the years.
If you're attacking Wizards of the Coast, then you need to realize that they didn't have a choice. Doug stepped down, and there was no one set to take his place. It's not like they sat down and said "You know what, let's just dump that flavor column, because it's not pulling its weight." If they had any way to keep the column going, they would do so immediately.

TL;DR: Willpell, if you had your way, the game would die and then nobody would be happy.
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c6f9e416e5e0e1f0a1e5c42b0c7b3e88.jpg?v=90000)
willpell, I hope someday you grow enough to look back and realize just how ridiculous you were.
No doubt the Romans regarded Jesus as obnoxious, or the Klansmen of the early 60s did Martin Luther King.  Innovators and reformers must always be willing to bloody the nose of the villains who profit from the current quagmire.  The evil of our society is small-minded capitalism, and I will not apologize for speaking bluntly in condemnation of it.

You are comparing your little crusade against the ~lowest common denominator~ to Jesus Christ and Martin Luther King. Just in case you didn't realize how absolutely deluded you sound.
... yeah.

Anyway, Doug, thank you for writing a great column!  You did a fantastic job, and we appreciated it. 

 

Goblin Artisans
a Magic: the Gathering design blog
TL;DR: Willpell, if you had your way, the game would die and then nobody would be happy.


I don't think so.

If everyone involved with Magic in any official capacity were to suddenly disappear, and there was nobody left who could claim ownership of Magic (and hence prevent it from being produced), I believe that Magic would continue to exist in some form.  There are plenty of people who design sets in their spare time for fun, so people could continue to produce the game, at least online, at essentially zero cost.  Would they do as good a job as the professionals that Wizards has?  Not if the professionals are trying to design the best game possible, but it has been made abundantly clear that they aren't.  Mediocre designers trying to make a great game might very well do as well as, or better than, great designers trying to make a mediocre game.
willpell might have some... issues (no offense dude)



None taken; it's completely true.  I just don't think it means I'm wrong.  AFAIC, our entire society has issues, mine are just less popular than those of the dominant majority, and at the very least exchanging a new and disturbed person for an old, entrenched council of disturbed persons offers the possibility of improvement.

I know the fantasy/flavor part can't be the main focus



Why not?  That's the only part that's unique to Magic.  Anybody who enjoys only the mechanical aspects could find other ways of challenging their brain and proving their skill; Magic should stop fighting for control of persons who are undecided and focus on providing for their most loyal devotees, the ones for whom there is absolutely no possible alternative (other than a thinly disguised ripoff such as the ones I've attempted to design in my spare time).
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
"This" at everything GoblinRecruiter said just above my prior post.  Also the following.

How do you figure? They're not reducing the quality of the game at all; they're just designing for a different game today than they were in the past: Limited, while still giving Constructed players cool stuff, just typically at higher rarities.



Doing this makes the cool stuff nigh-impossible to afford, starving players who want better than vanilla Limited jank without having to break their budget.  Also there are things like cards whose flavor text is a bad joke or a line of trash-talk (see the Fact or Fiction in Jace vs. Chandra for a particularly egregious example), designed to appeal to jock mentality and shattering the metaphor that the serious fantasy consumer wishes to completely immerse themself in.  To say nothing of the vast amount of wasted potential inherent in providing art and flavor text for cards like Lagac Lizard which could exist on any plane, and thus providing less detail specific to the particular plane of the set, which won't be seen again for years if ever.

Wizards of the Coast is interested in making money, which is required to keep the game alive. If they stop making a profit, the game disappears, and then all that flavor you love so much ceases to exist as well.



They could operate on a donation basis, a la Kickstarter, instead of maintaining an ironclad release schedule.

The fact that they manage to tell the stories they do tell at all is impressive.



That much I'll agree with.

You can't compare a one-and-done medium like novels to a continuing medium like a trading card game. Once the novel's done, you no longer have to worry about continuing to turn a profit lest you then lose the story that novel told.



Nor does Magic for that matter.  If JRR Tolkien had dropped dead before publishing the Two Towers, there would still have been fans obsessing over the Fellowship of the Ring.  If Magic had closed its doors after M12 went out, Innistrad would never have happened, but every other plane would still resonate in the hearts of fans for the rest of their lives, and crop up among seekers of antique lore now and again even a century later, the way forgotten classics of the 1900s still manage to find a handful of fans.  This is far better than the mass-market model of disposable product which intentionally obsoletes itself in order to capture a fickle audience.

It is treated with exactly the reverence it deserves. The flavor is just one part of the whole; if you focus exclusively on the flavor, ignoring the gameplay and the marketing, then the whole thing collapses.



I don't advocate ignoring the gameplay entirely, just approaching it with a few different priorities.  But marketing is the process of manipulating people's opinions en masse by treating them as if they were nothing but data points on a graph.  It SHOULD be ignored - if not outlawed - by the entirety of society.  It is an intolerable insult to the entire human spirit and concept of individuality.

Which is exactly what Savor the Flavor did.



And will not do for several weeks, because it's clearly not Wizards' highest priority.

I don't recall seeing Doug Beyer continuously ramble on about "The relative value of this card as compared to other means of entertainment of similar price is much higher, so you should buy more cards" or any such marketing talk.



He's done plenty of salesmanship; consider his nonstop pimping of the Alara Unbroken novel even after fans had already read it and pointed out that it wasn't very good.  He didn't say something like "I had to write it in two months so yeah it's a little rush, but hey check it out anyway", he just pushed the same old tired The Company Does No Wrong line.  I cannot stress enough how evil and wrong that attitude is, and how absolutely vital it is that society revolt en masse against it.  If one person refuses to take that nonsense from their boss any more, they lose their job.  If fifty million do, society changes.  This is the only reason I bother to rant at all, instead of just being discontented and antisocial; I am a hopelessly naive idealist and I keep thinking that if I blurt out enough utopianism, I might actually change a few minds and make some slight progress toward things actually getting better someday.

I don't know if this is an attack on Doug Beyer, or on Wizards of the Coast.



Not an attack, a criticism.  An assassin and a surgeon both come at you with a knife, but their intentions for cutting into you are very different.  And yes I criticize Doug Beyer, because at best he didn't always deliver a quality performance.  Sometimes he did good work, but more often he bumbled his way through things like that article about darksteel where he didn't even know the pre-established canonical answer to the question which was the entire point of his writing that week.  I'd rather he'd just admitted he didn't know, but instead he had to expose the fact that he couldn't be bothered to find out.  He deserves to be slammed for a goof like that, just as he deserves to be praised for his better answers (for example saying that the non-Flamekin creatures of Lorwyn with the Elemental type were "dream elementals", hence their distinctly non-elementish appearance - they were made of symbolism so they looked like symbols, that's genius, but too few of his articles managed such quality).

If they had any way to keep the column going, they would do so immediately.



They have such a way.  I would write next weeks StF for them, for free (and devoid of ranting against company policy, because that would be off-topic and would deprive my article of quality).  All they have to do is ask and it shall be done.  But they're going to follow corporate procedure instead, and not let anyone speak for them whom they can't control by withholding a paycheck if they refuse.
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
You truly wrote a Guide to the Multiverse in your articles, Doug. Don't forget your towel on your way out, I wish you both peace of mind and success on whatever endeavors you decide to participate from now on.

Now, it's time to find us a new writer, because we can't afford to lose this column. 
MTG does get boring after 3 or 4 years if there's not some flavor to keep you (me) coming back.

I dunno.
I've been playing this game for about eighteen years, and it's the "isn't the flavor AWESOME?!!!" sets (Homelands, Mercadian, Lorwyn, Kamigawa, and pretty much the entire Zendikar/Mirrodin2/Innistrad run) that make me seriously consider wandering off.

I suspect this is because they use "OMFG NINJAS!" or "OMFG CLIVE BARKER!!!" to thinly disguise sets full of mostly awful cards with a tiny peppering of Fetchlands or somesuch (or something so far above the pile that they end up banning it in about fifteen months after pretending to agonize about possibly banning it for about six months).

They got it "right" roughly twice: Tempest and Ravnica (likely also Invasion).  Those were narratively robust, and had good enough cards to make the obligatory guy at the shop who gushed about the soap-opera bits mostly tolerable while shadowmen or very-efficient golds were screaming at me to kick some tired cards out of old decks.
Now, it's time to find us a new writer, because we can't afford to lose this column. 



My contention exactly, and thus I say it again:  I will write this column for FREE in my spare time if Wizards will let me, until they have anyone they'd rather see doing the job.  I may be a fanatic, but I am offering to be a fanatic who speaks glowingly and voluminously FOR the things he loves, instead of against the things he hates.  If they can get past the "omg he doesn't love the company, think of the message it would send to give him what he wants" factor and just go "he's better than nothing, why not let him try while we keep looking", I believe they would not regret it.

Would they do as good a job as the professionals that Wizards has?  Not if the professionals are trying to design the best game possible, but it has been made abundantly clear that they aren't.  Mediocre designers trying to make a great game might very well do as well as, or better than, great designers trying to make a mediocre game.



I just want to "this" this one more time.

Qmark:  I don't think it's fair to say that Zendikar and New Phyrexia are "OMG Flavor" sets, when the company's default policy has shifted to "OMG Flavor" (as IMO it should).  Innistrad still counts because it is intentionally even more flavor-focused than that, but if flavor was all that had mattered in Zendikar they would have stuck with Mark's original land-matters plan instead of going for the Adventure World angle to try and build hype - that theme was very mechanical and makes no flavor sense (seriously, can you possibly imagine how anyone lives through a week on a world with so many dangers and so little stability, let alone how they start an "adventuring industry" to look for magic treasures instead of, y'know, not dying?).  And Mirrodin was weak because they were being extremely cautious to not duplicate Ravager Affinity, but I wouldn't say flavor was the entire point; it's hardly fair to judge it too harshly being that we know they switched gears on their intention (to make an entire block of New Phyrexia) halfway through the design process.  This is a matter of public record.  Ditto for Mercadian, actually; if that set even had a "point", it wasn't "awesome flavor" (it isn't even close to being that, and I don't believe it was intended to be), but rather "be extremely careful not to break the game even a little tiny bit more since you spent the entirety of last year breaking it completely".  We're lucky we got a set at all following Urza Block; expecting it to have done anything better than lay groundwork for Invasion to be awesome is demanding a lot.
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
We're lucky we got a set at all following Urza Block; expecting it to have done anything better than lay groundwork for Invasion to be awesome is demanding a lot.

Strange how we've never even seen any mention of the block that was supposed to follow Urza's before they panicked and squirted out Masques.

But really, though, when Wizards ships a knowingly weak block, the mothership always plays up the flavor just a bit too much - even when that flavor is mediocre.
Doing this makes the cool stuff nigh-impossible to afford, starving players who want better than vanilla Limited jank without having to break their budget.  Also there are things like cards whose flavor text is a bad joke or a line of trash-talk (see the Fact or Fiction in Jace vs. Chandra for a particularly egregious example), designed to appeal to jock mentality and shattering the metaphor that the serious fantasy consumer wishes to completely immerse themself in.  To say nothing of the vast amount of wasted potential inherent in providing art and flavor text for cards like Lagac Lizard which could exist on any plane, and thus providing less detail specific to the particular plane of the set, which won't be seen again for years if ever.

I don't disagree with this. The game is certainly less appealing to me ever since they shifted to designing for Limited. However, my point was that it's not fair to say they're reducing the quality of the product. What they're doing now is just different, it's not better or worse; it just appeals to different types of players, not necessarily the "lowest common denominator".

They could operate on a donation basis, a la Kickstarter, instead of maintaining an ironclad release schedule.

Why should they have to, though, when it's easier and better to just market their product and make money off of it?

Nor does Magic for that matter.  If JRR Tolkien had dropped dead before publishing the Two Towers, there would still have been fans obsessing over the Fellowship of the Ring.  If Magic had closed its doors after M12 went out, Innistrad would never have happened, but every other plane would still resonate in the hearts of fans for the rest of their lives, and crop up among seekers of antique lore now and again even a century later, the way forgotten classics of the 1900s still manage to find a handful of fans.  This is far better than the mass-market model of disposable product which intentionally obsoletes itself in order to capture a fickle audience.

Fair enough. Especially with the "one year, one plane" mentality, your point is very accurate. Nonetheless, I'd rather Magic continue to stick around to tell stories than for it to end and to have to rely on the already-finished ones.

I don't advocate ignoring the gameplay entirely, just approaching it with a few different priorities.  But marketing is the process of manipulating people's opinions en masse by treating them as if they were nothing but data points on a graph.  It SHOULD be ignored - if not outlawed - by the entirety of society.  It is an intolerable insult to the entire human spirit and concept of individuality.

Marketing can be used for good, though, and I feel that the way Magic is marketed is one such example. As a game, it requires at least two people for anyone to enjoy it, so by reaching as large of an audience as possible, there's a greater change that you'll be able to play it. Furthermore, the more people who buy their product, the more money they make and the higher quality of work they can produce in the next iteration.

Not an attack, a criticism.  An assassin and a surgeon both come at you with a knife, but their intentions for cutting into you are very different.  And yes I criticize Doug Beyer, because at best he didn't always deliver a quality performance.  Sometimes he did good work, but more often he bumbled his way through things like that article about darksteel where he didn't even know the pre-established canonical answer to the question which was the entire point of his writing that week.  I'd rather he'd just admitted he didn't know, but instead he had to expose the fact that he couldn't be bothered to find out.  He deserves to be slammed for a goof like that, just as he deserves to be praised for his better answers (for example saying that the non-Flamekin creatures of Lorwyn with the Elemental type were "dream elementals", hence their distinctly non-elementish appearance - they were made of symbolism so they looked like symbols, that's genius, but too few of his articles managed such quality).

For me, Doug's articles hit far more often than they missed, so I consider him as having been a success. Furthermore, I think the timing of your criticism was mildly inappropriate. Doug is stepping down from a job he loved, and the decision to do so can't have been easy. I think it's a little insensitive to, that very day, then tell him that he didn't care enough, that you'd do better, and all the other things you said. Additionally, he's making this decision not because he doesn't care, but because he does care; he's leaving the column so that he can focus more on making Magic's flavor as great as possible.

They have such a way.  I would write next weeks StF for them, for free (and devoid of ranting against company policy, because that would be off-topic and would deprive my article of quality).  All they have to do is ask and it shall be done.  But they're going to follow corporate procedure instead, and not let anyone speak for them whom they can't control by withholding a paycheck if they refuse.

I'm not sure if it would even be possible for them to hire you for free; I'm sure there would be legal issues. Also, the position requires an insider, someone who was on the Creative Team for the sets being discussed, who knows all the flavor decisions made behind the scenes so that they can then share those decisions with the audience. I'm sure you'd be good for writing short stories set in their worlds, or analyzing the flavor of various colors, but that's not the only purpose of this column. Finally, since the article is on the official website, anything written in it is canon. To protect their IP, they would certainly need control over what is written here.
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