Dragon's Eye View: Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum

Giants . . .

Are they really something more than a tall human? Well, in the world of D&D, they sure are. James brought up a lot to chew on in his article about the giants. Whether or not you agree with everything he wrote, I’m going to be using a lot of his discussion as a basis for today’s game.


Game? Yep, we’re going to be playing a game again. Due to the newer formats of my articles, I’ve enjoyed getting more interesting and varied information in richer conversations. So today, we’re going to play!
 

Dragon's Eye View: Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum

Discuss this article here.   

All around helpful simian

I went with: Storm Giant B,  Cloud Giant A, Fire Giant D, Frost Giant C, Stone Giant F and Hill Giant E

[sblock]

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

Whichever one is the Cloud Giant - by process of elimination and the fact that it's the only one besides the stone giant with jewelry, I'm assuming it's A - it doesn't look cultured or sophisticated enough. I mean, the guy is barefoot, which reads as uncultured and unsophisticated, and his front-skirt thing there has a ragged edge. He's also wearing pauper-pants, and while I know that Cloud Giants aren't supposed to be all that smart, his face is a little more "grind your bones to make my bread" than "enjoy gourmet food and sophisticated music". I'm not saying he should look red-carpet ready - he's still a giant - but I don't think the visuals reflect the angle for Cloud Giants quite enough. The other giants look great, I just think the cloud giant should look a little more cultured and refined.

While it's hard to see at the scale, it might be kind of neat if cloud giants repurposed treasures made by ordinarily-sized mortals for their own uses - they might wear bracelets as rings or earrings and crowns as bracelets.
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
Why is this even being posted? The same giants they have been using for the last two editions. 2nd edition was almost there but a little more crude.

The cloud giant definitely looks like he got run over by the turnip truck with his unibrow and mouth agape. Are his front teeth missing? Maybe he is a meth head? Hard to tell with tiny pictures. He's got civilian clothes on, not armor, so I suppose that is stupid's idea of sophistimacated.

These guys are almost as codified as the chromatic dragons. What's the point? 
I got the same results as Plaguescarred but nothing really struck me for Cloud giants so I actually put none of the above for that one (I mean, they have a good sense of smell but I wasn't going to pick A just because he had the biggest nose. Where's the fine silk and jewelry? I guess the cloak...).


I'll be honest though, I don't use giants that often. Not sure why, my campaign's just rarely call for them. 

I picked None of the Above for Stone Giant and was very tempted to do the same for Cloud Giants.

The rest are fairly self explanatory. As for "removing the visual cues"... Well Giant A looks like he's standing on fluffy stuff, Giant B is holding a sword that looks like a lightning bolt, Giant D's hair looks like flames and Giant F is standing on a big rock. While I see the importance in providing hints, I thought the purpose of these articles was to define the aesthetic and "cultural" elements that define what each monster is supposed to possess. It's pretty self defeating to just paint Cloud Giants standing on clouds all the time to show you that they are cloud giants. That was the only reason why I picked A for Cloud Giant, rather than anything else. They should look haughty and regal, not like they are in need of having their eyebrow surgically seperated and have run face first into the wall of their mountain castles a few times.

Love the look of Giant B but does anyone feel like the proportions are off? Like, lower body way too short? Anyway, he reminds me of this pair of statues in Dresden quite a lot.

Love C, D and E with nothing to add apart from keep up the good work. Maybe Giant D could lose a few (hundred?) pounds. He looks like someone tried to squeeze Giant E into some heavy armor.

If Giant F is supposed to be the Stone Giant, he does not look nearly rocky enough IMHO.

Leg proportions seem to be an issue, although fire giants have always been quite stocky.  It's odd how they seem to be monkeying with height for no good reason.  Admittedly, height was always arbitrary but I've never really moved on from hill 12, stone 14, fire 16, frost 20, cloud 22, storm 24, titan 30.
The proportions are a thing, but I'm not sure if they're canonical or simply an art style issue.  On the one hand I believe we're supposed to ignore art style factors - but the line is really blurry when it comes to fantasy creatures.

If he wants us to look at a human dressed in a particular way and say "Is that human wizard?" I can easily ignore the giant bulging torso and tiny legs. (well not easily, but I can be objective about them and judge only the clothing aspect)  But if I'm looking at a giant or something...then how do I know what's anatomy and what's stylistic skew?

I understand not trying to force artists to draw in the "house style" when they're just working on basic concept art stuff, but it would be so much easier to evaluate if the art had a more naturalistic style.

What if he displayed a human drawn by the same artist as a reference? :P Semi-seriously... that would really help.
Why is this even being posted? The same giants they have been using for the last two editions. 2nd edition was almost there but a little more crude.

The cloud giant definitely looks like he got run over by the turnip truck with his unibrow and mouth agape. Are his front teeth missing? Maybe he is a meth head? Hard to tell with tiny pictures. He's got civilian clothes on, not armor, so I suppose that is stupid's idea of sophistimacated.

These guys are almost as codified as the chromatic dragons. What's the point? 



The cloud giant has fangs:

recedingrules.blogspot.com/2011/12/disco...

Maybe this is why I found the test really obvious... when I was kid we used to play 2nd edition using a 1e monster manual (because that's what we had available to us)

Also, having fangs doesn't proclude being cultured - don't be fangist.
I only see a frost giant and a hill giant. And that is ONLY because one has viking horns and the other is half naked.

Otherwise they look like the wrong cultures.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

These were all pretty easy if you had an old mm.  I think I liked the storm giant the least.  Also, I amnot overly concerned with giants.  Now when the get to the umber hulk...then I will be very curious to see what they come up with
The ratios of torso to legs is out of whack on Storm, Fire and Hill giant. Cloud giant looks too neanderthal. Storm looks like an old man looking for a newspaper and a toilet.
To me, A looks like nothing.  But I've never cared much for the cloud and storm giants so I rarely branch out from Frost/Fire/Hill/Stone.

The rest basically look like cleaned-up versions of the 4e MM depiction.
I chose 'None of the Above' for all of them.  Even the Hill Giant, while obviously meant to be the Hill Giant, could've been a neanderthal or something else simple and dirty.  There was nothing in those sketches that said to me, 'These, are Giants!'.  I'm pretty disappointed by this.  

Given the information provided in the Wandering Monsters article, I would've at least expected them to share features that identified them as all belonging to the same Hiearchy or something that tied them all together.  After all, if Storm Giants are supposed to be at the top, and Cloud Giants envy that status, there should be a common link there.  I'm not saying they need to share the same culture, but there ought to be Something tieing the giant races together other than "I'm Really Tall".  

Even Hill Giants, lowly simple-minded brute that they are, should have some kind of link to the rest of the race.
Really can't say I like any of the concept drawings.

A. Cloud Giant - Doesn't really look very cultured or refined, though I'd have to say he does look more so than the other giants.

B. Storm Giant - I am perhaps happiest with this rendering.  I would expect him to look more powerful physically, and to have more visual clues that say "magical."  Get rid of the long torso, stubby leg look.

C. Frost Giant - Not bad, but not fierce enough either.  Looks a little anemic.

D. Fire Giant - Wrong in so many ways.  This concept is a caricature.  Get rid of the stubby legs.  Give these guys normal proportions.  The sword is ridiculous, as is the armor.

E. Hill Giant - These guys build lodges and steadings?  This guy looks like wiping his arse is too much for him to handle.  Needs to go away from savage, mindless brute a bit more in the direction of stupid, but cunning.

F. Stone Giant - Also not bad, but less brutish in the face.  Stone giants have been lanky since 1st Edition AD&D so I don't have a problem with that.

I am also not a fan of the sizes listed.  I prefer the traditional size progression from smallest to largest of Hill Giant --> Stone Giant --> Frost Giant --> Fire Giant --> Cloud Giant --> Storm Giant.

Think you guys really missed the mark with this one.

Kalex the Omen 
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Yeah, not a great showing this time around.  Proportions are awful, I recognized the types mostly by their established visual cues (frost giant's the Viking one, fire giant's the stocky black one, stone giant's the bald one) followed by process of elimination, and the cloud giant looks like nothing so much as a half-orc hipster.

Moving on to a broader complaint, I've never liked the "scaled-up dwarven proportions" look for fire giants.  It makes them look short.  Giants are supposed to tower over mortal men, and to do that, their proportions should be elongated upward, if anything.  This is especially true because frost giants have basically human proportions, and I've always felt that fire and frost giants should be mirror images of each other.
Oh, and - you know how Wyatt wrote that fire giants evaluate gear by its practical utility?  Practical swords have points.
I recognized the types mostly by their established visual cues (frost giant's the Viking one, fire giant's the stocky black one, stone giant's the bald one) followed by process of elimination, and the cloud giant looks like nothing so much as a half-orc hipster.



I did the same thing, but didn't really need to guess.  The Cloud giant is weilding the iconic tetsubo from the AD&D MM picture.  The only one really a question for me was the Storm giant, but since I could guess all the rest he was obviously the remaining one.  I think they went a little away from established lore for the Storm giant, but I'm not too worried about that.

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

OSR Fan? Our Big Announcement™ is here!

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Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

A. This closely resembles the old cloud giant from AD&D, but if cloud giants are "cultured and refined" then why is he barefoot and holding a big club?  And is it just me or does it look like he has fangs?  I'm not a fan of his uni-brow either.

B. This doesn't look like a storm giant to me, but it's the closest one.  I think a storm giant should look clearly magical and "stormy" with electrical energy crackling around him and a lightning-infused weapon (or simply wielding a lightning bolt).

C. The frost giant is by far the best one in my opinion, but he would benefit from looking fiercer.

D. I like the feel of this fire giant, but his weapon seems wrong.  I'd rather see him with a hammer or an axe... and bigger feet.

E. This hill giant looks like a big ball of dumb fat with oddly thin legs.  I think he should look more simple-minded rather than stupid; I'd like a combination of the depictions from AD&D, 3e, and 4e.

F. The stone giant looks pretty good, although his head seems too small and his skin would look better if it were stonier.
For Comparison


Next
 

1e AD&D



2e AD&D



3e D&D



More to come... 

Kalex the Omen 
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OSR Fan? Our Big Announcement™ is here!

Please join our forums!

Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

Really can't say I like any of the concept drawings.

A. Cloud Giant - Doesn't really look very cultured or refined, though I'd have to say he does look more so than the other giants.

B. Storm Giant - I am perhaps happiest with this rendering.  I would expect him to look more powerful physically, and to have more visual clues that say "magical."  Get rid of the long torso, stubby leg look.

C. Frost Giant - Not bad, but not fierce enough either.  Looks a little anemic.

D. Fire Giant - Wrong in so many ways.  This concept is a caricature.  Get rid of the stubby legs.  Give these guys normal proportions.  The sword is ridiculous, as is the armor.

E. Hill Giant - These guys build lodges and steadings?  This guy looks like wiping his arse is too much for him to handle.  Needs to go away from savage, mindless brute a bit more in the direction of stupid, but cunning.

F. Stone Giant - Also not bad, but less brutish in the face.  Stone giants have been lanky since 1st Edition AD&D so I don't have a problem with that.

I am also not a fan of the sizes listed.  I prefer the traditional size progression from smallest to largest of Hill Giant --> Stone Giant --> Frost Giant --> Fire Giant --> Cloud Giant --> Storm Giant.

Think you guys really missed the mark with this one.



I totally agree with you.    I also prefer the traditional size progression that you listed.   


I like that the Size averages are closer together for the Giant races.  I'd prefer it if Storm Giants were the tallest on average, with Cloud through Stone equal, and then Hill Gians at the bottom.  Truly, I'd wish for the removal of Cloud giants altogether, but I doubt that's going to happen.  Otherwise, I'd prefer Storm at the top while the four others are equal to represent a balance in elements, with Hill giants the closest to 'Mortal' in nature.
I am not really sure who is storm or cloud giant.

C frost

D fire

E hill

F stone

 

"Say me what you're showing off for, and I'll say you what you lack!" (Spanish saying)

 

Book 13 Anaclet 23 Confucius said: "The Superior Man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony"

 

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of." - Confucius 

I chose D for both the Storm and Fire Giant.
I chose none of the above for the frost giant (the guy who looked like a viking had too much clothing on)

I chose A for hill giant and Cloud Giant as well

I really look forward to seeing the poll results! And hopefully a follow up article about said results. 
I agree that it'll very interesting to see how they handle our opinions on this one.
A is an unidentified shamanistic voodoo giant. B is an unidentified roman praetorian giant. C is an unidentified viking giant. D is a fire giant spoiled braggart. E is a friendly hill giant looking for a job on the farm and in need of some leg work outs. F is a stone giant ghoul that might blow over to a stiff breeze.

For me, only one remotely interesting looking is the fire giant D (I realize I'm probably the only one). I might believe D is the son of the fire giant king. He might have killed his older brother to secure his place as his father's right hand commander. He certainly looks villainous, cunning, and overconfident, all qualities that get me excited about building an encounter with fire giants, and that's pretty much what I'm looking for in concept art. Inspiration.

The rest are somewhat bland. A, B, C may have been copied from the pages of an illustrated costume book from the early 80's. E might be from a children's story, the giant and the farmer. F might have some potential as a giant ghoul.

I think for this article, they need to pay more attention to comments, than poll results.
All of their polls are full of false choices and leading questions. They want to use our feedback to get their way with their bosses.

Pointy-Haired Boss: "Show me numbers! Me like numbers! Ideas make me head hurt!"

I don't think they honestly care about our opinions through these polls. Only by consult the comments would they be showing any interest in our actual opinions.


The sword is ridiculous, as is the armor.




I'll agree with you about the sword being ridiculous, but the armour?  Seriously, as fantasy armour goes, that's not so bad at all.


If you have to resort to making offensive comments instead of making logical arguments, you deserve to be ignored.



The sword is ridiculous, as is the armor.




I'll agree with you about the sword being ridiculous, but the armour?  Seriously, as fantasy armour goes, that's not so bad at all.





It's basically gothic plate armor... 15th century style plate.  DnD is stuffed with anachronisms, but a fire gaint in 15th century armor looks incredibly odd to me. (for reference this is post firearm, post battlefield artillery tech level armor)


@Quidhalla:
I kind of agree, the previous poll I wanted to make a post to complain about the wording - but at the time I couldn't remember my password. :P

Polls can useful information sources in theory, but leading wording and non-definitive answer choices make them useless and potentially misleading.

Of course in this case it's just kind of pointless - we should have had a few alternate choices here.  A matching game doesn't really provide any feedback.

------

I think we need clarification on the art style issue.  I think Jon may have addressed this a little at a convention talk, but we need clarification that we can easily refer back to.  The tiny little legs are very distracting.  Maybe he should consider adding a note on any picture that displays abnormal proportions clarfying whether those proportions are stylistic or not?
I think they are getting feedback fatigue. They don't know what to do with the flood of opinions and they are realizing that when you design by committee, it's like giving Homer Simpson carte blanche to design his ultimate automobile.

"Powerful like a gorilla, yet soft and yielding like a Nerf ball."
-Homer Simpson 
There's really only one giant the Fire Giant can be (he even has blackened skin).

The Storm Giant is pretty obvious given one of them has a lightning bolt sword.

The Stone Giant is the only one not wearing clothes.

The Hill Giant is also obvious as it's the extremely fat one.


Then there's only one other giant that the Frost Giant can be.

Which leaves one remaining Giant as the one for the Cloud Giant.

Now this isn't because they're particularly good pictures. They're not. They're pretty awful actually except for the Hill Giant. You might as well just color code them.

"Fire giant is red."
Regarding the 1e Cloud Giant, Im unsure of its exact folklore inspiration, but given the Asian iconography, its tusks are probably elephant tusks.

Elephant tusks can make a giant quite easy to recognize!
Regarding the 1e Cloud Giant, Im unsure of its exact folklore inspiration, but given the Asian iconography, its tusks are probably elephant tusks.

Elephant tusks can make a giant quite easy to recognize!

It seems to be the "jack and the beanstalk" giant; it hordes treasures (including harps), lives in the clouds, and has a keen sense of smell to detect intruders - a set of properties that basically makes it exactly like the giant in the story.

Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
Regarding the 1e Cloud Giant, Im unsure of its exact folklore inspiration, but given the Asian iconography, its tusks are probably elephant tusks.

Elephant tusks can make a giant quite easy to recognize!

It seems to be the "jack and the beanstalk" giant; it hordes treasures (including harps), lives in the clouds, and has a keen sense of smell to detect intruders - a set of properties that basically makes it exactly like the giant in the story.



Good call on Jack and the Beanstalk!

But now the Asian-esque iconography is even more of a mystery.  
Lesp & Haldrik,

I think you're both right. I thought it looked like an Asian style, but I never considered the Jack angle. Now it all makes sense.
They had a Nordic and Mediterranean giant and were looking for another very different style to set the cloud giant apart. Bag of random produces, Asian features.
LOL! Im beginning to think Gygax was never actually “inspired” by world folkbeliefs. Rather, he just cut up the stories from around world, with scissors, jumbled them altogether, and used dice to see which pieces ended up together. So he randomly frankensteined these monsters together.
It's basically gothic plate armor... 15th century style plate.  DnD is stuffed with anachronisms, but a fire gaint in 15th century armor looks incredibly odd to me. (for reference this is post firearm, post battlefield artillery tech level armor)

But it's practical and expertly made, from a sophisticated craftsman culture, right?

I understand that the anachronism looks strange to you.  Personally, I pick up on it but don't find it strange, in the context of the anachronism free-for-all that D&D is and has always been.  And both of us have to remember that the majority of consumers are not quite up on the finer points of period armor identification.  The pop expectation for what plate armor looks like is fixed somewhere in the 15th Century.  (Cf. Excalibur.)  Insisting that D&D art have a consistently Early or High Middle Ages material culture just isn't feasible.  It leaves out too much stuff that, even if anachronistic, has to be in D&D.

As I said earlier on this thread, the sword is dumb, and the dwarven proportions look silly, but the armor?  Surtsson there can keep the armor.

(Also, my D&D campaigns often have firearms.)

I think we need clarification on the art style issue.  I think Jon may have addressed this a little at a convention talk, but we need clarification that we can easily refer back to.  The tiny little legs are very distracting.  Maybe he should consider adding a note on any picture that displays abnormal proportions clarfying whether those proportions are stylistic or not?

In the panel talk he did say not to worry about the more cartoonish style in some of the sketches, but you're right - it's still distracting.  I don't think this "disregard the style" note is the right approach to take.  If the art department is showing these sketches to the public, they should reflect, at least in a nascent form, the stylistic direction the department intends to take.  And if they're asking for public feedback, it's perfectly fair for the public to say, "We don't like this style".
Along the lines of leading poll questions and whatnot, to be far it isn't easy to write a poll that doesn't lead someone to the opinion you want to express.  As a matter of fact it is almost impossible to remove bias, most researchers take a lot of classes on these kind of things, and typically in a decent poll, questions will go through more than one person's hands to check questions and remove bias.  Finally any data from polls will have to be very carefully measured and in a University setting should be checked by multiple people for any kind of bias and other errors.

Anyways that is expensive and all I'm really saying is that I'm not really suprised that these polls on the blogs are not great, but for the most part I feel they are fine.  

I would really like to give some feedback about the constant mentioning about alignment in the write ups, because I personally feel that it really tells me less about a monster than  a few short descripteive adjectives.  For instance saying fire giants are cruel but honorable, tells me more than lawful evil, as an example.

I think except for the Frost Giant, none of the other sketches match their relative descriptions. I was capable of identify each giant thanks to my understanding of DnD's visual background, but I thought the point here was to capture an accurate visual representation based on the words given, not on my personal knowledge.


For example, the Stone Giant's description says "Stone giants have thick, rocky skin that protects them as well as armor does, so they tend to dress in little more than a fur draped over a shoulder and around the waist." So why not make it's skin actualy looks like rock? Stone protulsions over the body, or a rock solid body could do the job. Make their hands oversized and sturdy to represent their rock-throwing capabilities, and so on.


Another example, the Cloud Giant says "Good or evil, cloud giants are cultured and refined, collecting fine art and exquisite treasures in their mountaintop or cloud-built castles. They dress in rare silks and wear elaborate jewelry, and they enjoy gourmet food and sophisticated music." Although described as a sophisticated people, the Cloud Giant has a brutish appearance. Indeed, someone said that he looks like a 'hipster half-orc', and I couldn't agree more. If they levitate, why not not make them long-haired and have their hairs and beards resemble clouds or winds? Their jewerly lack elaborate designs and look like naiff art from primitive cultures. Well, from the description text, Cloud Giant's culture don't seem to be primitive. On the contrary, they favor "fine art and exquisite treasures", so make it appear like that.


I'm not a fan of the Fire Giant too. Their armor have a very strong european 15th century style. I think that Fire Giant's armor should look like fire giant armor, not european armor. Wizards art department should work to figure out how fire giant armor would look like. Maybe they could get a tip from their own text: "skill in crafting weapons and armor, with skill measured by the gear’s practical utility, not its aesthetic qualities." Well, the armor seems too polished for a guy that lives near a volcano. That's a start. Their proportions are bad too. With the armor, the fire giant looks like a sturdy, oversized, evil version of Lord Farquaad from the Shrek movie. The face is fine, with the 'flaming' hair thing, the flame tongue head shape and the dark skin representing the fire.  

The Storm Giant suffers from the same proportion problem of the Fire Giant. Also, he doesn't look like the tallest and strongest of all giants, but it's overall appearance is ok.

The Frost Giant saves his cousins in all aspects. Very nice visual representation of the words.




Along the lines of leading poll questions and whatnot, to be far it isn't easy to write a poll that doesn't lead someone to the opinion you want to express.  As a matter of fact it is almost impossible to remove bias, most researchers take a lot of classes on these kind of things, and typically in a decent poll, questions will go through more than one person's hands to check questions and remove bias.  Finally any data from polls will have to be very carefully measured and in a University setting should be checked by multiple people for any kind of bias and other errors.

Anyways that is expensive and all I'm really saying is that I'm not really surprised that these polls on the blogs are not great, but for the most part I feel they are fine.  

I would really like to give some feedback about the constant mentioning about alignment in the write ups, because I personally feel that it really tells me less about a monster than  a few short descriptive adjectives.  For instance saying fire giants are cruel but honorable, tells me more than lawful evil, as an example.



I know it's hard.  I'm not accusing anyone of malfeasance - I'm trying to warn them off of constructing surveys and interpreting the results in a naive manner.










How much do you agree or disagree with the following: I love well-done "in-world" journal style design for my fantasy RPG titles, as long as it still remains readable and usable. 


Love is a poorly chosen word... and displays a substantial bias on Jon's part.  It's a toss up as to how it biases the results of the question really.

On the one hand someone who is in favor of journal style titles might still balk at saying that they "love" them. On the other hand, even if someone "disagrees" it can interpreted that they just don't love them.  You can't actually express a distinctly negative opinion of them within the confines of this question.

The codicil "as long as it still remains readable and usable" pollutes the results results further.  If someone agrees with that sub-statement, they may reply more positively to the question than they would have otherwise. Or vice versa.

Consider these stances and how they evaluate to the question given.
"I don't really care for journals, but I strongly agree that they need to remain readable and usable."
"I love jounals, and I even think some sacrifice of usability is worth it."

In this case I think the first one is probably the more dominant skew.