Editor's Note: Pens, Paper and Pretzels

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If the changes to the layout can allow the Escapist to offer more original content, then it's most likely for the better. Hopefully the issues of distributing the content for every possible reader in as many available mediums as possible will be solved.

I hate to say it, but I have to agree with everyone else here. The magazine style was one of the first things that struck me about this site. The placement of the "Letters to the Editor" at the beginning (and even the fact that it was included at all) made me feel like the community was important here and that it was a place where discussion took place from an intellectual standpoint. The readers seemed to be more than just impressions or clicks, but rather as gamers of equal standing, with opinions worth listening to. With the authors responding personally on the forums, the whole experience was beyond any web community I've seen.

While the letters remain, I feel they have been dropped a rung. I doubt they will get much attention from readers sitting where they are now. The new feature portal is now exactly like every other gaming site out there: a big main screen which enlarges the thumbnails at the bottom, sliding to the right at a fixed interval.

On the plus side, I think moving the featured editorials to a separate spot from the escapist daily makes them more visible, which is how it probably should be. Also, the Articles of Interest is a great idea and I'm sure I'll enjoying reading past that I may have skipped over for whatever reason and forgot to go back to.

Like Tom, the site was "home" for me. I hope that my feelings are just aversion to change, and that soon I'll grow to like the new layout.

At any rate, keep the great articles coming and I'll read them even if they only came in ASCII format.

Blaxton, take that ASCII notion back... they might do it ;-)

In any case, I'm interested in seeing if anyone else using Firefox is getting the articles as white-on-white, jumbles text in the main page an so on.
Also, the performance is abysmal, as any click requires 5-10 seconds to make anything happen (this isn't new- it was the same before the last revamp).

[unrelated rant]
It annoys me to no end that now I'm waiting for pages to load as much as I used to when I had a phone modem. All the good broadband did was offset by making sites heavier and full of animations, pictures and scripts. AARRGH!
[/unrelated rant]

In addition, I may be a 'net Neanderthal, but I do not digg, need tags or use any web 2.0 stuff. While these may be useful, I think having them optionally hidden (or even by default) behind a button or so can reduce clutter.

BTW, It would be nice if the Escapist team would share what its vision for the future is, so that we won't be disappointed by future changes (like we were with moving the focus of the site from the articles to, well, everything else).

Sorry guys, I have been a fan since day one and have ready every inch of every article.

However, I always did it from the PDF version which is now gone.

To me, my my much beloved Escapistmagazine has turned into yet another "me to" gaming news/blog.

Let me know when the PDF version returns and good luck in the future. I hope this move really works out for you.

Steve

I believe those who are posting their dissatisfaction (myself included) are a vocal minority. I don't frequent 1UP, GameSpot or IGN... 99% of the readership probably does. Unfortunately, The Escapist's unorthodox beginnings created a niche market that gravitated solely towards that unique and arguably brilliant magazine metaphor.

We're just surprised and confused is all. I'm sure that in a few weeks it'll sink in and we'll all be happily truckin' along.

-----

I have to admit though; the articles now seem bland by comparison to the old design. The visual touches really engaged the reader and created a unique atmosphere for each article. I'm sure the authors felt very privileged to have their work presented in such an attractive manner.

Out of morbid curiosity, I wonder what a front page poll might say about the new design. Maybe the vocal minority is larger than I think.

Ugh, definitely not a fan. I liked being able to click one link and print out the entire magazine. I would read it during lunch or even on the can!

I certainly understand why this may have been necessary from a cost perspective. If we could just get an easily printable version, even in non PDF form, that would be good enough. But in its current incarnation this is just horrible.

Not that it matters much if the majority is served, I suppose, I certainly understand the need for a model that is easier for you guys... I'm just not enjoying this right now is all. :(

Oh man, I feel like someone just killed my cat. I'll keep my subscription active and hope for a link or something to make the entire thing easily printable (it was mentioned as something you are working on). As it exists right now though it is just not my cup of tea at all.

Sorry everyone. :(

Hey everyone, sorry for the spam but there is a very helpful Firefox extension called Aardvark that is useful for isolating just the article content and eliminating all the other noise on the pages. By using it I'm able (with a couple of extra button clicks) to get things into a nice printer friendly form.

Check it out here if interested until the folks here are able to implement a friendlier solution: http://karmatics.com/aardvark/

An organizational suggestion:

Accessed from the menu bar, the Features page and the Archives page both have the same content. The main difference between them is that the Features page looks bloggy (read:messy and random). I recommend that you use the Archive format and presentation on the Features page. Doing this should provide a more cohesive experience for those looking for the magazine feel. The messy page should be eliminated.

Echolocating:
I'm sure the authors felt very privileged to have their work presented in such an attractive manner.

I posted this at the time, but yes, I was blown away by how my piece looked in "print."

I can definitely see how the magazine style was extremely intensive to produce, though, so I don't begrudge the Escapist team their decision. I'm sad to see it go, but I understand.

Well, I registered just to be able to express this - and I'm sorry, but this is no birthday celebration, quite the opposite - The Escapist has died.

I read the explanations of how difficult it is to make a PDF and this and that, but The Escapist was never really about calculations and effectivity. It was that extra work and the closed (pdf) form that defined its character.

There is this argumentation that the content is still there - the content we all loved, so after a few days you'll digest this new design and will be able to appreciate the content. And you may now consider me shallow for saying this but... no, I won't. There a lots of great articles all over the internet, presented in the same blog-like way (you may also want to call it "gaming news site") in all the portals.

And in this sea of faceless websites, The Escapist has managed to feel distinctively unique, special. The content was up there with the very best, but on the pages of The Escapist, everything felt much more dignified, and personal.

Think of it this way - you're at a convention and there are many auditoriums with competent presentations (representing gaming sites). You can sit, listen and leave informed and it's all good. But imagine someone who takes the time to deliver his thoughts personally - to you, in a comfortable lounge, away from the buzz. You feel really special and as a result, you pay more attention and think about his words more intensively. This is the atmosphere that The Escapist created with its PDF format and magazine-like layout. This is why people liked it.

The crucial difference was always that Escapist delivered the articles to you. Now, with this new industry standard layout, it asks you (much like all the other sites) to get the information yourself. It sounds very cool and "web-2.0-ish", but this automated feel of the site immediately lets you realize that you're no longer a READER of The Escapist - you're a website VISITOR. You can even bookmark cool links if you want.

It's really terrible, I don't really know how to explain. I kind of expect to be hit with arguments about effectivity, accessibility and financial issues, but I don't want to care about those things - I loved The Escapist, and I love a lot of other things - but if all of those things all of the sudden became "more effective", more user-friendly and if all my actions would aim to be cost-saving, my life would probably lose its meaning. It's always the little things - making your own CD labels, calling someone for no reason and then, every week being able to read a certain magazine the "old-fashioned way" in PDF.

And so, there isn't really any other way of putting it - you have truly killed the old Escapist. There isn't a shadow of a doubt about it. And after reading about how the new Escapist wants to make a definitive difference... it's kind of like reading about another "epic adventure game that will revolutionize gaming" being produced, but in order to achieve that revolution with as many people as possible, it uses the typical setting with the typical heroes and the typical gameplay.

What's more to say. Since this week, one of the greatest gaming-related things on the internet is simply gone.

Happy Birthday Escapist. Too bad it turned out the way it did.

I fell in love with you on Issue 1. I always loved the original layout and defended it even when there were so many who complained. You made some changes to the website (good) but kept what had hooked me: your unique and stunning layout. The downloadable PDFs were essential to me, both for helping make it easier to read, print, and archive locally. I was an escapist reader because of all of that.

Unfortunately, now that all of that is gone, I'm not going to be an escapist reader any more. I'm not boycotting, mind you, and if I see a recommendation to an escapist article I'll read it for sure, but gone are the days of enjoying the PDF link in my email and reading what was the best gaming magazine on the net.

You are not longer "Escapist magazine". You have become "the escapist", at best, or "just another gaming website, albeit with better writing than most of the others" even.

I hate to be so critical, but you've lost me with this change. If the old layout was too much (and I don't buy this argument), then close it down and re-open with something else, even if you are just killing the format. You are the best magazine on the net, and a big part of this is due to the ideology that was represented in your layout. PLEASE bring back the old layout and PDFs. PLLLLELEEEEEAAAASSSEEEE~!!!!!!!!

zolo:
Now, with this new industry standard layout, it asks you (much like all the other sites) to get the information yourself. It sounds very cool and "web-2.0-ish", but this automated feel of the site immediately lets you realize that you're no longer a READER of The Escapist - you're a website VISITOR.

I think you and Nutrimentia have hit the nail on the head.

As for calculations and economics and planning and all that, I thought the pdf format *was* the planning. Like the Wii and the 'blue waters' strategy: don't compete for a market, create a market. I hate to be pessimistic, but, I wonder if this change means The Escapist will have to reach an even higher level of success to keep an audience. The Escapist seemed to be competing in a league of its own; now it's in the league of IGN and GameSpot and such. I'm sure the PDF's required a lot of work, but, it was work to bring in a market share no one else was tapping into. Now the workload will be whatever workload it takes to fight for a hotly contested market share--I really have to wonder if the workload isn't going to get even heavier.

If I could make one suggestion that doesn't call for the undoing of any of the changes: format the home page in a way that highlights the unique and original content available only here. Right now the four-paragraph news byte "id's Hollenshead Questions Nintendo's Strategy to Unite Gamers" gets almost as much real estate on the home page as the section highlighting/linking to ALL of this edition's exclusive, essay-length articles. And more importantly, that real estate is indistinguishable--nothing alerts me to the fact that almost all the exclusive value on the website resides where it does.

Maybe the issue isn't so much that the PDF is gone; maybe the issue is that there's nothing comparable to the PDF in pulling a reader into the original content. Thinking back, even the old format didn't 'sell' the main selling point of this site. At least with the PDF, though, when you paged down through the article, if you went past one article you were into the next one, and the next one, and so on. After that you knew where the original content was and how to get to it.

Maybe this is a blessing in disguise: maybe it shows there's a lot more that can be done--that wasn't being done even with the PDF format--in terms of presentation to create an identity that keeps The Escapist from being just another video game blog.

There are countless blogs out there; this is the only *magazine* I've ever seen online when it comes to the subject of video games. Come to think of it, even Salon and Slate and The New Yorker don't have very good home pages. I think that's the real reason people miss the PDF--that's what made this a magazine on the internet that actually *worked* as a magazine.

Yeah, the lament isn't for the loss of the PDF: it's for the loss of the magazine. And I can't help but think that the economic viability of this site is in being the only magazine and not just another blog.

Or more importantly, presenting itself to the new visitor as something more than just a blog, as the only magazine about video games you can get online AND for free.

Trying to compete with the IGNs and GameSpots is like if Gatorade tried to compete with Hawaiian Punch by selling itself as just another brand of sugar water dyed red. You've got actual *articles* like Gatorade had electrolytes. And that's what plants crave, so.

The most exiciting thing about The Escapist was to print the whole Magazine in high-quality color layout and read it in bus/metro/train. People around were trying to catch the title, read a little bit, but the font was small enough to only enable one reader to enjoy it. That made me feel like a part of secret community of game video fans who, by reading the Magazine, try to understand the impact of the industry on our lives, on the reality itself.

Even when I wanted to show something to a friend while being online, the link was leading exactly to the desired article and there was nothing around to distract the reader, except the immersive layout which I believe struck everybody on the first try.

I came to The Escapist website today, struggled for 10 mins to find the pdf file. Disappointed, I decided to go for on of the articles finding out that it cannot be printed the way they used to be. Finally, I gave up. And I am not sure if I want to come back again here.

The feeling is lost, the legend is gone. Forever?

I think everything that needs to be said already has been so I'll keep this short. The old layout was something special and I'm sad to say the new layout is exactly opposite. It seems entirely contrary to what I thought the escapist was supposed to be about. I will try to give the new layout a chance, but I think its safe to say I won't be visiting very often anymore.

Cheeze_Pavilion:

Thinking back, even the old format didn't 'sell' the main selling point of this site.

C_P, you're thinking of the post-revision format. Originally the magazine was all. In fact, typing www.escapistmagazine.com led you to the "cover" page of the magazine.
Talk about focus.

sharp_as_a_cork:

Cheeze_Pavilion:

Thinking back, even the old format didn't 'sell' the main selling point of this site.

C_P, you're thinking of the post-revision format. Originally the magazine was all. In fact, typing www.escapistmagazine.com led you to the "cover" page of the magazine.
Talk about focus.

I've only been around for a couple of months--it's the 'old' format to me. Checking the archive.org site, though, I see what you mean.

A question to Archon and all the escapist staff: Are you set in your ways, is this change a permanent fixture, do you intend to keep it? (At least for this year)

I personally would really love to see the old magazine layout still there instead of the current article navigation, the articles were easier, and funner to read in that setup. The portal itself could stay as is.. *Shrug* may be a lost cause though depending on the answer to my question.

I also wanted to comment on the theme that several of the mourners have brought up: Magazine format created an "altar" to the article: it was a guarantee that this text deserved this nice picture here and there. The atmoshphere. And nothing distracted you from it.

But the question here is: would we pay for it?

The Escapist was amazingly free for its design. Do you remember the ads? They were large, yet they somehow conveyed me the feeling that they should have been a bit more numerous for the magazine to be profitable. I actually greeted every ad: maybe-just maybe it would become profitable.

I suppose it didn't.

And here's the rub: Would I rather prefer The Escapist as a Web 2.0 portal or as non-existent?

This community is not probably going to fund True Nice PDF-versions: we lack the fanboy-zealots that could bring in the extra resources.

For me The Escapist is still and shall remain as the Source for gaming editorials, for a while at least. Content-wise the 105 was top-notch. We are currently experiencing technical difficulties, please stay tuned.

And again some more suggestions (I'm truly happy to see them being read and implemented).

- You can add back and forward buttons to TOC for next and previous issues. Could make the widget even more comfy.
- (I wrote a long entry on PDF generation but it was a bit technical and also obvious: in short -- Automatic PDF generation from the existing article database should be quite easy as soon as you get your site's back-end sorted out from its somewhat hackish phase. I'll be patient here)

Regards

I have to say that I'm not a fan either. As said, the magazine emphasis that this website once had seems to have gone, excuse my French, tits up. I really loved the distinctive visual style of the Escapist, with the gorgeous artwork and novel column style. Now it looks like any other magazine - it's a generic mess of what used to be a really intuitive layout. Yes, it was hard to make, but I, and a lot of people, really appreciated it, and held it in gloriously high regard.

I'm sure this change does not effect the quality of the articles, which no doubt will be just as good as they were, but I can't say I have the enthusiasm any more. The main page is far too busy, even going so far as being headache inducing, and I don't know where to click first (and I don't mean that in a good way). I used to love booting up the magazine, and reading it all the way through, clicking "next page", reading all the columns. Now they just seem disconnected - despite the new "related articles" link.

I don't think I'll be visiting this site as much any more. Chances are I'll keep going, but gradually it'll fizzle out. The Escapist has lost its charm, and looking at it...call me shallow but I'm not interested in the articles any more.

A point to remember is that columns are often used to make the reader feel that there's less. Now a wall of text about an issue I may have little interest in? For the old Escapist I might still have read it, but not any more.

There are a lot of gaming sites around. And a lot of them offer columns of varying quality but that have one point in comon: I scarcely read them.

I was eagerly awaiting my weekly Escapist webzine though and would often read it from cover to cover. The "time-consuming" layout was a proof of quality for me - something that was lovingly edited, rather than poured in some cms-like backend. Made me feel special, made me feel the articles and their authors were more special than elsewhere too. It gave video games a dignity that is lacking on all other sites... Yup, maybe that was a bit elitist, but that's something we needed.

I agree with most comments and suggestions above.

It's very possible I'll stick around nonetheless, knowing the high quality editorial policy you guys have. It's very possible even that it becomes my main internet reading on gaming. At least, I hope I'll manage to stick around with huge "something missing".

Along suggestions, please do something regarding first page layout: the weekly issue needs to be in the spotlight! Unless that's bound to disappear too in favor of irregular columns?

I agree with Tom. What set the magazine apart stylistically was the magazine format, which looked awesome, regardless of shortcomings in the legibility department that were difficult to sidestep.

The latest revision, in my estimation, presents too much content in one space, whereas the previous magazine-centered format provided a distinctive style and high quality artwork that complemented the unique topics and quality writing central to the publication.

TomBeraha:
A question to Archon and all the escapist staff: Are you set in your ways, is this change a permanent fixture, do you intend to keep it? (At least for this year)

Tom, I won't say the new design is "permanent", but the change is intended for the indefinite future. That is, we intend to keep it until the situation warrants that we change it.

I know much of the focus of this discussion thread has been on the "cost" of the old design -and it was costly, for sure. But I also want to point out some other factors that led to the decision. One is that fewer and fewer readers were reading the magazine in magazine format. PDF downloads were a very small percentage of our readership. And, for our web readers, when given a choice between text and magazine style article layouts, viewers were choosing the text style layouts more often than not. Finally, as the volume of our content grew, it became obvious that if we didn't redesign to improve linking between and among our articles, that much of what we considered timeless and classic pieces of game journalism would go unread by new visitors to our site. These were all big factors in our decision making.

We hear loud and clear that many of you don't agree with the decision, but you at least know where we are coming from. We have studied the usage habits of our readers very, very closely; this forum does represent the vocal minority.

But you also represent our most faithful readers, and we are listening to you. Julianne (our fearless E-I-C) and Jason (our cunning tech director) are reading every post here carefully and making notes on what you are saying.

Based on comments so far, here's what's been done:
- Added a link on the upper-left Issue box to a Table of Contents page for the latest issue
- Added a link on the main nav bar to a Table of Contents page for the latest issue
- Added a navigation bar at the bottom of every issue article to all the content of the issue

You can see the TOC page at:
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/features/
Note that it's a full TOC for this issue, and lets you scroll to get a TOC of every past issue, too.

J&J are presently working on a way let you print everything for easier reading away from your computer. Our goal is for it to end up being a cleaner, easier print than the old PDF.

Disclaimer: As I've stated previously, I really appreciate all of the effort that's gone into assuaging some of the vocal minority's primary complaints immediately after the switch last Tuesday. Having the ToC, and allowing navigation from one article to the next, really helped bridge the gap for some of us who loved to read the Escapist straight through, one article to the next. Personally, for the last 8 or 9 months that I've regularly been reading this magazine, it was always with great sadness every Tuesday that I ran out of 'Next's to click. Anyway, what's done is done, and you guys are being great about trying to appease this vocal minority. Thank you.

The thought that occurred to me earlier last week, and was lost, then occurred to me again, is that this whole thing reminds me of Allen Varney's "Blowing Up Galaxies" article. Speaking for myself, that classy, slick, spilled can of paint informing me that changes were a-comin' on Tuesday was the last of the old feel, being ripped out from under like a rug, only I didn't know it. I refreshed over and over, eager to get my dose of content for the week. And then, I was blindsided by what came up before me. Oi! A new homepage. Well, this isn't so bad, I see the articles, the news is where it was, those links are familiar, okay, great, NOW on to the magazine. *Click* Wait, where's the magazine? Did I click the wrong link? *Back* *Click different part of preview window* Still no magazine... *Click forum* Maybe there's a post in here explaining what's going on... Nope. Maybe it's in the Editor's Note? But, ummm, there's no magazine, so where is that?

I think you can see where this goes. The change was unexpected (to me, and potentially to everyone else that's been posting in this thread), and maybe just a little unpleasant to the vocal minority that really enjoyed the magazine layout. I've read several articles, on this site, and on Gamasutra, about dealing with your community, the burden of dedicated fans, and (hopefully) the boon of said fans. Communication is always key, especially in times of change. Like I said, I'm really appreciative of how responsive the team has been since the change occurred, but a little bit of warning would've been nice. (If there was warning, I missed it, and apparently so did some other people.)

I'm not looking for an apology, but I thought I could point out that a year from now, when you guys roll out The Escapist 3.0, (now with Mind Meld), maybe some early user feedback, a sneak preview, a beta, or anything else that can make your dedicated fans feel in the loop, would make us FEEL better, even if it's more of a headache for you.

Edit: Fixed typo, and realized that I didn't tie in Allen Varney's article as well as I could've, since I went off on a bit of a tangent. Sorry, I'm prone. Hopefully everyone understands where I was going with that, and if not, I'd be glad to try again.

I don't want to sound ungrateful. Having given it some time to sink in, the new layout is attractive, if a bit on the busy side for my tastes. To be perfectly honest, this sort of table of contents is quite enough to satisfy me. My main concern was that I'd miss articles, and you've addressed that quite skillfully. I was about to suggest something like it myself.

Question on the ToC:

Is there some sort of editorial order? IE, in the minds of the editor, is there some order to the articles that seems appropriate? In my subscription e-mail, Issue 106 is listed Pitts, Weathers, Miller, Shwayder, Goodfellow. In the ToC at the bottom of each article page, the articles are listed alphabetically by title. Any significance?

Edit: The preview pane on the portal also lists, left to right, in the order presented by the subscription. So my guess is, yes, there is an editorial order. So, I guess my question really is: is it feasible to maintain that in the ToC?

As a graphic designer/gamer. I have to say, I'm dissappointed with the new site layout. Additionally, I miss the magazine format and the pdf files. Crosslinking and all that "jazz" never really appealed to me as I don't come to this site for research, I come to be informed and semi-entertained.

And while a typical response from you would be; we can't please everyone, there are many who like the new layout, blah blah blah. I have to ask the proverbial; If it ain't broke, don't fix it, so why did you fix it?

Geoffrey - Regarding your comparisons to "Blowing Up Galaxies," I see some truth in your analogy. I agree a subscriber preview would have been a good idea.

Hammarus - From our point of view, it was broke. The old layout wouldn't let us archive and tag our content in a presentable way; it cost us as much to do the layouts as to do the content that the layouts were presenting; and our readership was "voting with its eyeballs" that it preferred web layouts to magazine layouts anyway. So given those facts, it made sense to revisit how we presented our content. We didn't make the decision lightly.

Geoffrey42:
Is there some sort of editorial order? ... So, I guess my question really is: is it feasible to maintain that in the ToC?

Well there wasn't a specified order for this issue (just the order they were added) but having them show up in different orders in different places was definitely odd. Should be fixed now, though it will take some time to propagate to all the index listings.

Archon:
Based on comments so far, here's what's been done:
- Added a link on the upper-left Issue box to a Table of Contents page for the latest issue
- Added a link on the main nav bar to a Table of Contents page for the latest issue
- Added a navigation bar at the bottom of every issue article to all the content of the issue

That helped. While I still feel nostalgic for the old layout, I find the new feature layout easier to read and digest. Given a choice, I would choose the old layout but the new layout works fine for me.

I understand that this is just one vote, that your web statistics could say something else, but I find the front page too busy. I come here for the features and editorials. For me, the news items are just noise that clog up the front page, making it hard to get to the high quality content.

I'll have to add my name to the "good-bye Escapist, it's been a great ride" list. I want at least the ability to simply click on a "next article" button at the end of each one, not to have to remember which ones I've covered already. It's lazy, yes, but that's the Escapist as it's been presented to me for two years; you established the expectation.

I don't read websites nor participate in discussions, but I signed up for an account specifically to put these thoughts into the comment-list for consideration the next time you re-design. I'll stay on the email list and wait to see when you announce a format-change, but reading here's not what I want to be doing.

I'm with zolo and Nutrimentia and the others. After some internal debate, I went to the trouble of registering just to tell you that I am unsubscribing.

I am not interested in visiting this site and wading through the new format in order to get at the content that was previously delivered to my mailbox. I am not interested in taking part in general discussion here - I have other venues for that. I enjoyed the differences that you have now eliminated.

I will miss the weekly pleasure/ritual of downloading and reading the PDF, but at least I have all 104 previous issues archived on my HD. They will have to suffice.

Fare well.

I will not deny your statistics and information. I will, however, raise my hand as being one in this "vocal minority." Maybe I was one in a thousand that actually went direct to the magazine to read through the articles, but I was likely one of few who vocally recommended "The Escapist Magazine" to all of my game-interested friends, and quickly to aspiring game development acquaintances. Site statistics cannot begin to express the foundational importance of the "magazine" backbone.

Personally, I never downloaded any of the PDFs. I was content with reading on the web, still feeling fully absorbed in the site's unique ability to make readers feel like they were reading a professional, printed magazine.

Perhaps my largest disappointment was the severe lack of communication in this endeavor. Whereas a high cost existed to maintain the site in its form, I feel that I was one of many unaware of such hardships. If a poll had been sent to newsletter subscribers, I would have checked the option for a payment for an exclusive/continued magazine format. Now, a magazine format option does not even exist.

I am not going to pretend that I did not register an account just to post in the comments here. However, I feel that it is absolutely necessary that my once vocally recommending, now "vocal minority" opinions be expressed.

You can view The Escapist more cleanly by browsing to the Features page ( http://www.escapistmagazine.com/features/ ) instead of the front page. It probably won't appease people that have already decided to leave, but it looks better than the busy front page.

Yes! The blue permalink bars are gone. That helps the front page flow more smoothly.

One last suggestion. The blue "Recent Headlines" bar makes the bottom, left list look like a completely different section than the items above it. The two titles are similar ("Recent Headlines" and "News and Columns") but seemingly unrelated. It has caused me a lot of confusion and I suspect that it confuses other people too. I keep checking to see whether they really are part of the same thing or not.

I recommend that the blue "Recent Headlines" bar be eliminated to make the bottom, left list look like a continuation of the above items. This would give the readers one less thing to parse and, I think, make the page look more clear.

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