I’m delighted to announce that the reformat project (it feels like a battle sometimes) is well under way. Roughly half of the current publications from The Grinning Frog have now been converted to the new format and a quarter or so have been uploaded to the online shops.
The new format is a landscape, three or two column layout - depending on content. The benefit to you as a reader is that you should be able to view a whole page of information on your laptop or desktop monitor all at once!. Depending on the size of your tablet you will be able to do the same thing.
This reformat update has been brewing for quite a while and the spark was lit when I read an article by Chris who runs loottheroom.uk He argued that we needed to evolve our thinking about freelance publications away from the traditional ‘print and bind’ mentality.
I can’t find his blog article right at the moment so let me explain the point in my own words and I will update this blog when I find the original by Chris!
William Caxton introduced the printing press into Britain in 1476 but things have come on a long way since then. If he was around today would he not consider landscape a better format given online material is almost entirely consumed on widescreen format devices?
I read Chris’s blog around two years ago and I have been mulling over it since. He indeed goes further in his discussion. He talks about how adopting a landscape format is only the first step. Given the most likely nature of the consumption of the material i.e. online, he argues strongly for interactive documents with hyperlinks being the very least that we should add.
There is of course a cost for the produced and that is time. For every link and additional feature that you add to a publication the longer it takes to produce, edit, polish and release. I can’t tell you how many hours it took me to produce templates for my new format but the final day saw me working on them for a straight 12 hours. And I’m happy to do that because they look so much better but there is a finite amount of creative time available so a balance must be struck!
I read Chris’ blog and sent him a message about it and left the matter there. The thoughts of what he said peculated around my head and then at the UK Gaming Expo in Birmingham this year I picked up a copy of the John Carter of Mars RPG by Modiphius Entertainment. And it has been produced in landscape. They have discussed this decision online and it was to enable them to showcase the sweeping landscapes of Mars.
And I had to admit, when I sat and leafed through the rule book, it looked lovely.
But even that didn’t finally sway me, although it did reassure me that if a commercial entity like Modiphius are willing to produce something in landscape, and people didn’t hate them for it, then the idea had some validity.
What swung it was when my lovely wife gifted me a new laptop for my birthday a few weeks after the Expo. Viewing things on a new screen with good resolution made me realise what was possible.
And the die was cast.
In the many months since then I have been beavering away at a few projects and now those are at the editing stage my focus is on the reformatting project. I’m very pleased with how it is going at it has given me a chance to enhance the publications with new artwork and rework a few items and NPCs that needed improving. (And I will confess, correct a few outright errors that slipped through the editing stage!)
Over the period of September and October all of the existing work should be converted.
Chris seems to have gone a little quiet on his website (I know he’s been busy with other matters recently) but it’s still well worth a visit – https://loottheroom.uk and you can find him on twitter under @pangalactic
Right, I’m off to find some more fantasy dwarf pictures (which are a lot harder to find than I would have expected) to use in the dwarf NPC publication which is being reformatted next!
Stephen, Chief Scribe, @thegrinningfrog
PS Along the way I realised that Wizards of the Coast had actually support Dungeons and Dragons for years with a landscape formatted publications - their Dragon and Dungeon monthly items. I'd read them for years and enjoyed them. I simply hadn't recalled the format, nor looked at them recently. A further validation of this decision!