I got my copy of EQuinox a few weeks ago and have read through most of it… I haven’t read two of the fan fictions within the magazine but now that school has started I don’t think I’m really going to have time to get to it for awhile, so I’m just going to review it without those two pieces.
First, I’d like to say right off the bat that I think this magazine is geared right towards roleplayers. Nearly everything in the magazine is explained in a way that is geared so that roleplayers might be ok with it. They also give tips on how to roleplay better in a number ways, from directly, to showing some successful roleplay, to events and places that people have created to roleplay. Even the two guides they put in on classes were done in a roleplay fashion. In all, it probably worked to differentiate the magazine from the internet… after all if they just put in what was commonly accessible online, then why would people pay for it? Still, if you don’t like roleplay you may have a harder time with this, in fact the articles I liked the best tended to be ones that didn’t rely on it as much.
The articles I did like were Cyanbane’s and Aggrome’s. These two articles were fairly good, but really only took up a page, and I wouldn’t be surprised if both put their articles online if it hadn’t been for the magazine, hell they might have done so as it was. I also really enjoyed the article on the tavern on AB, and can even imagine that from that article a lot of people give it a try on various other servers. It was interesting at the very least.
There were articles on Rise of Kunark and Legends of Norrath, however they didn’t really say anything new, and I felt this was a real opportunity missed by SOE. Here SOE is with inside information and they could have used the magazine to reveal something about both that hadn’t previously been said, but instead they recapped months old news for the most part. I think the most interesting thing from either article was that originally the RoK griffons were going to have a new tint but they cut that out from time constraints (would have been cool had they done it).
Similarly, they missed another opportunity with their news/notes sections which have small updates from their various factions of SOE (like Europe & Korea)… the idea of events that they have coming up and that they’ve done was good, however I don’t really care that much about those servers, and it would have been nice if they had some upcoming events posted from the various American servers. As it was they didn’t even do a similar recap for the American servers, which kind of sucked.
The one fan fiction that I got a chance to read was actually much better than I expected and I look forward to reading future installments in the series. Though, again I think it would have been nice had SOE paid for someone on staff to right some cannon fiction for the game that would have gone into lore, history, or current events in the game that could be considered standard lore. I think this would have been a nice touch and maybe they do it if they feel the magazine is a sucess in the future.
The profiles on the Dirge and the Alchemist were fairly good actually, I really liked the tables on the various spells & items, and the articles themselves were far more enjoyable than I originally thought they would be.
However, the zone run through wasn’t very good at all, and I could have done without it entirely. I think they need to be more in depth on this in the future as I went through most of the article trying to remind myself which zone it was supposed to be in the first place because the narrative of it made me feel like it was more a piece of fan fiction rather than a run through of any particular zone.
In the future, I would personally like to see more from SOE instead of just a collection of fan submitted stuff. I think fan stuff is nice to have in there, but I almost think they overdid it. I think for fan submittal they could maybe continue the class profiles, the two small articles such as Cyan & aggrome did, the one bigger article like the player run tavern, one fan fiction, and then some fan questions and art. Then they need to supplement that with behind the scenes, staff fiction, server/game news, and new never before seen previews. They need to use what they have as a company, as it stands, they seem a lot more like a fan zine and less like an official magazine. Overall, I like the concept, think the quality is decent, but not worth the high price tag of the magazine. Though I also imagine this to be a likely quarterly magazine instead of monthly or bi-monthly.
Update 9-3-10: In re-looking at this article. I looked up how the magazine was faring after nearly 3 years. It looks like not at all which is a shame. They haven’t made a new issue since the second issue. Now that Sony Online Entertainment has several MMOs out there, perhaps they should consider going the route of an official SOE magazine instead that covers all of their games to some degree and showing new stuff. This would probably fare better as it would have more information to draw off of and have more fans from more than just one or two games. I do like the idea of MMO magazines, but they just never seem to work.