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<   No. 1144   2006-03-15   >

Comic #1144

1 {scene: Mr Marlowe's office}
1 Marlowe: Well, Loren, I'm fully aligned with your employer's strategic methodology in utilising a single point of contact for this project.
2 Marlowe: I'll fast-track a workstation with our tech writing team so you can leverage their knowledge base as we focus on encapsulating your deliverable.
3 Marlowe: We'll ramp-up our resource brokering and move forward by touching base on a... um...
4 Marlowe: Have I seen you in a movie or something?
4 Loren: {revealed for the first time, resembles Hermione Granger uncannily} I don't think so, Mr Marlowe.

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Casual readers probably get nothing out of this strip except for mild amusement at Mr Marlowe's buzzword speak. This strip is really for the readers who remember some of the older details of the Shakespeare theme.

I read an article the other day by Mark Rosewater. It discussed various lessons that Mr Rosewater had learnt about game design in his life. He discusses it in the context of his job as lead designer of Magic: The Gathering, but even if you dislike the game, or don't play games much at all, I encourage you to read this article. Most of it is about the general life lessons Mr Rosewater has learnt, and he presents them well.

This comic comes from Mr Rosewater's Lesson #1: Judge yourself (and your ideas) by the people that care about you. Don't give that power to people who are not invested in your well being.

He goes on to explain:

When I make a card, I have to understand who the card is for. Who do I want to be invested in it? Once I figure out who my audience is, I have to keep from being distracted by other audiences. [...] And yes, I do try to find places where I can make cards that overlap different psychographics. My point is I don't avoid making a card that's hated by someone if I feel that it will be loved by someone else. [...] This is a very important part of card design. If you try to make everyone happy, the vast majority of the time you make no one happy. Design is about understanding your audience on a card by card level, and making sure that for each card you put the power in the hands of the right people. Understanding this has made me both a happier person and better designer.
This is the approach I take with writing comics. Replace the word card in the above passage with comic and you have my philosophy of comic writing.

I know that a segment, perhaps a large segment, of my readership is not even going to understand the joke in this comic. Another segment will get it, but be underwhelmed by it, as it doesn't address their favourite themes. This comic isn't for you. It's for the fraction of the readers who get the joke and have been waiting - for over a year - for further development of this plot thread and character traits.

As the story arc develops, I will do my best to include jokes for everyone. If it doesn't work for you, so be it. Another part of the way I work is to keep things mixed up, so hopefully there'll be something designed specifically for you later in the week.

2015-07-07 Rerun commentary: Wow, a great life lesson that is just as applicable today as back then. Over the years I have been very impressed with Mark Rosewater's writing, both about the elements of game design which he uses in developing the game of Magic, and about the more personal things he occasionally shares in his weekly column. When I read his stuff, I often think, "Wow, this guy is like me from an alternate universe or something."

I sometimes wonder what would happen if I were to ever meet Mr Rosewater, or have the opportunity to collaborate on some creative work. I think the results would be amazing.

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