The "Mark Asher Article System" in action... sorta

So, inspired by the “Articles should be readable” thread that Mark started, I got to thinking about how his suggestion could be pressed into service.

Rather than dealing with the standard preview/review format for articles that involves a big hunk of text and a smattering of screenshots, this is what I came up with. It’s still a work in progress - so I definitely want suggestions. The review is essentially the same as the preview, except with about twice as many rows in each table, since I’m actually looking at the finished game at that point. I didn’t feel right leaving stuff like “Replayablity” speculation and other such stuff on the list since it’s not a review.

Anyway, here’s the bastard child of Mark’s suggestions and my wasted Sunday afternoon:

270 reads and NOBODY can offer me anything constructive? Hrm… I guess it must be the holy grail of formats then. I’m gonna copyright the layout so when Gamespot and everybody else switch to the “Asher’om” method, I can sue 'em blind.

Seriously though… any suggestions for stuff that would make a more complete preview piece, or a way to make the layout more “readable”? I’m trying to establish a standard that I’ll have to live with for a while here.

Gosh, around here you usually don’t have to beg for a beating.

The review is essentially the same as the preview, except with about twice as many rows in each table, since I’m actually looking at the finished game at that point.

I’m not quite understanding what this preview/review system is. Are you saying that you basically wrote a fully detailed review, and then snipped out the spoilerish material and criticisms, leaving you with a preview?

Can you elaborate about what exactly you’re trying to achieve here, so we don’t have to go read and entire other thread?


Serious question, are you color blind?


I see the visual scheme as a ripoff of Penny Arcade. I guess that was done to attract people, but it has the opposite effect on me, so I’m not even likely to read the material, much less give constructive criticism of it. A Penny Arcade-wannabe would probably have a Penny Arcade-wannabe perspective, and the actual one is bad enough. Picture in Multiplicity when they made one too many copies, but here Michael Keaton is borderline retarded in the first place (that’s a PA insult, not your site).

I didn’t mind the color scheme although the dark blue is probably a bit too dark.

Anyone have any better choice for colors ?

Oh, dear god. I couldn’t bear to look at that scheme for more than five seconds. My first reaction was, literally, "Augh, christ, alt-F4."Also, I sort of blinked and then rubbed my eyes to get the afterimage of all that fucking orange out of them, when I had shut the window. Still, I’m sure I’m not exactly the maven of hip and stylish color choice, since my site is grey, darker grey, really dark grey, black, and white.

You used too many words.

It says “PREVIEW” but it reads like a review with all sorts of criticism. That’s not a preview, that’s a review.


It’s a pretty concise, preview-type look if you just read the stuff on the blue backgrounds.

Not sure if that’s the effect that was being shot for, however. The net effect if you try to read everything is pretty disjoint in my opinion. And while the color scheme doesn’t strike me as being horrible like others, the blue/blue/blue scheme is a bit tough to read. Need higher contrast text on those blue stripe backgrounds at the very least.

Well, I have to admit that the PA color scheme was the inspiration for the colors I chose. Not because I wanted to be “like PA”, because they’re a rant married to a cartoon, and I’m not. I just like the blue with orange trim. However, looking at the tables in the article, yeah, I don’t like the blue in there. It works for a frame for the page, but definitely not in-content though.

That being said, the site is set up so I can have user-selectable themes if you don’t like the default. I don’t have the others available on the site just yet, but they’re about 1/2 done. I’m still stomping bugs in the first one.

(PS - if the PA comparision is furthered by my pic up in the corner - well, I drew that myself, and it’s a self portrait. Wacom pads rule!)

But - point taken, it’s kinda loud - and the blue tables in the article are ass.

Machfive - I’m saying that the preview and review are going to be similarly structured as far as page layout goes. The preview, however, will lack judgemental stuff that is expected to be in a review. For this reason, I built the review template first, then removed sections I felt weren’t suitable to a preview. To me a review is 50/50 fact and opinion. A preview is much more heavily a statement of features and light on passing judgement upon them. However, if I preview something and it’s an obvious bomb or gift from the heavens, I’ll probably have to hint at that.

Dave & Mark - You are correct sir. And that falls in with Mark too, saying “too many words”. I’m going to trim a lot. I looked at it right after I wrote it and thought - “hrm… pre-review almost” but decided to ask for layout commentary anyway since the content itself is secondary to that. However it does bring up that second point… what DO you cover in a preview? Where’s the line for preview opinon? There should be some opinion involved, I’d think, but more emphasis on features. Hrm… this could be a second thread - and I might do that.

Any suggestions for alternate color schemes? Anything with a black background is right out. I’m tired of sites with light-on-dark schemes.

[ps - I’m currently fiddling with the scheme, so this may change from what people have already said if you’re late to the party. The eyeball busting blue/blue tables are gone already]

The orange needs to be toned way down, it’s glowing.

I like having the specs of the author’s machine in the review.

Also, Warlords 4 is a blast - played it all weekend at the 'rents. That said, my laptop is seriously glitching on the graphic effects – is there any way to scale the effects down, as indicated in the review? My laptop is a 2.66 P4-M with a Radeon 7000 Mobility (integrated solution, it’s actually the Radeon I345). I don’t have ANY problem with Shadow Magic’s alpha effects and I can run the game with everything on, but in W4, the alpha effects are all screwed up – I can see the boxes that outline the effects, and they flicker in and out. It’d be nice to fix this.

Ok, I did some heavy editing of the text. Chopped 99% of the opinionary items. How’s that now?

I’ll retain the “author’s PC specs” for actual reviews - but for preview purposes I thought it was less important, so it got dumped.

Doug - try turning off “detailed animations” in the options. I’m not sure if this is merely combat animations or also effects the on-map effects, but that should cure you.

Matt - the orange glows… but does it hum? It’s has to glow AND hum or I didn’t make it orange enough. Ok, point taken.

Also - the table colors are WAY toned down now. Actually readable maybe.

Presentation values aside, it really is more readable than most of the stuff available these days. I’m not remembering the original “Mark Asher Article System” thread though… Linky?

  • Alan

It kinda derailed after a while - as do all threads - but I kept re-reading the initial statement and thinking “yeah… preach it brother.”

Then I decided to blind everyone with my vibrating orange color scheme. I’m fixing that at this very moment though.

Anybody got ideas for a more appealing color scheme, yet not looking like every other site out there? I’m kinda liking the colors I have in the tables now, actually… with a little color accent on the page.

I think the orange is emitting gamma rays. Turn the saturation down on it 15%.

Add about 5% more green to the lighter blue background color.

And since you’re going for an orange and blue color scheme, consider using desaturated orange and blue for the alternating table background colors. May I suggest #FFCC99 and #CCE5FF?

Hey, much improved.

Why is multiplayer put ahead of single-player?

You probably don’t need Presentation and Interface and Technical in a preview. It’s not that the information isn’t valuable, but I don’t want to read about presentation and interface and technical specs unless they stand out in some way – either good or bad. By all means, tell me about the interface if it’s horrendous or stupendous, but I don’t need a description otherwise. Same with the presentation, which I can judge for myself from the included screenshots. The specs might change, but if you want to keep them, move them to the end.

In fact, if you think that Presentation and Interface are important, why not take advantage of hyperlinks? Don’t clutter up the main body of the preview with that information, but turn them into sidebars of sorts and link to them from the main body and let the reader choose to read them or not.

Really, I don’t see many pieces of writing on the web that take advantage of hyperlinking. You can write 1200 words about a game but all I need to see is the 300 word summary. Hyperlink to the rest.

You also need some white space between some of your tables and the text that follows. And those small boxes on the sides of the article make the page look really busy.

Love it (except the colors, but that’s fixable); if only all previews could read like that.

Yeah, about the boxes on the sides… once the theme is toned down (and man, it’s WAY down… puts me to sleep now) the boxes might not be so intrusive. However, I’ve got the option to turn off the ones on the right side. I had 'em off before, but wanted to get the article list somewhere. Hrm…

I’m still tweaking the format, so the tech stuff may go.

Hey, speaking of screenshots… it’s not readily apparent that the top screenshot goes to the index, and the rest go to the specific screenshot - and I’m looking at how to fix that asthetically - but once you were looking at the screenshots, did it make sense that you could browse a page at a time by clicking the “index” button at the top?