We're back! New page by Xin and Lillian!
Hey, everybody, we're ready to get this roller coaster running again!
This is our first page with Lillian on inks and colors. If you're as impressed as I am with how beautifully she has stepped into the role, please welcome her to the team and let her hear about it!
As I mentioned in prior news posts, we're going to need to slacken the pace of updates from about 100 a year to about 80. There were a number of different ways I thought about doing that, but I settled on this approach: Update schedule will still be Tuesdays and Fridays, but expect us to miss about two updates a month, without announcements.
I'm going to keep an eye on everybody's pace and productivity as we go (especially mine), and I'm going to call a skip when I think it will be most beneficial to our process. That will not mean we don't have a buffer. It will just mean we're aiming to keep the buffer we have, and (by not overloading anyone) keep the team sane and happy. (Or at least as sane as we can be.)
If I manage to find time to do backer stories, those will happen on Sundays. "On time updates" will still have to happen by midnight on the Tuesday or the Friday to count, but skips are skips and they just don't count as update days.
I realize this will result in some days being a disappointment, but if we do skips on an "as needed" basis instead of scheduled, then there's the possibility that we'll find we're comfortable doing more than 80 in a year. Maybe a month will go by with no skips, which would never happen if we said "every other Friday is a miss" or something. Bottom line is, I think this will work out better and result in more total updates.
Thanks as always for your kind support and patience. I really needed the break. Now please fasten your safety belts and keep your hands inside the car while the ride is moving, because heeeeere we go!
Art Team, you are amazing! Xin, your work continues to amaze, and Lillian, this is a beautifully inked introduction!
As others have mentioned, it's reassuring to see Lillian's style maintaining some continuity with the last artist, but her own touches are already showing, and I'm looking forward to seeing more!
So glad to see you all (Rob included!) back. The flexible schedule sounds good and makes perfect sense to me. And even if it made no sense to me at all, you'd still have my support. I don't know if it's amusing or just internet status quo that people seem to always jump in with suggestions for how Rob runs his show. As long as the show is running and the team is happy, I'm a happy camper.
Good Lord, the people here who act like they are ENTITLED to an update or even a schedule at all. Most webcomics don't even have a schedule. A huge example might be Order of the Stick. If its going to break you to log in on Tuesday and not see an update then log in at the end of the month expecting 6 updates and be thrilled when there are 7 or 8.
I'm happy to see the comic in motion again, although some of the news seems a bit unclear to me. I can agree with some other comments requesting more clarity on what is meant by "without announcements" -- does that mean that the breaks will not follow a regular schedule, or does it actually mean that the particular comic day will come and go without an indication that the day is being skipped?
I think you do want honest impressions, so I'll say it would put my mind at ease if I knew that there would be a warning on Monday if Tuesday was going to be skipped. If you don't feel comfortable with that, then that's up to you, but that's how I feel. I wouldn't mind if you take a whole month off as long as I know it's happening. If a Tuesday goes by without any word, I would wonder if there was some kind of emergency.
I'm so happy to have Erfworld back! About the no announcements tho... that sounds like torture to me. Refreshing the page over and over, not wanting to go to bed until after midnight lest I miss the chance to see a page on time and hit the discussion forum early on in the conversation. Please don't do this to us...
When you say without announcements does that mean no announcement at all or no Advance announcement? I'm fine with no advance announcement, but if there's not going to be an update that day I would appreciate a notice rather than clicking refresh like a rat in a cage.
What? It's not my fault your comic is crack xD
Man, I love Erfworld...it's one of the best comics I can recall. It's insightful, versatile for a broad series of stories and plotlines, the world is developed enough for complexity while still believable in its simplicity...I could laud the comic for ages upon ages.
But I cannot pretend I don't see the decision to skip an average of 1/4 of the previous volume of comics unannounced and without warning/notification, especially clarified with your post today saying "Ok, yes today I'll announce it's a skip but from here on out you just have to not know", is a good call.
It's like someone being told they're getting the paper 5 days a week, and yet they don't know WHICH of those 5 days it is. If you say it's weekdays only, they'll accept it. If you tell them SOMETIMES it'll be M-F, sometimes M-R, then sunday...sometimes tuesday, thursday, friday-sunday...and that's just assuming you keep it at twice a month.
If you need more time, it really should be on a specific basis (for business reasons, fan response...it's just good logic). Admittedly, you'll get a lot of ad revenue from people checking a dozen times HOPING that this time when they refresh they'll have a day with a comic, instead of another skip, but it is going to drive a lot of the forums and audience to extreme frustration and negativity, which will in turn make you less happy about what you do and make the whole of erfworld more of a burden than a joy.
I hope I'm wrong. I hope you have success, find out you can do more comics, find out that when you miss no one minds...but at this point I'm not anticipating much more than a lot of audience frustration, confusion, and probably a bit of pushback, followed by you becoming further disheartened.
STILL: who knows, maybe I'm wrong? Good luck either way. Your comic is excellent, even if your current plan for its implementation doesn't seem equally so.
Not a bedrock-solid buffew, it seems.
What our last two esteemed co-commentators said.
Update rate is a quantitative measure that doesn't say anything about the quality of a comic, or any other thing, really. Why struggle to keep in the "twice-per-week" category and fail if you can sit comfortably on the "once-per-week" one and push the extra update when productivity allows? It seems pretty random and, from a marketing point of view, it doesn't send a positive vibe. Better to present the readers with the gift of an unexpected bonus than deny them what they are waiting for, also unexpectedly.
Thanks for the heads-up about the skip day. To be honest, I'd prefer it if you kept making short announcements about them, maybe even a day in advance. I know we are to expect skip days and not feel slightly blueballed when they happen, but knowing in advance still feels better than knowing afterwards. Sorry, it's just the way I was made.
Agreeing with the gentler sentiments shown above. I commented when this post came out regarding the significant difference between notifying people in advance and notifying them after the fact (or simply skipping without a word), but tried to keep an open mind as to how it would actually play out. Unfortunately, my post was justified .. on seeing the "skip blog" yesterday my response was frustration and concern for the creative team, despite logically knowing this isn't necessarily something to worry over. It seems to be the common response above, too, and given that having no way to comment on the latest post so many people have made the effort to come back and comment on this one instead, is probably quite common among the readership at large.
I don't for a moment believe that as the readers we 'deserve' a certain number or regularity of updates throughout the month. This is Rob's baby, and if he wanted to set it to 'updates weekly' or even 'updates when pages are done' I wouldn't complain. I read Prequel, for crying out loud - I've learned how to rein in my expectations. We're very lucky to have such a generous schedule of new content.
But there's a significant, definite, experientially negative emotional hit involved with something being described as updating on a given schedule (twice a week, in this instance) and then having that vary downward. The difference here is that we're being constantly asked to keep raising our expectations, again and again, by cheery informational blog posts urging us not to worry and to place our trust in the team - so when days are missed, it's destabilising. As readers, we shouldn't control the update schedule - but we do expend a certain level of emotional effort and commitment to remain active on the page and in the fandom, and that loyalty is better rewarded than punished.
Moreover the attitude of the Erf Team to this issue makes an awful lot of difference to the way skipped updates are received; that emotional commitment really needs to be recognised as a positive force behind the comic rather than dismissed as it seems to be at present. Simply put, it feels rather blasé to ask people to continue to enthusiastically follow the comic on a specified schedule and yet to always expect potential disappointment simultaneously. That disappointment swiftly becomes concern and frustration and those things translate into a negative atmosphere among the readership and on the boards.
There are several ways to improve this response, though, should the team wish. Notification given even one day in advance creates the impression that the Erf Team are aware and care about the hopes and commitment of your fans. It comes over better than an absent page, and much better than a short post on the day itself explaining we should expect such skips and not be demoralised. Alternatively, move to a set schedule of fewer updates per month on average, temporarily using a page from the buffer to alter the creative team's schedule instead when that is needed. I would strongly recommend skipping Friday once a fortnight. A repeating update schedule of Tue-Fri-Tue with occasional second-Friday content would allow for just as much flexibility as the current plan to "skip an update once-twice a month". When there's time for extra updates they'll play as unexpected bonuses instead of basic expectations.
One quick extra note - I've been wondering whether the "two updates a week, often, maybe one missed" idea is actually an attempt to normalise things for cash backers? Perhaps the concern is that people would rather miss one update's content on occasion than have one extra unexpected charge to their bank account per month. I don't think this is the correct solution for handling that problem, however. If you ask financial backers to expect 6-8 updates a month on average (out of a potential averaged total of 8 2/3) it should still be reasonably easy to budget for regardless of whether two of the 8 updates are being seen as 'extra' or were 'skipped'. Almost all Tools to date have backed expecting 8 updates' payment monthly, after all. The only real impact switching from 'skipped' to 'extra' presents is a small amount of administration on the Erf Team side (regarding the use and replenishment of your buffer) and a significant upturn of general opinion, trust and enjoyment among the readership.
I mean, look, I'm not entitled to notifications; I'm not entitled to updates. I'm not entitled to anything when it comes to Erfworld. Honestly, I'm perfectly fine with there being fewer updates; quality is more important than quantity. If you guys don't want to announce when there's no update, you're perfectly within your rights to do so.
However, I also don't think it's unreasonable for people to bump this down on their priority lists as a result though. No offense, that's just a rule of mine for anything with unscheduled outages, website or otherwise.