Mike Salbato
Letter From the Editor Vol. 1: The Path Forward
Farewells, gratitude, an introduction, and... iced tea?
08.06.17 - 6:35 PM

We don't make these kinds of posts often, but if there's one thing I want RPGFan to be better at doing, it's putting faces on our writing, and letting the personalities of our 40-plus people come through.

I figured I'd start.

You may know my name regardless of how long you've been with RPGFan, as I was lucky enough to be brought on as near the ground floor as possible in 1999. Back then, our scrappy little staff put out as much content as we could, sharing duties as needed, and generally spending way too much free time contributing to a volunteer site. It may go without saying, but RPGFan has grown a lot since 1999, and I've stuck my nose in most departments over that time, even though my primary role was always a combination design, layout, and media. As a result of all this, RPGFan means a whole lot to me.

But maybe I need to pause for a moment, because I'm not entirely here to talk about me, but more about the fantastic people I'm lucky to surround myself with. Ones that will flinch that I ended that last sentence with a preposition. The first person that needs mention is John Tucker. This month marks his tenth year at RPGFan, and he's made a hell of an impact in his time here. Originally one of our most prominent reviewers of Western RPGs — a focus that is certainly vital, especially given our staff's general tendency to drift towards JRPGs — John has written 117 (!?) reviews in those ten years.

Since the summer of 2015, John has been our Managing Editor, which for us, means he sets schedules on when to post things, manages this giant staff of people from around the world, settles disputes (that are rarely heated anyway), and like Batman, keeps a watchful eye over RPGFan. It's hard work, especially when he does this and still manages to help post articles to the site, write the occasional review, and make sure every major piece of content is progressing and ready on time.

As he touched on in this post, John chose to scale back his position at RPGFan, to focus on a new chapter in his career and personal life. So while we'll all miss him as the benevolent bossman, we fully support his choice. Importantly for us, you, and our WRPG coverage, John plans to go back to reviews, such as his latest for Diablo III: Rise of the Necromancer.

Fortunately, we've made a point in defining more leadership in recent years at RPGFan. In future posts, I want to talk more about that: About how proud I am to work with news leads like Peter Triezenberg and Jesse Woo, and the unanimous excitement we shared when Alana Hagues became our first-ever review lead. How Marcos Gaspar has carried on the torch of running RPGFan Music from equally-passionate past leads, and has continued to make RPGFan one of the premier RPG music destinations online. And that, after having podcasts with fluid schedules for years, Mike Sollosi has seriously rallied the troops and makes sure Retro Encounter goes up Every. Single. Week. Oh, and there's Neal Chandran, a longtime reviewer and community member, who now is our go-to Public Relations officer. And this is without even getting to everyone else here. I couldn't be pleased to work alongside these people, and I want our readers to get a better sense of each of them, and the personal side of running this site.

It's one of many things I hope to accomplish as the new Managing Editor (I proposed "Emerald Overlord" to the staff, but they surprisingly gave me funny looks), to bring our people and their interests more to the forefront of the content we post. That means putting a spotlight on these people who commit insane hours to keep things running here, when we have internal promotions, or bring on new people: things we typically don't talk about in public. But we should.

A stronger emphasis on people and their "faces" is part of the reason we're debuting a fully-refreshed staff page today. Along with a cleaner layout, including everyone's avatars will strengthen the connection in everyone's mind between the person and their avatar. And if that sounds too much like marketing jargon, just enjoy the pretty pictures on what used to be a big ol' page of text.

This also means a stronger commitment to original content like unique articles, podcasts, and streaming. This doesn't mean we plan to cut back on existing content like reviews. But with such a large, diverse staff full of ideas, I'm encouraging everyone to spend some time on "passion projects," and I think you're going to like the results.

I'll be talking more about this, and other RPGFan projects and plans, like I started to back in March (yes, this stuff is still happening, and I apologize for the delay). Between a more open dialogue with each other and our readers (and listeners), and more person-driven features, I really want to infuse more humanity into RPGFan, the way Starbucks is currently infusing iced tea with pineapples and strawberries.

...You can probably guess where I am as I write this.

One last thing I want to mention here is the next step in forging ahead: We're finalizing details on our first Reader Survey in a long time. We have a lot of questions, and while we can't pay you for your time, it would mean a lot to us if as many of you as possible can set aside a bit of time and take part in the survey when it's live. As many plans and ideas as we have internally, we do the work we do for you, so your opinions are of vital importance.

In the meantime, I welcome your feedback and questions, so don't be shy about contacting me. Feel free to either email me, or send me a message through the forums. And stay tuned, as we have some really exciting projects in the works.