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more like "are the rules clear" ?

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gxnpt
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Well, I talked about doing 3d in a balloon or blimp battle and then got ambushed by a game that totally messes with every concept I went in with

May I present a silly pick-up-and-deliver game for some rules proofreading: Sky Pirates and the Quest for Helium

http://thesingularitytrap.com/physical/spqfh.pdf

Corsaire
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Hi, I'm not finding them very

Hi,
I'm not finding them very clear. Any particular paragraph seems ok, but not seeing the whole picture.

Rules n other games that I find the most clear open with a brief intro to the world, an overview of what the game is about, and a statement about the win condition/objective.

After that, a sequence of a game turn and actions is helpful. It also helps in keeping all the same types of rules (e.g. Combat) in one place.

dnddmdb
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Structure issues...

First off I just want to say that I really like the theme. It seems like it might be a complex sort of game but some of the humor is keeping it light (no pun intended) which I like.

As far as the rules clarity is concerned, I have to say resoundingly: no, they are not clear. I think Corsaire gave some very good ideas as to how to change the rulebook to make it clearer. My views are:

The actual written sentences describing the rules are good, although I did skim the latter half of the document, just because it was hard to follow due to structural issues.

The structural issues are the biggest problem. I think it would be good to offer an introduction to the game as to the general premise/objective, and then get into how to set up the game, maybe introducing the reader to the components and when they will be used, although that's optional. After that, describing how the game works as far as rounds/turns, whatever, as well as how a player's turn works would be helpful. Then you can get into what the ships are and how they move and such.

My first impression was that I was bewildered as to what the hexes on the map meant, while you were explaining the types of ships and how they move. The hexes were explained on the next page but that really should be addressed as soon as the map is shown. Also I don't think the different colored hexes with letters/dots are very well explained.

Also, the combat example is not very obviously separated from the rules. I missed the heading telling me this was a combat example at first, so I didn't understand what was going on. I think a table of contents or outline at the beginning can both help you organize your ideas and help the reader orient themselves as to what they should expect from the rulebook.

I hope that was constructive/helpful. If it helps, think about if you laid out all the components and were going to teach someone the game for the first time. What are the first things you'd say, assuming they have no idea what the game is about? I'm looking forward to taking a look at the rules again when they're more ordered! :)

gxnpt
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unclear rules

For that matter, working on PnP layout I realized I had not placed liftcloth into the ship items (reducing the count of other items by matching amount).

I freely admit that these rules are first draft - but I think rules fixes are simply wording now vs mechanics. Have updated the file online but is just proofread correction.

questccg
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You seem to be missing the point...

Rulebooks follow a "recommended" structure. If you are not familiar with it, re-read Corsaire's message which is giving you the correct order of a rulebook... You just don't write whatever you feel like the order should have to be. The format is "well-defined" and you should respect it if you want other people to be able to interpret your rules correctly.

I also learnt this the "hard-way". I had my rulebook proofed and went through several revisions to get it into the "optimal" format. I can save you some money by saying that the format should look like:

Table of Contents (could be at the end too), Introduction, Components, Overview (Age, Time, Players), Setup/Layout, Victory Conditions/Game Objectives, Game Play (Turn-Order) where Combat is a sub-section of Game Play. If Game Play can be divided into "Phases", then do that and explain "Combat" as being one phase in the process (for example). Lastly a Credits page (Designer, Artist(s), Developer, Playtesters, Writer (optional))...

I've just saved you $30 USD by giving you the "prescribed" format. That should get you going in the correct direction.

Cheers and good luck(!?)

harmon89
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Here's all the questions I

Here's all the questions I have based on the first page.

How does a player get these 3 port cities? Are they given to them at the start of the game?

What does it mean to "fill" or "exchange" a slot? What is a slot?

I don't understand the purpose of the different colored shapes to the right of the text. I understand they correspond to different locations on the board, but what are they and what are the differences between the dot, A, and B?

When ships appear (I assume you mean place?) can you place then on any water space?

Now I'm sure much of this is explained later in the rules, but if a question is raised in people's minds from reading something in the rules, they usually want to know the answer right away, or know their questions will be answered shortly. You want each statement to flow naturally into the next one as if you are anticipating the next question a player will want answered.

And I'll chime in and say I agree with what others have said. We need to know up front what the goal of the game is. I also want to know early on what a normal turn looks like.

When people are playing a game there are really only 2 things they want to know. What do I do on my turn and how do I win. So be sure those two things are very clear.

I think I would actually really enjoy this game, but I can't tell from the rules how to play. Hopefully you can the rulebook better organized by taking some tips from what folks have written here.

Looking forward to following your progress.

gxnpt
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2nd iteration of rules

and it's a little better now..........
http://thesingularitytrap.com/physical/quest_for_helium.pdf

Fri
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I can see a lot of potential

I can see a lot of potential in this game.

Like others have pointed out changing the ordering of things will help clarity.

Here are some thoughts and suggestions about the document:

On page 1, grey section in general. You could make the center city the capital city and say that it has six ship yards.

on page 1, second paragraph of grey section. You could change "appear" to "are constructed." (this works especially with the previous suggestion.)

On page 1, under the wind "High altitude adds +1 for 1-5". 1-5 of what? (Numbers of heads does not make sense.) Also I assume the numbers on the board correspond to wind direction. This was never explicitly stated.

On page 2. You could rearrange you your chart to have the columns ship type, altitude, movement, drift, and allowable terrain types.

On page 8 Balloon Ship graphic. The up section does not have any weapons

Lots of places. I like the name change to seeker/supplier was going to suggest scientist/merchant, but what you have works just as well.

Absent. Can ships on the surface, or at high and low altitudes move through cities?

General thoughts about the game:

Though I appreciate the humor of the things that you are seeking, IMO it would make the game a lot more comprehensible if you picked more tangible and related things. (Like in forbidden desert you need to be the four pieces of the ship.) A re-theme of what the players are searching for may make this easier. My short list of suggestion are the ultimate pirate ship, electricity or a treasure map.

You could have the sought items enhance the current ships.

Have you tried the game with simultaneous hidden movement?

Have you consider allowing the land to be bombed to reduce its altitude level by one? (You could do this with other weapons too but bombs seem like they have a limited about of use)

gxnpt
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a few points

On page 1, grey section in general. You could make the center city the capital city and say that it has six ship yards

Actually intended it along the line of 6 centrally located strongholds/headquarters each of which controls 2 lesser satellite cities/ports -- thus the trade only vs restock as tribute when in a city.

on page 1, second paragraph of grey section. You could change "appear" to "are constructed." (this works especially with the previous suggestion.)

Not that happy with appear myself - am leaning toward "are placed" since the game is fairly light.

Sounds like wind and drift are still too scattered as sections and need to be pulled into the same place.
Wind speed (thus number of hexes to drift) is 0-4 for low altitude and 1-5 for high. The six directions are indeed as shown in the center of the board - it is a bit clearer in the combat example which begins with drifting into a combat. If you need to do both a low and high altitude drift you determine speed and direction for each independently.

On page 8 Balloon Ship graphic. The up section does not have any weapons
This is correct and planned that way.

Cities count as water spaces for movement and can be traversed at any altitude.

The quest items are placeholder like the graphics but intended to be a bit silly. Further enhancements might include what part of the secret they possess (not to mention naming the cities).

It started out as a much heavier game idea - was going to do an actual airships battle thing - but it mutated on me and turned itself into this "roll and drift" modified with intentional moves mixed with pick up and deliver and a bunch of take that. Not my normal sort of game at all but the mechanics fell together nicely.

Coins would be replaced with 4 dice with just 2 values each that could be rolled same time as the d6 for direction.
(not unlike the way I sometimes use my red/black 0-9 twice d20 to flip a coin)

questccg
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I had to SEARCH...

To find out HOW to WIN the game, I needed to do a PDF Search for "Win" in order to go through the rulebook until some mysterious one line saying: "the first player to learn all six parts of the Secret of Helium is the winner."

What does that even mean???

Fri
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More questions and followups

Where do ships start at the beginning of the game?

How exactly do you get non-quest items (besides raiding) on page 9 the document says: "...with a full load of ship equipment
units...". I assume the players draw these randomly but it is never specified.

Can you fight/board your own ships?

On page 8 Balloon Ship graphic maybe you could include the no symbol (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_symbol) in the blank section.

For the place holders IMO you would be better off with a simplified scheme. For example secret of Helium Parts 1-6, or parts H, E, L, I, U, and M or you could use the plastic pieces from trivial pursuit.

gxnpt
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3rd iteration

3rd iteration of rulebook is now finished
http://thesingularitytrap.com/physical/quest_for_helium.pdf


edit:
and now is tweaked and proofread to the eyeballs starting to itch stage.......................

awaiting feedback now

23Dec2017 0600 GMT-6

dnddmdb
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There's a lot, but it's better!

This is definitely an improvement! The first couple pages are much more comprehensible. The structure just seems better overall, so it was much easier to stomach. My issues from a rulebook standpoint are:
1. I think the "Limited Items", "Color Sequence" and "Turn Sequence" should be moved up to just after the board is explained. Then you would go from turn sequence to "The Wind" which still isn't perfect but is better imo.
From a rule clarity standpoint:
1. I don't quite understand liftcloths and the buoyancy rules. I think those could be written more clearly to emphasize the purpose of a liftcloth and what the difference between that and a buoyancy deployed card is. This part feels more obtuse then it needs to be.
General advice:
1. I think that the combat/weapon cards or whatever should say on them which ships they can be used on as well as what angle/direction they can be fired at. I feel like that might be tough to remember.
2. Why have the variable turn sequence? Does it add anything to the game, you think? I feel like this game is already fairly complex, so maybe cut that if you aren't so sure it adds depth to the gameplay. Especially because it seems completely random.
Otherwise, I think the game seems fairly weighty/complex, but at least now I can understand it based on the rulebook. I really like the combat mechanism, although movement is a little complicated for my taste. Good work!

gxnpt
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liftcloth & bouyancy

You need 2 lift to fly high and 1 lift to fly low. Liftcloth is the item used for lift and must be inflated.

Bouyancy cards are placeholders to state "an inflated liftcloth should be here since we are at this altitude" used because liftcloth cards go back in the hand for damage selection.

Bouyancy cards that cannot be covered with a liftcloth card after combat means you are falling from the indicated altitude.

But it sounds like that part may be due for a rewrite for greater clarity.

------------

Not sure how much printing on the cards will be practical (much depends on card size in production version) but agree if practical about more details on cannon etc cards.

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The game said it wanted the variable turn sequence for "added family fun" - but a production version would be blindly drawing a colored meeple or maybe plastic sword from a cup (toss all back in when last is drawn) vs using cards you have to keep reshuffling. I envision grog cups - ale and rum - one for dice shake&roll and one for turn sequence token draw. Hmm. I believe the next rules and PnP iteration will draw the sequence cards from a cup.

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questccg
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No PNP please

gxnpt wrote:
...I believe the next rules and PnP iteration will draw the sequence cards from a cup.

Please do not create a PNP for this game. Instead INVEST in the least expensive "The Game Crafter" (TGC) version possible. Why? Because TGC products are of good quality and it will make for robust prototypes. And if you need to send a few copies to reviewers (at some point), all you need to do is pick your game and buy copies with the reviewer's address.

Nobody is interested in PNP! It's a total complete waste of time. Nobody wants to sit there and cut cards... It's very time consuming - and if people don't do it for their OWN games - what makes you believe they will do it for YOUR game?!

If you put together a nice Prototype on TGC - well maybe you can ship it around to gamers and pay for return postage. To me, that sounds more realistic...

Cheers.

gxnpt
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cash and design partners

My cash (retired and all that) does not really allow me to do anything other than virtual. Is why I was looking for a design partner for Fleet Admiral (Looks like I may already have one for this game also). So, I can do a PnP suited to making a simple prototype but that is as far as I go myself. Nothing involving cash except investigating costs and such.

dnddmdb
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Makes Sense

questccg wrote:

Nobody is interested in PNP! It's a total complete waste of time. Nobody wants to sit there and cut cards... It's very time consuming - and if people don't do it for their OWN games - what makes you believe they will do it for YOUR game?!

I think you should speak for yourself. Plenty of people enjoy PnP games. I understand the advice you're giving, which OP should definitely take into consideration, but no need to put down an entire gaming subculture.

OP:
Your liftcloth explanation makes sense now, thanks. I think it could use a rewrite in the rules.

That's a good point; I hadn't thought that the cards might be of smaller than 6x9 cm. Maybe just consider a reference sheet--it's a lot of rules to keep track of for where flamers can attack vs. rockets, cannons, etc.

If making the game to fulfill some sort of request, then I guess there's nothing you can do about adding the variable turn order. But imo it just sort of mucks things up. Maybe if you have to include it you can make some way of having it be non-random? Maybe some way that allows a catch-up mechanism? Just a thought. I don't think there's any issue in the physical determination of the turn order, just the idea of whether it's random or not.

Best,
Dan

questccg
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BGDF experience

dnddmdb wrote:
I think you should speak for yourself. Plenty of people enjoy PnP games. I understand the advice you're giving, which OP should definitely take into consideration, but no need to put down an entire gaming subculture.

I'm just speaking as a Moderator for this forum, I have seen many people attempt to lure people into trying their PNP (yes - including my own co-designed one too).

It's like the plague.

People ask for rulebook reviews... Get a couple of responses - because everyone hates writing rules and then requiring third-party reviews - because you've reworked those rules a dozen or so times... But at least you usually get one to two people maybe.

But PNPs are hardly ever downloaded. And I haven't seen anyone give FEEDBACK after having downloaded, printed, cut and playtested a PNP game. It's not my own "personal experience" I am talking about... It's the community's reaction to them...

So far that has been the trend... If Christmas comes early this year -- who knows maybe someone will try his PNP... BUT I'm saying it's a rare thing...

That's all... Cheers.

BTW I found the LINK (OP) of the Mech Game that I co-designed with Hamish Sterling... It's a PNP - and we did get some feedback. Maybe we expected more... Battle Mechs First-look

gxnpt
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PnP and variable move order

Lure them in....mwaahaahaa!

Nah. My games are way too much printing for most PNP taste or budget anyway.

I suspect those who voted for my Alchelemental game in the BGG 2 player print-and-play this year used the Vassal module I made instead of the PNP pages.

Both Fleet Admiral and Quest for Helium need more pages than that one did - not many would want to print their own in my opinion but you never know and some school or club might want a game to use. If such happened I assume they would comment as the mood struck them.

This is simply all about the rulebook and the mechanics.

variable turn order

I tend to personalize my games as I design them - have conversations with them, as it were - and the game itself says it wants players to draw from a cup to see who goes next (until all have gone then reset and begin again).

While I tend to think it is a distraction I figure playtesting will tell for sure.

Much like stating Fight or Parlay it could add a touch of mood to the play experience and so might remain, but it all depends on what actual players think of it.

This is a so much lighter game than my normal genre that I am as much going along for the ride as actually planning ahead of time.

I think it is more of an "enjoy the play" game than a "brag about the win" game. It uses a mitigated roll and move.....how serious can it be?

I am beginning the 4th iteration of the rulebook now, by the way.

EDIT:

Finished the iteration, slept, woke up and made a proofreading pass. So, as of Christmas morning (missed the solstice by 4 days) the 4th iteration is online.
http://thesingularitytrap.com/physical/quest_for_helium.pdf

MwaaHaaHaa.......the PNP images
http://thesingularitytrap.com/physical/questPnP.pdf

Nope, not a playtest this for me trap. But if you go to the effort of reading the rulebook and want the PNP images I figure they should be available.

Update: changed some wording for clarity in the combat and move sections so 27Dec rules update is the current one online now.

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