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Darn Rulebook!

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scifiantihero
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:(

I thought TI3 was not bad. I think that's all I've bought from them, though.

Momerath
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Sidebars, and other Suggestions

What others have said before me about the structure of a good rulebook definitely applies. It's not enough to write well and clearly - the order in which you introduce concepts is critical. Before you even start describing the phases of a turn your player must already understand the theme, the objective, the winning conditions, and be able to recognize all of the components by name. Usually you may assume the players will understand basic concepts like "taking turns" and "drawing a card from the deck", but if you are in any doubt go ahead and define your terms the moment they are introduced in the rules. Whenever the concept comes up again, you may wish to cross-reference it with its original definition (ie: "see section 4.3 for details"). A mark of a good rulebook is that it can be read all out-of-order and still make sense.

As an amateur rulebook-writer, but especially as a rulebook-reader, I am a big fan of sidebars and notes written in the margins of the rules. These follow the text of the main rules, and supplement the rules. They may clarify rules that are unusual and potentially confusing, discuss practical applications of these rules, explain their meaning, or just add flavor to an otherwise bland rulebook. Obviously you can go overboard with this, but used sparingly marginal notes strengthen the players' understanding of the rules, by explaining not only what the rules are but why they are that way and what all that means. It is the best safeguard against early misconceptions and "rules-lawyering" - if players respect and understand the intent of a rule, there will be less confusion later than if they only understood the mechanics of it.

I used to include a "strategy tips" section to all my rulebooks. Now I use a sidebar to communicate the same information. An advantage to this approach is that the tips now follow the rules in a clear and logical way. In addition, the strategy tips encourage players to think about the rules in a new way. The result is that games play more smoothly and misconceptions about the rules are quickly corrected.

Traz
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pg 2 Revised

I've redone pg 2 as the SET UP page. I gave up trying to do it as a word document and just did it all as a Photoshop file. I think it came out all right - now on to the hard stuff!

apeloverage
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this thread
Traz
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order up!

OK, pg 3 [BEFORE PLAY and DRAW] is now up. The next pages will be image intensive, but I hope to continue the roll and get them kicked out.

As always, critique encouraged. Pg 3 is here -

http://www.bgdf.com/node/1857

metzgerism
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Basic Rules

Hey, I found something.

I was trying to write up some mock rules for my own design and got frustrated at the sheer size of the rulebook (for a game that I consider to be fairly simple), and I decided to pull out my rulebooks for Catan and Carcassonne.

Carcassonne is fairly cut-and-dry, and follows most of the outlines that we describe here in a 4-page rulebook (with a double-sided reference sheet).

However, Catan has four pages of "Basic Rules," followed by the Almanac. The basic rules follow closer to our outlines, but the almanac is a massive mish-mash of details, and is really where the complexity exists.

Maybe THIS is the way that we should be writing Euro-game rulebooks.

DON'T FORGET THIS: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essen_Feather
Does anyone know if the Feather is still awarded?

metzgerism
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Traz

Traz, I think you should refrain from posting single pages from now on. We have given you the weapons to make a rough draft rulebook, and your challenge now is to complete it.

The next thing you should be posting for a critique is a full draft of the rules. We can start looking on rulebook overhauls once that happens...right now we're just getting details.

Traz
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it's always about the details.....

It threw me for a minute when you said that, then I went and checked the IMAGE GALLERY and noticed that as I have put up the 'finished' pages [which so far are only 1, 2, and 3] I haven't been removing the previous versions - nor have I been RENAMING the ones I wanted to leave.

As it turns out - most all of the details are in the two pages marked OVERVIEW A and OVERVIEW B. As I've gone back to the beginning, checked my layout with other rulebooks, and am slowly getting more comfortable with rewriting the rules, I think that I'm probably going to keep the two pages [re]labeled here as OVERVIEW A/B, albeit with a few minor changes. If you'll print those two pages out, you basically have most of the game in a nutshell.

I must apologize - I don't think I was very clear about explaining that part after I first came on here looking for somebody to do this for me. As it turns out, my frustration has begun to turn the worm inside and now I'm seeing it as a challenge. The spur, of course, was a rejection that was only described as - 'the game is not fun'. That drove me crazy as it was the only consistent praise I continually get from all the Con attendees - they LOVE the fun they have playing this game! The only common denominator I could think of that was missing was me explaining it. Rereading the rulebook I sent it became obvious it did not explain the game the way I do.

I started out here asking for suggestions, and the best I got was to write the way I explain it, and that's what I'm doing. It was awkward at first, but it's getting better.

Not easier. Better.

If anything it's getting harder as I approach the meatier parts, but getting the easier parts to look so darn good is giving me confidence. What I'm concerned about is getting too far ahead of myself. I appreciate the feedback AS I GO ALONG, because it keeps me from having to backtrack so much.

With the Overview in hand, hopefully you guys will be able to keep me focused and honest as I slog along. Feel free to drop in or drop out as the final version unfolds - or both. I'll take rolling commentary, quick snippets, one liners, or grandiose verbiage. Whatever you're willing or have the time for, I appreciate.

Two things I hope for at the end of this - First, that those of you out there working on your own games will take heart that if Chester can do it - you can too! Second, I hope seeing the process unfold will help you see that this part of game design which we all sort of take for granted is just as important in your presentation / pitch as your finished design is. That was not a lesson I was expecting to learn - but I'm glad I did.

Enjoy the ride kids!

metzgerism
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Traz wrote:It threw me for a

Traz wrote:
It threw me for a minute when you said that, then I went and checked the IMAGE GALLERY and noticed that as I have put up the 'finished' pages [which so far are only 1, 2, and 3] I haven't been removing the previous versions - nor have I been RENAMING the ones I wanted to leave.

As it turns out - most all of the details are in the two pages marked OVERVIEW A and OVERVIEW B. As I've gone back to the beginning, checked my layout with other rulebooks, and am slowly getting more comfortable with rewriting the rules, I think that I'm probably going to keep the two pages [re]labeled here as OVERVIEW A/B, albeit with a few minor changes. If you'll print those two pages out, you basically have most of the game in a nutshell.

That's good, you're moving in a direction towards completion.

Traz wrote:
I must apologize - I don't think I was very clear about explaining that part after I first came on here looking for somebody to do this for me. As it turns out, my frustration has begun to turn the worm inside and now I'm seeing it as a challenge. The spur, of course, was a rejection that was only described as - 'the game is not fun'. That drove me crazy as it was the only consistent praise I continually get from all the Con attendees - they LOVE the fun they have playing this game! The only common denominator I could think of that was missing was me explaining it. Rereading the rulebook I sent it became obvious it did not explain the game the way I do.

I started out here asking for suggestions, and the best I got was to write the way I explain it, and that's what I'm doing. It was awkward at first, but it's getting better.

Not easier. Better.

If anything it's getting harder as I approach the meatier parts, but getting the easier parts to look so darn good is giving me confidence. What I'm concerned about is getting too far ahead of myself. I appreciate the feedback AS I GO ALONG, because it keeps me from having to backtrack so much.

I have a short story:

In 10th grade I was in a 12th grade English class. The teacher was great, almost everyone loved him, but he had a very abstract way of thinking and teaching that, even in my off-center high school, was out of the norm. He had been there for 30 years though, kicking ass the whole time. Every year, one entire month of the class was set aside for a basic assignment: write a two page essay on a short story he assigns, with 2 days notice.
Every school day. For a month.

As grueling as writing over 20 essays in four weeks was, EVERYONE in the class was now ready for bullshit writing in college, and that was the point. I rode that bullshit train all the way to a Bachelor's degree, getting high marks writing about practically nothing. I consider this "bullshit" writing because all it was there for was to impress/trick a teacher into giving me a high grade, without doing much real work. My papers took minutes and hours to complete, not days or weeks.

Where I have a mental formula on writing essays, I don't on rulewriting (yet). If this changes, I'll let you know.

The moral of this story is: RULEWRITING IS NOT FAST WORK, and even I have trouble with it. It is informative writing (as opposed to extrapolative or argumenative), and therefore commands greater respect and more time.

Traz wrote:
With the Overview in hand, hopefully you guys will be able to keep me focused and honest as I slog along. Feel free to drop in or drop out as the final version unfolds - or both. I'll take rolling commentary, quick snippets, one liners, or grandiose verbiage. Whatever you're willing or have the time for, I appreciate.

Two things I hope for at the end of this - First, that those of you out there working on your own games will take heart that if Chester can do it - you can too! Second, I hope seeing the process unfold will help you see that this part of game design which we all sort of take for granted is just as important in your presentation / pitch as your finished design is. That was not a lesson I was expecting to learn - but I'm glad I did.

Enjoy the ride kids!

Thanks :)

Like I said before, your plight here led me to start serious work on my game's rulebook (even though the design is not quite complete), and it's kicking my ass just as well as yours.

Traz
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actually - my butt's getting tender...

Latest update. Pages 4 & 5 are up in the images area here -

http://www.bgdf.com/node/1889

http://www.bgdf.com/node/1890

These were the hard pages to do. They are the hardest part to explain. I was amazed at how little verbiage they finally wound up taking. On pg 5, I took the advice on using a sidebar - it helped immensely. I couldn't think of any logical way to place this vital information into the text without breaking the flow that has established itself. I isolated the text and tried to think of where I could insert it - then it hit me! I'll just insert it INTO the page ** NOT ** the text! A zing here, a zing there... and it all came together.

I'm feeling almost as good with the rules rewrite as I do with the game itself. This is easily my best Euro design. I can't explain how I felt when my first pitch didn't go anywhere - I was stunned. I've played enough games to know when you've got something solid in your hands. All the demoing at the Cons with the public only confirmed what I already knew. So when the 'thank you, no' came it was a bit of a shocker.

As this project has unfolded, I've done some serious self-butt-kicking. To be perfectly honest, if I had gotten the rulebook I sent instead the one that's unfolding here, I probably would have sent it back too.

Ouch.

Traz
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now serving #6 & #7...

Well, just as I thought it was getting easy.....NOT!

Page #6 here - http://www.bgdf.com/node/1914
Page #7 here - http://www.bgdf.com/node/1915

Transitioning from one phase of the game to the next is problematic, because this phase - ACTIVE TO JAR - doesn't HAPPEN on your first turn! There's no way to continue the narrative of presenting the four phases of a turn without going TO THE NEXT TURN. That left me with an interesting quandry - how to explain the next phase if it isn't there in the ongoing example?

Answer - Summary Page. WITH PICTURE EXAMPLES! Page 6 becomes a 'bridge' if you will, from phase 2 to phase 3. Not quite an overview, it takes the reader from the beginning of the game and walks him through to the third phase of the second turn.

The 'bridge' did allow me to toss in a concept [you skip phase three if there is no card in the ACTIVE box] that I wasn't quite sure where to place. It didn't seem to fit properly in the instructional section for either phase, but seemed quite natural as an appendage to the summary / bridge.

Have any of you used [or seen] a similar approach in Eurogame rulebooks?

Pg 7 saw my first 'historical' sidebar. It was really more of an explanation of WHY the jars are an important part of the game, but the historical reference style seemed the better way to explain it.

And my butt is STILL sore - with more whuppin' comin'....

Traz
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check the floor for brains

I think my head is leaking. Through an interesting turn of events, I got to spend virtually all day working on the rulebook. I hope I didn't get any on the carpet.

page 8- http://www.bgdf.com/node/1920
page 9- http://www.bgdf.com/node/1921
page 10- http://www.bgdf.com/node/1922

Dang, it got quiet on here. I hope everything is meeting with SOME sort of approval - and I hope I didn't burn everybody out. Finished pgs 8-10. That leaves about 6-7 pages. But for today - I'm done. I'm happy with where I've gotten to and how it's gotten here. It looks good. It reads good. And it gets the points across in a simple, easy to read manner.

Dang - that REALLY feels good!

simpson
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Quote:Dang, it got quiet on

Quote:
Dang, it got quiet on here.

Do you have this as a word doc?

simpson

Traz
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word / shmurd

I have each page as a Word doc on my Mac, except pg 2 which I created entirely in Photoshop Elements II [which is what I use to create all the graphics]. So I can go back and alter / reword anything at will. What I do is make a pdf of each page, then create a jpeg from that - which is what I post here.

metzgerism
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Well, I told you the next

Well, I told you the next thing to post is a full-and-complete rulebook, so I'm waiting for that.

Does BGDF allow you to post a multi-page PDF? If so, that's what you should post when everything is done. "PDFCreator" is an app that should help you here.

Traz
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pdf who?

I tried to post some of the pages as pdfs and I got an error mssg that I could only post jpegs, so that's what I've been doing. If there's a way to post multi pages, I'm not sure what it is. Some of us are computer challenged.

I understand about waiting for the whole thing. It's just the impatience within me.... :-)

metzgerism
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Alright, when it's done maybe

Alright, when it's done maybe you should host it on mediafire or imageshack then. Jpegs suck.

Traz
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this is the song that never ends...

Actually, it will before too long. Getting towards the end! Only a few more pages to go. Here are pgs 11 & 12.

Page 11- http://www.bgdf.com/node/1931
Page 12- http://www.bgdf.com/node/1932

At first I was a little concerned - pg 11 is the first page I've done with no graphics. I broke up the writing a bit by including icons from the game to use as 'bullets', and that seemed to help.

I'm surprised at your request for pdfs instead of jpegs? I find the jpegs I send much more useable for recipients than the pdfs I send. Also, I don't go to or use any of those services you mentioned. :-(

Comments welcome.

simpson
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Quote:Comments welcome. I'd

Quote:
Comments welcome.

I'd give you feedback but looking at 10+ individual jpegs is getting tedious. Do you have the WIP in a word doc to look at? It would be easier for editing notes too.

simpson

Traz
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brother, can you spare a WORD doc?

simpson wrote:
I'd give you feedback but looking at 10+ individual jpegs is getting tedious. Do you have the WIP in a word doc to look at? It would be easier for editing notes too.

I guess it is a bit tedious having to open each page individually. I guess I just assumed folks would be looking at each pg individually and commenting on it, or perhaps printing each one out as it goes along...

I had to look up WIP [got it now], but yes, each pg except #2 exists in a WORD document. I attempted to upload one of the WORD doc pages and got this error mssg from the BGDF website-

"The selected file PAGE 12. could not be uploaded. Only JPEG, PNG and GIF images are allowed."

I'm not sure what a PNG file is, but I suppose I could save the pages in that format if it would be helpful.

The IMAGES page also states that files bigger than 1MB are not allowed. I think more than 2-3 pages at a time would break the bank on that rule also.

What I'm trying to say here is - I don't have the technical expertise to post these pages any other way than what I've been doing. If anybody knows a different way to do it, I'd be happy to offer them up in a format that would be easier for you guys to take in. I just flipped through the IMAGES folder and couldn't find any multi-page documents.

I'm totally open to suggestion here - is there a better way to post these pages here on BGDF than what I'm doing? I thought putting in a link for each individual page was the easiest way, but perhaps I should go back and put links to ALL of the pages so far as I post each new one? I found that having the link in the post [that is, each thread reply which is what you are reading right now], was the quickest way to get to it, because navigating the GALLERY meant extra steps no matter what I did. So what I do is - go to a reply here, click on the link, hit my back button and it takes me back here so I can click on another link. That works best when there are two new pages at a time - so, again, perhaps I should be providing a comprehensive list every time I post a reply here announcing a new page?

If any of you guys would like to take a crack at it, I'm willing to send you the original files in any format you like. You can email me directly at -

cehendrix@sbcglobal.net

I ain't hard to find! :-)

simpson
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Quote:If anybody knows a

Quote:
If anybody knows a different way to do it

Have the rulebook as a doc or even a pdf. Then you can email it. JPEGs are hard to red pen for editing.

sidenote:
PNG is a lossless image format file, like JPEG or GIF but higher quality.

simpson

metzgerism
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PNGs are fantastic. They are

PNGs are fantastic.
They are image files. They are not what we want.

I don't necessarily want a pdf, but a PDF sure seems like the best way to do it. After all, there ARE free filesharing sites all over the internet (mediafire, imageshack), so don't sell yourself short just because BGDF can't handle anything higher than a bitmap derivative.

Traz
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I think I can, I think I can......

So close....

These last two pages -

http://www.bgdf.com/node/1990
http://www.bgdf.com/node/1991

-took a bit more rewriting than I thought they would [plus some Real World Brain Damage Intervention]. That was the bad news. The good news is, there's only two or three pages left to go. The interesting part has been.... how difficult it was to get over the hump of getting started.

I kept thinking each page would get easier because now the steamroller was moving, but that wasn't the case. Irregardless of the continuity of the narrative, each page has produced it's own challenge - and it's own hump.

I might have constrained myself by trying to stick with a format that keeps each individual page as a separate 'package' of information. In some cases this has proved very difficult, but in the end the self-imposed structure has forced me to find different ways to present the information and has helped very much.

I heartily recommend it to those of you beginning your own lonely walk. This process has been just as brutal as the design work.

That being said, I'm almost to the end and interested in some blind playtesting of the rules. If you have different colored beads at home and an inkjet printer [and sleeves], I can send you the Temple cards, the playing cards and the rules and you would have everything you need to play.

Any takers?

Traz
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I KNEW I COULD! I KNEW I COULD!

Finally.... that magic day has finally arrived! Last two pages are done.

My ass is hamburger. I feel like I've got ASSburger's Syndrome....

http://www.bgdf.com/node/2008
http://www.bgdf.com/node/2009

So, here are the last two pages. Have at it, guys!

Offer from previous post still stands.

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