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Writing legitimate rules for my game.

SO... 2 weeks ago, I "updated" my rules to show to a customer who offered to critique it for me. It was now TWO pages! haha.

After 2 weeks he comes back and said he didn't understand it. I told him that THAT doesn't help me. he said to flesh it out and add fluff. I didn't add fluff because this was a rules critique. Being the person who wrote it, I think they are understandable and fleshed out so that didn't help me.

That same day, the Osprey Steampunk rules came out and it was written in a orderly fashion. I decided then, I needed to order everything: how to play, what things do, what things mean, what to have, etc. Halfway through rewriting everything, I realized I should be writing this as if the reader has NEVER played a wargame in their life! I have experience in writing down rules, only creating them. You'd think owning over 100 boardgames and playing even more, I would know how or have an idea on how to.

Everything is coming out clearer. I have have a numbered diagram of a Character card explaining everything on the card. So far, it's just "in a sentence explain an aspect, then go into detail of each part of that aspect."
For example,

. what an action is
..... List of actions: A Sentence briefly explaining what it does.

Paragraph detailing everything about Action 1.

Paragraph detailing everything about Action 2.

I must say, my thoughts are never this organized, but it's nice seeing them REALLY take shape. I'm at 5 pages now! haha


One method to use when writing rules

Define the overall objective of the game (20 words or less).
Note: Your board game cover has addressed the type of player interested in your game.
This keeps you focused on what your rules are trying to achieve.

List the contents of your game
- Cards- how many different sets, how many in each deck
- Dice- no. of sides, no. of colours
- Playing pieces- brief description(tank, aircraft, soldiers, special weapons…), how many different sets, colour coding
This is your checklist when you review your rules.
These 2 points could also help with what order you write your rules of play.

I don’t envy your task.

Writing out the rules is one

Writing out the rules is one of my favorite parts of making a game, actually. I am a copywriter by trade, though, so maybe that's why. Making complex things simple and intuitive is something I enjoy.

My advice: Include the "why." The first time you play any game, it can be bewildering because all of the rules are out of context. It's hard to keep in your head because the rulebook looks like a jumble of disconnected regulations. Reminding the reader every once in a while what the point of the different rules is can speed up the learning process a lot, because they'll be able to see the whole much more quickly.

I'm with hotsoup

This is the best part of game design: design the rule book.

From the feedback I got recently, I would recommend:
1. intro/objective
2. components
3. Victory condition
4. Explanation of components (if any explanation is necessary)
5. Explanation of actions
6. turn order
step 1
step 2
7. examples (I like reading these intermitantly throughout the book next to the rule they are exemplifying)
8. glossary

If anyone disagrees with me, let me know. I also want to know what makes a great rule book.

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blog | by Dr. Radut