Skip to Content

How to reduce and simplify rules?

5 replies [Last post]
Joined: 10/17/2009

How can you communicate your rules to the players in such a way that they are easy to understand and to use.
And how do you make the rules fit the game, in the sense that the become natural to the came?

What are ways, to make easy and logical steps playing the game, without being this cumbersome?

Joined: 02/06/2009
It's a lot of hard work. I've

It's a lot of hard work. I've been going through my rules a lot recently. Without seeing your rules, I can only hand out vauge advice:

Start by explaining the objective and the componets. Players want to know what they need to do and what tools they have.

Do an overview before you get into specifics. For example, in the first paragraph of my "How to Play" section I mention things I don't fully explain until a page later. In other words, tell them what you're going to tell them before you tell it to them.

Show people pictures. Language is fairly weak at describing spacial relationships. So any time the placement or orintation of something is important, show a picture.

Any of this helping?

Brykovian's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
JB gives some good

JB gives some good advice.

Also, organize your thoughts by going through things "backwards". What I mean by this is to start at the end of the game -- what should the best outcome be for the player? Taking a step backwards: How does what happens in the game lead to that outcome? Taking another step backwards: How does what the player do during their turn to play impact what happens in the game? And so forth.

Once you've organized what a player will need to know to reach the end of the game, break things up into logical groupings. Grouping around the available tools, as JB mentioned, is a good way to go ... or around different ways to score points (or whatever the goal of the game is), etc.


Joined: 08/12/2009
I have organized the rules

I have organized the rules for my games in this way
1) Components
2) Setup
3) Player's options during his turn
4) Endgame conditions
5) Scoring/Objective

One alternative is to put the objective at the beginning. But the objective is usually difficult to grasp without going through all the things that the players can do first. So, I decided to put it at the end. Usually, once all the things have been explained, the objective is quite intuitive.

Joined: 09/20/2009
Larger Answer

Maybe I am a bit simple, but as far as development...

Writing rules is one part, play testing is a good way to narrow rules down... Asking the question "Why does this rule/action/object need to be in the game?" Does it add to the fun, balance, or progression in a valuable way. Most games I disliked in the first play were because the play was over complicated with little pay off, that is to say a rule that is not a tool (Helping propel a player towards victory- or make their adversary further from it), a wall (Helping the players stay in the same space, keep the outside of the box thinker from making their own game entirely), or a mechanism of "fair play" (keeping a person from running away with the game without "earning" the advantage. I must say good words have been spoken above, not sure if these words are speaking to a different phase in rule development than where you are at...


Joined: 04/14/2009
Get those rules written down and PLAY TEST!!! :)

For me, I need to get everything down on paper. Even if it doesn't really make sense at first. Just get it written down so you don't lose the thought! Now...go back and look at what you wrote. Does it makes sense? You have to remember that of course YOU know what you meant, but you won't be around to explain the rules if you give the game to someone else (or get it published...whatever). Assume you won't be there to explain things. Will the players know what you meant? Give examples wherever possible. Screen shots or diagrams are good, too. Illustrate things as you explain them so everything is clear.

Now PLAY TEST it! Did the player's interpretation match what you intended? It can be a long, arduous process, but it's well worth it to take the time and effort to make things clear and concise. I've played many, many games that I really wanted to like, but I stopped playing because the rules were unclear. There are lots of really good suggestions here. Walking away for a while and coming back is also very good advice.

Get your friends to help you out. Ask them to try to play the game just by reading the rules. When they get stuck, they'll ask you, "What did you mean here?" Once you explain it to them, you'll know how to write it down. Friends are also a really good source for mechanics and other design features. Keep an open mind and try not to be offended if there are aspects they don't like. Some things look good on paper and end up SUCKING when you actually play. That's why I incorporated play testing with the writing of the rules. Have them near by so you can make notes on what to change.

One last thing....some games have built in "changes" to the rules based on the number of players. My daughter and I are making a game right now. We've only played each other and I think the rules so far reflect a one on one mechanic. The game is designed for 2-4 people. I might need to change the rules based on the number of players. Not sure about that yet, because we're still getting everything written down.

Good luck!

EDIT: Looks like I said what Kiriori already said. Sorry about that...didn't meant to steal your idea. I saw the thread and answered without looking at what was already here. I will endeavor NOT to do that again.

Syndicate content

forum | by Dr. Radut