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Software for rules documents?

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dobnarr
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Hi, everybody -

Does anyone have a recommendation for software to design rules documents? So far, I've done most of mine in Word, and I'm good enough with Word to prettify them, but Word has some pretty severe limitations/crappy workarounds/idiosyncrasies for page formatting, text wrapping around art, etc.

I've heard people suggest Illustrator, and I know it's a powerful piece of software (I own a copy). I've always found the user interface for Illustrator bewildering (and I'm a programmer who's designed my own interfaces and used literally hundreds of other programs without difficulty). Even if I could learn it better, it seems like what Illustrator is for is producing actual artwork or illustrations rather than text-heavy documents, but maybe I'm missing something.

I've got access to Publisher, but it seems clunky, limited, and awkward - I don't know it well; I've only really used it when forced to by colleagues or for my kids' projects.

Is there something else out there that's good for illustration-heavy, text-heavy fancy documents like modern game rulebooks? I used Adobe Pagemaker back in my Mac SE days and liked it, and I see there's a modern version - I wonder if it's turned into something that would work for games?

Thanks for any suggestions...

Dave

dobnarr
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Scribus

This looks potentially cool: http://www.scribus.net/canvas/Scribus

Anybody used it? Downloading now.

dobnarr
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No great options...

Downloaded Scribus - it seems kind of hard to use and not so powerful, but it's free and kind of does what I'm after, but not as easily or as prettily as Word. Further research suggests that Quark XPress and Adobe InDesign are maybe the kind of product I'm after, but they're both many hundreds of dollars. Ouch.

I took a second look at Publisher, and it seems like it might work OK. Any other ideas?

PierreNZ
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.

What was wrong with Scribus? Check out the website and it looks pretty cool. Shame if it's too hard/clunky.

At the moment, I'm still using ye olde Word for my rule documents until they are completely final. Then i transfer everything to Photoshop... yeah, that's right, that's all i got to handle graphic-heavy stuff :-)

I tried some other stuff but realised that i was faster laying out my rules on Photoshop than having to learn a completely new interface from scratch. I suppose if i could block out days/weeks, it'd be worth trying something else but I do my best typing while i'm supposed to work in the office, short intense bursts of 15-20mins :-)

heruca
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For anyone who is on a Mac, I

For anyone who is on a Mac, I would recommend Apple's Pages app.

zipplockbag
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Joined: 01/12/2012
Indesign is my page layout

Indesign is my page layout application of choice. It's powerful and outputs press ready documents. For stuff going to print on a laser printer, you can't go wrong with Pages on the Mac. I use Word to write up rules until I have to copy and paste into another app.

Do you by any chance work or go to a college or university? Adobe offers some pretty good discounts for students, teachers, or anyone in academia.

Another alternative is to buy a used copy of InDesign on eBay or something. As long as it comes with the disks and a working serial, then it's a legal copy for you. People often sell older versions when they upgrade. A CS3 or CS4 version would be more than adequate.

Either way, you can download a fully functional trail from Adobe that will work for 30 days and it will at least see if it's something you can pick up and use.

dobnarr
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Scribus

I didn't mean to dismiss Scribus completely - I only fiddled with it for an hour or so, and it seemed like a very robust piece of software for something free. I gave up, though, because I was having to work pretty hard running through menus and dialogs and preferences boxes to get close to the effects I wanted, and the overall result wasn't great. I was already running up against limitations for frames (e.g. you could do an outline for a text frame, but there were only limited fill and shadow effects), and working with images was unintuitive for me. I'm sure if I spent the time to learn it I could use it to produce something pretty slick, but given what I can already do in Word, the upside compared to the effort didn't seem that great. When I tried Publisher again, it seemed vastly easier to use (although still clunky for some things). But try Scribus if you like - it's free!

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