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  #1  
Old April 22nd, 2007, 03:23 PM
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RichardD RichardD is offline
 
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Writing rulebooks

Gosh, it's not that easy, is it?

I've spent quite a bit of time over the last week writing the rulebook to a game that will be published by Mayfair later this year. It's jolly tricky to cover everything in a clear, concise yet complete manner.

And I've not tried it out on some unsuspecting newbies, yet. That's always the acid test of whether a rulebook is any good - can four reasonably dull adults actually manage to play a game from the rules that you've written?

Q - "Are you one of those people who does The Times crossword puzzle in 10 minutes?"

A - "I have NEVER taken 10 minutes!"

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  #2  
Old April 22nd, 2007, 04:10 PM
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KalisLord KalisLord is offline
 
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By far the worst written rule book I have read is 1st edition d&d by Gary Gygax. It's a great game, but it is definitely rough trying to know everything and not get it confused based on how it is worded. Anyways good luck with your rulebook work.

"Dethklok has summoned a troll.

That's impossible there is no such thing as trolls.

Then how do you explain the dead unicorns..."
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  #3  
Old April 23rd, 2007, 12:53 AM
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Agent Minivann Agent Minivann is offline
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I wish you the best of luck. Clear writing is very difficult. Much harder than most people even realize. Throw in writing rules and/or vague concepts and the ante is upped.
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  #4  
Old April 24th, 2007, 11:02 PM
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I have been working on a Mafia/Crime/Gang RPG game for about a year now already and it is not easy at all...I am figuring I am still about 6 months from playtesting it and then another year away from final production...artwork, layout, publishing etc


I would be more than happy to help you test your game out when it is ready.

PM me.
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  #5  
Old April 25th, 2007, 07:52 PM
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Writing rules or standards is easy…. Now writing rules that can only be interpreted one way is almost impossible if not impossible. I will say the smaller the group that is working on the rules the better your chances are for success.

Good Luck!

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  #6  
Old April 26th, 2007, 08:45 PM
hobbesthebrainslug hobbesthebrainslug is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KalisLord
By far the worst written rule book I have read is 1st edition d&d by Gary Gygax. It's a great game, but it is definitely rough trying to know everything and not get it confused based on how it is worded. Anyways good luck with your rulebook work.
hahaha, tru dat
i started with the 1st edition basic D&D starter game, it came with dice, a (small) battle grid and a rather large adventure "The keep on the borderlands". That adventure was from back in the days when dungeons were called modules.
if i can find that old book i think i'll rewrite the keep on the borderlands as a 3.0 adventure, man that'll be a blast!

Grut name: Erjunak
Marro name: Na-Dav-Kak
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  #7  
Old April 26th, 2007, 09:00 PM
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Malechi Malechi is offline
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The best way to test-read your completed rules is to attempt to read them incorrectly and see how they can be misinterpreted. Just one of the many things I do each time I am completing a project ...

Just because you're offended, it doesn't make you right.
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  #8  
Old April 27th, 2007, 11:14 AM
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Congratulations on getting a game accepted by a publisher Richard! I haven't written any game rulebooks other than RPGs, which are a different beast altogether, but I can definitely see your point.
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  #9  
Old April 27th, 2007, 12:20 PM
Dreaded Gazebo Dreaded Gazebo is offline
 
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One of my biggest issue with lots of rulebooks is that they are fine for reading through to understand the game but are terrible reference materials when you just need to quick find some information.

Even take Battlelore, for instance. Gorgeous manual with lots of great illustrations and everything clearly laid out. Forgot one rule and want to find it while playing? Good luck.

Speaking of good luck, good luck writing your rules!
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  #10  
Old April 27th, 2007, 01:08 PM
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Just to clear up one misapprehension, the game's not actually mine, just the rulebook.

The game is by a known games designer (who happens to be a friend of mine), who has had games published by a number of different companies in the past. When a big publisher does one of his designs, they generally write the rulebook for themselves (sometimes the publisher does development work to change the game to their needs; sometimes the published game has been in German; either way, I'd be no help).

But some of his games have been published by what is effectively his own company -and every single time, people (including me) have siad ~"this man shoulod not be allowed to write his own rules".

So to prevent any further rulebook disasters, I stepped up and said I would do it. Writing with clarity and precision is a part of my job, so I thought I knew what I was getting into!

One of the biggest difficulties (as D G says) is getting all of the right information in the right sections. I think that my current draft only gets this 75% right. The other pitfall I'm trying to avoid (poorly, I suspect) is reliance on overly-technical language - such that the ruloebook might read like a legal statute instead of a game manual!

As for offers of help testing the game, thanks - but it's not my place to involve new playtesters (especially not at a distance), and the game is 97% complete anyway. I've been debating a couple of minor rules tweaks with the designer to make sure that the system is totally balanced, but the game mechanics themselves have been carefully thought about and extensively tested for quite a long time now, and has already been seen by enough gamers in one form or another that the designer knows that it's a system which gives a very good game indeed; we just want to make sure that - when released - this game is as good as can be (and doesn't gather the usual criticism of having an almost useless set of rules!).

Those with a keen eye for games will now be able to work out who I am writing for, and probably which game it is too. In which case, keep it under your hats; the publisher wants to be the one who makes all the official announcements.

Q - "Are you one of those people who does The Times crossword puzzle in 10 minutes?"

A - "I have NEVER taken 10 minutes!"

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  #11  
Old April 27th, 2007, 01:16 PM
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Just to clear up one misapprehension, the game's not actually mine, just the rulebook.

The game is by a known games designer (who happens to be a friend of mine), who has had games published by a number of different companies in the past. When a big publisher does one of his designs, they generally write the rulebook for themselves (sometimes the publisher does development work to change the game to their needs; sometimes the published game has been in German; either way, I'd be no help).

But some of his games have been published by what is effectively his own company -and every single time, people (including me) have siad ~"this man shoulod not be allowed to write his own rules".

So to prevent any further rulebook disasters, I stepped up and said I would do it. Writing with clarity and precision is a part of my job, so I thought I knew what I was getting into!

One of the biggest difficulties (as D G says) is getting all of the right information in the right sections. I think that my current draft only gets this 75% right. The other pitfall I'm trying to avoid (poorly, I suspect) is reliance on overly-technical language - such that the ruloebook might read like a legal statute instead of a game manual!

As for offers of help testing the game, thanks - but it's not my place to involve new playtesters (especially not at a distance), and the game is 97% complete anyway. I've been debating a couple of minor rules tweaks with the designer to make sure that the system is totally balanced, but the game mechanics themselves have been carefully thought about and extensively tested for quite a long time now, and has already been seen by enough gamers in one form or another that the designer knows that it's a system which gives a very good game indeed; we just want to make sure that - when released - this game is as good as can be (and doesn't gather the usual criticism of having an almost useless set of rules!).

Those with a keen eye for games will now be able to work out who I am writing for, and probably which game it is too. In which case, keep it under your hats; the publisher wants to be the one who makes all the official announcements.

Q - "Are you one of those people who does The Times crossword puzzle in 10 minutes?"

A - "I have NEVER taken 10 minutes!"

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  #12  
Old April 27th, 2007, 01:50 PM
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Ryougabot Ryougabot is offline
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Rulebooks are hard...incredibly hard. I wrote several in the beginning of college and was discouraged what no one could understand. Then I took a Technical writing course. I applied everything in the manual section of that course to designing rulebooks. Those courses offer many guidelines for writing good manuals that apply to rulebooks as well.

There is a order to write good rulebooks.
1. Audience action analysis - determine what the reader has to do and who the audience is
2. Write task order
3. Test order
4. Develop graphics
5. Test, review and revise
6. Using Manual alone - deliver training session
7. Send to end users for Testing
8. Review and Revise
9. WRITE INDEX
10 Draft Complete Manual

Tips :
1. avoid passive voice altogether
2. Use the simple imperative whenever you can
3. Use definite and indefinite articles - the, a and an in complete sentences
Use graphics to display, use words to narrate, direct, and explain - You would be surprised by how many people use graphics in place of words whn it is not appropriate.

-Ryougabot

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