Archive for February, 2007

Proofreading

February 28, 2007

Properly proofreading documents before you release them is essential to creating a good and easy to play game. Proofreading makes your rules and game look far more professional, easier to use, and less likely to require errata or rules changes in the future.

There are several levels of proofreading, and whilst it’s not important to always do all of the levels, it’s important to know when to perform what level of proofreading.

The first degree of proofreading is where you simply re-read the document once you have completed it. This sort of proofreading will probably pick up some of the most obvious mistakes, and help some of the clumsy phrasing. It won’t pick up all of the errors though, as you are familiar with the work, you will read what you expect to see, and miss some very major errors.

The next level is getting friends or play-testers to read over documents. These check might find some spelling or grammatical errors, but this kind of proof reading will mainly pick up areas of uncertainty and unclear sections. This should help you clean up the weaker areas of the document.

The final level is to have you document read by a professional proofreader. This is essential for any document that you are intending to print from a professional printers. The cost involved is high, and you simply cannot afford the mistakes that will be missed if you are the only person who proofreads the document. If you are attempting to produce a professional document, it needs to be professional looking in all ways.

Finally, don’t forget to have all of the amendments you make properly proofread. It is easy to include mistakes in any changes you make to your document, and it looks just as bad to the reader.

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The Crazed Astronomer

February 20, 2007

A new character for your DnD games, the Crazed Astronomer, a chance to feed plot to your players, or just mess with their heads

Rules Variants

February 6, 2007

Many board games come with optional rules variants that you can include in the basic rules of the game. Twilight Imperium and A Game of Thrones both contain a few such optional rules.

In general, I think that these modifiers are helpful to the enthusiastic players of the game. The extra rules generally extend or increase the complexity of the game, but not to the degree engendered in a full expansion.

As such, they give the opportunity to add a something extra to the game, at little extra cost in additional learning. This means that the players of the game can gain extra enjoyment from their initial investment, and keep playing the game for longer.

Rules variants can, in general, be easily ignored if required, meaning that a new player can learn only the basic rules, and the experienced game players can drop the additional rules without losing the core of the game.

Different play groups will find different variants more useful than others, depending on the styles of play and tactics favoured amongst the group. You can include variants in a game that favour one strategy over another, allowing overly prevalent strategies to be curtailed, based on the particular preferences of the players.

The weakness with variants is the extra work required to develop the extra rules. Some rules variants are simple, quick to develop and easy to balance. Some are much harder, requiring more rules, new game components and are tough to evenly balance. These more complex variants often add the most to the game, but also cost most to develop.

Variants should be considered for addition throughout the design process, if you find a section of rules that doesn’t quite fit, but you’d like to retain, consider holding onto it for possible inclusion as a rules variant.

As is often the case with game design, including rules variants has both a cost and a benefit, and it is up to you to decide how mush of a cost you can incur for a given benefit.