MidSouth Con 2016

Time flies! So, in March we had the distinct honor of showing off Shogunate at MidSouth Con 2016 in Memphis, TN. What an amazing group of gamers!

Not only did I get to participate in two thoughtful and well-run panels, but we also were allowed to host a tournament and three demos of Shogunate. We had the game in the play-to-win section as well and one of our tournament players won the P2W copy!

The game was well received and we had a blast, even participating in three tournaments and two late nights of gaming ourselves.  5/5, would attend again! Below are just a few of the games we enjoyed with friends old and new!

SHOGUNATE is HERE!

Edit: Action Phase Games & Indie Boards and Cards have licensed Shogunate! Stay tuned for the US Retail release of this deviously strategic card game.

Finally. It’s here. Shogunate!  After more than a year of hard work, the game is now available to the public. No crowd funding, no waiting, no stalking the mailbox or waiting for an update. It’s physically here on a shelf beside me, waiting to be shipped to its new home. Amazing. Also, I need a nap.

Here’s a look at the leaders on our boss playmat. Notice the color coded card backs for the action cards visible there to the left. Just a little gift from me to you. Makes 2nd and 3rd games super quick to set up.  OH! and the box holds all the cards SLEEVED if’n you’re so inclined.

Shogunate Leaders

Shogunate card game, finished!

More updates to come. Why didn’t we crowd fund? How are we printing? Who shot Analise?  More to come!

Stonemaier Games Design Day 2015

Stonemaier Games Design Day 2015

Wow, what a weekend! Saturday we enjoyed what I have dubbed the most passionate day in gaming. It was a bit overwhelming actually.

Stonemaier Games graciously hosted a design day for budding game designers and game aficionados and it was EPIC.  Why? Well, even when you go to a con you are surrounded by fellow geeks – but these geeks were MY geeks.  To be in a room FILLED with people who love games like I love games is tremendous. Truly tremendous. I met so many folks who love the minutia of board games, who get excited about mechanics, who love ALL types of games. I can’t say enough about how wonderful the attendees were!

Design Day 2015

Design Day 2015

Playtesting

So I ran my game 21 times. 21! Twenty-one. In the first session (!) my last (knock-on-wood) balancing hurdle was solved, and by an off-handed remark.  The kind that makes you literally smack your head and exclaim, “Well, duh.”  Boom. Done.  I’ll get into the nitty gritty of how Shogunate faired at DD in my next post, but for now let’s talk about prototypes!

Shogunate on the table at Design Day 2015

Shogunate on the table at Design Day 2015

Prototypes

There were all manner of prototypes there. All with different themes, levels of art and craftsmanship. Collectively, DG played 6 prototypes and had a blast. A few of the games were nearly production ready and will be picked up by us as soon as they are released.  Some needed work, so we worked on them.  There was furious note taking, brainstorming, and theme rejiggering going on at nearly every session. All the hard work put into these games is a legendary feat. The level of creativity and generosity in the room was just breathtaking.

Feedback

Friends are great, but where playtesting really bears fruit is with a group of generous, like-minded strangers. The thoughtfulness and intuition displayed by the playtesters was AMAZING.  These weren’t “I don’t like it” or “it’s too slow” type commenters, oh no! What designers got were in-depth conversations on what SPECIFIC changes might make the game better, whole paragraphs of non-judgmental and truly helpful suggestions and advice.

Design Day 2015

Design Day 2015

 

Once again, thanks to Stonemaier Games for a truly worthwhile and enjoyable weekend. In one day we shaved a month off our design time for Shogunate. More than that, the day went smoothly, everything was communicated well, and the space was perfect.  The new friends and sound advice are the best part! Thank you, thank you, thank you for making this possible.  Well done!

 

 

 

 

What you can learn from Monopoly

“Wha? Monopoly? Eww, gross.” You’re saying… but wait! It’s true.  First I will say that you can learn something about game design from every game you play.  Personally, I learn more from games that I did not enjoy more so than ones I did.

Monopoly is the target of much vitriol in the designer games community, but why?

I think the backlash stems from what I call “Indy Kid Syndrome” a bit of the, “No, no. I like games you’ve never even heard of” type sentiment.  Below are a few reasons that I believe should grant a reprieve from your ire.

Foremost, the game was designed to be BAD. No, seriously. It was and education tool created by Elizabeth J. Phillips to explain the single tax theory of Henry George and sought to demonstrate that monopolies damage the economy and fewer business constraints for companies at the turn of the last century would make it bad for everyone.

On to the game itself: roll, move, buy property or don’t – which triggers an auction, next player does the same, pay “rent” for landing on the properties of other real estate moguls.  Did you catch the auction part?  Yep. There are auction mechanics in the game, seldom used but they are there. No one plays the game correctly.  Ever. I know I never have. The game is moderately complex for what it is.

There actually IS strategy. Capture monopolies, buy properties 7ish spaces apart, etc. True, the pure luck cards add nothing to the game, however they do act a bit like random bonuses (the most purple things!) in more complex euros if you think of the cash like VP. (There is no pile of money on “Free Parking”, that is simply a free space to land on – so that negates the “luck” from a common-non-rule-revered-as-fact.)

The point of the game is to bankrupt the other players with your clever strategy. Aside from paying rent, there is little player interaction. Players can’t actually lend other players money… only the bank can via a mortgage. So the banker has more interaction with other players but otherwise the only interaction is a “gotcha” mechanic. Current game design theory is to let players play the game. Learn from this in your game. If you are not a fan of monopoly, make sure you don’t have the equivalent “Go directly to Jail” and “Free Parking” in YOUR game.

Takeaways: So you don’t like Monopoly? Make a BETTER GAME!

If you aren’t a fan of roll, then move, ad nauseam– use a different movement mechanic in your game.

Salvage things like great tokens and clear auction mechanics and make them your own. Build and grow the pieces you do like and learn from the pieces you don’t.

Unless you’re creating a war based game, maybe avoid the “destroy all other players” goal.

Keep your game from meandering for countless hours. Like those last %*@& troops holed up in Australia, when the game is a foregone conclusion have rules for it to END, preferably before.

The next time someone says “Oh, like Monopoly?” when you say you play board games respond with “You know, not for a long time.  But if you like Monopoly, let me show you [insert game here].”

games-650435_1280

Save Art for Beta Testing

Being the pixel diva (graphic artist) that I am, it’s REALLY hard not to futz with art on ideas. Sometimes I’m so excited about the aesthetics of my new game idea that I get wrapped up in them and take days to get out what should be a 15 minute prototype for testing. There are a few reasons this is bad, terrible, and wrong.

The first reason: you get wrapped up in mechanics that may not work and NEED to be changed. But you put in TIME and EFFORT into design and art and now you are married to them in your own mind. This is a design trap. A pretty, crappy game is still a pretty crappy game.

The second reason: It takes too long to get the game to the real world. You need to know if this idea WORKS. A week from now you may not remember the nuances of mechanics or rules that you had safely tucked away in your brain when you started laying out cards and components. Now you have something to look at, BUT how the hell do you play?

The third reason: Cha-cha-cha-changes. If you start with art on a brand new prototype it will take even longer to make changes. If you have icons and graphics that convey concepts, the people you are testing with or running ideas by (and even yourself) will have trouble moving beyond what is already in front of them. So you’ll have to make the changes before using your components in a different way.

I am SO guilty of this. So, so guilty.

Now I have make myself NOT use the computer at all for preliminary “is this even a game” prototypes. I test the heck out of them on paper and index cards written on with markers. When I’m satisfied that it is, in fact, a playable thing I take it to the computer and make a text version of cards and components. Think big bold type: “Red Faction” or “Move Forward Two” written on the center of a white card. Then I play test the heck out of that, now that all the components are standardized.
THEN it’s time for art and a “show the public” prototype. Still, this first art prototype I show to my nearest and dearest “I know them in person” real life play testers. At this point I make a rule sheet (not to be confused with a final rule book) too. I play and play and play and THEN make all the changes we’ve collectively come up with. I play test different variants that we’ve come up with. I make more changes. These often include art suggestions!

Then it’s time for real art. What, you thought that’s what we were talking about all along? No, no honey. The “art” we’ve been talking about up to this point is ANYTHING like borders, thematic fonts, backgrounds, card backs, stand in images clipped from the web, anything that’s not necessary to see if your game is a game at all.

I always like to have SOME art on my game before I take it to any mini-cons or local game nights with strangers. I want them to at least get an introduction to the aesthetics of the game. I do skimp at this stage though. If I have 5 characters, I’ll do art for one and change the name/background/color to distinguish from the others and use the same art 5 times. This stage is never “final” art for me. I use all sorts of truly copyright-free and royalty free images.

-NOW IT’S TIME FOR BETA TESTING-

What happened? Everyone loves it! It’s going to be bigger than Catan! Then it’s time to weigh the art cost vs. the viability of the game. That’s a whole different post!

Now is when I spend hours coming up with card backs, graphic design, and plan the illustrations for the components. I create a list of things I need that I cannot do myself and put out feelers for artists and get quotes. I am completely honest with them, this may be a project a month from now or three or never.

Art questions? Ask away!

Adrienne “Penny” E.

 

Level 1 Characters Are Crazy, Or Fortune Favors The Stupid

A brand new character sheet, is there anything better?  So much potential, adventures yet to be had, evil yet to be slain, a veritable blank slate.  A thing like that really goes to player’s heads.  With all those hopes and dreams freshly dreamt it’s easy to forget that right now you are a plebeian. This is a story about one of those times.

We have been walking FOR.EVE.ER. I need a break.  Those random wolves were pretty vicious and I want a nappy-nap.  I do look pretty fierce though, sun shining off my scales and shit.  Yup, I’m a pimp.  Seriously, this walking.  It’s time for a beer break at least.

Ooh, look – is that a town?  Crap, is that a town WITH SMOKE BILLOWING FROM IT?  Damn it! I bet all the beer is gone.  I bet it’s brigands.  Effing beer-hating brigands. Anyone who wastes beer is evil as hell, these punks are going down.

“You guys see that? I bet it’s brigands.” I say, in a deep rumble like the glorious copper Dragonborn Barbarian that I am.

“I HATE brigands!” says Abesentia, the bronze dragonborn rogue.

“WE KNOW!” chime Gesh and Arum, the gold dragonborn warlock.

A shadow passes overhead, COMPLETELY unperceived.

We hustle toward the smoke engulfed village. Looks like the damn dirty scoundrels are attacking the South gate. Not a one of us wonders why the interior village is on fire if the brigands are out here.

ATTAAAAAAAAACk! Bam, pow, thwack! Dead. Awesome. We are SO awesome.  We are the BEST adventurers ever.

Knock, knock, dear town we saved.  What’s up?

“Oh bless you!” the gate keeper opens the gate and ushers us in.  The mayor greets us, scared, with big eyes.  “Are you here to help?” he asks.  “We just did,” says Arum.  “They were just dividing our defenses, look!” as he points to the sky to the North.

We climb the stairs to the top of the wall.  Well crap.  A freaking legion of brigands, and what is that?  Is that… no.  IS THAT A DRAGON?  A freaking blue dragon.  Flying plain as you please over the brigands and casually attacking the wall on the way by.  Yay? Surely this can’t go wrong.

“He’s making another pass” says random yabo on the wall.  We can’t reach the brigands on the ground but the dragon, he’s making passes within range.  One round, then another of plink, plink with arcane blasts, javelins, hand axes.  Turns out dragon scales are hard.  Like, legit hard.

Ok, third pass.  “Hey, Abesentia…” as I gesture toward the dragon.  Her eyes light up.  Blue dragons are the brigands of the dragon world you see.  Awesome.  She holds her action till she can sidle up beside me.  I easily heft her to waist height, her tucked into a compact form, grabbing her knees. Then like a herculean Olympiad, I move back to give myself a few steps of room to follow through and “ungh!” I fling my new adventure mate at an adult blue dragon with critical accuracy.  She lands on its back between the wings and proceeds to chip and pry at a single scale the size or her torso.  A few more passes and a few more plinks and success! She get the scale in her grip and rips it from the dragons flesh, like the world’s largest hangnail. The exposed patch of skin is skewered relentlessly with all the blades Abesentia can produce.

Arum and I can’t tell if the dragon gives a good Bahamut’s  damn about us, but it does seem to be pretty perturbed by Abesentia.  Its loops are getting more erratic and it looks like it’s gearing up for a barrel roll.  Oh crap.  They are so high up!

I have one javelin left.  What am I going to do…  ok here’s a chain for hefting things up to the wall.  Ok.  Affix the chain to the javelin and (don’t miss, don’t miss, don’t miss, don’t miss) YES!  I AM A GOD! The javelin and chain land a few feet below Abesentia.  She clutches her scale prize tightly to her chest with one arm and steadies herself with the other.  She slides down the dragon’s side to the javelin.  As the dragon banks to head back North, the javelin dislodges with Abesentia attached.  This was a bad plan.  Well, there is more chain than there is height from the ground.  Uh… uh.  Ok, I jump off the wall backwards, tightly gripping the chain.  I land hard and hear a squishy thud on the other side of the wall.  Oh no. No.  I killed my new adventure mate.  I just know it.

The dragon retreats.  DAMN RIGHT!  Hahahaha. We are the BEST. As the dragon disengages the brigands run like little bitches.  They are far enough from the base of the wall that I can go collect what I expect to be the gibbs of Abesentia.  (What did I DO?!)

Wait, Waaaaaaaaaaait.  She’s just unconscious!  Amazeballs!  Ok, a healer.  I need to get her inside to a healer.  Right, the scale. I grab it too and hurry her inside the wall.  Some hippy-dippy lady that smells vaguely of cumblecake keeps watch over her.

We sleep.  Dear gods, we sleep.

When we wake the Mayor is all smiles and thanks.  The village folk are grateful and welcoming.  But what of Abesentia?

The door to the hovel she’d been recuperating in busts open and a dragonborn steps out looking like a badass goddess, dirty and bruised, but stunning non-the-less.  The best part?  She’s adorned with a new blue scale mask.  I guess she woke up before we did. Women are crafty like that.

We are so awesome we need a name.  What should we call ourselves?  Haha,  “Scales of Glory” bitches.  That’s right.  (as everyone hums blaze of glory, because holy shit we shouldn’t have survived that.)

Now where in the hell is my beer?

Bluffing Mechanics: Your Friends ARE the game

Coup, The Resistance, Sheriff of Nottingham, Spyfall, Two Rooms and a Boom, and to some extent, Love Letter… bluffing games are where it’s at!

I’m so delighted to see a new crop of bluffing games released in the past year or so. They are the peak of collaborative play for game night.  The flavor of the game doesn’t even really matter because the people you are playing with ARE the game.

Bluffing games bring out the qualities in your friends that you rarely get to see.  Their reactions and responses are the heart of the enjoyment of these games.

We were playing the first round of Spyfall a week or so ago at our FLGS with folks we knew well.  When it got to the spy’s turn to be asked a question, flabbergasted and red as a beet he didn’t even let the other player finish the question, he covered his face with one hand and pushed his card to the center of the table with the other – begging us to relieve him of this heavy burden: “I can’t take this!  I’m the spy!” he cried.  The table erupted in laughter.  “I’m an accountant, I can’t lie!” he proclaimed.  Again, much laughter.  We played another location and three after that and he STILL enjoyed the game, and so did the rest of us.  Comedy gold! GOLD!

Spyfall

Sheriff of Nottingham has a bit more structure to the bullshitting, but is no less enjoyable and for the same reasons. The inanity of calling your friend out on his three chickens (THIS silk doesn’t look like a chicken to ME!) makes for a raucous table dynamic that is hard to beat.  SoN even prolongs the fun with three rounds of subterfuge; everyone gets three turns to be master of table (sheriff) and try their hand at sniffing out the dirty, dirty lies.

I play with a diverse group of people, some are good at lying and some are really, really not. That’s ok, because they all use that to their advantage to “double deceive” so that they get called on lying when they are actually being truthful. This is a powerful tool, one that just about all games can relate to (Netrunner anyone?).

I’ve seen some pretty harsh criticisms of the games I call out above.  Granted, no one’s opinion can be inherently wrong, but I do beseech those vehemently against bluffing games to try them again and with new folks. Maybe these games aren’t for everyone, or maybe they just aren’t for the people they’ve had the (dis)pleasure of playing them with.

So there you have it. I like bluffing games because my friends are AWESOME.

~Adrienne “Penny” Ezell

Writers Note: Adrienne, nor Dreadful Games, receive any compensation for any blog content. (I just actually like these games, fancy that!)

Earning Trust on KickStarter

I’ve taken a break from Ventures in the Void for a moment to focus on the business plan for Dreadful Games. There are a few reason why. An alternate title for this post: Is Your Project Ready For Crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is a viable business strategy, but it needs to be treated as such. I am not quitting my day job, and therefore don’t need my games to sustain me. My goal remains to put my games in the hands of gamers; no fortune and glory – just smiles and good times. Since I won’t be setting crowdfunding goals with the intention to make any profit, I need to make a business plan that is sustainable on community goodwill and trust.

In a previous post I talked about revamping a game that I thought was ready. That accounts for the time delay for VitV. I’m happy to report that the new mechanic is working beautifully and the game is quickly approaching my fun threshold. Yay! Very excited about that!

The second reason though I think might be the more important of the two. After accepting that my game would not make its KS debut in the timeframe I had envisioned, it was easy to accept that the following was true. VitV will require a large (to me at least) goal. I don’t feel that asking digital acquaintances to contribute such a large sum when I am essentially “untested” is the best idea. Caveat: I DO believe in VitV and am absolutely passionate about it and think it will succeed on its own merits. It’s just that with so many creators turning to crowdfunding, I really want to earn trust and credibility.

Start

So here’s my plan: I am going to run 4 projects in the next year and a half. The first of which goes live this week. Why so many?

Project 1: Baby Goal Project: Gaming Posters. I’m a graphic artist and work in a print shop. I am going to leverage the assets I have, in an environment I can control, to deliver rewards I know the community will like. I want to exceed expectations. The way for me to do that is to create a kickstarter that I know 100% I can complete, kick butt at, deliver on time, AND is related to my company’s goals. [Things I’ll get practice at: KS itself, backer updates, shipping, logistics, marketing]

Project 2: Thinking Small Goals: Micro Game. I have a working, fun, mechanically elegant micro game that serious and casual gamers love. This project requires 14 pieces of original art and consists of only 30 cards, a box, and rules. This goal is much smaller than Ventures in the Void could ever hope of being. This game only lacks art and layout from being ready for production. Weight and size wise, this game will be able to ship 1st class and make shipping easier. This will be my first KS with stretch goals. Goals include: 7 extra cards to extend the game to 5 players, a TIN instead of a cardstock box OR a cloth sack instead of a box. [NEW Things I’ll get practice at: stretch goals, commissioning an artist (I do this for my day job, but never for myself), box creation, distributors and retail sales]

Project 3: Medium Goal Card Game: Full Deck Game. This project is also in the works, though nowhere near ready for a KS campaign. (which is fine because I have a year) The card game consists of 52-60 cards, a box, rules and requires 12 pieces of original art. More than double the size of the microgame, this full deck+ game will require a larger box (planning on a side-by-side like Sushi Go!), more extensive rules, but less art. One reward tier may entail custom text (but not art) chosen by the backer. [NEW Things I’ll get Practice At: backer participation in game crafting, custom box/tin making, buying and registering a barcode, distribution and retail sales]

Now by this time, I will have delivered two games to backers. Hopefully I will have exceeded their expectations on delivery speed and component quality. The biggest hope: they love the games! Now, if all goes well, I have the TRUST of the KS community and the gaming community by following through on what I say I will do, being completely transparent in my project updates, and finally by delivering them a product that not only meets their expectations but puts a smile on their face and lets them share good times with friends and family.

Practice

THEN, and only then will it be time for Ventures in the Void to hit KS and backer’s screens across the globe. I’ll have loads more information and lessons under my belt. I’ll run a smooth campaign with all the right combinations of stretch goals, delivery deadlines, information, and bring the best product that I possibly can to the community.

Project 4: Big Box Game!

So there you go. Without the bullet points and addendums, there is Dreadful Games game plan for the next year and a half. (pun intended)

Find the Fun: Making Your Board Game All It Can Be

Facing the cold, hard truth: The game you’ve been working on for a year and thought was 99% done isn’t fun enough.   What do you do?

This is what I’m currently facing.  The game is fun.  It’s not as fun as I want it to be.  I don’t want a list of 4 games I’d rather play to run through my mind when reaching for my game. I have solid quotes. I have a crowdfunding page nearly finished. I have release windows in mind. Do you know what the response to all this is?  So what!  I want to release the game I’ve dreamed of, not the game that’s just passably good enough to proceed with.

BGG members, publishers, and veteran game designers are quick to quell the fears of new designers by saying “ideas are easy, it’s the mechanics and polishing that are the hard part” about the possibility of having your idea “stolen”.  This should be revered as gospel through all of the design process. The hard part is the last 10%.

The 10% is the hard work, the sweat, the mind-numbing rehashing of ideas, the tweaking of mechanics, the “if I look at this one more time I’m shelving the whole d@mn thing!” moments.  The sad truth is you may be the only one that can fix it.

What do I mean?  BGG has given me some great feedback.  Play testers have given me some great feedback and positive reinforcement.  However, and it’s a big “however”, they are just evaluating what is placed in front of them – in a vacuum if you will.  This is exactly what you want if you are balancing mechanics, working out math, or trying to integrate flavor.  Asking the question “what would make this more fun?” may lend you some “remove this card/race/resource” type answers.  These might be all you need; you might get a complete game out of it that way.  If you evaluate your game vs. others in the genre, others with the same theme, or the same mechanics – can it still stand up to scrutiny?  Did they do it better?

I don’t think it’s a good practice to ask others to give you a unique hook for your game or to make it fun for you.  It’s like walking into a mechanic shop and handing them a muffler and a tire and saying “make me a car.” You need to be the mechanic.

in-graduate-442925_1280

So here I am, tinkering away.  Covered in grease up to my elbows, (time to drop the car metaphor?) I’ve lost countless hours of sleep over the last two weeks picking this thing apart.  Then finally I had a new idea. Back to testing!  I hope this works.  If not, I think I might shelve it for the time it takes to prototype out another fleshed out idea. If it does work?  Well then I have to change 10 info graphics, my crowdfunding page top to bottom, the board size – which changes the box size, which necessitates new quotes, new shipping quotes, more than half my rule book.  Hopefully if you have to make a change you aren’t this far along.  What can I say?  I thought I was done.  *laugh*  I thought I was done.

Don’t be scared to hold out for the game you dreamed of.  If will not be easy.  It just won’t.  It will be worth it.  I’m 90% sure.

How do you handle games that work but need to “find the fun”?

 

 

Rules! Writing Rules For Your Board Game

Rules!  More like “ugh, rules…”.

Writing Rules

Is there anything less sexy than working out the rules for your game?  I don’t think so.  Your brain is your worst enemy here because you already know how to play.  It means you leave out little bits of vital information leaving your eventual audience going, “wha? who? What the heck does that mean?!”  I’m sure you’ve been in a similar situation yourself when trying to play a game.  It stinks!

So to help you avert this potential disaster I’ve put together a few pointers below that I’ve found really helpful when writing the rules for Ventures in the Void.

 

  1. Decide on terms. Example: This type of card is the _______ card.  For Ventures we kicked around “market”, “trade”, “commerce”, and “supply/demand” for one of our cards.  The first draft of the rules had all these and more in it.  How confusing!   Decide beforehand what each of your mechanics, pieces, and phases are called and stick to it.  Bonus – if you are writing in a word processor or layout program you can “ctrl + f” to find and replace all instances of that word. So later if we decide to call the “trade” cards “market” cards, we can easily replace every instance of the word in the file.
  2. Tell players what they are trying to do first, at the beginning of the rules. The object of Ventures is to make the most money.  With that in mind it frames all the rest of the rules.
  3. Put your rules in turn order. If you can move first, then explain movement first. If there are exceptions to turn order be sure to point that out in the appropriate sections or at least state that there are exceptions and point them toward where they are listed in the rules.
  4. Give examples! If something can potentially be confusing, give a written example – identified by italic or different colored text.  Some people learn games by examples (I found out after talking to a lot of hobby gamers) while others “get it” after reading the rule.
  5. Create info graphics that explain cards/mechanics. This is especially important if you have “busy” cards or cards/boards with more than a few sections (like health, stats, flavor text, rules exceptions, mechanic changes, or special play times).  Highlight the sections and give them titles in the info graphics that correspond to the rules.
  6. Have someone that has never played your game read your rules. Then take a turn in front of them.  A rules lawyer or very analytical friend is good for this.  Have them stop you every time you do something that’s not in the rules.  Add that information to the rules or put it in a more appropriate place if it was buried somewhere else.
  7. Use simple words. We had “utilize” all over the place when “use” would have worked just as well, translated to other languages better and saved on character count (I dread long rules!).
  8. Write for a non-gaming audience. Why?  I may not play the same games you do and thus do not have the same frame of reference.  What you think is a standard mechanic may never have come up in a game your audience plays.  Just because your audience plays games doesn’t mean you can just gloss over terms or play structure in your own game.  So it’s easier to assume you are writing for a non-gaming audience and explain everything.
  9. Leave flavor for last.  Make sure your structure is good and everything is explained BEFORE going back and adding flavor to the rules.  Again, make sure the flavor does not compromise the clarity.  We decided to have flavor in the intro and use “plain speech” everywhere else.

 

Ventures in the Void Public Private Trade Graphic

I hope these tips will give you a start on your own rules. They are by no means exhaustive.  I am learning more every day.  My first rules were atrocious, incomprehensible!  Now I have real rules, and it was hard work.

Bonus: PROOFREAD – send it to 20 people to proofread!  I just found a typo in one of the graphics I was going to post here… we proofed the rules but didn’t pay attention to the info graphics!

What are your best tips for writing rules?