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Ten Things You Can Do to Make Your Rulebook Awesome, Metatopia 2014

Ten Things You Can Do to Make Your Rulebook Awesome, Metatopia 2014

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Want to make your rulebook shine? Here are ten ways to do just that. Whether you're writing a board game or RPG, these tips will improve your text. Find out more at www.joshuayearsley.com

Want to make your rulebook shine? Here are ten ways to do just that. Whether you're writing a board game or RPG, these tips will improve your text. Find out more at www.joshuayearsley.com

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Ten Things You Can Do to Make Your Rulebook Awesome, Metatopia 2014

  1. 1. Ten Things You Can Do to Make Your Rulebook Awesome
  2. 2. Joshua Yearsley
  3. 3. A small disclaimer on different types of rulebooks.
  4. 4. 10
  5. 5. 1. Say how you win.
  6. 6. NOT JUST THIS: “You win by accruing the most victory points.”
  7. 7. Specific – Ticket to Ride ✔ Points can be scored by: • Claiming a Route between two adjacent cities on the map; • Successfully completing a Continuous Path of routes between two cities listed on your Destination Ticket(s); • Completing the Longest Continuous Path of routes.
  8. 8. ✔ General – Eclipse Victory Points are gained from controlling galactic sectors, fighting battles, forming diplomatic relations, researching technologies, making discoveries and controlling Monoliths.
  9. 9. 2. Give components some love.
  10. 10. CONCEPT ?
  11. 11. CONCEPT What
  12. 12. CONCEPT What Wher e
  13. 13. CONCEPT What Wher e When
  14. 14. CONCEPT What Wher e When Why
  15. 15. CONCEPT What Wher e When Why How
  16. 16. What Wher e When Why How PIECE
  17. 17. Wher e When Why How What it looks like PIECE
  18. 18. PIECE When Why How What it looks like Where you use it
  19. 19. PIECE Why How What it looks like Where you use it When you use it
  20. 20. How What it looks like PIECE Where you use it When you use it Why you use it
  21. 21. What it looks like Where you use it When you use it Why you use it How you get it PIECE
  22. 22. What it looks like PIECE Where you use it When you use it Why you use it How you get it Essential!
  23. 23. What it looks like PIECE Where you use it When you use it Why you use it How you get it Often useful.
  24. 24. What it looks like PIECE Where you use it When you use it Why you use it How you get it Depends. Don’t overwhelm.
  25. 25. 3. Use concrete language.
  26. 26. CONCEPT What Abstract
  27. 27. CONCEPT What PIECE Abstract Concrete
  28. 28. War of the Ring The game board is a view of western Middle Earth at the end of the Third Age, divided into areas called Regions.… Sea areas are not Regions and can never be entered or crossed. If the border between two Regions is completely divided by a black line (which denotes impassable terrain), those Regions are not considered adjacent. Concept Concrete
  29. 29. ✔ War of the Ring Regions are normally separated by a white line or by a river between two white lines. A thick black border denotes impassable terrain.... Some areas of the board are completely blue, either surrounded by a black line or bordered by a white line. These areas are seas or lakes…. Concept Concrete
  30. 30. 4. Keep related elements close.
  31. 31. Proximity Principle. Close = Related Distant = Unrelated
  32. 32. BOO!
  33. 33. YAY! ✔
  34. 34. 5. Make what’s important obvious.
  35. 35. War of the Ring The game board is a view of western Middle Earth at the end of the Third Age, divided into areas called Regions. The game board is a view of western Middle Earth at the end of the Third Age, divided into areas called regions. ✔
  36. 36. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna Aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.
  37. 37. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.
  38. 38. Be sparing, though.
  39. 39. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.
  40. 40. ✔ Endeavor For longer important text, use callouts.
  41. 41. To distinguish names of individual components: italics Example: “In competitive play, the starting Room tile is the Test Chamber.”
  42. 42. To distinguish names of individual components: italics Example: “In competitive play, the starting Room tile is the Test Chamber.”
  43. 43. 6. Talk like a human.
  44. 44. Legalese
  45. 45. “Rules-ese”
  46. 46. NO: Cover every edge case, question, gray area, and quibble perfectly.
  47. 47. NO: Cover every edge case, question, gray area, and quibble perfectly. WHY? Because it makes the essentials harder to grasp.
  48. 48. NO: Cover every edge case, question, gray area, and quibble perfectly. INSTEAD: Build a simple, solid, intuitive foundation.
  49. 49. Three Symptoms of Rules-ese:
  50. 50. Vague language. In all cases, once Tourists have been awarded and then placed during the Executive Phase, all Tourist Markers remain where they were placed (normally on a Building Tile) until at least the next Tourism Phase. If the Tourists situation, verified at the beginning of this phase, remains unchanged from the previous turn (i.e. the same player that surrendered their Tourist Marker last turn will once again surrender it), the Tourist Markers will remain in the same City, and on the same Building Tile.
  51. 51. Excessive signposting. In all cases, once Tourists have been awarded and then placed during the Executive Phase, all Tourist Markers remain where they were placed (normally on a Building Tile) until at least the next Tourism Phase. If the Tourists situation, verified at the beginning of this phase, remains unchanged from the previous turn (i.e. the same player that surrendered their Tourist Marker last turn will once again surrender it), the Tourist Markers will remain in the same City, and on the same Building Tile.
  52. 52. Overexplaining. In all cases, once Tourists have been awarded and then placed during the Executive Phase, all Tourist Markers remain where they were placed (normally on a Building Tile) until at least the next Tourism Phase. If the Tourists situation, verified at the beginning of this phase, remains unchanged from the previous turn (i.e. the same player that surrendered their Tourist Marker last turn will once again surrender it), the Tourist Markers will remain in the same City, and on the same Building Tile.
  53. 53. The result: In all cases, once Tourists have been awarded and then placed during the Executive Phase, all Tourist Markers remain where they were placed (normally on a Building Tile) until at least the next Tourism Phase. If the Tourists situation, verified at the beginning of this phase, remains unchanged from the previous turn (i.e. the same player that surrendered their Tourist Marker last turn will once again surrender it), the Tourist Markers will remain in the same City, and on the same Building Tile.
  54. 54. To be continued…
  55. 55. 7. Be consistent. Painfully consistent.
  56. 56. Then, smiling, Jean Marie swilled the rest of her drink. She smiled a big smile, and Jerry smiled too.
  57. 57. Then, smiling, Jean Marie swilled the rest of her drink. She smiled a big smile, and Jerry smiled too.
  58. 58. Then, smiling, Jean Marie swilled the rest of her drink. She smiled a big smile, and Jerry smiled too. Rulebooks, not fiction!
  59. 59. When an event is triggered, resolve its effects. When a card is played, enact its effects. When a token is activated, follow its effects.
  60. 60. Teaching. resolve model … … … (context)
  61. 61. Teaching. resolve model … … … (context) abstract concrete
  62. 62. Recalling. resolve … … …
  63. 63. Recalling. resolve … … … resolve … … …
  64. 64. Recalling. resolve … … … resolve … … … trigger ???
  65. 65. Recalling. resolve … … … resolve … … … trigger ??? Delay!
  66. 66. Don’t make them think. Repeat yourself.
  67. 67. Best thing for this: Style guide! +5 VP if you went to that panel
  68. 68. Action token Action token Action marker?
  69. 69. can vs. may
  70. 70. 8. Go big, then small.
  71. 71. “It’s like a snake.”
  72. 72. “It’s huge and flat.”
  73. 73. “It’s like a tree branch.”
  74. 74. This is an elephant.
  75. 75. ✔ Endeavor
  76. 76. ✔ Endeavor
  77. 77. ✔ Endeavor
  78. 78. ✔ Endeavor
  79. 79. Careful: Concept A (details) Concept B (details) Concept A Concept B Concept C
  80. 80. Concept A (details) Concept B (details) Concept A Concept B Concept C
  81. 81. While writing: Concept A (details) Concept B (details) Concept A Concept B Concept C
  82. 82. 9. Silo that info.
  83. 83. Styling. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.
  84. 84. No styling? Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.
  85. 85. Language silo!
  86. 86. Related Info? Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.
  87. 87. Group it! Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Chronology, subject, etc.
  88. 88. Wheat
  89. 89. Wheat + Corn?
  90. 90. Important Info? Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Avoiding style…
  91. 91. Separate it! Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.
  92. 92. 10. Use all your tools.
  93. 93. Mechanics
  94. 94. Mechanics Strategy
  95. 95. Mechanics Strategy FAQs
  96. 96. Mechanics Strategy Tips FAQs
  97. 97. Mechanics Strategy Tips FAQs Reference Material
  98. 98. Remember this? In all cases, once Tourists have been awarded and then placed during the Executive Phase, all Tourist Markers remain where they were placed (normally on a Building Tile) until at least the next Tourism Phase. If the Tourists situation, verified at the beginning of this phase, remains unchanged from the previous turn (i.e. the same player that surrendered their Tourist Marker last turn will once again surrender it), the Tourist Markers will remain in the same City, and on the same Building Tile.
  99. 99. “I need to put this somewhere.”
  100. 100. These concerns are super legit!
  101. 101. Your tools: Body Sidebars Examples Reference – Back of book
  102. 102. Body Sidebars Examples Reference Decreasing importance for first play
  103. 103. Body Sidebars Examples Reference They’re all different!
  104. 104. ✔ Example in Endeavor Africa is an open region thanks to Black’s move in the previous example. Purple performs an Occupy action and moves a Population Marker from his Harbor to the unoccupied city indicated. (He could have Occupied the other city if he wanted to instead.) Excessive Signposting Overexplaining
  105. 105. ✔ Sidebars in Endeavor “You may find it useful to…” Bad for body. Great for sidebar! Overexplaining
  106. 106. 11. Get an editor.
  107. 107. NOT A SUBLIMINAL MESSAGE
  108. 108. Editing paper: Jenny Kaczorowski (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/cellardoorfilms/7634010748/ Playing Carcassonne: Severin Sadkina (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/sadjina/4183815513 Doll reading: Chris (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/eisenbahner/6851987788/ Arcade cabinet: Rob Boudon (CC BY 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/robboudon/5759423442 Chess pieces: Peter Miller (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/pmillera4/11904486995/ Girls talking: Patrick Giblin (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/inkyhack/4560030528/ Skull with brain: J E Theriot (CC BY 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/jetheriot/6186786217/ Elephant: Guido da Rozze (CC BY 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/gudi3101/401930619/ Silo: Jesus Belzunce Gomez (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/jesusbelzunce/7235172294/ Rulebook: Pascal (CC BY 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/pasukaru76/9018227578/ Tools: OZinOH (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/75905404@N00/7126146307/
  109. 109. Thank you! Questions? www.joshuayearsley.com @joshuayearsley jdyearsley@gmail.com
  110. 110. Bonus: Workshop!
  111. 111. In all cases, once Tourists have been awarded and then placed during the Executive Phase, all Tourist Markers remain where they were placed (normally on a Building Tile) until at least the next Tourism Phase. If the Tourists situation, verified at the beginning of this phase, remains unchanged from the previous turn (i.e. the same player that surrendered their Tourist Marker last turn will once again surrender it), the Tourist Markers will remain in the same City, and on the same Building Tile.
  112. 112. Overexplaining In all cases, once Tourists have been awarded and then placed during the Executive Phase, all Tourist Markers remain where they were placed (normally on a Building Tile) until at least the next Tourism Phase. If the Tourists situation, verified at the beginning of this phase, remains unchanged from the previous turn (i.e. the same player that surrendered their Tourist Marker last turn will once again surrender it), the Tourist Markers will remain in the same City, and on the same Building Tile.
  113. 113. Vague Language In all cases, once Tourists have been awarded and then placed during the Executive Phase, all Tourist Markers remain where they were placed (normally on a Building Tile) until at least the next Tourism Phase. If the Tourists situation, verified at the beginning of this phase, remains unchanged from the previous turn (i.e. the same player that surrendered their Tourist Marker last turn will once again surrender it), the Tourist Markers will remain in the same City, and on the same Building Tile.
  114. 114. Excessive Signposting In all cases, once Tourists have been awarded and then placed during the Executive Phase, all Tourist Markers remain where they were placed (normally on a Building Tile) until at least the next Tourism Phase. If the Tourists situation, verified at the beginning of this phase, remains unchanged from the previous turn (i.e. the same player that surrendered their Tourist Marker last turn will once again surrender it), the Tourist Markers will remain in the same City, and on the same Building Tile.
  115. 115. In all cases, once Tourists have been awarded and then placed during the Executive Phase, all Tourist Markers remain where they were placed (normally on a Building Tile) until at least the next Tourism Phase. If the Tourists situation, verified at the beginning of this phase, remains unchanged from the previous turn (i.e. the same player that surrendered their Tourist Marker last turn will once again surrender it), the Tourist Markers will remain in the same City, and on the same Building Tile.
  116. 116. In all cases, once Tourists have been awarded and then placed during the Executive Phase, all Tourist Markers remain where they were placed (normally on a Building Tile) until at least the next Tourism Phase. If the Tourists situation, verified at the beginning of this phase, remains unchanged from the previous turn (i.e. the same player that surrendered their Tourist Marker last turn will once again surrender it), the Tourist Markers will remain in the same City, and on the same Building Tile.
  117. 117. In all cases, once Tourists have been awarded and then placed during the Executive Phase, all Tourist Markers remain where they were placed (normally on a Building Tile) until at least the next Tourism Phase. If the Tourists situation, verified at the beginning of this phase, remains unchanged from the previous turn (i.e. the same player that surrendered their Tourist Marker last turn will once again surrender it), the Tourist Markers will remain in the same City, and on the same Building Tile.
  118. 118. In all cases, once Tourists have been awarded and then placed during the Executive Phase, all Tourist Markers remain where they were placed (normally on a Building Tile) until at least the next Tourism Phase. If the same player that surrendered their Tourist Marker last turn will once again surrender it, verified at the beginning of this phase, remains unchanged from the previous turn, the Tourist Markers will remain in the same City, and on the same Building Tile.
  119. 119. In all cases, once Tourists have been awarded and then placed during the Executive Phase, all Tourist Markers remain where they were placed (normally on a Building Tile) until at least the next Tourism Phase. If the same player that surrendered their Tourist Marker last turn will once again surrender it, verified at the beginning of this phase, remains unchanged from the previous turn, the Tourist Markers will remain in the same City, and on the same Building Tile.
  120. 120. In all cases, once Tourists have been awarded and then placed during the Executive Phase, all Tourist Markers remain where they were placed (normally on a Building Tile) until at least the next Tourism Phase. If the same player that surrendered their Tourist Marker last turn will once again surrender it, the Tourist Markers will remain.
  121. 121. All Tourist Markers remain where they were placed until the next Tourism Phase. If the same player that surrendered their Tourist Marker last turn will once again surrender it, the Tourist Markers will remain.
  122. 122. Tourist Markers placed this turn cannot be removed. If the same player that surrendered their Tourist Marker last turn will once again surrender it, the Tourist Markers will remain.
  123. 123. Tourist Markers placed this turn cannot be removed. If the same player that surrendered their Tourist Marker last turn will once again surrender it, the Tourist Markers will remain.
  124. 124. Tourist Markers placed this turn cannot be removed. If a player surrendered his Tourist Marker last turn, and he would surrender it again this turn, his Tourist Markers remain.
  125. 125. Tourist Markers placed this turn cannot be removed. If a player surrendered his Tourist Marker last turn, and he would surrender it again this turn, his Tourist Markers remain. Not perfect, but it’ll do.

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