One thing that's always taking up a looot of my time - is writing rules.
Well of course that doesn't apply for the first draft when I'm writing the rules for myself.
But when other people are going to have a try at the game the rules need to be much more precise and simple.
In the following sections I'll try to take you through my rulebook writing :)
I always start out with a blank document where I write down a lot of headlines consisting of aspects and figure:
- Movement (how do the figures move)
- Turn Sequence (is there a list of tasks?)
- Weapons (different ways of engaging in combat)
- Politics (use of power, voting or?)
- Goal of the game / End of game etc.
In continuation of my evaluation I start building the index for my game rules based on my results. This is an easy way of getting your rules structured and it could look like this:
- Front Page (picture of ...)
- Introduction / Goal of the game
- Game setup / before start
- A turn sequence from start until another player takes over
- Exceptions / other
- End game
When you've written down every single word that you can sqeeze out of your mind about how to navigate your great game it's time to shorten them "again"..... and I mean REALLY shorten the rules.
There's this classic rule about text - that you can make your sentences 30% shorter when rewriting them.. and this feature can be applied to your sentences several times. Well, it may be less or more depending on who you are and what not.. but your rules can without a doubt be shorter than it is at this moment.
As we all know pictures says more than a 1.000 words... which when implemented correctly also works in board game rules.
The illustration on the left is used in my rules for COMMANDERS where I have to explain a lot of maneuvering around the map. With several pictures I make it easier to understand where you can and can't go.
It also has a psychological effect when people glance at your rules - it all of a sudden looks easier to overcome. All thanks to the good old Donald Duck comics we read as children ;)
Remember that every page you add to your rules will eventually narrow your potential market. Not everyone has the patience to read/learn a Warhammer rulebook. My experience with casual gamers is to keep the rules on a maximum of 4-5 standard A4 pages (this doesn't include pictures, stats, data sheets, reference sheets etc.).
That if you can't explain a rule live to the test persons playing your game - then you won't have much chance explaining it to them through text. In that case you might have to work a bit more on that specific rule.
I think that's all I have to tell you about rules for now.... until you come to visit my blog again - happy gaming! :)