Here’s the main points we cover in the podcast. Well written rules consider the following:
Rules need to accommodate a variety of gamers and straddle between approachability and edge cases.
Frazzled parent gamers
Grade 9, not PhD
Short, precise words (remove ambiguity)
Keep flavour text to a minimum and use it consistently
Avoid building walls of text from margin to margin
Short paragraphs (helps users scan rules)
Topic headings, subheadings
Avoid distracting backgrounds
Avoid 6 pt Gothic. Make it legible without aid of instruments
Nice, but be relevant. Use text boxes or arrows to point out specifics
Write a short intro/high-level overview which introduces concept and simply states end conditions. Think elevator pitch
Simple games do well with a short, highly visual document
Complex games need separate Gameplay/Walk-through and Reference documents
For complex games an Index, Table of Contents are nice
Designers: don’t avoid writing rules until the last minute. Include this as an essential part of the design and game-testing process. This gives playtesters lots of opportunity to help you edit your rules and fix absurd typos
Proofread. No one writes well enough to avoid the boring task of proofreading. It seems obvious to state, but clearly lots of people don’t do it
Simple rules design may help during the translation process. Removing ambiguity in your English rules (an already ambiguous language) can only help translators
Poorly written rules means end users (us) will tape the game box shut, place it on a small raft in a large mud puddle and light it on fire as a sacrifice to the language gods
Worst case scenario is you have to publish errata on your website (please be diligent in doing this). And don’t beat yourself up – unless you are Fantasy Flight Games you probably didn’t have the budget to hire freelance Technical Editors or Proofreaders
Please let readers know below if there’s any rules writing tips we’ve missed, or if you simply want to point out glaring typos I didn’t catch.
Finally, go watch Mike Selinker’s excellent (and humorous) Ten Rules For Writing Rules:
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