Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Analizing the format

I did the first test run of Heroes By Trade 3.0 last night.  It is always a bit of a nerve wracking prospect to go into a game session knowing you will have to rebuild characters to new rules before you can play but things went quickly and smoothly and that was a pleasure to see.  The game rules aren't really that different in most cases and the numbers conversions are simple enough but I still fret over this sort of thing a lot because usually there is something key that I have missed.  This time the thing that needed fixing was not a number or an explanation but simply the extraordinarily messy document that people were working from.

I sometimes forget that other people reading my documents aren't familiar with the contents the way I am so I don't worry so much about formatting.  I had all kinds of issues with individual Rituals and Powers wrapping across columns and pages, tables being broken up across sections, and a million other things that made the giant wall of black and white difficult to read.  This is something I often run into in my games - the point where my compulsive need to fix the numbers gets trumped by other people's desire to be able to figure out what the hell my numbers *are*.

So now I am doing the part of game design that isn't so much fun and rewarding but is extremely necessary.  I am spending time reading help files on Word to figure out all the little ways that I can make my document work the way I want.  Also I am spending a ton of time and energy on actually coming up with coherent systems for structure and thinking about things like font size, colour, and organization.  This is something that a lot of people don't think about when they encourage me to sell my games... that if you go commercial you end up spending most of your time doing the annoying administrative stuff instead of the fun game building stuff.

However, I do like the results when I put time in to try to improve my game writing so it is worth it in the end.  I know that how much people like a game is a lot more related to formatting than it is the perfect balance that I work so hard to achieve.  Fiddling with settings in Word isn't entertaining so much but it is a very necessary step in order to get all the stuff I have created out there to the people who might want to make use of it.


  1. Totally funny. I actually love doing formatting like this. For work I spend a lot of time thinking about to best format something such that better learning comes from it so I guess it's up my alley.

  2. I don't think you are thinking of formatting the right way. In word the key is to set up styles rather than formatting each individual piece. Formatting is its own game, and one you should be trying to play optimally. Win formatting, Sky! Win it!

  3. Oh, I use styles all right. I am rapidly learning how to use Word as efficiently as possible. Must win at all the games.