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Subject: Help Please! Wording Issues rss

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michael brown
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I currently am trying to reword some cards to make their effects more obvious.

The current wording is:

Quote:
Effects:
-2 electricity, +2 heat, ability1, ability2


meaning that if you pay 2 electricity you gain ability1 and ability2 and suffer the side effect of also gaining 2 heat.

I would like to reword it to something like this:

Quote:
Cost: 2 electricity
Gain: ability1, ability2, 2 heat


But the 2 heat really feels more like a cost to me than a bonus, and gain sounds like it should be positive.

The following:

Quote:
Cost: 2 electricity, +2 heat
Gain: ability1, ability2


Is also bad because a cost of +2 heat is confusing. a cost of $1 means you pay 1 dollar, so a cost of 2 heat should mean you lose 2 heat.

Does anyone have any ideas about how to improve the wording of this rule?
 
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Mario Lanza
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How about:

Cost: 2 electricity (use symbols like MtG does)
Side effect: 2 heat (again symbols)

Ability 1
Ability 2

I don't think you need to label the abilities. Consider how MtG cards simply put the ability in the body of the card's main text area and the symbols elsewhere. You might put your Cost and Side effect in different corners. The placement is whatever makes sense to you. In this way you won't need any labels.

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Philip Becker
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You could also just try to make some parallel language.
Instead of gaining heat, you could lose coolant.
Then you can say your cost is 2 electricity and 2 coolant.
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Oh you seekers of the new who run terrified from history into the clutches of an eternal life where no electric shaver can be built to last.
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mlanza wrote:
How about:

Cost: 2 electricity (use symbols like MtG does)
Side effect: 2 heat (again symbols)

Ability 1
Ability 2


    That's the right way to do it. It's a side effect, not a cost.

    Option 2 is you could reverse the ordering, making the ability the subject matter.

       Ability 1
       Ability 2
       Cost: Lose 2 Electricity, Gain 2 Heat.


    I personally wouldn't use symbols, at least not exclusively.

             S.

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michael brown
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Thanks,

I already have symbols. I figured that when writing it out here I would use the word to make it more obvious (since my symbol is not bgg's font).

Calling the heat gain out as a side effect is something that I hadn't considered. It is a little more verbose than I had hoped for, but if nothing better is forthcoming then I might have to go with it.

The abilities that I am talking about are apart from the normal cost of the card (like activated abilities in MtG). You can choose to pay them or not to on any given turn, but the costs are always in electricity, and the side effects are pretty much always heat (unless the card has no side effect).

There are only 6 abilities in the game (each are represented by a single symbol), so the actual text is pretty terse.

Placing the costs and side effects in specific locations of the card would make it less verbose when you know how the cards are laid out, but then players would have to learn how to read the card.

It would make for less text though.

I will have to consider if I want to make the card harder for outsiders to read the card to save some text.
 
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Oh you seekers of the new who run terrified from history into the clutches of an eternal life where no electric shaver can be built to last.
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    Seriously, the more you encode the harder it is to land new players. I'd keep the text to make the game as accessible as possible, especially if you're not getting promoted by a big publisher. I have so many games trying to claim brain space for their encoding that I can't keep them straight, and at that point I just have to relearn them all over again. The word "heat" isn't much bigger than a recognizable symbol anyway.

    If it's a die use a symbol. If it's a card use short, clear text.

             S.
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Jordan Booth
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I don't see "gain" as always being positive. If it is clear in the context of your game that heat is a bad thing then the unambiguity of "gain/lose" outweighs the risk that someone will think they are supposed to move heat in the wrong direction.
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Gregg Saruwatari
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Pay 2 electricity:
Gain [Ability 1]
Gain [Ability 2]
Heat increases by 1
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J P
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If electricity is always cost and heat is always side effect,

wouldn't it be easier to just have a standard block of 3-4 lines?

Electricity: (+/-) E

Heat: (+/-) H

Ability 1

Ability 2
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Jeremy Lennert
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I'm not 100% sure what underlying goals you are trying to achieve with this wording, but it sounds like you've probably got two main concerns:


1. I suspect you don't like your current wording (where everything is an "effect") because the -2 electricity effect is special in that you can't trigger this card at all unless you have 2 electricity to lose. There are a couple of ways to handle this:

A) You can keep the list of effects the same, but add a new line that says something like "prerequisite: 2 electricity", meaning that you need to have 2 electricity in order to use the card. This is conceptually clean in that it allows you to create prerequisites that are not costs (e.g. you could require someone to have 3 electricity even if the card only costs 1), but it's also an overcomplicated way of representing costs because the 2 electricity are represented twice (once as a prerequisite and once as en effect).

B) In my game Darkest Night (First edition), I make a distinction between "losing" resources and "spending" resources, which is that if you have 1 widget and a card says "lose 2 widgets", you simply go down to 0, but if the card says "spend 2 widgets", then you aren't allowed to use that card. This allows you to distinguish between a cost and an effect that happens to be negative; for example, a card might say something like "spend 1 grace and lose 1 secrecy to move to any location" (you need to have 1 grace to use it; using it will also cause you to lose 1 secrecy if you have any secrecy to lose, but you can use it even if your secrecy is already at zero).

You could also represent this by having one line that says "cost" and another that says "effects" (as opposed to your proposed heading of "gain"). Cost: 2 electricity. Effect: +2 heat, ability1, ability2.


2. Your problem with your second and third examples seem to revolve around the fact that heat is a "negative resource"; something where having more of it makes you worse off. People's intuitions go haywire when you ask them to "gain a bad thing" or "lose a bad thing" because the connotation of the verb is opposite of the actual effect.

You can resolve this issue by re-themeing your negative resources into positive ones. Instead of having "wounds" that count up, you use "health" that counts down; instead of having "heat" that counts up, maybe you could have something like "coolant" that counts down.

Of course, people have a lot of intuitions, and sometimes flipping the sign will run you into other problems. If you're counting up "heat", then people will intuitively expect (or at least accept) that there is no maximum amount and you just keep adding it on; if you are instead counting down on "coolant", people will intuitively expect that they cannot go below zero under any circumstances, which might (or might not) be problematic for your particular game mechanics.

Even with negative resources, you can mitigate the effect somewhat through careful use of language. Instead of "gaining" and "losing" heat, maybe you "generate" and "vent" heat.
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Bryan Thunkd
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Cost: 2 Electricity
Benefits: Ability 1, Ability 2
Penalty: 2 Heat
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michael brown
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Thanks everyone who responded. I first posted this during my lunch break, but I forgot about it after that for a while.

First of all, to facilitate easier conversation I will include some example images of cards in a rough state (So that people can see the types of symbols that I am talking about)


In the bottom center is the text in question.

The first card reads 'pay 2 electricity -> you may play moves with a hat and cane on them this turn' (the 'you may play...' is the type of ability that I have been phrasing ability1 in previous posts).

The second card reads 'pay 4 electricity, gain 2 heat -> you may play moves with glowsticks, hat and canes, and disco balls this turn'.

I appreciate all of the responses. I think that my current leaning is along the lines of:

Cost: 2 electricity
Effect: +2 heat, ability1, ability2

This is pretty much exactly what Antistone posted.

About coolant:
Multiple people brought up the idea of coolant, and I agree that the idea of coolant is a cool one, but you really can gain an infinite amount of heat in the game, and having negative coolant doesn't make sense. Also, cards like 'heatsink' and 'radiator' would suddenly be giving you coolant instead of radiating heat, and I don't know how to retheme them to make bonus coolant make sense.

About Symbols vs Words
Sagrilarus wrote:
Seriously, the more you encode the harder it is to land new players.


I could see changing the heat and electricity to use the words 'heat' and 'electricity'. The problem that I am running into here is that the abilities don't actually mean anything. It is not like in bang where a three hats means all other players (which corresponds to a real world concept), or in small world where the broken column indicates declined races (which is a concept in the game). My abilities are not related to any real thing.

It is sort of like the green trade goods in race for the galaxy. No card refers to genetic goods - that wouldn't mean anything anyway - they just refer to green trade goods. Another example is light bulbs in Innovation. Cards just refer to light bulbs (Like 'if you have more light bulbs than any other player draw one level 3 card) they don't actually mean anything other than as a symbol.

Every part card with a disco ball on it lets you play any dance move with a disco ball on it. I could write words to replace the symbol on every card, but if people tried to read them they would be meaningless anyway. They are just key words.

If you have a solution to this I would love to hear it, but if these symbols were replaced with words they would still be just as meaningless in my mind.
 
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John Breckenridge
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I'd phrase it as "Lose electricity, take heat, do ability"
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Andrew Rowse
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Are you required to have that much electricity in order to play the card, or can you play it with no electricity and ignore the loss?

If the former, using 'lose' goes against the conventions established by other games.

I would use (with icons replacing the words in braces):

2[E] : +2[F], [CakeBake], [PoetrySlam]

Everything left of the colon is a cost - if you can't spend it, you can't use the ability. Everything right of the colon is an effect - it happens if possible, otherwise is ignored. The player spends 2 electricity, then gains 2 fire, bakes a cake (if they have come Cake Mix deployed), then reads out one of their deployed Poems (if any).
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Reuben Cronje
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KAndrw wrote:
Are you required to have that much electricity in order to play the card, or can you play it with no electricity and ignore the loss?

If the former, using 'lose' goes against the conventions established by other games.

I would use (with icons replacing the words in braces):

2[E] : +2[F], [CakeBake], [PoetrySlam]

Everything left of the colon is a cost - if you can't spend it, you can't use the ability. Everything right of the colon is an effect - it happens if possible, otherwise is ignored. The player spends 2 electricity, then gains 2 fire, bakes a cake (if they have come Cake Mix deployed), then reads out one of their deployed Poems (if any).


This makes a lot of sense - I'll add to it as well from a long-term Magic background:

Typically, when you pay the "cost" for an ability/card, it is done and dusted. No taking it back if the ability is blocked or somehow unsuccessful. The effect, on the other hand, only happens if the ability goes off succesfully. You should consider whether gaining heat is of the former type (you pay if up front, regardless of the success of the abilty), or the latter (you only take the heat along with the other effects).
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Philip Becker
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Now that I see some cards and you explained your mechanic, I would say your good using symbols. I would maybe echo the above comments about using a colon.
Also if the effect is you can play a card of a certain type, could you spruce up your icon to indicate that you can play a card? The icons on the bottom without a background weren't as obvious as the ones in the top right.
Or another way to do it is break up that info a little bit instead of making it in one line. Like the energy cost is in the middle, then below are the heat generated and moves made available.
As sort of an aside, if the type in the top right always m matches what it generates, I'd further iterate on your card design to eliminate that redundancy (and then maybe make your icons bigger and clearer).
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theTrueMikeBrown wrote:

About Symbols vs Words
Sagrilarus wrote:
Seriously, the more you encode the harder it is to land new players.


I could see changing the heat and electricity to use the words 'heat' and 'electricity'. The problem that I am running into here is that the abilities don't actually mean anything.


    That became very apparent when I looked at your cards. It would appear that learning a new system will be part and parcel of playing your game.

              S.

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Cat Lord
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Unless I see more of how your game works, I wonder why you would need the + and - symbols. If a weapon is always positive heat and negative electric, why not just "X Electric" and "Y Heat"? It would save space from an already cluttered bottom to each card.
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michael brown
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KAndrw wrote:
Are you required to have that much electricity in order to play the card, or can you play it with no electricity and ignore the loss?


Yes, electricity has a lower bound of 0, so you cannot play a card that pushes your electricity below zero.

KAndrw wrote:
2[E] : +2[F], [CakeBake], [PoetrySlam]

Everything left of the colon is a cost - if you can't spend it, you can't use the ability. Everything right of the colon is an effect - it happens if possible, otherwise is ignored. The player spends 2 electricity, then gains 2 fire, bakes a cake (if they have come Cake Mix deployed), then reads out one of their deployed Poems (if any).


I really like this idea. I think that the colon is the way that I am going to go. The required cost is left of the colon and all of the effects are right of the colon. Then the +2 heat is a requirement (however it is a requirement that is always able to happen since having a robot part means that you have a robot and are therefore able to gain heat).

Erluti wrote:
Also if the effect is you can play a card of a certain type, could you spruce up your icon to indicate that you can play a card? The icons on the bottom without a background weren't as obvious as the ones in the top right.


I have had a blind play-tester make a similar comment. (about the icons changing to indicate that the 6 dance move type icons are different in effect than the fire icon or the lightning bolt icon). I have not yet decided how I am going to do that, but it is definitely on my list of things to do.

Erluti wrote:
As sort of an aside, if the type in the top right always m matches what it generates, I'd further iterate on your card design to eliminate that redundancy (and then maybe make your icons bigger and clearer).


The icons in the top right are reminder icons (so that if players stack their cards vertically they can easily see what abilities they have already covered).

I never really was happy with putting them there, but I have the problem of what to put there if I remove them (to me it seems to make the card look unbalanced to not have them).

Perhaps I should just remove them and make the cards look unbalanced. I do have a graphic designer that I know who I intend to have look at the cards in the future to fix problems like this. I don't intend the cards to be in a finished state until at least he looks at them (which is why they are so rough right now - I am not willing to put in the energy to play around with them until I am ready to make them look final).

PhantasyIV wrote:
Unless I see more of how your game works, I wonder why you would need the + and - symbols. If a weapon is always positive heat and negative electric, why not just "X Electric" and "Y Heat"? It would save space from an already cluttered bottom to each card.


There are actually some part cards that radiate heat away, and also some that add electricity. I wasn't intending on sharing a link to the rules (I felt that it was outside of the scope of my question), but it seems to make sense to do so now.
rules pdf
Also, if you want to see a gallery of parts cards that are still in progress of being made: here they are.

Some of the cards are currently messed up, so if you see something that doesn't make sense it is because it is probably wrong.

When I play the game right now I use the cards printed from the rules document. They are less fancy, but they serve my purposes.
 
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