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Subject: Rules written like a script. (Poll included) rss

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Joe Kell
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I'm about to write a rule book for a party game that I was showing at Grand Con this weekend and got some interest from publishers. I'm considering going away from the norm and writing a script for how to teach the game. Following the script would be a section that answers the other questions that come up during the game but aren't vital to get started. I want to hear your thoughts in the comments and on the poll!
This is my first time making a poll, so I'm sorry if it's no good.

Edit: This is specifically a question for a party game, keep that in mind in giving your answer. But feel free to give comments for other styles of games!

Poll: Should a rule book teach the game or just hold rules?
Would you like a rule book that is written as a script to teach the game?
Yes
No
      81 answers
Poll created by spicyqueso15


Poll
Would you want this if this was just an additional resource? Rather than replacing the core of the rule book.
Yes but I already wanted it.
Yes, it would be a nice addition.
No, I specifically want it to replace the rules.
No, I don't want it at all.
      62 answers
Poll created by spicyqueso15
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maf man
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it sounds like a fun idea but I'm just not convinced it wont make it harder to learn.
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Lazy Mountain

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In the "worst rules ever written" geeklist, some game is nominated for using a "dialogue" style for rules.

From a design perspective, is there a reason to do it? Will it help players enter the mindset you hope for, or will they still only be read by players needing specifics? Will highlights be easy to reference?

Btw, breaking the rules into a script section, and another "traditional" to cover edge cases probably shouldn't be the goal.
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Joe Kell
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Here are some pros and cons that I see off the bat.

Pros:
-Everyone learns at the same rate, the person reading doesn't pick up more nuances on the rules than anyone else.
-The person reading rules isn't seeing pictures that other people aren't, they are actively pointing when it says to point and the like.
-Players may learn more actively.
-The information is given in the correct order of how the designer teaches the game.
-The game can be picked up and taught at a convention without needing to spend a half hour or more reading the rules before teaching the game.
-People teaching a game aren't always professional teachers, sometimes they give too much information and overload players and sometimes they don't cover all of the important stuff, this could help mitigate that.
-Outcome of the game can't be blamed on the teacher being bad.


Cons:
-The rules may not be legally worded like they normally are, so it could be harder to resolve issues when referencing the script.
-Players may not think to reference the script when they have an issue, but to counter this point, the rules could also be in the second part.



EDIT: I'm biased, give me some more cons to put here!
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Joe Kell
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My first thought is that it takes me a minute and a half to teach the game, and then players ask questions as things come up. So the back portion may be phrased as questions with answers that explain that part of the game more in detail. I don't think this would work for a longer game, but this is a party game.

Lzmountaingames wrote:

Btw, breaking the rules into a script section, and another "traditional" to cover edge cases probably shouldn't be the goal.


I don't know if it would actually be edge cases, just stuff that you don't need to start playing the game, but are still good to know at some point.
 
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Michael Korson
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The rules for Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ? have a written, guided learning scenario for the game where it took you step by step through setup and playing through a couple guided simulated turns, while at certain points pausing and directing you to read certain sections of the rules before proceeding. It was very well done and helped put the different rules and mechanisms in context within the flow of the game.

That's probably different than your script idea - and obviously not a substitute for the traditional ruleset, but I still thought it was a good idea (at least for a larger, more complex game).
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Leo Zappa
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If you did 'in addition to' rather than 'instead of' a traditional rule book, I'd be all in favor.
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Joe Kell
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desertfox2004 wrote:
If you did 'in addition to' rather than 'instead of' a traditional rule book, I'd be all in favor.


This is what I'm leaning towards but I wanted to see if someone would bring it up first, I'll add a second poll.
Edit: Second poll is added.
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maf man
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I think your pros and cons list is biased in a very specific way. Your assuming that each player would want to learn this way.
So as an idea its fun and could work, but in reality, out of all the people I game with I'd guess only 10% would be up for trying to learn a game this way. Yes you would present the players the rules the same way but everyone takes information differently.

"information is given in the correct order"
according to you. There are plenty of threads talking about if people like rules presenting an overview of the game or if you go goals first or explaining your actions that you do or blah blah blah.

perhaps you could try to treat it as an introductory, enough to get everyone on the same page but a glossary follows for all the minor rules. But that all depends on what kind of game I guess.
I think this idea is worth trying if you think it fits the game just know that many gamers will also want a black and white reference rulebook.
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Joe Kell
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mafman6 wrote:
I think your pros and cons list is biased in a very specific way. Your assuming that each player would want to learn this way.
So as an idea its fun and could work, but in reality, out of all the people I game with I'd guess only 10% would be up for trying to learn a game this way. Yes you would present the players the rules the same way but everyone takes information differently.


I do agree it is very biased and I will say that the game I want to do this for takes me a minute and a half to teach so I think it would only work for "easy to learn games".

mafman6 wrote:

"information is given in the correct order"
according to you. There are plenty of threads talking about if people like rules presenting an overview of the game or if you go goals first or explaining your actions that you do or blah blah blah.


I'm making a very bad assumption that there will be a best way to present the information and that the designer, publisher and several blind testers will work together to find this, not just what I personally think is best.

mafman6 wrote:

perhaps you could try to treat it as an introductory, enough to get everyone on the same page but a glossary follows for all the minor rules. But that all depends on what kind of game I guess.
I think this idea is worth trying if you think it fits the game just know that many gamers will also want a black and white reference rulebook.


I think this is what I'm trying to convey. Instead of having the teacher pick what rules are needed to capture the essence of the game, it is already given to them that way, then a glossary. In addition I think a standard rule book would come with the game as well.
 
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Joe Kell
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My overall point is that as the designer, I teach the game about a hundred times before the game is printed. After a while there isn't a lot of variance in what I say when I teach or what order it comes out in. My intention is give someone this resource of what I say when teaching so they can do it as quickly and effectively as I do. Many designers talk about not being able to mail themselves in every box of the game to teach it, this is my suggestion for getting around that issue so players can get the game on the table as quick as possible.
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Jordan Tomberlin
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While I am intrigued by this idea, I'm running into the same "cons" list as other posters. I feel like if we had more to go on, like a sample text, we could give you better input.
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Julian Wasson
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I'd be interested to see it and possibly try to use it, but the main issue is that I'm learning to adjust my teaching style to different groups. Different people learn different ways, and I'm both used to learning from rules the way they are customarily written, and I know the group I'm teaching to. So I can quickly learn the rules and present them the way that will make sense to this group.

It seems to me that a script structure will be too imprecise for me to form a complete picture and too wordy to actually teach that way to my primary group.

That all said, sure yeah try the thing! Maybe it'll be awesome, or at least maybe the people who would have a hard time without it will have a useful resource. As long as you also include rules that are precise and easy to reference (which a script necessarily will never be) and you're willing to put in the extra effort to do both, I don't see a negative to having more options.
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Joe Kell
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Layanna13 wrote:
While I am intrigued by this idea, I'm running into the same "cons" list as other posters. I feel like if we had more to go on, like a sample text, we could give you better input.


I will eventually post that, I think I'll be writing it tomorrow.
 
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Derry Salewski
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Battlecon is kinda like that and it's really annoying and probably why I haven't learned the game yet.


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Jeff Warrender
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Well, my latest rule set literally begins with a script, (albeit a different sort of script entirely than what you're describing!) so I can hardly pooh-pooh the idea too much.

But I think an important variable you're not considering is the auditory performance of the person reading the script. You're assuming that you're basically just translating your oral performance into words that someone else can perform and that their performance will be as effective as yours. But that might not be the case for everyone. I know that I've never, not once, had as good an experience from "person reads the rulebook to us" as "person who is familiar with the rules teaches us in his own words". Maybe the former will be better if it's worded like a script but I'm skeptical. But anyway, that's what you really need to test -- not whether you can get the script right but whether, having a script, it works no matter who is reading it.
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