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[Rant/Vent] Little things driving me insane (while I write my game).

MoonHunter

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I am getting down to the homestretch of The Convergence Point Rewrite (which has been pushed back by one bad writing related job (@!$@#%%# Startups), six months of novel writing, 3 rounds of seasonal depression, and just life). I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and it is not an inbound train! The Document for this universal game system of moderate crunch will come in at around 350 pages (with art, appendicies, index, example characters, etc) and 190,000 words.

Much of it has been done and edited for a while. I have gone on to write "next sections". I keep going back to these "done documents" to either reference previous sections or to update existing sections to make sure they are in line with sections upstream in the work.

I keep finding little crap things like tense issues and commas. There are sentences that need to be reworked as I read through it. Sometimes I just rip out and rework a paragraph or small section.

Okay my writing skills are stronger thanks to work on the novel, so that might be part of it. I now see language differently. I have a better understanding of how things should go together... so when I rewrite a section I stumble over, that could be it.

Yet the little things that should be caught by spell/grammer correct, or just by reading the work, are still there.

It is all just frustrating to me. What else is lurking in there that I have missed in documents that have supposedly been read and edited!?
 
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Rickard Elimää

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According to Jakob Nielsen, it takes 15 people to find 95 % of all the faults in a project. What you need is an editor that knows the trade. I usually have 5-7 people looking through my texts and mistakes still find themselves through. When I'm editing I read all the sentences from the end to the beginning or I read my text out loud to see how it sounds like. I never rush things. It's actually better if it takes some time, because otherwise there is a risk that you will unintentionally skim the text because you "know what it says" (a good way to avoid this is reading out loud). I usually let a text rest for 2-3 months before I start to edit it. I first write for myself only - just to get text to all my headlines - and during the first rewrite, I write with the reader in mind.

When it comes to writing games, it's better to playtest thoroughly and when all the playtesting is done, you write the whole game. Start with headlines, add some comments about the headlines and then start to write. One headline a day is my goal. Anything more than that feels like work to me. It should be fun to write and not a burden.
 

AnEristic Principle

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[snip] ...I read my text out loud to see how it sounds like... [snip] ...(a good way to avoid this is reading out loud)... [more snippage]
This is absolutely, categorically the best advice I have ever been given when it comes to editing one's own work (ideally, prior to passing off a manuscript to a professional editor as Rickard has said).
 
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ntharotep

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I agree with Rickard also though, for me, I take the approach of seldom editing my own work. I hand it off and let others read through it then take it back and work from their "redlines" and suggestions.
And as has been said, there are still errors. Sometimes these errors are annoying (especially if you have a project almsot done) and sometimes they are endearing (I used to be pretty OCD about errors in something I worked on but I've gotten more lax and actually feel comfortable with that).

The main thing I glean from other folks palytesting my games or editing my projects is if they understood the intent of it and were able to make use of it and, above all, were entertained. At the end of the day, if the target audience enjoys the product then they will not likely tear you apart because you missed an editing error in your work. If they aren't entertained then they will likely find entertainment in finding more faults with the work including the errors. If there are enough errors in the work to make it unentertaining then you have issues.
My opinion only though.
 

AnEristic Principle

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The main thing I glean from other folks palytesting my games or editing my projects is if they understood the intent of it and were able to make use of it and, above all, were entertained. At the end of the day, if the target audience enjoys the product then they will not likely tear you apart because you missed an editing error in your work. If they aren't entertained then they will likely find entertainment in finding more faults with the work including the errors. If there are enough errors in the work to make it unentertaining then you have issues.
A slight tangent here but this is something I've been discussing this week.

How do people feel about grammar when it comes to a rulebook? To clarify, I mean things like applying "technical English" (as I was taught at school many years ago). Never end a sentence with a preposition, for example. I tend to be incredibly anal about this sort of thing, especially when writing fiction. Is there an argument that it's becoming a more casual, approachable way of writing and therefore in a rulebook that is likely to be quite "heavy" to read, a more relaxed approach to writing is acceptable?

The author of this post accepts no liability for grammatical mistakes (especially after three glasses of wine and working on a character sheet layout for the last two hours).
 

Black Knight

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How do people feel about grammar when it comes to a rulebook?
Having a separate written and spoken language is farcical. I write almost exactly as I speak. If writing as one speaks isn't good enough then it's time to change how one speaks. I have no feelings about how others write except that they not try to make themselves intentionally obtuse or grand. Chatty, formal and flowery texts are all fine.

'Never splitting the infinitive' was never a rule, but something people attempted to impose. I think that propositions at the end of sentences may have a similar origin - Latin. Both rules are pointless.

As to the OP and pulling out hair - you will probably have thought of this already, but I like to print everything and then read it. The difference a physical copy makes to editing is unbelievable, in terms of ease, speed and accuracy. Good natural light and other basic things also really make a difference. If a computer must be used, I use this - www.spreeder.com - and put in small portions at a time (though my editor disagrees with anything but slow reading).

Also - it's 'appendices', not 'appendicies'. :p
 
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MoonHunter

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I like to print everything and then read it. The difference a physical copy makes to editing is unbelievable, in terms of ease, speed and accuracy.
It is the best way to do it. I need to print it all out again (well, there goes two cartridges again). I have been counting too much on the automatic checks and doing spot checks for problem words. (Search for Well, So, That, Which, When, If, and find some problems... that sort of thing).

Also - it's 'appendices', not 'appendicies'. :p
I was having a moment. Also, I tend not to spell check the rants.


A while back, I did the first rewrite from Continuum. I crammed the game into under 96 pages with everything. We playtested it. To death and back. The players then eventually confessed that they never read the rules. Once they did, they were agast. They were playing in a really simple game, not this drek of rules (which were written to tightly control options and screw rules lawyers).

Notice I am now writing 350 pages, not 96. Aside from a GMing section, a better "This is how we play the game" section, enough kitchen sink/ spot rules to cover most of it, and some more appendices (about 52 pages added), it is the same rules. The same rules just written so they are easier to understand and show you where all your options for implimenting your own vision are.

It is a very simple game, with a lot of complexity lurking under the placid waters where GMs and other monsters swim. It may suffer from too many options at this point. However it plays everything; super hero, fantasy, science fiction, mecha, psi/horror, Pulps, and Nippon!, really well. (Though, you still might want the genre and setting books... to save you the time and research.. which I have mostly finished for each of the campaign types we had). This lurking complexity and total variability makes all the examples and section writing difficult.


I do need get this out for others to read after that next paper edit.
 
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MoonHunter

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A slight tangent here ...
I have had this same question go through my mind. Then I went and did a survey of my overly large rules collection. "What is acceptable?", seems all over the board. It runs the range from SPI inspired rules, to first person converstations to the players, to rules in character/genre voice. I found a slightly casual and relaxed version of mostly technical English seems to be what my favorite games are written in. (It is also a very common mode of writing in game rules.)

Except for my use of too many commas (and parentheses), it seems to be the same style I write my fiction in. It is "my voice". For me, this works. It also fits most of the genres I work in.

Your mileage may vary.
 
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MoonHunter

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Related to the primary rant

Writing Biologic Elements for the advanced game (or have been for a while now). This will allow me consistancy for the "Short List" in the primary game and the Advanced Lists to be used in the Lifeform Supplement and the Star Stories supplement. I have now restructured the list and categories inside the list. There is a bit more overlap than I thought there would be. Part of it stems from I wasn't paying attention or I didn't look through the list carefully, so I thought I needed to write something like ...X. Part of this is stems from the "I wrote this a long while ago; I wrote some more not that long ago; I have been jamming on this for the last 3 weeks".

I guess my "clarity of vision" isn't as good as I thought it was. It is hard to maintain that over a long project (Had I rewritten this in all of one series of sessions it might of been easier).

Then again, Datafill ranks right after Jump Rules for the killers of RPG creation.

*Datafill, the writing of all those mechanical pieces (powers, spells, feats, equipment list items, what ever) that are somewhat repititous. These areas of Datafill often take up serious page count in most games.

*Jump Rules: That mythical point in game design where it starts getting boring. This is where you are adding things that aren't that important, but should be there so the rules will be consistant and complete. It happened to three game designers almost simultaneously on an older forum all around or on writing the Jump Rules.

In case you were wondering, the first hurdle is the Fun Hurdle. When it stops being fun or interesting and starts being work. The Internet is littered with game designs that were never finished because it stopped being fun and the designer didn't have enough enthusiasm to carry the project through.

Really it is a matter of dedication to your idea that makes the difference, but these are the three notable hurdles.
 
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Rickard Elimää

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*Datafill, the writing of all those mechanical pieces (powers, spells, feats, equipment list items, what ever) that are somewhat repititous. These areas of Datafill often take up serious page count in most games.
I will now take the role of Captain Obvious, but if something is boring for you to write, then how fun will it be for the reader to take in? Write games that you think are fun instead of writing to please other.

*Jump Rules: That mythical point in game design where it starts getting boring. This is where you are adding things that aren't that important, but should be there so the rules will be consistant and complete. It happened to three game designers almost simultaneously on an older forum all around or on writing the Jump Rules.
The same goes with this. There are design solutions out there where you can leave out rule segments that are standard in typical roleplaying games, like fire or falling damage. I know, because I've been there. Half of my first game consisted of "need to have" rules because I was mid-in a change of my design philosophy.
 
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