*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
October 22, 2014, 04:23:40 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 62 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1] 2 3 4
Print
Author Topic: [It Was a Mutual Decision] Case study for discussion  (Read 26570 times)
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« on: April 27, 2006, 12:21:19 PM »

Post 1 of 3

Hello,

Now that the It Was a Mutual Decision books are printed and shipped - yay! - I thought I'd give a little history and outline the decisions that brought me to this point. Or "An RPG from concept to publication in eight months."

PART ONE - inspiration and proto-design

It all started with the Ronnies contest. I'd announced the contest but the starting date, September 6, was still a few days away. It just so happened that I had the first real break in my schedule in a solid year, and that it was my birthday weekend. And of course I was excited about the contest and about the 24-hour RPG concept in general, and about the terms I'd proposed. It's practically inevitable that I'd hurl myself into the contest process myself. (Note - my game was not one of the submitted contestants. This was all done privately.)

Terms: girlfriend + rat. Me, a pen, and a small steno pad of paper. Wife more-or-less not in the house, and me with neither a stack of papers to grade or any particular domestic tasks that couldn't be ignored, plus a couple of days afterwards available, in case aforementioned wife disagreed with me about the aforementioned domestic tasks.

Looking back at the game, it's now clear that I wanted to stretch my design-brain into a type of RPG that hadn't really interested me, previously - the family of Narrativist games that include InSpectres, The Pool, Universalis, My Life with Master, The Mountain Witch, The Shab al-Hiri Roach, and similar. What bumped me into thinking creatively about this sort of game was Breaking the Ice, and to a lesser extent Death's Door and Under the Bed. I was curious to see whether I could bring certain personal sensibilties into that framework of play. To be clear:

Personal sensibilities at the moment: I Will Not Abandon You as opposed to No One Gets Hurt (the latter was more common in the games cited; I prefer the former), rules utilizing real-person gender as a variable (from my book Sex & Sorcery), a meaningful role for specially-colored dice ((Paul's fault!), groups of people communally playing single player-characters (inspired by my Sorcerer demo at GenCon), and a general dislike for the emotions-uber-alles mindset that prevails in a lot of romantic film (prompted by Breaking the Ice, to be praised in that the couple is not required to end up happily ever after).

That Framework of Play: the intimate, potentially confessional procedures required among the participants; short, potentially one-evening play as the default; instant buy-in and activity of play without extended traditional character creation and prep elements; clear and mechanically-defined chapters of play as indicated by dice outcomes; and a strong random element that included solid disappointment or defeat for a fictional character.

Rat + Girlfriend. Were-rats! Romantic breakup! Without further detail, starting at 9 PM and finishing at 3 PM, I had a pretty good summarized outline and procedures (rules) for a playable game. Social contract? Check. SIS, especially Situation? Check. Reward system? Check. Resolution totally combining all three of these into a humming set of turns and rules? Check. Did I like it? Check.

I figured out how to make a PDF after consulting the Forge's Publishing forum, found a couple of suitable images on the internet for a cheap-y cover page, and was all set. I'd done a 24-hour RPG! I instantly bugged Vincent and Paul to distraction about how wonderful I was. Really, it was quite a rush.

Part One is a big deal because, having done this, I knew that anything and everything else to be done was either refinement to make the actual play process better, even best suited to what I was after; or logistics, getting the thing beaten into a marketable object.

Remember: the activity is not the same as the object, even though we use the same word ("game") to describe each. Therefore I had two distinct jobs now: to make the activity work better, as well as to make the product just right to teach the activity. The 24-hour process meant that I was fully situated to get on with these, without futzing around any more with anything fundamental to the whole endeavor.

PART TWO - playtesting and acid-testing (done partly in tandem with Part Three, but always conceptually forefront to drive Part-Three decisions)

I diddled with the rules a little more after the 24-hour process, although I preserved the 24-hour PDF as itself as an artifact. I didn't change much, but some. Then it so happened that our regular gaming group wasn't meeting that week, leaving regular members Maura and me at loose ends, and Tim Koppang and I had been shooting some emails back and forth about "we really ought to hang out again one of these days." Not very many people for what was supposed to be a two-group game, but hey, why not. We got together for an afternoon, and Tim had his own rough draft game for us to try too. That led to a full afternoon and early evening of play.

After that first playtest, the good news was that the fundamental framework, the personal buy-in, and the actual process of who speaks or rolls when, all worked. However, some of the dice results weren't as easy or sensible as they'd seemed, and needed revision, and I didn't like the chapter transitions as much as I thought. Scribble, scribble, and time to schedule a new playtest.

The regular group did meet the next week and wearily agreed to yet another damn "Ron's new game idea" session. Three guys and two gals, so I could assess the group play a little better, too. This time, again, the basic process of play instantly shone forth and the fundamental questions posed by the game were all felt and addressed by everyone there. That's something that had been hard to assess with just me and Tim and Maura; it's a larger-group issue. However, and this is typical for playtesting, I confused myself regarding the revisions so far and actually didn't apply some of the changes I'd made. So the draggy and dissatisfying features of one of the three phases of play was all too clearly revealed as absolutely wrong, providing a negative test of those changes. OK, not the best way to playtest, but live and learn.

I like to think of this step culminating in an acid-test, a new decision whether to publish the game. This has to happen - too many RPGs are powered only by initial vision, and should be scrapped after playtesting or other indicators really let you know that this isn't worth the next round, at this time. I look at what I had and what we'd done, and decided, from scratch, "yes," this could well become a published game.

All of this led to the first major draft of the real rules, in part reorganizing the original version and in part starting to think about this whole thing as a readable object. So as I continued to playtest, revision of the activity became less of an issue and although this overlapped with it, development of the product started to take on a life of its own.
Logged
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2006, 12:21:53 PM »

Post 2 of 3

PART THREE - designing the book and organizing the team; budgeting

The most fundamental element of this part is simply having a well-organized, fully-sufficient, and readable text. I'd already found my "voice" for the project, which was one of the other benefits of doing the 24-hour version, because you can't do a good 24-hour RPG project if you put on a fake-y or please-the-imaginary-gamer voice. Once I printed out a pretty thorough draft, I sent it to people like Paul, Emily, and Vincent, and gave hard copies to Julie and Maura. I also started reading it over and over myself, correcting or adding or coming up with new ideas ("Oh! I should say this!") as I went. I decided not to use the term "role-playing" at all and simply to explain exactly what to do in the most basic, linear way possible.

This is basically the donkey-work of writing. Very soon, it becomes less a matter of busting out golden brilliant prose, and more a matter of editing reams of indigestible, gloppy prose into something at least tolerable. I used others' comments either as plain old superior revisions, or as signals that I needed to come with something better. I know this process well and treat it as a routine activity, just something you do with part of the day whenever possible. Read hard copy, mark up, correct on the screen, print, read hard copy, mark up, repeat until you die. Phrasing gets changed, and paragraphs get circled and arrowed to some other section of the text. Sometimes whole sections get crossed out and sometimes the back of a page gets absolutely filled up with a new scribbled section.

A nearly-as-fundamental element of this part is having a vision of the physical product in mind, especially if it is finely tuned to the physical use that you envision for actual play, and for what it looks like lyin' around someone's house. For a parlor-game type activity, - wait -

* Note: "parlor game" is a good description for these short, easy buy-in, group-friendly RPGs; "parlor narration" is a negative term I coined for certain resolution mechanics that I don't think are very functional; they are not the same things and have no relationship with one another.

- OK - for a parlor-game type activity, I wanted the object (a) to be easily picked up and glanced through, so someone at a gathering would say, "Hey! What is this? Is it like a game? Can we try?" It should also be small and portable, so as to be fun reading in public places. And finally, it should be hip and a little edgy, like impulse-buy books based on strong gender humor, which are legion at any bookstore, you know, "How to Close the Toilet-Lid and Other Man-Training Tasks," or "Shoes Aren't That Important, Honey," that sort of thing. I'd not only found my voice, but at this point, by thinking of both text-as-text and book-as-product, I'd found my audience.

I don't know what two neurons finally rubbed together, but I actually had a good idea all of a sudden - a landscape-format paperback book, exactly like you find in humor sections at bookstores. A lot of cartoon collections are this size, and a lot of little manuals for dozens of different activities. I grabbed one of my Dykes to Watch Out For collections (top five comics list member! read it now), which are published in this size, and flipped it as a object, looking at the way it handled. Yes - this was it, this is what this book needed to look and feel like.

That led me to think of two other features I'd been meaning to combine for a while: the visual organization of the Sorcerer texts using graphic tabs, and the relatively large font and judicious, yet liberal use of white space in My Life With Master. They were perfect for this format; I could put the tabs on the side edges rather than the top, and the typical book in this format is expected to pay off the reader in punchy two-page-spread content, rather than in fill-every-inch tiny print. You open it to any page, and you knew where you were (and what the rest of it had in it), and you could read what was right there in ten seconds and go "yeah."

Oh, and one other feature seemed just right - a little pitter-patter graphic of rat footprints, running across a few of the pages, here and there in different directions. Perfect!

So, illustrations ... well, full-page seemed called for. I have been getting more and more into full-page illustrations for a while, and Polaris really clinched it for me. I had also been wanting to work with Veronica Pare for, geez, two years now, and since I'd met her after Sex & Sorcery was published, hadn't really had anything suited to her style until now. And then I realized that Keith Senkowski's style was perfectly suited to hers, and hey! A male artist and a female artist! That's perfect too. I didn't want to break the bank, but I knew this would be the first outlay, in solid $100 chunks. Two of them for Veronica, actually; I wanted to cement a really good economic relationship with her for the future, and at this point, I was thinking of her doing a color piece for the cover as well.

I contacted both artists and smiled gently when each told me that what I'd offered really didn't lease that many pieces. I gave each a list of possible ideas and emphasized the unusual size and layout. I had faith in my material, and sure enough, Keith bitched and moaned that he kept getting inspired and simply had to do "one more" piece. And who would've thought, one of those turned out to be the cover. One of those moments when you see a picture and say, insta-decision, "that's the cover." It wasn't my first plan to have a black-and-white cover illustration, but staying open to these moments is a big part of getting the book out at all. I decided to use hot pink letting and graphics, and that combination seemed even better suited to the design/object sensibility I was after.

It was also time to seed the internet with some advance warning and see whether any buzz might be there, so I posted some threads at the Forge and pointed people to the work being displayed on the artists' sites. Technically, I should have put up a webpage for the game at adept-press.com, but you know, it just didn't happen. It seemed a little less important now that IPR handles my on-line ordering, although that doesn't mean I should have nothing at all.

Armed with the first sketches and the text, which was still being revised here and there but now, around mid-November, was approaching its final form, I could start making mockup pages and thinking about final length. To my surprise, the book broke 100 pages, a lot bigger than I'd thought based on the original, 28-page standard-sized 24-hour RPG. Huh ... given that I wanted full-page chapter titles, a few ads in the back (Breaking the Ice seemed necessary), and so on, I was looking at a nice hefty little book, not just "like" the cartoon or humor books I'd used as a model, but exactly like them.

Now it was time to think about the rough outlines of budgeting. How about a $15 cover price? Same as Elfs, and there's always the "Ron's new game" factor, and it has a novel look and feel. All right, assume I print and sell 100 books over the next year, including GenCon 2006. I'd make about $10 a book after shipping and printing costs, I figured. With $400 for art and layout, there's room for profit there, but not as much as I'd like. Time to check print costs.

And if I wanted to talk to printers, it's also time to talk layout so I could give them real information. Snyder!! I like to push his design sensibilities past his comfort zone; he seems to enjoy the abuse. He said, "What, are you nuts? Rat footprints? All right, I'll do it." OK, there went another $100. H'm, $400 so far, it's time to start thinking about how much to charge for this thing, and who's going to print it.

Hubris kicked in at about this point, too. I said, "Hey! I could get this out for the New Year!" Yeah, right. I always say something like this and then, mercifully, forget I did so.
Logged
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2006, 12:22:17 PM »

Post 3 of 3

PART FOUR - the actual book

I have gone through many bidding processes with printers, and after a while, you hit on the one you like the most and stick with them, only looking elsewhere if the job really doesn't suit them. Therefore for Sorcerer books, I use Patterson Printing; for POD books, I use Express Media. I know their strong and weak points, I like their prices, and the books look good. I gave'em a call and got a bid - about $2.70 a book, which with various extras I'd probably want after all, I knew would round up to about $3 eventually. Not bad!!

Let's see, now I could do some actual rough budgeting. Assume I print and sell 100 $15 books over the next year, including GenCon 2006. That's $300 for printing et cetera, $400 for art and layout = $700 total cost. 100 books at $15 apiece, well, let's say I see about $10 per book, given shipping and commission costs (very rough estimate) ... that's $1000, giving me a clear profit of $300.

Not much, not as much as I really like to see, but it's better than breaking even (my personal criterion), and I do have hopes that the book will sell past that point over the following year. After all, Elfs does, which I never expected, and Mutual Decision is pushing into a different sort of market that might yield a longer haul. $300 profit means an easy next print run, and sales on that become pure profit, about $10 a book from then on. I can do that.

I now brushed up the manuscript yet again, aiming for proofreading and anything I was forgetting. I assigned it an ISBN from my list, double-checked with Express Media that they could do the bar code, and contacted Emily and Paul for advertisement files; I told Matt he should put one in too. Matt sent me mockups for layout, and we debated several points and tried different versions until both of us were satisfied.

1. Should the tabs be on both right and left sides, or just the right? Conclusion: just the right.

2. What order should the illustrations be in? Should we try to match content to subject, or should we stick with the remarkable narrative sequence that had emerged from combining Keith's and Veronica's work? After much head-scratching: the latter.

3. Where should the rat footprints go? We doped out an irregular, but not too irregular page count between instances.

4. How about type face, color, and graphic design for the cover? Shadowed or other set-off techniques? Cursive? We tried a bunch, and oddly, one of the versions that was not a starting top pick for either of us turned out the best, when you actually printed it. Hard copy to the rescue, yet again. Matt's first choices of pink didn't provide that whorish, female-humor feel I wanted, so I told him, "chimpanzee in estrus, Matt." He made that face Midwesterners always make when I say such things, but sure enough, the next pink was the right pink.

5. Letter size and line space, as well as specific sorts of bolding and bullet-points ... all this is just more donkey-work, and you print and compare, print and compare until it works the way you want.

Now, who's been paying attention? What do I keep telling you about layout? It takes twice as long as you think. And then it takes a little longer. There's no point in rushing it, and no point in badgering the layout guy. It's his baby now, for a while, and all you'll accomplish by nudging him is waiting longer, or shoddy work, or both. Sure enough, I didn't get it to Express Media until February, which was a minor bummer, because Emily had contacted me about getting it and Breaking the Ice into a Valentine's Day two-pack. Fantastic idea, but just not logistically possible, and that's not a slam on Matt, either. Layout takes a long time. It's work. It has to be done right, and even then, you know there'll be fixes to make for the second printing.

Oh yeah, and to add to layout delays, I had my usual back-cover crisis. I never know what to write for a back cover. And then, at the last minute, it always occurs to me. Same thing happened this time.

I zipped the PDF for the cover and the text to Express Media in early March. No problem. We're set, right?

That "New Year" ambition was long in the past, so it was time for more hubris. I thought, Forge Midwest is in late April, so I'll have it by then. Three nasty things happened, then, in quick succession. Have you published a game, yet? No? Well, learn this now - when everything is going fine, three nasty things will happen in quick succession. I'm not kidding, they just will.

1. Forge Midwest got rescheduled to early April. Whoa! Two weeks lead time, gone. I pretty much wrote off the chance of having the game for it. No big deal.

2. Express Media tells me the cover has some kind of format goof ... what? I'd sent their specs to Matt even before he started to work on the cover. Damn! Email to Matt, and give the Express rep Matt's email too. And unaccountably, Matt's email stops working. Like, for the first time since I've been mailing him with it, way back in 2002. Right at this crucial instant of "we're printing." Days pass before this gets ironed out and Express gets the fixed file, and we still don't really know what was wrong with the first one, or at least Matt's explanation was unintelligible to me, ignorant of layout software as I am.

[At this point, the proofs arrive. They look good! They did two covers for me to compare and I picked the one I liked better. A few typos and minor layout issues make themselves evident, and I decide they are not worth repairing for the cost; none of them are howlers or damage the book's utility. The only thing I'm concerned about is how the grey in Veronica's pieces turned out, but again, it's minor. I fax my approval to Express Media and give'em my credit card info.]

3. Express Media hits a crunch time and back-burners the project for a week or two. Kids - this is how things go. POD printers don't work in bulk, usually, like I have them do, and given the burp in the process in #2 above, they simply had to bump up something big rather than wait around on some kind of email miscommunication on our end. The problem is when they promise a certain delivery date, like right before a con. In this case, I'd specifically not given them a hard deadline, knowing that's not this company's strong point. Never give yourself a con date, or any kind of public-event release, for a hard deadline - ever. Don't blame printers for their on-site scheduling decisions if you do, if they are printers that deliver good physical books.

But still, these were three stressful things, at least as long as I retained the illusion of showing up to Forge Midwest with the new books. That just wasn't going to happen and realizing that was a professional necessity. Therefore I didn't have to enter into what I call my Grope & Kill mode, which I've had to do a couple of times with Sorcerer publishing, but the happy task-oriented ride I'd enjoyed with this game until this point was definitely over. I made calls, made snap decisions, and with any luck made no enemies in getting through this stage.

I was able to bring the proofs to Forge Midwest and also to enjoy a phenomenal fun game with a bunch of great people, as I posted about in Actual Play. After that, it was just a matter of settling down until the books themselves arrived. I asked Express Media to ship 85 to IPR and 15 to me at home.

AND NOW

I have'em! They look great - much better than the proofs did, actually. I'd decided to laminate the covers after all, and the book looks tremendously sharp, with that pink doing its job just as hoped-for.

On second reading, of course, right in the flush of holding the thing, you know what comes next. Sure enough, why look, a typo. Another one. Fuck! Another one. And that sentence is awkward, I could never have written such trash. What is happening here?? Then I settled down and remembered that all books do this, and made a nice list for Snyder and the second round. Once the hyperventilating was over, I looked at it again and said, "Not that many - certainly not as bad as Sorcerer's first print run. So, all right."

Brennan should be putting them up at IPR momentarily, I suppose, so bug him if you want it. I wrote and published a game! Cool!

Questions, comments, anything? I'd really like to help out some folks just moving into book publishing this year, so ask away.

Best, Ron
Logged
Adam Dray
Member

Posts: 676


WWW
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2006, 01:15:56 PM »

Thank you for all that. It was both entertaining and educational. Seeing actual costs for art and editing and layout gave me a clue what is standard, even if I've clinched some killer deals with people.

I'm looking ahead to publishing my pervy cyberpunk game Verge in the next year. I probably have a layout guy lined up. If not, I have another contact who will do it. Free and stuff. I've got an editor. It's my first game, so I don't really need it all to be perfect, but I also want people to feel they're getting quality for the money I ask from them.

When is the right time to start thinking about layout? I've heard Clinton say he likes to write directly into the layout software so he can fit content to the pages. I'm finding it hard to wrap my head around how to use Word properly to build sidebars and similar text boxes and not cause a headache for the person who has to move all that into InDesign or whatever. (I am rather good in Word and can do all kinds of layout-y things but I feel I oughtn't be doing it.)

Also, it seems you didn't playtest a whole lot. Am I wrong? How many times did you play the game before sending it to the printer? How many times was it played by groups that didn't include you? Granted, I haven't been doing this as long as you, but every time I playtest, I discover some aspect of the game that is totally broken and go back to the drawing board. It gets better and better with each rewrite, and I'm gonna have to draw a line at some point and call it done, I know, but I know I need a lot more playtesting before I'll be comfortable putting a dollar amount on this.

Again, thanks!
Logged

Adam Dray / adam@legendary.org
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at foundry.legendary.org 7777
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2006, 01:47:10 PM »

Hi Adam,

I think people differ a lot regarding authoring vs. laying out. For me, layout has a finalizing quality which impedes my ability to edit and revise. As I go, once in a while, I'll use layout to try out different looks and font sizes, experimenting with the vision, fairly early in the process. But I always go back to the plain text page and use that for the writing, editing, and revising. Ultimately, I like to have a text-only, complete manuscript in standard format as "the" archival text copy, which then goes into layout. If layout gets screwed up in some way, we can then step back to the archival text for a re-try.

Maybe that would help you. Always keep a Word file with no layout or formatting beyond the basics, and type all corrections and revisions into that first. Then you can grab a piece of it and play with the layout software all you want; you can always 'port the whole text into that format if you want to, later.

Granted, I didn't playtest this one quite as much as others I've published. I did playtest it very thoroughly, in the sense of mechanics, and got a lot of feedback on the manuscript. I think I left out one playtest too, which included Ralph ... or was that one of the Hyde Park sessions? Aggghh, I know there were at least a couple more sessions in the early stages beyond what I described. My phrase "continued to playtest" was supposed to refer to them.

Also, this is a very simple game in mechanics terms, much more like Breaking the Ice and nothing at all like, even Sorcerer. The scale of resolution is very large, in whole scenes, and all the rules concern big conflicts and shifting some points and numbers around each time. Once I got it to hum nicely, there really wasn't any hidden corner or feature that needed to be attended to ... and hey, in the third phase of play, if you want your character to kill the other character, you just, uh, say so. It's not like any points are involved that need to be balanced or anything.

Best, Ron
Logged
Judd
Member

Posts: 1641

Please call me Judd.


WWW
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2006, 01:50:34 PM »

I now brushed up the manuscript yet again, aiming for proofreading and anything I was forgetting. I assigned it an ISBN from my list, double-checked with Express Media that they could do the bar code, and contacted Emily and Paul for advertisement files;.

Ron,

I am ashamed to be a library student and asking this question but could you talk about how you got your own ISBN numbers, what it means and why you'd bother to do so?

Thanks,

Judd
Logged

Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2006, 02:14:34 PM »

Hi Judd,

The Wikipedia entry for ISBN is pretty good.

Ultimately, nothing mandates that I or other publishers must buy and use ISBNs. But stores and other merchants expect to see them, to the extent that you won't move the book through many or nearly any of them without it. And I confess I find it helpful to think of every book as having a universal identifier.

Best, Ron
Logged
Judd
Member

Posts: 1641

Please call me Judd.


WWW
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2006, 02:23:26 PM »

And naturally, I forgot the most important part of that question, the how do you procure an ISBN?
Logged

Justin D. Jacobson
Member

Posts: 186


WWW
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2006, 02:37:53 PM »

And naturally, I forgot the most important part of that question, the how do you procure an ISBN?
http://www.bowker.com/
Logged

Facing off against Captain Ahab, Dr. Fu Manchu, and Prof. Moriarty? Sure!

Passages - Victorian era, literary-based high adventure!
Clinton R. Nixon
Member

Posts: 2624


WWW
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2006, 03:41:26 PM »

When is the right time to start thinking about layout? I've heard Clinton say he likes to write directly into the layout software so he can fit content to the pages.

You didn't hear me say that. That's a fucking awful idea. Use a text editor and write with no formatting at all, or at the most, type in Word, using the styles intelligently. That will keep your layout guy from hating you.
Logged

Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Matt Snyder
Member

Posts: 1380


WWW
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2006, 05:25:28 PM »

Quote
The only thing I'm concerned about is how the grey in Veronica's pieces turned out, but again, it's minor.

Minor, maybe, but also the thing I cringed about when otherwise drooling over the proof at Forge Midwest. And, since FM was a flurry of activity I never got to ask you about it. So, we agree, it isn't cool.

As we go through another round to correct errors and such, I'll adjust the hell out of those images and get those funky grays darkend up (which I presume is more "correct" and certainly will look better, I think).

That said, I half wondered if this wasn't intentional on Pare's part. I decided it probably was not intentional, and we should adjust.
Logged

Matt Snyder
www.chimera.info

"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra
Adam Dray
Member

Posts: 676


WWW
« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2006, 06:44:00 PM »

Thanks for the response, Ron. That answers all my questions. Separate content from presentation and let the layout guy worry about it. And I'm sure my game needs a ton of playtesting -- I'm new at this and my game is complicated -- and it's fun to playtest anyway, in that morbid, trainwreck sorta way.


You didn't hear me say that. That's a fucking awful idea. Use a text editor and write with no formatting at all, or at the most, type in Word, using the styles intelligently. That will keep your layout guy from hating you.

Hrm. Someone at MACE said that. Thought it was you. My bad!

I use Word styles intelligently, but then before I know it, Word has created a billion variant styles like Body Text+12 pt and crap and I get frustrated and kick it. I should stick to emacs.
Logged

Adam Dray / adam@legendary.org
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at foundry.legendary.org 7777
Eric Provost
Member

Posts: 581


WWW
« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2006, 04:08:35 AM »

Thanks Ron.  I really enjoyed reading it all.

-Eric
Logged

David "Czar Fnord" Artman
Member

Posts: 246


WWW
« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2006, 07:41:39 AM »

I use Word styles intelligently, but then before I know it, Word has created a billion variant styles like Body Text+12 pt and crap and I get frustrated and kick it. I should stick to emacs.

Advice: Keep the Style sidebar open as you work, and you will spot these as they show up and you can kill them. To avoid it ever happening, set your styles so that they DO NOT automatically update, turn off your Formatting toolbar, and make your own custom toolbar to do things like Show/Hide , open the Style palette, monkey with tables, etc.

Opinion: Switch to an editing environment that doesn't allow overrides at all (for example, use pure HTML or FrameMaker without a Format bar). I tend to draft in a "style-strict" Word environment or an HTML editor (if I am working "open" or trying to easily distribute for reviews) and then work in FrameMaker for the final layout (InDesign can go suck it; Frame FOREVER!).

You didn't hear me say that. That's a fucking awful idea. Use a text editor and write with no formatting at all, or at the most, type in Word, using the styles intelligently. That will keep your layout guy from hating you.

Opinion: As a professional "layout guy", I can assure you that it is time- and money-wasting to author without some use of style. Otherwise, your layout guy can't determine the metadata behind your content (which is what formatting conveys: relationships between content, author emphasis, distinguishing referential and procedural and anecdotal content, hierarchy/priority of content, inheritance of meaning, etc, etc). And, thus, you go through revisions solely due to confusions of intent, emphasis, and organization. For an obvious example, ask yourself how a layout guy can tell a major (chapter) heading from a minor (section) heading, in plain text? Anyone about say, "With ALLCAPS verses Sentence Case or with hyphens," is going to piss off a layout guy MUCH more--that sort of "pseudo-style" formatting is actually the HARDEST content to typeset, because it must be cleaned up before it can even be assigned a style. At least a Word style leaves the content as basic text that any good layout tool can Paste Special to Unformatted (Unicode) Text. Pseudo-styling (styling with content edits) actually more directly couples the format to the content!

Advice: see above quote.

Thanks Ron. I really enjoyed reading it all.

Me, too. And I owe you one for the ISBN reminder... the recent focus on internet publishing makes me forget it is nice to at least CONSIDER retail channels as options. ;-)

David
Logged

If you liked this post, you'll love... GLASS: Generic Live Action Simulation System - System Test Document v1.1(beta)
Clinton R. Nixon
Member

Posts: 2624


WWW
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2006, 07:51:08 AM »

Opinion: As a professional "layout guy", I can assure you that it is time- and money-wasting to author without some use of style. Otherwise, your layout guy can't determine the metadata behind your content (which is what formatting conveys: relationships between content, author emphasis, distinguishing referential and procedural and anecdotal content, hierarchy/priority of content, inheritance of meaning, etc, etc). And, thus, you go through revisions solely due to confusions of intent, emphasis, and organization. For an obvious example, ask yourself how a layout guy can tell a major (chapter) heading from a minor (section) heading, in plain text? Anyone about say, "With ALLCAPS verses Sentence Case or with hyphens," is going to piss off a layout guy MUCH more--that sort of "pseudo-style" formatting is actually the HARDEST content to typeset, because it must be cleaned up before it can even be assigned a style. At least a Word style leaves the content as basic text that any good layout tool can Paste Special to Unformatted (Unicode) Text. Pseudo-styling (styling with content edits) actually more directly couples the format to the content!

You are talking nonsense and I am the one that will tell you so.

http://www.linuxjournal.com/article/8098

Plain text can be manipulated into styled word-processor text with the flick of a hand. Also, writers should worry first about writing, and pay layout people to suck it up. Trying to deal with formatting while writing is damaging to your ability to write.
Logged

Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Pages: [1] 2 3 4
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!