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Author Topic: [It Was a Mutual Decision] Case study for discussion  (Read 38782 times)
Adam
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« Reply #30 on: April 30, 2006, 08:24:52 AM »

In my experience, printers do 11" by 8.5" without any trouble, and if I'm not mistaken, they do 9" by 6" without any trouble either (I could be wrong; they might have to trim to it, but if they do, at least they're used to it). I think they can do 17" by 11" and 14" by 8.5" all right too.
Also, be aware that to some printers, 8.5" by 11" is actually 8.375" by 10.875", and 6" by 9" is similarly reduced. The particular printer I'm talking about [Transcontinental] would do exactly 6" by 9" or 5.8375" by 8.875", but the slightly smaller size was slightly cheaper, and to the layman, looked the same . . . except when the first book in the series was printed in 6x9 and the second in the smaller size.

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Thunder_God
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« Reply #31 on: May 01, 2006, 06:10:13 AM »

How did you handle Editing by "Outside People", as in, people who are not you, of the final manuscript?

This seems to be a somewhat obscure point about Indie RPGs, as far as I've seen.
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Guy Shalev.

Cranium Rats Central, looking for playtesters for my various games.
CSI Games, my RPG Blog and Project. Last Updated on: January 29th 2010
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #32 on: May 01, 2006, 06:21:45 AM »

Adam, good point about the trimming. I always forget that.

Guy, I'm not sure what you mean about "handling" the editing ... when someone edits a manuscript I give them, I typically incorporate all their changes. Either I go right ahead and change what's indicated, or sometimes, I say, "I see why you marked that, but I can think of a better solution" and change it in a different way. I try hard to suppress my authorial worship of my immortal prose when dealing with someone else's edits of it, and to say, "Listen, ego, they're the reader and it's their turn now."

In my experience, no manuscript is rendered 100% pristine via editing; all we can do is try to keep the awful little fucking errors to a minimum. Also, some typos and errors of formatting occur at the layout stage, when the poor layout guy has to mess with the document a little as he's making things fit, and a letter gets clipped off the front or end of a line, for instance.

That brings up another point - the proofs stage. Contrary to the ideal, I have never found it logistically possible to revise proofs and make the printer do it over, except for really serious errors. This is partly a failing of mine, in not heeding my own advice about deadlines (in which case I see the error, wince, and suck it up, growling, "next printing"), but it's also a failing of the printing process, which frankly tends to over-charge at that stage, as I see it.

I'm also not sure whether there's any point to looking for a trend of any kind, about editing issues, across independent games. Asking for editing, responding to editing, etc, are highly individualized. You'd certainly see a trend within one person's set of books, sure. Non-independent games display an equal diversity, for the same reason.

Best, Ron
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Thunder_God
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« Reply #33 on: May 01, 2006, 06:27:16 AM »

I meant, how many people do you give your manuscript(final version) for editing, how "professional" are they, do you look for grammar/format editing or also content, etc.
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Guy Shalev.

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CSI Games, my RPG Blog and Project. Last Updated on: January 29th 2010
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #34 on: May 01, 2006, 06:45:14 AM »

Depends on the game. Sorcerer underwent outside editing from a variety of sources, at a number of different steps in its unusual publishing history from 1996 through 2001. Elfs got a thorough going-over from a publisher who was interested in it, before that relationship went belly-up and I decided to publish it myself. In the case of It Was a Mutual Decision, I had two extremely scholarly friends (academics, library folks) go over it. For future purposes, I'm planning on bothering Thor Olavsrud for editing more often. He's done fantastic work for Burning Wheel and others.

As you can see, in my case, it's not a formalized or standard procedure from game to game, outside of the fact that I think it always needs to get done.

As a related matter, I have occasionally edited for others. My general impression is that response to editing is highly variable, up to and including ignoring most of it, even typos-corrections. My approach of accepting all edits in spirit and nearly all of then in concrete acceptance of the indicated change, seems to be rarer.

Best, Ron
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David "Czar Fnord" Artman
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« Reply #35 on: May 01, 2006, 07:26:54 AM »

You are talking nonsense and I am the one that will tell you so.
*sigh* Yes, you are, aren't you?

Quote from: Linux Journal
Clinton's choice of tools is slightly unusual for an author. He wrote his text with vi, an editor more traditionally used by programmers than by authors. His choice partially is explained by the fact that Clinton also is a programmer.

Because he's a programmer, it also was a natural choice for him to use Python's DocTools to convert the text source to HTML, the format used to publish the book on the Web. This copy of the book was released under a Creative Commons License.

From the HTML files, Clinton was able to load the book into OpenOffice.org Writer. Writer interpreted the HTML files beautifully, converting HTML tags to OpenOffice.org styles.
Quote
Plain text can be manipulated into styled word-processor text with the flick of a hand.

So I am going to guess that these lines carry the kernel of your refutation? Something like, "It's OK to author without structure, because you can easily determine your structure as you assign HTML tags to the unstructured text. And then Open Office can open the structured HTML and assign styles automatically." Or something like that? Well, of course you can.

MY point was that some other person, hired to take a stack of TXT files and make a book, CAN'T do that TXT > HTML part where structure is assigned. Not without at least one (and probably a few) revisions. So, sure, layout guys take TXT as source... and chuckle as they increase their hourly estimate and number of drafts/milestones (that's how we "suck it up": we suck up client money). Yep, you can author without structure. Yep, you will spend time adding in structure if it isn't there.

Quote
Trying to deal with formatting while writing is damaging to your ability to write.

How unfortunate for you. Not at all true for me. I'd advise folks to try it both ways: outline, organize, then author; or freeflow author and go back to build up structure. One way or the other will work better for each individual.

But I think this thread is about publishing processes/stages/gotchas, and I thought I could offer advice as a professional typesetter, book designer, and producer who's worked for Fortune 500 companies for a decade. Perhaps readers will find a professional's opinion valuable, even though it was the rudely dismissed by an amateur who makes his living as a programmer. (I tried to report the post... guess who is this forum's Moderator, folks? hehehe)

With good cheer and hope for continued "moderation" at The Forge;
David
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Dav
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« Reply #36 on: May 01, 2006, 08:34:44 AM »

Quote
I thought I could offer advice as a professional typesetter, book designer, and producer who's worked for Fortune 500 companies for a decade. Perhaps readers will find a professional's opinion valuable, even though it was the rudely dismissed by an amateur who makes his living as a programmer. (I tried to report the post... guess who is this forum's Moderator, folks? hehehe)

A couple of things (at the risk of drifting this thread into a typesetting nightmare from which no reasonable discourse might return):

On the subject of rudeness:  I looked this over a few times and must have missed the rudeness (or I am such an egotist that assuming someone would be rude to me is just plain crazy-talk).

On the subject of format and writing:  I tend to just type crazy-go-nuts, spewing forth manuscript until it is finished.  Then, after this, I will separate out text to be offset or somehow "jankied" into shape into a separate file complete with notes.  I don't format as I type for a variety of reasons: I don't like to stop writing when I write, I suck as visuals, determining where text should be broken into manageable and digestible parts is a nightmare to me.  In short, text I can do just fine, making it understandable for others, that's the job of an editor and/or layout guy.  I'm perfectly willing to sit back and let division of labor make my world easier.

On the subject of jobs: I really really wish that the Forge would adopt this general stance that telling people what your do for a living is something similar to coming out in a bar in a foreign country... who the fuck cares?  It always comes off as this smug, smarmy attempt to say, "I am better than you, and here's why."  If your years of intelligence and wisdom have not shined through in your discourse and ramblings, tacking on a resume` ain't exactly making me sit-up-and-say-ah.

I was actually enjoying the description of "Style-use" for Word enough that I was just about to go popping off toward mine own WP and check the style-guides in that to see if I can make it go in some manner for mine own work, then the rudeness thing jerked me back to distraction.  Rude is something I have rarely-to-never seen attributed to Clinton... Ron, myself, maybe... Clinton, he's the nice guy! 

Anyway, you aren't making life better.  I figure you may have had a point or purpose or something with that line of "professional vs. amateur," but I don't know what it was.  That just plain made me not enjoy you at all.  Anyway, coming to an indie game design site and railing at professional vs. amateur is not exactly a wise maneuver.  Don't.  Fucking.  Do.  It.

Dav

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Andy Kitkowski
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« Reply #37 on: May 01, 2006, 09:34:36 AM »

Christ, I bet I'm like 1-2 posts in before this thread gets closed. :-)

However, this might be worth a new topic:
Quote
It always comes off as this smug, smarmy attempt to say, "I am better than you, and here's why."  If your years of intelligence and wisdom have not shined through in your discourse and ramblings, tacking on a resume` ain't exactly making me sit-up-and-say-ah.

I think there's a lot to gain in backing up your statements with "oh, and I do this for a living" and the like, as long as you're not smarmy, belligerent, or too into putting others down. Knowing that, for example, this dude lives and breathes layout and design and publishing for 8+ hours a day (like Luke Crane) will help me understand the discrepencies between their comments and Joe Schmoe's (Joe being an ernest, helpful guy who did it once by himself) comments. As long as you don't swing your cred like a club, I don't see a problem with backing up your comments with your credentials, if they're relevant. Especially if you can be specific ("I worked a 6-month contract with a financial company, which worked this way; then I worked with a 3-person NPO that did things that way", etc. In other words, grounding your cred in what you're discussing).

So for me? Keep the credentialls rolling. But yeah, please don't use them as a club (that goes for both sides of the exchange), and never talk down or dominate by authority; that's just plain closed communication.

-Andy
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David "Czar Fnord" Artman
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« Reply #38 on: May 01, 2006, 11:15:12 AM »

On the subject of rudeness:  I looked this over a few times and must have missed the rudeness (or I am such an egotist that assuming someone would be rude to me is just plain crazy-talk).

Me: [Offering advice based on professional expereince. I even tagged it with an "Opinion:" run-in heading.]
Clinton: "You are talking nonsense...".

I consider that rude. Object to the point using a refutation, not with borderline ad hominem: "boderline" because he states that *I* "am talking" nonsense; not that "this point is" nonsense--which it wasn't, but such an objection is meaningless from an amateur, in his or her ignorance.

Quote
On the subject of format and writing....

That's how you do it; cool. I note that you did not accuse my professional (to that in a sec) advice of being "nonsense" in the course of your alternate example/opinion. See? You can hold an Opinion (just like me, a pro)! You can assert it all day.

But one who accuses me of "talking nonsense" gets ME to deal with, not just my argument. Understand, now, the rudeness point?

Quote
On the subject of jobs: I really really wish that the Forge would adopt this general stance that telling people what your do for a living is something similar to coming out in a bar in a foreign country... who the fuck cares?
....
Anyway, you aren't making life better.  I figure you may have had a point or purpose or something with that line of "professional vs. amateur," but I don't know what it was.  That just plain made me not enjoy you at all.  Anyway, coming to an indie game design site and railing at professional vs. amateur is not exactly a wise maneuver.  Don't.  Fucking.  Do.  It.

The moderator agrees... oh, wait, that's Clinton. (Who watches the Watchmen?) One quick aside: how helpful was your Demanding. Phrase. With. Periods., to resolving this thread or propegating it? I mean, you hold me to an Ideal of Discourse, the failure of which to follow devalues anything I write... so, how do I view what you write, when you attempt to declare right behavior using Heavy. Handed. Punctuation. To. Sound. Like. Authority.?

I tend to agree with Andy: the opinion of a pro is generally worth more than an experienced amateur's. Seems to relate to what they get paid--or maybe the other way around? ;-)

Finally, I find the irony of your objection in THIS thread sort of funny: it is only Ron's perceived professionalism that makes him an authority whose posting such a thread is interesting. hehe....

Anyway, I'm done with it.

Folks! Feel free to spooge content into TXT files--drop capitalization and punctuation, while you're at it: damnable structure, that; it'll cost you any ability to write well!

Meanwhile, we pro typesetters will happily take your TXT files and add in a revision stage or two to our estimate of hours to produce, so that we get paid to reassemble your Jello into something resembling its intended mold. And if you are so lucky as to find an amateur who will do all of this in days, for pennies... go for it. I recommend a small inital run. ;-)

Advice off. Flamer off. Interest WAY off. Enjoyed the post Ron--until your Moderation Crew got here.

See ya!
David
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #39 on: May 01, 2006, 01:50:37 PM »

Andy and Dav, I appreciate the spirit of the input.

David, it's obvious you'll continue to read this thread; your little sign-off fools no one. So here's your message: you blew it. You made a good case via PM for me to review the thread and think about moderating it. Then you pulled a little hissy-fit and started stamping about in more posts here, waving the "professional" club in an attempt to save face and strike back at perceived insults. You totally had your chance to kick it up to the social-contract level at the Forge (me), and then you dragged it right down to defending your ego-turf as if you were in a typical forum or blogspace on the internet. 

By the way, everyone who's reading: fuck the typical forum or blogspace on the internet. This is not there. This is here.

It's as if the cop came up to the two guys arguing in the street. The one guy says, "He hit me!" OK, says the cop, settle down, let's get a look at you two. Then whoa! The guy who just spoke, he swings on the other guy, goes crazy, crying and yelling. He takes a swing at the cop too.

You know what happens then.

So too bad. Whatever the merits of your position, whatever my judgment would have been about posts replying to you, you successfully evicted yourself from the real humans trying to interact here, instead of the posturing egos. Don't post in this thread again.

Everyone else, I'm interested in continuing to discuss my girly rat game.

Best, Ron
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #40 on: May 01, 2006, 05:17:23 PM »

Just two quick things...

(1) I liked the use of the "for Story Now play" description, rather than "a roleplaying game" or whatever in describing the game. Is this something that you think you'll use to describe future games, or was this just appropriate for this game?

(2) Technical point about colour covers which may be useful for others... Sheridan Press have an excellent white paper on digital art, and it recommends that Total Area Coverage (TAC) for black or dark elements or for black areas within color images should not exceed 300%." Basically, just something that leapt out when I read "Having the black actually set to 4-color 100%..." But, it's always good to talk to your printer as Ron does and keep in contact with them about what you want and what they can provide, etc.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #41 on: May 01, 2006, 05:43:48 PM »

Hi Gregor,

At present, I'm disinclined to write a role-playing game wholly within the context of gamer culture, ever again. Perhaps some of the games I'll write will be procedurally quite standard (roll to hit, roll for damage, whatever). But I'm also certain that I'll be working with topics, procedures, and presentations that have been extracted from what I've learned here, after six years at the Forge. So whatever of "old role-playing" remains, it'll be integrated with and just right for the stuff that I'm doing that is not "old role-playing," whatever it might be for that game.

Now, at the level of analytical abstraction, that's no reason not to call these future products role-playing games. I could. The term has no definition; it is a legacy rather than a definition, as put so brilliantly by another poster, recently. So the question is not whether the activity presented in any of my future books is a role-playing game by principles-based definition, but whether I want to sell the thing in the commercial context of that legacy. At the moment, my long-term interest in doing so is slight, at best.

I see It Was a Mutual Decision as a possible transition. I'm still selling it primarily in gamer culture, but clearly it's not going to appeal to anyone in that culture outside the rather fringe-y circle represented by the Forge, Story Games, et al., and whomever I can rope into buying it at GenCon. Since I personally may be moving on to other things, and since the tastes of the wider culture are tuned sharply and strongly toward things like It Was a Mutual Decision (as opposed to any typical RPG you could name), then perhaps it can be taken with me when that day comes. Calling it Story Now is part of that mental transition, expressed in this case as a commercial label.

Best, Ron
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David Berg
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« Reply #42 on: May 02, 2006, 08:51:11 AM »

So, sure, layout guys take TXT as source... and chuckle as they increase their hourly estimate and number of drafts/milestones (that's how we "suck it up": we suck up client money).

Seems to me like the moral here is:
1) try to find a layout guy who will answer your questions honestly
2) ask him what formats will take him the least amount of time (and the least amount of your $, if that's the arrangement)
3) if you're capable of doing a decent job on any stage of the process, paying someone else to handle that stage for you is a waste of money

I'd advise folks to try it both ways: outline, organize, then author; or freeflow author and go back to build up structure. One way or the other will work better for each individual.

In fact, I find different processes work well for different parts of a project.  In my own case, I free-flow when generating narrative content ("...the world of Ugladesh is dark and foreboding...") and outline when writing up system mechanics or short descriptions.  I've been very happy using a sort of textbook-style level-tree:

1 - races
     1.1 - elves
          1.1.1 - aging
          1.1.2 - mental powers
     1.2 - humans
2 - classes
etc.

This forces me to think about what needs to get written and what doesn't, a dynamic that my free-form process deals with quite poorly. 

Of course, for those who prefer not to decide what they'll discuss until they're already in the creative rush of free-flow writing, a level-tree can't be Step 1.  Ron, am I correct in thinking this was the case for It Was a Mutual Decision?

-Dave
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David Berg
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« Reply #43 on: May 02, 2006, 09:19:35 AM »

the question is not whether the activity presented in any of my future books is a role-playing game by principles-based definition, but whether I want to sell the thing in the commercial context of that legacy.

This raises two questions in my mind:
1) what kinds of subject matter will sell better or worse if marketed as RPGs
2) what kinds of game formats will sell better or worse if marketed as RPGs

the tastes of the wider culture are tuned sharply and strongly toward things like It Was a Mutual Decision (as opposed to any typical RPG you could name)

Just to get hypothetical here:
As a type of subject matter outside the traditional RPG milieu, presumably It Was a Mutual Decision would have greater sales potential if marketed toward a different audience than the small crop buying traditional RPGs.  However, given the format of the game, who exactly is likely to a) give it a chance and b) find it accessible?  (I was thinking about end-users, but perhaps the question more pertinently applies to publishers.)

I have been thinking about this ever since my parents picked up "How to Host a Murder Mystery," a game with an element of roleplaying (albeit coached by the game designers), as if it were interchangeable with any other party game like Scattergories or Balderdash.  How many copies did that game sell?  How much did its designers get paid?  How much better a racket is that than RPG publishing?

-Dave

P.S. If anyone's interested in how "How to Host a Murder Mystery" works (for the purposes of this discussion), let me know and I'll describe it.  It's a fun game, though personally I much prefer the imagination and player contributions of traditional role-playing.
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greyorm
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« Reply #44 on: May 02, 2006, 03:43:56 PM »

In fact, I find different processes work well for different parts of a project.  In my own case, I free-flow when generating narrative content ("...the world of Ugladesh is dark and foreboding...") and outline when writing up system mechanics or short descriptions.

Hey guys, here's the thing: there's a huge difference between writing into an outline, and writing into a layout. These are very much not the same things and I see people confusing them in this discussion (talking about the problems with one, then giving an example of such a problem using the other). I myself find project outlines very useful for everything from games to fiction, but I find writing into a layout to seriously scuttle the flow of my writing.

Definitions
Outline: "I'll write about this, then this, then this, with maybe some information about this here and here."
Layout: "The physical look of the page will be thus, with text bars over here and double columns like this."

Writing into a layout screws you up while writing because you start worrying about the WAY the text looks on the page instead of writing the text (ie: "Uhoh, I have a line bleeding over onto the next column. How do I fix that? I must revise immediately!" and "Ooops, deleting that paragraph has destroyed the layout for the rest of the document! Must fix!"). You have stopped thinking about content and started thinking about presentation.

Writing into an outline does no such thing because you are still working with the information and writing the text (ie: "Ok, I need to write some stuff about elven weaponry here. Oh, hey, I just wrote stuff about battle tactics, too. Must remember to put that into the outline later."). As well, outlines can be as flexible or rigid as fits your style, with subject headings as broad or focused as you like and initial details of varying specificity, and you do not have to go in order, finish anything before starting something else, etc. This is NOT a layout because it has nothing to do with how the text looks; it only deals with what the text will/might contain.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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