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Author Topic: Indexing  (Read 1117 times)
Matt Gwinn
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« on: June 16, 2003, 01:39:09 PM »

At what point does it become necessary to include an index in your game?

The expanded edition of Kayfabe is about ready to go to print. I have a page set aside for an index, but I'm starting to wonder if that page would be better suited to advertise upcoming supplements instead. Do I really need an index for an 80 page game?

,Matt
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busling
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« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2003, 02:16:50 PM »

Yes, always include an index. It is as simple as that.
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2003, 03:44:05 PM »

Yes, always include an index. It is as simple as that.

I'm not sure I agree. A game needs an index if it's more than two or three thousand words long and there's a single instance of a rule being modified or qualified by another rule that can't be readily located via the Table of Contents. I suspect Kayfabe qualifies for an index.

Paul
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And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Matt Gwinn
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« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2003, 05:22:49 AM »

I was looking at some games that are comparable in size to mine to see how they did their indexing.  I noticed that Sorcerer and Universalis both lack an index.  Is there a reason for that?  Ralph? Ron?

Ok, let's say I go with an index, what's the best way to go about putting it together? Is there a particular method that people find useful? Where do you draw the line? I've seen indexes with so many entries for stuff that still have to hunt for what you're looking for.

Would a detailed Table of Contents be just as useful?

,Matt
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GreatWolf
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« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2003, 07:52:39 AM »

When I was in college, I was taught, "Anything worth writing is worth indexing."  It stinks, it's long and tedious, but you will find that it helps immeasurably.  Remember, when all is said and done, your game book is a reference, and an index is an important tool of a reference book.

Here's how I went about indexing Junk.

I took a proof of the book after layout and read over each page.  As I went, I compiled the topics from each page that I wanted to include in the index.  (E.G.  Beer, mecha, potato gun, etc.)  Thus, I ended up with a list consisting of a concept and a page number, like so:

Beer     5
Mecha   5
Mecha    7
Beer     10

and so on.

I was writing this in a table MS Word.  Then, when I was finished, I sorted alphabetically by concept, like so:

Beer     5
Beer     10
Mecha   5
Mecha    7

Then I combined the necessary entries together, like so:

Beer     5,10
Mecha   5,7

It's not a hard process.  It's just very tedious.  However, I think that it is quite important if your game is of any length.

And a detailed Table of Contents will not cut it.  The TOC can only show the main topic for an area; it cannot show all the potential subtopics that are included within a given paragraph.   Nor is it intended to do so.  The TOC should show the overall organization of the book, which is quite important and a worthwhile topic in its own right.  However, if the reader is not thinking like the compiler of the TOC, it is quite easy to overlook places where a given concept might be addressed or clarified.  Due to the "random access" nature of an index, as well as its topical focus, an index is a useful tool in its own right.

Seth Ben-Ezra
Great Wolf
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Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
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coming soon: Showdown
Fabrice G.
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« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2003, 11:12:57 AM »

Hi Matt,

just a detail : Sorcerer does have an index. Well two in fact.

1) "Authors and reference" -- pp 138-139
2) "Main index" -- pp 139-141

Take care,


Fabrice.
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Valamir
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« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2003, 11:36:41 AM »

Why doesn't Universalis have an index...

Well, I won't say this is the "right" answer, but its the reasoning I went through.  

1) I didn't really envision the rule book as being referred to in play as a reference guide?  Perhaps it was the height of conceit but I figured that it was the *concepts* of Universalis that would pose a challenge in understanding and that the actual rules themselves were pretty straight forward.  There are a couple of areas that in retrospect aren't as straight forward as I'd like (ties for Scene bids and Edge dice in Complications) but there you go.  If you think there are things that people will need to flip through during play, or during prep for play, an index is a good idea.

2) I tried to make each section with an important rules concept easily and seperately identifiable...which Matt S accomplished nicely with his layout work and to put critical rules and such in bold bullets or a text box.  In other words I made a concious effort to enhance the "flip through and find it" method of looking something up as opposed to the refer to an index version.  

I can't say for sure whether the decision was a good one, or just one that didn't piss people off too much.  But to date I've had no one actually complain to me about the lack of an index.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2003, 11:45:41 AM »

Universalis is all rules, and pretty short. And really, each chapter is just an expansion on one of the major rules. As such, I think the TOC does do everything you need for that game. Basically, each rule is only in one place, and it's pretty easy to know where. When we were considering an Index, I kept thinking that there wasn't anything that I'd want to look up that I couldn't just turn to the appropriate chapter and find in short order.

Now, there are a few exceptions, and I'm too close to it to have an objective opinion. I think that an index might have had some small value if it had been added. So I'd call it borderline if anything. The point being, if you have more text, or anything that's cross-referenced, or anything that's setting based, I'd consider an Index seriously. Kayfabe, with it's Jargon? Definitely needs an index. If the section on Heat refers to Jobing, and I can't find the section on that, then thats a problem.

Mike
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Matt Gwinn
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« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2003, 12:11:26 PM »

Quote from: Fabrice G
just a detail : Sorcerer does have an index. Well two in fact.


That must be one of the difference between the PDF and the print version.  I was looking at the PDF.  My bad.

I guess I will do an index just in case. I'm just having a hard time envisioning anyone needing it. In part I think that comes from already knowing where everything is, but I think I broke everything down pretty well. I guess I won't know for sure until I ask people if they've used the index, but what good will that do after already doing the index.  Better to be safe than flame bait I guess :-)

,Matt
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2003, 07:12:41 AM »

Hi Matt,

Here are some older threads to check out:
The index thingy
Questions (this one is more general, but my post has some index commentary)

Best,
Ron
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