Dust Pan Game Resource Pages

Monday, November 11, 2013

Game development: Hitting some bumps, bumps of self confidence, or is that a hive?

Game development: Hitting some bumps, bumps of self confidence, or is that a hive?
(Subtitle: this is why they call these things “Heartbreakers”)
With my first play test in 2 days, yesterday I printed my first very basic play test copy of the rules so far.
I have not even named this damn game yet.
Here are my lumps and bumps moving forward:
I am working with Scribus to do my lay out, I know that in design would be easier particularly because I know a bit about how to use it, but Scribus is free. I find it ok, though I am not steady with everything it can do yet. Putting in Text and lining up margins is easy enough, I look forward to delving deeper as the project moves forward.
What I don’t know much about is proper lay out and text flow and all those other chunks of know how a lay out professional has at their fingertips. I can learn the program, but that does not make me an expert or even a neophyte at making a text easy on the eyes. That is going to be hit or miss.  
My plan is to study a lot of the small press games I own in paper form or in PDF and asking, what works on this page? How is the publisher making this text easier to read? What iconography works here? What does not work? Why does Champions 2nd Edition instantly give me a headache whenever I open it ?(Just kidding I like Champions…)
Right now I have a bare bones layout, just the rules in single column and a few side bars, black and white, nothing fancy. I have left white space for future art and a wide margin for me to take note on as we play test.
As I am sure you have noticed I am also not a writer, and though I have written a bunch of game text over the years, I still sometimes suffer from lack of clarity. I either make things too conversational or I write them a bit like a VCR instruction manual. I have a hard time hitting that middle tone that’s fun and easy to read and also very clear.
 I think I can overcome this hurdle just by testing and revising a great deal. Once a game gets played a few times the important material rises to the surface and I can concentrate on honing those areas, while unessiairy fat will get trimmed away. I’m not too worried about it just yet.
Lastly it’s art.
I’m a fair artist, not great just fair. I want to add a few pieces to this game to break up the pages. I don’t doubt that I can do a couple of quality pieces given the time, and since I don’t have a development schedule of any kind, I have the time.
My main issue is technical. My style is very sketchy line art; I like monochrome so color is not an issue, but the style is not conducive to scanning and manipulating via computer. It’s just not “clean” enough. In order to make the images look decent on a PDF or for printing I will need a pretty high resolution scanner and I’m afraid my home scanner is just not up to the task. Buying a better scanner is just not in the cards right now.
So I will have to go somewhere to scan in my art assets, it’s just kind of a pain. As much as I would love to just buy art (as much to support artists as to save the time.) I never plan on making any money off of this project so that is also out of the question right now.
This is why they call these self written self produced games heartbreakers.
There are people out there who have the range of skills to “do it all.” I am applauding those folks, I’m amazed by them. When I was writing back and forth with the  guys at **Cobweb games** I was very impressed by the amount of work and effort and attention to detail they were putting into the layout for “Hell For Leather.”  And it has to be that way if an author wants to create a product he or she can be proud of. It’s a lot of time and work and can break your heart a bit once you look at everything that has to be done to create a small press game.
This week I start the process of working out the rules in real y play.
Once that is sorted I will start smoothing out all the bumps. No heartbreaker here I will finish this sucker ugly lay out or not...
Also Happy Veterans Day to any Vets who might stumble on this post. Thank you.
And thank you for reading.

**dead link removed Edit 3/19/15