Game Design

Review: Writing with Style

Gnome Stew - 23 October 2017 - 3:00am

Writing with Style by Ray Vallese is a short PDF packed with advice for RPG creators. It’s written from the perspective of an editor who has more than twenty years of experience. The focus of the book is on clarity in writing and executing words in a manner that will allow for the proper expression of ideas from the creator to the reader. This book assumes the creator is crafting a role playing game and that the readers are players or game masters. However, anyone who slings words in a professional manner can benefit from this book.

Break the Rules

One of the greatest pieces of advice in this book can be found at the top of page four. The advice is, “Do you have to follow all of these tips all the time? Nope. It’s fine to break them to add variety to your writing. In fact, you should. Don’t hammer all the flavor or voice out of your text to rigidly adhere to guidelines. Just be sure you understand the rules before you break them.” This is classic advice that should be required at the start of any writing seminar, class, or panel at a conference. There are few absolutes in writing, but the key thing to remember is that you must first know the rules. This will allow you to know why they are there and what intent to use when breaking them on purpose.

Overall Impressions

One of the reasons I stepped up to review this book when it was presented to us is that I’m in the final stages of polishing up my own role playing game. I wanted to see what kind of nuggets of gold I could glean from the pages. I must say that I found quite a few shiny tidbits within the pages. I thought about listing them out here, but I soon realized that I’d be touching on almost every section of the book. Most of the advice that I found was on target, succinctly stated, and clearly described to me. There were a few items  If there is a class on tabletop game creation somewhere, then this should be an introductory textbook for that class. that missed the mark for me, but I quickly realized those items were things I’d already mastered and didn’t need someone to list out for me. This isn’t to say that what I’ve mastered has been mastered by everyone. There are gaps in my knowledge and experience that don’t align with everyone else’s gaps. This means those items that didn’t resonate with me could very well be the perfect golden nugget for someone else.

I read through the book twice to make sure I didn’t miss anything, and at the end of the second read, I found myself to be quite impressed by the large number of areas covered in a mere 44 pages. The book contains a great balance of general writing tips that can be applied in any situation and tips that are specific to RPG publishing.

Quite a few conferences and conventions exist for teaching writing, support gaming, and overlap those two areas a small amount, but I’ve never seen someone put these two areas together as well as Ray has here. If there is a class on tabletop game creation somewhere (and I’m sure there is, but I’m not aware of it), then this should be an introductory textbook for that class.


Outside the “learn the rules before breaking the rules” section, I want to call out two important sections of the book.

The first is the section about creating and using style guides. If you’re working with a team of creators, this is vital to keep everyone on the same page and expressing different ideas in a consistent manner. If your team doesn’t have a style guide, it would be wise to pause the creation of words for a day or three until a starter style guide is created. One thing I didn’t see in the Writing with Style was the mention that a style guide should be considered a living document, not one that is etched in stone and forever treated like a holy text.

The second section is a painfully hilarious section called, “Fear the Dawizard.” In this section Ray recounts an instance where someone did a search-and-replace for “mage” to change it to “wizard” everywhere… and then clicked the “replace all” button without selecting “whole word match.” This, unfortunately, changed “damage” to “dawizard” and similar goofs. The reason I find it hilarious is because I’ve been there, done that, and have the t-shirt to prove it. I think anyone that’s worked on a reasonably lengthy work has encountered this disaster. The moral of this story is that technology is a great lever to get things done more efficiently, it can also be a force multiplier for mistakes.

Layout Advice

This book focused on the use of words in a role playing game, but I’d love to see if Ray (or someone he’s worked with) would produce a similar book that focuses on layout. I don’t mean the specifics of how to use certain software, but the styles, guides, “do this,” “don’t do this,” and other advice on how to format a book for both print and PDF consumption. While I’m talking about layout, it’s very clear that the layout person (Lj Stephens according to the credits page) knows what they are doing with this book. The headers are clear, the callout text blocks are easy to read, and the font choices make it easy on the eyes to read. In addition to the functional pieces of the layout, everything runs together smoothly and is appealing to the eye at the same time.


If you’re a writer, this is an excellent investment of $4.95. If you’re thinking about creating role playing materials (adventures, rules, setting books, anything else), then this is a great expenditure of $4.95 for the PDF. If you happen to be doing both, like I am, then you owe it to yourself to pick this book up.

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Dissecting Design -- Clive Barker's Undying and Action Horror - by Josh Bycer Blogs - 23 October 2017 - 12:13am
Each week, Game Design Analyst Josh Bycer picks a game to examine in a video spotlight. In time for Halloween, it's Clive Barker's Undying.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Fuzzy Thinking: Child of Destiny

RPGNet - 23 October 2017 - 12:00am
Fuzzy prophecies.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Deep Cuts: Single-Player, Paperclip or Chicken-Blocking?

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 22 October 2017 - 7:20pm

This week's longform article/video highlights include the death - or not - of single-player AAA games, the clicker game paperclip-pocalypse, and some crazy specific fighting game terms. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Deep Cuts: Single-Player, Paperclip or Chicken-Blocking? - by Simon Carless Blogs - 22 October 2017 - 7:05am
This week's longform article/video highlights include the death - or not - of single-player AAA games, the clicker game paperclip-pocalypse, and some crazy specific fighting game terms.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Review Roundup

Tabletop Gaming News - 21 October 2017 - 11:00am
It’s Saturday. I’m hanging out in the bear’s den here. LGS has a huge tourney going on, so I’m just gonna hang out here. So it’s me, John Mulaney, and typing up the Review Roundup. Literally Netflix and chill (no innuendo). Everyone needs just some relaxed days occasionally. Anyway, as for the reviews… Today we […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Twitch taps Dustforce dev to make a game played inside Twitch

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 20 October 2017 - 3:26pm

It's an interesting example of what a game dev can do with Twitch's new Extensions toolset, which allows streamers to embed interactive elements into their broadcasts. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Tails of Equestria Movie Sourcebook Now Available For Pre-Order

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 October 2017 - 3:00pm
I have not yet seen the My Little Pony movie. I just don’t like going to the theater, honestly. I do want to see the flick, though, at some point. It’ll just be on Netflix in a couple months. By then, I also might be getting a copy of the official Tails of Equestria Movie […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Era: The Consortium – A Universe of Expansions 2 Up On Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 October 2017 - 2:00pm
When the folks at Shades of Vengeance want to expand the Era: The Consortium universe, they don’t just give you one or two expansion books. They look to blow the doors wide open with as many expansion books as they can possibly manage. To do that, they’re running their 2nd A Universe of Expansions Kickstarter […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Wyrd Friday Preview Posted

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 October 2017 - 1:00pm
It’s Friday. So that means a couple things. Mostly, me being excited about the weekend. But it also means that it’s time for a new preview from Wyrd Games. They are continuing their series on The Other Side today with a look at the Empire Dragoons. Because a cavalry charge is still an effective way […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Corvus Belli Previews Attacks in Aristeia

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 October 2017 - 12:00pm
Aristeia is not golf. It’s not curling. It’s not competitive underwater basketweaving. No. It’s full-contact. You’re going to be making attacks. But… how do those work? Well, in this preview, we get to find out. From the post: We have spent several weeks talking about the Aristeia! (how rolls work, how to move and how […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

666M tuned in to video game streams and videos last year, says SuperData

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 20 October 2017 - 11:39am

SuperData's report says that video game streams now pull more viewers than streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, HBO, and ESPN combined. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Friday Snippets

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 October 2017 - 11:00am
It’s Fridaaaaaaaay! Gateway to the weekend! Woo! My weekend is going to be chill. I mean… sure, as a polar bear, I’m always chill, but I’m just gonna hang out at home. I’ve actually been meaning to give the place a good cleaning. But next weekend will be full of gaming. That I guarantee. But […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Ground Pounders Sci-Fi Miniatures Game Rules Free This Weekend

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 October 2017 - 10:00am
Who likes getting things for free? Everyone, that’s who. This weekend, if you’re looking to try out some new sci-fi miniatures game rules, you should look no further than Ground Pounders. You can get a digital copy of the rules free from Amazon for this weekend only. From the announcement: From October 20th to 24th, […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Ghosts of Dathomir Adventure Now Available For Star Wars RPG

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 October 2017 - 9:00am
Pre-made adventures are great for GMs with a time crunch. I’m currently using one for a game I’m running. They give the players a lot of action and adventure and the GM can still play around with it as they please. For those playing the Star Wars RPG from Fantasy Flight Games, a new adventure […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Privateer Press Celebrates Gun Mage Day Sale

Tabletop Gaming News - 20 October 2017 - 8:00am
Sure, I know it says Gun Mage “Day” Sale, but those arcane sharpshooters aren’t satisfied with just one day. They’ve got the whole weekend. You can head over to the Privateer Press webshop and pick up various Gun Mage-related items all for a special price this weekend. Pewpewpew! From the announcement: The first annual Gun […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Translating a Game 2/3: Preparation and Tools - by Rasmus Rasmussen Blogs - 20 October 2017 - 7:49am
Part 2 of 3, on what it takes to translate a video game. This part deals with getting off to a good start, preparing your strings, tools, etc.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Day 30 of 100 Days of VR: Creating a Time Score System in Unity - by Josh Chang Blogs - 20 October 2017 - 7:49am
Today, we’re going to implement a new feature into our game. In the current state of the game, after we win, that’s it, no replay value. To fix this, I’m going to implement a time score system to encourage players to beat the game as fast as they can and
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Why you Need to Understand the Business of Game Development - by Josh Bycer Blogs - 20 October 2017 - 7:48am
Today's post looks at the common trap that many first time designers fall into when beginning a company: Ignoring the business side when it comes to building a video game.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

5 Tips for Finding Success as an Indie Game Developer - by Dylan Moran Blogs - 20 October 2017 - 7:48am
Add online play feature it will cover the loopholes in your game and will give them quality for their money and time.
Categories: Game Theory & Design


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