This weekend I played one of the big Gen Con 2015 releases. Artwork – amazing, components – amazing, I couldn’t wait to play. I make tea, we have cookies, we play. After a couple of minutes the first question arises, we check the rulebook, we look for the answer.
We don’t find it.
I mean, we do find the right chapter, we find the right paragraph, we understand what the rule says, but it doesn’t explain the issue we have. And believe me, this is not some super rare situation. This is one of the basic actions, and yet the way it is explained explains nothing.
I am so frustrated. I am pissed off. If not for the fact we play with our kids, I would stop the game and put it back into the box. I don’t want to set a bad example to the kids, so I keep on playing, but man, I am really angry. I want to score high, I want to win but actually I doubt if we play correctly, I doubt if I score legitimately, I doubt if what we do has any sense.
I browse the rulebook over and over, but still nothing. Only pure frustration and huge disappointment. I can’t even explain it, I am just pissed off.
I’ve done a few very bad rulebooks in my life. I failed gamers many times. I disappointed them. I ruined their experiences. In the afternoons like the one yesterday I can see this crystal clear – a poor rulebook ruins the fun.
I might be testing games like crazy.
I might design great mechanisms.
I might choose the best theme, the best artwork and the best components.
If my rulebook sucks, if people can’t understand how to play my game, I will fail eventually. I won’t deliver what I’d promised. I won’t even have a chance to show them how cool the game is.
Be strong. Be focused. Be warned. A rulebook, this last lap is so fucking important. Don’t fail here.