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Building a TTRPG in 10 Days: Playtesting, Editing and Redditing
How I made a polished and professionally typesetted my RPG in 6 days.
If you’re new, welcome! I’m Arjun Agarwal and this is my newsletter. I hope it convinces and helps you to make the game which makes DnD look like it was designed by a pre-schooler.
The first draft is black and white.
Editing gives it color.
This quote by Emma Hill, symbolizes my ideology towards game design. The first design of a game is never good. It’s just like a relation between two collage goers, not very serious and quite spontaneous. But they cannot marry tight away, first they need to know each other. Then understand each other. And finally start loving each other, both in good and bad.
Then they can take their vows.
The same happens with games. The first iteration is just you starting a spontaneous relationship between the mechanics and the setting. To have them understand each other, their are three steps(in no particular order): Playtesting, Editing and Redditing.
To know weather the mechanics and settings fit together, other than in your head, you need to play the game.
Playtesting isn’t really that complicated. It’s just playing a game with some people and fine tuning the game based on their feedback.
You can try it with your family, friends, random strangers down the game store or make a post in r/lfg or ask for playtesters in r/rpgdesign. Look for their feedback and fine tune the elements till their reactions go like:
For Cops and Comedy, I had my friends try it out. They asked me to make the game more wilder and weirder and I obliged.
Their reaction made my day.
It is easy to get lost in the process of designing a game and forget about the language. Grammar and spellings matter. Without them, the game will not be clear to the reader and therefore cause the mechanics to misunderstood and the rules exploited. These things are fine once in while but if they happen every game, it is a problem.
Even for someone like me, who has writes almost all the time, grammatical mistakes and typing errors happen.
Therefore it is important to edit your game, once you are done with it. I recommend doing it on the last day of the polishing process, that is on day eight. It will allow you to look on the language with fresh eyes and thus decreasing the chance of missing an embarrassing mistake.
But those chances will anyhow be less due to the process of…
It doesn’t need to happen on Reddit, but I like Reddit.
Basically, the best way to evaluate your game is to ask others to evaluate the game. This will give you the idea of what the game feels like to others, people not so closely related to the game. This idea is based on Wisdom of The Crowd.
Upon, uploading Cops and Comedy to reddit, via r/rpgdesign, I recived the following feedback.
I should generalize things to make sure that non-b99 fans don’t feel lost.
More indirect references to B99, to make avid fans nerd out.
Use Canva for formatting.
Expand the tables to provide more scenarios.
Some instructions to bring comedy to the game
Along, with a lot of grammar and spelling advice. All in a short span of 12 hours. I made the changes I liked and formatted the game.
A piece of advice for first time designers: The internet is full of people with different opinions, although it is important to respect all of them, it is not important to accept them all. It is your game, and after listing to all feedback and criticism with open mind, it is your decision to take it or leave it. Don’t feel pressurized or obligated by others to make a change, it is your creation and you get to choose what you do.
Formatting is a doozy. Most people spend way too much or too little tome on it. Your game should look good, but it should not be over formatted making it feel inorganic.
If you have zero technical knowledge, just use word/docs. Make columns, use fancy fonts, use bold, italics and underline to highlight and add a few pics/graphics here and there.
Due to the length of the game, that is exactly what I did with my Lumen game.
However, if you have some design knowledge, I recommend Canva. It is a browser app and works miracle. It is what I use for most of my work, other than Krita(a Photoshop alternative).
Cops and Comedy(pdf below) was formatted on Canva in the short span of 30 mins.
If you have the time and the knowledge, you should probably use InDesign/Photoshop or some other alternative to them. I didn’t use them as, despite the professional result they deliver, the time tradeoff seemed off.
As my math teacher says, think simple.
If you wish to play my game, Cops and Comedy,
As for the Lumen game, consider it a mystery.
Despite being both a RPG and business freak, this newsletter is not sponsored by Wizards of The Coast. You can support us in three ways.
Comment below if you want to ask something, share your RPG or tell me why Canva is only used by people who can’t use ‘real’ softwares, I’ll try to reply to all comments.
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