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Subject: Poll: Do rules have to be in the box? rss

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Laura Creighton
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elfboy wrote:
Hardcopy is a must for me because I hate reading on small devices... something that already happens often enough since with most games nowadays it usually takes 3 of us to read, reread and dispute what each rule actually means before we all whip out our phones to check bgg as to whom was right.

Now, kickstarter games might be able to get away from this since the developer/publisher can just email the rules to the backer. Alternatively, if a game had an app needed to play it, digital would probably suffice.

There might be a time where rules in the box may be replaced by video 'how to plays' especially if the rule books become phonebook size, but I think we're not close to that tipping point just yet.

Edit: with the low cost of DVD production, perhaps some games should switch to DVD rulebooks. The main menu acts as a contents page, and each chapter can cover 1 rule or mechanic. Something to think about, if your game is seriously complex.


Be warned that while many people would find a DVD rulebook much easier to peruse and learn from -- this is why they watch videos, by the way, there are many of us who find this the very hardest way to learn things, so hard that if I have to watch a video, or have the game explained to me by a person who has watched the video, in order to find out how to play a game,
I will not buy your game. It is a complete and utter deal-breaker for me.

The number of failed KS projects which produced 'what did I learn about what I did wrong' blog posts which specified -- I thought a video play through of how to play the game would be sufficient, but I was wrong, and people said that the lack of a rulebook to print and read meant they did not buy my game -- or some variation thereof indicates that I am not the only one who needs rules they can read.

Note that there are videogames which, in addition to ingame teaching have a long and complicated manual -- or often a long and complicated wiki. People like reading stuff.
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Eric Nolan
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russ wrote:
TomTi89 wrote:
Let's push for rules to be ON the box!

Hmm... that would force a lot of games to have extremely large boxes...!


They can just print the rules in teeny tiny characters and you can download a magnifier app for your phone. Then you have the best of both problems.
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marc lecours
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Hivemind wrote:
russ wrote:
TomTi89 wrote:
Let's push for rules to be ON the box!

Hmm... that would force a lot of games to have extremely large boxes...!


They can just print the rules in teeny tiny characters and you can download a magnifier app for your phone. Then you have the best of both problems.


Back in the 1960s, half of the games I owned had the rules printed on the inside of the box cover (they were not in teeny tiny characters). It really forces games to have short elegant rules.
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J J
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russ wrote:
FWIW there was a thread asking & discussing the same question posted recently on Oct 21:
In the technological age in which we live...

(Which was a bit of a PITA to find now since it has a vague unhelpful clickbait subject ("In the technological age in which we live...") instead of a good clear subject like your thread...)


Was there?

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Bojan Prakljacic
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No, they should come in envelope, attached to the box, with simple signature: From game designer, and when you open it there is a letter:
''My, love, thank you for purchasing my game, as a small appreciation I wrote this rulebook with my own blood, just for you.''

Because, let's face it, anyone who would buy my game deserves that letter.
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J J
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DVD?

I know plenty of people who don't have either a) a DVD player, or b) an optical drive on a computer.

That's actually an even worse suggestion than the first one.
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Pelle Nilsson
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Rules in the inside of the lid is not such a bad idea. There must be hundreds if not thousands of boardgames that we know what the components look like (because they are in some museum or collection), but the rules are completely missing so we will never know again how it is intended to be played. Sometimes it is possible to dig up an old rulebook in a library or museum, many we will probably never find.

To put the rules in a PDF would make this much worse for future generations (or for ourselves when we dust of an old game to play again many years from now). Making the rules an app (or having the game depend on an app to be playable) is such a bad idea I find no words for it, but good luck the everyone's future selves that think of playing those games a few decades from now to be able to get the app running (if you can still find it).




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Laura Creighton
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rubberchicken wrote:

Back in the 1960s, half of the games I owned had the rules printed on the inside of the box cover (they were not in teeny tiny characters). It really forces games to have short elegant rules.


Either your memory is overly rosy, mine is overly black, the 70s were worse than the 60s, or we bought different games. All I can remember is that the instructions left out really important bits of information, causing the 'every house has its own way to play this' problem.
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Jim Cavallari
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I absolutely must have a hard copy of the rules. I write/highlight in them.



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Russ Williams
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rubberchicken wrote:
Back in the 1960s, half of the games I owned had the rules printed on the inside of the box cover (they were not in teeny tiny characters). It really forces games to have short elegant rules.

Sure, as I noted in the part you snipped there are some games for which this is certainly possible (e.g. most abstract strategy games), but that is a very limited class of games which can have such short elegant rules.

There are many games (e.g. most wargames, and various euros of nontrivial complexity) which I enjoy which would simply not be possible with that constraint.


(Also these days of globalization, many games with such simple rules are sold in international editions with multilingual rulebooks... e.g. Gigamic games, GIPF games, etc; so even if the rules could fit on the box, the included multilingual rules couldn't.)
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Adrian Pillai
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JasonJ0 wrote:
DVD?

I know plenty of people who don't have either a) a DVD player, or b) an optical drive on a computer.

That's actually an even worse suggestion than the first one.


Lol, yeah you're right. I forgot it's not 2002 anymore.

And I agree that while video is helpful, it should never replace a rulebook.

I'm gonna put my game rules on VHS!
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David Goh
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AtStapley wrote:
I think there's something about the tactile nature of games that really puts people off of going digital as a replacement. The movement to innovate with digital design is hitting, and I think has its place, but simply replacing with digital is not why we play board games. If the same things CAN be easily done with physical, tactile elements, I think most board gamers would feel that it SHOULD be done with physical, tactile elements.


I voted "Have to have a hardcopy," mostly for the same reasons as stated by Adam. 100% agreed.

One of the things I love about board games is that I get to take a break from electronic devices. Unless a game already has other features involving digital design, I can't think of any good reason for a designer to choose to forgo a printed rulebook. Reducing cost might be one of it, but unless the rules are hundreds of pages long, I think the trade-off here just isn't worth it. A game should be 90-100% playable with everything that comes in the box itself.

However, I do think it's a great idea to have an electronic PDF of the rules online. The physical rulebook could have a link to it, just in case the players want to read the most up-to-date rules, or if everyone at the table wants to get up to speed without having to pass the rulebook around. But that should never be mandatory for games that don't need internet access otherwise.

I might still back or buy a game without a hardcopy of the rules, but there would have to be a very good reason why
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Jarek W
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E.g. Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game has only Learn to Play booklet inside the box, and Rules Reference is available only online.
I see the point in this solution, as RR can be modified easily and freely (crucial to competitive players) without confusing players sticking to hardcopy (casual play on one Core Set).
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Pelle Nilsson
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russ wrote:

There are many games (e.g. most wargames, and various euros of nontrivial complexity) which I enjoy which would simply not be possible with that constraint.


I have this wargame from 1984 with rules in the inside of the lid:







Most of the games I have from the 1980's have the rules printed in the lid. At least in Sweden it was still very common. I do not remember any particular issues with underspecified rules, but I am sure they existed. Those boxes tend to be much bigger (and flatter) than what is common for boardgames today, so there was a lot more room for text.
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Russ Williams
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pelni wrote:
russ wrote:
There are many games (e.g. most wargames, and various euros of nontrivial complexity) which I enjoy which would simply not be possible with that constraint.


I have this wargame from 1984 with rules in the inside of the lid:

Sure, I repeat for emphasis: I agree that it is possible for some games!

But that doesn't change the fact that "most wargames" have rules longer than that simple wargame which you showed.

Right? Or do you think that most wargames could have their rules shrunk to the size of that simple wargame which you showed?

Most of the wargames I play certainly could not.
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Colin & Ryan Pearson Games
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I was gonna give a knee-jerk answer and say "of course you need a hard copy".
But depending on your demographic, you might be onto something. If your game is aimed at a younger crowd, having something that can be accessed via smartphone or tablet might be more convenient.
Might.

I'm in the camp of satisfying anyone that could pick up the game being able to understand the rules, even if it's game that should be only played by certain people (who will enjoy it). A rulebook can be tucked away in the box, and pulled out as need be. PDFs are a computer file, so your relying on your players having a tablet or such nearby (or a laptop, which can be cumbersome on smaller tables), then if the file goes missing on the computer or corrupted they have to re-download it. Or if they print it out but the printer ink runs out or you get a gap right in the middle of a sentence so you can't read it...
It has the potential to bring up more issues than it solves.
I understand it keeps costs down (and I'm sure the issues I raised with PDFs will only happen in less than 1% of cases), just bear in mind some older players might not like it.

Is it worth having a website and just including a URL to the rules? I've seen it done once or twice with a few videogames when they need to elaborate on rules in more depth. Most folk have a smartphone nowadays, and that might be easier than them finding a device to conveniently use the PDF with. However you'd then have to rely on their internet connection, and the temptation of having a phone out when you're supposed to be playing together.
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Pelle Nilsson
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russ wrote:
[q="pelni"]
Right? Or do you think that most wargames could have their rules shrunk to the size of that simple wargame which you showed?


I think they definitely could, but I might need stronger glasses to read them, or the boxes have to be much bigger.
 
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dave bcs
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Rules in the box is an absolute requirement for me to buy a game. Don’t expect me to fiddle with, and pay the cost of, electronics so that you can make money on printing cost savings. This is no different than finding physical components missing from a game. If I want a virtual game I can go play Angry Birds or something. Don’t even suggest this again.
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Russ Williams
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pelni wrote:
I think they definitely could, but I might need stronger glasses to read them, or the boxes have to be much bigger.


Yes, that was my whole point!
Hmm... that would force a lot of games to have extremely large boxes...!

In real-world practical terms, they could not fit on a box lid.

Yes, as a joke, you can print the rules of Combat Commander or Der Weltkrieg or whatever on a giant box lid and include a magnifying glass. shake

But realistically, it is not a good solution for many games, including most wargames.
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Matt Lee
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Repeated from the last thread: If there are no rules printed in the box, it is incomplete and I will expect a printed rulebook sent to me at the publisher's expense or a full refund (plus shipping) for returning the incomplete and defective product.
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dave bcs
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I have a much more detailed and interesting response to your post available for you to read. It is available in printed form and can be viewed by coming to my office and reading the printed copy sitting on my desk.
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Spencer C
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TomTi89 wrote:
Let's take a lead from modern video games, which have largely dispensed with manuals, and which tend to have their instructions/rules be self-contained within the game itself.
Let's push for rules to be ON the box!


How about rules on the backside of the board! It's just unused space, normally!

I think Friedemann Friese is asking some very interesting questions with his recent experiments such as 904 and Fabled Fruit/Fast Forward series.

I definitely think the learn-while-you-play model will gain some traction, even if it hasn't quite been perfected yet.

Back on topic: I would willingly buy a game without rules in the box, but I would print them off and put them in the box.
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Jimmy Hensel
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If the publisher is too stingy to include printed rules in the box, then I am disinclined to buy his game. The cost of a printed rule booklet is minimal at most. If the game needs more than 9.75 square feet (24 pages, letter size with 1 inch margin all sides) for the rules printed in an 11 point type, then I'm not likely to be interested in learning the game.
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Jared Voshall
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I would say that, yes, there needs to be a physical copy of the rules included in the game in some form, be it the traditional rules pamphlet, a series of reminder cards, printed on the box lid, or whatever else you can think of. These need to cover at least the basics of how to play the game so that players that pick up the game after your site is long defunct can still play it without having to scour the internet to find a copy.

On the flip side, you mention that it can be a cost saving measure - but is it? At the very minimum, you're going to need a slip of paper to tell the players where to go to find the rules anyways. You'll want to make it a nice size so that it's not easy to miss or lose, and you'll want some art on it to catch the owner's eye... And you have to hope that they don't just throw it out thinking that it's some sort of cheap advertising for another project. You could put the link on the box itself, but most players trying to find the rules won't look there, so you're adding another layer to the frustration there for no real benefit.

If your rules are concise enough, then you've already spend almost as much on making sure that the players know where to go to find the rules as you would have just giving them the rules in the first place, and frustrated a significant portion of your potential fan base in the process. You've lost a massive amount of sales in order to save a few fractions of a penny on the rules.

But, as with anything else, there are exceptions. Complicated war games, intricate CCG style games, and others of the like aren't going to include the advanced rulebook cheaply or easily. Most of the time, these are sold as separate, standalone products - but I could see the rules being distributed for free as being a large benefit to games of this type. However, we are talking about rulebooks that are, at a minimum, dozens of pages long, and much more likely to reach 100+ pages of rules and fluff before we reach the point where it's worth swapping over to this model - and most games of the type are already expected to have the rules as a separate product, so it's hardly a revolutionary idea there.

So, in the end, you're going to run in to some significant hurdles in trying to implement this in a normal board game, the cost savings aren't going to be nearly as good as you may think (unless you exacerbate the first issue even further), and only starts to make sense when you get into territory that already follows a similar practice anyways. So, no - there are far too many drawbacks to not including the rules, even without going into the Physical Copy VS Digital Copy debate, which opens up a whole other can of worms.
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Mike Jones
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It would be an instant no-buy for me.

If they can't print up the rules and expect me to print up the rules to put into the game for them, then it's not a game for me.
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