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

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Georg Wolgast
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I like having the physical copy for quick reference, but I mostly learn games on my commute. It definitely wouldn't stop me from buying the game and I've bought games with foreign language rule books before and simply read English rules online. I've also gotten rid of a rulebook to be able to fit a custom insert.

I'm curious what people would think of a game that only has a physical reference guide, but the manual for learning how to play would be online.
 
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Pelle Nilsson
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saluk wrote:

That said, I'm a bit surprised to see people complaining about having to go on the internet in order to play a game. We are having this discussion on the internet after all!


A few weeks ago I found my old Grave Robbers From Outer Space and thought it would be fun to play. Still had the rulebook, but I remembered there used to be updated versions that fixed some problems. Not on bgg though, and the game's old home page was long gone even if the company happens to still be around. Luckily I had saved a copy of the PDF that was still here.

The internet has a terribly short memory really. I try to save everything interesting I find, especially related to games, FAQs and such. Imagine how many of the games from 20 years ago that used to have a web page somewhere with supporting documents that are still around. I would guess way less than 50%. Maybe not everyone are aware how bad it is? I think it actually is getting worse. A lot of useful information now is posted in very temporary ways on a Facebook page or on a Dropbox share that is deactivated within a year. So having a game that you can not play without a rulebook posted online is just a very bad idea. If the rules are on a site like bgg they might have a better chance to still be around for a while, but not even bgg will be around for as long as all copies of a printed game will be (and files saved to CD will be unreadable long before a printed rulebook will).
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J J
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GeorgW wrote:
I'm curious what people would think of a game that only has a physical reference guide, but the manual for learning how to play would be online.


If it does not have a complete physical rulebook, then I won't touch it, no matter what you call it. And I very much don't like having the rules spread across multiple volumes.
 
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Eric Nolan
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JasonJ0 wrote:
GeorgW wrote:
I'm curious what people would think of a game that only has a physical reference guide, but the manual for learning how to play would be online.


If it does not have a complete physical rulebook, then I won't touch it, no matter what you call it. And I very much don't like having the rules spread across multiple volumes.


I think this depends. For example the Coin games have extremely long and detailed examples of play in a separate book that does not contain anything that isn't in the actual rule book.

If that was available only online then I wouldn't particularly care.

However if it was not possible, or significantly more difficult, to learn how to play using the rules in the box because basic examples of play were missing then I would have a problem and I'd be calling that a game with a bad rulebook regardless of what supplemental material was available online.
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Daniel Krauklis
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I use PDFs a lot, but I want to be able to take the game box with me for a gaming weekend outside of wifi connections, and not have to fiddle with my phone.
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Russ Williams
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Hivemind wrote:
For example the Coin games have extremely long and detailed examples of play in a separate book that does not contain anything that isn't in the actual rule book.

FWIW this is not true of Fire in the Lake - the "playbook" has not only the examples of play, but also has pages info detailing and clarifying the many event cards, some of which have rather terse or unclear text on the cards themselves.

I've found the "playbook" to be a useful rule reference which I've used multiple times every time I play FitL.
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C&H Schmidt
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I play games in lots of places that don't have internet!

I also hate reading stuff on my tiny phone screen, and I don't want to have to have my laptop next to me. That being said, I hate reading stuff on my laptop screen, too -- especially texts where I might need to repeatedly return to other pages to check stuff.
So then I would need to print the game rules off myself -- and why would I want to do that? I don't even have access to a printer at all times!

So, no online-only rules for me, please!

I actually do own one game that does not have full rules in the box, namely the small card game 100 Swords (I linked to just one of the 4 incarnations) -- and I think it was a bad decision.
It does come with a rule reference card, and since the rules are fairly simple, that works out OK. But I still hate having to go online to reference the rules after I haven't played for a while, and for any more complicated game, not having paper rules would 100% put me off getting it.
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Jared Voshall
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So, let's take a look at the supposed pros and cons of this solution:

Pros:
It can save a considerable amount on manufacturing - maybe. As I said in my previous post, you will need to have some method of conveying where to find the rules either in or on the box, and you really need to make sure that your customers can easily find it and recognize it as a link to the rules rather than an advert for something else. Once you have that, you're not looking at much more for the standard rules sheet for most simple games, and even somewhat complicated rules aren't tremendously more expensive. So, not much of a savings there.

You're no longer tied to the size of the rule book for the box size. Particularly for games like Splendor, where you have a relatively small area required for the components themselves, and a relatively thorough rule book, you can save quite a bit of space and material by leaving out the rule book. After all, you can fit a slip of paper with a rules overview and an URL in a much smaller package than a standard sized rule book.

You can move to a Living Game model and constantly have the rules updated with any and all errata you come across for minimal cost. It's a lot easier to justify updating a rule book when you don't have to worry as much about everyone not being confused about which version of the rules to use.

Cons:
You lose a significant portion of 'buy and play' add on sales, especially in areas either lacking or with only spotty internet access. By putting the rules online, you can no longer guarantee that your customers will be able to play the game the same night they get it (if ever), which makes it less likely for other players to enjoy the game the same night and pick up a copy for themselves.

You get a lot more returns. Because you aren't including the rules in the base game, it's a lot more likely that the customer will think they got a misprint and want to return it for a full refund. This will create a great deal of frustration with your product, depressing sales and losing customer trust (even if only for that one game).

Customers who have done their homework and know that they won't get the rules in the box may be less likely to buy the game. This may seem counterintuitive - if they've done their homework, they already know about where to find the rules and have likely already downloaded and read through them to see what the game is like - but there are tangible benefits to having a physical copy of the rules at the table. Just look at the responses here to see how much of an impact that may have.

If your site goes defunct, you stop supporting the rules, or any of a number of other issues crop up, your game becomes unplayable. Not just, 'oh, I need to jump through some hoops to get the rules,' but out and out unplayable. Thus, you run a significant risk of your company's legacy vanishing simply to save a little bit on manufacturing costs.

So, to me, it seems like you get a few possibly marginal benefits for doing it, and face some pretty significant drawbacks to boot. And the biggest benefit - having a resource that you can update easily and as needed - can be gained by simply putting up the PDF for the rulebook you use to print the physical copy with, making it even less of a good idea. It may seem like a good idea, but you have to remember that you are dealing with an almost entirely physical product, and leaving out the most important part of that can destroy any chance the game had of becoming popular.
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Boaty McBoatface
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saluk wrote:
I can't really make a good case for not including the rules.

That said, I'm a bit surprised to see people complaining about having to go on the internet in order to play a game. We are having this discussion on the internet after all!

I almost never buy a new game and learn and play without hitting a website for a FAQ or an easy set up guide, or printing out a player aid, or watching a how to play, or even just to see what others have said about situations that come up. Only very simple games do I not turn to the internet for a little bit of help getting started, even when I am perfectly capable of learning the game from the rules alone.

And when me and my friends are playing a complicated game for the first time, invariably we will run into an edge case and go "ok, can someone go to BGG and see how these dang rules are supposed to be interpreted here?" with everyone whipping out their smartphones.

I can see the appeal of a board game not requiring modern technology, but a world without modern technology just isn't the one I currently live in.

So if a game were to be published with no hard copy of the rules, it wouldn't be an instant no buy. I know that I will be learning it from youtube anyway, like I usually do. I would raise an eyebrow, sure. Doesn't seem like you are gaining much by not printing one. But that fact alone wouldn't actually mean much to me.
Ther is a world of differnce between posting in teh thread and

Turns away to look at board, turns back to look up result, turns back to look a board "what that hold on I'll check" turns to scroll to page 99 " yes it says you can", turn to take my turn, looks up rules (rinse and repeat).
 
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Matt Lee
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saluk wrote:

So if a game were to be published with no hard copy of the rules, it wouldn't be an instant no buy. I know that I will be learning it from youtube anyway, like I usually do.


So when someone says "Hey, if I use card X to affect card Y, that can go a couple of ways. What is the rule on this?", what happens?

Do you pull up the 10 minute video and try to scrub through to find the relevant sentence relating to this while everyone is waiting? Ever tried to do that with a video rules explanation before?
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Laura Creighton
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I want an electronic copy to search. I have given up on getting proper indexing. But, as I said before, I want a paper copy in the box too. But search is the big plus I see.
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Ryan Keane
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Almost every online rule set I have used is a downloadable pdf, so the criticism that you need internet to access the rules wherever you happen to play the game is moot.

I get it - a lot of people want a physical copy, including me (which is why I use my printer).

For a good number of my games, I have memorized the rules, and I either never look at the rules again, or I just reference for easy-to-forget things like starting money and tiebreakers, which I would prefer were on a separate cheat sheet (sometimes they are), so I didn't have to hunt for them in the full rules umpteen times.
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Jared Voshall
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Yeah, there's an entire other discussion to be had regarding if you should have an easily accessible digital version of the rules (spoiler: I absolutely believe that you should have a digital version of the rules available as well as a traditional printout in the box), since there is quite a lot of benefit to be had from it and not a lot of down sides - especially as it'll only take a little extra work to output what you have as a PDF anyways, and when done correctly can greatly enhance the game experience for those who are inclined to use it.

However, this discussion is if you should get rid of the physical copy in the base game. And, given all the drawbacks that would create both immediately and down the road, I think the answer to that should be fairly obvious.
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patrick mullen
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slatersteven wrote:
saluk wrote:
I can't really make a good case for not including the rules.

That said, I'm a bit surprised to see people complaining about having to go on the internet in order to play a game. We are having this discussion on the internet after all!

I almost never buy a new game and learn and play without hitting a website for a FAQ or an easy set up guide, or printing out a player aid, or watching a how to play, or even just to see what others have said about situations that come up. Only very simple games do I not turn to the internet for a little bit of help getting started, even when I am perfectly capable of learning the game from the rules alone.

And when me and my friends are playing a complicated game for the first time, invariably we will run into an edge case and go "ok, can someone go to BGG and see how these dang rules are supposed to be interpreted here?" with everyone whipping out their smartphones.

I can see the appeal of a board game not requiring modern technology, but a world without modern technology just isn't the one I currently live in.

So if a game were to be published with no hard copy of the rules, it wouldn't be an instant no buy. I know that I will be learning it from youtube anyway, like I usually do. I would raise an eyebrow, sure. Doesn't seem like you are gaining much by not printing one. But that fact alone wouldn't actually mean much to me.
Ther is a world of differnce between posting in teh thread and

Turns away to look at board, turns back to look up result, turns back to look a board "what that hold on I'll check" turns to scroll to page 99 " yes it says you can", turn to take my turn, looks up rules (rinse and repeat).


Your scenario comes up with the printed rules all the time and flipping through those things is rarely a fun experience for me. I will often find my answer faster by pasting my question into google on my phone, where a bgg response comes up. We usually have one player thumbing through the book, and everyone else on their phones - if the game is of sufficient age and popularity to have a community, 3 times out of 4 the phone users get the answer before whoever has the book!

When my power went out and I had no internet and no light, I was able to use my charged laptop with some rules pdfs that had already been downloaded, to learn some new games. Take that dead tree lovers
 
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Ryan Keane
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saluk wrote:
Take that dead tree lovers


Why the hate for deceased forest conservationists?
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Owen A
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I think that the key is not simply what format the designer delivers the rules in, but more about how the designer uses the strengths of that format. IMO there is nothing worse than a daunting text heavy rule book, but a physical rule book can be a great vehicle to voice the "feel" of your game to buyers. Regarding PDF versions, if it's just a copy of the rule book I would rather have something physical...if it were modified to shine on screens via scrolling friendly layout, highly descriptive visuals, etc... that seems like a good direction. I would be pissed if I bought a game and there was any expectation that I would be printing my own manual.
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Pelle Nilsson
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RelicsOfTheKeep wrote:
Regarding PDF versions, if it's just a copy of the rule book I would rather have something physical...if it were modified to shine on screens via scrolling friendly layout, highly descriptive visuals, etc... that seems like a good direction. I would be pissed if I bought a game and there was any expectation that I would be printing my own manual.


PDF designed for reading on a screen is not a PDF, but some format designed to do that like EPUB and HTML.

PDF is for printing. It can be read on a big screen, but the experience as many have pointed out is never great.

I pointed this out in another thread recently. If you download the rulebook for some RPG or miniature games you will almost always both get an EPUB for reading on a screen and a PDF for printing, sometimes even more formats than that, and it is not uncommon that you get PDF versions both with high-ink and low-ink. Boardgames for whatever reason you almost always only get one huge high-ink PDF.
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Owen A
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Ah ok, so in that case I strongly side with including a physical copy and having the PDF version available, but not the solo version. My codesigner and I took a different approach and made a more step by step scroll down rule guide (if you want to see what I mean it's under the rules section here www.relicsofthekeep.com) as well as a physical manual. It's funny because I consider the web version to be more new user friendly, but feel that if we made the physical manual the same it just wouldn't work. The only merit I could see to even including the PDF manual in this case is that players can each have a copy throughout the game.
 
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Zenith Splendor
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Strange. I don't mind reading an electronic book but I want a hard copy of directions. I don't know why though.
 
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Russ Williams
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Zenithsplendor wrote:
Strange. I don't mind reading an electronic book but I want a hard copy of directions. I don't know why though.

Because reading a book, you usually simply go straight through page by page, from start to end. But using a rulebook as a reference during play, you jump around and follow references to "Rule 18.4" and "page 7", and that is often a PITA in an electronic book.
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Bill Cook
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I want rules uploaded to all the "intelligent assistant" databases so I can just yell out "Hey Alexa, how many cards does each player get in a 3-player game of Spendor?"
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