Saturday, 17 November 2012

Never, ever try to write wargames rules when you are not well!

Besides having to deal with the fallout from the recent deterioration in my father's health, my wife and I have – in the light of our recent retirements – been doing some serious reassessments of our lifestyle.

The latter has included the opening moves in what looks like turning into a serious de-cluttering of our house and a rationalisation of our possessions. (Regular readers will remember that I had undergone a similar process with regard to my toy/wargames room after I stopped working last year.) So far the main living room has been given a very thorough cleaning and the storage sections of display cabinets have been cleared and reorganised. The number of objects in them has been reduced, with the surplus being put aside for either resale or donations to local charities. Likewise the large number of audio cassettes we owned and had stored in our dining room has been passed on to someone who is going to sell them on our behalf. (There was no point in keeping them as we have no means of playing them!)

Usually I find the process of cleaning gives me time to think about wargames designs, and it was whilst I was cleaning the windows in the living room that I re-designed – in my head – the Close Combat mechanisms I used in my PORTABLE WARGAME rules in the hope that the new alternatives would meet the needs of those players who found the existing mechanisms to be counter-intuitive. What I had not realised was that by the time I got around to turning those thoughts into actual words I would have begun to come down with a very heavy cold.

I know that there are quite a few people who think that writing wargames rules are easy. You take something from here, something else from there, add a bit of this, et voila it is done. This may be true for some wargames designers … but it is not true for me. I agonise over things like consistency in terminology in a set of rules, so that something is not referred to as a ‘unit’ in one paragraph, a ‘base’ in another, and a ‘stand’ in a third. In order to do this one needs to have a clear mind … and as I have learnt in the past and relearned yesterday, you should NEVER, EVER try to write wargames rules when you are not feeling 100% well and are unable to concentrate upon what you are doing.

I thought that what I had written in the alternative Close Combat mechanisms I added to the PORTABLE WARGAME website yesterday made perfect sense. The feedback I received pointed out an error that I should have picked up when I proof-read the rules and that the rules were somewhat unclear and could lead to misinterpretation. Having looked at what I had written it is obvious that the feedback is absolutely right. I shall re-draft the alternative Close Combat mechanisms as soon as the cold has begun to abate. In the meantime I am going to try to find something fairly mindless to do that does not require much concentration.

10 comments:

  1. Conrad Kinch,

    Instead I am staying warm, drinking hot drinks, and taking aspirin!

    I am taking part in a wargame tomorrow and need to feel better by then.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  2. It helps if one's mind is clear, and it helps there if one is well. But it's best to get things down while they are fresh in your mind, and look for clarifications upon proof-reading and play testing. You have many friends on this site who will help with those latter tasks!
    Cheers,
    Ion

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  3. "I am going to try to find something fairly mindless to do" -Bob

    So you are planning to run for political office in America?

    I learned the hard way not to even try to read and learn a set of rules while sick. Even a low level fever can cause some dehydration, which can seriously affect one's reasoning ability.

    Get well, and soon! I too, volunteer for proof-reading and play-testing.
    -Steve

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  4. Archduke Piccolo (Ion),

    I am glad that I did write my ideas down when I did ... but publishing them before checking or proof-reading them was a bit stupid when I knew that I was not on top form.

    I have re-learnt an important lesson from this incident ... and hope that the next time I feel unwell that I don't try to write any detailed wargames mechanisms.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  5. Steven Page,

    I will reply to your comment about US politics by using the well-known comment made by Francis Urquhart: 'You might think that, I couldn't possibly comment. '

    Thank you for your kind offer to act as a proof-reader and play-tester ... and for your best wishes for my swift recovery.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  6. The Dancing Cake Tin (James),

    Many thanks. Keeping warm, drinking lots of fluids (including chicken soup!), and Aspirin seemed to be working ... slowly.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  7. Hope the morrow brings better morale and health Bob.
    Alan

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  8. Tradgardmastare (Alan),

    I have had a hot shower (with lots of steam to help clear my sinuses). a couple of aspirin, and a hot drink in the hope that these will help me to have a good night’s sleep. If I manage that, I should be able to cope much better tomorrow … especially as I am supposed to be taking part in a wargame in central London!

    All the best,

    Bob

    ReplyDelete