Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The trouble with layouts


+Erik McGrath

I'm not yet any good at layout. I have been attempting to learn as I go for some time now, but progress has been slow. I only have what I can term 'reasonable results' with Powerpoint and LaTeX, neither of which you could call industry standards for RPGs.

This has been most telling, and frustrating, for 16 Bit Tactics. 16BT has a lot of tables and graphics that require a considerable amount of effort on my part to make them usable by humans. From this experience I have begun weighing other options for getting useful documents into the hands of people who would like them.

Option 1: Screw It

The simplest option is just don't bother. I can always use my notes to play and hand out said notes to others who wish to play. Those are the only advantages I can think of.

The disadvantages are that I'm supposedly making games and part of that is making them look like someone spent some time doing that. Presentation is a big deal if for no other reason than what it says about your commitment to helping people enjoy the game. 

Option 2: Fake It

Powerpoint and LaTeX give me results. Not pretty but it is coming along. I'm very familiar with both programs as well as the rest of the MS suite and I used them constantly in college to put together reports, grants and presentations. All the things I have released so far for 16 Bit Tactics were done in Powerpoint.

The pro here is that it does eventually give me results and I already know how to pull the levers. The con is that I'm pushing the limits of my tools so there will be a maximum benefit wall reached soon in terms of time input vs work output.

Option 3: Suck It Up

Just keep banging my head at it and work toward a breakthrough. My experience with GIMP (used heavily for Battle Tank, mainly by +Christopher Andersen ) has not been positive in the Suck It Up column. I have done some things with it; they have been awful.

I'm basically starting at the bottom so there is nowhere to go but up. The downside is new programs are time intensive and these ones are hardly intuitive to me.