I’m gonna call out this expansion for 2nd ed Kult, a totally incomprehensible, unuseable book called Purgatory. This is my copy from when I was working with Target and got all their goodies.
Believe me, my jaw definitely dropped when I opened this thing up. What the heck are you supposed to do with such an absurd artifact? It’s nearly unreadable.
There was a…fad, phase, something, at The Forge that eschewed all visual representation. I think it was considered distracting to the central work, maybe? That if the work can’t stand on its own then … something. Honestly I never understood the core argument, other than it being a chance for folks to slag D&D sales.
Don’t worry! I’m not gonna relitigate any of that. But I think it’s self-evident that presentation is information. Go too far in one direction — say, my mostly unadorned Word docs I turn in for various ill-considered game design contests — and you can’t get anyone’s attention. Go too far in the other direction — like Purgatory here — and you can’t keep anyone’s attention.
I’m gonna share a little story that will have you rolling your eyes at the obviousness of it all.
So I’ve got maybe a dozen finished-and-lightly-tested little games I’d like to get out into the world, right? Several small-footprint PbtA hacks (Jurassic World, Robot Park, Tiny Dragons), last year’s Game Chef finalist (Dragon, Fly!), others (this year’s Game Chef, Intake, not a finalist but I’m so stoked on it). Once upon a time, I actually did visual design as part of my general marketing practice. But that was nearly 20 years ago now, and I don’t have the software mastery nor the design chops of the actual pros. Anyway, I was lamenting this to Mark Diaz Truman hoping for advice — I think I’d given him a draft of my Secret Unnamed Project but, hey, unadorned Word so ugh. He had the simplest advice: pay a layout artist. His followup was along the lines of “put them up for sale at drivethru and it’ll pay for itself with like a dozen sales.”
Other than the obvious necessity of having the cash on hand for the initial outlay, that answer is so obvious. I think I’m scared off by what I’m imagining the cost will be, but I’m scared because I’m ignorant. It’s something I hope to rectify soon. Obviously it can’t be too much if a few sales will cover the cost.
Anyway: presentation is information. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.