Guidelines taken from: How to write rules (without confusing people) by Scott
- Flavor first: If the game has a narrative tying the mechanics together, make that narrative clear immediately. The metaphors will be helpful in explaining and justifying the game’s logic and mechanics.
- Get the boring stuff out of the way: List the materials needed for the game next, followed by any pre-game instructions for setting up. If it gets wordy or over-complicated, slim it down and add an illustration or two to help explain.
- Begin with the end: The first rule you should give the players is the winning condition of the game. Tell them what their objective is. From a logical standpoint, all the other rules serve the winning condition, and will make more sense when described with regards to it. It also makes it easier for players to find when they forget how to win.
- Go from general to specific: Think of it like newspaper journalism, or an inverted pyramid. After the objective, describe the broad, overarching rules before describing the instances and exceptions. If it’s Mille Bornes, explain placing mile cards before you explain the hazards and remedies, explain the hazards and remedies before you explain the safety cards, and explain the safety cards before you explain the coup fourrÃ©‘s. Another way of saying this would be to explain the things that happen most often in a game first, and the things least likely to happen in a game last.
- Tell players what they can do, before telling them what they can’t: Somewhat related to the previous point, you should always explain the least constricting rules before explaining the most constricting. Rules explained earlier therefore become the primary rules, and the rules following are the instances and exceptions where the primary rules change or don’t apply.
Game rule design