Infinity Loop: Revising Two Pages to Four

This week, I want to talk a bit about a redesign I’m pondering for the One Spot products. Each one to date has covered two 8 1/2 x 11″ pages pretty completely. The “GM View” page may even be overly packed, considering that the relationship table that runs along the outside margin is barely readable electronically due to the fact that it changes direction depending on which side it’s on. That lack of “white space” was mentioned in Mike Bourke’s review at Campaign Mastery along with some ideas on how to expand to fill a third page to fill the extra space.

expanded-map-pageThe biggest reason to make this layout change is to move the map to a page where it’s more useful. Currently the map comprises about 1/4 of the GM’s View page and is not exactly the easiest thing to read. By expanding it to a half page, adding a map key, and perhaps adding some description for particular locations on the map more along the lines of a game module, I think that will address those comments. Something along the lines of the image to the right (click to embiggen).

At the same time, that offers some opportunities for additional expansion of the rest of the details as well. By moving the map, that opens up some space so we can add more about NPCs and potential plots. And if we add a fourth page, we can perhaps move all of the different tables to it. For instance, with Hand’s Goods we could move the “Relationship Hooks” table from the border of the GM page to a more readable space along with the “Potential Encounters” list, while perhaps adding a list of items you might find on the shelves.

Another idea came from a discussion this week about single-column vs. two-column layouts and the difficulties with reading two-column pages electronically. Perhaps instead of cramming all of this information into a couple of pages, I should expand it for easier reading and make it all a single column affair. What do you think?

Regardless of how this shapes up, I anticipate making more use of tables and white space instead of in-line text. Anybody know how to format a good looking table in InDesign? Or a good tutorial? What makes a “good looking” table vs. one you’d rather gouge your eyes out than read?

Lots of options to explore. Plenty to ponder. Looking forward to any feedback you may have. Thanks in advance!

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This article has 3 comments

  1. Mike Bourke Reply

    Glad my review was able to contribute, Fitz. The sample you sent me for comment was a definite improvement, and so I think you’re definitely headed in the right direction.

    I don’t find two-column to be as big a problem as a lot of people do, and the gain in ease of use that results when printed more than compensates for any losses when viewed online. One column uses up a lot more space for text – there’s more in little slivers of text at the end of paragraphs.

    One option to contemplate, though, is to switch to a two-three-or-four column layout and landscape page orientation – which more closely matches the proportions of the computer screen.

    One final tip: Get your art guys to do your inline art in such a way that you can crop bits off the top and/or bottom without eroding its value. As your final step in layout, you can then cut the artwork to the exact size you need to fill out your empty space. A picture with a lot of sky, or a lot of cobblestones, can be trimmed as needed to give different vertical sizes for the same horizontal size (which is mandated by your column width).
    Mike Bourke´s last blog post ..Still More Wonders: Fifteen Amazing Locations for a Sci-Fi RPG

    • Fitz

      @Mike Bourke – Landscape is an interesting idea. I’ll ponder that a bit. And I like the idea of being able to tweak/move the art a bit more in the final work. Great tips. Thanks!

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