Infinity Loop: Designing a Worksheet

Towards the end of the work I was doing for Brick by Brick: Doors, I came up with the idea of including a worksheet of some sort in the book as a quick reference for GMs to use as a distilled version of all the tables included in the book. Having never designed a worksheet before, this was quite a process. My goal was simply to put all of the tables on a single page, which became more than a bit of a pain…

So I thought I’d talk a bit about the process as I worked through it to the final version that shipped with the product as a separate PDF.

Version 1

doors-worksheet-v1

Initially, my goal was to include it as a page in the PDF itself. So I shoved all the tables onto a single page, numbered the tables even though they appeared out completely out of order so I could get them to fit, and… it was a mess.

When I sent the draft to my editor Jim White, he replied: “If you’re skipping around the tables to make a coherent flow, maybe the order needs to be reworked? I love the idea of keeping this to one page, as it’s a great selling point, but the order totally trips my OCD.”

Plus during the edit Jim brought up another possible step, so that added new tables to the mix and threw everything off.

And I totally agreed. The page needed some serious help. So I went back to the drawing board.

Version 2

doors-worksheet-draft-2

As you can see with this version, I decided to rotate it to make the page landscaped. But I didn’t like all the white space. Plus, we were still somewhat out of order – or the order wasn’t very visible just with a quick glance.

Michael Christensen (TinyGork.com) mentioned taking the table titles and turning them into a flowchart as more of an easy reference. Chris Kentlea (Ennead Games) agreed and after Michael sent me a quick sketch of what he was suggesting I was off and running again…

Version 3

doors-worksheet-draft-3

Once I got the “flowchart” idea into my head, I was able to devise the six steps in arrows, with the tables for each step flowing beneath. The flow was easy to see at a glance and you could hop around to use whatever you wanted to pretty easily.

Everybody I showed this one to said it was a big improvement.

Version 4 (Final)

doors-worksheet-v4

After that, I just needed to figure out what to do with the extra space. Add another image or two plus a little area to take a few notes in the lower left corner and I was done.

Though I was originally thinking the page should be in the book itself, I decided I’d spin it off into a separate file and just make that available with the book via DriveThruRPG.

I have to say I was very thankful to have folks like the Gamer Assembly folks (including Jim White, Brian Liberge, Brent Newhall, and other cool folks) and the Gamer Lifestyle folks (Michael Christensen, Chris Kentlea, Johnn Four, and many others) in my corner to help guide this to completion. I am happy to have found myself some great game designer communities to participate in on an almost daily basis. :)

Is it perfect? Heck no. But it’s much more usable now than it was when I started. Plus I think it looks pretty good. :)

Want a copy? Pop over to the Brick by Brick: Doors page for links to DTRPG and RPGnow. :)

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