Thursday, January 19, 2012

Laying It Out

The visual impact of a game book is very nearly as important as the words in it. Illustrations are part of that, but another aspect is the layout of the book. For Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road, I went for 2 separate layouts.

The print version of the book is laid out to measure 6 x 9 inches, a nice compact size that can fit on the shelf with your other Oz books, or game books.
But as I contemplated the digital release of my book, I realized that this layout was not quite right. While it can look fine on a screen, there are those PDF buyers who want to print the book out, either in whole or in part. And it's current layout would waste a lot of paper. So the PDF layout would have to be 8 1/2 x 11.

One of the problems with most game books in PDF is that they use a standard 2-column layout. Once you've zoomed in to the point where you can read it comfortably on a screen, your reading process is something like this: Read, scroll down, read more, scroll right, scroll up, read, scroll down, read more. A lot of scrolling, right? So I decided that I would throw that methodology out on its head. Or, more accurately, its side.
(Typical gaming PDF. Specifically the Advanced Player's Guide for the Pathfinder RPG by Paizo Publishing)
(Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road PDF layout)

By turning the page on its side, it's much easier to read. Once you've finished one column of text, simply scroll to the right and read the next column. While you might have to do some scaling to get this to work on your tablet, it is far less scaling than would be required of your typical gaming PDF.

So why not support gaming PDFs that are designed for the way you actually read them? And don't forget, you can also get AiO in EPUB format, a specialized format that dynamically lays itself out for optimum viewing, no matter what you're using to read it.

3 comments:

Brandon said...

I am really glad you took this into account, and it's a rather nice option for PDF reading. I know you've not really made much on this, but for fun, have you considered a mobile version of the document, maybe something single-column that could be read on a mobile phone or smaller tablet?

Doug Wall said...

@Brandon: That's what the EPUB format is for. It's the format used by iBooks and the Nook. In fact, you can buy AiO directly from your iDevice or Nook bookstores.

Baker said...

I commend you for taking that route with the pdf layout. Far too many pdf publishers seem to assume that the consumer will be printing out their game. What they fail to take into account is the sheer cost of ink, paper, cardstock, etc.

I'd much rather have a layout where I can access the entire page, rather than having to scroll here and there to get information.

Good job.

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