I'm trying to model the rules of a rather complex game into a flowchart, so that newer players have an easier time understanding what to do when. The rules say that within your turn, you have to do certain things, but you can do other things first.

The current iteration of the flowchart has this basic structure:


It first asks the player if "the special rule" applies to them, and then has them handle it. This process repeats until all special (and necessary) things are done. It then asks if they want to do "normal" things (they don't have to), and has them repeat that until they are done.

The rules, however, allow you to do some normal things first before doing the special things. You are only required to have done them at the end of your turn. How can I visualize this effectively?

Some clarifications:

  • The charts will in the end be printed out, so I cannot do anything interactive with them.
  • The rule in question goes like follows: "If you have a unit with a minimum movement, you have to move this unit at least that distance. You can choose when to move, but it has to be within your turn."

A flowchart is a very technical documentation method, and I've seen a lot of non-technical users struggle with understanding them.

Also, describing complex orders of individual steps in a flowchart is generally not easy.

So, in this particular case for board game instructions, maybe plain-text instructions might actually be the better choice. You already have something like that in your post, so how about something like this (just an off-the-cuff idea, using the super-generic language from your post :) ):

When it is your turn, there are two types of things for you to do:

  • Special things: these are things you must do, but you will only have to do these if "the special rule" applies to you.
  • Normal things: these are things you can do; the decision is all yours.

You can do these things in any order during your turn, but you must complete the "special things" before you can pass the game on to the next player.

  • Thank you, I think simplyfying the rules for these purposes are a good idea. – MechMK1 Jun 29 '20 at 18:51

To answer your questions try to do some low-fi wireframes to illustrate that to gain a better understanding of how this would work. It might be as simple as showing a pop-up with two options: Normal / Special . Do the normal one , after it is finished show the same pop-up with the special deactivated and only normal one active , do this until you can also show a "Finish turn" / "Skip turn".

  • 1
    Unfortunately, these flowcharts are not for a videogame, but for a physical board game. The charts would be printed out. – MechMK1 Jan 29 '20 at 12:53
  • Then each player could be handed a card showing what actions they can take on their turn. I don't know if you played Unstable Unicorns. There you would have a number of actions that you could take but the game is designed in such a way that if you forget to play a "spell" and you end your turn you lose the chance and it brings up to the game as it makes people more aware of what they can do on their turn and other people might use it against them. – Cristian Negraia Jan 29 '20 at 14:02
  • Cards would be a possibility, but forgetting to move a unit you have to move is not legal within the game's framework. There is no intended "punishment" for forgetting. The flowchart I am making should merely serve as a visual guide for the rules, and I'd like the flowchart to be accurate. This is the point where I am stuck – MechMK1 Jan 29 '20 at 14:22

Is providing technical documentation as to the mechanics of a game akin to having to having to explain a joke? It is a sign that the mechanics aren't intuitive or your game lacks "educational levels", training mode, or similar approaches to educating the User while playing. So my suggestion is to think about how you can lead the User to discovering such nuances while playing the game.

For a board game, perhaps a comic strip style view of a sequence of moves/turns that show that an imaginary player has leveraged a nuance(s) in taking their turn - sort of role playing an imaginary game.

  • Games that reach sufficient complexity are not necessarily bad by design. It's just that learning it takes time. I'll try to give some turn examples too, thanks for the idea. – MechMK1 Jan 31 '20 at 12:24
  • I had written most of my answer before seeing your comments indicating it is a board game, I understand you have a significant challenge but also think that those core "gaming" ideals are worth pursuing in your case too :) Could you reveal the mechanics via a fictional tale or game lore? – straya Jan 31 '20 at 13:37
  • The "core" rules are pretty simple for each step. The reason why I want a flowchart is so players get a hang of the exceptions. I'll try to "storify" a sample game, where every element gets included at least once. – MechMK1 Jan 31 '20 at 14:38

If you really wanted a flowchart you could do something like

enter image description here

Use normal move could be removed, since if you choose no to finishing or using special, you must by default be doing a normal move. Left it in for clarity, but it isn't really needed, and may make flow easier to understand.

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