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Guidelines for Designers
ATO: Wargame Designer Submission Guidelines
II. FIRST: CONTACT
III. DESIGN PARAMETERS
IV. PHYSICAL SUBMISSIONS
Physical Copy (via snail-mail):
Rules: Printed out copy of the rules, charts, and other text on standard 8.5x11-inch paper.
Map: A printed out map – this can be either one sheet (printed via an office supply store) of no more than 34x22-inch size or a pair of 17x11-inch sheets taped together (make sure it lies flat on a table). It can be hand-drawn and hand-colored, as long as it's legible and we can figure out the terrain (hint: a terrain key on the map is almost always standard).
Counters: ATO has five formats:
Your counters must be legible, mounted on some sort of cardboard or chipboard the thickness of a typical wargame counter, and either die-cut for easy punching out, or, you cut the counters and separate them out. Plenty of sites on the internet sell blank wargame counters in the various sizes ATO uses, color counter sheets, and even counter sheets with pre-printed NATO-style symbols.
Games submitted without a physical prototype that can't be opened and played straight out of the envelope or box will not be tested.
Electronic Copy (via E-mail):
Rules: All rules, charts, and so on must be submitted using a .doc or .docx formatted file—not any other file format.
Map: A digital copy of the map in .jpg or .pdf file format.
Counters: A digital copy of the counters (front and back) in .doc, .docx, .xls, .jpg, or .pdf file formats.
Double check that the physical copy and the electronic copies match. Most designers go through a number of versions, so make sure the submitted physical and electronic versions match.
V. THE ART AND SCIENCE OF DESIGN
As our wargames reflect history, historical accuracy is important. Players should have the same possibilities, problems, and degree of knowledge (as far as possible) of the situation as their historical counterparts. The situation should lead the players to think historically and make historically-reasonable decisions based on historical factors, while allowing the exploration of reasonable historical alternatives. We consider this the "science" of design.
The design should provide the "feel" of the period, including appropriate specialty rules ("chrome" so to speak), while offering streamlined play. This "chrome" can be in the form of optional rules or optional forces or optional setups based on historical events. We consider this the "art" of design.
Last, but not least, players should be able to learn something about the historical situation from the game, including the ability to alter historical outcomes by trying strategies and tactics available but not used by their historical counterparts, along with all the consequences of using alternative paths to victory or defeat
The wargame should be interesting and entertaining, with more than one possible strategy open to each player. Players should be challenged to make decisions, but able to recover from minor mistakes without the game mechanics dominating overall decision making. Although the situation may be against the odds for one player, the design should be balanced enough to allow both players a reasonable chance at victory; although for solitaire games, the player should really be against the odds versus the automated system.
A solitaire component for two-player games is encouraged.
On a scale of 1 (introductory) to 5 (complex), we usually publish games rated 2, 3, or 4. We do on occasion publish the complex "5" rating, but it has to be particularly compelling, and the "1" rated games need to be insanely compelling.
The ideal time is an evening: 3 to 4 hours. Longer games are fine, but we prefer the design to include shorter scenarios that use only a part of the map and part of the counter mix. A solitaire scenario is encouraged.
We expect each submission to be a fully-functional wargame that has been researched and playtested, but just as every book author needs an editor, so every game designer needs a developer. Our developers start with a rules read and progress to a quick look at the set up and first turn. New designer or veteran designer, no design survives contact with the developer, but we can certainly spot the strengths of a design and work to emphasize them, while refining mechanics.
Realistically, expect at least one year, often two, from acceptance to published product. ATO schedules, including playtesting, rules clarifications between developer and designer, reserving time with the printer and die cutter, and unexpected events like pandemics, extend at least four issues and an annual issue into the future.
The rules set, which is technical writing by any other name, often takes up the most time. It is very much a give-and-take process of questioning exactly what the designer intends and how to go about it, with the answers clarifying the mechanics. Fair warning: it may seem that we are overly picky about this, that, or the other mechanic, but every question answered during development saves a dozen by gamers punching out counters for the first time and it will ultimately make your design play great.
The rules are all about mechanics: how to perform the game mechanics, including appropriate examples of play. They are not about the situation, which is handled in the feature article in the magazine.
ATO follows a specific rules format; designers should mimic the format as much as possible, including noting the sequence of sections generally follows the turn sequence and how specific mechanics are described within a particular section. Note the use of numbers by Module (1.0), Section (1.1), and Case (1.1.1).
Note the use of a Title, Credits (including playtesters), Unit and Map scales, Table of Contents, and other information that is always in ATO rules at the beginning. Don't forget to include the various charts, including Terrain Effects Chart, Combat Chart, and resource or other "housekeeping" charts. You may include Designer's Notes at the end.
VII.FEATURE ARTICLE: HISTORICAL COMMENTARY
Once accepted for publication, the designer also has first dibs on preparing an historical article illuminating aspects of the game for publication in the main body of the magazine, including a bibliography. You will be paid a separate fee for any such work. If you don't want to write an article, let us know and we will assign a staff writer to cover for you.
See Guidelines for Authors (below) for full information.
If you are undaunted, then prepare and submit your game proposal (or ask questions): firstname.lastname@example.org
We prefer e-mail exchanges, but if you prefer to submit via snail mail:
Guidelines for Authors
GUIDELINES FOR SUBMITTING YOUR ARTICLE TO AGAINST THE ODDS
Against the Odds (ATO) has had several requests to publish our requirements for article submissions, so here they are. If you have an article in mind, use these guidelines to help you submit your manuscript. For an ATO magazine article, we pay the author (or authors) a total of five cents (.05) per word, upon acceptance for publication by ATOs Editor. Authors of lead, secondary or game design articles, or regular columns will also receive a copy of the issue their material appears in. If there are any points not covered below, please contact us.
I. PURPOSE AND SCOPE
ATO will also considered biographies, "speculative history" or "alternate history" pieces (i.e. an article say, covering the proposed Japanese invasion of Hawaii in Dec. 1941) but not outright "science fiction" (i.e. "spaceships and ray guns"). Comparative military history (why Khe Sanh was like the battle for Atlanta or comparing Westmoreland to Henry II, or how were the Confederate and Nazi Governments alike in the closing days of their regimes - if at all?) will be considered for publication as well.
Lastly, ATO is interested in how to model warfare using a board game format. Material covering design issues (unit and terrain evaluations, CRTs, ZOCs, sequences of play, etc.) order of battle or other research tips, graphic design, presentation, play testing, or other aspects of game design are welcome. Game reviews, marketing concerns, or "overall state of the industry" material will not be considered.
If you have something to say about any of the above, why not write for us!
II. FIRST CONTACT
III. WRITING PARAMETERS
1. Format: ATO articles are of 5 types. These are:
A.) Lead Article This piece highlights the game in each issue. Typically, ATO will offer that issues game designer first choice at write this material as he or she is most familiar with the topic. Alternatively, ATO will contact you about your willingness to write this piece. For planning purposes, envision about 10,000 words, though longer manuscripts will be considered. The author should prepare a series of sidebar pieces, examining the impact of weather, terrain, logistics, societal structures, etc. of the various sides in conflict and their impact on his game design.
B.) Secondary Article This piece is similar to the above, but typically shorter (3,000 words). Format and layout are more flexible and essays are encouraged. Secondary articles hopefully stimulate public interest in seeing a game design eventually published on the topic covered. Secondary articles are fine vehicles for biographies, speculative history, alternate history, or comparative military history pieces.
C.) Game Design or Play Article Material of this nature explores or highlights game design or game play issues (up to 3,000 words). If youve designed or developed a commercially published war game, use this piece to share your ideas.
D.) Book or Game Reviews Not really our focus, there are many other fine publications out there in need of such material. However, surveys of a number of related works around a single theme (for example, a look at all the strategic American Revolutionary War games in print) are popular with the readership.
E.) Guest Opinion Piece If youd like to advocate a point in print, let ATO know your ideas for a theme and we will contact you. A column should fit comfortably on one 8.5" x 11" page (say 1,300 words) although longer ones will be considered.
2. Readership Considerations: ATO is looking for manuscripts that are illuminating and retain their interest. Points to consider here are:
A.) Did the reader learn anything new from the piece? ATO is being marketed to people with 20+ years of reading military history under their belt. They're looking for meat - and not hamburger helper. Articles simply recapping the battles of Gettysburg or Waterloo once more simply won't do.
B.) Does it excite the imagination? Hopefully, the readers will come away energized and looking for a new game or book on the battle or campaign.
C.) Does it read well? Carefully crafted prose is always welcome, but at a minimum, good spelling and grammar remain a writers basic tools of the trade.
D.) Gear your piece around ATO's style and chosen references (e.g., The Gregg Reference Manual (Eighth Edition), Wordswabbing, Merriam Webster's College Dictionary (10th Edition), and use previously published ATO material as guides or precedents.)
E.) For those of you with other published works, its acceptable to work a mention of such into your material.
3. Historical Considerations: ATO is targeted at the gaming core. Points to consider here are:
A.) Is the article useful for game design purposes? Detailed OBs and TO&Es are of interest to the readers. Most ATO readers will be comfortable with wire diagrams and tables of data.
B.) Maps, photographs and illustrations are crucial for understanding the narration. Authors should enclose any material they have.
C.) Readers should learn "how war is made" to paraphrase Napoleon, and not simply encounter dreary rehashes of battle narratives
4. Copyright: In submitting material to ATO, an author recognizes that, on its acceptance for publication, its exclusive copyright shall be assigned to ATO. ATO will not put any limitation on the freedom of the author to use the material contained in the manuscript in subsequent published works of which he/she is author or editor. It is the authors responsibility to obtain permission to quote material from copyright sources and to cover any charges incurred.IV. PHYSICAL PARAMETERS
1. The Manuscript: The manuscript should be typed or printed on good quality 8.5" x 11" or A4 paper, single-sided, double spaced and with generous margins at head, foot and left- an right-hand margins. The right-hand margin should not be justified. Do not bother with fancy fonts, but headings should be clear. Always number the pages. Please supply as abstract of up to 100 words.
2. Disks: To speed up the publication process we request authors to submit articles on disk as well as on paper. ATO prefers a Zip or floppy disk (PC or Mac format) using PageMaker 6.5, MS Word or ASCII text files. Manuscripts can also be e-mailed to ATO directly at: email@example.com
3. Illustration: All maps, diagram, figures and graphs should be submitted in the form of completed artwork suitable for reproduction, and if possible, on disk. They should be separate from the typescript (with a list of captions on a separate sheet) but their place in the text should be marked. No illustration (including caption) will be given more space than the text area of the magazine page, i.e. 8"x10.5". Figures should ideally be drawn for a reduction of one-third i.e. 3:2. Where possible all figures should be drawn for the same reduction. Authors who feel artistically challenged should instead neatly sketch any maps/illustrations required in sufficient detail to allow ATOs Art Department to create professionally done material.
4. Tables: Tables should be typed on separate sheets. Indicate on the margin of the text where the tables should be placed.
5. References: References should be numbered in the order in which they appear in the text, and even though they will be set as footnotes they should be supplied separate from the main text. Books are italicized (underlined in manuscript), e.g. John Keegan, The Face of Battle, London 1976. In second and subsequent references to a work, an abbreviated title should be adopted, e.g. Keegan, Battle, p.48. A reference to an article in a periodical should include (after the authors name and the title of the article and the title of the journal) the volume number (arabic), date in brackets, and the relevant page numbers, e.g. Jim Dunnigan, Lost Battles Strategy & Tactics 28 (1972), 6-7.
6. Credits and Acknowledgements: Please include your name and address, the name and address of any co-authors, etc., to be credited, and a bibliography. Indicate how you want your byline to appear.
Still game (pardon the pun)? Then with your manuscript proposal, write to:
Or e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org