So anyone who hangs out with my friends and I long enough will eventually hear us talk about game writing. We are split somewhat between the preferred system to work in. On the one hand is Google docs, on the other is GameTeX.
Google docs is something that probably all of my readers are familiar with. Easy to get started with, easy to access from a variety of devices, easy to share with collaborators and players. There are a lot of advantages to Google Docs, but also a few drawbacks that I will discuss after explaining what “GameTeX” is.
“GameTeX” is a package that runs on top of LaTeX. Writing with it feels a little like working with html in that there are “tags” that define certain formatting. “GameTeX” was originally imported from the MIT Assassin’s Guild. It handles a lot of formatting for the various pieces of game.
I happen to prefer to work in GameTeX for two reasons. One is the aforementioned formatting. For MIT style games, we often employ small stapled envelopes called “mem-packets” and little books with a series of tasks called “research notebooks”. I can’t even imagine how I’d go about formatting these in any other program. They are small, repetitive, need to be two sided, and consistent. In GameTeX I don’t have to worry about it, all that formatting has been coded in already, and I just have to call the type of document I’m writing to import all the formatting.
The second reason I prefer GameTeX is for re-running games. Nothing brings home to you how big a game is than writing out hundreds of note-cards by hand, from memory. The advantage GameTeX provides is that since the item-cards are all formatted and stored with the rest of the game, they just need to get printed and cut out. No staying up all night writing things, no trying to find note-cards from last run that got lost in your room, no trying to collect cards back from players, no trying to remember which item goes with which character. It’s all there.
GameTeX is also great if you ever have to change the gender of a character. Once I sit down with my pile of apps for the game, I almost always find that at least one character concept matches a player’s app to a “T” but the preferred gender doesn’t match. Going through all the documents that make up one of our games (not in-frequently over 500 pages worth) to find all the references to that character would utterly suck. Conveniently, GameTeX uses macros to refer to characters by name, pronoun, and other gender-loaded terms like “husband”/”wife”/”spouse”. Which, when you stick to the macros in writing, it becomes a 1 line change in 1 place to swap a characters gender.
I still use google docs for brainstorming, meeting notes, and early character concepts, but overall, I prefer GameTeX for the actual writing of the games.