Star Wars Wednesday - West End Style...Guides

So, last week turned into another one of those unexpected travel weeks that crop up with my day job every so often. While I had been looking forward to trying to post from the road to the new website, in the end I had too little time and energy to do so. Posting to the old site from the road was always challenging. It was possible to do it from a phone or a tablet, but not easy. My web service theoretically had an app for blog posts, but in reality all it really did was accept drafts and refuse to actually post them live to the site. In theory the new site also has such an app, but let's say the reviews haven't been encouraging.

With the travel, I'm behind on Rebels, so I will catch up on that later this evening. Yesterday, however, Pablo Hidalgo came to my blogging rescue with images from the old West End Games Star Wars style guide. It truly was a great document for both Star Wars and RPG design advice. I still have my copy… Somewhere. As I just found out, somewhere is the key word. I was going to crack it open and share a couple of thoughts of my own. While rifling through my files, I found a similar document that was much shorter, as it was focused on writing for the game in general, rather than a full-blown style guide.

First off, here's one of Pablo's posts. Go look at his feed for several others. I agree with his comments, and I've also repeated some of the advice from time to time. In fact, quite a few of these also occur in the document I have below, though sometimes in a more concise or edited form.


So the document below is dated August 11, 1993. It was definitely a time of transition in the game. Up until about now, all the material was restricted to occur during the movies. At the time this document the new novels and comics were gaining in popularity and number, enabling West End Games to expand the timeline. The prequels were also barely on the horizon, so anything immediately prior to Episode IV was still off-limits. The Star Wars Adventure Journal was also starting up.

Yes, that says Computers Only in the top right paragraph. Only fully modern PC-compatible ASCII formats were allowed. Basically a text document - hey no formatting or Word styles to bother with. It doesn't say so here, but each chapter had to be submitted as a separate file. You wouldn't want to go over 28KB or 32KB or anything. No, I don't remember if there was a restriction like that. Then again, I do remember staff members struggling with certain already outdated systems. Anyway, here's what part of my Flashpoint! Brak Sector file list looked like:

And while I'm at it, here's a snippet of how the file typically looked on screen:

Here's the extensive list of source information you are expected to be familiar with if writing for the game:

And you pretty well had to own the books. Actually that hasn't changed much, but there is obviously way more of it now, and Wookieepedia can at least point to various products if you don't know where to start (or how extensive a given subject is).

Here's a bit more about expanding time period. Also, I find that next-to-last line of that first paragraph...conflicting. This was actually true in my case, until the months leading up to the disastrous collapse of the company several years in the future.

There are several more pages, but a lot of Pablo's pictures covers similar material. The back page was the release form for submissions, allowing the company to review incoming submission ideas. This is definitely one area where the game industry changed quite a lot. You just don't see these very often anymore. I wouldn't be surprised if WEG was the last to offer open submissions for Star Wars RPGs, though the short-lived Star Wars gamer magazine might have done so.

EDIT: So it turns out that some internet outlets have picked up on Pablo's feed. Former Star Wars line editor Eric Trautmann has some additional comments. See more on his feed here (I also retweeted them).