Archived Story

Joystick: Make better guides, please

Published 11:37am Friday, September 23, 2011

I get the guides.

Strategy guides, that is. Long the bane of the serious video gamer, strategy guides give you tips, tricks and walkthroughs that guarantee you find everything there is in a game with minimal frustration. Like every other form of book, they’ve been threatened by the Internet and online game sites like GameFAQS.

That’s fine, as guides evolved into more of a collector’s item, featuring art stills and developer interviews which enhance the walkthroughs written for gamers. Yet I’ve noticed that more often, guides and guide writers are struggling.

Case in point: the recent “White Knight Chronicles II” fiasco. Or what would have been a fiasco had more people decided to play WKC II stateside. BradyGames released the guide around the time the game got released, promising an online copy of the first WKC guide for those who bought WKC II. Gamers had to find the ad in the guide, a generic plug to go to BradyGames’ web site, and then were stumped trying to find where the e-copy was. That was because the online copy wasn’t available until the day after the guide hit shelves. What’s more, the online guide was free for everyone, not just those who bought the WKC II guide.

I’m all for free stuff, but I hate to be jerked around by a company. What was the point of advertising the free online guide as part of the WKC II guide?

In addition, there’s plenty of guides that cut corners nowadays, shirking descriptions and making stupid typos that wouldn’t pass in a newspaper, let alone a planned book a company spends millions of dollars to print.

Point is, I’d like to see more guides as labors of love, especially as an enhanced collector’s item chock full of extras and artwork. The “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” guide comes to mind, as even the non-collector’s edition was filled with bonus material and fascinating reading for anyone who’s interested in how games are designed. It helped that the developers partnered with guide writers for that project, which meant the guide was written over a six-month time frame instead of a cramped deadline only weeks long. Maybe that’s the direction guide publishers need to go in the future.

It’s all well and good that every AAA title gets a collector’s edition. That makes sense. Yet to skimp out on a regular guide for a solid game or several is criminal. I understand most guide writers work on guides for 20 hours a day in a three-week time frame to get the product out on time, but it’s ridiculous to purposefully publish a less-than polished product for any interactive story that will attract thousands, if not millions of fans. Gamers deserve better.

I get the guides.

Strategy guides, that is. Long the bane of the serious video gamer, strategy guides give you tips, tricks and walkthroughs that guarantee you find everything there is in a game with minimal frustration. Like every other form of book, they’ve been threatened by the Internet and online game sites like GameFAQS.

That’s fine, as guides evolved into more of a collector’s item, featuring art stills and developer interviews which enhance the walkthroughs written for gamers. Yet I’ve noticed that more often, guides and guide writers are struggling.

Case in point: the recent “White Knight Chronicles II” fiasco. Or what would have been a fiasco had more people decided to play WKC II stateside. BradyGames released the guide around the time the game got released, promising an online copy of the first WKC guide for those who bought WKC II. Gamers had to find the ad in the guide, a generic plug to go to BradyGames’ web site, and then were stumped trying to find where the e-copy was. That was because the online copy wasn’t available until the day after the guide hit shelves. What’s more, the online guide was free for everyone, not just those who bought the WKC II guide.

I’m all for free stuff, but I hate to be jerked around by a company. What was the point of advertising the free online guide as part of the WKC II guide?

In addition, there’s plenty of guides that cut corners nowadays, shirking descriptions and making stupid typos that wouldn’t pass in a newspaper, let alone a planned book a company spends millions of dollars to print.

Point is, I’d like to see more guides as labors of love, especially as an enhanced collector’s item chock full of extras and artwork. The “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” guide comes to mind, as even the non-collector’s edition was filled with bonus material and fascinating reading for anyone who’s interested in how games are designed. It helped that the developers partnered with guide writers for that project, which meant the guide was written over a six-month time frame instead of a cramped deadline only weeks long. Maybe that’s the direction guide publishers need to go in the future.

It’s all well and good that every AAA title gets a collector’s edition. That makes sense. Yet to skimp out on a regular guide for a solid game or several is criminal. I understand most guide writers work on guides for 20 hours a day in a three-week time frame to get the product out on time, but it’s ridiculous to purposefully publish a less-than polished product for any interactive story that will attract thousands, if not millions of fans. Gamers deserve better.

 


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