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How Strategy Guides Affected Gaming 352

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the please-turn-to-page-124-to-win dept.
Heartless Gamer writes "2old2play has another great story up looking into how games have become more complicated due to strategy guides. From the article; "Strategy guides have affected gaming by making games harder for all of us. That's right, it's not a typo — strategy guides have created more difficult games. Lend me your eyes and attention spans, and I'll explain. Admittedly, it may be a rambling explanation, but bare with me and we should get there eventually." Ya know I always find a strategy guide for things like Final Fantasy just because some puzzles are just ridiculous and I have no interest in trial & erroring for an hour when I'd rather kill monsters. But there really is somethign to this.
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How Strategy Guides Affected Gaming

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  • Follow the money? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Monday August 28, 2006 @04:59PM (#15996228) Homepage Journal

    strategy guides have created more difficult games.

    Strategy guides have been with us for a very long time indeed, almost as long as we've had games. I did a little research, and the earliest reference I can find to what I think qualifies as an 'official' strategy guide, are the 'hintbooks' published by Infocom in support of their adventure games.

    I remember those, form the early 80's. When you had to buy Invisi-Clues to solve InfoCom games. It struck me that some of these puzzles were so far from obvious you were going to fail without the booklets and their magic markers (which made the clues visible.) Why would I put this object in there? Where's the in-game hint there I should try such a thing? After all, there were probably 1.07e22 possible combinations...

    I don't remember a strategy guide for Space Invaders, but one for patterns to Pac-Man was a near best seller.

    Ya know I always find a strategy guide for things like Final Fantasy just because some puzzles are just ridiculous and I have no interest in trial & erroring for an hour when I'd rather kill monsters. But there really is somethign to this.

    Well, you seem to have hit the nail on the head with the video games -- you're getting pretty poor return on your entertainment dollar if you beat the game the day you bought it, thanks to a guide which tells you where to get the Spear and Magic Helmet you need and where the wabbit is hiding so you can kill him. Everyone is in a big hurry these days. Some is just impatience ("I want my reward, now!") and some of it is competitive ("George has already got the magic carpet from the Genie? Crap! I need to catch up to him!") I thought a Simpson's episode did a bit of fable (complete with moral) where Bart wanted some video game incredibly bad, then when he could just about get the game, some rude kid shows up in a shop and tells his mother the game is passe and he doesn't want it, he wants something else now. There's something about traveling in the herd which makes people need to succeed and buy these things.

    I'm so happy to be out of most of these newer games and having lots of fun with old games (even infocom invisiclues can now be found in the internet :-)

    • by legoburner (702695) on Monday August 28, 2006 @05:03PM (#15996264) Homepage Journal
      At least nowadays we have gamefaqs [gamefaqs.com] to save money on overpriced gaming guides. Although most games are more fun without gaming guides, every now and then there is one puzzle in a game where something has been missed along the way and a little help is needed. I find gaming guides most useful if I play a game for a little while, then dont play it for a few months and cannot remember some of the smaller details needed to get past puzzles once I pick the game up again.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 28, 2006 @07:10PM (#15996960)
        [This post has been deleted by a GameFAQS moderator]
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Shilkanni (803384)

        I haven't read many strategy guides lately, maybe 10 or so in total, and I definitely haven't read any in the last couple years in either a seperate book version or print Computer Game magazine feature.

        I've been disillusioned to them since I read the Diablo II strategy guide and like many I had read before it seemed to be a series of common sense suggestions, and a rehashing of in-game help & manual information. More importantly, it often suggested strategies, character builds, and skill combinations

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by FauxReal (653820)
        Before gamefaqs.com we had the alt.rec.videogames.arcade newsgroup. I think the maintainer of the newsgroup had something to do with starting gamefaqs.com. I prefered the old days pre-web though, cause I was one of the only people who knew was a newsgroup was and had a definite advantage over other kids in the arcade with access to secrets and tricks.
    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday August 28, 2006 @05:19PM (#15996357) Homepage Journal

      The thing is that lots of games are fun as they are, and can be completed without finding everything, but if you want to experience certain parts of the game you'd have to be fucking insane to actually get there without help. I mean think about Vincent's ultimate weapon in FFVII... In order to even get to that quest, you have to race your chocobos enough to level them up, then feed your chocobos weird food, then get them to breed. You need to go through two generations of breeding (minimum) in order to even get the kind of chocobo you need to get to where his quest is. Or how about that place on the railroad tracks you have to just sort of spontaneously turn and go up a rock wall to get? There's no visual clue whatsoever that there is a place to climb up there. NONE. And if you go past it and don't get it the first time you're there, it's not there the next time you go by, either.

      Basically, games are designed to sell strategy guides. What more proof do you need?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by maswan (106561)
        The thing is, in the final fantasy games I've played (including mentioned FFVII), you don't have to do all that stuff in order to finish the game. In fact, if you instead of following strategy guides pay attention to the game, you could have a good time but not find all those easter eggs.

        When I played FFVII (back in 97, so my memory is a bit fuzzy, but I think it took me about 35 hours) I never even got the character Vincent, and this was not a problem to finishing the game. Sure, I might not have seen ever
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Firehed (942385)
        To reiterate what others have said, there was chirping, and it was fairly obvious at that. Unless you have your sound off. And as for Vincent: submarine. Regardless, the green chocobo should have been enough, which should only require one round of breeding (though Ruby WEAPON is actually a fairly easy battle, just time-consuming, and is an easier approach to "go for the gold").

        Anyways, I've played through FFVII more times than I can count. Dozens. And each time, I'll probably spend anywhere from 20-50+
    • by packeteer (566398) <[moc.noisnemidbus] [ta] [reetekcap]> on Monday August 28, 2006 @05:31PM (#15996422)
      First off let me say i am a video game tester for a living and have played every single xbox and xbox 360 game to ever come onto the market (and many that never made it). Let me tell you video games are not getting harder, they are getting easier. The trend in video games is to make them into an interactive movie.

      The biggest money makers in video games are sports games, second to that are the titles based on movies. I realized this one time when I was testing Ninja Gaiden. I realized that there was a single attack button that you just hit over and over during combat. The game made you do all kinds of cool looking moves including decapitations and wicked slashing combos. You as the player did nothinhg but hit 1 button and watch.

      Another game that was just an interactive movie was the xbox King Kong game. The game was extremely linear and the combat was based of learning a gimmick that once you knew you would not die. There was no difficulty in finding your way around becuase the game resembled a tunnel and all the fights were so easy that as i said before, you were simply watch a movie and your controlle rwas along for the ride.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Blakey Rat (99501)
        Uh, Ninja Gaiden is the hardest game I've played in the last 5 years, no doubt about it. I don't get whether you're trying to use that as an example or not.
      • by radish (98371)
        I'm curious - what was the trick in King Kong? I mean it certainly wasn't a hard game, but I died plenty (run out of ammo, have to use the stupid spears, get eaten).
      • But certainly not all games. For a counter example, well just look at what is either on it's way to, or already the most profitable game of all time: World of Warcraft (pulling over $1 billion/year and rising). The game is anything but simple. It's easy in the sense that it doesn't ever really punish you for failure, you don't die for good or anything, but it's not at all simple and can be very challenging to achieve many things.

        Perhaps it's just more of a PC gamer thing, but I can think of plenty of hit PC
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by masklinn (823351)
          WTF? EQ at it's starting point was way harder than WoW will ever be for the "Joe Blow" player. I don't know for high-end raids though. Anyway, MMORPGs are usually not "hard" (unless you're trying things you're somehow "not supposed to do", such as trying to beat raid-level mobs alone or with a single group, or a pair of friends), they're time-consuming, that's very different
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by amuro98 (461673)
      I can remember the Invis-clue books.

      But I also remember when strategy guides were just that - strategy guides. They complemented the information in the game's manual (yes, I can remember when games had manuals - REAL manuals - some even had fancy binding and everything!)

      Nowadays though, most strategy guides hit the shelves months before the actual game even arrives - and in many cases you'll need the guide simply because it contains information that should have been included in the game's documentation in
  • somethign (Score:4, Funny)

    by User 956 (568564) on Monday August 28, 2006 @04:59PM (#15996230) Homepage
    I have no interest in trial & erroring for an hour when I'd rather kill monsters. But there really is somethign to this.

    Well, it's clear that you're not spending the time working on your typing skills.
    • Well, it's clear that you're not spending the time working on your typing skills.

      Well, that's what editors are for and why their paid the big bucks, eh?

      oooohh, the Official Slashdot Editor Guide Odd, doesn't look like they've sold any copies, EVER

      • Hey, at four or five rant posts per typo the, "Add random typo to inflame user interest," chapter seems to have been well read as well as put to good use.
  • Bare What? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Monday August 28, 2006 @04:59PM (#15996234)
    but bare with me...

    It's hard to take someone's comments seriously when they display such an obvious lack of spelling and grammar.

    Or are we supposed to be doing this naked? That's an M-Rating for sure.

    • It's hard to take someone's comments seriously when they display such an obvious lack of spelling and grammar.
      Or are we supposed to be doing this naked? That's an M-Rating for sure.


      You are making it [wikipedia.org] very hard to take your comment seriously, Mr. Holier Than Thou.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      But there really is somethign to this.


      It's not that hard to believe once you realise the editors can't be bothered proofreading or spell-checking their own copy, let alone any of the submitted text.

      Jeez Taco, can it be that hard to run articles through a spellchecker?
      • by rucs_hack (784150)
        I imogine thot ets eisear to crotisise poor spilling thon it is to alwoes spill thongs corrictly youslif.

  • by Beuno (740018) <argentina.gmail@com> on Monday August 28, 2006 @04:59PM (#15996236) Homepage
    Something must have lost balance over the years becasue I remember playing Monkey Island and getting stuck a few times, but not enough to have to go and read a guide.
    Maybe it's a mix of information availability and the wrong balance of game developers toward this issue.
    • No Death (Score:5, Informative)

      by XanC (644172) on Monday August 28, 2006 @05:13PM (#15996329)

      I think not being able to die in Monkey Island (and other Lucas adventures) was a big part of this. It limits the problem domain. In some of the Sierra adventures, if you hadn't done just the right thing early, you could literally be trapped with no way to proceed and no way of even knowing this was the case.

      Space Quest 2 was the worst offender that I can recall. In the first scene of the game, if you don't notice a particular item and grab it, then at the end of the game you're screwed, with no idea why. You have to start over. From the beginning.

      The LucasArts adventures were just so well-written and well-executed. Solvable but challenging puzzles and not being able to die are both aspects of this.

      Come on, LucasArts, give us more!

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Moofie (22272)
        You've put your finger on exactly why I loathe "adventure games". It's not about puzzles or problem solving, it's about guessing what the writer thinks would be fun to have you do right now.

        Bleh.
        • by honkycat (249849)
          That's no different than any other form of entertainment. If you don't like a book or movie, it's because you don't like what the author had the characters doing. The only difference is that in a game, you are in charge of figuring out what it is that the character is to do.

          Personally, I love trying to figure out what the author had in mind. As long as there's some logic to it, I don't usually find it too frustrating. I can understand that not everyone would like this, though.

          As the parent pointed out,
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Moofie (22272)
            My brain clearly was not compatible with Roberta Williams' brain. That, coupled with the part about having to pick up literally every object in the game (especially the undetectible ones) in order to finish....

            Yeah. I understand that there were technological limits in the genre, but I found them unduly frustrating. I'd feel the same way if I tried to read a book with no proper nouns in it.
        • Re:No Death (Score:4, Funny)

          by Dun Malg (230075) on Monday August 28, 2006 @07:16PM (#15996979) Homepage
          You've put your finger on exactly why I loathe "adventure games". It's not about puzzles or problem solving, it's about guessing what the writer thinks would be fun to have you do right now.
          There's a quote from a review of a typical bad adventure game that I think sums up the problem with adventure games. The game required you to impersonate some guy, so you steal his ID card. Then, you had to find and attach a piece of tape across a hole at the back of a tool shed. Then you had to chase a cat into the tool shed and out the hole in the back. Then you had to take the tape, which was now covered with cat hair, and use the hair plus spirit gum to make a fake mustache for yourself. Then, take the man's ID card and draw a mustache on his picture on the card with a pen. Now you look like the man's ID card with the mustache drawn on it. Puzzle solved. As the article writer said, the problem with this "puzzle" was that it had no logic to it whatsoever. After all:

          The first step in impersonating a man who doesn't have a mustache, is not to make a fake mustache.

          I think that pretty well sums up the major shortcoming of most adventure type games.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Doctor Ian (452190)
        Actually you can die in the original Secret of Monkey Island. When Guybrush is under the water and just out of reach of all the sharp things, if you wait for 10 minutes, he turns all sorts of colours and dies. All the action buttons turn in to things related to being dead, and you can't get out of it.

        Okay, so you'd never actually take 10 minutes to figure out that part, even if you tried anything. It's just a little joke because Guybrush says he can hold his breath for 10 minutes.
        • by XanC (644172)
          haha! I wondered about that when I first played the game as a kid, but I didn't have the attention span to try it out. I'll have to fire up ScummVM and give it a whirl.
          • by Lehk228 (705449)
            in neverhood there is exactly one way to die, climbing into the drain that has a sigh that says not to enter because you will die
      • I'd say that Doom II's chainsaw weapon was as bad.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Saxerman (253676) *

        Space Quest 2 was the worst offender that I can recall. In the first scene of the game, if you don't notice a particular item and grab it, then at the end of the game you're screwed, with no idea why. You have to start over. From the beginning.

        I also seem to recall the InfoCom H2G2 game, where at the very end of the game Floyd would ask you for a specific item to open the hatch so you could leave the Heart of Gold. The item was randomized each time you started the game, and could include a number of item

        • by rjung2k (576317)
          I also seem to recall the InfoCom H2G2 game, where at the very end of the game Floyd would ask you for a specific item to open the hatch so you could leave the Heart of Gold. The item was randomized each time you started the game, and could include a number of items from early areas to which you could not return.

          To be fair, IIRC you could also use the Thing Your Aunt Gave You That You Don't Know What It Is to hold everything you ever found, so there was no real reason not to pick up everything you encounter
    • by kalirion (728907)
      I've gotten stuck long enough (over an hour) to use a strategy guide a few times on each Monkey Island game. The danger is that the "threshhold" of frustration needed to use the guide lessens with each use.
  • by dreamchaser (49529) on Monday August 28, 2006 @05:00PM (#15996240) Homepage Journal
    The readily available information out there, not just strategy guides but informal stuff on the Internet, has helped drive increased complexity in strategy games. However, the market has as well. People want more challenge, not rehashed games over and over. Unfortunately this has also led to many games becoming needlessly complex IMO and focused on complicated game mechanics at the expense of storyline and overall gameplay.

    Games with relatively simple rulesets and execution like Chess can, after all, be extremely challenging. Just layering on complexity is in many ways a cop out.
    • I've never purchased a strategy guide and cant think of anyone I know that has. Im not usually one to cheat but when im helplessly stuck and really like the game (usually the game is just average so i drop it) gamefaqs.org and dozens of other sites have all the info you need. I put strategy guides in the same category as game sharks...useless crap for kids that would rather cheat than learn to actually play.
      • While I partially agree (and grew up as one of those people, but somewhat grew out of it), Strategy guides can also be seen as someone that wants to get more out of the game - Say you're stuck on a part of the game and don't have the time to invest to put into getting past it. Why should your game be cut arbitrarily short when you could just read that you're supposed to go back to world1 and pick up an item from behind the desk in the corner.

        Gamesharks even more so, though not always used for it - With a me
  • Well, looks on the bright side.
    11-year-old kids can feel cool, smart, or feel like some bankers, etc, when writing "Super ultimate guides on making money on Runescape".
  • In summary... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Just Some Guy (3352)
    Let me guess:
    1. Our problem-solving skills are devolving because we don't have to use them, thanks to strategy guides.
    2. Authors don't worry about difficulty since they can defer complaints to the guides.
    3. Games are made harder to sell more guides through the distributions in-house publisher.

    Does that about cover it?

    • by misleb (129952)
      Does that about cover it?

      I didn't read the article, but number 3 seems a little off. Who needs to buy a guide with so many spoilers, hints, and even straight walkthus are available on the internet for free for popular games?

      -matthew
      • by Babbster (107076)
        I'd be the first (though that's impossible now) to say that GameFAQs is awesome. If you want a guide or walkthrough (at least after a game has been available for a time), it's usually there and it's usually more up to date than a strategy guide bought in the store - the guides on GameFAQs also tell you about bugs when a game has them, which the store-bought guides never do.

        That said, a store-bought guide is often laid out better, it's usually prettier to look at and it's usually available either the day
  • by Innova (1669) on Monday August 28, 2006 @05:04PM (#15996271) Homepage
    The reason I use them is because I appreciate how much time is put into making a modern game. I want to make sure that I don't miss any parts of the game.

    Usually I will play through the game once on my own, but then use the strategy guide to go through a second time and hit all the side quests.
  • by w33t (978574) on Monday August 28, 2006 @05:05PM (#15996274) Homepage
    This is why I would like to see more procedurally generated games.

    Games where the actual story is completely different - with different characters generated for each instance.

    Imagine a murder-mystery game, for instance. Which takes place in an actual-sized city. Your character waits around the precinct until the call comes in. You travel to the murder scene and it's completely random what happened and how it happened.

    In this case, no strategy guide could say, "you should always look for a knife or a gun" because the murder weapon could have been any physical object - instead of a particular "murder_enabled" object. Maybe the murderer used a microwave oven to bludgeon the victim.

    A procedural AI would do it's best to cover its tracks, and would learn your particular style of deduction so that the next murderer is even more thorough at cleaning-up.

    With the advent of a good physics engine and procedural map-generating algorithm you would have a completely different murder scene every time, in a completely new location.

    This could apply to all kinds of games. RPGs where the decision interaction between nobles and generals would dictate political climates and trickle down to direct the individual actions of the NPC AIs.

    I certainly hope that Spore is going to be the "Wolfenstein 3D" of the procedurally algorithmic games of the future.
    • by DaveCBio (659840) on Monday August 28, 2006 @05:15PM (#15996333)
      Maps and art content as well as audio might be able to be done well procedurally, but I have yet to see anything that could even come close to pulling off what a good designer/writer could do. So, if you wanted hack and slash dungeon crawls then your idea works and has already been done. Story and design wise that ain't going to happen any time soon.
      • by w33t (978574) on Monday August 28, 2006 @05:27PM (#15996411) Homepage
        That is a good point.

        But a good deal of what makes a story great are the characters.

        Perhaps with good enough AI the idea of writing a "story" will be less about the story-line, and more about the detailed crafting of individual personalities.

        This way only half the "story" work is being done by the algoritm. The "drivers" of the story would be exquisitely crafted by writers/designers.

        Think about Han Solo, for example. I think he's a fantastic character, and many many stories can stem simply from him as an entity and from the decisions he would make and thus the situations he would find himself in.

        I could see then a game where you know the attitude of certain characters, and get to know them as "people". But perhaps with good enough AI, quality procedural stories can emerge simply on account of the strength of the character design.

        In fact, I think in this kind of environment where individual actions and decisions affect the "story" that the players own personality would likely have a large impact on the flow of the game. This type of impact would be much subtler than choosing the A-D answers from a menu which make your character simply become more "evil" or "good". The ability to have your personality impact a story would make the game have many shades of personal depth that a human writer could only achieve if he or she knew you personally.

        Writing this kind of software?...well, that's what I believe theoretical physicists refer to as, "an engineering problem" ;)

    • The problem is (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday August 28, 2006 @05:44PM (#15996481)
      At this point, the technology doesn't exist to do it well enough to keep it from getting repetitive. You just can't link things together with the subtlety and detail that a human can. So in games that do it (Freelancer would be an example) the variation actually makes it more rote. Sure no two missions are precisely the same, but they are all the same general thing.

      It's going to take a lot more advances before there's the ability to generate compelling random missions.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by UbuntuDupe (970646)
      I was actually thinking about making a game like this, recently. I didn't know what the name for that class of games would be. I was thinking the right term would be "causal" (not casual -- read it again) games. That is, you can't do something that you wouldn't have known you could do.

      Let me give an example: say in some game, there's some hidden treasure. But if you've beaten the game before, when you fire it up the first time, you go *right there* and get the treasure, since you know where it is. One
    • by Abcd1234 (188840)
      Kinda like good ol' Toejam and Earl [wikipedia.org]! :)
  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Monday August 28, 2006 @05:05PM (#15996276) Journal
    Most strategy guides are misnamed. They should call them "Spoiler Books" or something.

    You don't learn strategy from strategy guides, you learn how to follow a walk-through. Where's the satisfaction in that?

    Maybe I'm old-school, but I've never used a strategy guide for any game. If I can't beat the game without one, either I'm not as skilled/smart as I'd like to be, or there is a design flaw in the game. Both have been true with different games, and it's only the second possibility that really bothers me... especially when I lay out cash for a game.
  • Ye olde standby... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dread_ed (260158) on Monday August 28, 2006 @05:06PM (#15996283) Homepage
    Ok it goes like this:

    1) Make a game people like to play.
    2) Toss in some incredibly hard puzzles that no sane person can figure out.
    3) Sell the answers in a "Strategy Guide"
    4) PROFIT!

    Nothing like making your own market.
    • by DaveCBio (659840)
      Well, except for the fact that it's not true. Or at least I've never heard of such a thing and I've been working in games for seven years now. The lead time on glossy strategy guides is so long and deadlines are so tight there is no way any sane company would waste time on something like this.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)
        The lead time on glossy strategy guides is so long and deadlines are so tight there is no way any sane company would waste time on something like this.

        That's funny; I've seen numerous new releases accompanied by the strategy guide at ye olde funcoland. I think you are full of shit.

  • by Strolls (641018) on Monday August 28, 2006 @05:06PM (#15996286)
    From TFA:
    Having just been Dugg, our servers are buckling under the load. Sorry for the inconvenience.
    2o2p Magazine Issue #5 mirrored here.
    Oh, the irony!

    This makes me feel old... erm... or something.

    Stroller.

  • by jjeffries (17675) on Monday August 28, 2006 @05:06PM (#15996287)
    up up down down left right left right B A select (I have a brother) start!
    • by alexhs (877055)
      up up down down left right left right B A select (I have a brother) start!

      So you're playing Space Channel 5 [wikipedia.org] ? :)

      But you won't go far with that "strategy" : You're lacking rythm !

      (And BTW I've two sisters :P )
  • Not true (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DaveCBio (659840) on Monday August 28, 2006 @05:07PM (#15996289)
    I really think this is complete and utter BS. I can't remember a single designer on any game I have ever worked on even considering a strategy guide when it came to design. This just screams of another gaming site grasping at straws and posting a contrversial topic just to get hits and it worked.
  • by ADRA (37398)
    Adventure games of ye-olde year were not easy! I wish they had strategy guides, or maybe even an appendix of all the things you could touch, talk, get/take, look/see, etc... Frustration to no end.

    Plus, there were always 'strategy'-typed guides for games ever since i remember them back in the eary console days. Many rediculous puzzles in games aren't a scale of difficulty but simply the result of bad game development. By the time a player gets to any puzzle in the game, they should be equipped with the menta
    • by drinkypoo (153816)
      Take some games like the Zelda

      Sure, you can beat it without a guide, but you're going to spend literally extra days to get enough money to buy enough bombs to bomb all the possible bomb locations.

      Thus Zelda is an excellent example of what strategy guides are for.

      • by AuMatar (183847)
        Money to buy bombs? Mobs drop them, and thats why the game had saves. Use your bombs. Didn't find the opening you needed? Hit reset.
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Money to buy bombs? Mobs drop them, and thats why the game had saves. Use your bombs. Didn't find the opening you needed? Hit reset.

          Mobs don't drop them very often, this tendency persisted throughout the series, bombs are the least-frequent drops.

          Hit reset? Then you just have to wait for it to load again. Either way it's tedious, although I admit, that's less tedious.

          I played through the first and second quests, using nintendo power for both of them, and I don't regret using them. If I wanted to p

  • This is weird... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by creimer (824291) on Monday August 28, 2006 @05:08PM (#15996296) Homepage
    I always thought that games got more complex because the game designers were brilliant at what they did. The real reason is because of all these stupid gaming guides. What's next? John Carmack is not Santa Claus?
  • Pfft. We've used strategy guides since the early eighties, when they were often included in computer magazines. Anybody remember Elite? The difference is that back then, games usually weren't long/complex enough to justify a full glossy book.

    It's all about the money. If you write a successful game, you can also sell new "episodes", special editions, strategy games. It's the slightly more grown-up version of the Mario lunch boxes, watches, etc.

  • Ahem... (Score:3, Funny)

    by p0 (740290) on Monday August 28, 2006 @05:11PM (#15996319)
    "Having just been Dugg, our servers are buckling under the load. Sorry for the inconvenience."

    My friends, they are experiencing what we all know as the "Digg Effect".
  • by viking2000 (954894) on Monday August 28, 2006 @05:13PM (#15996330)
    Hate to klikk on the last /. story only to find that the story broke on digg, and when /. comes after, the servier is dugg down.

    Editors: Get fresh stories!
  • by The MAZZTer (911996) <megazzt@@@gmail...com> on Monday August 28, 2006 @05:18PM (#15996351) Homepage

    * Business meeting *

    Suit 1: Hmm, not enough people are buying our strategy guides for our games. How can we make more money?

    Suit 2: We could invest more time and money in our games to make a higher-quality product.

    Suit 3: Shut up Tom, that idea is horrible.

    Suit 1: Let's up the games' difficulty so people will be FORCED to buy our strategy guides! Brilliant!

    * Act Two *

    Suit 1: OK apparently our customers are starting to use an "Internet" to download FREE, unauthorized guides made by other customers. What's worse, the legal department informed me that what they are doing is completely legal. Now, we need to either find a way to take down this "Internet" thing or figure out how to change the legality of these guides. Ideas?

    Suit 2: I think...

    Suit 1: ...from anyone EXCEPT Tom?

    ----

    Etc. OK it's a bit of a Dilbert spin, especially near the end, but I bet the first act happened for real SOMEWHERE.

  • by Yath (6378) on Monday August 28, 2006 @05:18PM (#15996352) Journal
    Strategy guides could also contribute to laziness among game developers. It's hard to make a puzzle that is challenging, yet not too difficult. This is evident in all kinds of puzzle/adventure games. The Zork trilogy had some puzzles that even some very smart people I knew just couldn't crack. And in Final Fantasy VII, the developers made no attempt to put enough clues in the game to perform chocobo breeding. So if a game developer knows that a strategy guide is going to come out in a month or two, why put in the extra effort to tune all the puzzles? Someone else will release the guide, and players who are having trouble will just use it. It's a shame, though.
    • by ameoba (173803)
      It's not a matter of strategy guides coming out "in a month or two". The publishers are obviously working with the strategy guide authors since most new games have guides available at launch date.
    • What? There was the Chocobo Sage plus the girl/boy at the Chocobo ranch to give you hints and clues. As per the actual locations of WHERE to find the various Chocobos, that wasn't hard at all. Capturing chocobos was easy if your party was high enough level!
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Breeding the right chocobos: free

        Knowing that I had to breed a golden one and then take it all the way out to the middle of nowhere to find a tiny island where only it could go in order to get the Knight of the Round materia: $20 strategy guide.

        Spending dozens of hours mastering it to get a second materia, then hooking it up with Quadra Magic and MP Turbo in order to end every battle in one (15 minute) turn with a W-Summon: priceless.

        There are some things you can figure out on your own, for the ultimate in
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Yath (6378)
        The idea that you'd have to go to a remote snowy island, then find chocobos hanging out with specific monsters, in order to get one good enough to win at the races, is too obscure to reasonably expect people to figure out. On top of that is the amount of effort you have to put in to just figure out whether a chocobo is any good. That was pure strategy guide material. In the case of FFVII, I can't say for sure if it was laziness or straight guide promotion, but in any case the game itself is poorer.
  • by joinder (658925) on Monday August 28, 2006 @05:20PM (#15996368)
    I don't necessarily have anything against strategy guides, (in fact I find most I've gone through to be very enjoyable reads with high production values), I do fear they've had a direct effect at cheapening the actual content in game manuals. It seems like most pack-in manuals with games are not much more than installation guides/or control layouts. I know there are exceptions to the rule, but the days of comprehensive pack-in manuals seem in the past.
  • The abundance of gameguides on the Net is one of the bigger reasons why the adventure, or point-and-click games died.

    For me this only became painfully obvious when I was playing Dreamfall: The longest journey, the other day.
    This game, on multiple occasions, left me clueless on what to do. Instead of (as in the good ol' days) trying every possibility for hours, I just gave up after five minutes and went for a quick browse to gamefaqs; thus solving the problem at hand but not really getting any satisfactio
    • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Monday August 28, 2006 @05:57PM (#15996549) Homepage
      For me this only became painfully obvious when I was playing Dreamfall: The longest journey, the other day. This game, on multiple occasions, left me clueless on what to do. Instead of (as in the good ol' days) trying every possibility for hours, I just gave up after five minutes and went for a quick browse to gamefaqs; thus solving the problem at hand but not really getting any satisfaction out of it.

      Dreamfall is a bad example, since its actually by far one of the easiest adventure games around, only difficult part is the cave in chapter 5, but thats more due to the invincible trolls then due to the nature of the puzzle, rest of the game is more like an audio-book, then a normal adventure game since there simply aren't really much puzzles worth to talk about.

      However I doubt that strategie guides had anything to do with the death of adventure games, for one simple reason getting stuck *SUCKS*. Its simply no fun, plain and simple. If I get stuck there is a very good chance that I simply drop the game and go do something else, especially when its the "I don't even know what I am doing wrong" kind of being stuck, which in adventure games it often ends up being. Strategie guides on the other side resolve the stuckiness and allow me to actually enjoy the game, so if anything they should have increased the enjoyment of adventure games. There is of course a danger of getting more out of a strategie guide then you want to, spoilers ain't no fun, but compared to being frustrated for days or weeks, its really a small payoff. Beside I had a strategie guide for every adventure since ZakMcKracken, so those aren't really anything new either.

      The truth why adventure games died almost out (still rather alive over here in europe) is plain and simple: LucasArts stopped making them and there was nobody to step into their shoes. There simply weren't much great games around after LucasArts, there where still plenty of good ones, but almost nothing great, nothing that would drive the non-adventure crowed into the genre. And there of course also was no innovation. While every genre moved forward, the adventure game had its last jump back when ManiacMansion was released, after that almost 20 years of nothing, little jump again with Myst, but that was more a sidestep then a leap forward. Only recently Fahrenheit tried something new again, something that wasn't the same old point&click which most people got already tired of 10 years ago. And a lot of the good aspects of adventure games of course also got absorbed into other genres, each FPS now has some kind of puzzles and most RPGs tell more interesting stories then the average adventure game.

  • i disagree (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Wiarumas (919682) on Monday August 28, 2006 @05:33PM (#15996442)
    I personally thought games were getting extremely easy nowadays. I, for one, welcome more challenging games.
  • I don't think strategy guides have affected the games as much as they have affected the *included documentation*. Back in the day, you could be The Mack on your block just by reading the booklet - since 80% of your opponents never did. Docs now reflect the fact that few eyeballs ever fall on them are are much less detailed. There were very basic instructions in the Madden 06 Strategy Guide that just weren't in the included booklet.
  • In the early days of unnofficial strategy guides, they were actually really cool and helpful. I stopped buying them a few years ago because effectively they became the manual that should be included with the game and they lost the point of view of the player and became much more manual-ish. If I played RPG's I would probably still buy them but for RTS and FPS games, they stopped being worth the money and I hate to reward the complete absence of a good manual by sending the publisher an extra $20.
  • I agree. They seem to make games a bit tougher. Especially if game creators are sitting there trying to write puzzles, or incorporate some mechanics of a game and they know that the players can easily grab a book and find out exactly what to do. I find it pretty frusterating too. Because that's when the designers increase the grind. Now you have to defeat ultra bosses or grind for hours to get an upgrade that really won't be usefull at that point.

    I usually stay away from any strategy guides unless I've

  • Toy Story 2 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Iron Condor (964856)
    Y'now: pixar made a movie about how you had to buy the book to beat Zurg. Since when is something news that was mainsteam entertainment years ago?
  • Final Fantasy 9, which was released in Japan with no strategy guides because Square was experimenting with their PlayOnline system which is basically a strategy guide online for FF9 at that point, and later Square blamed the lack of strategy guides as the reason for poor sales of FF9. Now of course there could be any number of reasons why FF9 sold less than any other FF, but this is about as close you can get to a controlled sample (most FFs sold awfully similar numbers) since it just isn't possible to rel
  • Ya know I always find a strategy guide for things like Final Fantasy just because some puzzles are just ridiculous and I have no interest in trial & erroring for an hour when I'd rather kill monsters.

    Are we talking about the same Final Fantasy? Because if you're playing for the combat and you think the "puzzles" are difficult... I think you're probably in a minority :P
  • What we have here is a fairly classic causal vs. correlation fallacy. The author of TFA notices a correlation and assumes a causal relation. But why not consider that there is a common underlying mechanism for both? Or that the causality is the converse? While the author's hypothesis is fine, he/she doesn't really support it with meaningful data. It is, as the author put it, "a rambling explaination" not a real argument. It is "opinion driven argumentation" for something that one could actually try and
  • I have no interest in trial & erroring for an hour when I'd rather kill monsters.

    Translation: I have no interest in actually solving puzzles when I could be hitting repetitive button sequences, with little or no thought given to the process, until I'm rewarded with a fanfare and an animation of something fading out of existance.

    Da da da da.. da.. da.. da-da daaa!
  • I remember when... (Score:5, Informative)

    by DragonWriter (970822) on Monday August 28, 2006 @06:19PM (#15996681)
    ...most games came with books the size, or at least information content, of most modern "strategy guides". They were called "manuals", and took up the space inside of the box instead of just having a disk and a cardboard insert.

    For many games, the separation of what used to be expected in a robust manual into a separate "strategy guide" with the manual, if any, included with the game often little more than a basic introduction to the UI seems to be more of a way of restricting nominal price increases (as more of the work and cost is separated out into a different product) and narrowing the manufacturer's activities to their core competencies, than an excuse for making games more complex.

    Sure, games are more complex, because newer computers can handle more complex games, and there is a market for them to fill. But its not strategy guides that have caused this,

  •   I use strategy guides (aka walkthroughs) because the game is to hard on my own. I am not as good as others. This why I don't play online.
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday August 28, 2006 @06:24PM (#15996704) Homepage

    Similarly, all those "Dummies" books have allowed applications to become not only more complex, but less obvious. On the original Macintosh, all functions were accessable from menus. Now it's considered acceptable to have functions you can only reach from some wierd key combo, one not necessarily easy to find out about.

    Now every application seems to have an associated thousand-page book full of rituals and taboos. (Many such books are reviewed favorably on Slashdot. But I digress.) The "menu system" for many applications now consists of 1) look up how to do it in strategy guide, 2) follow button-pushing recipe blindly. Buy the book and learn how to add footnotes to your documents!

    Even Web sites now have books. There's Google for Dummies [amazon.com]. Then there's Building Your Business with Google for Dummies [amazon.com], which is apparently about search engine "optimization". There's MSN for Dummies, AOL for Dummies (of course), Yahoo for Dummies, eBay for Dummies, and Myspace for Dummies. Remember when web site navigation was supposed to be self-explanatory?

    What went wrong?

    • On the original Macintosh, all functions were accessable from menus. Now it's considered acceptable to have functions you can only reach from some wierd key combo, one not necessarily easy to find out about.

      PC (and other) software frequently used to be like what you complain about as if it were "new" even before there was a Macintosh. And, even though—influenced by the Mac—most PC software that survived eventually grew pretty GUI menus and toolbars and gizmos and gadgets you could click with a

  • Go play an atari 2600 game and tell me that games today are more difficult? Go on I'll wait.

    Thanks for coming back. Atari and NES games were by far the most difficult games ever made, but the fact is they weren't extremely good games, there were a great deal of great games there but what made them great is unique ways of playing them.

    What really pisses me off however isn't strategy guides, or hint books, but people who buy the strategies immediatly when they buy the game? I bought the oblivion strategy g
  • Yeah, yeah, yeah. They call it Final Fantasy but there's always another feckin' version coming out.
  • by osgeek (239988) on Monday August 28, 2006 @06:59PM (#15996905) Homepage Journal
    Look at how it affects MMORPGs. WoW is a no-brainer, sure; but making puzzle solutions so spelled-out for the user takes a lot of the fun out of solving difficult them.

    One of the things that I kind of liked about EQ, was the fact that there were really tough puzzles where you could accidentally sacrifice some hard-won quest item if you didn't know what you were doing. Unfortuntately, after the first generation solves a puzzle, they post it on the Internet then it's easy for people after them. To compensate, EQ cranks down the drop rate for key quest items or they make the quests so unbelievably complicated. Imagine instead if information were much more limited.

    Imagine if you and maybe just your guild had to figure out how to solve certain problems that were different from what everyone else was solving. Then, game makers could feel comfortable in making puzzles that teased your brain a bit, but weren't so ridiculously hard to make up for the Internet effect.

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