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How Strategy Guides Affected Gaming 352

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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  • 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!

  • 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!
  • 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!
  • by windsurfer619 ( 958212 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @06:17PM (#15996664)
    Actually, it is their. "They're" is a contraction of 'they are'. "Not really they are problem" does not sound right.
  • 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,
  • Re:Follow the money? (Score:2, Informative)

    by amuro98 ( 461673 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @06:28PM (#15996728)
    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 the first place!

    Even then, some print "guides" still pale in comparison to the stuff you can find online. I remember this one Lucas game about the afterlife. It was a SimCity-esque game where you had to manage heaven and hell. It was cute, but darn impossible unless you knew the sooper-sekrit-information that was only found in the online guide about what made a "good" layout for your heaven and hell. Without this critical information it was impossible to really get anywhere in the game because you'd end up creating a happy hell, and a miserable heaven - and have no idea why. That was one of the few games I wasted money buying the strategy guide on, only to find that it was little more than a highly illustrated version of the information contained within the game's documentation and tutorials.
  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @07:17PM (#15996985)
    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 games (say The Sims) which are quite complex and certainly aren't interactive movies.
  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @07:27PM (#15997026)
    If you lack a force power to deal with the Jedi in the tubes (I'm guessing that's what you mean) it just takes a lot longer. Just keep beating Malak's ass until he runs out of Jedi. There's a reason the game throws an almost never ending supply of life support packs at you in the final level. Besides, if you didn't buy ANY of the powers that would work (Force Breach, Lightsaber Throw, Shock, Drain Life, and Force Push all work) you should have sufficient points spent in other powers like Heal, Force Immunity, Master Speed, etc that you can do a good hold and engage kind of battle and wear him down while you keep yourself up.
  • Re:Follow the money? (Score:3, Informative)

    by FauxReal ( 653820 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:26PM (#15997824) Homepage
    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.

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin