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Manuals these days...

Discussion in 'Playground' started by Rednik, Sep 2, 2004.

  1. Rednik Gems: 21/31
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    [​IMG] Taking a cue from Tal, I've decided to start a topic about how little documentation is coming with games these days.

    I remember shelling out 20 bucks for the Baldur's Gate II collection and the only manual was the one on PDF. What a pisser. Another good experience was when I got Gothic II, which came with a little pamphlet, most of which was dedicated to a spoiler for the first chapter.

    Probably the one of the best manuals I've gotten recently was the one that came with the Warcraft 3 collector's edition, which had a ton of backstory, and even went through each unit and tech in both game terms and "historical" terms. Good stuff.

    Does anyone else have a story about manuals to share, or perhaps comment on the trend of skimping out?

    [ September 02, 2004, 20:45: Message edited by: Taluntain ]
     
  2. Register Gems: 29/31
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    The AoEII Manuals are really great, but even so, the game holds historical information, so that maybe doesn't even matter.


    As my economy isn't the best, at best it's bad, I have to buy Best Buy games, and we all know they come only in .pdf documents, which I hate.
     
  3. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    As for AoE 2, the game also holds inaccurate historical information and awful grammar.
     
  4. Darkthrone Gems: 12/31
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    Who needs manuals anyway? Most of us are hard core gamers with years and years of experience with gaming. As it is, most games are self-explanatory to a very large extend.

    Of course, if you're into powergaming details are necessary. But, hey, powergaming is sick anyways. Besides, not even the good manuals hold each and every bit of information essential to really dig deeply into the game.

    Wait: anyone remembers the manual of Panzer General (SSI)? Overkill...
     
  5. Colthrun

    Colthrun Walk first in the forest and last in the bog Veteran

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    A good manual gives you a better understanding of the background story of the game, the characters and their drives. Also, some little things that the game may have added, that even a hardcore player wouldn't discover on his/her own. I.e., I would have never imagined that you could drag bodies in Arcanum to hide them from sight, if I had never read the manual.

    The manual that came with Arcanum was very interesting, is more like a compendium of Reader Digest stories. And the manual for Fallout is a beauty. Pity this one wasn't in printed form.

    I am not particularly pleased with the manuals in PDF that one can find most of these days. Reading a 100+ pages PDF in the computer is a painful task for the eyes. I end up printing them to have a hard copy.
     
  6. Sparhawk the Pandion Gems: 14/31
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    The manual for Fallout 2 was good...I remember being fairly disappointed with the Planescape manual...lucky I had the BG manuals to tell me what the hell was going on.

    The TIE Fighter manual/novella was a good one.
     
  7. Rednik Gems: 21/31
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    Well, in my opinion, manuals don't even need to be dedicated the game and its mechanics, a crucial part of any manual is presenting the backstory in an entertaining manner, such as the letter that explained the shadow realms in AoW II: Shadow Magic, or all the backstory in Arcanum whose manual reads like a big historical tome.
     
  8. Apeman Gems: 25/31
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    The original fallout I box (with flap open front *sigh*) came with a ringbound manual with great little sidestories from the '50s and graphics of that great falloutboy. In my opinion manuals don't exist to tell the gamer how to play the game. Of course they do it in some extent but a tutorial (not ingame) is the best way to go. A manual should contain background stories, it should be a novelty item.

    Fallout I, warcraft II, heroes of might and magic II (with a complete lemonaded monster chart) baldur's gate and tales (with comments of Elminster and Volo, not to mention the various spell charts and quick reference cards). You don't see that kind of stuff (maybe in overprised 'collector's editions') today.
     
  9. Rednik Gems: 21/31
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    Yeah and trust me, those overpriced collector's editions are rarely worth it, except in the case of the Warcraft III one or any others that include an strategy guide. Usually comes in handy.
     
  10. Register Gems: 29/31
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    Chevalier: Could you name some specifics on what was wrong with AoE2? I know some battles didn't were like in the game but that I can accept, but what others?
     
  11. Splunge

    Splunge Bhaal’s financial advisor Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    I seem to recall IWD having a very nice, spiral-bound manual.

    I just bought the BG2 Collector's Edition. As Rednick said, no manual. Good thing I already had the SoA manual (as error-filled as it is).
     
  12. Harbourboy

    Harbourboy Take thy form from off my door! Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Ah, thanks, Splunge. I thought I'd been ripped off with the Baldur's Gate II: The Collection I bought on an online auction. Huge box with a few CDs rattling around inside and no manual.
     
  13. Big B Gems: 27/31
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    [​IMG] One thing I prefer about manuals is the ability to look up stuff and play the game at the same time. I don't like to juggle between pdf files and game screens. It's easier to have a manual. And by gosh, don't make me print it out. It's the game company's responsibility with what they charge, as far as I'm concerned.
     
  14. Tassadar Gems: 23/31
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    Yeah, I agree. We pay $99 for a game that will undoubtedly need to be patched (what is with that anyway?), the least they could do is include a decent manual that's *not* a pdf file. In saying that, great manuals came with Baldurs' Gate II, Diablo and Dungeon Keeper. HoMM2 had a good manual as well, with lists and pictures of all the creatures.
     
  15. Jaguar Gems: 27/31
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    Well, in my little collection of games, both Pharaoh and Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri came with veritable textbooks. Mostly of stuff in the help menu, but man, detailed.
     
  16. Darkthrone Gems: 12/31
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    Still: the game presents the story - the game has to draw you into it on its own accord whether there is a decent manual or not. Take BG: what part of the story did you get out of the manual? Negligible! The manual of Diablo2, however, was primely focused on the story. In fact, there was more story in the manual than there was in the game. Does anyone think this manual was important?

    Manuals are nice-to-have. For me, they just enhance my pleasant anticipation during the installation of a newly bought game. Once the game is up and running, I seldom have any further use for them. Like Apeman said: there's nothing to beat in-game tutorials.

    Granted, some manuals are just outstanding in presentation and contents, pieces of art in their own right. But they hardly were the standard "back in the old days". Most manuals suck, whether printed or in pdf.
     
  17. Blog Gems: 23/31
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    The old D&D manuals were essential to the enjoyment of the game, which is why I like them a lot more than modern manuals. Apart from introducing the game interface, some history and gameplay/rules, they also had journal entries, in their own section after the game details. These journal entries are needed to fully understand the plot. Basically at certain points of the game, the player is referred to a certain journal entry, afterwhich the player should take a moment to read it from the manual. Usually it describes a conversation you have, or a depiction of the events you witness. But sometimes it could be a map that you found (no automapping back then) or clues on what you should do next. In a sense they are comparable to the journal or quest log in the modern games, but the biggest difference is the presentation. The modern in-game logbooks are concise and to-the-point, especially quest logs. The journal entries are much more dramatic, like an excerpt taken out of literature, written in 3rd person to describe the entire scene. I'm sure those of you who read D&D books would appreciate this; it's the same genre except only in a couple paragraphs. But alas, this isn't done anymore.

    The only other manual that left a lasting impression was from another old unknown game: Spellcraft. The manual wasn't really a manual... it was your spellbook. They did a good job creating the "spellbook feeling" with both the language inside the book and the references made to it during the game. Of all the games I played, I probably used that manual/spellbook the most. Mainly because of the spell charts where you document all the spells you've discovered, including what ingredients you used and so on. They also have hints in the spellbook on creating spells, which are referred to during the game.

    Other than that, not too many games have interaction between player and manual.
     
  18. Darkthrone Gems: 12/31
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    Well, I always understood the journal entries in the old D&D manuals (Pools of Radiance, Curse of the Azure Bonds, etc.) to be annoying attempts of a copy protection. It didn't cross my mind that anyone would ever appreciate the form of their presentation. Surely, the journal entries would have been as dramatic and well written when put directly into the game.
     
  19. Ziad

    Ziad I speak in rebuses Veteran

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    I always loved having a paper manual with games. It's not so much how useful it is, or how relevant to the game itself the story in the manual is (*cough* Diablo *cough*), I just liked to have it. Anyone remember how huge F19's manual was?

    The first time I played BG1 was after borrowing it from a friend's. It was great having the manual on paper, not to mention easy to reference the tables and spell list. Then I bought the "original saga" thing, and had to put up with the pdf manual... it's just not the same thing.

    The Gold Box manuals were great (I liked having to read the journal entries off real paper), as were Warcraft III, Baldur's Gate (before the Collections anyway), Starcraft (can't say the same for Brood War), Arcanum...
     
  20. Evil Dad Gems: 15/31
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    I love paper manuals. They are so handy just for a quick reference when levelling up, looking for spells, etc, etc.

    Not so worried about the manuals with games like NWN or IWD2, as I tend to use my D&D manuals for reference more.

    @Ziad: never had a paper manual for Diablo as I got it a long time after D2.
     
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