Game Development Reference
Strategy guides and manuals
Strategy guides and manuals have a little in common in the way that they are
designed to help the player understand how the game works and what they
are supposed to do. Explaining such things as installation, the control layout,
background details, weapon use, inventory management, etc., may not be
necessary for every player, but for those who need the help it is available.
While the manual comes free with the game and is generally a small guide
that offers just enough help to get the player into the game, a strategy guide
covers the whole of the game from start to finish, showing the player how to
play successfully every section of the game through the use of maps, screen-
shots and clearly-written instructions, which cover descriptions of traps to
details of secret areas and the key combinations for special moves.
Although writing these topics is not, strictly speaking, writing for the
games themselves, for the writer who is also an avid gamer, writing strategy
guides and manuals can be an exciting way of combining writing their skills
with extensive game playing.
A game's manual, which is included with the game, must cater for both the
experienced and novice gamer. It should be laid out in a way that introduces
the newcomer to the whole process of installing and playing the game, the
use of the control interface, saving and loading, how the player character fits
within the world, the player's objectives and so forth.
The experienced gamer will rarely even look at the manual, unless it is to
consult diagrams on the layout of the controls or features that are not
standard on other games. They will have an understanding of how games
work that is built up from a lot of time playing a variety of titles and so they
often only look for the details that make a game different.
A manual must always be written with the novice in mind, offering
instructions with a clarity that should never become patronising. Instructions
should be brief, but clear, using icons and other graphics lifted directly from
the game's resources to aid those instructions.
Some games have very complex systems as part of the game engine and
the player may be expected to manage character stats, manipulate and