Whenever anyone finds out that I write for CGG, they usually have a ton of questions with regard to games, reviews, and guides. The questions are typically so diverse and fascinating, I thought they’d make an interesting article to share with those of you who have the same questions, but don’t have the means or the motivation to ask us.
Firstly, not only do I write game walkthroughs, I use them, which makes me a creator and a user at the same time. I might write one for, say, Dark Canvas: A Brush with Death, but then turn around and use Tracy’s Grim Tales: The Stone Queen Walkthrough for my own casual gaming. By being on both sides of the desk, so to speak, I know my preferences for a really great game guide.
This also gives us a nice checks and balances system. I might write one walkthrough, and then Liz will play the game, using my walkthrough as a guide, and make notes of any area that is unclear or where I might have missed a step in the process. That way, I can use her notes to go back and perfect the walkthrough, ensuring we produce something that is as complete and clear as possible for our readers.
I like CGG's game walkthroughs for a number of reasons (not only because I write for them). First and foremost, I like the variety of game guide writers.
This isn’t just one or two folks. We have a lot of writers from all walks of life and we all share the same passion for gaming. I’ve come to know each personally through their efforts. Whether I’ve laid eyes on any writer in the real world, I know, for example, Liz’s personality through her Chimeras: Tune of Revenge Walkthrough and other offerings.
I also like the fact that CGG offers reviews and walkthroughs, usually by two different writers. With the walkthrough intros, I get two very professional viewpoints in helping me make my gaming decisions.
Sometimes people ask why we produce walkthroughs for games that have integrated strategy guides. Good question. If there is a separate CGG walkthrough available, I never use the integrated strategy guide.
Because I play with dual screens, I can keep the CGG walkthrough popped up on my righthand screen and the game on the left. It prevents lots of going back and forth and makes for a much more seamless gaming experience.
I don’t know about you, but it really zaps the intensity from a scene when some werewolf is bearing down on you, and you figuratively say, "Hold it there, Big Boy, let me just pop over to the strategy guide to see exactly which amulet I’m supposed to use on you."
I’ve even been known to print a walkthrough for when I’m gaming on my son’s iPad. I’ll curl up on the couch with the printout on the coffee table and just grab it when I need a quick hint.
As you might imagine I write game guides in a way that I would want to see them and here’s a glimpse of what I do and why I do it.
When it comes to writing game guides, I try to walk the line between being helpful and treating the reader like he or she is all of two years old. Sometimes I think it’s enough to tell the person to open the box on the fireplace mantel without zooming into the hinged box lid and indicating the opening action with an "up arrow."
Conversely, I try to be explicit when there is any opportunity for misunderstanding. I hate it when I see a game walkthrough that reads, "zoom into the box" and there’s 15 bleeding boxes in the scene. "Um, a little help here?" How hard is it for the writer to note, "zoom into the box under the wing chair to the left of the doorway." That’s better.
I also try to preface instructions for mini-games and puzzles with a short "objective" statement. I’ve found in my own gaming that if someone first briefs me on what is expected, I have a half decent chance of figuring it out on my own. That’s why I might say something like, "The object of the game is to jump over the black figures with the green figures 'checkers style,' leaving one green figure in each corner at the end." Next, I'll try to give a few clues that allows the gamer to still give it a go on his or her own. Something simple like, "If you focus on clearing the bottom right corner of the board, then moving to the top right, top left, and bottom left, you’ll have a better chance at solving the puzzle."
Lastly, I try not to blow the surprises. I know some game walkthrough writers include notes like, "Watch the cutscene" or "after the body falls out of the closet go back to the dining room." In my opinion, those are the serendipitous things that make you jump a little out of your seat. Why would I rob you of that fun?
So, there you have it. A little insider's look into the creation of game walkthroughs. Feel free to leave a comment below about the things you like or dislike about game walkthroughs. I know that my fellow writers and I appreciate your input and, you never know, your preferences might find their way into one of our next walkthroughs.