245: Bad MotherFAQers

Robert Janelle

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Aug 4, 2008
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Bad MotherFAQers

Many gamers have encountered situations that lead them to consult a FAQ or walkthrough - a boss battle that just seems impossible or a puzzle section that looks downright incomprehensible. But what drives a person to write a guide? Robert Janelle speaks with a number of FAQ writers about their efforts.

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Onyx Oblivion

Borderlands Addict. Again.
Sep 9, 2008
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You know what? After reading that...I think I'll put my time in Oblivion to use and write a character creation guide, even though there's no demand for it. There are a ton of CC guides out there, but they tend to be focused on Min/Max'ing and making the best possible character. Mine would just stop you from making bad ones. From the perspective of someone who's done it all. Unless we're talking Imperials or Dark Elves. Never did a Dark Elf in Morrowind, because the game encourages it TOO much. Nearly the same for Imperials in Oblivion. Except that I actually did a mere 200 hours with them in Oblivion.
 

BlueHighwind

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I wrote a number of Final Fantasy walkthroughs myself in my day. Though... I did things a little differently. Yeah, I went through the gameplay and gave strategies - I even bothered to every so often even suggest what weapons to buy. But actually I spent most of the text just making fun of the characters and the hackneyed plots. Needless to say, they were absolutely worthless when it came to being guides. (Also whenever I didn't feel like playing the games, I simply copied over whatever GameFAQs said.)
 

Mozza444

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Onyx Oblivion said:
You know what? After reading that...I think I'll put my time in Oblivion to use and write a character creation guide, even though there's no demand for it. There are a ton of CC guides out there, but they tend to be focused on Min/Max'ing and making the best possible character. Mine would just stop you from making bad ones. From the perspective of someone who's done it all. Unless we're talking Imperials or Dark Elves. Never did a Dark Elf in Morrowind, because the game encourages it TOO much. Nearly the same for Imperials in Oblivion. Except that I actually did a mere 200 hours with them in Oblivion.
I've only ever used dark elves.. by that i mean they are the only ones i've botherd to spend over a few hunderd hours on.

I've never played Morrowind though.
 

Twad

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Nov 19, 2009
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Im working on a FAQ for one of my old (and favorite) games; Magic carpet 2. An interesting way to kill time and deconstruct the game by analysing pretty much everything i find.
 

Robert Janelle

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Speaking as a player who all too frequently needs the crutch of an FAQ to get thru a game, I'd just like to thank all the FAQ writers who've made my entertainment time that much less frustrating.
 

Quoth

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Aug 28, 2008
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Nice little piece and yes the contributors deserve a lot of credit.
I made one contribution myself to GameFaqs for Spore but it was declined for being too specific. What ever that meant :p
 

dochmbi

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Twad said:
Im working on a FAQ for one of my old (and favorite) games; Magic carpet 2. An interesting way to kill time and deconstruct the game by analysing pretty much everything i find.
I played that game too back in the day, and guess what: It was designed by Peter Molyneux.
 

Twad

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dochmbi said:
Twad said:
Im working on a FAQ for one of my old (and favorite) games; Magic carpet 2. An interesting way to kill time and deconstruct the game by analysing pretty much everything i find.
I played that game too back in the day, and guess what: It was designed by Peter Molyneux.
Yeah, i was a bit suprised when i found out about it recently. It doesnt bother me, its a fun game.
 

Hurr Durr Derp

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Robert Janelle said:
Huijboom's portfolio includes one mammoth piece: his Final Fantasy VII guide, which was his attempt to put together every piece of information that could possibly be found about the game. [...] Almost 900 pages later, he felt he'd filled the gap in FFVIII knowledge.
That's quite impressive, writing a guide for FF7 and ending up with information on FF8. :p


On topic, I've written a small handful of guides, and apart from the "noone did a good one before" motivation (there's no point in writing a guide if you don't think you can do better than existing ones), it's definitely a vanity thing for me. As mentioned in the article, if you write a good FAQ you can expect a lot of friendly mail. Every now and then I still get mail about a FAQ I wrote four years ago.
 

Onyx Oblivion

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BlueHighwind said:
I wrote a number of Final Fantasy walkthroughs myself in my day. Though... I did things a little differently. Yeah, I went through the gameplay and gave strategies - I even bothered to every so often even suggest what weapons to buy. But actually I spent most of the text just making fun of the characters and the hackneyed plots. Needless to say, they were absolutely worthless when it came to being guides. (Also whenever I didn't feel like playing the games, I simply copied over whatever GameFAQs said.)
You, you are an asshole.

Just kidding. I actually wanna read it. Sounds funny.

KosagiNoLegion said:
Speaking as a player who all too frequently needs the crutch of an FAQ to get thru a game, I'd just like to thank all the FAQ writers who've made my entertainment time that much less frustrating.
A fantastic first post. I'd say welcome, but you've been lurking for at least 2 years...
 

Kross

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Sep 27, 2004
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Twad said:
Yeah, i was a bit suprised when i found out about it recently. It doesnt bother me, its a fun game.
Well, there's a reason people recognize his name and keep hoping he'll carry through with some of his crazy promises. He made several great games in his day. :)
 

matrix3509

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Sep 24, 2008
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I know for a fact that I would have never made it through that fucking marble puzzle in Riven without the help of a guide. I spent weeks on the damned thing. So, thank you GameFAQs.
 

Playbahnosh

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Loved the article, and it's 100% true! I wrote a few guides and FAQs back in the day, in fact, that's how my game journalist career started. I had that little hobby of playing totally unfamiliar and obscure games, and they did not really have any walkthrough or guide anywhere on the internet.

One of them was Free Enterprise, an economic industry and factory simulator created by Tsunami Media. It wasn't really a game, but me being a total tycoon game fanatic, I loved it. But FE had it's fair share of bugs and it was more like a spreadsheet-simulator than a game, with very convoluted strategies required to achieve anything. The game's own help file and tutorial was a joke, it only covered the bare basics, so I had to figure out a lot of stuff for myself, there was no guide or FAQ like for big games. That was the point when I decided to write my own guide for the game, since no one else would, and I wanted to save people the trouble. It's still on the site, so if you need some help in Free Enterprise, my guide is the only one out there still. It's a bit old, and I haven't updated it, but since the game hasn't changed at all (Tsunami Media went bankrupt after releasing FE, what irony), it's still valid. What's more interesting, I still receive emails regarding the guide, people asking questions about certain scenarios not covered or just "hey bro, cool guide". It's pretty heartwarming, that after all these years, people still use what I wrote back then.

There are some more guides and FAQs out there with my name on it, trainers too. It's a very rewarding hobby, I love to do it. It helps people in time of need, and for free. That's how the world should work, IMHO.
 

Optimus Hagrid

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Feb 14, 2009
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Is it just me, or in the header image of the guy on his comp, is there something quite wrong with his face? He looks like he's wearing panda face paint.

Twad said:
Im working on a FAQ for one of my old (and favorite) games; Magic carpet 2. An interesting way to kill time and deconstruct the game by analysing pretty much everything i find.
That's something I've been meaning to play. I need to actually buy it first, though.
 

Cliff_m85

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You know what convinced me to stop buying official guides?

The guide for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

Those in the know know that it was horrible, not only because it gave generic information during missions but also because the maps with the hidden objects were made completely wrong. I had to go online to find that every marker was placed 1/2 and inch too far to the left.
 

Jason Danger Keyes

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Mar 4, 2009
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I've used countless Steve Huijboom guides in the past. It seems every game I get stuck on Absolute Steve has got my back. We have very similar taste in games. Keep up the good work :)
 

MiracleOfSound

Fight like a Krogan
Jan 3, 2009
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Onyx Oblivion said:
You know what? After reading that...I think I'll put my time in Oblivion to use and write a character creation guide, even though there's no demand for it. There are a ton of CC guides out there, but they tend to be focused on Min/Max'ing and making the best possible character. Mine would just stop you from making bad ones. From the perspective of someone who's done it all. Unless we're talking Imperials or Dark Elves. Never did a Dark Elf in Morrowind, because the game encourages it TOO much. Nearly the same for Imperials in Oblivion. Except that I actually did a mere 200 hours with them in Oblivion.
This is why I wanted a seperate tips and walkthroughs forum on the Escapist. These kind of things would be great to share with eachother.

I'm doing a Mass Effect 2 insanity guide but I have nowhere to put it.
 

MorkFromOrk

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Sep 9, 2007
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For the most part I believe that a game shouldn't require a walkthrough. All the information you need to succeed in the game should be IN the game not elsewhere. Unfortunately this isn't always the case. I've used walkthroughs mostly to find my way around whenever I get lost in a game map or to deal with a particularly difficult boss battle. I hate wandering around for a half hour asking "Where the fuck is the exit?!" or "What the fuck, I died 7 times on this boss, it's impossible!"

Other than that I have used game guides for very long RPGs like FFXII where I do not plan to replay the game and so I want to make sure I don't miss out on something valuable. I give much respect to the writers of these FAQs and game guides. I do wish that game developers would try and look at their games from a n00b perspective before shipping it out though.
 

Twad

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Nov 19, 2009
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OptimusHagrid said:
Is it just me, or in the header image of the guy on his comp, is there something quite wrong with his face? He looks like he's wearing panda face paint.

Twad said:
Im working on a FAQ for one of my old (and favorite) games; Magic carpet 2. An interesting way to kill time and deconstruct the game by analysing pretty much everything i find.
That's something I've been meaning to play. I need to actually buy it first, though.
Actually, you can find it on abandonia/abandonware.