Game Manuals

For the love of Gods, never pad a manual to 100 pages under the pretense that it's making the manual more useful. I realize that writing the manual's a mostly thankless job as in general no one but an attentive PC gamer will touch the manual in their lifetime, but that's no reason to cater specifically to that minority. (i.e. don't write the game manual like a technical manual, write it like a children's book) Outside of that, if you're needing to pad the manual because the game's just that complicated then you're doing something wrong in the design stage.

Simply ask the player "Is this your first time playing?" the choices to which could be:
  1. Yes, and I'm new to this sort of game.
  2. Yes, but I've played this kind of game before.
  3. No, now shut up and get on with it.
If they pick choice one, run them through the in-game tutorial.
Choice two, tell them to RTFM if they have any questions later.
Choice three, well the answer's obvious then, isn't it.

If they're new but have played this kind of game before, the only parts that need explaining are unusual aspects in the UI and gameplay. (everything else can be skipped)

  • The manual you tell the player to "RTFM" about should be accessible in-game and use hyperlink, search, and other web-inspired design technologies.

1 comment:

  1. With the advent of help-in-context features, tutorial modes, and internetworking, one could make a good argument that dead-tree manuals are in fact obsolete.