Gaming, Technology, Uncategorized, Video Games

Where Is My Instruction Manual?

I love physical copies of games. If I have the option between buying a disc version or a downloadable one, I will always pick the disc based copy. It’s just a quirk of mine, I suppose. I like having the game; I like being able to hold it and touch it and call it mine. Is it weird? Maybe, but that’s the way I am. With the advent of the new systems, however, physical copies of games have changed. My PS4 games don’t come with manuals; Battlefield 4 only came with the China Rising download insert, and Lego Marvel Super Heroes only had a small, 10 page instruction manual that only went over the basics. In the picture above, the control scheme for Killzone: Shadow Fall is printed on the back of the cover art; there’s no physical manual at all. Is it just me, or do the loss of instruction manuals disturb you as much as it does me?

The weird thing is, I don’t even read instruction manuals. There have only been a handful of games where I’ve even really glanced at them. Usually, this has been to learn combos in fighting games, jukes and moves in Madden, and that one time there was a button combo for a hidden demo in my old Spyro game. In any case, since I never read the manuals, why do I care that they’re disappearing?

I have no idea. I can’t explain it other than by saying it’s because I like having things. This manual is a thing I used to have that I am no longer getting even though I’m paying the same price. Instead, the manuals are coming downloaded on the discs, so I can only look at a virtual copy. This is annoying for two reasons. Reason one is that it’s not physical; I don’t actually have it. Reason two is that trying to thumb through an online manual is a lot tougher than a real one, especially if you know what page the info needed is on and you have to keep clicking when you know you should just be able to open a real booklet right to that page.

Another reason is that booklets stand the test of time. There are old booklets from systems long past that are floating around the internet and thrift shops. They’re cool to have, and even when the game doesn’t work anymore, they’re a nostalgic piece of history. Furthermore, these manuals often have cool bonuses, and are sometimes chock full of information not found in the games. For example, the booklet for Halo: Combat Evolved has a two page explanation of the storyline and what’s happening. Each important character has a half-page bio, and each enemy variety has a bio as well, detailing tendencies, physical features, and so on. Each weapon in the game has stats and information, and the booklet is written like a military guidebook, so there isn’t much known about some of the Covenant weapons. It’s almost as if you’re reading a rookie’s booklet given to you upon your enlistment into the Marine Corps.

I know this has been a short article, but I just wanted to share with you my concern. With the absence of instruction manuals already, how long until the games aren’t even disc based themselves anymore? When will all games be download only? This worries me; how about you? Do you care that instruction manuals are gone? Do they signal something more for the industry, or am I over thinking it? Comment your thoughts below, and hit the like or follow button if you’ve enjoyed. Check out the LP channels in the “Links” tab if you’d like, and I hope you all had a Merry Christmas!

Slightly Worried
Matt

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6 thoughts on “Where Is My Instruction Manual?”

  1. (1) “Check out the LP channels in the “Links” tab if you’d like[…]”

    The fact of the matter is that people don’t read manuals any more because they’re of the mindset that they’ll ‘figure it out as they go along’ but at the same fucking time they’ll readily go to a wiki or watch a goddamn ‘Let’s Play’ to figure out what a basic game mechanic. This is fact and it’s not so much infuriating as it is disgusting. People don’t want to be told how to play, they want to discover it on their own, but they want a resource ready at hand to tell them how things work…just not a manual.

    (2) The Guild Wars games (Prophecies, Factions and Nightfall) had beautiful manuals. Thick, with technical information, character class information, game mechanic information and even a short story, these were truly wonderful. G:WEN (Eye of the North) had a significantly smaller manual and missed many of these points, but it was an expansion and many people overlooked it.

    Then Guild Wars 2 came out and…the little Quick Start guide directed you to look at the online manual which was nothing more than a jumped-up Quick Start guide. This was the same game that, yes, even though all the core data was on the physical DVDs the game would not install from those DVDs at all because it required an active internet connexion and downloaded all of the files online.

    Sometimes omitting the manual is cutting corners and it shows. It shows because the attention that you would apply to the smallest part, the part that doesn’t actually affect the game, shows how you treat development and support of the game.

    (3) The lack of an instruction manual is a concern for me, one of many in this trend of cutting as much as possible and delivering a ‘product’ that is never finished for what is ultimately a higher price. Consider the impact of DLC, how real production time is spent on making early DLC during development of the core game and how a disturbing portion of that should have been in the game (e.g. Mechnomancer class in Borderlands 2). Consider the prevalence of buggy releases and Day-One patches. Consider the truly appalling lack of backward compatibility on newer systems and how these truly new, ‘digital versions’ of PS and PS 2 games that had manuals and ostensibly less (or no) bugs is treated. A number of those games may never even see the light of day, but when they do they’ll have to be purchased again and likely without a digital version of the manual.

    But, hey, fuck it, right? Add a ‘Season Pass’ and a manual and call it the Deluxe Edition. Because video games come in seasons and having the complete game and manual is something that only those willing to buy the deluxe package should expect.

  2. As for point one, I find a unique paradox in what you’re explaining. It’s odd to think that people have a manual right in front of them, but go through the work of finding an online tutorial to help them instead. I don’t get it, but I’ve never really tried it aside from a tutorial on how to get past a bug in Tomb Raider. Other than that, if I have an issue, I read the manual first… unless there isn’t one, as I’m now seeing.

    For point to: just yes. There’s no manual for BF4, and look at that; it didn’t work properly for a whole month after launch! You’ve followed me saga, I know, and with their $50 fee for the Premium Membership for all the DLC, no manual, a buggy release… well, it’s everything you just described.

    Point 3, I have to say that I have some old PS1 games downloaded from the PS Store onto my PS3, and they have digital versions of the original manuals! I was actually surprised, and I was very happy to see the old pictures, logos, and other items in the manuals that I remember seeing as a little kid. It made me quite happy, and I hope the PS1 and 2 classic downloads for PS4 include the manuals as well.

  3. I scroll down through the WordPress reader and see that, after two days, I’m the only person who’s engaged this post. I’ve also noticed a trend, that the more critical posts you write receive little readership compared to the more ‘this is my opinion’ entries. My first philosophy professor had something very important to say about this phenomenon. He said that everyone has an opinion until they meet someone who knows what the fuck they’re talking about, then they’re suddenly quiet. With the exception of really stupid people and folks like Rush Limbaugh, he’s right.

    1. Sorry I haven’t responded sooner; I’ve had a CRAZY past couple of days. Before I went to sleep last night, I had gotten a full 2 hours of sleep from Sunday morning till Monday night (40 hours) and I’m finally back to normal haha.

      In any case, I’ve also noticed too, which brings up an interesting point. I want views and recognition and likes and comments, of course. I like to see that people are reading what I write, and it works like an Xbox or PSN achievement; it strokes the ego, I guess. It makes one feel accomplished. Writing the “important” stuff focusing on problems and issues doesn’t give me that recognition, but I NEED to write it… on the other hand, the more fun articles get all the praise but it’s not my focus, at this point anyhow. Oh well, I suppose.

      By the way, I really like your professor’s quote; it makes a ton of sense!

  4. The Ratchet and Clank: Locked and Loaded one was my favourite. Felt like part of the game, and even when I wasn’t playing, I would just read it. Went over the weapons and their history, even if it was only a few sentences.

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