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The Death of Foreplay: How Manuals Expanded the Gaming Experience

With EA announcing that they are officially killing pack-in manuals, I think its time to take a moment to step back and appreciate the art and design of some of these by-gones from another era in gaming.

The opening pages from The Longest Journey

So where do these elements go from here? How do we reach players with this kind of experience in an age of digital downloads and in game tutorials? The answer could be any number of things. I for one, HATE with a burning passion pdf manuals. I would much rather see a wiki style external (and in game) type manual solely to describe gameplay. It should serve as reference. Shogun 2: Total War has implemented something similar with success, but still has faults with its clunkiness and lack of ease in searching for something specific.

What I want to see: Manuals should be available freely outside of purchasing the game. Set up a company wiki and publish the manual as suggested above there. Set up in-universe websites to create these world expanding experiences. For example in Mass Effect: Cerberus could have a website set up like a company wide intranet filled with information open and hidden. A press website for decrees from the Council, or a news website for that Citadel news station could all serve well. Because you're now forced into relying on the web doesn't mean that this has to apply to modern and futuristic games. A website set up as a library filled with the tomes from the Elder Scrolls games would be a fantastic site.

There are so many great possibilities to expand the experience, and at reasonable costs using the same design teams that would've been used on manuals, and without the waste that EA claims. Let's see some innovation and world building.
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About SirKerraldone of us since 11:55 PM on 03.04.2010

I'm a dude from Cape Cod who enjoys himself some games. What more needs to be said?
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