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The Impact of Walkthroughs

Phillip WillisPhillip Willis Certified PolygameistRPGamer Staff
edited January 2015 in Miscellaneous Gaming
Salutations.

So, as most of you know, I'm working on an RPGTrek through the Dragon Quest series. Several of the games have forced me to hit up FAQs/Walkthroughs or spend lots (and I do mean dozens) of hours seeking out a hidden item/passageway/etc in order to progress through the story. In the case of my current game, Dragon Quest VI, the game really opens up when I get a ship and the ability to go underwater. The world is my oyster! Unfortunately, it's also full of random encounters, and with no idea of where to go next to push the story forward, I have to resort to Walkthrough or wander around the world, aimlessly, for hours, triggering fights every few steps.

Now, back in the day (when I was YOUR age!), we didn't have readily available walk throughs. If one was lucky, he/she had a Nintendo Power magazine giving some assistance through the game. If they were SUPER lucky, their parent bought them a strategy guide. However, for the most part, I did not have a guide for the various games I attempted to work through. As a result, many of them did not get completed. True, I had more free time back then, but teenage patience only goes so far. I managed to beat all the American released FF's, as well as DQIV on NES. I beat Zelda, but that was with the help of a guide. Most of the other games, such as Castlevania II and Legend of the Wizard went unbeaten.

So, my question for y'all.... what is the impact of Walkthroughs on YOUR gaming habits? Are there games you would not play or complete if you did not have FAQs? Would your tastes in genres change, perhaps? Do you enjoy using them? What other thoughts do you have?

For me, I generally dislike using Walkthroughs. It feels like I'm doing research, which I do for work, anyway. I hate it when I feel like a game forces me to work to just get through the base game. I also dislike having to go to third party sources to figure out game/class/job/battle mechanics. For some reason, many games with complicated systems feel that explaining the mechanics of said systems would just ruin the fun for players. Sigh. Nothing is worse, to me, than putting 23 hours into a game, and realizing only too late that my build will not work in the end game because I did not understand how the class system would work out.

But, that brings me to another point. As much as I hate using them, I hate the idea of wasting hours in an RPG, trying to figure out what to do next, even more. My time is precious....preeeeciousssssss... and sometimes I succumb to the temptation of looking something up just to move forward. In the 21st century, I hate that feeling of "What do I do now?"

If we didn't have walkthroughs, I could see myself giving up on a lot of games a lot more quickly. A number of times in my DQ Trek, I've been stuck in just one or two places. I generally do try to figure it out on my own...spending 1-3 hours..but after that, I hit a FAQ. Without FAQ, I would put the game down and play something with less guess work :) Eventually, I forget where I'm at in the game and move on. Have I mentioned I hate hidden items required to progress through a game? I absolutely do. I also hate things such as "Player must talk to x and y NPC to advance story" when those NPCs aren't obvious. DQ is a good example...when the world opens up, there's 12 new towns, each with 15 NPCs, but only 1 or 2 of the NPCS available actually move the story forward. Sigh.

So, it's a balancing act. If I like a game, and only have to hit up a FAQ once or twice, I do it. I tend to be a lot more forgiving if, after reading the FAQ, I realize that the answer to my problem was super obvious...I just missed it. However, even if I like a game, I will quit it if I find myself going to FAQ over and over to figure out what to do next...especially when, upon looking it up, my initial though ends up "Really? They expected me to know THAT?" At that point, I put the game down and walk away.

How about you?

P.S. My hat is off to the many volunteers who painstakingly write Walkthroughs. God bless you!
Co-Host on RPGBacktrack. Follow me on Twitter and sub to my blog if you would like!

Comments

  • Cassandra RamosCassandra Ramos Eternal Kyoshi Administrators
    edited December 2014
    While I don't play games entirely through with a walkthrough, I do have a tendency to run to one if I spend longer than 15-20 minutes trying to figure out or find something. I can be rather impatient. I used to collect player's guides, though mainly because they were often the only piece of merchandise I could buy for a game here in the US. I would use them whenever the need arose, though. I used to and occasionally still do a second playthrough with a guide (FAQ or physical, though the latter is becoming rare) in order to do everything (side quests, item collecting, etc). This is becoming less common since I would rather move on to a new game.

    I would never have made it through Ocarina of Time's Water Temple without the player's guide. :P I tend to use walkthroughs to find every piece of heart for the series as a whole. I've also been consulting a FAQ frequently for Baroque, as I find the ways to actually be able to expand the Neuro Tower and progress through it without repeating it obtuse.
    Bravely second...
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  • AdremmelechAdremmelech The Original Playa... Full Members
    edited December 2014
    I tend to look things up on a wiki if I am absolutely stuck on something or if I want to collect a series of items that don't have any real clear instruction on how to find them, usually through a second playthrough of a game. I do hate having to go to a third party source to figure our how to complete a level or figure out a puzzle. I refuse to use them for some games like Professor Layton or just about any platform game. I feel like I should be smart enough to figure it out on my own. I am more incline to use them in FPS and open world games, and generally after I beat those games the first time.
  • ironmageironmage chaotic neutral observer SaskatoonFull Members
    edited December 2014
    My general rule is to avoid walkthroughs on the first playthrough. A lot of the fun of a game is figuring things out for myself, and using a guide defeats the purpose. (Plus, if I rely on a walkthrough too much, I run the risk of encountering spoilers). If I want a completely scripted experience, I'll just watch some anime, or read.

    I will (usually) only break this rule if I get stuck for an extended time, and am becoming frustrated, or if I have a specific question which could otherwise only be answered via a brute force search. "What monster drops item X, and where can I find it?" is a question I generally won't hesitate to look up. "What are the level prerequisites to unlock job Y?" is usually a free question.

    If something requires only time and mechanical effort to solve (especially if it appears that it will take a fair amount of time), then it's fair game. On the other hand, asking "How do I solve this puzzle?" is cheating. I'll avoid looking that up until the bitter end, and then, I consider it a personal defeat. Solving puzzles is fun; scouring the world to figure out which monster drops a particular item, or to figure out where to go next, is tedious.

    I still feel guilty about using walkthroughs, but if it's a choice between spending hours running in circles, or bashing my head against the controller, then I'd rather deal with the guilt.

    Then there are the exceptions to the exceptions. I recently played Persona 2:EP with a walkthrough, because otherwise it would have taken way too long, and burned me out. I used a walkthrough with Baroque, too. (I guess it's not a coincidence that I'm not the biggest fan of either.) I wouldn't even think of using a walkthrough with Persona Q, though. Exploring the maps on my own is the whole point of the game!

    So, in short: walkthroughs, if used judiciously, can save time and frustration. Depended on to excess, they either render the game itself pointless, or are a possible symptom of a design problem with the game itself.
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  • OmbresOmbres Games horder Full Members
    edited December 2014
    jcservant wrote: »
    (when I was YOUR age!)
    What you were 40 year old a long time ago? :playful:

    For my part, I try to stay away from FAQ, but at my old age, I don't have all the time to play as much as I want, so I look out for the optional stuff to limit my time I need to complete all game.
    Like for example, right now I am playing The World end with you, I did look out about how each pin evolve, but I did not look where to find them or how to solve anything else in the game.
    Always enjoy all the experience in life, you might gain a level or two.
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  • TheAnimeManTheAnimeMan Member Full Members
    edited December 2014
    I use them when I get truly stuck or when I feel I missed quite a bit,
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    28 years of gaming and still going strong
    and now a mostly annoyed Father with first son. And now a father again to a second son :D

    Winner of the 2015-2016 Fantasy gaming Pool
  • CidolfasCidolfas Member Full Members
    edited December 2014
    Lately I've been using them if I get the feeling that a game is going to screw me later on. This includes most games with job classes or character builds, where the game secretly expects you to use certain combinations, said combinations taking hours and hours to build up.

    Otherwise, I will try my darndest to keep off them for the main game. Once I hit the endgame I will always open one up to make sure I catch everything I'm interested in (and don't bother with stuff that sounds dumb). Like you, my time is super precious (I'm lucky if I get half an hour a night) and I just do not have the energy to sit around doing boring things to try to find things out.
  • DarkRPGMasterDarkRPGMaster A Witness to Destruction Moderators
    edited December 2014
    I have an OCD problem, where I will reset a game if I miss ANYTHING that's 1 time only, especially if it involves party member (looking at you Suikoden!). So I tend to use Walkthroughs constantly to make sure I'm not missing anything big, otherwise I'll be having to do it all again. -_-
    "Yes, because apparently blindly jumping headfirst into a firefight without a grasp on the situation or any combat experience is a sign of genius these days."
  • MacstormMacstorm Ysy St. Administrators
    edited December 2014
    I have an OCD problem, where I will reset a game if I miss ANYTHING that's 1 time only, especially if it involves party member
    Welcome to the club/support group.
    "The universe is already mad. Anything else would be redundant."
    Twitter @FinalMacstorm
  • ClixClix Former Listmaster Full Members
    edited December 2014
    Macstorm wrote: »
    Welcome to the club/support group.

    I'm in a similar boat, especially with my recent ~100% goals. Though, at the same time, most of the games this year that I have walkthrough-abused were old games I had a prior history with. I usually only do this to games I know I will need a guide to get the most out of. For example, whenever I do sit down the play Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth, I damn well know to do so with some kind of guide to make sure I get the full experience.
  • TheAnimeManTheAnimeMan Member Full Members
    edited January 2015
    OCD anonymous any one?
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    28 years of gaming and still going strong
    and now a mostly annoyed Father with first son. And now a father again to a second son :D

    Winner of the 2015-2016 Fantasy gaming Pool
  • CidolfasCidolfas Member Full Members
    edited January 2015
    Yeah, when I was younger I was very much into 100% completion. I think the first game which I consciously stopped that was FFX (some of those monster arena battles were just ridiculous). After that I came to an agreement with myself that if a side quest was too frustrating, tedious, or had crappy rewards, I wouldn't bother.
  • SpartakusSpartakus One Knight Stand Full Members
    edited January 2015
    The way most RPGs are designed walkthroughs are essential, though I avoid them as much as possible on the first playthrough. The problem usually lies with the game design; you may need to do something arbitrary to advance the plot, such as speak to one specific but random NPC, or the gameplay has pitfalls it doesn't tell you about but which will cripple you late game if you're not aware. If you're looking to unlock secrets or defeat optional bosses walkthroughs become a necessity, as this stuff is usually so well-hidden you won't discover it on your own in a hundred years. I really think it's a flaw if anything in the game is so well hidden it's impossible to find without a guide, like important items that only drop from a specific enemy at a 2% drop rate. It's like it's almost not intended to be found at all.

    Back in the day before internet I relied on magazines and the local gaming community for help. Since I was just a child at the time I tended to stick with simpler games where progression was always clear and more a matter of skill, such as platformers and fighting games, but finishing a game like Legend of Zelda took me years simply because I couldn't find the fourth dungeon. By pure random chance a guy moved into my neighbourhood who knew how to get there, otherwise I might not have been able to progress at all before the internet. On the plus side this does add to the community aspect of gaming, which has become a lot less tight-knit with Gamefaqs and online multiplayer.
  • Phillip WillisPhillip Willis Certified Polygameist RPGamer Staff
    edited January 2015
    Spartakus wrote: »
    Back in the day before internet I relied on magazines and the local gaming community for help. Since I was just a child at the time I tended to stick with simpler games where progression was always clear and more a matter of skill, such as platformers and fighting games, but finishing a game like Legend of Zelda took me years simply because I couldn't find the fourth dungeon. By pure random chance a guy moved into my neighbourhood who knew how to get there, otherwise I might not have been able to progress at all before the internet. On the plus side this does add to the community aspect of gaming, which has become a lot less tight-knit with Gamefaqs and online multiplayer.

    And this is exactly what I'm talking about. In playing the Dragon Quest series, I run into no shortage of arbitrary barriers to my forward progress (from hidden artifacts to the required NPC conversation thread), some which have forced me to a FAQ to avoid hitting a serious setback. I wonder, if we did not have FAQs, how many games would we quit due to these barriers either because they aren't fun or we don't have time to waste looking EVERYWHERE for the Compass of Truth :P

    Platformers seem to handle this a lot better. Sure, there are secrets. However, they usually give extra bonuses, warps, etc. For the most part, one can beat the game without finding those secrets. Conversely, in RPGs, they can hinder, or even completely stop, forward progress.
    Co-Host on RPGBacktrack. Follow me on Twitter and sub to my blog if you would like!
  • smacdsmacd Full Members
    edited April 2018
    deleted.
  • Rya_ReisenderRya_Reisender Solipsist Snowflake Full Members
    edited January 2015
    Nice thread!

    I actively dislike having to use walkthroughs, because they kind of ruin the entire game for me. But at the same time I have to use a walkthrough for almost every game I play.

    One of the main things I use walkthroughs for is for finding out how to build my characters. How do I setup my party? Which starting classes should I choose? Which skills should I choose on each level up? I research weeks before even starting a game and I don't enjoy it one bit, it's tedious work for me, but I have to do that to later enjoy the game.
    Problem is that I like exploration in games, and games with exploration pretty much always come with the ability to freely build your characters, so I have no choice.

    Walkthroughs in the sense of being stuck at a puzzle... this one is pretty tough. There are basically two options... not using a walkthrough... then you will try to solve the puzzle even though it is no longer fun for you. This is also like work... it's ALOT of work... but IF you manage to solve it eventually, it feels great. It's like hunting a 0.01% drop item in an MMORPG, the way to the goal is pure pain and no fun at all, but reaching the goal is very rewarding.
    On the other hand, if you use a walkthrough, there is not much tedium (as this is pretty quick unlike figuring out perfect builds), but you also take away all the feeling of "reward" in the game altogether. Often this ends up with using a walkthrough at every single puzzle you can't solve right away. While the game then doesn't feel like "work" you also don't seem to play it because of the fun either. It ends up just becoming something you do to kill time.

    I guess in a perfect world, games would never require the use a walkthrough.
  • TheAnimeManTheAnimeMan Member Full Members
    edited January 2015
    I will admit to using walkthroughs ludicrously (sometimes I do go plaid) when playing SRW games. Mostly due to the fact that many of the games are not in English so it helps me when I don't want to either miss something OR when I want to be sure what my winning conditions are for a fight but sadly what little Japanese I know (mostly learned from playing SRW incidentally) doesn't always help
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    28 years of gaming and still going strong
    and now a mostly annoyed Father with first son. And now a father again to a second son :D

    Winner of the 2015-2016 Fantasy gaming Pool
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