Are you into games for the actual gameplay, or the theory

LOL, this is almost verbatim what my wife said to me a few months ago. She said I seem to have more fun finding out all about a game, reading everything I can on the net first, then all the manuals when I finally get the game, than actually playing it.
I explained to her whenever I start getting interested in a game this helps me get even more excited about it, kinda like some pre-fight hype going on there.

Anyway it’s a process that adds a ton more fun to most games I play(sometimes more fun than the actual game itself).

I’m pretty nuts about theory as well. I’d say I’m 60/40

I play games for the gameplay.

I am also interested in games for the theory.

Didn’t one company flat out eliminate manuals recently?

I have yet to play a pen & paper RPG that I bought as an adult (think I have 4 of them now). It’s enough for me just to read the manuals. And I have several board games that have only been played once. I love reading those manuals, too, and enjoy teaching others how to play.

Because just reading the manual allows us to imagine/remember what is best in a game without dealing with the crappy parts. Today, I can get essentially just as much enjoyment out of looking at my old FF6 guide and listening to the soundtrack as I can by replaying the game. Probably more, since the combat in FF6 hasn’t held up for me. I’ve fought enough Cactrots in my life. I’m done. Reading through the manual for WoW for 2 weeks before playing made finally stepping into the world that much more complete and involving. There is so much excitement and potential in the manual and no drawbacks. Games are a job for you, they can’t be solely about the magic of it anymore. You don’t have the luxury to be so enraptured with a game that you play nothing but it for a month or two (I am assuming here, I could be wrong).

Activision is fond of the “glorified pamphlet” approach

I was that way with RPGs when I was a kid. I used to buy dozens of AD&D sourcebooks and read through them. I loved the art, the little “example play session” scripts, the various descriptions of monsters and weapons and places. In reality, I probably only ever played D&D a half dozen times, but I was completely immersed in the various worlds. I would create maps and dungeons on graph paper, and never ever play through them. So yeah, I’m weird too. I was very introverted, I guess.

Gotta say, I’ve never read a post, laughed, and said to myself “that MattKeil…”

EA Sports did, I want to say.

I’m terrible about buying jRPGs and not playing them. If I stacked up all the FF’s, DQ’s, Secret of XXX, and Chrono whatevers I own, I’m sure it would take up a good chunk of yardstick. I eagerly waited months for the fan translation of Mother 3, and then never got 15 minutes past the naming screen. I never even finished DQ8, which I adored.

So, it appears I like the idea of jRPGs a lot more than sinking the time in to play them. But I did finish Skies of Arcadia, probably because I had a game-crush on Aika.

Heh, you and me both. I’ve managed to finish most of them, though a few are still sitting in the game binder lording their 50+ hour gametimes over me.

I have played Skies of Arcadia all the way through probably six times by now though never for that reason let me assure you.

The OP reminded me that I haven’t read the Shogun 2 manual yet. I just downloaded it and finished it in about 5 minutes. Why would you even bother to print that? There’s just an “Advanced Player” section but no “New Player” section??

Gameplay is paramount. Gameplay princess trumps graphics whore every time. I’m big on several designer focuses like “Player Agency” and “Emergent Narrative.” The Looking Glass school of thought. I’m also into RPGs so Obsidian are one of the only major studios pushing the envelope in RPG design with numerous game systems (it’s one of the reasons why their games are so buggy) while Bethesda and BioWare or suppressing them in favor of action elements or a quick buck. (Dragon Age 2…)

Also there are certain “sacred cows” people latch onto that I won’t miss if they’re missing.

A few examples:

A game doesn’t need a heavy or compelling story - case in point: Demon’s Souls

A game can survive solely on a deeply focused and rewarding gameplay system jettisoning nearly everything else - case in point: God Hand

Good graphics, story, presentation, ease-of-use, etc… are all nice to have and can make a game even better, but if the gameplay isn’t there these things are just perfume being poured into a cesspool - case in point: Assassin’s Creed

I’m sorry to hear that. Is it possible for you to still enjoy or concentrate on some more “quick hit” type of games, like League of Legends or other RTSs? I know that won’t get you engrossed like a 10 hour strategy game will, but maybe taking it in small bursts like that will still get some gaming in (and give you the time between games to appreciate and enjoy the metagame and theory).

I confess to doing this with board games as well, though I don’t always set them up solo. Instead, I again read the instructions. Sometimes many times over the course of years, usually with an intention to play the game that is not necessarily realistic (sure, I’ll just get in a quick game of Advanced Third Reich tonight).

You have to have the requisite theory in your head that you will play it, right? Then you eventually realize through inertia that you’re never going to.

That’s why things like the War in the East thread (and cover page articles on it) are so dangerous. In my little brain, I can tell myself I’m going to actually sit down, really get into it, and play it through. That little brain is not acknowledging that I can’t do that and play Achtung Panzer, Shogun 2, etc. Nor for many games, can I really get heavily into them and expect to play or do anything else because they are so complex.

Just one of those cases where I hit print before really looking through the scope of the pdf. I tend to like physical printouts of things, so I don’t always review it on the screen.

It had a number of pages, so I figured there was something there worth printing. Little did I know (until after I printed it) that there were a bunch of stupid blank pages for notes, and things like that. You’re right that the actual content could fit into about 4 pages.

But it is valuable for nothing else than getting the hotkeys listings, which I definitely would have printed out (if not the rest of the manual).

Not totally lost!

And yes, here’s the EA Sports manual story.

On the theory versus practice question, I love games, but I hate most games I play. I think this makes me discerning, but others might call it judgemental. I can usually find a couple things about a game to like and that are interesting, and a million things to hate. As a game developer, you kinda need to be able to turn on and off your inner hater and fanboi; both are valuable viewpoints. For me, most of the disappointment when playing a game comes from seeing stuff they could have done differently that would have been better but not more work, which obviously is backseat designing at its worst.


I play a few iPod Touch games, usually while I go outside for cigarette and I can manage that for 20 or so minutes. Then anything with a social element I can be ok for. However that becomes a problem when I have to commit to certain times, put if it’s pick up and play I can manage. So games like Arma 2 I got quite a bit out of, and the couple of weeks of Rift. And I’m really looking forward to Battlefield 3 and Guild Wars 3. For BF3, I know I’ll be able to find a game pretty much whenever I want, and can just drop into it. With Guild Wars 3 I’ll be playing with friends. With human interaction with a game it’s much easier to maintain concentration because I find my head snaps into friendly social mode.

And at the moment I’m trying to learn programming to eventually make a game, or at least the logic of a game. And learning HTML/PHP to make some websites for some fan stuff. And all of this is part of my while unemployed upskilling drive.

All in all it’s not too bad. I’ve been in a much worse place at certain times over the past few years, so I take things as the come.

Not sure if this is related. But whenever I play an RPG or Strategy game, I love trying to come up with a good build that combines complementary abilities. I enjoy leveling my guy and slowly seeing my vision take shape as I add each skill that brings the character closer to peak efficiency. But just as I near the full realization of my character build, I lose all interest in it.

I know I can keep leveling, getting more hit points and additional powers that, while not complementary, will still be handy options. But its not the same feeling as working towards that perfect clockwork build where all the skills and abilities work together.


Game play has to be good, it is a given but increasingly I’m attracted to novelty. Give me something I haven’t played a dozen times in the past 5 years and I might let it slide if the game play isn’t that good.

This captures my take on multiplayer as well, although I haven’t gotten into MMOs because I find the “new space” not to be all that new. The great thing about both NWN games (and Infinity Engine games as well) was that multiplayer captured the same sense of adventure as single player.