Disgaea: You call this a strategy guide?

Things that aren’t in the strategy guide:

The algorithm for stealing.
How characters gain ability points when they level up.
The algorithm for chance to hit and damage.
How the various character statistics influence damage, evade chances, and so on.

In other words, all the stuff you’d actually want to know when you buy a strategy guide.

Are they all this bad now, or is it just this one?

Who on earth buys strategy guides for console games? Have you never heard of Gamefaqs.com?

Console strategy guides, especially for strategy games, are abysmal. Unless you are playing a console RPG and want some pretty pictures, and how to uncover the impossible to find hidden summon spell, don’t bother with them.

A real good example of this is the Everquest: Online Adventures guide. It basically gives maps of the starting cities (Already given in the manual) and quest hints for quests up to lvl 10. This is almost nothing. Lvl 1-5 quests are fedex ones that take 3 minutes and really are there to orient the player to how to move and control the character. A person could easily make it to level 10 in a day.

Damn, Jason has a point.

Time was I would have been appalled at the lack of information in a strategy game, especially one like this where it’s all in the details, because I sure as hell ain’t playing because I like the graphics of little kiddies hopping around a colorful tiered grid like some horrible collision between anime and Q-bert.

I’ve even been fiddling with Phantasy Star Online a bit now that my Xbox Live is hooked up, and I don’t even know what most of the attribute abbreviations in that game mean!

I guess console games have made me soft. I’ve been un-grognarded.

 -Tom

Lies. All lies.

I too got suckered into buying the strategy guide. I like reading strat guides, even for games I’ve beaten, especially on the PC. But good guides are rare as hen’s teath, and the Disgaea one suxXors.

I didnt think it was that bad. That company is new, its their first guide.

Gamefaqs is always better, but its nice to have printed stuff. Its why a great manual isnt great if its just in .pdf.

One thing I like about this publisher is that they are very receptive to feedback and extremely responsive to questions. They also have a forum dedicated to errata in the guide, something the bigger publishers could take a lesson from.

I asked them about the lack of formulas and I was told they didnt have access to any of the inner workings of the game. It was developed by Nippon Ichi and published by Atlus, and they dealt exclusively with Atlus, who didnt give them any of that info.

I am not trying to make excuses for them, even though it sounds like I am lol. I wish it had more game mechanic info too, as that is the kind of thing I buy them for.

olaf

I wouldn’t say it’s bad; for all I know, it’s standard by console game standards. It’s just extremely annoying that I found little or nothing of use in it; I’m sure its fine for people who haven’t been playing these kinds of games since they were in diapers.

Gamefaqs doesn’t have this stuff either. Algorithms used to be the thing you could rely on PC strategy guides to have, wayyyy back in the day.

I sure as hell ain’t playing because I like the graphics of little kiddies hopping around a colorful tiered grid like some horrible collision between anime and Q-bert.

This is really funny. I was wondering where I’d seen the wierd map style for the item world before.

I may be wrong here, but I’d reckon guides for console games would keep the more technical stuff (algorithms) to a minimum, in keeping with their younger audience.

Peter

My beef with the guide is maybe more accurately directed towards the manual, in that I was hoping it would be more help in deciphering the displays and the mechanics of doing basic game stuff. As a console tyro I often find that, whereas I can figure out most any PC game (MOO3 excepted) on my own, most console titles are organized around foreign, almost alien concepts it seems. :D

The manual does suck, but I have never seen a good console game manual. The ingame help is ok, check it out if you havent.

olaf

I’m curious, why can’t they just translate the Japanese manual word for word and lay it out so it better conforms to English? There was nothing wrong with Nippon Ichi’s original manual for Disgaea, it was actually quite funny and of very high quality. Is there some sort of copyright that prevents them from doing that?

I think it goes to prove my theory: in the country where the developers are known for that special type of game, you’ll see much higher quality superfluous materials developed, i.e. fan-mod community, manuals, strategy guides, extras, maps, etc.

Case in point, traditionally, the West isn’t known for a grand tradition for console RPGs (though luckily its changing) and the huge grand part of the talent is on the PC side, right? Well, its interesting then. I imported Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance for the Gamecube this earlier this year because our PS2 port of the game is really shitty in comparison to the natural English. (The innkeeper…oi.) I was expecting one of those lovely, huge manuals like the other two other BG games, or other Black Isle greats. You know, that guy who narrates, and lives you little notes in hand-writing and the great foreword from a development team you can just tell is passionate about creating quality and the all the explanations of how D&D works (until I read it THAC0 used to completely confuse me!) :wink: A huge list of spells and such and level charts and all that good stuff. Hints and a total walkthrough in creating characters. Sure, I needed a dictionary to reference nearby to understand half the words, but it was great! And BG: DA? Just the facts, nothing much more than that. I was so disappointed.

BTW, have you guys ever heard of Ultimania-type guides? If so, would you like to see those types of things make it over to America, or are you not THAT interested knowing everything about a game? :wink: I’ve often wondered why a good lot of things like plush toys and action figures and soundtracks are translated, but there’s no market for translated Japanese guides? Too expensive perhaps?

Just curious, when the Persona games came over, did they have good manuals or not?

-Kitsune

The Persona games did not have particularly spectacular manuals. Par for the course for a console release - not too much detail, nowhere near enough art and much of the contacting/contracting was glossed over. And, of course, we didn’t get a version of Innocent Sin. Why they would release Part II of a two part series and not Part I escapes me completely.

I’ve never seen anything along the lines of the Fallout manual (the gold standard IMHO) for a console game.

However, plush Prinnies? With little stitches on the front, and that say DOOD! when you squeeze them? Sign me up!

As someone who writes strategy guides, allow me to come to the defense of my brethren…

<rant>The truth is that a lot of times we aren’t given any of the information needed to construct things like algorithms–we’re left to our own devices to gather whatever we can. This isn’t always true. Some companies are excellent at providing information to the strategy guide writer. EA, in general, is top-notch at this.

Also understand that we’re often given extremely short deadlines* on beta software and many game bits are added after the guide author has completed the book and the book has gone to press.** It’s one of the problems with writing the guides–the necessity of having the book on the shelves the same day as the game requires that the book has to be sent to the printer before the game is finished more often than not.

I’d suggest there’s at least an even-money chance that the author of that book (and no, it wasn’t me) asked for that information and wasn’t able to receive it. There are lots of things authors would like but aren’t able to get from the companies. Maps, for instance, are often impossible to get. Documents of all of the items are iffy at best. For strategy games, getting a list of everything that can be built, costs, and other particulars often doesn’t exist or is tweaked up until the last minute.

In many ways, we’re like umpires at a baseball game. If we do our job well, you don’t know who we are. If there’s a problem with the book (which more often than not isn’t our fault), we get slammed for it.

I’m not asking for pity and I’m not whining, I’m just saying that this is the reality of things for strategy guide authors. In terms of getting a game out the door, we are the plankton on the foodchain most of the time. Most of us do the best we can, and a lot of the information contained in a guide is there depending on how helpful the game company was in providing it. This is especially true in the case of things like algorithms.</rant>

  • I was given 12 days to write the entire guide for Brute Force earlier this year.

** I once had a game company change the location of about 40% of the items in a game after they had approved the entire book manuscript and we had gone to press.

Bite me.

Atlus isn’t prone to particularly in-depth manuals. On the whole, their translations haven’t been fantastic, either. I still remember the translation of persona - “Roses are red, violets are blue, my face is white, so you know I’m true.” <sigh>

Kitsune: BG: DA has nothing to do with the other Baldur’s Gate or Bioware or Black Isle titles. The game is set in the same city of the same D&D universe but that’s about it. It’s a separate development and a much simpler game (really an action game rather than an RPG), and was never intended to have a huge manual.

Err, I knew that before I bought it, Christoph. (Though I don’t really think you can say it has nothing to do with Baldur’s Gate, it inherits a lot of the same aesthetic and such. Storywise yeah…) But it really doesn’t matter if its a super-complex game or not. A good manual is a good manual. For instance, the manual to Made in Wario and Wario Land 4 are golden, even though neither of them have as much to say as, say, a BG PC game would. Every part of every game should shoot for the moon with the highest of quality, and that means, regardless of game type a manual overflowing with artwork/design sketches, attractive layouts, superfluous information beyond the simple mechanics of the game (enemy descriptions, character descriptions, illustrations of items and places, a map) and written in a manner that makes it sound more like a friendly primer, than the Windows Help Screen style so many bad manuals are written in. Despite not having as much to do with BG on the PC, it can still have those notes from the guide, still explain the methodology and thinking of D&D, hell, write some lore about Beholders, or other legendary D&D creatures, or give background info on the classes, include more art (there wasn’t ANY for the most part) and all that jazz. Talk about advanced game technics, and include an index of terms, or a foreword from the developer, so on, so forth.

-Kitsune

Oh. Well, what are you complaining about then? :P

I understand what you’re saying about really nice manuals but I guess I just can’t appreciate those – if the game isn’t complex enough to need a lot of explanation then let’s just save some trees, and I’ll save myself the time to read through a thick manual.

The Euro version of BG:DA had the usual console-sized manual, not too big but absolutely sufficient to explain everything I needed to know. That’s fine with me. Luxurious prints of artwork or the like is something I’d happily leave to special editions.