Games: Everything should have a purpose, and you shouldn't need a Wiki

Why is this better in an external wiki instead of in the game?

Because the multitudes of options, especially for things like formable/ releasable nations, work best as a linked index rather than tooltips. Because I don’t want to spend my time playing a game reading instead of playing, and because I can read it while not playing.

I have extremely limited game time. Sub 100 hours a year. I have played zero hours in the last month. I would rather spend down time outside of game time reading things like that, than my extremely rare gaming time.

There can also be a wiki inside of the game, some (rare) games do that. It usually isn’t done as game UIs simply aren’t made to contain a format like that, with clickable links, image inserts, etc. etc. It would also have to be maintained by the developer, unlike an external wiki which flourishes if maintained by the community + developer.

The point is that - for more complex games - you simply cannot put and explain everything within the game in a non-manual-like way. It’s just not doable.
If this manual is text within the game or text outside of the game isn’t too important IMO. Not important enough to demand every developer spend their time on an in-game wiki, anyway.
It’s cool when it is there, bonus points. But I wouldn’t demand it as long as you can read it up somewhere.

I don’t know if it’s quite the same wiki-objection as something like Don’t Starve, but it annoys the hell out of me in the Borderlands games that all of the legendary weapons have a line of red text that’s basically flavor text that gives you a hint as to what special thing the gun does, but you need to try them out to figure out what they do and sometimes it’s not real obvious, so I have to Google them on my phone or write down the gun names and look them up later.

You know what is fun for me? In a game like EU IV or Kerbal Space Program researching a topic, coming up with a plan, and hen executing it. With external wikis I can spend time outside of the game to do that. Have some down time at work? Read up on gravity assists and orbital transfers, the gravity wells of various planets, and formulate a strategy and flight plan. Then, when I have an hour to game, I spend that time executing that plan, rather than spending all that time planning.

If you’ve got time to read you’ve got time to play! ;) Get Steam streaming set up so you can play EU4 from your phone 100 miles away from.your house.

Yes, this type of thing. Let me give a concrete example.

You can find the following objects in Don’t Starve, and they serve no purpose in the game other than to be traded to the Pig King for gold nuggets:

Ball and Cup
Dessicated Tentacle
Fake Kazoo
Frazzled Wires
Gord’s Knot
Hardened Rubber Bung
Lying Robot
Mismatched Buttons
Old Boot
Sea Worther
Second-hand Dentures
Soaked Candle
Tiny Rocketship
Toy Boat
Ancient Vase
Brain Cloud Pill
Broken AAC Device
License Plate
One True Earring
Orange Soda
Voodoo Doll
Wine Bottle Candle
Queen Malfalfa
Post Card of the Royal Palace

There’s about 20 more than that. Each one has flavor text. Each one is useless, except to be traded for some gold nuggets. But the game gives you no real way of knowing that, other than to hold onto them and try them in a bunch of different situations, only to realize (I guess) eventually that they are worthless for anything other than trade.

Meanwhile, the game has other items, with similar bits of flavor text. Except you are supposed to magically figure out, for example, that something called “Weber’s Skull” should be buried in a grave, because it then unlocks a character. Or that giving a Beach Toy to the Antilion will make it drop the rare blueprint for the Lazy Deserter.

That’s what I’m talking about. Not that the game doesn’t have some instructions for high end strategy. That the game just has a ton of useless things in it, all intermingled with things that are useful, none of which have any real meaningful direction as to why they would be useful or in what circumstance. So you get to end up, if you are unspoiled, literally taking dozens of items (if not hundreds) and just sort of randomly clicking them onto individuals and locations, and wondering whether one of the dozens of items will actually do something with that location. Again, just all pretty much by random guesswork.

It’s just a bit of poor game design, in my opinion. Again, give me something in game that gives me some direction on these things. And don’t give me a bunch of random shit that is useless except for trade, unless you make it reasonably clear that is all it is good for. Especially when we have all played games the items you get tend to have some meaning down the road of the game, and you therefore shouldn’t throw them out. What Don’t Starve does is essentially give you ton of meaningless red herrings, without any direction that they are red herrings, other than looking it up on a Wiki.

Except that none of that is necessary to play the game successfully. It’s all kind of like easter eggs. At some point, you stop hoarding trinkets because nothing ever requires them.

And I’m supposed to know they’re trinkets as opposed to some item that will be needed down the road how? Does nothing in the game matter? How am I supposed to differentiate a meaningful item from a junk item, using only what is found in the game?

Ah, this is what I love to do in some games (and why I enjoy a good strategy guide). KSP is a wonderful example. Recently, I am doing that with Monster Hunter Generations, not in the “how to kill a monster” tactical way (being surprised by monsters designs and behaviours is a big part of my fun), but by reading about how to use weapons or researching what sort of sets of armor I could make.

I didn’t like EU IV at all. But I wasn’t playing it in that perspective at all. I am a huge fan of EU 2, and I loved deeply the black box aspect of it. The lack of tooltips and explanations made the game vibrant, filled with historical flavour, dare I say magical to me. Some may just say I was rationalizing around what they perceive as torture. Maybe they are right, but it made the game hold a very special feeling, that I haven’t found in the sequels, probably to make the better games if I am honest.
I was going to type that maybe I’ll have to try playing it the way you describe one day, but I think it doesn’t fit my expectations of the theme. Maybe if they made a space game… Oh, snap.

You throw them in a chest until you run out of space, then get rid of them, trusting that you’ll run across them again if you need them. Or you use them for decoration. Junk items–signposted or not–are actually a standard trope for RPGs and survival games.

Wasteland 2 tried to do this by marking items as “junk” type items. Which mostly works, except for the occasional instance where some NPC will purchase certain types of junk for premium prices. I guess it isn’t story-critical, but it also sort of defeats the purpose of classifying it as junk in the first place.

Then there’s Jagged Alliance 2, which has things that seem like junk, but actually none of it is junk. I mean, the utility may be questionable, but it all has a use somewhere. My only partial complaint in that case is that it still requires a lot of trial and error (or a wiki).

I do wish that more games would track recipes in-game.

In the 90s, the mere notion that there were obscure Easter eggs in RPGs that required multiple playthroughs or a strategy guide or whatever annoyed me. These days I just automatically assume I will be using a wiki to play a game. Sometimes I check first if a game has a good wiki before I buy it. If there is no wiki, or only an “official” wiki and not an additional “fan” wiki, it is a red flag that the game might not be very good.

We might as well be living in a different universe now.

The problem with using a Wiki is that I don’t really want someone else to figure out the game for me.

But at the same time, I want the game to be reasonably capable of being figured out without needing to use a Wiki.

And that’s the rub. I feel like a game and most of its elements should be reasonably solvable based on the clues and such in the game. Wikis are fine for people who want to use spoilers. I just don’t feel like I should have to use spoilers to reasonably figure out basic things, or to figure out which 20% of the 100 items a game has will actually mean anything down the line, or where they should be used.

When a game is telling me “screw you, brute force this through trial and error,” it’s actually telling me “move along and play something that respects your time.” Pretty sure I’m too old to piss away good game time on something that wants to be hate-played.

I am playing Witcher 3 right now and it at least classifies all your loot as weapons, junk or whatever, and most of it can be broken down into crafting supplies. I still haven’t studied all the things you can craft however.

complex games used to have manuals. now they have wikis

On a gut level, I definitely want clarity in a game, whether through in-game info, tutorial, or a manual. Figuring it out is half the fun, in the same sense as having my car towed is half the vacation – which is to say, I sincerely hope not.

However, I am acutely aware that time brings changes in technology, and changes in technology lead to all sorts of other changes, often not forseeable ahead of time.

So digital distribution’s muddying up of release dates, and you get wikis replacing manuals. Add in the proliferation of online game chatter. And end up with a pretty large portion of the gaming community who feel really good knowing the ins and outs of a game, based (sometimes overtly, sometime covertly) on knowing how/where to get information… so it probably adds appeal (and certainly does not detract) from the popularity of game in a significant demographic when the game would be quite a struggle, based solely on what the game itself communicates.

I don’t really like the new reality, but I have to admit that bookish people (I was always one) long took delight in looking smart based on knowing where to locate bookish information. And kind of sneered at people who lacked that skill and therefore found certain texts incomprehensible.

But as to games, I will say this. It would make sense for this aspect of a game to be covered by game reviewers. Especially since, when a new game comes out, the quality of wikis and such remains a matter of speculation, based upon the popularity of the game.

Increasingly not even that, just agonizingly slow, low-information density Youtube videos.

But yes, this is the root of the problem - nobody documents their own game anymore.

It wouldn’t be as bad if they devs actually supported the wiki. I don’t like my info only available based on community experimentation and guesswork. I think with paradox games some users try to reengineer equations, and while I’m impressed, I wish Paradox could be bothered to supply mechanic info themselves.