The Secret Life of a Strategy Guide Writer / 02

Last time: I threatened you with exciting* information on what exactly a strategy guide author does all day (as well as wiping Cheetos off their paunch and crushing controllers in their bare hands after a particularly vexing game crash). This time, I reveal the behind-the-scenes work that goes on before the game even gets into my sweaty and slightly arthritic hands.


Part 2: The Planning Stage


A guide author usually knows what’s coming down the game-release pipeline well ahead of time, and they “pitch” to write a favorite game. Authors with more experience, or those that have covered a franchise previously, usually get their name included automatically. And sometimes, software companies ask for authors they didn’t want to kill after the last guide of theirs was created. When the game’s usually around three to six months away from release), the author gets the call: “Stop scratching yourself there, and let’s begin planning strategy guide magic!”


Well, perhaps “strategy guide magic” is a little strong (unless you’re writing about Magic The Gathering), but software developers are learning how effective guides can be. I’ve worked on a game that sold an extra 50,000 copies because people saw a thick, chunky guide in the store and bought the game because of that. At least, that’s what the voices in my head told me. But usually, the author, Prima editors and managers, and a game’s Producer and Designers all get around a phone to talk over each other, I mean figure out a schedule. And then the big question is answered: When can I get to play the game?


Next time: I run the gamut of emotions from “exhilaration” to “overwhelming fear” as the project kicks off, and I realize just what a gigantic amount of work is involved.


Just finished: Charting my path through some side quests on a spectacular and massive RPG I can’t mention the name of.


Currently: Writing dozens more of these quests.


About to: Claim incredible, god-like status and rampage through a virtual world, looking for hard-to-find items and areas.




(*excitement not guaranteed)


2 Responses to “The Secret Life of a Strategy Guide Writer / 02”

  1. 1 r3dstar
    June 10, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    I always find that this is always the most exciting phase of the process for me. The notion of getting a new game, especially if it is something I’ve been looking forward to, is always nice.

  2. 2 nik
    September 26, 2008 at 1:17 am

    Doesn’t writing a game guide for a game in such a short time kinda ruin the fun of the game? I’ve done game reviews (yes nowhere near a strategy guide) with deadlines looming overhead, and have not really enjoyed it as much as when I did when I took my own time!

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