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Game manuals need to come back

RCU005

Member
One of the most disappointing aspect of going digital is missing out of game manuals. Or so we thought, since the gaming industry got rid of them much earlier than the digital takeover, and now opening a physical game is just a plastic box with a plastic disc. Not much else, if any.

However, at $70 a game these days (is that just Sony at the moment?) we as consumer we need to know we are purchasing value. One way of getting such value (at least a little) is getting instruction manuals back.

Back then, well done manuals included incredible art, story bits, character introductions, tricks, tips, etc. Instructions were only a cherry of the cake where they should've been the entire cake. The manual was also the starting point of the quality of the game. Most of the time, a quality game had a quality instruction manual also.

One way to bring them back is digitally, of course. Sony did them with the PS Vita. I remember that the one from Gravity Rush was incredibly well done. It was the standard of digital manuals for PS Vita (In fact, Gravity Rush set such a high standard for everything about PS Vita, such as features, controls, etc). Other games had very good manuals, too but I don't remember them. Of course, there were many that were just a Word document looking thing with words that resembled instructions.

I can only imagine the beautiful instruction manuals Nintendo would do with games such as Breath of the Wild, Splatoon, Kirby, Metroid, etc. Square Enix would do incredible instruction manuals for Final Fantasy XVI, Dragon Quest XI, Nuer Automata. OF course Capcom's Street Fighter 6 with its art-style.

Of course instruction manuals don't serve its purpose that much anymore, since many games already have tutorials (some even too long), but they were much more than instructions, as I mentioned above.

Yeah, I know, let me have my dream. It's obvious they'll never come back.
 

DelireMan7

Member
I am also a physical game enjoyer and manuals were so great. I remember reading them countless time when I couldn't play. Some were so great (MGS1 filled with background story, MGS2 with its "manga style" tutorial, all the arts of characters and background...)

EDIT : Some also had unique information. For example Dark Souls, very cryptic game with very few explanation in game, has a manual which explain a bit more some obscure mechanics (like the humanity/invasion/summon aspect, the kindling of fire granting estus to other players and even the Vagrants which are never mentioned in game.)

Still now I am really happy to go through the manual when I play an old game.


Unfortunately I don't think we'll see manuals coming back and let's appreciate physical games for few more years before they also disappear.
 
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SlimeGooGoo

Party Gooper
Nobody reads manuals.
Also, save the trees. Won't somebody please think of the trees?

Also, it was nice when developers went the extra mile

 

TheSHEEEP

Gold Member
If your game needs an external manual to be understood, you have failed as a designer.

Not that games shouldn't be complex, of course they should be.
But that complexity should be explained via in-game means.

If you want extra physical value with a game purchase, get collector's editions.
Some of them have pretty good stuff.
 
The last game manual I remember being included with a game was The Witcher 3, which also came with a nifty foldable map of the open world and a CD soundtrack. Damn, I miss the days when CD Projekt RED was beloved by everyone in the industry for being so pro-consumer.
 

Spaceman292

Member

Rykan

Gold Member
Just a friendly reminder that downloading a video game that's more than 8.8gb is worse for the environment than shipping a physical copy

Studies have been done to prove this https://www.extremetech.com/extreme...-worse-for-the-environment-than-blu-ray-discs
This study is old and doesn't apply anymore.

1. The study is based on the PS3 and is from 2014. The article says it takes power consumption of both the system and the TV into account. However, the PS3's download speeds were notoriously slow and it also took much longer to install the game. The PS3 couldn't download in standby mode. Every console since then has significantly faster download speeds and can both download and install in standby.

2. Internet speed has increased significantly

3. Blue ray plans have shut down left and right and only a few remain. It appears this research has been done with the assumption that the Blu Ray disk was produced locally in the UK. That's most likely not the case anymore.
 

SweetShark

Member
We really indeed need the manuals back, but not for learning the controls.

The old Blizzard respectfully had awesome manuals which were filled with stories and lore for each world. "Diablo 2" come first in my mind. Such a great 'book'.

 

Cyborg

Member
Once I went back to the store to replace my Vita game cause it was lacking a manual. I went back to the store and the lady was; no, nog that's the new policy, every game comes without a manual. The manuals and art is now reserved for collectors' editions. That was such a lame action.
 

Star-Lord

Member
I used to love reading through the manuals that came with the original Pokémon games. Seeing the amazing artwork was a highlight for me before diving into the game itself.
 

kraspkibble

Permabanned.
I do miss it but I don't even buy physical games anymore. Still, we could get a pdf or some shit with our games. The only game that came close to that was Cyberpunk 2077. While it wasn't a manual to the game, I loved that it came with a pdf of the Cyberpunk 2020 book. It was cool to read some of it and get an introduction to the world. I'd have loved if CDPR made their own "rulebook" for 2077. The Cyberpunk Red book was a lot closer to this but still designed for a p&p game and it didn't come with the game. You need to buy it separate.
 
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winjer

Member
I understand that game collectors do value these things.
But most games now have decent tutorials. And the option to change key bindings.
And there is also the issue with adding more waste.
 
Most of what was in manuals ends up on loading screens anyway.

Or (if they're not doing it already) they could offer all this stuff in a premium/special edition version of the game.


Although it's not quite the same thing, something like vinyl has been making a comeback so maybe there's hope.
 
As most games open with a cinematic and a tutorial, manual is kinda moot these days. A well put together manual as a bonus for special editions is a nice idea tho
 

Wohc

Banned
Loved the NES manuals as a kid. Nothing better than getting a game from your grandparents at Christmas and reading the manual like 20 times before we went home. Good times.
 

Nitty_Grimes

Made a crappy phPBB forum once ... once.
Japanese Megadrive manuals were amazing compared to their EU versions.

Not on about the languages.
 

drganon

Member
They were fun to read back in the day. Ps1 manuals though were a pain to get in and out of the cd case. Thankfully that next generation everyone went with DVD cases.
 

AndrewRyan

Member
Also miss the ritual of reading the manual over a burrito at Chipotle before playing for the first time. Kept them all arranged alphabetically on a shelf, usually left open to the controls page. Love how the Steam Deck shows the control layout on the pause screen for all games!
 

Spukc

Gold Member
One ofHAHHAHAHA the most disappointing aspect of going digital is missing out of gamHAHHAHAHA e manuals. Or so we thought, since the gaminHAHHAHAHA g industry got rid of them much earlier HAHHAHAHA than the digital takeover, and now opening a physical game is just a plastic box with HAHHAHAHA a plastic disc. Not much else, if any.

However, at $70HAHHAHAHA a game these days (is that just Sony at the moment?) we as consumer we need to know we are purchasing vaHAHHAHAHA lue. One way of getting such value (atHAHHAHAHA least a little) is getting instruction manuals back.

Back then, well done manuals included incredible art, story biHAHHAHAHA ts, character introductions, tricHAHHAHAHA ks, tips, etc. Instructions were onlyHAHHAHAHA a cherry of the cake where they shouldHAHHAHAHA 've been the entire cake. The manual was also the starting point of the quality of the game. Most of the time, a quality game had a quality instruction manual also.

One way to bring them backHAHHAHAHA is digitally,HAHHAHAHA of course. Sony did themHAHHAHAHA with the PS Vita. I remember that the one from GravHAHHAHAHA ity Rush was incredibly well done. It was the staHAHHAHAHA ndard of digital manualsHAHHAHAHA for PS Vita (In fact, Gravity Rush set such a high standard for everything about PS Vita, such HAHHAHAHA as features, controls, etc). Other games had very good manuals, too but I don't remember them. Of course, there were many that were just a Word document loHAHHAHAHA oking thing with words that resembled instructions.

I can only imagine the beautiful instruction manuaHAHHAHAHA ls Nintendo would do HAHHAHAHA with games such as Breath of thHAHHAHAHA e Wild, Splatoon, Kirby, Metroid, etc. Square Enix would do incredible instrHAHHAHAHA uction manuals foHAHHAHAHA r Final Fantasy XVI, Dragon Quest XI, Nuer Automata. OF course Capcom's Street Fighter 6 with its art-style.

Of coursHAHHAHAHA e instruction manuals dHAHHAHAHA on't serve its purpose that much anymore, since many games already have HAHHAHAHA tutorials (some even too long), but they were much moreHAHHAHAHA than instructions, as I mentioned above.

Yeah, I know, let me haveHAHHAHAHA my dream. It's obvious they'll HAHHAHAHA never come back.
HAHHAHAHA HAHHAHAHA HAHHAHAHA HAHHAHAHA HAHHAHAHA HAHHAHAHA HAHHAHAHA HAHHAHAHA HAHHAHAHA HAHHAHAHA HAHHAHAHA


Animated GIF
 
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RCU005

Member
Manuals? They are trimming cost and maximizing profit to the point of killing physical all together. Just be glad we still have physical.

Also, save the trees. Won't somebody please think of the trees?

But they are saving money by not having to print instruction manuals and passing those savings onto the consumer…

Not gonna happen. They want physical to be less attractive so you'll move to digital.

The point of this thread is the desire of having manuals back DIGITALLY! 🙃
 

CamHostage

Member
Manuals, I don't know... for all the reasons that has been mentioned (plus, every game explains itself so the "manual" part of manuals is irrelevant.)

However, great supplementary content, that could be something? Like maybe instead of just rushing the Collector's Edition out for launch, maybe there could be a post-market Fan's Edition after the game actually comes out and accumulates fans.

When the work is done and the office can actually breathe, keep some people busy with commentary tracks, art books, soundtracks, development diaries, and deep-dive material. Encourage people to play again, or remember the cool shit they experienced, or discover something they didn't know about the game. Do it as a DLC&Apps&Digital Docs pack (I'd want the "manual" or artbook on my phone/tablet, but then the rest on my console/PC, so I'm not sure what the best pairing would be... too bad videogame studios would never agree to like an UltraViolet format that houses all this cross-device). Have some of it be free and some of it premium digital content. Make it a regular thing available to produce in a common format for games big and small.
 
I'm old, got all the manuals from the past on a shelf, I'm out of shelf space, I really don't want any more, And now I'd kind of like to get rid of the ones I have.
 

hemo memo

Member
The point of this thread is the desire of having manuals back DIGITALLY! 🙃
Ehh.. that’s like saying reading a book from kindle. It is not the same as opining the physical disc and be greeted with that beautiful plastic smell then you open the menu and turn the pages.
 
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Nitty_Grimes

Made a crappy phPBB forum once ... once.
I'm old, got all the manuals from the past on a shelf, I'm out of shelf space, I really don't want any more, And now I'd kind of like to get rid of the ones I have.
What systems?

See if you can sell some in marketplace section.
 
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CamHostage

Member
BTW, if you like old manuals, game books are a thing. They don't get advertised or promoted much, they tend not to have official participation, and they cost money, but if you really love a game and it's notably popular, maybe take a look at what's out there? The Boss Fight Books series has about 30 texts so far, and then there are one-offs like the Rygar fan book by Brian Riggsbee (which I have a copy of) and that is rich in archival material.

https://bossfightbooks.com/
 

akimbo009

Gold Member
Yes. They won't. And physical is just investing in something worthless and we don't need more packaging on this planet.

Could be cool if you got a digital manual or something like that for flavor or additional unique experiences. They won't, cause you often don't even get the full game with a full game purchase either.
 

TGO

Hype Train conductor. Works harder than it steams.
Loved the smell of the Manuel's.
My old games I have still have that scent 😁
Cool illustrations and such and the little thank you at the end.
And you'll be surprised be how much is not actually mentioned in the game these days so you have to Google it.
Sure it's by no means necessary but they was nice to have.
 

peronmls

Member
It won't. I love physical copies. The really, they rather have time wasted developing tutorials than manuals. Just like movies, digit effects over practical. Those days are over. It's about saving money.
 

Kagoshima_Luke

Gold Member
If your game needs an external manual to be understood, you have failed as a designer.

Not that games shouldn't be complex, of course they should be.
But that complexity should be explained via in-game means.

If you want extra physical value with a game purchase, get collector's editions.
Some of them have pretty good stuff.
Hate this take. This lead us down the path of the first 1-2 hours of every AAA game these days having unskippable tutorials, aimed seemingly at a person who has never played a videogame before. I remember games like King's Field because they didn't tell you anything. Here's an island to explore, there's a bad thing happening here, good luck! 30 seconds later you're getting one shot by an 8ft-tall land squid. Fuck me - that sticks with you.

If a developer is adamant about explaining everything to you, why not put it in the manual? Read the manual if you want every mechanic explained in detail, otherwise, let me people get straight to the good stuff.
 

jaysius

Member
If you get a piece of paper in your gaming case now that bumps the game up to DELUXE, that paper doesn't come cheap, tacks a cool $10 onto the game.

If anything they'll tack on at least $5 if they give back manuals.
 

jaysius

Member
Gooooo Planet
The increased production of all those awful plastics in other editions far out weighs the "environmental" cost of manuals. The production of most game's ULTRA RARE editions almost are almost greater than the sales.
 
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Mr Hyde

Member
I do miss them. I like other stuff too, like a map, stickers and posters. I don't really like Collectors editions because they are so large and cumbersome but I do enjoy a good launch edition copy (or something in that vein). Kinda like how Elden Ring or The Witcher 3 did it. Very nice little bonuses that came with those games.
 
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