Welcome to “Inside the Guide,” the column that gives you a behind-the-scenes look at writing guides for videogames. Today, I’m going to talk about my guide for Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney for the Nintendo DS. As you may know, I made a video walkthrough for Phoenix Wright for the GameCola Youtube page. After I finished, I thought, “Hey, I made a video walkthrough for this game. I might as well make a text walkthrough, too, right?”
There’s a problem, however. GameFAQs already has eight guides for this game (not including foreign language guides). This is a major issue for some guide writers–with so much “competition,” how can you make a guide that stands out from the crowd?
Answer: you can’t. GameFAQs actually has an invisible limit of 6-8 guides per any individual game. If you try to write a guide for a game that has already hit this limit, the guide is automatically rejected, no matter what. The idea behind the maximum guide limit is that it will prevent a situation where a really popular game has over 100 different guides written for it.
My reaction to learning that I couldn’t write a Phoenix Wright guide?
Having a maximum number of guides for any specific game? That sounds like a rule CJayC made up so he could update the GameFAQs website less often. Lazy bones! Here, I pour my sweat and blood into writing a guide, and it gets rejected because seven other people beat me to it?
…OK, so maybe I didn’t pour my sweat and blood into a Phoenix Wright guide. But I did work hard on it! Honest!
…OK, fine. I wrote the absolute bare minimum with this guide. I wrote about one paragraph per every two hours of gameplay, and all the paragraphs can be summed up as “just check my video walkthrough for information.” In my defense, writing a full text walkthrough would have been a lot of work! The shortest text walkthrough for the game is 89 pages long. 89 pages! And that’s the shortest walkthrough for the game! I don’t have that much free time to devote to writing guides!
So I went to another walkthrough site and asked them if they would pretty-please accept my guide for Phoenix Wright, even though I didn’t want to do any real work on it.
And IGN totally agreed! They ran the videos through their system (which is apparently called The Scrunch-Master 3000), I copy/pasted the video descriptions from the YouTube walkthrough, and everyone went home happy with the new Phoenix Wright video walkthrough.
So I guess the moral of this column is that sometimes you can get away with being lazy in the world of writing videogame guides. And that some of the official GameFAQs rules don’t make a lot of sense. I’d say more, but that’s a column for another day, I’m afraid.