Inside the Guide: To Be the (7th) Best!

Michael's goal this month: Be the 7th best GameFAQs writer ever!

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suspects-headerHello, and welcome to “Inside the Guide,” the column that gives you a behind-the-scenes look at writing guides for GameFAQs. My goal this month is to be the best!

…Kind of.

Let me introduce you to The GameFAQs Prolific Ranking, a site that keeps track of all GameFAQs contributors. For the past seven years or so, I’ve been slowly sneaking my way up the list. I’d like to brag and say it’s because I’m a great writer, but the truth is that everyone else on the list is retired. It’s hard not to out-write your competition when they stopped writing guides ten years ago.

My ranking for the month of October was #9 in the “Most Guides Written” category. Number nine! Better yet, I’m only two guides behind Frank G. and Brian S. So if I write three guides this month, I will leapfrog over them both and become #7. Awww, yeah! Let’s see if I can do it! Cue the epic workout music!

…That’s the last time I let Paul Franzen use my iPod. Anyway, that’s my goal for this month: write three different guides. Let’s see if I can do it!

Guide #1 is The 39 Clues: Vesper Hunt for the iPad. Why? It seems like an easy game to write a guide for.


This game is a Carmen Sandiego clone, in which you go all over the world and hunt down criminals. It also has three short minigames that repeat. Since I wrote a guide for Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? (NES), I thought I could just copy/paste that into a new guide.

For the most part, it worked. I did an hour of distracted writing, and my guide was about 90% done. That’s when I discovered the game has a Wikipedia page I can plagiarize from. Why didn’t I notice this sooner? It would have saved me a lot of time!

In any case, I was able to start and finish the guide, all within an episode of Days of Our Lives. That’s a success!

Guide #2 is Transylvania Adventure. That’s an 1982 Apple II game, which was re-released for the iPad.

trans1Man, check out those rad graphics, yo.

I picked up this game, because I was in a Halloween mood. It was moderately fun, although it had problems like a bad map system. For example, according to the map, the goblin is both north and south of the hut. Map aside, the biggest problem with the game is the price: $5.

Naturally, I decided to play one of the free abandonware versions of the game instead. I got ridiculously stuck, after about an hour. None of the guides were of any help; they said to get the vampire-slaying cross from the graveyard, but the cross wasn’t there.

It turns out that the game developers included an impossible puzzle in the DOS version of the game, as an anti-piracy measure. Only someone who purchased the game and read the manual would know that, duh, you’re supposed to go inside the hidden moose room and sing, “Some Enchanted Evening” to get the cross.

The extra puzzle actually worked in my favor, believe it or not. I submitted two guides for the game, one for the normal Apple II version, and one for the DOS version with the extra puzzle. Two guides for the price of one!

The Results

Now it’s November. Time to check the new rankings and see if my efforts were fruitful…


YES!!! With 150 guides, I’m now #7 on the list of GameFAQs prolific writers! I reached my goal of being the best!!! Cue the epic victory music!

Yeah, that works! I’m the best! Well, 7th best, but still! Hooray!

6 votes, average: 6.83 out of 106 votes, average: 6.83 out of 106 votes, average: 6.83 out of 106 votes, average: 6.83 out of 106 votes, average: 6.83 out of 106 votes, average: 6.83 out of 106 votes, average: 6.83 out of 106 votes, average: 6.83 out of 106 votes, average: 6.83 out of 106 votes, average: 6.83 out of 10 (You need to be a registered member to rate this post.)

About the Contributor

From 2007 to 2016

Michael Gray is a staff writer for GameCola, who focuses on adventure games, videos and writing videogame walkthroughs.


  1. As a fellow GameFAQs author, I have to question the ethics behind writing simply to have more guides than anyone else and whether it actually makes for quality work. Admittedly, I frequent the FAQ Contributors Board which has a fair amount of discussion on quality and they tend to frown on ‘KB-whoring’ or ‘Total Guides-whoring’, which I have to agree with. I’ve used the charts for months myself, but I use it more for self-motivation (I’ll probably be on both charts towards the end of next year), as opposed to my main focus. It just doesn’t seem particular helpful for the gamers that use GameFAQs.

    And, for reference, 21 of the Top 50 Prolifics for Total Guides have actually been active within the last year. 21 are active for KB Prolifics too. If you’re interested to know, you’re third for number of guides written during this year, behind Daniel (Key) and Andrea (IceQueen).

    1. My overall strategy is to completely ignore the prolific contributors list, unless I notice that I’m close to going up a level. At that point, I say, “Huh. Cool.” Then I forget about it. But that would make for a boring column, so for this month, I pretended to be REALLY EXCITED about the possibility of making #7.

      You might have noticed I deliberately left out the “change” column in the final picture of the rankings, in order to hide the fact that Daniel (Key) is almost certainly going to leapfrog me within a few months. I’ve been writing a lot of guides recently, due to my unemployment, but he’s apparently the real deal. I concede his superior output ability.

      1. Okay, understandable. It just seemed like you were writing simply for the sake of that. Nice column overall anyway. 🙂 I discovered it a few weeks ago and have probably read about a third of the articles. It’s interesting to see how our styles differ and how differently you approach the whole FAQing process. It’s nice to see FAQing get some attention outside of GameFAQs.

        Daniel’s simply nuts. He’s 16 and his routine is to write from 7pm to 12am every night; that’s around an average of 35 hours per week that he FAQs. Plus because he writes for the GB Completion Project, he can easily put out two guides a night if he wants. Crazy. XD

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