Why you should include a manual with your game
May 3, 2007
As featured in the May 2007 edition of the MarkUp Game Development Magazine
How many times have you started to play a gamemaker game before realising that the programmers ‘forgot’ to include full instructions and a control map?
Finding yourself playing a game for the first time without knowing what you are meant to or how to do it is daunting; however there are a lot of games out there which are just like this.
Some people make use of the ‘Game Information’ screen which can be set up in gamemaker, and viewed in most games, even if it has been left blank by the authors, by pressing [F1]. This however has very limited capabilities and can display only basic text.
Of course, for people unfamiliar with gamemaker they may not even know that help is available by pressing [F1]. So it is always best to include an external manual or full instructions which are clearly accessible from your games main menu.
A well-designed manual can include screenshots, graphics, annotated diagrams and illustrations such as a keyboard map of controls. There will also be room for a full introduction to the game, and you can even include hints for players to get more out of your game.
Creating an external manual is easy. It can be done using the most basic of software – a wordprocessor. Many games are distributed with a .txt readme file, however this usually contains just copyright information and is not suitable for a full professional-looking manual.
The beta version of Microsoft Office’s 2007 version of Word did contain a built in .pdf compiler so you could save your documents to be read by Adobe’s free Reader software. This however was removed from the official release, but is still available to install as a plugin from the Microsoft website.
Earlier versions of Word or other word processors can still be used by making use of free text-to-pdf converters such as pdf995.
There is no excuse for not including good instructions with your game. They can make the difference between someone trying and failing to play your game and someone playing and enjoying your game.
As featured in the May 2007 edition of the MarkUp Game Development Magazine – Download it now for more gamemaker articles, reviews and tutorials.