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Ubisoft Says No More Game Manuals

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the that-would-bug-me dept.

Media 400

thsoundman writes with this excerpt from The Gamers Blog: "No more manuals? Ubisoft announced last week that they will be ditching the trend of printing instruction manuals for new games under the 'green' initiative. While no other publishers have jumped on that 'green' train just yet, it is likely that others will follow suit. Printed manuals have been part of gaming since you bought PC games in plastic bags. There have been many standout eras for manuals, such as the NES-era booklets to the manuals that accompanied Electronic Arts vinyl-sized game sleeves. Some may argue that the advancement in on-screen contextual commands and first-level tutorials have made the manual pointless, but is this really the case?"

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Why bother with manuals? (5, Funny)

PolyDwarf (156355) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942334)

When no one can play your game due to drm servers being down?

(come on, you know it's going to be said many times in this thread.. Might as well get it going early :))

Re:Why bother with manuals? (5, Insightful)

thsoundman (1778564) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942598)

Because they add to the overall experience of the game. They give artwork, keyboard/controller commands, they give alot of backstory and on the side they make you actually feel like your getting somting for all the money you just spent. When i spend 60 dollars i want somthing more then a disc. Have you tried "figuring out" how to play NHL10 without the booklet there are over 5 pages of commends in there. Games like Final Fantasy have pages of story, character info, etc. It just gives you somthing tangible that makes your gaming experience that much better.

Re:Why bother with manuals? (5, Insightful)

rilian4 (591569) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942672)

Solution for PC games is obvious. PDF on the Disc containing every page that would have been printed. I suppose for console games that a URL to visit online where you can download the manual would work but then what if the site goes down or the file is removed...or they might make you setup a "free" account and be forced to provide personal details in order to access the manual. (Yes I know it will get out eventually...)

Re:Why bother with manuals? (5, Insightful)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942912)

I don't know about you, but I usually read the instruction manual on the crapper. Most of the manuals never get read, but like a previous poster stated, it gives you something tangible with the game.

"Green" initiative... Money is green

Re:Why bother with manuals? (2, Insightful)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942714)

Man, if there's ever a time when I don't RTFM, it's when I'm playing a new game. For starters, convention has pretty much taught us all what to expect. Second, delays between acquiring a game and playing it, no matter how small, are annoying. Last but not least, I pretty much Google or wikipedia everything these days. Why waste time fishing around for an easily lost pamphlet when a couple of clicks get me the info I need?

Kudos to Ubisoft. Better for waste, better for their bottom line and practically zero impact for gamers.

Re:Why bother with manuals? (0, Redundant)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942804)

Plus pretty much every game now gives tutorials on control mechanics as you need them, which is a much more effective way to learn to play the game.

Re:Why bother with manuals? (1, Funny)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942874)

Yeah, obviously I didn't even read the summary.

Re:Why bother with manuals? (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942762)

Because they add to the overall experience of the game.

That's great. In a couple of months they will announce that you can buy the manual for a "small additional fee" to go along with the small fee they are charging for demos of the game.

Re:Why bother with manuals? (2, Insightful)

ElKry (1544795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942862)

You may want to try to read the post itself instead of just answering to the subject...

Re:Why bother with manuals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31942704)

Ah, yes. As a technical writer, I've been hearing this for years. The facts are that very technical people may prefer no documentation or documentation only when performing something with a complex list but most users are not technically sophisticated.

It's 2010 and people are still using MS-Excel to write letters. Yes, I've seen it.

Bean counters never see the point of documentation. Comprehensive documentation should be offered so that life is made easier for the users. This can mean posters, keyboard maps, wallet cards as well as booklets and books.

The firm I was at most recently insisted that documentation should only be provided on line because all of their users were super advanced. Really? All of their users? That's wishful thinking.

Companies that skimp on documentation may survive but they are making life harder for themselves if they wish to thrive.

Re:Why bother with manuals? (1)

Spad (470073) | more than 4 years ago | (#31943078)

Thankfully not a problem any more [rlslog.net] ...

Well at least they dropped (4, Interesting)

JamesP (688957) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942340)

the brown paper written in black with anti-piracy codes (remember Sim City?!)

Re:Well at least they dropped (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942404)

Why brown paper? So one guy had to go through the 5 minute trouble of scanning it and cleaning it up in Photoshop before distributing it?

Re:Well at least they dropped (2, Interesting)

radish (98371) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942580)

I don't know about brown, but a number of games back in the 80's came with black-on-purple code sheets which (it was said) would confuse photocopiers. Personal scanners didn't really exist at the time, these were 8-bit games distributed on tape.

Re:Well at least they dropped (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31942622)

Presumably to make photocopies illegible. (Sim City predates Photoshop 1.0.)

Re:Well at least they dropped (1)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942636)

This was a long time ago when throwing the manual on the (black and white) office photocopier before lending the disks to your coworkers was a major piracy channel... Scanners were quite rare, and running photoshop on an EGA card would have been a joke.

Anyway, have to say your sig goes well with the topic of your post.

Good. (4, Insightful)

tool462 (677306) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942364)

They've been all but useless for ~20 years anyway. Contextual help and tutorials within the game are usually more useful and intuitive. If I need more help, it's usually easy enough to find what I'm looking for online anyway.

Re:Good. (5, Insightful)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942510)

I dunno, for some games, I've found manuals to be pretty useful: Neverwinter Nights, Civilization, i.e. games with lots of miscellaneous icons and skill trees that require a decent amount of planning. Sure you can put the content in game, but sometimes it's nice to have a reference guide. Plus the art and flavor text is nice sometimes too.

Re:Good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31942660)

just give me the cheat codes, which also will get the dress off the princess [vodpod.com] [NWS], and I will be happy

Re:Good. (1)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942812)

Yes but the manual was what you got to read on the way home on the bus. Getting you ever more excited about your purchase.

Re:Good. (1)

tool462 (677306) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942930)

It's been almost 20 years since I've ridden a bus (unless you count public transport).

Yes (4, Insightful)

ZekoMal (1404259) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942368)

Nobody reads instructions. As noted in older /. articles, nobody even reads Terms of Service, even if they end up surrendering their soul. Instructions are always included in the game itself, and if they aren't, are fairly easy to figure out. I've never used instruction manuals, except for when I'm looking at character bios not included in the game, or artwork.

Re:Yes (2, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31943052)

I've spent many loading times in Oblivion, Fallout 3, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age, reading manuals. Guess its just me.

in other words... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31942370)

they plan on developing only simplistic titles for the brain-dead masses; instead of huge, complex, detailed games that demand printed reference materials.

Re:in other words... (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942560)

When was the last time you needed a manual for even a complicated game? Neverwinter Nights?

Oh, wait, no, you didn't. We've pretty much all seen that interface before, and had a good idea of what to do with it and the ruleset.

In fact, when's the last time you saw a game with totally unique mechanics that weren't remotely intuitive to anyone who has played a game within the genre before?

Re:in other words... (4, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942810)

Dwarf Fortress.

Aurora.

Nethack.

Re:in other words... (1)

SargentDU (1161355) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942988)

Please enter the 5th word in the 2nd paragraph on page 21 in your manual to continue with the game...

Re:in other words... (1)

miggyb (1537903) | more than 4 years ago | (#31943064)

+1 Nostalgia

Who reads manuals anyway? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31942374)

I just mash the controls with my fat hands or dialing wand until I figure out what does what.

Manuals are not needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31942376)

Everything can be adequately explained in game. That is if a game doesn't have controls and a format that mimics 12 other games.

So games will be cheaper then? (5, Funny)

Manip (656104) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942380)

Since games now ship without a manual I am sure all of those savings will be passed on to the end consumer, right?

Re:So games will be cheaper then? (5, Insightful)

dskzero (960168) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942512)

Sarcasm meter screaming out, but i'm sure they will publicly divert that money to R&D, and other important departments.

Like the "Boss wants a new ferrari" department, and the always popular "How to DRM your way into making games unplayable".

Awesome!

Re:So games will be cheaper then? (5, Funny)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942534)

It's called 'green' for a reason, you know.

Re:So games will be cheaper then? (0)

Piata (927858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942694)

Who cares? It will save trees and that's worth a hell of a lot more than saving a few dollars on a game.

Re:So games will be cheaper then? (2, Insightful)

HybridST (894157) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942884)

This document is printed on recycled paper.

Re:So games will be cheaper then? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31943034)

I care. Here in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, logging is a major industry. So now, not only is Ubisoft screwing me out of the ability to play the game that I bought, they are trying to take away my livelihood, too?

Evil Bastards.

Re:So games will be cheaper then? (1)

Warlord88 (1065794) | more than 4 years ago | (#31943072)

They actually address that issue in TFA.

Game Manuals? (2, Insightful)

skine (1524819) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942382)

I honestly can't remember the last time I used a game manual.

The only real reason I know of is to find out the control layout, but that's usually included/changeable in-game now.

Re:Game Manuals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31942996)

The last time I used a game manual was Monday, just a few days ago. I was playing Final Fantasy 13 and I forgot if the spells "Faith" and "Bravery" were offensive or defensive spells. (I also forgot there was an in-game manual.)

But, as others are saying, I do appreciate the physical maps (Neverwinter Nights, Elder Scrolls games), tech trees (Starcraft, Civilization), etc. that come with some games. I really hope that if everyone does discontinue the game manuals, they would still include whatever souvenir would have otherwise shipped with the game.

Has anybody read a modern game manual? (5, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942384)

I have not seen a decent printed manual for a game in about 10 years now. Sometimes they've got some nice fluff or stories, but as the writeup mentioned, in-game tutorials work a lot better. Having the instructions only printed in the manual is an anachronism in this day and age. Manual designers know that too, since most are at best anemic these days. When you download games from Steam you don't get the manual either. It's only an issue if you're attempting to play very old games like the original X-COM. Even then, the manuals are often available as a PDF.

Re:Has anybody read a modern game manual? (5, Interesting)

ProppaT (557551) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942666)

It's funny, modern instruction manuals are....worthless. There's about 10 pages of front matter, including boilerplate information from the console manufacturer (controller configuration, seizure warnings, etc), ToC, etc. Then there's about 5-10 pages on the actual game. Then once you start the game you go through 30minutes to an hour of non-skippable tutorial. It's obnoxious. How many different ways can you explain to someone to hit the button to jump and the other one to shoot?

I remember, back when games were much simpler, even stupidly simple games would have much larger instruction books. Dare I say they were even fun to read? They were full of story, jokes, cool art, etc. To this day, I have all the instruction books for my old NES and SNES games. I wouldn't buy a game without them. Now I couldn't care less about them. Which is sad to say because I write technical manuals for a living. I'd be lying if I said that videogame instruction books weren't influential in me going down this career path.

Re:Has anybody read a modern game manual? (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942670)

I have not seen a decent printed manual for a game in about 10 years now.

Technically, you only need a sheet of paper that contains a list of controls, and other stuff as needed. It may need to span multiple pages depending on how complex the controls become, and any smart designer would place a copy in-game as well.

However, the manual should at least describe basic game mechanics (e.g. should allow players to successfully min-max something on the first try.)

Having the instructions only printed in the manual is an anachronism in this day and age.

I've seen an RTS that listed a whole ton of units in the game manual. For each unit, it only described the actions it could take (e.g. move, attack, etc.) rather than mentioning the purpose of the unit (e.g. anti-catapult, anti-cavelry). The manual didn't even mention that you needed to right-click to move units around - a sudden change for someone who is used to C&C.

Re:Has anybody read a modern game manual? (2, Interesting)

Kemanorel (127835) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942728)

Side note, and more than slightly off topic, but I would so very much like to see the original 2 X-COM games recreated to run on modern systems. No changes to some real-time-turn-based hybrid bullshit, just pure I take my turn then the computer (or online opponent) takes it's turn with destructible environment features. This would even be a good fit as a console game at this point in tech. With everything else getting remade or rereleased for the sake of nostalgia, why not X-COM?

Re:Has anybody read a modern game manual? (2, Insightful)

zero_out (1705074) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942866)

X-COM was, and still is, the greatest game ever created. Even with the horrendous graphics, by today's standards, it's an awesome game. I break it out every couple of years. If the game simply ran natively on today's hardware, and had higher resolution graphics (no 3D, just hi-res sprites), I would be absolutely giddy (and I don't get giddy. Ever).

Re:Has anybody read a modern game manual? (1)

Peteskiplayer (1032662) | more than 4 years ago | (#31943128)

Tried the steam versions? It's pretty cheap on there and surely will run natively (otherwise I'd imagine they'd get a lot of complaints).. in fact.. I'm gonna go check now :)

Re:Has anybody read a modern game manual? (1)

zero_out (1705074) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942778)

[...]When you download games from Steam you don't get the manual either.[...]

That's one of the (several) reasons I don't download games from Steam. I buy games, with packaging, and expect a physical manual, even if it is rather worthless. To me, they're a part of the whole package that I buy (not pay for a license). I still have my first PC game CD, with the box and manual. It was Age of Empires. Yeah, I'm a latecomer, I know. Those are the sort of things you don't throw away. They're a bit of nostalgia that remind you of the fun times in life; like photographs from your favorite vacation, 20+ years ago.

Re:Has anybody read a modern game manual? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31942784)

ecological and economical decisions often coincide. I consider that a benefit as it makes it easier for corps to make Earth-friendlier decisions.

Re:Has anybody read a modern game manual? (1)

Sefi915 (580027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942800)

I agree.
The last decent manual I got in a box with a game was Fallout 2.
Then again, Interplay had some kick-ass manual writers and the manual had just as much awesome charm as the game.
(Disclaimer: I have not purchased Fallout 3 to make a comparison.)

Pfft, yeah, "GREEN!" (5, Insightful)

dwiget001 (1073738) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942388)

No, not "GREEN", more like "It's a helluva lot less expensive to just not print the manuals!"

On-line help in HTML or PDF form would suffice for a "manual" and often does in many games nowadays.

Besides, I have seen manuals get smaller and smaller and smaller to the point where they are really just a few pages of basic "How to install game" paragraphs and "How to contact support" *plus* two pages of advertisements for the company's other games, subscriptions, merchandise, etc.

Re:Pfft, yeah, "GREEN!" (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942502)

No, not "GREEN", more like "It's a helluva lot less expensive to just not print the manuals!"

Exactly. One of the concepts I learned in psych was that you need to properly frame things to be a benefit to the customer; even if teh goal is simply to save costs. Hence, hotels "Use less water if you reuse a tool" and "Unless you ask we won't change sheets / vacuum during your stay"ather then "we only service the room every other day to save cash."

Re:Pfft, yeah, "GREEN!" (0, Troll)

notommy (1793412) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942544)

Exactly. If they're so green, why sell something the size of a small 100 page paperback in a box the size of a dictionary? Not only is that a waste of packaging material, it's also wasteful for storage and shipping when all the trucks, trains and planes are carrying is essentially air. "green" my ass. I hate the hypocrisy of this green movement.

Re:Pfft, yeah, "GREEN!" (1)

Narishma (822073) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942710)

Don't forget the two or three blank pages where you're supposed to write who knows what.

Home Improvement (4, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942412)

Real men don't read instructions

Yeah, Right. (0, Redundant)

ckblackm (1137057) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942420)

Green Initiative... yeah right. They're just looking to cut costs to make more money. I bet the "cost savings" doesn't get passed on to the customer.

!!!! RAGE !!!! (1)

del_diablo (1747634) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942422)

Well, i will miss manuals. Times was better before, there was big nice manuals full of art. And the games started off the bat on normal difficult instead of a nerfed down unskippable boring training session.
The last game i played from newer date that had gotten it decently enough done was Mount & Blade, stuffed a training session into the menu instead of the normal stupidity. Quite a shame they lacked a manual overfilled with good art.

Re:!!!! RAGE !!!! (1)

dskzero (960168) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942538)

Indeed. I was looking over my Warcraft II manual, and it was beyond awesome. Of course, this is all so they can keep churning out chaff games and pissing off customers. God I hate them.

Re:!!!! RAGE !!!! (1)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942604)

Good manuals, like good liner notes will be missed. The vast majority of game manuals, like the vast majority of liner notes are, and have always been completely superfluous crap.

Actually, I think it's a bit worse than that. It used to be that games were completely both incapable of conveying a story line and had extremely poor graphics, so the best manuals filled in the gaps. Now a days games are so much better at the narrative and have such vastly superior graphics that game manuals only exist to tell you how to install the game and what pushing button 'x' does. The game itself has picked up the slack as far as plot and art.

But now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31942446)

What are we supposed to read on the ride home after buying it from the store???

I like them (5, Insightful)

linear core (1692640) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942452)

What will kids read on the way home from the game store now? I have also found game manuals helpful in many instances where commands and instructions that weren't put into the game were put there. Not every instruction or tip you need to convey can be put into the game without breaking the flow. The game manual helps. Besides, sometimes they're really pretty.

If the end result was the inclusion of manuals... (5, Insightful)

Delusion_ (56114) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942464)

...either in software form (nothing more fussy than html or pdf, please) or within in-game help, that would merely be a disappointment.

But what really going on here is that they're turning their manuals from a cost to a profit by outsourcing their manuals to BradyGames, Prima, and other publishers. I'm sick to death of paying for games which need manuals (rts/tbs yes, fps, no), but I'm only provided with a razor thin command reference sheet, if that.

UbiSoft wins. The game strategy guide industry wins. The customer loses. More of the usual.

Re:If the end result was the inclusion of manuals. (2, Insightful)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942826)

When is the last time that a major RTS hasn't had a campaign mode nearly entirely devoted to showing you all of your units and explaining the mechanics and trees? Starcraft and Warcraft 2 had campaigns where the beginning explained these things; the difference in newer games is the general shrinking of the portion afterwords that you have full access to all units.

I know that TBS games can be a bit more detailed and usually only give an overview, but since when is learning their mechanics impossible to do from playing rather than reading?

Even if I did want to read the manual, I wouldn't care if they got rid of the paper manuals in favor of electronic versions; it's the same information whether it's in HTML, PDF or print; one just costs the environment and the company less. There's no disappointment to most people when most people would use the amazing information machine in front of them anyway instead of searching for a manual that's likely not detailed enough to cover the aspect of the game you want to know.

Re:If the end result was the inclusion of manuals. (2, Insightful)

mattbee (17533) | more than 4 years ago | (#31943002)

How is that a loss? There was a time when the game manual had to fire the imagination a little, make up for the chunky graphics, supply a back story, or document some complicated controls, stuff that was difficult/impossible from within the game. Now games have all the technology to explain themselves from the moment they start, and if they can't or don't, they're in trouble. What's wrong with giving some game mapping companies an inside track, folk who do a far more honest job documenting the game than the developers, and letting customers choose whether they want the manual? Developers can leave the books to people who want a colourful walk-through, and make them pay. If it's one less "compulsory" cost in a boxed title, that's fine by me.

Re:If the end result was the inclusion of manuals. (1)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 4 years ago | (#31943056)

... seriously? http://gamefaqs.org/ [gamefaqs.org]

Pretty much useless (3, Insightful)

the_one_wesp (1785252) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942466)

However there are a few games, such as simulations and city building games, such as those created by the late Impressions Games, with vast complexities. Covering this kind of information in a tutorial is a little tedious and the beginners just don't care. It's really for the advanced users who want to understand how all objects interact. So, IMHO there are circumstances where game manuals are warranted, but most of the time I'd say they're not necessary.

Manuals will be available online (1)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942484)

Manuals will be available online in pdf form, IF you register the game.

Re:Manuals will be available online (1)

jargon82 (996613) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942546)

But you'll only be able to read them while online.

Re:Manuals will be available online (1)

dskzero (960168) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942628)

It isn't like they are forcing you to be online when you play them anyway.

Re:Manuals will be available online (1)

the_one_wesp (1785252) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942572)

Which will then need to be printed off for reference so you can look at them while playing your full screen game...

Yeah this is gonna fly well (1)

masshuu (1260516) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942494)

Half the games Ive bought within the past year aren't so clear with their "training" phase that most games have. I prefer to have a manual within arms reach so i can quickly look up a hotkey when i first start playing, in-case that game isn't clear.

For example(last night): in Battlefield Bad company 2, didn't realize, or see it at first since it was on the screen for a short time, that the MidM in small text was referring to middle mouse button.

Game manuals have many advantages! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31942496)

I can remember buying computer games and, I couldn't even wait to get home before I'd rip open the box and start reading the manual, looking at screen shots, viewing the magic spell list for an RPG, etc....

When you're on the go, and you don't have a computer available, good old paper manuals were awesome! And, you can read them without needing a power source.

I still love 'em and wish they won't go away...

Re:Game manuals have many advantages! (1)

del_diablo (1747634) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942602)

I agree, i miss the ye old times.

I kinda miss them... (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942540)

Most recent games probably don't need manuals anyway. But I, as an avid simulation gamer, still miss the good old times of complex flight sims with huge manuals - think of Falcon. Manuals you actually had to read to be able to fly. Fortunately there are still some niche products along that line. I love my 1600 pages of ring-bound checklists, workflows, operation manuals and documentation for the PMDG MD-11 for Flight Simulator. People who see that on my desk seem to ponder the question whether I am just a nerd or a terrorist each time, though...

Nostalgia (1)

kaellinn18 (707759) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942570)

This is good, and I applaud the effort to save paper. As the summary mentioned, in-game tutorials and searchable digital manuals have made the printed manual fairly obsolete. However, I will always fondly remember those hefty manuals that you used to get with a huge role-playing game like Baldur's Gate. I loved flipping through those and reading up on the lore or finding out about an aspect of the game I didn't know about from reading just the basic instructions. Of course, I don't know of any games in recent years that have come with a manual like that. I would have loved to have seen one for the Mass Effect games.

Re:Nostalgia (1)

Shimbo (100005) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942888)

However, I will always fondly remember those hefty manuals that you used to get with a huge role-playing game like Baldur's Gate. I loved flipping through those and reading up on the lore or finding out about an aspect of the game I didn't know about from reading just the basic instructions.

It was the Ultima series for me: the manuals, the lore, not to mention the cloth maps and little trinkets. Going forth to do battle with yet another incompatible DOS memory manager. Happy times!

Green? (5, Insightful)

FonzCam (841867) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942584)

So to be green they're removing the most environmentally friendly part of the product?

It'd be a much more green initiative to replace the plastic case with a paper and card case that could include basic controls printed on it's various surfaces. They could even go all out and switch to all digital distribution.

Let's compare (1)

supernes (1560323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942630)

For two different games priced equally:

Ubisoft's idea of game packaging - http://u2mofo.com/newgamecase.jpg [u2mofo.com]
Atari's idea of game packaging - http://nunetherlands.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/witcher-enhanced-edition-package-800.jpg [wordpress.com]

Guess which one I'm going to buy...

Fixed (1)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942632)

Ubisoft announced last week that they will be ditching the trend of printing instruction manuals for new games under the 'cost savings' initiative.

Odds on them passing along the savings to the customer? Zero. But it doesn't matter. Ever since the internet connection required fiasco I won't be buying any of their crap anyway

'Green'? (2, Interesting)

zblach (977591) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942640)

The last time I bought a game, it came on a plastic disc in a plastic case, surrounded by cardboard padding, packed into a laminated cardboard box, and then covered in a plastic wrapper. They've got a long way to go before that's 'green'. Besides, of all parts, isn't the manual the only one you'd actually want to have as a hard copy? I could do without the CD, especially with easily available digital distribution.

Re:'Green'? (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942788)

The last time I bought a game, it came on a plastic disc in a plastic case, surrounded by cardboard padding, packed into a laminated cardboard box, and then covered in a plastic wrapper. They've got a long way to go before that's 'green'.

To be fair, a LOT of games (I'd say most games) are distributed in something like a DVD case now. Gets rid of most of that extraneous packaging.

Manuals are required (1)

fistcar (935025) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942686)

If need be I can make a laundry list of games that have a tutorial or training session that do not cover everything in the manual. I read the manuals and I find that there is always something that the game neglects to mention. This has usually been the way a function of the game works. The game will say touch B to do X, but then the manual will say touch B in this situation to do X, press B in another situation to do Y, etc. Otherwise there is some story or background stated in the manual that does not make it into the game. Manuals sometimes have character descriptions, back stories, or environmental information that will mention something the game will take for granted. For example a character back story in a manual will say something to the effect of "The elves homeland is X." Then in the game it will say something stupid like "Take the elf character home." And you can select from town X, Y, or Z. I will admit that printed manuals may be useless, an electronic manual is just as effective. Final Fantasy XIII has done a good job with an in game electronic manual. Oh, and if anyone has ever said RTFM for anything and is now advocating removing manuals for games, STFU.

PDF all the way (1)

wavemancali (998656) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942712)

I prefer a PDF on the disc. It's searchable by keyword, easy to access, always with the install disc. The most I ever would ever want printed is perhaps an overall map if the game uses one or a single page quick start guide showing the basic key controls.

What about always online DRM servers? (1)

Vaphell (1489021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942722)

if they are going green, why are they burning a lot of juice to power up their servers, not to mention customers forced to have their networking gear running to play single player campaigns?

good grief (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31942732)

how is this a big deal? Who cares about a game manual? I get 90% of my games on steam anyways so I don't remember the last time I even got a game manual.

Publisher? Maybe. (1)

UninformedCoward (1738488) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942756)

While UBI may be the first publisher, I think digital distribution methods like Steam are WAY ahead on this front.

RTFM? (3, Funny)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942776)

So now I am going to look stupid telling people to RTFM. I don't know, but RTFCH (read the F. contextual help) just doesn't feel as catchy.

My two cents (1)

denmarkw00t (892627) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942798)

Personally, I like having a manual, but I also apparently like losing them. Sure, ditch the print version, but provide for an online manual. It has been important, time and again, to have some form of manual for games. Whether it's understanding an item, having a quick controller reference, or just the nifty character and enemy profiles. Go green, just don't go without.

Re:My two cents (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#31943118)

They could not make a manual at all, and you would still be able t find what you need about the game online.

DRM means you're online (1)

Glarimore (1795666) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942822)

And if you're online, there is no need to have a printed version. As much as I hate it, with DRM in place this move makes sense. I support.

Think of the children (1)

BlueBoxSW.com (745855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942890)

Now how are we going to advise epileptics that they shouldn't play video games?

Re:Think of the children (1)

bFusion (1433853) | more than 4 years ago | (#31943100)

Maybe we could flash a warning message on the screen before the program loads?

readme? (1)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942918)

They'll still have a readme file that I can print out on my dot matrix printer and store in a three ring binder for future reference though right?

My grandfather actually used to make me do this when I was little, being an old school engineer. God help me if he saw me uncheck that "view readme first" check-box after the installation.

Fine by me (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942934)

With their crappy DRM, I wasn't planning on buying any of their games anyway.

Part of the Experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31942978)

I may not read all my game manuals but it is an appreciated part of the whole experience. Companies that put out skimpy manuals or omit them will find their fan base reduced somewhat. This may not be make or break but it will reduce overall sales.

Disclaimer - This comes from someone who listens to records both for the sound and the experience of handling the discs.

Cost savings to consumer? (1)

Meshuggah24 (1683458) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942980)

So, I wonder if the savings in production cost will be handed down to the consumer? I doubt it. Green turns to greed once again.

Good for them. (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#31942982)

Good for them. Not that I really care seeing as I'll never purchase an Ubisoft game again.

Financial weakness? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31943026)

Is the gaming industry really in that bad of shape that they have to cut manuals, demos, etc? The only other industry that I can gauge this by is the airline industry, which seems to be equally desperate to squeeze out profits any way possible.

green? (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 4 years ago | (#31943082)

I thought the global warming folks were freaking out about CO2? Paper is made from trees grown for exactly that purpose. Those trees are young, which means they absorb more CO2 than older trees. Shouldn't we support using paper? New paper also takes less chemicals and such to process than recycling the stuff again as paper.

what (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#31943086)

"While no other publishers have jumped on that 'green' train just yet it is likely that others will follow suit. "

Publishers have been going more green for years. Most games I have bought over the last couple of years haven't had a hard manual.

Manuals used to be the only way to learn a game (1)

linebackn (131821) | more than 4 years ago | (#31943096)

I remember when reading the manuals were the ONLY way to figure out how to play a game. On Atari 2600 games and the likes you would often need them to figure out what those little pixelated blobs were supposed to be on the screen and what to do with them, and the manual certainly wouldn't fit in 4k bytes of rom. On text based Infocom interactive fiction games you would always need to read through an example session in the manual to figure out the basic vocabulary understood by the particular game.

Utilities and tools would often come with multiple manuals hundreds of pages long, describing every little feature in accurate detail. And they all needed to be fairly well written because the manufacturers could not just push a button and update the books to fill in any incomplete parts.

But for quite a while now most applications have included electronic documentation or built-in tutorials in addition to a printed manual, sometimes even with the exact same content! So it does seem reasonable to only maintain that information in one place if the user can do without.

Documentation in some form is very important and reduces the amount of time users spend figuring out things. Imagine if you had product with a million users, and something all of them need to do took each user 15 minutes to figure out on their own, but could be reduced to nothing by properly documenting it... how many lifetimes have you just saved? (Although it seems like some companies these days intentionally keep things undocumented or obscure so they can keep overpriced contractors and trainers employed)

Why bother with manuals at all (1)

Y Ddraig Goch (596795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31943116)

M.S. hasn't shipped a, even in pdf, for years. Adobe doesn't ship manuals with it's product, pdf or otherwise all the info is on line. I have a large collection of mostly useless manuals. Good riddance.
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