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Strategy Guides

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I was working on my adventuregame last week, and after overcoming some large design hurdles, many of which I have chronicled here, I was able to come up with the cover art for my strategy guide.

Most of you may not be thinking about your strategy guide yet, as this aspect of project development is far, far down the line for most of you. I however, have learned that creativity in not necessarily linearly productive process for me.

I come from the old school of publishing, where font sizes, typeface and format of the printed matter weren't drop down export functions from Word or other publishing programs.

Plus, since this is an adventure game, I had to consider that the player's strategy guide had to be used in the field, part of my whole approach to mobile entertainment options in computer entertainment.

So, I dug into my library, and found an old Army ranger field manual, where the pages were waterproof, had a small handheld footprint, and was designed from the printer's standpoint of the end user. It had to be light, capable of being packed along with your gear in the field, easy to read and well organized - most of the things that are givens.

I then began to wonder if this manual could become part of the smart device I'd envisioned for the game, a PDA/cell/mobile computing device. I began to design a custom PDA where the outside was camoflage, and not the shiny silver things we are accustomed to flashing around in our busy metropolitcan, technological lives.

I finally settled on the concept of the "recon PDA" where the device had real life adventure elements such as map creating, route checking and planning modules and other essential scientific data relevant to exploration and discovery, important premises to the style of gameplay I am creating.

I looked around the web for devices like this, and why wasn't surprised when I found that meter maids were already using devices like this. These devices are designed for extreme tempurature operating environments, can be submerged underwater, and repeatedly dropped onto concrete. They have up to 40 hour battery lives. They survive well in environments of wind, rain, chemical exposure, and have a temperature range of -4 to 140 degrees. That will surely get you out from behind your workstations, won't it?

Best of all, they are as expensive as a healthy desktop unit, around 2000 dollars. That will really motivate buyers in the marketplace, huh?... "And to play this game, all you need to do besides spend the 49 dollars on the disks is to drop another two grand on this device, and you are ready to play!"

Well, I'm not deterred. Games, and the player is a changing, evolving, dynamic thing, and there are few who will argue victoriously that consumers are going to demand longer, bigger, more variety involved games, and well, that is what I am designing for. We've already seen games online where players have been involved with their game community for very long times, so it's not going to be hard to imagine that the right kind of game that comes along won't justify the cost of a field computer when that cost is amortized out over the life of the playstate.

What disappointed me really, was that I would no longer be able to, in the era of diplay technologies, have glow in the dark ink, a perennial favorite amongst mystery fans.

I'll keep working on it.. maybe I can make your game T-shirt glow in the dark or something. I mean, they have laundry additives now that allows you to wash into your clost SPF 30 sun block protection. Who knows, in the next few generations of game evolution, you will be able to drive your computer to work, have your latte come out of the brew port, and boy, won't we be having some integrated fun then...

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