Wednesday, July 01, 2015

The Wonderful, Wonderful Manual

Tim Lesnick's pictures reminded me of how much I miss manuals.

Actually, I miss the entire unboxing experience, really. Playing a game in the old days was a process, not booting the game and playing within fifteen seconds. Open the box carefully, because some of the boxes were works of arts in themselves. Look at the finery inside. A nice manual, at least, plus maybe a cloth map if you were fortunate. Maybe even a coin or some kind of trinket.

I think that felt more personal to me than what we have today.

The last great box I remember (and it's been so long that I'm not sure I even remember this correctly) was Morrowind. A wonderful game, obviously, but so was the box. A beautiful manual, and I think a second book about Tamriel. Plus a lovely cloth map and a coin.

And if that's all wrong, I do have pleasantly enhanced memories, apparently.

There was just something about a well-written, entertaining manual that let you know the developers cared about their game. It established a relationship with you before the game was even booted up.

Thinking about manuals led me, strangely, to the end of Origin and games like Strike Commander. I'm still very sorry that no one wrote a book about the development process of Strike Commander, which came on 11 3.5" floppies. Just installing it took over half an hour. Also, if I remember correctly, it ran like total ass unless you had a supercomputer and an inconceivable amount of memory.

There was another Origin game that came on 20+ 5.25" floppies. I'm guessing it was Wing Commander III, but (again) I'm probably mistaken.

Eli 13.11 has no idea what it's like to sit down and read a manual and get thoroughly excited about a game. I'm hoping that will happen for him at least once.

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