Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

Explore the World of the Walkthrough Writer

August 27, 2007

Friend, are your Ready for the Journey that lies ahead of you? Then access your Inventory to Equip the **150 Page Video Game Walkthrough .txt File.** Fight past the **Lvl. 37 ASCII Art** to reach the treasure chest at the bottom left of your map. Open it to find **An 8th Grader’s Grammar Skills.** Continue through the Corridor until you reach the Boss, **THE WALKTHROUGH WRITER.**

**THE WALKTHROUGH WRITER** is indeed a Fell Beast. A Hardy Species, he can be found in such Diverse Habitats as the Philippines, Eastern Europe, or the Deep South. Yet despite his near-Ubiquity, he can be Hard to Spot. Generally Quiet and Brooding, he often avoids direct Combat, choosing instead to seek Refuge in his parents’ Basement.

There, **THE WALKTHROUGH WRITER** will Engage in any number of Activities common to his Breed, including, but not limited to: Watching Anime, Drawing Anime Characters, Creating Anime Music Videos, Dressing Up as Anime Characters, Watching Anime Music Videos, Listening to Video Game Music, and Playing Video Games. Occasionally, **THE WALKTHROUGH WRITER** will Communicate with fellow Brood-members through a Mystical Device known as **The Message Board.** There he will Brag about his Extensive Knowledge of Non-Canonical Gundam Trivia or Participate in Ritualistic Competition regarding Superior Computer Specifications.

But his most Impressive activity, and certainly his most Fascinating one, is what gives him his Namesake: The Writing of the Walkthrough. Nothing less than a Rite of Passage, it is an Intensely Difficult and Lonely Process, the Details of which have always been Obscure to Outsiders. Indeed, while all Avid Gamers are Familiar with the Walkthrough, few have ever dared Investigate the Manner of its Creation.

For that reason, I have Dared to Approach one **WALKTHROUGH WRITER** and Speak with him so that I may Learn about his Ways. The Document is Copied below for your Convenience:

Noble Studier of Beings (NSB): Oh Great Walkthrough Writer! Be not Alarmed, for I come Bearing no Ill Will towards you or your Kind. I come instead to gain Knowledge! Please tell me of Yourself! Tell me of your Main Hobby!

Walkthrough Writer (WW): My name is Kevin Hall. I’m 27 years old, live in Mississippi. I’m currently unemployed though I’m in the process of getting a job at the moment. My main hobby is video gaming, which I suppose is very evident. It’s been my main hobby for quite a while now.

NSB: Kevin Hall, Mighty Writer of Walkthroughs! When didst Thou Forge from the Depths your Very First Walkthrough?

WW: The first walkthrough that I wrote was in the summer of 2001. I had a bunch of extra free time during college semesters, so I decided to try to write one for GameFAQs. I actually wrote it to try to win one of their bounty prizes. And yeah, I did win that prize if you’re wondering. It was much more enjoyable than I thought it would be, so I started working on guides during the summers when I didn’t have anything else to do then I slowly started to write more often on a regular basis.

NSB: Mighty Kevin, You Crafted one of the Finest Walkthroughs to date, that for Final Fantasy XII. Surely this was your most Challenging Venture?

WW: Yeah, it has been the hardest so far. But the experience wasn’t near as bad as I thought it would be since I enjoyed FFXII so much during my first playthrough and didn’t mind playing through it again or writing about it whatsoever. I used to sit back and wonder how in the world a guide writer could write a walkthrough for an RPG. There’s so much info! I suppose it all depends on how much you like the game. I would spend about 5 hours a day (maybe more) on FFXII. I started in November and I guess you could say the guide was complete by January. I still don’t view it as complete, but I’ve stopped working on it for the most part. There’s still a few areas that I’d like to add… and I might do that before the year is out.

NSB: If what Thou sayst is True — and I Doubt it Not — then the Process Endured well over 600 hours. Why Undergo such a Trial? Mayhaps for Compensation?

WW: I write them because I enjoy it. It’s the ultimate cure for boredom, and also I do it because it adds a lot more replay value to the game for me. With some of the games that I write for, I would usually toss the game aside after completing it fully, but while writing a guide, it gives me a new reason to go back through the game. I usually play through the game at least once before writing for it.

And no, there is no payment for the most part. I have done some Featured Guides that are exclusive to one site and received payment for those guides and I have received gift certificates or free games/services every now and then from other sites.

NSB: Do you Converse with your fellow Walkthrough Writers, such as Famed Alex? Is there Territorial Competition amongst you?

WW: I don’t keep in touch with other authors myself, though I do visit the GameFAQs contributer board every now and then to read about some of the stuff that is going on with them and the site. The GameFAQs contributor board is a very solid community with a bunch of fine writers on it. There’s a little competition among us. There has to be some there for all of us to write well. I think every writer is a little conceited in their own way.

And no, I haven’t spoken with Alex, or any of the other guide writers for FFXII, though I have emailed Split Infinity and sephirosuy a bit to discuss a few minor details on FFXII. I’m the kind of person that prefers to work alone. That’s just my style, though I would be open to some collaboration with the other writers at some point if they didn’t mind.

NSB: Yet surely you could not have Uncovered all the Secrets of the Game yourself. I Think of the Zodiac Spear, which can only be Obtained by Not Opening Certain Treasure Chests. How Discover you such Mysteries? Do you Communicate with Game Developers?

WW: Yes! The Zodiac Spear in particular was one secret that I had to find online – the GameFAQs message boards. There are a few treasure chests that were looked up online as well. I try to verify every single thing before I add it to a guide of mine, even if that means going through a long section of the game again.

And no, there is no help from the developers, either I learn through the info online or it is from my own experiences. Some of the boss stats were taken directly from the FFXII Bradygames guide since it’s impossible to find that info otherwise. Most of the writing in the walkthrough is based on my own experiences or reader submitted.

NSB: Having successfully written several Walkthroughs, how has your Life Changed? Have you Gained Friends? Does your Family support your Noble Venture? Dost Thou Seek Professional Employ in this business of Walkthrough Writing?

WW: I definitely have more online acquaintances. Not so many friends though since I tend to keep to keep a low profile most of the time. My family is slightly supportive. They know all about this hobby of mine – throughout the family. Though it’s not really something that I can sit down and discuss with them that often.

I’m really not sure how one gets into the business of writing a strategy guide professionally. For Bradygames and Prima Games, I have read that you basically just send off your resume after you post a guide up on GameFAQs (with a link to that guide) and hope for the best. I still haven’t tried that. If you look on you’ll find a resume of mine up with the other resumes though. I’ve just recently posted that up.

NSB: Kevin, Walkthrough Writer, your Words have Struck great Rays of Light through the Obscurity of your Trade. I thank you, nay — the very World thanks you, for your Time.

WW: No problem. Glad to speak with you.