How to Make a Great Petpage Game Guide
There are many conceivable uses for a petpage. It can be a place to show off your pet, as the default petpage does; it can be a place to showcase talents of yours, such as drawings, writings, or opinions on certain topics; it can even be used to display goals, restocks, or avatars. However, from my personal experience, the most popular use for petpages is petpage guides. Guides are intended to provide their users with information or tips on various parts of Neopia. However, the question is often asked: What makes a GREAT petpage guide?
As an avid petpage guide maker, and from polling the Neoboards, I have come to realize that certain aspects attract potential guide users more than others. From my topics, specific answers began to stick out time and time again. I generally make gaming petpage guides, so that's the topic I stuck to. Here are some of the responses that came up most:
1. Organized Layout
The one thing that can ruin a guide above all is a messy layout. As one user said, "The guide needs to be aesthetically pleasing. I don't mean it has to be super-fancy or anything, but there shouldn't be a bunch of clashing colors and fonts that are hard to read. My eyes shouldn't feel like they're under attack." Overall, the majority opinion stated that they find an organized and neat layout best. This included a lighter background, an easy-to-read darker font, and spaced out settings. When asked what she looked for in guides, a Neopian replied, "I'd expect its layout to be simple and logical, with easy to click links divided into categories." Some images are fine, but don't go overboard. Some users have very slow connections, and minimal images will minimize the loading time for these users.
What NOT to do:
-- Crowd the layout. Information should be spread out throughout the page with noticeable and distinctive headers for each section. When a page is crowded, the user might have difficulties finding what information they are looking for.
-- Flashing images/colors. This is a great pet peeve of mine. When I’m looking through a guide, I want to be able to find the information as quickly and with as little eye strain as possible. Keep these at a minimum, or have none at all if possible. Bigger text size or different text colors are alternative methods of drawing attention to a section.
2. Basic Game Overview
When a user is playing a game for the first time, they may feel the need to reference to a guide, as the game instructions are oftentimes lacking in clarity. General game background information, instructions on basic playing techniques and controls, and game codes are all imperative information to relay to the beginner player.
For example, if I were making a petpage game guide on one of my favorite games, Kiko Match II, I might give general information including:
-- Similar to the “Concentration” game
-- Goal is to find the matching Kikos and put them together
-- Use the mouse to navigate and click on squares
-- Typing the code “ineedmoretime” adds 15 seconds to the game timer
Of course, as you have nearly unlimited space on a petpage, I would spread this information out over a couple paragraphs and make it aesthetically pleasing, as step one mandates. Listing avatar scores is also a necessity. Basic information such as this is plenty for a beginning player with their first experiences in the game.
3. Level-by-Level Analysis
On certain games, including Grand Theft Ummagine, Escape from Meridell Castle, and Wingoball, a level-by-level layout and analysis comes in handy and is essential in explaining these games, since they have static levels. I recommend using screenshots and an accompanying explanation of each level in a neatly organized table. For example, a good Wingoball guide would most likely include a screenshot of each level with a drawn on X where you should click. A side paragraph would explain WHEN to click, in order to receive the maximum point value for each level and to complete the game. In order to do this, as well as follow Step One, space your screenshots out accordingly so it is easily readable.
4. Scoring/Point Breakdown
In order for a guide to be completely helpful, it must include an explanation of how the game is scored. “Knowing how points are awarded lets you analyze the guide's directions to make sure they're giving you the best advice, as well as giving you the info you'd need if you didn't want to follow the guide 100%,” said one gamer. Point guidelines aid greatly when practicing for a trophy or avatar, as it lets you know where you stand among the experts (the guide-maker, for one) in your level-by-level scoring. In addition, knowing how points are awarded also can save you time when playing. For example, in Typing Terror, if you hope to have a score over 3600 to get the avatar, you must have at least 2500 points by the boss level, since completing that level perfectly awards you a total of 3600 points. If you see you aren’t going to meet the requirements, you can save time by restarting and trying again.
5. Author Qualifications
This is one of the lesser acknowledged, but still necessary, components to having a successful guide. Many times, I have read a guide all the way through the bottom until seeing the infamous text: "And if you're trying for a trophy, I don't know how people get so high!" This irks me, as well as many other users. In most cases, if you don’t have a trophy in the game, you are not qualified enough to instruct others in a game where a trophy is the goal. This goes for an avatar goal as well: if you don’t have an avatar in the game, you are not qualified to instruct others to getting the avatar.
6. Tips and Strategies
After a user has used a guide for a while and is beginning to get the hang of the game, it is NOT the end of a guide’s usefulness. As one Neopian pointed out, “I like having information for people who have never played the game before, as well as tips for those who are already good but want to get a trophy. That way, I can use those guides when I just begin to practice the game, but it's still good when I've gotten better.” This brings us to the part of the guide that Neopians generally find the most useful: the strategy section.
When Neopians look for a guide, they are looking for something that relays ALL known information to them. If erroneous information is given, change it as soon as it is discovered to be false. Vital scoring info and methods to scoring high should be revealed in the ideal guide, as that is what experienced users come to a guide to discover. A friend of mine commented, “What I hate in a guide: ‘But you will have to figure that out for yourself.’ If you make a guide, then don't withhold vital information. If there is a crucial tip for making a good score, then include it or the guide is a waste of time to me.”
7. What NOT to Include
Some things should be left out of guides. Guides are meant to be helpful to the guide user, NOT the maker. Therefore, leave out shop ads, Beauty Contest ads, and “Feel free to donate to me!” links and comments. If users want to, they will help you without your constant prompting. Many users find this annoying and will go out of their way not to visit your guide, when they see this.
Well, there you have it. These are the guidelines I follow when creating guides of my own. Follow these tips to petpage game guide making, and you’re sure to have a useful guide. To draw users to your guide, advertise with banners or boards where users are requesting help in your guide’s area, neomail owners of guide directories, or simply place a link in your Neo Signature. Good luck with your guides, and feel free to neomail me if you need any advice!