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Do Class Guides Hurt MMOs?

Class strategy guides are becoming a bigger and bigger part of online role playing games. They teach people how to effectively play their classes in both PvE and PvP (if there is PvP, but most games do have this in some form or another), as well as gain a much more thorough understanding as to how everything fits together in the game with relation to their class. But how does this affect the games and the players within them? That is what we are going to be looking at through this article; both the good and the bad. The goal is to help illustrate the effects of it from both perspectives, and help educate people along the way as to why these strategy guides are becoming more popular.

Why Guides Help

The strategy guide help immensely because of the amount of time it takes to learn how to play a game effectively. Anyone is capable of learning the basics and can often do it pretty quick. But when you are playing MMOs, you are getting in to the competitive gaming arena. This means that you are not just competing against the game itself (to see how good you can get) but also against other players that are going to spend their time trying to learn how to play better than you. This leads to a situation where you can either constantly evolve or simply be left behind.

To assist with the learning process, we have the strategy guides. When created properly, they detail everything that is needed to know. Instead of having to research class builds, for example, they will be spelled out, as well as the reasoning for why they were chosen. This helps with both speeding up your progression (if you just care about getting to the end game stuff and having your character set up “properly”), as well as learning how to formulate plans and alter builds on your own. You learn from the mind set of the strategy guide writer. I would argue that this value alone is worth much more than just understanding how to replicate the steps the author is going through. After all, games change on a regular basis and this is your only way to ensure that you are able to adapt to the latest and greatest things that are going on. Even a small patch could have big enough changes that you have to learn your class over again and alter your play style.

How Guides Hurt

At the same time that strategy guides help gamers by giving them the information they need the most, without the need of hours of research and experimenting, they also hurt the game by bringing more newbies in to higher end content. By newbies we do not necessarily mean new players, but rather those who just are not that good (and likely will never be). This is really a derogatory term for these players, but it is still something that we face every single day. Much like when a game goes from pay to play to free to play, when guides start being released the quality of player goes down. I think it has something to do with the fact that those who got to the end prior to the guides got there through their own analytical skills. The ones after this got there through just reading and hoping that the person they were following had a solid grasp on the game. In fact, I can not count the number of people I have had to correct due to them following incorrect information and for some reason taking it as being factual and the end all.

While having newbies is not always a big issue, it can be when you are trying to run the end game content and are not able to do so because you get a constant flood of group applications from people who end up having no idea what is going on and are not even willing to learn. This can easily take a fun and enjoyable run and turn it in to a nightmare. We all have to start somewhere, but it takes a willingness to get better. And more often than not, people who buy guides to tell them how to play are going to take the shorter routes and drag others down with them.

Conclusion

Strategy guides for MMOs and the classes within can be an awesome tool, but they have to be used correctly. Just like anything else, you can use it in the right or the wrong way. The right way is as a supplement to how you normally play and what you learn on your own. Along with this, it also includes analyzing not only the choices that were made by the author of the guide, but also why those choices were made so that you can adapt the plans to what fits you best. This will push you above and beyond what any guide can teach you, and is arguably the most valuable part of the guides. If you are using them to simply parrot what you are reading and try to copy the author and their style of play, you are going to be let down when the guide is no longer up to date after a new patch. While some guides are updated fairly quickly, others can be a while (or may never have an update). Because of this, it is very important to learn how to hold your own and teach yourself how to play. Guidance is not something you should be trying to avoid, but remember that it is just that: guidance.

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