How do you feel about in game books?

liviticus

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Hi,

I'm sure everyone has played games with in game books, however personally I only skim read them if at all.

In my current project I use them to explain lore and culture. But more recently I have been using them to add hidden side quests and knowledge variables.

Do you think they add value to a project or left out completely?

Would love to hear your thoughts.
 

KanaX

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Love 'em. As long as they are not mandatory. And it's obviously an even more enhanced experience when the contents of the book are relevant to something in the main game. Like a hint for a secret cave, or a recipe for a rare potion, or the explanation for a weird phenomenon we observe in the world..
 

Milennin

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I generally skim through them because I'm not really a lore person (depends on the game though), but apparently, some people really like them.
 

KayZaman

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I donno, but sometimes I have to cheat playing the game book, and I played Lone Wolf.
 

MMMm

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I never read them. It's because typically the lore is meaningless for the gameplay. It has no effect on anything and so I just skip it.
 

KanaX

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Also, if it's on budget and your deadline allows it, illustrations can reeeeally help with people who have a hard time concentrating on large walls of text. Try having an interesting "ink" illustration every other page and your books become 100% more compelling.

EDIT: My bias is that I am a huge lore guy.
 

TheoAllen

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Lore? I'd prefer game show them to me graphically than just throw a wall of text on my face. So no, I don't read in game book. Show them by quest scenario, how character acts, and how the place is designed.
 

Tiamat-86

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i dont like the idea of having books with any actual text about them.
i more like the whole, check a book case, maybe get an item, maybe see a book's title, maybe learn new recipie
with the rare see title "oh this looks interesting" leads to a short 20 seconds of comic relief

i find that using lore is a good way to build sidequests.
most sidequests develop the lore of that specific town or region.
while main quest develop the lore involved directly with the main storyline.
 

VioletSpark

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I love in game books. But I love reading in general.

I think your idea about hidden quests is good. I remember in Daggerfall, that was I think the only way to learn how to summon Daedra, was to read about it in a book.
 

Grunwave

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On my current project, a lot of my test players cited info dumping at the game's start as overwhelming.

Due to this, I took info about the Resistance system, the Time system, Autosaving, and one other core mechanic; and placed them into readable book items, that the player may view at their leisure.

I hope these emulate the old NES instruction manuals.
 

shockra

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I think that connecting such books to lore can be interesting, but not everyone cares about such things. Consider trying what Dragon Quest 8 did. The books there contain lore, but some also include recipes for the crafting system, which can be useful for gameplay as well. This creates an incentive to search these books, even if lore isn't appealing to them.
 

Deldel

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It's really an extra for me. Something to do if you have the time (as a dev, especially an indie one)
As a player, I only ever skim through books for most games. Unless I really love the game and its lore, in this case I usually read every book lol. But It's rare (I only did it for Fables: The lost chapter, and some of the Elder Scrolls game)
 

liviticus

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Thanks for all your replys,

Its really intresting to see your thoughts on the topic. I will try and use your advice on my own project.

I have used them sparingly so far and would imagine even in the final product there would only be around twenty in total.

But I will try and keep them a mixed bag of lore, secrets and even some humor.

I wish I could draw illustrations for them, but as you pointed out, books as whole are an icing on a cake scenario. Maybe I will find time for that at the end.

Thanks again for your views :)
 

Wavelength

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It's a good (and cheap, as far as production) way to flesh out the world without trying to heavy-handedly shoehorn it into the main narrative.

World history generally doesn't interest me much; I prefer reading blurbs about cool things and places (currently) in the world.

Remember that the best authors have a style all their own. Series of books from different authors with their own unique styles are a lot more interesting than simple statements of facts. (This is done very little in video games, but if you ever see fake fictional works depicted within real fiction, they often do a good job adding personality to them.)
 

Engr. Adiktuzmiko

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I read those a lot, as long as they give me insight of the game world and its lore.
 

lianderson

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Like it's been said before, it's best to treat it as an optional thing.

As for rewards, just get creative with em. I got some difficult sidequest puzzles here and there, so I'm creating a faraway library that will hold extra hints to all the puzzles in the game.
 

ForestLogic

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I think the great thing about adding books as a side-thing and other subtle lore to a game is that it leaves it open for people who really love the story to deep dive into the background and have their questions answered, but also makes it so people who don't really care can just skip them.

Best way to handle it that I've seen a few games like Pokemon do, is if the book is anything past a paragraph of reading, they'll preface it with "Would you like to read this?". Anyone who wants to make a beeline for the next objective can just say No and move on.
 

LaFlibuste

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I know some people swear by them but I honestly never read them. I'm a big advocate of the "show, don't tell" mindset in game design. In-game books is the easy way out to flesh out your world.
 

Canini

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Personally I love game books, but yeah, they gotta be optional.

i find that using lore is a good way to build sidequests.
most sidequests develop the lore of that specific town or region.
while main quest develop the lore involved directly with the main storyline.
That is a very good point. Often villages in in rpgs can feel a little empty and the sidequests they contain really colorless. This kills two birds with one stone!

I hope these emulate the old NES instruction manuals.
This. I´d love to emulate an old-school manual, maybe even have one printed, for my game. The story of my game is based on norse mythology. The prose of thosem yths are pretty laconic so by emulating the style I feel I could introduce a world with just a a few paragraphs of text. Think of the ALTTP manual:

This is of course just a pipe-dream, though.
 

Tai_MT

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I rarely ever read books in games... unless they're written well and are interesting.

The Elder Scrolls tends to have these the best in my opinion. Not the "Lore Building" stuff. No, the fun stories. The things that tell you a story. I don't care about the "how I discovered you could put two enchantments on an item" books. But, the book about a thief who tried to learn water breathing so he could rob a sunken ship... and he drowned? Surrounded by a ton of potions of water breathing? I liked that story, it was good. I read it. I also enjoyed reading "The Lusty Argonian Maid". Lots of fun wordplay in those books. In general, I tended to read any of the books that were simply telling a story in the world.

I don't really care about books I read that are like, "Oh, the reason there are three moons in the sky is because..." Yawn, snore fest.

Now, one subject of Lore in Elder Scrolls I enjoyed reading, was anything to do with the Dwarves. They vanished. Without a trace. Nobody knows where they went or what happened. It's a mystery. That, in and of itself, makes studying it quite interesting. Nobody can reproduce their metals, so there's no new Dwarven Metal anything. Everything is just melted down existing Dwarven Metal and reshaped into new weapons and armor. That's interesting too. So, I tended to read the books about the Dwemer.

Beyond that... I don't really care about your Lore. Introduce your Lore through the story or character dialogue. If I'm going to read a book, it needs to serve a purpose.

It needs to:
1. Entertain.
2. Cover Something Interesting.
Or...
3. Provide Quest Hooks.

If it doesn't do one of those things, I tend to pass on by.

Just because you want to tell me all the Lore of your world, doesn't mean you should tell me all the Lore. Tell me only what's relevant to your story. Or, what's relevant to answering a Question I may have. Mass Effect did a good job of that. I avoided the Codex for most of the game... Until I ran into a question: "How the heck does a Mass Relay work?" I went looking. Game explained it to me. Anytime I was confused or had a Question, the game had a place to provide an answer to me. But, it kept it all someplace I could view it if I wanted to. And, you know what? Nearly none of it was necessary to the plot at all, so the game spent zero time telling you to read a Codex or giving you any information in the world that had to deal with the Codex.

If the game had told me, "Oh, read this book if you want expansion on the Lore", I'd have probably passed.
 

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