You know the adage that men don’t need instructions to put something together. I think Tim “The Toolman” Taylor made that popular in the television show, Home Improvement. Unfortunately, it looks as if that has carried over to gaming. Surprising? Not really. Uhhhhh???? How often to you deselect ‘Read the readme file now’ when installing a game? Sometimes? Always? Never? Yeah, you should have stopped at ALWAYS! Why? Because we think we know it all and don’t need some pointless gibberish telling us what to do.
The same can be said for a FAQ or ‘Frequently Asked Questions.’ What is the point of having a FAQ if people head straight to the forums or IRC to get an answer for a common problem or irregularity in a game or mod. Something which the developers are fully aware of, but which the player cannot figure out. A simple double click on the readme.txt or a visit to the nearest FAQ would have saved the pain and embarrassment of making an idiot out of yourself in the forums or on IRC.
I can remember my first trip to the Action Quake 2 Forums. Being new to the world of online gaming, I had never posted before. To be honest, I don’t think I even posted under an alias. That is how green I was. So, the saying, “Do as I say, not as I do” is relevant in this case. I proceed to post a simple message, asking nicely how to configure the zoom/unzoom alias for the SSG3000 sniper rifle. By the responses, you think I poured blood into a pool of sharks. These predators were circling, just waiting for the kill. Needless to say, I was hesitant to make another appearance in that forum for some time. But some good did come out of that.
One post, while not directly answering my question, told me to consult the readme.txt file for many of the basics of the game, along with reading over the FAQ, which was found on the web site. A second response told me to go through the first two pages of posts, being they were the most recent, on the off chance someone else had already asked a similar question. Two of the most relevant pieces of advice to live by today before making an ass of yourself in any forum.
Just how important is the information contained in the readme.txt and the FAQ? If the developers took time to write it, consider it somewhat valuable. It will save you from becoming frustrated and pissed off because you are unable to accomplish a simple step to get the mod or game up and running. Many development teams ask that you take a few minutes to get acquainted with the FAQ, if you are confronted with a problem before asking a question.
Just as an example, I decided to scroll through the readme.txt file which was made available for the most recent release of Urban Terror: Beta 1.2. This file gives the player a quick overview of the mod, up to this point and also discusses the changes which have occurred. This version also notes an important changes to key bindings. Something that is quite important if you bind your keys from the console as opposed to the menu. Finally, they list all the bug fixes and give a revision history of the beta versions.
As for the FAQ, being I am the moderator at the Urban Terror Forums, this is an invaluable document, which if were a book would have dog eared pages because I reference the same information, day after day. As long as people are aware and acknowledge these documents exist, then that is all the developer can ask for. Regardless of how the question is answered, these two documents provide much information which could be important to game play. So next time, take a few minutes to examine these files and then jump into the action.