Call in the Cavalry
ihobo Critical FAQ on Metro 3D's Armada (Dreamcast)

Critical FAQ on ihobo CFAQs

 1. What's a FAQ?
 2. What's a CFAQ?
 3. Why should I trust the ihobo CFAQs?
 4. How does an ihobo CFAQ compare to a published game guide?
 5. How long does an ihobo CFAQ take to write?
 6. Anyone can find fault after the game is finished. Isn't making comments on the design of other people's games a little like 20-20 hindsight?
 7. What should I do if I find a mistake in a CFAQ?
 8. Can I submit a CFAQ to be put up on the ihobo website?
 9. What if my question isn't there?
10. Why aren't there more CFAQs?
11. Why are all the CFAQs on Dreamcast games?

1. What's a FAQ?

FAQ stands for 'Frequently Asked Questions'. Originally, FAQs were collections of the questions that were most frequently asked on a newsgroup, the idea being that people would avoid having to read the same old questions over and over again if the most commonly asked questions were available in one file. Of course, once FAQs became commonplace, the most frequently asked question on any newsgroup was: "where is the FAQ for this newsgroup?"

For computer games, FAQs are rarely a collection of genuine frequently asked questions. Rather, the term 'FAQ' has become synonymous with either 'play guide' or 'walkthrough'. Like any other word, FAQ is evolving its own particular meaning as time goes by.


Back to top

2. What's a CFAQ?

The ihobo Critical FAQs or CFAQs are intended to do five things:

  1. Collect together a genuine selection of frequently asked questions on a particular game, including the most obvious question never asked: should I buy it?
  2. Help new players get to grips with the game, without necessarily giving away every secret and detail of the game. Not all CFAQs will completely solve the game for you - but they will always point you in the right direction.
  3. Describe only those cheats which have been verified to work. Many sites list all cheats that have been submitted, and almost always a large number of them are myths made up by playful or malicious people with too much time on their hands. We will not put a cheat or secret into a CFAQ unless we have been able to demonstrate to our satisfaction that it definitely works.
  4. Provide links to other FAQs, walkthroughs, cheats, hints or solutions to the game, so you don't have to search for them yourself.
  5. Promote the ihobo Design Overhaul service to the computer games industry. This is the only commercial aspect of the CFAQs, and since we are advertising to the games industry, most of the gamers using the CFAQs can ignore this aspect all together by skipping all the boxed sections marked 'ihobo comments'.

If a CFAQ exists for a game, it will be your best point of reference for anything you want to know about the game.

Some CFAQs will be on games that ihobo has worked on - in which case we are almost certainly the highest authority on the Internet for that particular game.

Other CFAQs will be games we have selected for a deconstruction exercise, or focus group trials. These are not generally games for which we have inside information, but we guarantee that if we are writing a CFAQ the ihobo team has collectively spent more than forty man hours playing or studying the game.


Back to top

3. Why should I trust the ihobo CFAQs?

Magazine reviews are often useful, but in the world of computer games, magazine reviews are often biased to an extent which borders on corruption. Many magazines offer favourable reviews in return for exclusive rights to preview articles, or to cover disk demos. Some magazines are so dependent on certain companies, that their ability to offer an independent opinion is utterly compromised.

Also, in order to make publication deadlines almost all magazines have to make reviews on the basis of less play time than might be strictly necessary. In particular, all magazine reviews can only guess at the longevity of a game. An ihobo CFAQ review is based on people's experience actually playing the game over an extended period of time. The only major source of bias in an ihobo CFAQ is when we write a CFAQ on a game we have worked upon (and in these situations we always say that this is the case).

As if all this wasn't bad enough, many "reviews" of games are made not on the basis of a finished product but on a brief tour of an early Beta version of the game and a copy of the design documents. The magazines are forced to this by their publication deadlines; here at ihobo we have no publication deadlines. We don't put anything into the Forum until we're sure it's a fair representation of the game.


Back to top

4. How does an ihobo CFAQ compare to a published game guide?

Although published guides can be a good reference for a game, they are usually rushed in order to get the guide in circulation at the same time as the game. In Europe and the US, the guides may well be based on the Japanese version of the game (if one exists) which usually gives a fair representation of what can be expected, although some errors can creep in.

Often, game guides are constructed from the design notes of the game. Although this is an invaluable resource for a guide, there are limits as to what can be learned from the documentation, and the best guides are those written by people that have played the game as well as having access to the design notes.

International Hobo CFAQs will always say whether they are based on play (minimum 40 man hours), or design notes and play. Generally, we except an ihobo CFAQ to be superior to a published game guide because we have no publication guideline to stick to. This is not to say that such guides should not be published, but we would content that many are published prematurely.


Back to top

5. How long does an ihobo CFAQ take to write?

It takes roughly a week to prepare a CFAQ, but a minimum of forty man hours of play-time is required before the CFAQ is even begun. We never research what is planned for the sequel to a game until after the main body of the CFAQ is completed.


Back to top

6. Anyone can find fault after the game is finished. Isn't making comments on the design of other people's games a little like 20-20 hindsight?

We do our utmost to make only those comments that we believe could have been picked up at the design level, or at least to identify which faults could have been prevented at this point, and which could only have been detected in QA (Quality Assurance, i.e. play-testing). Many faults cannot be picked up at the design level, but most industry veterans can spot which sort of problems probably did originate in the design.

Feel free to challenge us if you think any of the ihobo comments regarding design improvements could not have realistically been made before the game was finished.


Back to top

7. What should I do if I find a mistake in a CFAQ?

Immediately email us so we can fix it! We credit all external contributors to a CFAQ.


Back to top

8. Can I submit a CFAQ to be put up on the ihobo website?

Sorry, we can't accept CFAQs from people who don't work either for us or with us for various pragmatic reasons. However, if you have a FAQ for a next generation game, please feel free to contact us and we will put a link to your FAQ when we put together a CFAQ. You can also email us if there's a next generation game that you'd particularly like to see a CFAQ for, although we can't guarantee that one will be made.

We will happily host any FAQs that are having difficulty finding a home on the Web.


Back to top

9. What if my question isn't there?

If you have a question about a game that we have a CFAQ for and you cannot find the answer in the CFAQ or any of the links given in it, feel free to write to us. We can't guarantee a swift reply - everyone at ihobo is a full time game designer or script writer and our work keeps us very busy - but we will try and get back to you.


Back to top

10. Why aren't there more CFAQs?

Because this is a service we are running in our downtime, between working on designing and scripting games which is what we really do for a living. We will be striving to have as many CFAQs as we can, but for the most part we can only write a CFAQ for a game which we have used with one of our focus groups, or which we have worked on.


Back to top

11. Why are all the CFAQs on Dreamcast games?

Because this is the only next generation console currently in circulation in the West.


Back to top

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)