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Interview: Jame of WoW-Pro

Eliah Hecht

Jame is someone whose work I've enjoyed for much of my WoW-playing career. For those of you who might not be familiar with the name, he is the author of a series of leveling guides hosted over at WoW-Pro, which currently cover levels 30 to 77 on both factions (the rest of Northrend will be coming soon). Most recently, he's posted an addon version of the guides, so you can play along without even having to tab out. And did I mention this is all free?

I recently got the opportunity to interview Jame on his guides, how he plays, and what he thinks of recent changes. Come on behind the cut to find out what he had to say.

Eliah: Does the fact that your guides provide such a boost in leveling speed mean that Blizzard designed the quests/zones badly? Shouldn't it be easier than it is for the unguided player to make their way through the zones without having to double back and run all over the place?

Jame: Actually, it proves just the opposite. It shows that there IS a better way to do it, a more efficient, faster and more rewarding way. Every zone is like a puzzle, and there is always a perfect way to clear that puzzle, the quest designers at blizzard do a great job at that. All you have to do is find the matching pieces and put them together in the right order ;)

I think the leveling game would be very plain and boring if there was only one path each player could take. After all, we all play the game to have fun, but also to excel at it, to try to be better than the other players. If from 1 to 80 there was only one path to take, without any room for doing it better than other players, what would be the point of leveling? Might as well let us all create level 80 characters right of the bat.

So no, I definitely think WoW leveling is great as it is. I'd even go as far as saying that they should make it a little more challenging in the quest department. Put more hidden quests in each zone, which require you to do several other quests to unlock them, and make them very rewarding for the players who go trough the trouble of figuring them out.

Well, I think we should be able to create level 80 characters off the bat, but that's a separate topic.

As someone who's been using your guides for a long time, I feel like you've gotten a lot better at writing them over the months/years. What are some of the lessons you've learned on how to write a better guide, and do you have any tips to share with others who might want to write guides?

There are so many things I've changed since my first leveling guide. I've definitely learned a lot of lessons, too many for me to list them all here, but here are the main ones:

Getting started:

  • Open Wowhead and check where are all the quest givers in the zone
  • Log in and check them all, see which quests can be grabbed right as you enter the zone, and which are locked.
  • Complete every quest in the zone, take notes as you go. Which quests could be paired up, which quests are close to each other, etc.
  • Bring your second character to the zone and start writing the guide for real this time.
  • When you're not sure which way to start, use your intuition and just go for it. At some point you'll find out if your circuit can be improved or not. There's a lot of going back and forth and fixing mistakes while writing a guide. You almost never get it right on the first try.

How to make your guide more readable:

  • Shrink the information to a minimum, try to make it so that 1 step = 1 line of text. It's makes for a much easier reading speed.
  • 5 steps max on the same map. Having to scroll back up to check the map is annoying and wastes time. So basically, try to make it so that the map and all of its steps can fit on one page, without having to scroll up or down.
  • Text formating. Set a few rules and stick to them. Like for example, use a color code for each type of information (Orange for quests, Blue for NPCs, etc). It will make your guide so much easier to follow.
  • List every quest that needs to be accepted or turned in. Avoid stuff like "Go back to Darkshire, turn in all quests, get all follow ups". People tend to mess up every time there's such a step. If you list every quest, they never do.
  • Learn how to use image editing programs such as Photoshop or GIMP (freeware). You don't need any of the advanced stuff, just the easy features such as "Drop Shadow" and "Stroke / Contour".
  • Keep the image sizes down to the minimum. Big images which take half the screen are not necessary, they just clog space and make your guide less printer-friendly. So shrink the image down to the minimum, as long as its easily recognizable it's fine.
  • Find a nice community ready to test your guide and give you feedback. That's the only way to work towards a perfect guide :)

Wow, that was quite an answer!

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