In general, the best use case scenario for a mission walkthrough is that a player will be able to print out the walkthrough or can view it on another screen that is conveniently close. The more common use scenario is that someone will have to Alt-Tab back and forth between them. In either case, using a walkthrough is different than reading a book or an article, and for that reason, they should not be written the same way. The following are guidelines for structuring a walkthrough so that it is as easy to possible to use in the typical use scenario.
- Where possible, break tasks down into bite-size chunks, or at least the smallest chunks that are reasonably possible.
- Use only one paragraph per "chunk"; alternatively, use a list format, such as the one being used here, or mix and match.
- It's okay to use more than one paragraph when it's complex and cannot be broken down into bite-size chunks, such as with complex boss battles where there are complicated tactics to be discussed, but even then, consider if a list or outline format would be easier to read by someone with divided attention.
- Essentially, the above rule involves asking the question "Is the player likely to Alt-Tab back into the game (or turn away from the walkthrough) and perform that step after reading this?" If the answer is yes, it is time for a new paragraph or new list item, no matter how short the paragraph.
- Make use of the mission objectives to section your content. One section per objective is a good general rule, though (especially if you also follow the next rule of thumb), you could end up with more than one.
- Make use of the game's transitions between scenes and maps as a way to structure your content. You could, for example, put in a new heading at each new map or scene. You can use this rule to section content within objectives.
- Try to separate your instructions from any actual in-game content, especially any kind of code or puzzle solution the player will need. At a minimum, try to put this kind of information at the end of a sentence with no other text around it.
- If you are going to include large blocks of in-game content, like dialogue trees, consider making them collapsible if you have a way to do so.
- Also, consider if the walkthrough is the best place for such information. It might be better just to indicate which dialogue paths advance the mission and which might lead to failure.