How do you plan your leveling guide?

Manovan's picture

This thread is mostly intended for those who write or are interested in writing leveling guides. Since I'm pretty new to the field and have only written two guides so far (with my third one under construction) I would like to pick up as many tips and tricks as I can (and as you have to share) to smooth out the guide writing process.

This is my current system:

1: I decide which guide to write. For example, a guide through Teldrassil. I have since earlier played through the zone at least once (in Teldrassil's case, that would be at least 8-10).

2: I open wowhead and type in the zone name, click on quests and do the dull work: the planning before the first test:

Through wowhead I figure out every quest in the zone, their level (and other requirements), their starting NPC and ending NPC as well as if there are pre-quests and follow ups. I type everything down in a Works document. I sort the quests by level so I can easily find the first suggestive orders to do them in.

3: I take a paper and a pencil and make a rough drawing of the map, pick a number of early quests and mark on the paper where on the map they and their respect NPC:s are. By doing this, I have an early idea of which quests to add to what circuit and in what order to do circuits to prepare the follow ups for upcoming ones.

4: When I have decided on an order, I write them down in a basic draft of the guide (no pictures and no maps yet).

5: I log in to WoW and run the early draft on a test char. As I do this, I take some pictures and take notes of what I find out along the way (from boss fights or the XP rate for example). If the circuit works, I move on to the next one.

6: When I have a clear understanding of the most efficient circuits, I go ahead and make maps and do the basic layout of the actual complete guide.

7: I swap around the order of circuits depending on what I want the player to have accomplished at certain parts of the guide. Sometimes I might have to move a circuit I tested at early level to a later level (which seems more inefficient on the paper drafts) just because I figure out during testing that the character should wait a level or two before attempting it (or by figuring out more efficient combinations of circuits).

8: If I'm unsure of the pacing or efficiency of some circuits, I run another test char through it to take the remaining pictures, get the remaining information needed and telling myself that this is finally the most efficient circuit. I'm careful to do this with an opposite class of the first test char (caster -> melee, for example) so I know how different classes respond to the same circuits and boss fights.

That's pretty much all there is to my system of creating a leveling guide. Now I want to know what you do that I can learn from to make my system go smoother so that I can increase my productivity and create great guides without the need of leveling endless test chars. What are your suggestions? What is your system? What have you figured out works the best? What have you figured out works the worst?


Elmo23's picture

First and last time

First an last time i tried to make a "guide" for myself was when i was well into outland and most of your guides wherent ready yet ( yeah, i was a member by then to Sticking out tongue )
So what i did was pick up the quests i could, print the zone map once or twice and just made numbered dots in what i could get where ( a bit like quest helper ) by looking up the quests on thott and wowhead. They would tell me where i had to get what.
Mess a little around with the chronological order and started my run.
Then i hit 70 and started farming maths for leveling tailoring and enchanting, lost all interested and just came back here a bit back. Already 80 again with your guides, finsihed some quests in druk zalan or something, and am just planning to move non and go to the next level after finishing up the last 2 instances.
Maybe ill try and redo my own quests again on paper..... Or just run as long as i have fun and maybe level another toon with the addon Smiling

Very nicely done

I am more of a fix it as you go kinda person. My guides start as just a list of quests.I run every class through the guide making changes and reordering things as I go, Liberal use of two monitors and /console reloadui. Then I take my guide and check it against everything I can find on that particular section of the game and make sure I haven't missed anything.

Maw's picture

Wow! What organized

Wow! What organized stuff!

You really put alot of effort into your guides (don't we all, but still).

When I make leveling guides, I just take two characters through a route I have in my head from pure experience. The reason I can do this is because I've done the regions I've written guides about, around 20-30 times.

Anyway, when I've taken two characters through my route, I take a third characters through it. This time, I boost up an extra screen, and write the guide as I go.

Then, I take yet two characters through the guide to test it, and adjust errors or things that could have been done better.

I guess we all have our special way of doing it Sticking out tongue

Manovan's picture

I can imagine that system

I can imagine that system works very well on guides for these low level zones. However, when you do guides for Northrend and Outland, running several chars through it is just not an option.

I can't wait to someday do a guide of a higher level zone, but at the same time I fear the quality of the guide (at least of my guides) would be lower with the levels because I can't run through them over and over as I can on a starting zone. It will probably be a lot of intuition, at least on the early versions (good thing with this site is that it's an interactive system and entries can easily be edited).

Going back with high level chars just to snap photos is easy though if needed. I did that on my Teldrassil and Tirisfal Glades guide on some of the boss pictures to make sure I could get close enough to get a clean picture without pulling the boss.

I think I'm gonna work my way to the higher levels one day but at least start out with the lowbie zones for now until I have found out what would be the best system for me to use.

Just some random rambling. Wasn't necessarily directed to just you. Smiling

Jame's picture

There's definitely a lot of

There's definitely a lot of intuition and guess work on the higher level zone.

But what's interesting is that there IS always a better way of doing the quests, a more efficient, which sometimes falls into place so naturally once you figure out a few things, that it makes you wonder if blizzard's quest designers actually plan a perfect route for all their zones, and then let you have fun putting the puzzle together.

Maw's picture

I've thought about the exact

I've thought about the exact same thing sometimes!

Manovan's picture

I don't know about a perfect

I don't know about a perfect route, but I have always appreciated the quantity of quests in the zones. You can spend hours with the same quest hub of a zone while eagerly waiting to be directed to the next one. That's how I felt the first time I quested in Howling Fjord. I haven't felt that good about the environment and quests since vanilla WoW when everything was new and I leveled up my first characters.

I tried to get the nostalgia back when I leveled up my hunter though. I actually read every quest text I came across (even though I had leveled through the zones a dozen times before) just to tell myself that I actually wanted this character to follow the quest lore from start to end. Got to 70 with 8 days played on him on a RP server (with many hours of roleplaying in between) and reading every quest text along the way (while following your guides btw). It worked actually. Had really fun with that hunter.

Brune's picture

Yeah. My experience of your

Yeah. My experience of your guides and solo-play (plus a few blue posts on 'quest flow') makes me think that that might just be the case.

EDIT: Here is a link to a blizzard employees guide to the first few bits of playing a tauren shaman. Everything definitely 'flows' in it.

Jame's picture

So neat, so organized! I'm

So neat, so organized! I'm jealous Sticking out tongue

I'm more of a "napkin notes all over my desk" type of guide writer, but in the end, that's pretty much what I do as well.

The first thing I do always is just do the zone with one of my main characters, and take notes as I go.

Once I'm sure I've done every quest in the zone, I start to organize everything in a similar fashion (besides, notes all over the desk instead of clean spreadsheets :/)

And then of course, at some point you just have to log in and try things out, go back and correct things once you realize a few things, etc. A lot of little adjustments here and there.

Yea, I'm a messy worker Sticking out tongue

dark_fanboy's picture

I love spreadsheets, so easy

I love spreadsheets, so easy to plan everything...

(must learn to apply this to ones bills *headdesk*)

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