Perfect Ten: The 10 types of MMO guides you find in the wild


Look, folks. I’m a simple man, but I figure out how to handle my own things. I put my pants on one leg at a – wait. Hold on. I made a mistake, let me try again. I put my pants on one leg at a – dang it, how did I screw this up again? All right, third go. I put my pants on one leg at a oh come on, fine. Forget it. On days when I wear pants, I put them on one leg at a time, but apparently we’re not doing that today, which was totally my decision. But the important thing is that sometimes we all need a guide to help us with tasks, and those guides fall into a few categories. Some good, some… less. Less good. Not so good, in other words.

You might be sitting there proud and cocksure with your pants full of legs, but I’m here to break down the kind of MMO guides you will find in the wild. There are many of these out there, some of which exist in both regular good old-fashioned text formats as well as that new-fangled video thing that Facebook lied about everyone pivoting to, while others exist only in one form or the other. I am going to talk about most of them.

The scholar sees when you do not index things, and he is not impressed.

1. The very basic explainer of fight mechanics

If a boss has a dozen mechanics, this lists those dozen mechanics and what they do. That’s all. For some people, this is all they want, and this offering is thus sufficient. You do not want to know how those dozen mechanics interact with one another; you want to know what those dozen mechanics are and then you want to see them in action or read about them. It is factual! Hopefully. We’re not covering misinformation today.

2. The explanation and breakdown of fight mechanics

Consider this the deluxe version of the prior. Instead of just telling you what the fight mechanics are, it runs down the stuff you’re expected to do in order to deal with those mechanics, usually somewhat more than “don’t stand in the pain puddles.” (Although, like… you should not stand in the pain puddles.) Some people get very angry about these guides holding your hand. These people are also incapable of figuring fights out on the fly. There are no exceptions.

Grats, I guess.

3. The video-only over-acted explanation of actions without mechanics

I have long railed against video guides because I can read information faster than I can listen to it, but this sort of guide is part of why I dislike them. “When you see this ability, go left.” My left? Stage left? Left of the arena? What if someone goes right? Why am I going left? The worst part is that most of these videos don’t actually know the answers to these questions; they are regurgitating what they were already told and hoping it makes for content. These people are known as “influencers,” and you should not let yourself be influenced by them. Hope this helps.

4. The deep lore explanation

Do you want to read a 25-page document about Ishgardian noble ranks in Final Fantasy XIV? If not, you and I are possibly going to have a hard time being friends. I do want to read this, and in addition to the official books that walk through all of this stuff, I happily read up on people synthesizing sidequests and extra lore for tons of fun connections. Pump this directly into my brain.

You're welcome, America.

5. The wild Pepe Silvia-like lore speculation

Sometimes, of course, your lore video is not a guide. It’s not an analysis. It’s one man ranting for 40 minutes straight trying desperately to prove that if you pay very close attention to World of Warcraft, it is explaining why Tyrande is real and absolutely 100% wants to jump his bones – he’s put together the evidence! It just goes on and on, it makes more and more wild leaps of assumption, and before you know it it’s asking you to believe that up is down as one of its more plausible points because how do we even know that my up is the same as your up on a round planet?

This probably sounds bad, and it is, but these people are otherwise going to be writing posts on Reddit about how it’s actually a good thing that the company formerly known as Bed Bath & Beyond went bankrupt because now you can buy more shares for even cheaper, so it’s kind of like a controlled custody.

6. The two-sentence explanation stretched to 500 words/5-minute videos.

Look, I do not envy the man who runs the YouTube channel WarcraftGuidesEveryDay. You do not have daily guide-worthy topics to cover. Eventually you’re going to have to resort to making a video about how to do something that really just requires one sentence of information because what people looking for this topic need is just a pin on a map somewhere. And you are going to stretch that into as much time as you possibly can.

Seriously, every guide about “where to find X” seems to include a statement of “this is hard to find.” No shit, that’s why I want to know where to find it! If it were easy to find, I wouldn’t be asking!


7. The detailed breakdown of a complex system

There is an FAQ on GameFAQs for Final Fantasy Tactics called the Battle Mechanics Guide. It goes into depth on every minor aspect of the game’s mechanics with the thoroughness and intensity usually reserved for governmental commissions on events that shape the national consciousness. And that is not mockery. I love this. I love that people will decide “all right, today we are going to figure out exactly how this game handles the odds of random fish” and then four months later you have an hour-long video explaining it, even if you can’t actually alter any of those odds.

8. The insanely detailed breakdown of a very simple system

What happens if the odds of getting a random fish are actually just very simple? What if you have people hyped up to expect an hour-long video when it turns out it’s two lines of code that don’t interact with anything? Well, then you’ve got some padding. Like the five-minute guide to a one-sentence piece of information, above!


9. The guide to complicated niche content

There is an entire blog out there dedicated to breeding chocobos in Final Fantasy XI (although to be fair, it might have been deprecated/taken down by now). You do not need to breed chocobos in the game. You don’t even need to breed a “best” chocobo to do anything other than be better than other chocobos. It’s all entirely optional; it just has lots of bells and whistles. Some people see that and they’re like “well, this is my whole life now” and great! Cool! There are entire guides to also getting into this niche content even if it is never going to be a main focus. I love this stuff.

10. The reading of entrails

Between datamining, preview streams, and just odd hints of statements, some people will post guides to upcoming content based on what amounts to reading the tea leaves. Is it frequently wildly inaccurate? Yes. But it still also winds up being an interesting look at speculation at a moment of time, and sometimes it can wind up being remarkably insightful on top of that.

Also, you know, I may have indulged in this more than once myself. What? It keeps me occupied.

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at or with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”
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