Poll Question 019 – Is Using A Walkthrough Cheating?

23rd February 2007

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half Life 1, 2 and 3
Is Using A Walkthrough Cheating?

Following on from last week’s poll question about using cheat codes, here is this week’s question:

Is Using A Walkthrough Cheating?

My Belief

I believe that developers should provide walkthroughs with all games and mods they release. Especially if they have lots of difficult-to-reach areas. However, instead of simply providing a text or visual guide for you to blindly follow there must be other options. I especially dislike having to leave the game and search for solutions.

Universal Hint System

Perhaps the best known hint system is the Universal Hint System (UHS). “The Universal Hint System gives you just the hints you need to solve hundreds of computer games. Unlike traditional walkthroughs, the UHS lets you select specific questions and view only as much information as you want — from subtle nudges to full answers — so you can have more fun solving the game on your own.”

Unreal Hints

I remember reading about a system that was supposed to be included with Unreal but was eventually dropped. It allowed the player to get hints from the game itself. I have a feeling it would have been similar to the commentary system in HL2. An icon or symbol would be displayed that you could pass over and receive information. Of course the icon would have been much smaller and less conspicuous than the HL2 version!

Visual Walkthroughs

Visual Walkthroughs is a great site and combines great screenshots with walkthroughs. Unfortunately there are only a few games covered and the owner has recently made the move from PC to Xbox 360 (Shame on him!).

Doom 3’s PDA

This could have also been a possible solution, and in fact it could have been but I never got past the first few levels because I was bored. You would need to perform certain actions before you received the information because they should be a last resort. What I mean is that you should simply be able to open the PDA and call up the required information, it must “Cost” the player something, even if that is just time.

A Payment System

Putting aside the actual information delivery system for a moment it may be interesting to instigate some sort of payment system. For example it is possible to “buy” a cheat with either your health or weapons/ammo. For example you need to get past a difficult corridor and have 75% health, the system determines that you have to pay 25% of you current health to pass the corridor.

The purpose of this system would be to ensure that using cheats was seen to have consequences. Depending on the game there could be other things used in payment. This system would need to be built from the beginning and the developers would need to know exactly which areas or elements will cause players problems, this could be done with extensive beta testing.

Types of Cheats

I see a few main types of cheats needed. Firstly, the solution to a puzzle – where to put certain objects etc. Secondly, the exit or end of a level – perhaps you are simply lost. (Anybody remember the Spire in Unreal?) And lastly it could be passing a particularly difficult section – maybe you are very low on health and/or ammo and simply can’t do it.

My Dream Solution

In my dream mod, the developer would implement a system where if the level has not been completed in a certain amount of time then a hint is subtely shown to the player. These hints get stronger and stronger as the time goes on. The initial hint wouldn’t appear for quite a long time and thereafter would appear every 15 minutes. Perhaps there could be a setting in the options (or similar menu) that allows the player to choose the time intervals etc.

Conclusion

Ultimately the developer must provide a game or mod that is satisfying to play and finish. If this satisfaction can be gained with a little help then so be it. Players should also learn that cheating comes at a cost, perhaps a real cost via the game or perhaps through a lack of accomplishment after finishing a game.

Other Solutions?

Do you know of any other solutions for walkthroughs? Do you have another solution? If so, please comment and share your knowledge and ideas.

Final Results
  • Yes: 24%
  • No: 76%
  • Total votes: 51

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40 Comments

  1. Zockopa

    Yes,its cheating.

    1. Anon_303806

      bill and seby dont think so.

  2. fragmaster

    I believe a walkthrough is well deserved for those who are Stuck within a game if your stuck too long you lose the appeal to even play the game.

    Another good point a walkthrough can reveal things you might have missed the 3rd time through the game from secret places & levels or easter eggs or other valuable tidbits.

    A Walkthrough is not cheating using console command cheats is cheating but then again IF you played through a game start to finish & wanna try again with cheats on say all weapons cheat u can use Guns that werent available earlier on in game I did that with Duke Nukem 3D on the 1st episode were the Shrinker & Freezer werent available.

  3. Eh?

    Of course not. This would like calling military briefings unfair!

    Cheating and walkthroughs are two different things. Cheating gives you a direct unfair advantage. Increases your health, provides equipment, whatever. Walkthroughs can only tell you two things: How to do things and where to do those things. It won’t do anything for you.

  4. Stef

    Zokopa..If it’s cheating every time somebody is stuck and ask for help you would help him and i’m sure it happens at least one time in your life. I’m using a lot walktrough but mostly to see how far I am in a mission…

  5. Zockopa

    Im not saying its EVIL,nevertheless its
    cheating. Gaming with a walkthrough at
    hand is sightseeing not playing.
    You can do so if u wish. Im ok with it.
    But personally I like it if a game demands
    my brain a bit.

  6. Darth Marsden

    It would depend on why you’re using the walkthrough and what type of game you were using it for, methinks.

    If you’re using it because you’re genuinely stuck and have no idea what to do next, then I wouldn’t say it was cheating so much as giving you a nudge in the right direction. Once you know how to do one thing, your brain starts working again and you start realising how to do other things as well – this is especially true with adventure games, although an over-reliance on this process does ruin the game somewhat!

    If you’re using walkthroughs because you can’t be bothered to play the game properly, then yeah, that’d be cheating. Most games can be played through without using FAQs or the like, so you really need a good reason before you resort to one. If you haven’t got one, then what’s the point? Go play something else.

    Generally, the best time to use a walkthrough is after you’ve finished the game, so you can see what you missed. This is especially true for platformers like the Zelda series, where’s there’s tons of stuff that can fly past you on your first couple of plays.

  7. I stated on the last poll that if you’re stuck all you have to do is ask. How many of us have come acroos an impasse in a game, gone to say GameFaqs, and found the solution to be obscure? How the flip were you supposed to work that out? I remember the old platformers on “home computers” that expected you to take the sausage to the woompuss and receive a wet flannel. Take the wet flannel to the… You get the Idea. While resorting to a hint can result in poor levels of karma there really is no need to beat yourself with a willow cane. I mean, pencil and die role players would often look to the dungeon master for inspiration. I like Phillips idea of a progressive in game hint system. Darth Marsden appears to have hit the proverbial nail.

  8. Dufferx

    While not yet completely brain dead, I do need a push in the right direction from time to time. Walkthroughs provide that and I don’t consider them cheating. Using console cheats are cheats which I do use and do not apologize for doing so. I play singe player so it’s my business what I do to get through the game.

  9. This is a good poll for me. I just recently finished Fallout 2 for the first time yesterday. While, in my opinion, it was great, there were a few things that I really couldn’t figure out (how to beat the tough-as-nails final boss, for one!)

    I had to resort to a walkthrough to find the sheriff in this town so I could complete the main quest. The thing is, he was hidden in plain sight! He looked similar to every other police officer! If he looked significant or had floating text over him every so often, then it would have been easier to find him.

    I’d say it all comes down to “how” you use the walkthrough. Using it to give yourself hints and clues when stuck is okay, I think. Using it when you’re not stuck and so you can just cruise through the game because you know where to find all the hidden caches of health, armour and ammo and where good places to attack the big end-of-level bosses are so they can’t hit you is not.

    Anyway, after completing a game a couple of times, you can read the walkthroughs to see other peoples” thoughts and tactics on the game.

    In closing, no, it’s not cheating (if used fairly).

  10. zeroth404

    I’m shocked at how many people think that cheating isn’t cheating…if you use things as an advantage that are not part of the game itself, how is it NOT cheating? reading a book about how to win a game and spoil plot and puzzles DEFINES cheating.

    duping gold in diablo1 with the game’s own bugs however is not cheating.

    sing a walk-through is cheating no matter how you look at it.

  11. I’m shocked at how many people think that cheating isn’t cheating…if you use things as an advantage that are not part of the game itself, how is it NOT cheating? reading a book about how to win a game and spoil plot and puzzles DEFINES cheating.

    When you go to school you don’t learn anything from yourself you need book or answers to question to succeed you exam and it’s not sheating so for me it you read the entire walktrough and then start the game that could be considered as cheating but if you get stuck somewhere or didn’t understand something special it’s better to use help than to never finish the game

  12. I’m shocked at how many people think that cheating isn’t cheating…if you use things as an advantage that are not part of the game itself, how is it NOT cheating? reading a book about how to win a game and spoil plot and puzzles DEFINES cheating.

    Bullshit to the third degree. To assume that everything that gives you an advantage is cheating is bullshit. I can play a game better if I drink 7up. Does that make drinking 7up cheating? Of course not.

    Third party literature is not going to give you a direct advantage. God mode gives you a direct advantage. Noclip gives you a direct advantage. Cheats play the game for you, and there’s plenty of examples of this. Walkthroughs, as I have stated, will only tell you two things: Where things are and how to deal with them.

    Think about it. Do you think you could have learned an average every day FPS by just by trial and error? Do you think you could have learned double division by just trial and error? I don’t know about you, but I’m saying no.

  13. zeroth404

    Stef, your argument makes no sense. A game is a complete work which requires no walkthrough, guide, or previous knowledge to complete it. Going to school to learn a subject is a horrible example.

    Fluffy, drinking caffine to boost your reflexes is not the same as reading a guide for a single player game so that you know where all the secrets are, how to beat every boss, spoil the story, and other forms of cheating. A game is a complete work and is intended to be played without any knowledge of it before-hand. A guide to counter-strike isn’t cheating because it doesn’t spoil anything. a guide to say, Resident Evil is cheating beacause it tells you what to do every step of the way and spoils hte plot.

  14. zeroth404

    using a guide to get unstick may be necessary, but reading an entire guide prior to playing a game spoils the entire game and is frankly pretty damn pointless. why would you play a game if you already know whats going to happen? unless, like I said, its counter-strike or some other such game, or a game you’ve already beaten and just want to know if you missed anything.

  15. I think the key to this argument is the definition of some of the words used. In this case exactly what is “cheating”? Normally you would define that as breaking the rules deliberately. Perhaps because there are no clear written rules regarding playing single player games it is impossible to cheat. However, I think we all agree that if you wrote some new code that somehow changed the game then that would be cheating. That’s assuming that it made it easier not harder! Following that line of argument means that using gameplay mods is also cheating, which I happen to agree with.

    Personally I considering using a walkthrough as cheating, but the word is too strong for my feelings. In reality I am cheating myself because I couldn’t complete the task alone. In some sports receiving outside help is considered cheating , tennis for example (not Davis cup or similar). Just because you are stuck doesn’t mean you are justified in cheating. “I couldn’t beat that player on my own, so I asked my coach to tell me what to do!”

    Of course we are back to the definition again. I believe that every need to finish a game should be included within the game but console codes are included in the game, so does that make it okay to use them? Not for me.

    The point has been made that if you are stuck then the game loses its enjoyment and cheating is a valid way of continuing. To me this is the most important point. We play to enjoy. If you cheat and it makes the game experience more enjoyable then that’s the end of it. Nobody is hurt by your actions unlike a competitive situation. Which by the way, has, or should have, very clear rules.

    By using a walkthrough I can’t say “I beat that game” because I didn’t beat it, the walkthrough did.

    If there are no official rules can there even be cheating?

  16. This doesn’t help. You’re saying that specific walkthroughs arn’t cheating, and specific ones are. Does that make walkthrough’s generally cheating, or generally not?

    How can spoiling the plot give you an advantage? So, you know that Lord Avernam will commit gross homocide on the undescript denizens of Alca Four. Is that going to help you in the game?

    You can’t play a game without previous knowledge. You need to know how to shoot. How to walk, how to move. You play every game knowing that the click of the mouse will most likely fire a weapon, select a man or correct an action. What tells you that? Previous experiance. Previous knowledge.

  17. zeroth404

    Maybe using a walkthrough isn’t cheating, but it certainly is spoiling.

    cheating isn’t something that should not be done , unless of course you’re playing with real human players (ie, Counter-Strike). Spoiling doesn’t really matter, but it sucks the enjoyment out of a game for me. I really regret using a walkthrough through the entirety of Resident Evil 3 back in the day…and I haven’t done such a thing since. I’ve used guides to help me get out of sticky situations in Zelda: Link to the Past though, for example.

  18. That’s exactly what people are talking about, zeroth. I am, at least. I never read through a game’s entire walkthrough before completing it even one time. During my first (and second, third, fourth, etc.) game, I’ll take in the story, enjoy the action and complete the game, hopefully without getting horribly stuck.

    If I do have to resort to walkthroughs (extremely rarely), then I only read the part relevant to the place I’m stuck at. I don’t even read any of the author’s forewords, since some people like blurting out important parts of the plot like it’s common knowledge to first-timers.

    Like I said before, I’ll only read the part relevant to my problem and no further. I won’t even look to see what happens after I get past that area or character. I don’t like ruining storylines and plots. You seem to assume that people who use walkthroughs go and read every single piece of advice, whether they are stuck on it or not. Not to be nasty, but it’s your own fault you used a walkthrough for Resident Evil 3 the whole way. I’ve got strategy guides for Half-Life 2 and Halo 2, but I never looked at them until I’d finished the games, because I really did not want to know what happens (except while playing them, of course).

    Hopefully, this topic won’t erupt into a flame-war over walkthroughs (but I’m sure Phillip will make sure that it doesn’t)! Would be kind of ridiculous if it did.

  19. Eh. Let’s not get off-topic here. This is about whether walkthroughs are cheating, not whether you enjoy spoilers or not.

  20. Eh. Let’s not get off-topic here. This is about whether walkthroughs are cheating, not whether you enjoy spoilers or not.

    I believe this is still on-topic. It can’t be cheating if there are no rules, so perhaps it comes under the heading of spoiling.

    If you get stuck is using a walkthrough spoiling the game? Each individual decides that. In my case it spoils the feeling of victory but if I didn’t use the walkthrough I probably wouldn’t finish the game and therefore have no feeling of victory.

  21. Jeez, good topic, eh? Nice one Phillip. Right can of worms. A whole lot of head beating going on. Whats for next week? Perennial favourite. Is quick saving and reloading cheating?

  22. Dufferx

    Excellent comments and an enjoyable read. I too rarely use walkthroughs and then only about the place I am stuck. I do use console cheats, as I have previously said, and while my patience level is very high, I do get frustrated when faced with such things as near impossible jumps. It should be noted that not all walkthroughs are equally helpful.

  23. Darth Marsden

    Okay, I’ve got a great example taken from a Zelda game. During one of the dungeons, you come across a metal grill that acts as a sort-of wall. If you hit it with your sword, then it’s clear that it’s loose and will fall down if you do the right thing, but none of your items seem to work.

    I got stuck at this point. I spent ages trying to figure it out. Eventually, I conceeded defeat and consulted a guide – you have to ROLL into said wall for it to fall over.

    It was the only thing I took from the guide, and as soon as I found out I was cursing myself for not realising it myself. But was I right to find it out? Should I have spent ages trying to figure it out before giving up and probably not returning to it for ages, if at all? Or was it alright for me to find that one little bit, get past the barrier and have several more hours of very entertaining gamage ahead of me?

    On a slightly similar topic, I really wish I hadn’t been so keen to watch preview trailers of the latest Zelda, because they gave away how to defeat one of the bosses. It’s why I’m not interested in seeing any previews of the new Mario game – I don’t want it being spoilt for me.

  24. Perennial favourite. Is quick saving and reloading cheating?

    Good question but I already have the next three weeks” worth of poll written. It could be a question in the future though. I wrote a piece asking if anybody has ever finished an SP game without replaying the same part twice. Meaning you can save but you have to carry on from that point and without dying. Unfortunately I can’t find it – I posted it on pcgamer.co.uk’s forum but it seems to have gone.

    But was I right to find it out? Should I have spent ages trying to figure it out before giving up and probably not returning to it for ages, if at all? Or was it alright for me to find that one little bit, get past the barrier and have several more hours of very entertaining gamage ahead of me?

    Only you can answer that. But if I were in your shoes I would have done the same. We all have different levels of patience, but there comes a time when we each say “That’s it, I can’t workout what to do!” And before anybody replies “I’ve never used a walkthrough!”, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a breaking point, it just means you haven’t reached it yet.

    it’s why I’m not interested in seeing any previews of the new Mario game – I don’t want it being spoilt for me.

    You are preaching to the converted here. I NEVER watch trailers, even in the cinema. I want everything to be completely unknown. I don’t even like knowing who starts in a movie.

  25. zeroth404

    Quick Saving & Loading isn’t cheating because it is a feature intended to be part of the game experience. If I don’t consider a bug to be cheating (ie, diablo 1’s gold duping bug) then certainly I won’t feel guilty about saving & loading. duping gold in diablo 1 is cheating…but I don’t think it ruins the game experience in any way.

  26. zeroth404

    it’s why I’m not interested in seeing any previews of the new Mario game – I don’t want it being spoilt for me.

    You are preaching to the converted here. I NEVER watch trailers, even in the cinema. I want everything to be completely unknown. I don’t even like knowing who starts in a movie.[/quote]

    I’m this way also, but not for all games. Quake Wars for example is an online stragey game, and I shold stay updated on how the game works. However, I’m intentionally not reading/watching anything relating to Bioshock, Stalker, and other SP FPS games.

  27. Stef

    Quick Saving & Loading isn’t cheating because it is a feature intended to be part of the game experience. If I don’t consider a bug to be cheating (ie, diablo 1’s gold duping bug) then certainly I won’t feel guilty about saving & loading. duping gold in diablo 1 is cheating…but I don’t think it ruins the game experience in any way.

    quick saving is not always a feature look for farcry or COD2 so if we follow your thinking in those games it should be considered as cheating…

  28. Using a walkthrough is an indirect way of cheating I suppose. I have never read through or followed an entire walkthrough. I have on one or two occasions looked for a specific part in a w/t if I’m stuck. I much prefer asking for assistance instead of doing that though. Some people will tell you exactly where & what to do. Some people will give you hints (which sometimes help & sometimes doesn’t as they are too vague). There’s one mod in particular (can’t remember the name of it) where the walkthrough is just pictures of clues with very subtle hints. It may have been Mistake of Pythagoras. That’s the kind of walkthrough that I would particularly like to see more of. I love the idea of having an in game hint system.

  29. boardstrapd

    No, it’s not cheating for a single player game. You paid for the game, so you can finish the game however you want. Unless there’s some competition or reward for completing a game, just who would you be cheating by using a walkthrough?
    As for myself, I’m confident in my own skills to get through a game. But I have a life beyond games and don’t have time to figure out a tough part of the game. I know I’ll eventually figure it out if I play long enough. So why would I want to spend hours and hours on a tough section, when I can use a walkthrough to quickly get through what I inevitably would’ve have passed anyway? I just want to see the entire game, which is what I paid for.

  30. I going to be devil’s advocate here, so don’t take my replies to seriously or persoanlly.

    You paid for the game, so you can finish the game however you want.

    It’s hard to argue against this but something inside tells me that it’s unlikely you play music you have bought at a faster speed than it was designed to be played. Whilst you do have the choice to play a game how you want, you may be missing what the developer has planned. You could read a book backwards but then you would lose the enjoyment. (However I have to admit that some books and games are probably better that way!)

    just who would you be cheating by using a walkthrough?

    Yourself.

    But I have a life beyond games and don’t have time to figure out a tough part of the game.

    As do most of us, but the challenge of the game sometimes overrides the desire to finish at all costs.

    I know I’ll eventually figure it out if I play long enough. So why would I want to spend hours and hours on a tough section, when I can use a walkthrough to quickly get through what I inevitably would’ve have passed anyway?

    It’s easy to say that you would have eventually figured it out but how can you be so sure? Maybe one day you will be faced with a challenge that is completely outside of your solving ability. Using a walkthrough now become a necessity not a cheat.

    I just want to see the entire game, which is what I paid for.

    Have you paid to “see” the entire game or just the right to play what you are capable of reaching? Imagine a game where there were no walkthrough available and you got stuck. Would you have a case for requesting your money back?

  31. LoneWolf65

    It would depend on why you’re using the walkthrough and what type of game you were using it for, methinks.

    If you’re using it because you’re genuinely stuck and have no idea what to do next, then I wouldn’t say it was cheating so much as giving you a nudge in the right direction. Once you know how to do one thing, your brain starts working again and you start realising how to do other things as well – this is especially true with adventure games, although an over-reliance on this process does ruin the game somewhat!

    If you’re using walkthroughs because you can’t be bothered to play the game properly, then yeah, that’d be cheating. Most games can be played through without using FAQs or the like, so you really need a good reason before you resort to one. If you haven’t got one, then what’s the point? Go play something else.

    Generally, the best time to use a walkthrough is after you’ve finished the game, so you can see what you missed. This is especially true for platformers like the Zelda series, where’s there’s tons of stuff that can fly past you on your first couple of plays.

    Hi Darth! You read my mind. Personally, playing a game to the end without using walkthroughs or cheats is for me a sense of “Pride and satisfaction” in my abilities…

    Have a nice day!

  32. GanjaStar

    Does it really matter if its cheating? Gaming experience is a very personal thing, thus varying in importance and requirements for satisfaction. Us saying its cheating, or its not cheating, means nothing since it comes down to a personal choice and preference.

  33. Does it really matter if its cheating? Gaming experience is a very personal thing, thus varying in importance and requirements for satisfaction.

    I agree and the point of the poll is to find out how many people feel it is cheating.

    I am not asking whether we should or shouldn’t do it, just how we feel about it.

  34. GanjaStar

    In that case, I must say I only start using a walkthrough when gaming turns into a chore. I don’t like seeking the answer fo a very long time since that means the fun factor drops down significantly. Cheating for me mostly applies to things involving more than one person. Cheating yourself doens’t hinder anyone else so I think it isn’t cheating in a true sense. 🙂

  35. marzzbar

    I think that if you come to a point in a game where you NEED a walkthrough or something to get you past a certain point, then it is a flaw in the game’s design. When someone makes an adventure game, or any game which requires a degree of problem solving, they aim to make it challenging enough for it to be satisfying for the player, but not too difficult so that they can’t figure it out. If it is too difficult, then I believe they have failed. However this is very subjective. So really, you shouldn’t need a walkthough, but sometimes a game can be poorly designed so that you do need one.
    I personally try not to use walkthroughs, as I prefer the satisfaction of finding it out myself. My recent experience with walkthroughs is through playing the original NES Legend of Zelda on the Game Boy Advance. I tried to play it using only the manual to help me. However, I got to a point where I thought I tried everything, but was hopelessly stuck. I gave in to using a walkthough that was on the official site, and I found that in the dungeon is was stuck on (level 7 for you zelda nerds :P) there is a room which doesn’t show up on the map, and I would’ve never found it myself. I feel justified in using the walkthrough because playing the game without it would’ve just ended up in fustration.
    Of course I don’t play the game all the way through with the walkthrough, because that would ruin it for me.
    But is it cheating? If you HAVE to resort to it, it’s the game developer’s fault really. If it’s to get past a really difficult bit, I say no. If it’s just to cut corners and do things quicker I say yes.
    On another tack, is getting advice from friends considered a “walkthrough” and is that cheating? Going back to my experience, I think maybe the original Legend of Zelda was meant to be played with this in mind.

  36. It depends on how the walkthrough is used. I had to refer to the walkthrough for Timeline 1 and 2, but I only used it for specific places in which I thought the game had actually been broken. Mostly these were in cases that gave NO indication at all to what you needed to do to advance.
    Timeline 1 had a section where enemies constantly spawned into a room, which had a key in it, but the door you needed the key for you only really went past one single time and it didn’t really stand out that you needed a key for it, so making the connection of “THAT key is for THAT door” didn’t really happen.
    Timeline 2 had a point where you needed a key in order to a teleportation portal to activate, but the key was tucked in a completely off the beaten path area, and there was nothing ANYWHERE to indicate you actually needed a key for anything.
    Provided you’re only using the walkthroughs for getting past particular issues, it’s fine, but if you’re actually reading through the walkthrough and following it every step of the way, that’s no good. you might as well just watch someone else play the game.

  37. Not in my own opinion. I use these when I am LOST, they can help or hinder.. I use them from time to time.. again to each their own for what ever reason they see fit.

    If it’s just to cheat then what’s the point of playing? Just my opinion.

  38. tam

    How about looking up hints for collectibles to a game? Would you all say it’s cheating? I’ve got all but one #20 [39 out of 40]collectibles to get the achievement score. So I went and looked it up.

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