Writing the Skyrim Legendary Edition Guide

David Hodgson (in-game, below) is the lead writer of The Skyrim Legendary Edition Guide, which  marks his 92nd strategy guide since 1996, and eighth guide working with Bethesda. Read his interview about working on the guide and then head to PrimaGames.com to read another perspective from co-writer (and BGS designer) Steve Cornett.

So what exactly IS the Skyrim Legendary Edition Guide, then?

Well, by now you’ve seen the frankly ludicrous (but factual) charts and statistics regarding the latest (and final) version of our strategy guide for Skyrim. This edition is designed to function as a massive and complete reference book filled with officially approved content for the Legendary game.

What are the differences between this and the previous editions of the guide?

The first book was chunky enough, at 656 pages. The Revised & Expanded Edition weighed in at a whopping 864 pages, and included all the Dawnguard and Hearthfire content. As for the Legendary Edition? Well, the book has been redesigned slightly (we had to leave extra space at the inner edges of each page for visibility when bound, which tested the limits of what an actual binding can take), with an all-new body font that’s more readable and bigger (especially in the Atlas sections). This added some pages to an already-obscene total. We’ve also added all updated information (such as new difficulty levels), and merged all Training, Bestiary, Inventory, and Quest content into one specific place. We also placed Dawnguard-related locations more accurately into the Atlas. Oh, and we added the entirety of the Dragonborn DLC, including Quests, maps, Atlas locations, collectibles, and pretty much everything else. You’re essentially getting the Legendary version of the game in book form.

Continue reading full article ›

Legendary Q&A at Raptr.com

Outside of our office, there’s probably no one that knows the ins and outs of Skyrim better than David Hodgson — the co-author of the game’s official game guide. Today on Raptr.com, he’ll be answering questions about the game from 1-9 PM EST.

David’s latest work has been finalizing the Legendary Edition of the Skyrim Game Guide — available in original and collector’s edition flavors. We just received copies of the guide this week, and at over 1,100 pages, it’s a beast.

Skyrim Official Strategy Guide Blog #2: Sanity-Sapping Mapping

Skyrim game guide co-author David Hodgson returns to discuss mapping Skyrim’s world. 

Take it away, David…

One of the most impressive aspects of Skyrim is its three-dimensional world map. Access it in the game, and you’re transported to the heavens, peering down at the landscape you’re still standing on. From here, you can view locations you’ve found or cleared, as well as hold capitals. But early on in the creation of the guide, I realized we’d have to create an entire world map completely from scratch. This was the point when terror set in.

Fortunately, our map makers (the good folks at 99 Lives studio, with over 20 years of map-making experience) decided they didn’t need much of a summer, and stitched together every single section of the game world from about 20 feet off the ground; resulting in a messy, but workable tapestry of landscapes. While I spent my evenings checking, plotting, and referencing all the topography and locations, our cartographers painstakingly transformed the map into a gigantic, useable, and highly accurate representation of the Province of Skyrim itself. This is a map you’ll find exclusively in the guide, online map tool, and iPad app. But just how much detail is there?

Glad you asked.

Continue reading full article ›

Skyrim Official Strategy Guide Blog #1: Something to Shout About

Alongside Skyrim’s release, you’ll also be able to purchase the mammoth-sized, 656-page (in full color) game guide from Prima. To learn about the guide’s contents, here’s the guide’s co-author, David Hodgson

Overview. The Sky’s the Limit

Work began on the official guide in early May, when I commenced an overwhelming trek into every frigid corner of Skyrim. Initially, I was thinking this would be a similar experience to my work on the Fallout 3 guide. But then phrases like “even more epic” and “five times the size” were whispered to me. More than five months, close to 2,000 man-hours of work (between myself and co-author Steve Stratton), several thousand cups of tea and packets of Monster Munch later, and with a massive support structure from both Bethesda and Prima, the guide is complete.

Continue reading full article ›

On the Brink, Part 3: Making All the Right Moves

Brink’s now available, but before you get started, here’s one last update from the Official Game Guide writer, David Hodgson. This time around, he discusses SMART techniques and weapon strategies.

And in case you missed it, here are David’s first and second posts.

By now, you know that the Official Game Guide for Brink covers all of the Campaign and Freeplay map missions in meticulous detail, and that there’s copious information on creating and tailoring your character to your own play-style. But what about some advanced maneuvers and weaponry? Fortunately, the guide has this covered, too.

SMART is a key technique to utilize throughout every mission. Short for Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain, SMART enables the more lightweight and dexterous types to maneuver across obstacles too high for the more cumbersome, heavy-weight (but heavy-hitting) teammate. Knowing the precise movement techniques, how they work, and when to use them, is imperative. Which is why the guide has a large section of the Gameplay chapter devoted to just this type of scenic mastery. The guide doesn’t simply rehash the video instructions on SMART that come with the game. Instead, it provides a master class of techniques, beginning with the basics. There’s sprinting (and how inertia affects the height and distance of your SMART maneuvers), climbing, mantling, and vaulting (what each is, and why one of these maneuver types is much more advantageous than the others), as well as sliding (useful for moving under scenery, as well as into enemies), and wall-jumping (the key technique to a more proficient use of game space, and the key to unlocking all the shortcuts dotted throughout the maps, which are flagged throughout the walkthrough too).

Continue reading full article ›

On the Brink, Part 2: Togs of War

David Hodgson returns today with part 2 of his “On the Brink” series that previews Prima’s Official Game Guide for Brink.

Customization is a massive and constantly-evolving part of Brink; your character is continuously changing in terms of appearance, abilities, and the types of weapons utilized in the struggle for the Ark. The Official Brink Guide furnishes you with these details too, and in this blog post, we reveal some of the nattiest gear, best abilities, and finest character builds you’ll find in the guide. The character you choose to play as can flip between factions at the touch of a button (literally; it’s the Y one on the Xbox 360). This means you’re creating two different variations of the same sinewy killing machine; and many of the accouterments you can plaster all over your fighter showcase the different looks for each faction: The Resistance goes for a tattered, post-apocalyptic look while the Security sports the latest in police special-forces wear and scary facial gear. As your career in the game progresses, more and more shirts, jackets, pants, head gear (and let’s not forget facial hair and scars) are unlocked enabling you to create some incredibly “cool dudes”, or incredibly horrific “style atrocities”.

Continue reading full article ›

On the Brink, Pt.1: Campaign and Freeplay Overview

Heeeee’s back. David Hodgson, the man behind the Fallout 3 and New Vegas strategy guides, is now on the Brink. Over the last few months, he’s locked himself in a room — with only a copy of Brink and a red phone that dials directly into Splash Damage HQ. The result is a pretty spectacular game guide from Prima that comes out on launch day.

Below David details the guide’s coverage for the game’s Campaign and Freeplay modes. Head back on Monday and Tuesday for more details on the guide.

Take it away, David.

Campaign and Freeplay Overview

For the past seven weeks, I’ve been lucky enough to work with the legendary first-person shooter stalwarts over at Splash Damage with a single purpose in mind: The creation of the most tactically beneficial guide to Brink. This involved copious Campaign sessions, romping around every nook and cranny of each map, and figuring out optimal routes, sniping spots, and which augmented firearm caused the most mess. There was even time to outfit my Resistance freedom-fighter/Security police veteran with a variety of pleasing jackets, grotesque facial scars, and ludicrous beards. But that’s for the second and third blog posts. For now, let’s take a look at what’s in store for those seeking knowledge of the Campaign and Freeplay sections of the official guide.

Continue reading full article ›

Fallout: New Vegas Official Strategy Guide Blog — The Legend of the Star: Required Reading About Collectibles

fnvgameguideregular.jpg fnvgameguidece.jpg

Today we release the final New Vegas diary from the official game guide writer David Hodgson. Don’t forget that the guide, available in regular and collector’s edition flavors, are now available.

Here’s David once more…

Soon after you collect your first Sunset Sarsaparilla Star Cap — a strange and rare bottle top with a blue star emblazoned on it — you’ll begin to realize you’re going to need a Companion to weigh down with the hundreds of Collectibles this adventure yields. In this final Strategy Guide Blog, some of the finest rare items are revealed, along with information on the additional content contained in the limited-and-numbered Collector’s Edition.

Continue reading full article ›

Fallout: New Vegas Official Strategy Guide Blog — Cleaving Las Vegas: Enemies New and Old

fnvgameguideregular.jpg fnvgameguidece.jpg

Tonight we’re pleased to share the fourth Game Guide diary from David Hodgson, author of the War and Peace-sized Fallout: New Vegas Official Game Guide. If you live in the Portland area, David has informed me he’ll be signing copies of the guide on Monday night at a GameStop at the Clackamas Promenade.

Here’s David (caution: some spoilers below)

Although it is possible to complete your New Vegas experience without personally slaying anyone yourself, much of your time exploring all the backwater settlements, chem-dens, and abandoned ghost towns involve tense interactions with entities that could best be described as “bloody entertaining.” The Mojave Wasteland is filled with a multitude of enemies ranging from the savage to the refined, and by the time you’ve pissed off a major faction or two, you’ll be craving a complete list of every single monstrosity, or faction enemy — along with their Level, Perception, combat skill abilities, favored weapons, and even the likely loot their corpses contain. The guide is an amazing place to find accurate information on those foes you’ll be cleaving, culling, or cutting. But who’s out there in the badlands, waiting to pounce?

Continue reading full article ›

Fallout: New Vegas Official Strategy Guide Blog — Mapping the Mojave: Stunning Vistas, and Slaughtered Settlers

fnvgameguideregular.jpg fnvgameguidece.jpg

After a one week hiatus, David Hodgson, author of the Fallout: New Vegas Official Game Guide, returns to discuss to discuss places you’ll visit on your trip to the Mojave Wastleand..

Here’s David…

A lonely shack, slowly rusting in the dry heat of the Nevada sun. But what oddities are contained within? Traps? A crazed Prospector? Moonshine? The guide knows all….

Sometimes you need to take a moment from your massacring of the Viper Gunslingers, and gaze out across the arid plains where sharecropper farmers are eking out an existence using a mixture of chutzpah and NCR-owned water. Or, go swimming in Lake Mead, and drink as much radiation-free H2O as you can… before you’re set upon by savage Lakelurks. Where the Capital Wasteland was a pock-marked mess of radioactive hot-spots and shacks containing madmen named Dave, the Mojave Wasteland has much more of its natural environment intact. New Vegas contains just as many shack-dwelling madmen. Perhaps the most deranged is known as No-Bark Noonan. He lives with his shotgun traps and showroom dummy friends.

Continue reading full article ›