Sunday, 3 October 2010

How Achievements Should Be

In my opinion the introduction of "Achievements" to this generation of gaming was a fantastic idea. I look at it like an extra layer of challenge, yeah sure, you beat the game, but look at all these OTHER challenges, can you do these? There's also the potential for added longevity and replay value for titles you may otherwise only bother playing once, so that's another string to the bow as far as I'm concerned.

Of course not all developers get it right when they dream up the Achievements for their games. Too many developers have failed to recognise when an achievement presents an actual challenge to the playerband leaves them with a sense of achievement when actually achieved versus boring grinders which don't present any real challenge and leave the player not with a sense of achievement, but rather a sense of having wasted a lot of time for meagre reward.

A few weeks ago I completed the 2008 installment of Prince of Persia with a full 1000 gamerscore (excluding dlc) a fair portion of the games achievements revolved around collection of an entity known Aeneas "light seeds". 541 light seeds are obtained in the normal course of the game, a maximum of 1001 are present in the game. The extraneous 460 light seeds are pure Achievement fodder, but they're not hard to find. Less than 10 of the 1001 seeds in the entire game presented me with any difficulty in collectingn So did I feel any great sense of achievement when the *plink* notification came up upon seed 1001. No, not really.

Collecting things for no purpose, particularly things which aren't even difficult to find do not make for challenging worthwhile achievements.
Give me something enjoyable to to, something clever and challenging that will enhance my disposition towards you, the development studio, rather than curse you for wasting my precious time, or even entertaining it.
Enter Valve.

Last Week me and my good friend Michael popped the achievement "Bridge Over Trebled Slaughter" in Left 4 Dead 2.
It was pretty awesome.

The requirement is for all (living) survivors to make it across the bridge finale to the rescue vehicle in less than 3 minutes.
It's a good achievement for several reasons, you're presented with a genuine challenge, something outwith the normal scope of the game that requires a bit of a game-changing strategy, normally we'd just proceed at a fairly leisurely pace, fighting our way through and covering each others ashes, but take away time and you've got a whole other dimension to the level.

It's fun! This took us 3 or 4 tries, to pop, there's a real sense of exhilaration as you blast down this one-way zombie track knowing full-well that every hit taken, every mis-timed jump has the potential to cost you the goal, and of course there's the special infected, all of whom have delaying abilities that threaten that 3 minute deadline.

This is also a cooperative achievement. I suppose it might be possible to solo it, but it's better as a two man job. If for nothing more than the fact that two mob-clearing pipe bombs are infinitely better than one.
If you're familiar with the game then you're probably aware that it's 4 player co-op - we had to execute the bots. Ellis, Rochelle, you are without a doubt the shittest characters in the L4D franchise. I was happy to do it.
Other game developers should take note. I want to see more achievements like this that make me think and make me work, and less of the time consuming collection irk.

I've been freedoms_stain, gamerscore where, out.

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