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Anatomy of an Achievement

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the you-don't-get-an-achievement-for-commenting-on-this-one dept.

XBox (Games) 157

Whether they annoy you or fulfill your nerdy collection habit, achievements have spread across the gaming landscape and are here to stay. The Xbox Engineering blog recently posted a glimpse into the creation of the Xbox 360 achievement system, discussing how achievements work at a software level, and even showing a brief snippet of code. They also mention some of the decisions they struggled with while creating them: "We are proud of the consistency you find across all games. You have one friends list, every game supports voice chat, etc. But we also like to give game designers room to come up with new and interesting ways to entertain. That trade-off was at the heart of the original decision we made to not give any indication that a new achievement had been awarded. Some people argued that gamers wouldn't want toast popping up in the heat of battle and that game designers would want to use their own visual style to present achievements. Others argued for consistency and for reducing the work required of game developers. In the end we added the notification popup and its happy beep, which turned out to be the right decision, but for a long time it was anything but obvious."

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157 comments

News (0, Offtopic)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 3 years ago | (#32960934)

This is what slashdot has been reduced to?

There are dozens of interesting real scientific pieces of news recently, but slashdot decides to focus on this..

sigh

Re:News (5, Insightful)

icannotthinkofaname (1480543) | more than 3 years ago | (#32960968)

Do you think you have a piece that's more "news for nerds" than this? Go submit it! Right now!

Re:News (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32961006)

Do you think you have a piece that's more "news for nerds" than this? Go submit it! Right now!

that way the submission can stay "black" color-coded and after days and days end up getting rejected, only to have it immediately start out as "green" color-code and posted within 24 hours when submitted by a Slashdot editor three weeks later with a less descriptive summary that probably hasn't even been spellchecked. thanks but no thanks.

Re:News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32960970)

Is this the kind of moron on slashdot now? The blog has lots of interesting technical details on a very complex system. Completely suitable for a geek audience. Instead we get idiots who don't even read the article complaining about stuff they don't get. Wonderful. Just wonderful.

Re:News (2, Funny)

Redlazer (786403) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961122)

Yeah, how dare they talk about gaming!

Huge numbers of people find it really interesting, and there's no way nerds would want to know about the beginnings of the most recent universal adoption to the entire industry, across all platforms?

And get off my lawn!

Re:News (2, Insightful)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961680)

Yeah, I think you're right.

The heat is getting to me and making me grouchy, sorry.

Re:News (2, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961756)

You could also disable every section but the Science section if that's all you want to read about. Complaining about games related articles in the Games section is a bit silly.

Re:News (2, Funny)

infolation (840436) | more than 3 years ago | (#32962036)

Don't back down so easily!

The first principle of news-ish nerd-ish moronicity is 'stand by your beliefs, no matter how wrong-headed, in the face of adversity, critisism, flaming, facts, or the law'.

Re:News (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#32963230)

It's funny because a lot of so-called nerds are really like that. True nerds can be swayed by reason and logic. It makes my day when someone here sets me straight on something I misunderstand.

Re:News (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32961782)

the beginnings of the most recent universal adoption to the entire industry, across all platforms

"Achievements" have existed for as long as video games have. Originally we started with just one single achievement, which was called a "High Score List". In addition to the formal "high score", there have always been informal achievements shared between friends. For example, initially we would compete for the high score. Then we'd compete for who could do it fastest. Or beat the game using the fewest lives, or collect all the powerups, or find all the secret areas, etc.
"Achievements" are simply a formal, explicit way for gamers to show off their E-Penises, especially since many games have moved away from the model of "Play it, beat it, then you're done".

So ya, no shit they're here to stay, just like they've always been. Even if game companies stop implementing them formally, they will exist amongst the player base regardless. And if you doubt me, try doing a search for "Speed Run Videos", and you'll see a good example of informal "achievements".

Re:News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32962500)

Yeah, I just thought of secrets in different video games. Like, in the Tomb Raider games there were secret packages you could pick up. If you picked them all up, you'd get a decent goodie (eg: a better weapon you'd find in a later level). In Tomb Raider 3, if you got all the secret packages, you'd unlock a level. So while formal achievements are fairly new, the concept isn't new. Though, I'll admit some achievements are extremely stupid ("Get a headshot of someone jumping in the air on Friday, February 29"). Some achievements aren't that stupid. They have players use different play styles and gives more life for the game.

Well, hey (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961726)

Well, hey, it's news for us who thought the achievements were made by Oompa-Loompas. Oh wait, that was game devs. They gave up on Oompa-Loompas when they realized humans work cheaper and longer hours for the privilege of being in game development ;)

Re:News (1)

caekys (1845106) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961736)

Achievements are one of the greatest invention for gaming, it allows the most retarded game to has some reply value by exploiting the human's need to conquer and complete. And dude... it's a news about achievements! Achievements are always related, just like cakes.

Re:News (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32961924)

As a very recent new Microsoft Employee I can say this gives a very good idea of how development is in Microsoft.

They agonise over the tiniest things... always questioning if it's the best thing.

It's the same for Windows, Office, Xbox...

So it's an interesting nerdy insight no?

Re:News (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#32962880)

There are dozens of interesting real scientific pieces of news recently, but slashdot decides to focus on this..

So stop bitching about it and submit them already! [slashdot.org] Go to the firehose [slashdot.org] and vote down the stories you don't want to see and vote up the ones you do. And when there is an article that doesn't interest you, simply don't click the link.

Lots of nerds are heavily into gaming; I used to be.

Slashdot needs to implement the (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32960940)

first post achievement.

No, they need to die (5, Insightful)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961162)

Anyone else tired of every god damn company picking up on this lil' pat on the back "hey good job buddy" crap?

I don't need that when I complete a level. Finishing the level IS the reward (and maybe a save point if there's no save anywhere system).

What's wrong with the arcade-ish points system? Oh, you need to reward the most mundane and completely contrary actions in the game? http://www.wowhead.com/achievement=1206 [wowhead.com]

All achievements say to me is that the developers weren't able to properly reward players and, without the achievements, doesn't have an enticing enough carrot on a stick to motivate them.

Re:No, they need to die (1)

Aeternitas827 (1256210) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961192)

The mundane, 5-point achievements (and most of what you get out of the 360 Arcade), I can agree with you on. But some of them do take a fair bit of work to get to, and in M$' implementation at least, you get to compare the ever-lengthening e-penis with your friends--the 'Hey, I did this/that/other thing, and you haven't yet' factor without having to have them there to prove you did, in fact, do it.

Re:No, they need to die (3, Insightful)

Onomang (1822906) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961224)

Why do people collect stamps? Or coins? Why do people collect anything? Usually because it's simply something they enjoy. Many people enjoy playing video games, but find that the main story in itself ran its course. Just recently I have been binge playing Mass Effect, and after a couple plays though even the brilliant story can lose its luster. I enjoy collecting achievements, and the achievements give me other things to focus on while still being able to enjoy the game play I've come to love.

Achievements are a small time-investment on behalf of the developers to ensure gamers that love their gameplay have more to do when the game is really over.

Re:No, they need to die (5, Funny)

BenevolentP (1220914) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961326)

Im not sure how achievements can actually irritate someone - can't you just ignore them? The only thing I could think of is that it disturbs your immersion in the game a little when it pops up, though it never bothered me.

There are many things going for achievements, even if you don't care (or track) how high your total is.
  • They are often funny and self-referential ("press start to play" achievement for 5g in the simpsons game comes to mind).
  • They're great for people who like to grind or just like the gameplay of a specific game and need an excuse to play it even after they've played it to death.
  • I feel silly making a list of pros of that unimportant a thing, but i wanted to complete the 3 point list for the "Defended XBOX achievements on slashdot using a 3 point list" achievement.

Here's how (4, Interesting)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961710)

Well, I can think of several ways that achievements irritated me before. Well, not achievements as such, but the potential to be use as what they aren't, and the propensity of the clueless puppies to do so.

1. The first one was waay back around the time Oblivion was launched. I remember reading on Slashdot some PHB expounding how he caught on that a tele-commuting worker wasn't actually working at home: he had 5 achievement points in Oblivion in one week! For whoever hasn't actually played Oblivion, getting your first 5 achievements was trivial. You just needed to complete the tutorial sewer for the first one, and after that even doing some trivial quests to join the guilds would give you more. Getting 5 points was something that could be done in an hour if you knew what you're doing, and in a couple of hours tops even by accident if you didn't actively avoid doing quests. In a whole week, as in 7 days, even half an hour of playing a day was something that would get you there and then some.

So in effect what that PHB was saying is that an employee totally was untrustworthy and a loafer because in a whole fucking week he actually had played a couple of hours too. At home, mind you. I guess ass opposed to putting in 7x16 hours for work, like a proper slave on the plantation should. Or is reserving 8 hours for sleep too much too? But more likely he was judging someone based on stuff he didn't understand at all, truly earning himself the achievement "clueless PHB".

2. For that matter the same kind of judging by raw numbers taken in the opposite direction: you're not l33t enough to be in our group if you don't have X achievement points.

3. Achievements which promote anti-social behaviour. E.g., the infamous teabagging achievements. Kiddies trying to outdo each other for acting like a complete asshole, and men at midlife crisis trying to outdo the kiddies to show they still got it, is already a problem in online games as it is. We really _don't_ need even more people doing some insulting thing to a new player, just for wanting the whole set of achievements.

I mean, geesh, what next? An achievement for calling the opposing team's sniper "gay"? An achievement for telling 5 people you fucked their mother _and_ that she's fat and ugly? (That combination always cracks me up. I think some people still don't get that it really says "I'm so desperate I go for old women that I find fat and ugly.";) Because that's what the corpse humping was really supposed to be in the first place: another insult to an opposing player by some insecure kiddie. If we give achievement points for that, why not for the others, once we get parsing natural language good enough to do it reliably?

4. Achievements which are by themselves something antisocial, e.g., by promoting over-farming some resource needed by other players (think for example: the turkey hunter one in WoW, while other people needed those turkeys for the quests,) or killing some quest NPCs, or going against group roles (e.g., yeah, I so want a tank in COH who turns off his protections to get the titles for numbers of hours stunned/held/sleeping/etc or number of deaths), or the like.

Etc.

Basically it seems to me like communism or late-19'th century French military doctrines based on "elan". It's a great idea on paper and at worst harmless on paper, but really it would need a different kind of people to work that way. Both for the players and for the devs and publishers, actually.

Re:Here's how (3, Funny)

BenevolentP (1220914) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961792)

An achievement for telling 5 people you fucked their mother[...]

An achievement for calling the opposing team's sniper "gay"?

Actually, it'd be cool if the insulted player got the achievements ("1000 fathers", "well dressed").

Re:Here's how (1)

damien_kane (519267) | more than 3 years ago | (#32963020)

Or, if the servers kept tabs on such taunts (fag, mother, teabagging, etc...) when playing, say, CoDMW, and upon loading MW2 for the first time, if you've still got a '0' on this counter, you get an achievement for not being a douchebag.

Being locked out of platinum achievements in games (as generally there's an achievement for getting all the achievements) for your previous crimes could start making the "hardcores" stop being asshats and actually play the game.

Re:Here's how (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32962302)

I have to say the first two arguments are not against achievements but against idiots. Idiots will always be idiots redgardless, hardly a reason to blame achievements. The latter two I don't think I've encountered on the XBOX, I assume these are PC examples you're talking about (since you mention WoW). Either XBOX devs are more responsible or there are some strict rules in place about the kind of behaviour they promote on that system, either way it seems to be working, I can't say I've ever been annoyed with the system, whether I cared about the achievements themselves or not.

Re:Here's how (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#32962998)

I have to say the first two arguments are not against achievements but against idiots. Idiots will always be idiots redgardless, hardly a reason to blame achievements.

Considering that I've even said twice it's a human failure... yes.

But, see, the same could be said for anarchy or communism or whatever. There's no shortage of people who'll tell you at great length about how communism as envisioned by Marx (or Lenin or Che Guevara or whoever) was totally ok, and the only problem was idiots doing it wrong. In fact, somewhere some student wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt is probably arguing that right as we speak.

Re:No, they need to die (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961786)

At least in World of Warcraft, no, you can't disable them.

I know you said ignore but I'm going to ignore that.

Not only will they pop up on your screen but there will be an area emote, ingame graphic effect, and an announcement to your guild. You can turn off the announcements to you but all of the above will happen no matter what.

My main issue is that they send players out to do stuff that artificially increases the difficulty of encounters (examples 1 [wowhead.com] , 2 [wowhead.com] , 3 [wowhead.com] ). Why not have achievements to have the tank always below 50% health or have no one heal or everyone plays with their eyes closed?

Lesser issues is using achievements to congratulate players for stuff they do through normal gameplay. WoW has achievements for hitting level 10, 20, 30, etc., for getting riding skill, looting gold, and leveling professions.

As for a non-WoW example, I present Alan Wake's Boob Tube achievement: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79_OANOGFyY [youtube.com]

Re:No, they need to die (1)

BenevolentP (1220914) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961856)

The Alan Wake achievement was generally considered shitty, but that's the exception.

I don't play MMOs or even multiplayer games and really don't know or care how much my score is total or in individual games.
I can understand that it can be annoying there, though.

Re:No, they need to die (2, Interesting)

zwei2stein (782480) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961812)

Problem with Achievments is that they are poor extension of gameplay.

Sometimes it feels that developers count on achievments to become substantial part of gameplay and driving force behind players instead of gameplay and/or story.

That achievments are used to pad and extend gameplay very cheaply with little benefit to player: 10 hour adition to content can either consist of 10 hours of solid new content or it can consist of 10 hours worth of achievments over existing content (in extreme case, counter that takes 10 hours to max). Guess what is cheaper to develop and hecnes developed.

I mostly comment on this from perspective of ex-MMO player to whom Achievments serve and naked demonstration of grind and pointlessness and where Achievments bring singleplayer way too close to MMO in their gameplay extension structure for my tastes.

Seccond problem is that achievments are poor extension of player drive.

Why do people need excuse to play game they like? Why they, for example, need number of zombies they kill or disco balls they use tracked and presented? Shouldn't doing whatever they do be fun enough for them to continue doing that without being guided by developers?

Guiding players through playthrought is okay, but guiding them through their OCD/Grind is somewhat questionable (same vein of questionable as mmos which are thinly veiled skinners boxes.).

----

Simply, Achievments: MMO evil in my Single Player.

Re:No, they need to die (1)

BenevolentP (1220914) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961954)

Despite having a slight OCD when it comes to single player RPGs, I never considered achievements important enough to be driven by it. For example, I enjoyed doing all of the optional missions in Final Fantasy XIII, but never cared to 5 star all of them for an achievement, since, well, dead is dead.

And I never played a game where achievements where more than a slight extension, never the driving force behind gameplay. Really, never (I'm talking single player games only).

Dunno if it's really OCD (2, Informative)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#32962422)

1. Maybe not you personally, but I do know people first hand (as in, IRL) for whom getting all achievements _is_ a major driving factor.

E.g., someone who actually did the same dungeon well over 100 times until a mount dropped, _and_ then forked over real money for the buyable mount, so he can get the 100 mounts achievement in WoW. Roll that around in your head. He didn't just put countless hours into a repetitive grind where even any other rewards than that elusive drop weren't worth anything, but actually paid RL money. I mean, geesh.

E.g., I've heard it from two different people I know IRL that they normally wouldn't have even considered teabagging someone in a multiplayer game, but they just had to have all achievements, including that one.

I would assume that a major difference is that you're talking about single-player games, while these were multiplayer. The idea that everyone on the same server can see (and in some people's imagination even envy) your having the highest achievement score or are riding the vanity mount unlocked by some such grind, seems to be a powerful motivation.

2. I don't think I'd even blame it on just OCD, as in, the condition described in the DSM as opposed to a cheap reuse as a pejorative term.

There are games where you can get actual bonuses for doing the right set of achievements. E.g., in COH/COV, you can get stuff as powerful as +10% health, or +5% health _and_ endurance (mana) regen, or even extra powers (spells), for doing the right set of achievements. The problem is that the COH/COV achievements can be as arbitrary as needing to take 1 million points of damage (so now you have the healer charging in melee because otherwise he'll never get that stuff) or spending a total 100 hours mezzed/stunned/etc (so now you see tanks turning off their mez protection toggle for that) or dying 1000 times, or clicking the right plaques out of the hundreds scattered all over the place, or killing 10000 rikti monkeys, or selling 1000 recipes at the auction house, and so on.

And if the numbers sound like BS hyperbole, they aren't. COH actually has an exponential scale for achievements and the numbers can get insane fast. There are achievements for literally 10,000 hours doing something or another. Do the maths. And yes, before it got toned down, it literally required one to kill that many monkeys for one achievement.

And, really, I'll side with the GP there. Dangling a carrot in front of the players to make them do something for that long is stupid. At best it's something they would do anyway (e.g., the tank taking damage), but at worse it's something they should actually be avoiding (e.g., the healer getting enough aggro to take that much damage), and at worst it's something they hate but will grind through for an insane number of hours just for that reward.

Re:No, they need to die (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#32962340)

On the first point you make - my solution is to only play games I enjoy. If you're playing a game that sucks just to get achievements, that's kind of your own fault, if you're playing a game that you really enjoy and you just happen to get achievements, that's a bonus. On the second point, we could debate all day about the merit of achievements and why people should or should not want those little trinkets, but the very success of the system tells us that, whatever we decide, people do like achievements on the whole - it would have died the death long since if that wasn't the case.

For me, it's often a nice way of tracking my progress in a game. Something like Red Dead Redemption, for instance, is huge and you could easily miss large chunks of the game without some kind of pointer - sure it wouldn't be the end of the world but I like seeing that there's more to explore. It's also nice to compare with friends when you've played the same game - some might have been particularly funny or challenging encounters that you don't want to bore everyone with but don't mind re-living with people who you can see have earned the same achievement.

Re:No, they need to die (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961626)

You linked an achievement which requires work.

A better example would have been Shave and a Haircut [wowhead.com]

Yes, folks! You get an achievement for changing your hair style. Whisky Tango Foxtrot indeed.

Re:No, they need to die (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961886)

I find achievements are useful for making you explore parts of the game you might otherwise have not realised even existed (but I completed the game and explored loads, how come I only have 10% of the trophies?), or push you to do things you didn't think were either possible in game. Stuff like doing a barrel roll on Moa Therma in Wipeout.

Some games also give you in-game rewards for completing certain difficult tasks, such as killing 5 enemies with one explosion on Uncharted. That was one of the few games that I actually found worth replaying, partially because of these challenges and unlocks adding another level of gameplay and difficulty on top, something to strive for even if you already have completed the story.

Of course, some achievements are just dumb.

Re:No, they need to die (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 3 years ago | (#32962736)

Some games also give you in-game rewards for completing certain difficult tasks, such as killing 5 enemies with one explosion on Uncharted.

What, they couldn't have five mercs milling around the entrance to a building that houses the armory and/or the fun tank?

It just seems so... dumb to do an anchievement and DING! you get a rocket launcher in the mail or whatever? It just boggles my mind that the devs couldn't place the thing (tried looking up the achieve, couldn't find it) in the level any where to be found.

You killed five guys! Here's your merit badge and a present....

Apple iPhone 4 achievement (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 3 years ago | (#32962086)

Anyone else tired of every god damn company picking up on this lil' pat on the back "hey good job buddy" crap?

My favourite achievement is the Apple iPhone 4 achievement for managing to complete a call without the signal dropping out because you touched the antenna.

(C'mon, even the fanboys must have a sense of humour)

Re:Apple iPhone 4 achievement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32962724)

3/10

consistency? (1)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 3 years ago | (#32960960)

as a game developer, i'd rather have consistency across platforms rather than being locked in to each vendor's individual ideas about how achievements should work.

Re:consistency? (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#32962372)

Well, you're not exactly locked in unless you feel some kind of emotional attachment towards an arbitrary bunch of awards and a score - I admit it would be nice to be able to carry them across various platforms and especially handhelds and maybe even mobile devices too, but I don't think it would ever prevent me buying someone else's system (in fact, it already didn't).

Cheevos (2, Interesting)

ceraphis (1611217) | more than 3 years ago | (#32960962)

I like achievements.

BING! "You liked achievements." 100 GS

No, but seriously, I don't farm them, I don't obsess, but I like seeing a sense of purpose when idling the time away in a game. It's nice to see "what left you have to accomplish". Although I despise when "accomplish" is equated to "spent days idling in a corner killing any random zombies the AI decided to throw my way to keep me on my toes". Screw that.

Re:Cheevos (2, Interesting)

Netshroud (1856624) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961000)

No, but seriously, I don't farm them, I don't obsess, but I like seeing a sense of purpose when idling the time away in a game. It's nice to see "what left you have to accomplish". Although I despise when "accomplish" is equated to "spent days idling in a corner killing any random zombies the AI decided to throw my way to keep me on my toes". Screw that.

I hate it when achievement descriptions tell you what's going to happen in the game. Or you get an achievement just for reaching a checkpoint in a game. Achievements should make me feel like I've actually achieved something (e.g. Man vs Tank in L4D), rather than something that would have happened simply as a course of playing the game (e.g. Trusty Hardware in HL2)

Re:Cheevos (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961046)

Speaking of achivement descriptions has anybody figured out what the slashdot achievment called "The Maker" means?

Re:Cheevos (1)

bah347 (984247) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961128)

This is the reason they have secret achievements. Some developers do a good job of avoiding spoilers. As for progression achievements, I believe they feel like a good reward after defeating a tough boss on a high difficulty setting.

Re:Cheevos (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961336)

Most developers do a terrible job at it. Have you see WoW and DA:O/A system? Not to mention ME/ME2's. Bleh. If achievements are anything to go by, I suck. Even my old main had next to none. I guess I broke the skinner box?

Re:Cheevos (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 3 years ago | (#32963116)

You're worried about achievements spoiling the plot of WoW when there's a great big statue in the middle of Dalaran that plays the LK Kill cinematic?

Also, remember Crusaders Colloseum's final boss? In the achievements it's just listed as "Complete the Crusaders Colloseum" or something similar. It doesn't say "Defeat xxxx" (honestly I don't know why I'm preserving spoilers from three patches ago, other than the sense of irony I'd get for spoiling the plot in a post about not spoiling the plot)

Re:Cheevos (5, Interesting)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961384)

I... sort of like achievements. I try not to get obsessive over them, and generally think that I succeed. However, I do wonder whether there's a bit of a slippery-slope effect. I don't have the largest Xbox Live friends list - just a few people I know in real-life - but it's hard not to get a bit competititve. Given that I tend to only give most games a single playthrough, there's a great temptation to be moderately completionist on the first playthrough, just so you don't miss any low-effort achievements. This does mean I tend to use walkthroughs more than I used to. It also means that as an owner of a 360 and a PS3, if there's a cross-platform game and both versions are functionally identical, I'll plump for the 360 version. Yes, the PS3 has trophies now, but they don't all add together into a single big, clearly visible score.

The weird thing is that I recently went back and played a PS2 RPG that had been sat on my shelf for about 18 months without being touched. At first, the lack of an achievements system felt irritating, but the further I played into it, the more liberating I found it to be able to just sit back and enjoy the game without worrying about chasing down achievements.

So yeah, on balance, they're kind of a mixed blessing from my point of view.

Re:Cheevos (1)

BenevolentP (1220914) | more than 3 years ago | (#32962032)

Unlike leaderboards for multiplayer games, I can't really see how one could get competitive over gamerscores/achievements (if you're over, say, 20). If anything, I would try to hide it if I had a large number of points since it more or less directly translates to how much time i spend sitting in front of my TV, playing / grinding games.

Re:Cheevos (1)

Aqualung812 (959532) | more than 3 years ago | (#32963098)

I would try to hide it if I had a large number of points since it more or less directly translates to how much time i spend sitting in front of my TV, playing / grinding games

Actually, it more shows how many different games you play. I try for 1000/1000 on most of my games, but I have very few games. A friend I have never gets much more than 300-400 per game (the easy ones), but has 10x the games I have, so he has a much higher gamer score without being in front of the TV more than me. Some people rent games and end up with a very high gamer score.

Re:Cheevos (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 3 years ago | (#32962626)

Yes, the PS3 has trophies now, but they don't all add together into a single big, clearly visible score.

Yes they do, it's called "Trophy level"

Re:Cheevos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32963614)

Yes, the PS3 has trophies now, but they don't all add together into a single big, clearly visible score.

Yes they do. Connect your PS3 to PSN and X click on you user - you will see how many bronze / silver / gold / platinum trophys you have and what's your overall level - all trophys counter together.

Geometry Wars 2 did it best (5, Interesting)

Buggz (1187173) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961152)

I find achievements the most interesting to hunt when they're asking you to play a game in a new way or try out new and/or interesting things. Geometry Wars 2 had some very interesting achievements, like the ever so hard "Wax on/wax off" where you need to touch every inch of the four walls twice without dying. Like TFA says it's a nice motivator to explore the games or to add replayability ("Pacifist": Mirror's Edge without shooting a gun). The other side of the coin is of course the ones giving you "achievements" for nothing. There are games giving you "achievements" basically for starting the game. Guitar Hero: World Tour [xbox360achievements.org] really takes away the prestige involved in getting those achievements: playing the tutorial, completing a song, perform as a drummer/vocalist/guitarist, download a few songs, complete an online match (win or lose). Achievements could hardly get less interesting.

Re:Geometry Wars 2 did it best (2, Interesting)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961428)

Personally, I hate the ones that force you to play the game in ways that are contrary to what the point of the game is. Put another way, I hate the ones that overlay an orthogonal metagame on top of a game. Your Geometry Wars example, while not a game I've played (though I have seen it enough to know what it's about), would be a prime example, since they're having you do something which has nothing to do with the game. On the other hand, when I played Mirror's Edge, I did go for (but failed to get, due to an "accident" involving an SMG on a certain stairwell and an enemy standing nearby) the Pacifist achievement, since I never had to stop working towards beating the game the whole time, but was able to add some additional complexity. In my opinion, the latter enhanced the game by layering on an additional challenge, while the former detracted from the game by layering on an additional metagame. I want my achievements to point towards the game and its completion, and not to be arbitrary "objectives" which serve no purpose.

Re:Geometry Wars 2 did it best (1)

Buggz (1187173) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961486)

I see your point, but its purpose would be that of a challenge. The game practially asks if you're man anough to pull it off. You can still continue your game after getting said achievement, and by actually being able to do it you're already quite adept and have then amassed a considerable amount of points.

Re:Geometry Wars 2 did it best (2, Interesting)

Tainek (912325) | more than 3 years ago | (#32962196)

How can achievement **detract** from a game? you aren't penalized for not getting it, and plenty of people derive enjoyment from these distractions. Your comment is littered with statements revolving around "I" and your opinions (Which is completely OK) , but you haven't actually quantified how these "meta" achievements are bad for the game.

Personally I find them a nice distraction once you start to get bored of a game, sometimes playing it contrary to the usual design is enough to re-ignite the passion for a game.

Re:Geometry Wars 2 did it best (1)

N1AK (864906) | more than 3 years ago | (#32962388)

Geometry wars isn't a game where you can work towards beating it in the same sense as Mirrors Edge. The wax on/wax off achievement just added an additional challenge to a game of challenges, they could have extended the idea a little and made it a new 'game mode'. Personally, I enjoy achievements that encourage me to get something different but enjoyable out of a game (like GW2) and ones that motivate me to replay content for new challenges (the skulls in halo 2-3 being a good example).

Re:Geometry Wars 2 did it best (1)

Spit (23158) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961718)

Yeah the Geometry Wars example is quite fun but also trains the player skillset in a way they may not have imagined, as per the not so subtle title. Another example is the full throttle achievement from TrialsHD. I always aim for these ones as they add extra gameplay. Some others of note are achievements which encourage online play and ones which create a meta game like those from the Halo series. I don't really aim for the Halo style ones but I can see how they add to the games' value for fans.

One interesting aspect of gamerscore is it's a good way to quickly evaluate a player when correlated with the amount of games played and how many years they've been playing; A gamer with low gamerscore but 1000XP in Halo3 and 3 years' xbox live history obviously plays a lot of Halo3 and not much else.

Re:Geometry Wars 2 did it best (3, Informative)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 3 years ago | (#32962348)

A small game that neatly showcases what is wrong about achievements...
http://www.kongregate.com/games/ArmorGames/achievement-unlocked [kongregate.com]
It's all about achievements. You get them for moving left, for moving right, for clicking the mouse, for viewing the credits screen, for dying in the game... you get the clue. Play and see.

Re:Geometry Wars 2 did it best (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#32962412)

A small game that neatly showcases what is wrong about achievements...

And yet here you are, recommending that we play it. I have played it previously, and while it's easy to mock the simpler achievements (did you enjoy achieving that?) there is a clear progression to the more difficult ones - you might almost say that the game trains you, much like Portal - and some genuine play value in achieving them.

If that's "wrong", then I'd love to play a right version of it.

Re:Geometry Wars 2 did it best (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#32962600)

Achievements could hardly get less interesting.

Those are the Achievements designed to improve rental rates. It was inevitable.

Hi (-1, Troll)

jenniferhawkins (1860078) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961156)

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Re:Hi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32961682)

A+

Would read again.

Re:Hi (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#32962018)

Wow, I get these link-building SEO spams all the time on my Drupal website, but I'm surprised to see one here on slashdot.

Whew! All that works saved! (3, Funny)

ArcadeNut (85398) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961186)

I was about to implement my own Achievement system until I saw the code Snippet! That's going to save me a lot of work!

Achievements really have come a long way (3, Interesting)

Onomang (1822906) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961198)

/. jokingly added achievements during an April fools joke, but really added a full fledged system. World of Warcraft added achievements in their second expansion to the game. Playstation 3 has its trophies, and the XBox 360 has their achievement system too. People love getting rewarded for doing challenging or quirky, fun mini-games. Some people may dislike achievements, but I think they have really come a long way.
One of the first major introductions of mainstream achievements happened with the Xbox 360. For the release titles the developers didn't really know what to do with the achievements, so they were all pretty generic and often gave more points than they would if they were rolled out today.
Flash forward to today's new releases and you get achievements that truly encourage players to try all aspects of the game, and reward them for it. Some people may find it silly to seek out achievements, but many of us gamers do enjoy the excitement of unlocking that really-hard-to-get achievement.

Re:Achievements really have come a long way (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961242)

Pretty much every instance I've come across is simply an achievement for completing a standard part of the game. The couple of exceptions being GTA4 and Fallout 3, which are open ended enough that the achievements aren't directly related to the plot line, but even those are mostly plot related with a couple minor unrelated ones.

Achievements are little more than a public way to show how far you got in a game.

Re:Achievements really have come a long way (2, Insightful)

Onomang (1822906) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961270)

Achievements are little more than a public way to show how far you got in a game.

That depends on the game. Many times achievements reward different play styles. Did you use a single weapon the whole game through, or did you choose variety? Did you beat it on the hardest difficulty? Did you go find every last hidden treasure? Did you do the optional content? They might not be the most exciting thing, but perfectionists and friends (as well as show-offs) often enjoy the ability to back up their claims of truly completing a game.

Re:Achievements really have come a long way (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32961288)

I have the Orange Box and although a handful of the HL2 and Portal achievements are those dumbass plot achievements, many of them, and all of the TF2 ones, actually require work or luck.

Like "Targetted Advertising" for nailing an enemy to a billboard.
Or the "remove all cameras" in Portal.
Since TF2 doesn't have a plot, the only really bad achievements are the noob ones like "play on all the stock maps" or "get 1000 kills" or "light 100 people on fire with flares", but you still earn them, and the game doesn't guide you right to them.

Re:Achievements really have come a long way (1)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961516)

One of the first major introductions of mainstream achievements happened with the Xbox 360.

Well, yes and no. Achievements have been around for ages in one form or another, especially in things like RPGs in the form of side quests. The more mainstream aspect of it is how they're done in a more visible fashion in tons of games that probably shouldn't have them (because adding a date on a checklist or some pointless fluff graphics doesn't really much to the game) now do, which I'm sure is great for people who are obsessive about completely games 100% and those who just generally like a game and play it a lot who probably suffer very little for having such useless additions (presuming that ridiculous standards aren't used to block them (MMZ3) or development time is wasted on them instead of focusing enough on the main game). Overall, the whole achievements thing just sounds like a useless gimmick, much like DLC and any sort of unlockables.

Yes, at some level, I'm just as guilty as anyone to wallow in the glee of achievement I feel and the feeling of reward, but to actually create a whole architectural design about it is the sort of pandering that makes me feel sick and disgusted (think Pokemon and the base design to manipulate people to buy more products by being always willing and able to make more monsters) and want to outright avoid such things.

Re:Achievements really have come a long way (1)

grkvlt (144773) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961962)

And what about conduct in good old nethack? I can't believe it hasn't been mentioned by anyone. They are described here http://nethack.wikia.com/wiki/Conduct [wikia.com] and I defy anyone to finish with any of these: You have gone without food, You have never hit with a wielded weapon, You have been a pacifist, You have been illiterate.

Re:Achievements really have come a long way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32962774)

It seems the achievements are actually completely at odds with your Pokémon example, because they encourage longevity by adding replay value so they're actually detracting from the need to rush out and buy a new game when you finish the last. Nice attempt to paint them as somehow sinister or just plain pointless - the fact that so many people enjoy gaining achievements for whatever reason is sufficient for them to have a purpose.

Re:Achievements really have come a long way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32961526)

It is the random and unexpected achievements that bring me the most joy -- as it shows the game designers anticipated a particularly creative implementation of the mechanics of their game, and are "in on the joke" when you use or abuse the game in that way. I'm reminded of my pleasant surprise in Red Dead Redemption when I was awarded an achievement for tying someone up and leaving them on the train tracks in true silent movie villain style.

Re:Achievements really have come a long way (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961618)

"The Xbox 360 has their achievement system too"? I think they were the first out of all the examples you list.

Re:Achievements really have come a long way (1)

Onomang (1822906) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961776)

"The Xbox 360 has their achievement system too"? I think they were the first out of all the examples you list.

One of the first major introductions of mainstream achievements happened with the Xbox 360.

I did mention that the Xbox 360 was one of the first mainstream applications of gaming achievements. I didn't give my original list any chronological preference

click here for an achivment (0, Troll)

bakamorgan (1854434) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961218)

You just read my comment.... here is your... oh wait I'm all out of achievements better go kill your self.

Stop kidding, achievements are serious business (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961274)

How else would I measure my e-peen? I can't use the ruler I use in real life, after all.

Achievements are a bell for Pavlov's dog (2, Interesting)

mentil (1748130) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961278)

An xbox.com feature wouldn't mention this, but the Achievements system was systematically developed to appeal to one's higher psychological needs (esteem needs), and it gets obvious when you look at a few features:

Achievements are basically trophies that (supposedly) represent positive accomplishments, which fulfills our need to have meaningful accomplishments and triumphs in our life. You can browse other people's Achievements, so it gives the same feeling as a boast of "look what I did!" even if noone looks at your trophycase.

GamerScore is directly related to this, and is most comparable to money. You get it via any number of Achievements, and just like people boast about their income, players can boast about their GamerScore. GamerScore is prominently displayed on one's profile, so competitive types try to make it higher than anyone else's, presumably for 'prestige'. Of course it can't be spent so it has no intrinsic value.

Leaderboards are like GamerScore in that it allows for ranking one person as being 'better than' another, but it's for a specific game. The vast majority of people are unlikely to be thrilled that they're 2,000th on the leaderboards, though, so it's kept more for tradition than because it's intended to mesh with the other two systems.

Each game only doles out a maximum of so much GamerScore and Achievements, so if you want more then you'll need to rent/buy more games. Xbox Live Indie Games aren't allowed to award any GamerScore or Achievements, and some pro gamers have admitted to passing over them for that reason alone.

And yes, I know RPGs do basically the same thing. Notice that upgrade/leveling mechanics are working their way into EVERY genre nowadays? Makes one wonder about the esteem of hardcore gamers.

Re:Achievements are a bell for Pavlov's dog (1)

Buggz (1187173) | more than 3 years ago | (#32962114)

Tracking absolutely everybody on the leaderboard also makes it possible to track ones distance to the top and has every bit of progress make a difference. "Yesterday I was 615th, today I'm up to 422nd. Next week and I'll be two-digit.." Secondly, it allows you to compare your relative positions with your friends. It's not about being the best, as long as you beat your neighbor.

OTOH, in much the same way I was able to see how hundreds of thousands of people went past me every day in Modern Warfare 2 in the first few weeks while I still bothered to play that game.

Open Source Implementations (1)

bhunachchicken (834243) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961702)

Three of my own open source games have "Medals" implemented in them. I may be wrong, but other than online scoreboards, I don't believe any other open source games support such a system. Blob Wars : Metal Blob Solid [wikipedia.org] was likely the first of its kind to do so.

Similar to Xbox Live and PSN, the player is rewarded for performing certain tasks, such as finishing a level, finding a secret, etc. The Medals come in a range of values: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Ruby.

It was largely something I did for fun and proof-of-concept, but also formed an interesting social experiment, since I was interested to see just how many people actually would just read the source code and cheat their way to earning all the rewards. So far, it appears that no one (or very few) have actually done so. But since the game is open source, there is no way of me from authenticating that a person really have completed a level or anything else, other than eyeballing the order and speed at which they have earned the medals.

For those interested, you may sign up for the medals at Parallel Realities:

http://www.parallelrealities.co.uk/medals/index.php [parallelrealities.co.uk]

Currently, Metal Blob Solid, Virus Killer and Legend of Edgar support the system.

Counter Strike: Source (1)

Necroloth (1512791) | more than 3 years ago | (#32961796)

I recently started playing Counter Strike Source and was amazed to see there were achievments. I didn't realise until a message popped up at the end of the game and was pleasantly surprised. The CS:S achievments are worded light heartedly and unlike Xbox360, you can't see the list of achievments and what you have yet to achieve so it's fun when you get awarded.

Re:Counter Strike: Source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32961910)

Yes, you can see a list of them, and your progress so far. You must not have looked very hard...

Re:Counter Strike: Source (1)

Necroloth (1512791) | more than 3 years ago | (#32962778)

Maybe I have overlooked it.. when I click on Achievments, I see only what I have got.. is there a tab to show what else you have to achieve?

lame (0)

Danzigism (881294) | more than 3 years ago | (#32962044)

I have one buddy on my facebook newsfeed that posts the achievements he's won. usually one a day. I look at it and say "I don't give a crap. Who cares? Why would you post this?". Then I started playing Doodle Jump [wikipedia.org] and realized the true importance of informing the world of your accomplishments. It makes you feel like a bad ass.

Re:lame (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#32962646)

I have one buddy on my facebook newsfeed that posts the achievements he's won. usually one a day. I look at it and say "I don't give a crap. Who cares? Why would you post this?".

If you permit it, and you have Xbox Live Gold, then your Xbox 360 will inform everyone on Facebook when you get an achievement automatically. I have a couple friends who seem to use fb solely for gaming and talking about gaming.

Real World Achievement System (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32962108)

Go and check out http://reward-demo.com/ [reward-demo.com]
This might be the next level of achievement system to come!
Feel free to comment...

Immersion versus Achievement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32962324)

See, that's why I don't use consoles. I want immersion. Ideally, games should have no HUD and no popups at all levels of difficulty. Unfortunately, in practise disturbing displays and radar screens can only be switched off at high difficulty levels, destroying the immersive fun. Achievements only top that by reducing gamers' brains to a stupid, unimaginative blob of collecting little stars and rewards. I'm surprised that it works, but then again not actual demand decides which products are delivered but rather huge companies create superficial demand by carefully fucking their customers' minds.

Some are good, some are bad (1)

GF678 (1453005) | more than 3 years ago | (#32962332)

Achievements which reward the player for doing something that is tricky, requires ingenuity or patience and is NOT a mandatory part of the game are good. An example would be in getting the gnome in HL2: Episode 2 into space.

Achievements which reward the player for doing something that they'll have to do anyway if they want to progress in the game are not. An example would be be a good portion of the Fallout 3 achievements which are mandatory plot tasks.

Re:Some are good, some are bad (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#32962550)

Two known offenders are Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1000 points for finishing the game on easy) and Avatar: The Burning Earth (1000 points for making a 50 hit combo, which can be done five minutes into the game).

gah achievements (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32962544)

I just hate those. Valve really upped the ante with those ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED messages. I don't really care! I just want to enjoy the immersive game world and have fun, not spend ages trying to unlock increasingly mundane grind-y achievements. Hell, I've got real life for that kind of thing - just look at DubLi!

Achievements aren't the problem (1)

ph0rk (118461) | more than 3 years ago | (#32962772)

Craploads of achievements so easy you'll get them anyway are.

Quests are essentially the same - when it gets to the point where you collect enough quests in a tiny hamlet that you need a map and a GPS-like tracking system to knock them all out on your circuit of the mountain ridges nearby something has gone wrong.

Less achievements, make them harder. Less quests, make them harder. (Or, perhaps to stem the tide of wailing, something else that isn't called "quest" that is much harder and has no insta-tracker, though the internet would still ruin it).

Achievement Unlocked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32962848)

If you just want achievements, try this one:
http://armorgames.com/play/2893/achievement-unlocked

It even has an achievement for "cheating" (viewing the walkthrough / full list).

What? (1)

Thyamine (531612) | more than 3 years ago | (#32962980)

I understand why people don't like achievements if they feel that it's a cheat on the devs part to not make a better/longer game. But in general they serve the same purpose as having a score or having individual levels, especially in a sandbox style game like GTA or Crackdown. Did you ever pay attention to your score in Mario Bros? Maybe, but I sure didn't, and I don't feel the need to bitch about it or that people out there liked to try and max it out.

I'm playing Crackdown 2 right now, and there's no reason to go get all 500 agility orbs except for the achievement. You can max out your score way before that, and it probably took all of 5 minutes to add the little bit of code that said 500 = 1 achievement. So it's not like the devs were torn away from real story telling to add it. I do it because I find it fun to run around and explore and have an excuse to keep jumping from building to building. if you don't like it, don't do it.
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