I am a Ph. D. chemist from the University of California, Berkeley. I have been playing videogames since as long as I can remember! My past favorite games include Secret of Mana, TMNT: Turtles in Time, the Resident Evil series (Jill is SUCH as master of unlocking), FFVII, Smash Bros Melee, and many others.
I've definitely gone through phases in my gaming "career". I used to LOVE fighting games in the time of Tekken Tag and Marvel vs Capcom II (my favorite fighting game), but now I find myself drawn to the more story driven games, and very recently, the music games....:)
But....fighting games are making a comeback! SFIV! MvC3! BlazBlue! Beware everyone, Tactix has put a quarter on the screen and is challenging you for battle!
It was mere chance that brought me to Destructoid back in early 2007, and through it all I've stayed because of the great writing staff, a community that cares, and lots of new internet and IRL friends. Destructoid has changed my life. True story.
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Welcome to another edition of Dtoid Community Discusses! I'm glad that many people enjoyed the last edition we had about DLC, which you can find here. Anyway, this week I decided to turn the discussion to achievements. Most of us have had to deal with achievements in some aspect, whether its hunting down a hard-to-get achievement or having friends like Ryu89 asking you to do something stupid in Left 4 Dead to help give him an achievement (<3).
What do some members of Destructoid think of achievements? Read on to find out!
The Dtoid Community Panel for this week consists of Ben_Perlee (Topgear), Necros, Taumpytears, and Justice. Here is the question I posed to the panel and their responses!
Achievements: To some, achievements are the pinnacle of gaming. To others, achievements mean nothing more than a virtual "my gaming wang is bigger than yours" contest. However, one thing that is certain is that achievements and the idea that games nowadays give rewards for accomplishing things is one that is probably here to stay. Playstation has found a way to incorporate trophies now...and some Wii games have "achievements" built into the game.
In my opinion, I hate the idea of searching for achievements and achievement lists. I understand that it extends the life of the game by causing the need for mulitple playthroughs and such, but that is something that I have no time for and I dont get any real reward for a fake number on the internet. I just like to play the games I want, and when I'm done with them, move on. Too often I've heard people degrade other gamers for their "lack of gamerscore" and put too much time into a game that they dont enjoy anymore, all for 100 G.
What do you guys think of achievements? Do you enjoy achievement chasing? Do you find worth in them? What are example of good and bad achievements? Am I just a grumpy old man?
To me, achievements are like bonus content to the game. Though, with that said, there are achievements that I'll try to get, for the sake of elongating the game in a good way, as you mentioned sometimes requiring multiple playthroughs of the game (which I usually despise). A lot of achievements are fun and actually make you achieve something you can feel proud of.
However, the worst type of achievements to me are collecting ones. A game where this is used for multiple achievements is Assassin's Creed, where you have to find a bunch of flags in each area, most of which you wouldn't find through a normal playthrough if you weren't hunting for them. It's tedious, and it requires you to go on the internet and get a map, something I'm not willing to do for AC.
With that said though, a game that has a "collecting achievement" that does it well is Mirror's Edge. Throughout the game there are 30 bags, 3 per level and most of the bags you come across naturally, or are in interesting places throughout the level.
Personally I am not a fan of achievements. I feel like they are a cheap attempt to add length/difficulty to a game. Obviously this is not the case with every game, or achievement, but the impression that I get is that this is generally true. I also think that it gets hard to focus on the game as a whole when you are obsessing about getting all the star chips or getting a certain score. On the other hand people usually chase achievements after they have completed a game. In the end, they are there and you can chase after them or ignore them, and I usually choose to ignore them.
You know, as a guy who is very busy (often only finding 2 hours a week for gaming), I have to juggle what I actually want to play. I want to say I've played the shit out of really great games, but the fact of the matter, I often don't find the chance to really experience a whole game. This is where Achievements come into play. Achievements, at least for me, offer guidelines to truly experience all a game can offer. If it wasn't for Achievements, I would never touch many parts of a game.
Also, as a guy who doesn't have time, I really have to say I love games that offer many of their Achievements easily. Or at least reasonable. I always hate playing a game and seeing Achievements so damn impossible. Look at the new Street Fighter? Or Final Fantasy XI? these are games whose Achievements are so difficult, I wouldn't ever dream of getting more than one or two.
That's why I've loved Achievements in the game Prince of Persia. These are games where a moderate balance has been struck between giving a ton of Achievements, making you earn others, and letting you choose what you wanna do. Also, I just like games that reward you for playing a game well, not super hardcore.
Wait? Achievements in FFXI? There are achievements in that game??
Achievement unlocked: Get in a party as a loldrg 200G Achievement unlocked: <Jerk><Galka><Meat> 10G
Anyway, back to what Ben said, I understand that they offer a "guideline for the game" per se, but I never look at achievement lists. I agree with Taumpytears in that I just feel they are a cheap way to add length to a game, preying on competitive nature of gamers to be better than everyone else, at least in their minds. It seems that most of us agree on preferring the achievements that you can come across naturally. (Although Prince of Persia's constant achievements in the first 10 minutes of the game was quite ridiculous....Achievement Unlocked!: You jumped for the first time! 10G)
The only time I busted my ass for an achievement was the pacifist achievement in Geometry Wars. Other than that I just collect them as they come. I have never understood all the excitement over gamerscore. I suppose itís the new version of having your initials for the highest score in some arcade cabinet. It's all e-peen and I have no room to talk in in the chasing e-peen department.
LOL! "E-peen Chaser" is the new "Achievement Whore"
Ron Jeremy has a HUGE gamerscore....I saw it.
If you are just coming across the majority of the achievements naturally, I don't see the point in calling them "achievements." I understand a small portion of the achievements being for natural progression in the game. These should measure progress with a few steps, somewhat indicating 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%, plus a few difficulty achievements. However, if those are the only achievements, I find it extremely boring. A good set of achievements will encourage you to try playing the game in new, fun ways and reward you for doing so. My favorite example of achievements done right is Dead Rising. While the game has a few achievements for getting to a certain point in the game and beating the game with the best ending, the majority of the achievements are challenges to the player to see if they can find out how to do them. Finding out where all the psychopaths are and killing them, bowling over 10 zombies with one bowling ball, and walking a certain distance on zombies' heads. Sure, they are not things that a player would normally attempt to do during the game, but they help guide a player in experimenting without being tedious tasks. Essentially, they're developer-suggested replay ideas, similar to user-suggested replay ideas, like speedruns or no-equipment challenges in RPGs. Since Dead Rising is a game that encourages multiple, short replays until you can level up and beat the game, the player has many chances to try for these achievements while he attempts to find as many survivors in one run as he can.
In addition, some achievements unlock options in the game, instead of relying purely on gamescore. My opinion of a gamerscore is that it's mostly useless. PS3 trophies seem somewhat safer to me because they indicate what achievements are harder without translating harder achievements into high point values. A high gamerscore encourages people to be a dick about how many games they have played, and anyone who brags about their gamerscore deserves a shovel up the side of their head. Achievements appeal to me less because of any potential points and more because of the challenge they represent - but if that challenge is not fun, I see no shame in avoiding it.
Which brings me to achievements that aren't that good. Anyone can make up a set of standard achievements - look at Mass Effect. You get some achievements for progressing through the game, some for beating it, some for killing a certain number of enemies, some for upgrading your weapons, and some for being a completionist. Done. Wow, how boring and predictable. They're not bad achievements, but I don't see anything that encourages you to play the game in a new, non-standard way, just things that encourage you to play it over and over again to get the most complete save file. But at least they're better than some achievements like those in Yaris, which extend gameplay through your replays that aren't fun in any way. Take for example one achievemnet which asks the player to aquire 1 million coins. The player can possibly achieve this, but in terms of the actual game, you need at most 1,500 coins to unlock every car option (not that half of them are worth it), making the point of obtaining 1 million coins utterly ridiculous.
I'm not sure where I'm going with any of this, but while I'd say that achievement whores - or "e-peen chasers" if Tactix and Taumpy prefer - are retarded, there's nothing wrong with striving for achievements if the player is having fun while doing so.
Also, I'm soooooo drunk right now.
Necros, I think if when people unlocked Achievements in games, they should get some in-game prize too. I mean, wouldn't it be cool in Dead Rising if when you did the bowling ball achievement, you unlock a bowling costume, or an extra weapon? Stuff like that is more exciting to me, and it actually makes an impact on how you play the game by adding unlockables. I really like Achievements, but it'd be cool if I actually unlocked something that made an impact on the game.
Dead Rising is a really good example. I forgot about that. I did try a few new things because of the achievements during that game. It's impressive that they managed to do the achievement list so well but messed up the saving/event system so much.
I would like to see achievements become less prominent among gamers, lots of people focus way too much time and energy into achievements. I guess you canít really blame a feature for how it is received by the community. Microsoft should do something better with gamer score, like give everyone with a gamerscore over X early access to something or some free live points (I remember hearing that Microsoft intended to do this but decided not to, I don't know if it was just a rumor or not) or make it contained within the game, like in game bonuses. I think my major issue is that so much attention is being focused on a number that doesn't necessarily mean anything.
Yeah rewards for achievements would definitely help. With Burnout Paradise, the achievements were not only fun, they helped you to learn the game and the game world if you decided to go for them. For example, one requires that you flatspin (rotate your car in the air) at least 360 degrees. This actually makes you learn where you can do that, in the Quarry for example.
My main reason for getting the GTA IV achievements were because me and a friend were around the same point in the game and decided to see who could get 100% first. It was fun getting it, even though shooting 200 pigeons was a bitch since every time I shot one I got a wanted star or 2.
What actually worries me about achievements though is that I actually know people that buy DLC strictly for the added achievement points (for example, buying the Lost Odyssey DLC (which contains 100G I think) or the Halo Legendary Pack for the extra G's). When the value of Gamerpoints becomes more than the value of the game to player, then that person has a problem in my opinion.
Achievement Unlocked: Had good achievements
So would you all say that the main issue with achievements is the associated point value? That's the thing I'm getting, that people go for achievements just for boosting their score and not because they want to accomplish anything. I find it interesting that this seems to be the only perception of how to use achievements. I know some OCD people see the achievements as additional things they need to do before they can "complete" that game, so they shoot for getting all the achievements in a game, not for the score, but for that perfect 1000 points (or 200 for arcade games). Since they are completionists, they don't mind going for achievements with completionist tendencies. And if there are people who are willing to go for those and enjoy it on some level, is it completely bad to put a few achievements in that reward being so complete with the game? I'd argue that it's fine - provided the player can enjoy the amount of effort it takes to get that.
The most important thing to me, though, is that the player is having fun with the game. If the achievements encourage that fun, then I see no problem in users going for achievements to get more out of a game they like. It's only when users feel they are being "forced" to do boring tasks (killing thousands of people for Perfect Dark Zero's achievements) or ridiculous goals that only the very elite of a game's playerbase will achieve (many of the achievements in Guitar Hero III) that I would condemn a person chasing achievements.
Also, to clarify for Topgear, Dead Rising actually did unlock some outfits and a few weapons for getting certain achievements, all of which were available on the next playthrough after you had unlocked them.
I think you just hit the nail on the head Necros. For me an achievement unlocking a new mode/weapon/whatever is was more rewarding than making some number bigger. I wanna play games not show off my report card.
Yeah...Honestly I think the associated point value is really one of my major problems with achievements. I don't enjoy hunting down achievements really, and it sucks to have a number reflect that, regardless of how many games I play. Thatís I guess why I like achievements that you get naturally for playing the game. They serve as a "congratulations" for beating a hard part or doing something extraordinary.
I guess the morale of the story is, many different people have different views of what makes a game fun, and we should be able to just enjoy our games regardless of scores. Achievements are definitely here to stay, and I can only imagine what new things we have to look forward to in the future. (Like 1000G for Yaris 2, which only Necros will get).
Bitches don't know shit about my Yaris.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this week's discussion! Stay tuned for a new topic next week, and feel free to continue the discussion in the comments or in the forum thread started here.
And as always, let me know if you'd like to be a part of the panel, or have any great ideas for a topic!