Achievements!

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  • Posted By: Andythere are a lot of these "unspoken achievements", many of them created by the fanbase. One such achievement is "complete the game without once using the levelling up system" and the like.
    The ultimate version of this is the "Lytha way" of playing Thief and Thief 2. This includes:

    1.) Play in Expert Difficulty

    2.) Get all the loot

    3.) Don't deal any damage (not even the 1 damage that blackjack knockouts cause)

    4.) Don't buy any equipment from the loadout screen

    5.) Pick every pocket

    6.) Pick up every item in the mission

    There's a mission where someone tries to kill you in Thief 1, in which the game objectives are for you to follow the assassins back to their boss without being seen, and then steal the purse off the belt of the boss to prove you're better than him. Someone else posted a walkthrough of him following the assassins back, then knocking out every single person in the boss' house, dumping every body on the front lawn, then moving every movable item to the front lawn - including furniture and silverware and worthless items, stealing every piece of loot in the house including the purse off his belt and - this is important - leaving the boss conscious and walking around in a house that was now completely empty and stripped to the walls, with all his worldly possessions and followers heaped up in a giant pile.

    The Lytha Way
  • Achievements are virtual collections. Seriously, if you have any collectors' impulse, you will not be able to pass them up. Bragging rights are, well, about your collection of awesomeness.

    WoW, for instance, has a ton of them, but I think the most interesting ones are for defeating the bosses in dungeons a certain way. Like... The Safety Dance - kill Heiggan without anyone in your party dying. Ruby/Bronze/Green Void - kill the last boss of the Oculus without using a R/B/G Dragon. Etc.

    They also encourage people to participate in the seasonal festivals by making achievements for uh.. participating, rewarding you with a title (The Hallowed, Merrymaker, etc) that you can display with your name whenever you like.

    They have collectors' achievements for pets (50 vanity pets gets you a pet skunk!) mounts (50 gets you an albino drake!)...

    So yeah... they encourage you to explore features and quests that you wouldn't normally do, collect items, participate in events, do things in fun and challenging ways, and more.

    I think it would be great stuff in RPGs, and I like the idea of the GM Flags. I also think that you could have an open list, but just with the clever titles, not knowing what you have to do to complete them until you do it. It's like a teaser and a mystery instead of a guidebook.

    -C-
  • Red Vs. Blue has this to say about achievements.

    As a video game player I have a hard time caring all that much about achievements when I play stuff on my Xbox 360. To some extent, someone's gamerscore is just a measure of how many games they've played, not how good they are, and definitely not of how civil they are. I have to be really goddamn bored with a game for achievements to be the most interesting thing to do in them. (Unlockables are a whole other matter though.)

    OTOH, this has me very seriously thinking about putting an achievements system in the Slime Story RPG I'm working on, though of course it's got kind of an MMORPG parody angle to it, making it rather appropriate in a way. I'll have to think about it more.

    Just one thing about achievements in tabletop games: IMO they'd need to be relatively easy to track. It's easy for a computer to figure out that you've killed 100 dire rats or whatever, but for a GM to make little tick marks for every one you take down would get kind of tedious. Even with the medals in 3:16 I'm wishing I had a sheet with bubbles to fill in for "missions survived" and whatnot.
  • Posted By: AndyPosted By: WolfeAchievements don't HAVE to have any tangible reward. Simply having the point-to-it-and-grin factor of having an annotated achievement you can point to and grin is frequently reward enough. Most, but not all, Valve achievements are of this type.
    This Is Important.

    Exactly. I think just their very existence makes them awesome in the way that, if a player *wants* to take on that challenge, they'll do it. If they aren't interested in the challenge, they won't do it.

    Tangbile reward? Completion! Or "A mark on my character sheet". No need of permanent die bonus or anything. Maybe one reward is that, in the attempt to hit that achievement ("Social Outmanuvering Of The Local Aristocratic Mayor" in a swashbuckling game), the GM secretly or not-so-secretly lowers the difficulty rating or something.

    *All* video game achievements/trophies in games are like that. There is no tangible benefit other than a mark on your Gamer Card somewhere. And likewise, some players obsessively collect them all because that's what they're into, while others only aim for the interesting ones, while yet others simply don't go out of their way to hit any of them.
    -Andy

    Not true. There have been a few games for the 360 that rewarded the player for earning achievements, such as getting access to character art, new story stuff and behind the scenes items.

    The best one that did this was Sci-Fi RPG Mass Effect. While some of the achievements didn't do anything once you earned them, others actually gave the Gamertag (your log-in you use for all your games) bonuses, like access to special equipment for finally earning a million credits, getting to put skills that you mastered into future characters and experience/stat boosts for favoring a party member compared to the others..

    I'd see "Achievements/Rewards/Trophies" as something a little more meaningful than "you get it. It doesn't do anything" which is fairly hollow when you take away its standard use - bragging rights. The online nature of these things allows me to look at the achievements of fellow players to see not only what they play but how far/well they are at the title. Without something to define it and give it meaning it at best it becomes a silly joke that took up time which could have been better spent elsewhere, at worst (especially for the "bad" ones) it becomes like those "walls of shame" that a few offices do- posting up marginally bad work that ends up mostly humiliating people and antagonizing them against the management, making employees more apt to second guess their work and nit pick rather than accepting "yeah, you'll make mistakes". What's worse than messing up a scene that screws up the storyline and having to start from scratch? An "award" for doing so in front of your friends who also have to roll up new characters.

    No one else would really know about these things so why don't they just do stuff when it doesn't make much sense to give the player new equipment/allies?

    Perhaps a character/player could only use one or two of these rewards at a time. and they should be less "Monster masher - grind 500 kills and you get +50 exp" and more like "Calling Mr. Wolf- you call one person requesting help 5 times when you didn't need to- play this card once per session to get a free analysis of an enemy and mark this card. After three marks, it loses this power."
  • Posted By: JDCorleyThe Lytha Way
    Hah! I was going to post about how I thought the precursor to achievements were those gonzo walkthroughs that were popular on TTLG that make really good games devilishly difficult and fun in a new way when played following the outlined limitations. A few good examples of this besides the Lytha Way:

    System Shock 2 Melee Only

    Deus Ex Anti-Walkthrough

    etc
  • I think that achievements are a pretty cool idea. I just wrote up a set for my next D&D adventure that I'm planning on using, with a small XP reward for getting them, and having just the name revealed. I'll let you guys know how it goes.
  • Posted By: WirebrainNot true. There have been a few games for the 360 that rewarded the player for earning achievements, such as getting access to character art, new story stuff and behind the scenes items.
    Well, video games have had "unlockables" for quite a while now, and they seem to add some replay value (though sometimes it feels artificially so). Achievements on the 360 that are paired with unlockables have thusfar been the exception to the rule, which is kind of weird, really. The implementation of them has been mixed, which seems to be what happens with anything that becomes a standard requirement for video games.

    They can serve a useful social purpose if the game in question has enough of a community around it, but I would argue that even for video games it's very easy for them to become irrelevant. No one cares that I got all 200 possible achievement points on Lumines Live, except to note that I play that game too goddamn much (which is true), and no one else I know actually plays it, so those 200 points are a measure of how bored and/or obsessed I can get, but they accomplish nothing at all.

    I think that the effects of an achievement in an RPG could be something that is meta-game within reason (on the level of Encounter and Daily powers or Drama Points), or something where the line of cause and effect is clear and sensible (impress the Purple Dragon Knights, and they'll let you join and you "unlock" the Purple Dragon Knight prestige class).

    My tentative concept for achievements in Slime Story is that you have a bunch of little cards with achievements on them (and some blank ones for the GM/group to fill in before you play). When you fulfill one of them, the GM hands you the card. You can either use it to get a one-shot bonus power appropriate to the achievement, or trade it in for some XP.
  • Posted By: WolfeAchievements don't HAVE to have any tangible reward. Simply having the point-to-it-and-grin factor of having an annotated achievement you can point to and grin is frequently reward enough. Most, but not all, Valve achievements are of this type.
    Actually the only PC game I saw that gave rewards for achievements was Aliens vs Predator. It activated "cheats" wich weren't really cheats, but goofy ways to play already completed levels. (Okay, most of them helped the player, but there was one with blurred vision for example.) By the way I think that was the most awesome FPS for deathmatch purposes because of the three different "character classes".
  • edited January 2009
    This is a fascinating blog post linked from Rock Paper Shotgun that goes fairly into depth for why gamers that aren't adolescent assholes like achievements.

    So now we can concentrate on making our interaction design express the story rather than forcing the rigid challenge-effort-reward game structure to do so, or -possibly worse- forcing the narrative to comply with the demands of such a structure. Achievements offer designers an opportunity to finally start exploring the non-linear nature of the medium without losing the players.
    This is the most interesting part of that post. So a challenge to all of you that are interested. Come up with a game concept without an inherent reward cycle; where accomplishing something within the game is its own reward and it gives you an "achievement" signifying as such, but there is no in-game kickback for such accomplishments. If you come up with something, you have earned the "I had an Idea" Achievement worth 15 gamerpoints.
  • edited January 2009
    That's an interesting point, achievements that are somewhat tangential to the thrust of the game introduce a nonlinear aspect to otherwise linear games. If you're not making a sandbox/open-world game (and not everyone has the time/money/inclination to make GTAIV), this can be a good way to introduce more content and switch up the pacing whenever the player feels like it. "I don't want to go to the next level, let me roam around this one and take pictures of landmarks."

    Edit: Talking about video games here, though perhaps applicable to tabletop too...hmmmmm...
  • I know I would've played a lot more of something like Oblivion if it had achievements that weren't just stating that I finished a series of quests. I never really could put into words how achievements can totally make nonlinear play way more accessible without increasing anyone's workload.

    Also it seems modern games totally depend on achievements to stay fresh. I know the only reason I have been playing Left 4 Dead was because the achievements are fun to unlock (I'm like the only person that isn't blown away by the game. I can't quite place why.) Mirror's Edge had some spectacular achievements that made the game more fun to play.
  • edited January 2009
    Well, L4D is a bit of a "cheap shot" for that since it's main draw is multiplayer. Multiplayer is supposed to be endlessly fresh because of the very wide variety of experiences other players bring to the game. However, eventually as strategies are learned, multiplayer experiences tend to become more and more uniform...again, hmmm...
  • I found out that all tension is removed from the game on certain maps if you and your 3 teammates just hide in a closet during the finale, since unlike every other wall in the game, closet walls are indestructible. Also multiplayer on the xbox360 is kind of perpetually shitty which somewhat ruins the flavor of the game for me.
  • I think you could use achievements as prerequisites for kewl powers, classes etc. John Harper's idea about icons on the character sheet made me think of the GBA Tactics Ogre game, where you had to earn certain achievements, marked by small icons on the status screen, to qualify for various classes (like killing a number of enemies with both weapons and magic to get The Pen and the Sword, qualifying for Warlock). Nifty and fun, and would make sense in a more tactical rpg, i think.
  • Posted By: DimfrostI think you could use achievements as prerequisites for kewl powers, classes etc.
    That pushes all kinds of buttons for me. Someone (as in not me) should make that game.
  • Will do. Just give me a year or two.
  • one of the core concepts of the game system i'm wanting to design (so far all the design notes exist only in my head) is that "Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want." (as James Ernest said in the rules for the Cheapass game Escape from Elba)
    so, what about the idea of negative achievements as requirements for an ability?
    Something like:
    Be caught in the blast radius of a grenade on 3 separate occasions before you can learn a special ability allowing for an automatic chance to duck and cover?
  • Posted By: Andyyou'll find games that use them totally uncreatively, or in a "cheating" way: Deaqd Space is an awesome game, but its trophies are totally uninspired: You get them for clearing levels as normal, and for "killing X baddies". There are a few cool trophies tho, like "cleared the game using only the basic weapon", but most are "meh".
    Hi Andy, I was a level designer on Dead Space. Let me tell you a little bit about how we come up with achievements in the video game industry.

    Achievements (gamerscore for Xbox, trophies for PS3) have ended up representing how much of a gamer you are. To get a high gamerscore, you must have played a lot of games. Somebody with a gamerscore of 10,000 has probably spent more time playing than somebody with a gamerscore of 5,000. To that end, the "uninspired" achievements are there so that a player who simply plays through the end of the game gets to walk away with approximately 1/3 to 1/2 of the total points (usually 1000) available in the game. There were some early titles on the 360 that only gave points for unusual behavior, and I found myself frustrated that I had gotten a good ways into the game but "had nothing to show for it," which is ridiculous since Gamerscore is a meaningless number, but then that's human psychology for you.

    The rest of the points are divvied up to reward optional challenges, exploration, gameplay milestones, and cool behavior. Oh, and playing all the way through a game definitely counts as cool behavior. If somebody plays my game, but doesn't play long enough to see the stuff I put in the game, I'm a little disappointed. If you didn't finish chapter 10 in Dead Space, I am one sad panda.

    We understand the absurd nature of giving a reward for something you would do anyway. Another game I did level design for, The Simpsons Game, has a number of ironic achievements, such as the 5-point achievement called "Pressed Start" that is awarded the first time the player starts a new game.

    With all that said, the sorts of things you're talking about here aren't really videogame-style "achievements" because achievements have absolutely no value within the game. However, I really like the idea of achievements as the GM's flags. Lots of games want the GM and other players to talk about their expectations for the game, so it only makes sense to give everybody little goodies to toss each other during play as their desires are met. Also the idea of achievements coming from all players like some sort of pre-loaded fan mail could be cool to explore.
    Posted By: Jonathan MJust saying that I still don't get the point... so what... people boast to each other about how good they are at videogames? this actually happens? I had no idea. Do people also boast about how good they are at jerking off? is this some whole world of masculine bonding activities that I have never been privy to?
    They're a return of the High Score screen from the arcade machines of yore. And they're not about how good you are, they're about how often you game. Gamers are curious how often other people game. And in my experience, a high score is usually both a source of pride (you worked hard for it) and shame (you need to get out more) in equal measure.

    It's the same embarrassing burst of id-joy I feel when my Prius shows me my average efficiency on my current tank of gas is over 55 mpg.
  • Posted By: Simon_PetterssonPosted By: DimfrostI think you could use achievements as prerequisites for kewl powers, classes etc.
    That pushes all kinds of buttons for me. Someone (as in not me) should make that game.

    Working on it.
  • Posted By: AndyAnd yet, the good implementation of them, which is basically "Left 4 Dead; and a very few of the achievements in Fallout 3", basically reinforce things that the game designers thought would be cool if you did.

    Example of bad ones that everyone uses:
    Player completes the level.
    Player kills 100 opponents (in a game where you're expected to kill thousands).
    I disagree. There's two good reasons for these types of achievements. The first is that it rewards playing the game "normally". It rewards not just achievement hunters, but people just playing through the game. Second, and more importantly in my mind, it acts as a reminder as flag for the achievement system, engaging people who are used to "just playing" and showing them a different reward system that they can pursue. I can't tell you* how many times I've gotten an achievement for just playing, which directly prompted me to break from my normal play style of progressing through whatever challenges, to hunting down achievements. As an addendum, for under achiever achievements, like kill 100 when you end up killing thousands, these are almost always stepping stones to "Kill 1000" and "Kill 10000" and so forth, giving you measurable progress and little rewards if you want to be the guy with the "Kill 1,000,000" achievement.

    *Actually, I can try. Every game I've played on the 360, plus the Steam games that have Achievements and World of Warcraft. I usually ignore them, and almost always forget about them, but when that little unlocked reminder pops up, I suddenly start looking how to play the game a whole new way. Since this regularly ebbs and flows, having multiples of these very basic achievements serves as a constant reminder.
  • I agree that the "mundane" achievements and "bizarre" achievements should be combined. One is a gateway to the other.
  • But what is the sense in calling the normal play achievement. Is that an achievement that I completed the game? That's the goal. And of course it's an achievement, but it doesn't need any discussion. I mean: what's bizarre in the achievement of "kill a zombie with its own grenade"? And why does it have to explicitly stated that "you not only completed a level, but you achieved in completing the level, too, congratulations!"
  • The idea is that achievements are shown to other players - they can see that you reached the goal (subgoal, or whatever.)
  • algi, my man, sometimes just getting up in the morning is an achievement.

    (ba-dum-TISK!)


    Anyway, the point is that it doesn't have to be explicitly stated, but that sometimes explicitly stating things that normally need no discussion ("Defeated the first boss") can be a source of fun.
  • Posted By: Accounting for Tastealgi, my man, sometimes just getting up in the morning is an achievement.
    (ba-dum-TISK!)
    Achievement Unlocked (5G): The right side of the bed
    Got out of bed.

    But in other news, I think that part of the point of achievements like 'kill a zombie with its own grenade' is that without such an achievement you might not even think to do that.
  • Posted By: whiteknife
    But in other news, I think that part of the point of achievements like 'kill a zombie with its own grenade' is that without such an achievement you might not even think to do that.
    Hey, it wasn't that easy for me. Not as easy as getting up.
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