A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

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A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby King Author » Thu May 20, 2010 2:37 pm UTC

Fun things are fun. Cute things can be funny. Videogames can be fun. These cryptic and bizarre truths are as-yet elusive to the Western mind, at least when that mind develops a videogame. To said mind, only cool things are fun, cute things are unacceptable and videogames are about competition and bragging rights, not enjoyment. Case in point -- Achievements; a really, really stupid and utterly Western idea. You get "awards" for pulling off usually-nonsensical or stupid stuff in the game you're playing, for...no good reason at all. You can't buy things with Gamer Points, you can at least appreciate the PS3 slant on things, Trophies, but still, now that computer games are adopting Achievements (World of Warcraft, Half-Life, to name two) it's quickly becoming a ubiqitous feature in modern gaming.

I'll tell you what I like, though -- Metroid Prime 3's take on it. For those who haven't played, MP3 - a game for Wii - rips off Xbox 360 by having Achievements (which it calls Tokens). The thing is, it's not just about stupid bragging rights or who has more Gamer Points (you can't see, but I roll my eyes every time I read, write or say those words) -- you can use the tokens to unlock concept art and polygonal model galleries, the soundtrack and a few little features like a screenshot tool. They're all simple and of course, you could just view the art and listen to the soundtracks online without any effort, but it's neat. Plus, there's no in-game way to view how to get the Tokens, so you don't just look at a list of stupid things to do (make Altair break fifty pots people are carrying on their head; have Nico jump straight up in the air 100 times; collect 1,000,000 Gil) and then mindlessly do them.

I'm no fan of hollow Achievements. It's just the warped mind of Western developers trying to instill an artificial layer of competition in games which are ideally meant to be enjoyed, not competed over ("just got GTA4 recently, man it's fun" "oh yeah, I'll bet you don't have as many Achievements as me" "¬_¬"). But now that they're here and they're expected, they're not going to go away anytime soon. I expect Xbox 4-Square (or whatever dumb name they come up with to match PS4's number so as not to seem lesser; again, stupid Western nonsense) and PS4 will most definitely have Achievements/Trophies, but I really hope they go the MP3 route and have it that you can spend your tokens or Gamer Points or what have you to unlock neat little in-game stuff.

Sorry to rip on Western developers so much, but it couldn't have gone unsaid as I critisized Achievements. Any thoughts? (And yes, I know MP3 was developed by a Western company.)
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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby Chen » Thu May 20, 2010 3:04 pm UTC

A lot of games in the past had achievements, though they weren't explicitly mentioned as such. Things like "beat the game on hard with no deaths and open a new costume" or some such. I don't really see the harm in letting people know what these goals are beforehand and linking them to some nebulous score. People like seeing numbers go up.

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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby ProZac » Thu May 20, 2010 3:23 pm UTC

It's a system that's here to stay, and a system with ups and downs. My main gripe: Achievements aren't actually achievements for the most part. "Beat the game" is an achievement. It fulfills a purpose within the game (completion). "Jump 500 times" is not an achievement, as it serves no actual purpose within the game. The best way to describe it would be "if you have to change the way you would typically play through a game in order to do an achievement" it shouldn't be there.

As far as achievements unlocking things, this can be good and bad. As Chen said, in a way, they were already there. In a way, there's "beat game unlock costume" compared to "beat game unlock costume and achievement". Same concept, but with a number attached. On the other hand, you have how TF2 originally did it. Complete achievement, unlock game changing weapon in an online game. Of course everyone wants game changing weapon. First problem, they were easily farmable. Second problem, they weren't easily obtainable through normal play (at least for some classes, I found pyro easy). This meant you could either 'cheat' to get them, or do things that obviously aren't for the best benefit of the team inorder to get them.

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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby Endless Mike » Thu May 20, 2010 3:45 pm UTC

If you don't like them, ignore them. For most people, they're just a fun bonus. Sure, there's achievement whores, but they're not affecting how you play the game unless it's some online thing, but usually there's not going to be many of those types in a given game.

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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby SecondTalon » Thu May 20, 2010 4:44 pm UTC

Yeah, I wouldn't say the concept of achievements started with Western developers. I can think of quite a few games in which you collect useless trinkets for useless screen art or costumes or whatever. I wouldn't say it started with Eastern ones either, but I haven't really researched the subject.

Done well, they're a way of proving that you did the swordless run in Legend of Zelda. Done poorly, they just showcase that you have way too much goddamn free time to have hit the use button 8,000 times on Dr. Jones.

Bad Developers make Bad Achievements. Eastern and Western design philosophies have nothing to do with it.
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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby Jahoclave » Thu May 20, 2010 5:08 pm UTC

And some achievements are a way of saying, you know, you could theoretically play the game this way, it'd be a lot harder to do, but you could try. Sort of like the play entirely with melee weapons in l4d2. Or saving the gnome. Saving gnomes is very important.

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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby Endless Mike » Thu May 20, 2010 5:23 pm UTC

Personally, I rarely make an effort to specifically get an achievement/trophy unless it's either a) easy/fun (get n kills with this weapon) or b) gives me something (costume, map, art, weapon, whatever) for getting it. I'd say at least 90% of achievements/tropies I have came simply from playing the game.

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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby SecondTalon » Thu May 20, 2010 5:41 pm UTC

Jahoclave wrote:And some achievements are a way of saying, you know, you could theoretically play the game this way, it'd be a lot harder to do, but you could try. Sort of like the play entirely with melee weapons in l4d2. Or saving the gnome. Saving gnomes is very important.
Eh, keeping the gnome with you is kinda on the border of Swordless Run (Something that requires a lot of skill) and 1,000,000 Roses (You have too goddamn much time). The No Bullet run is far more interesting to me - you're playing the game as expected, not doing much extra, just.. not using the obvious solution. And still winning.
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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby El Spark » Thu May 20, 2010 7:30 pm UTC

I love how they do the Badges in the City of Heroes/Villains franchise. Each badge is something like WoW's achievements (defeat X amount of certain enemies, explore Y area, finish Z task force, there are lots of different kinds), but each badge can then be used as a title for your character.

For instance, my main, Ten Strike, has acquired the titles "Legendary" and "Death-Defying" as a simple function of gaining levels. However, he also acquired the badge "Ten Times the Victor" for defeating Mary MacComber ten times. Taken together, his name reads as "The Legendary Death-Defying Ten Strike: Ten Times the Victor."

There's really nothing like finishing the Statesman's Task Force and being able to put the title "Saved the World" under your hero's name.
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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby thicknavyrain » Thu May 20, 2010 7:36 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:The No Bullet run is far more interesting to me - you're playing the game as expected, not doing much extra, just.. not using the obvious solution. And still winning.


That achievement did make the game a lot more fun for me, the bit with the antlions and exploding barrels, there were times where I wanted to cave and unload my full ammo clips but I didn't. Then when I finished it made me feel great, but then again recently on God of War 1 I tried playing Spartan mode, got halfway and died a bazillion times on one point and realised it was just pointless grind and switched to an easier mode and just didn't care. I think achievements can be fun if they're tasteful, like the gnome, completely pointless a lot of the time too but at any rate, I think they're such a great idea for developers that it's unlikely they'll go anytime soon.
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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby rigwarl » Thu May 20, 2010 9:00 pm UTC

Is the existence of mindless achievements negatively impacting your gameplay? If not, there are lots of people who do find them fun.

If you think about it, it's a pretty lofty expectation that every single part of a videogame appeals to you. You should be ecstatic if you find a video game where achievements (something completely optional) are the only aspect you don't like about it!

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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby Amnesiasoft » Thu May 20, 2010 10:05 pm UTC

ProZac wrote:My main gripe: Achievements aren't actually achievements for the most part. "Beat the game" is an achievement. It fulfills a purpose within the game (completion). "Jump 500 times" is not an achievement, as it serves no actual purpose within the game.

Personally, I feel neither of those make for good achievements. Beating the game is just that, beating the game. It's not going above and beyond*, but neither is jumping 65,535 times. Achievements should be for things like, as was mentioned, a swordless/3-heart run of Zelda, or dragging that damned gnome with you through Episode 2. Collectible based achievements kind of border between the two. Sure, it is going above and beyond, but collectibles are kind of stupid.

* Except maybe if the game is that terrible that the thought of someone completing it is that mind-boggling.

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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby SecondTalon » Thu May 20, 2010 10:43 pm UTC

Amnesiasoft wrote:
ProZac wrote:My main gripe: Achievements aren't actually achievements for the most part. "Beat the game" is an achievement. It fulfills a purpose within the game (completion). "Jump 500 times" is not an achievement, as it serves no actual purpose within the game.

Personally, I feel neither of those make for good achievements. Beating the game is just that, beating the game. It's not going above and beyond*, but neither is jumping 65,535 times. Achievements should be for things like, as was mentioned, a swordless/3-heart run of Zelda, or dragging that damned gnome with you through Episode 2. Collectible based achievements kind of border between the two. Sure, it is going above and beyond, but collectibles are kind of stupid.

* Except maybe if the game is that terrible that the thought of someone completing it is that mind-boggling.
I recall reading somewhere that the X-Box (harbinger of the modern achievement systems in place) dictated that it's games have a minimum of X number of achievements. If true, this easily explains the lazy development achievements, both the "Jump A Whole Lotta!" ones and the "You completed the tutorial! Achievement unlocked! You started the first level! Achievement! You completed the first level! Achievement! You started the second level!" ones.

Now to go research the truthiness of that statement.
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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby Amnesiasoft » Thu May 20, 2010 11:42 pm UTC

Avatar: The Last Airbender has 3 achievements. As far as I'm aware, the only requirement is to have them. There are limitations on it. You're allowed to have up to 50 for 1000 gamerscore. DLC may add up to 10 achievements and 250 gamerscore every... some amount of time (3 months?). XBLA games are capped at 12/200 and +3*/+50 I believe.

* I am unsure of this number. It seems right, but something sounds off with it.

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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby New User » Fri May 21, 2010 2:22 am UTC

ProZac wrote:It's a system that's here to stay, and a system with ups and downs. My main gripe: Achievements aren't actually achievements for the most part. "Beat the game" is an achievement. It fulfills a purpose within the game (completion). "Jump 500 times" is not an achievement, as it serves no actual purpose within the game. The best way to describe it would be "if you have to change the way you would typically play through a game in order to do an achievement" it shouldn't be there.
I disagree. Personally I think the achievements that can change the way you normally play the game can be the most interesting achievements. Often after I finish a game normally, one of my main incentives for replaying a game is to make it more challenging for myself. So I think it's definitely fair and rewarding to have an achievement system recognize that I succeeded in unusual challenges. And as SexyTalon wrote, it's a way of proving that I did so. So as far as I'm concerned, most games that are released nowadays for XBox 360 and PS3 have about 25-50 achievements. If more than half of those is just "finish the first stage", "finish the second stage", "finish the third stage", ... "finish the game" then it's a completely useless achievement list. If I bought the game, of course I'm going to finish it. If I own the game, I shouldn't have to prove to anyone that I finished the stages/game. I think that one-half to two-thirds of the list should be "finish the game on impossible mode", "finish the game without dying", "finish the game while standing on your head", etc. A great example of a game with an awesome achievement list is Dead Rising for XBox 360.

Now what really irks me is secret achievements. I can understand having achievement requirements hidden when the achievement or its requirement contains in itself a spoiler about the game plot, but if that's the case then the achievement should be awarded when playing through the game normally. For example, if an achievement for Metal Gear said "Kill Big Boss", it should be hidden because he's not a villain at the beginning of the game, and anyone reading throught the achievement list would see that plot spoiler. But for an example of poorly done secret achievements see Dead Space: "kill the slug with %50 shield remaining". OK that might be a worthy challenge, but how am I even supposed to know to attempt that challenge if the requirement is hidden? There is already an achievement in that game "Kill the slug" (which is also secret, but awarded by playing the game normally) so if I kill the slug I wouldn't expect there to be second achievement for doing so with half shield remaining. If the developers set forth a challenging task for gamers, at least let the gamers know what the task is!

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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby Gopher of Pern » Fri May 21, 2010 2:28 am UTC

The way I look at achievements is as a challenge. Do I want to see if I can beat the game on the hardest difficulty, without all the powerfull weapons and little gimmicks that make it easy? If it's a fun game, I will! That said, alot of achievements are totally stupid. Get 10,000 online kills in ranked play, when its really hard to find a game, and when I do, its really laggy because I live in Australia, and I'm playing Americans? Yeah....no. I do try and aim for achievements when they are doable and fun. It has added replay value to quite a few games I own. Some of them even include bonuses to the game when you get them, which is a fun benefit.

If they are fun for you, try and get them. If you think they are pointless, ignore them. No-one is forcing you to get them.

I agree with New User about the secret achievements. In Bioshock 2, one of the secret achievements is to
Spoiler:
hit Andrew Ryan with a golf club
Now how am I supposed to know that doing that would give me an achievement? It's not something a person would normally do, unless they were mucking around a bit, but even then it would be a stretch.
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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby Vaniver » Fri May 21, 2010 2:33 am UTC

King Author wrote:The thing is, it's not just about stupid bragging rights or who has more Gamer Points (you can't see, but I roll my eyes every time I read, write or say those words) -- you can use the tokens to unlock concept art and polygonal model galleries, the soundtrack and a few little features like a screenshot tool. They're all simple and of course, you could just view the art and listen to the soundtracks online without any effort, but it's neat. Plus, there's no in-game way to view how to get the Tokens, so you don't just look at a list of stupid things to do (make Altair break fifty pots people are carrying on their head; have Nico jump straight up in the air 100 times; collect 1,000,000 Gil) and then mindlessly do them.
This actually bothers me more, I think. You paid for content that you can't get unless you jump through some hoops. I mean, remember Brawl, where you could only play on like half the maps with like half the characters until you put ten hours into their stupid campaign? The campaign had some cool parts, but I remember sitting there thinking "wow, they are making me work to unlock the game I just paid for. This is wrong."

Make me pay $10 more for the collector's edition, and give me the concept art in a nice-looking book that I might keep around longer than the actual game.

(I don't actually mind customizations that you unlock through completing achievements, so long as they're mostly graphical- it's fun to choose what to unlock and to earn it. But that's also because you generally can pick what to do- "oh, if I do this quest I get a pet" - and you can probably earn enough to get the stuff you want most with casual play.)
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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby Gopher of Pern » Fri May 21, 2010 2:37 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:
King Author wrote:The thing is, it's not just about stupid bragging rights or who has more Gamer Points (you can't see, but I roll my eyes every time I read, write or say those words) -- you can use the tokens to unlock concept art and polygonal model galleries, the soundtrack and a few little features like a screenshot tool. They're all simple and of course, you could just view the art and listen to the soundtracks online without any effort, but it's neat. Plus, there's no in-game way to view how to get the Tokens, so you don't just look at a list of stupid things to do (make Altair break fifty pots people are carrying on their head; have Nico jump straight up in the air 100 times; collect 1,000,000 Gil) and then mindlessly do them.
This actually bothers me more, I think. You paid for content that you can't get unless you jump through some hoops. I mean, remember Brawl, where you could only play on like half the maps with like half the characters until you put ten hours into their stupid campaign? The campaign had some cool parts, but I remember sitting there thinking "wow, they are making me work to unlock the game I just paid for. This is wrong."

Make me pay $10 more for the collector's edition, and give me the concept art in a nice-looking book that I might keep around longer than the actual game.

(I don't actually mind customizations that you unlock through completing achievements, so long as they're mostly graphical- it's fun to choose what to unlock and to earn it. But that's also because you generally can pick what to do- "oh, if I do this quest I get a pet" - and you can probably earn enough to get the stuff you want most with casual play.)


Why does this bother you so much? Almost every game requires you to jump through some hoops to get content, even if its just as simple as needing to complete level 1 to play level 2. I love unlockable content like this, I think it adds replay value, as long as it is done well.
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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby meatyochre » Fri May 21, 2010 2:55 am UTC

There are more tangible rewards than simply points and bragging rights in WoW's achievement system. I'm currently on a year-long achievement to do all the in-game holiday events, the reward for which is the fastest possible flying mount (310%, whereas epic flying is only 280%), which is otherwise unobtainable outside of hardcore raiding achievements (which casual gamers like me will never obtain).

I like achievements in WoW, they give the casual gamer a different way to play the game. And I would never tell somebody else that the way they prefer to play the game is stupid or invalid. Especially a game like WoW that you cannot "beat" and doesn't have an "end." There may be ways to play the game that are more right than others from a developer's POV, but there is no wrong way.

Oh plus, customizable titles are super cool. And who doesn't want more non-combat pets? :)
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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby Xanthir » Fri May 21, 2010 3:09 am UTC

Brawl's a special bad case, since it's really annoying to buy the game, pop it in with some friends, and then realize that a large part of the game is unplayable.
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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby SecondTalon » Fri May 21, 2010 3:20 am UTC

Gopher of Pern wrote:Why does this bother you so much? Almost every game requires you to jump through some hoops to get content, even if its just as simple as needing to complete level 1 to play level 2. I love unlockable content like this, I think it adds replay value, as long as it is done well.
Because..

It's a fighting game.

Fighting games are best played against other people. Often times, just because I happen to own Turbo Fighting All-Stars vs. Scrubs doesn't mean I play it primarily at home. Maybe I play it at my best friend Jeff's place, where I often use KarateMan and The Todd to beat his combo of NinjaGirl and Dr. Cox. So, when I go home and pop in my copy that I've only put an hour in, why should I have to jump through a fuckton of hoops to get NinjaGirl and The Todd unlocked, or beat Kelso as JD in order to unlock Dr. Cox or what other idiotic thing I have to do to unlock characters.

If there's a boss/sub-boss character that's .. not necessarily broken, but overpowered (The Janitor) then.. alright, I can understand you needing to beat the game on hard mode. But basic characters? Ridiculous.

In Brawl's case? 14 characters are locked when you pop the game in. 14. And one of them... an especially popular character.. featured prominently in the promotional material. It's kinda a slap in the face to the consumer to say "Want to play as Snake? Jump through these hoops!"

It's not a linear story game with a tale being told. It's not a strategic game where you're slowly taking over the map. It's a fighting game. Yes, there's a story, but can anyone honestly say that Chun-Li's reasons for being in the Street Fighter tournament actually matter? Does anyone really care why SubZero keeps subjecting himself to the Mortal Kombat tournament? Fuck no! You just want to do spin kicks and freeze people. You don't want to run through the game as Johnny Cage before you can unlock Scorpion so you can beat Goro using only your "Get Over Here" spike throw so you can FINALLY unlock SubZero. You just want to play as SubZero RIGHTNOW.


Also, I now want a fighting game based on Scrubs.


To look at it another way... how much fun would a Lego building game be if, out of the box you could only use the 1x2 bricks until you build enough things to unlock the 2x2 and 1x4, and then you had to build more things to unlock the 1x1 and 16x16 plate? You'd say it's bullshit, and you'd be right.
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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby Gopher of Pern » Fri May 21, 2010 3:25 am UTC

SecondTalon wrote:
Gopher of Pern wrote:Why does this bother you so much? Almost every game requires you to jump through some hoops to get content, even if its just as simple as needing to complete level 1 to play level 2. I love unlockable content like this, I think it adds replay value, as long as it is done well.
Because..

It's a fighting game.

Fighting games are best played against other people. Often times, just because I happen to own Turbo Fighting All-Stars vs. Scrubs doesn't mean I play it primarily at home. Maybe I play it at my best friend Jeff's place, where I often use KarateMan and The Todd to beat his combo of NinjaGirl and Dr. Cox. So, when I go home and pop in my copy that I've only put an hour in, why should I have to jump through a fuckton of hoops to get NinjaGirl and The Todd unlocked, or beat Kelso as JD in order to unlock Dr. Cox or what other idiotic thing I have to do to unlock characters.

If there's a boss/sub-boss character that's .. not necessarily broken, but overpowered (The Janitor) then.. alright, I can understand you needing to beat the game on hard mode. But basic characters? Ridiculous.

In Brawl's case? 14 characters are locked when you pop the game in. 14. And one of them... an especially popular character.. featured prominently in the promotional material. It's kinda a slap in the face to the consumer to say "Want to play as Snake? Jump through these hoops!"

It's not a linear story game with a tale being told. It's not a strategic game where you're slowly taking over the map. It's a fighting game. Yes, there's a story, but can anyone honestly say that Chun-Li's reasons for being in the Street Fighter tournament actually matter? Does anyone really care why SubZero keeps subjecting himself to the Mortal Kombat tournament? Fuck no! You just want to do spin kicks and freeze people. You don't want to run through the game as Johnny Cage before you can unlock Scorpion so you can beat Goro using only your "Get Over Here" spike throw so you can FINALLY unlock SubZero. You just want to play as SubZero RIGHTNOW.


Also, I now want a fighting game based on Scrubs.


Wow. Having never played brawl, I did not know it was quite that bad. Are you sure there isn't some code that unlocks all characters? That would at least let you play them all, if you knew about it.

That said, The Todd would beat everyone with his banana hammock swing special. :P
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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby EdgarJPublius » Fri May 21, 2010 3:38 am UTC

SecondTalon wrote: Turbo Fighting All-Stars vs. Scrubs



I would buy that game.

Somebody make it NOW!
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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby Amnesiasoft » Fri May 21, 2010 4:08 am UTC

New User wrote:
ProZac wrote:The best way to describe it would be "if you have to change the way you would typically play through a game in order to do an achievement" it shouldn't be there.
I disagree. Personally I think the achievements that can change the way you normally play the game can be the most interesting achievements.

I'd say it's a perfectly acceptable rule for multiplayer achievements. A multiplayer achievement should not force you to play the game in a manner that is inconsistent with actual play. Hell, if you ask me, multiplayer achievements shouldn't exist at all.

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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby Gopher of Pern » Fri May 21, 2010 4:17 am UTC

Amnesiasoft wrote:
New User wrote:
ProZac wrote:The best way to describe it would be "if you have to change the way you would typically play through a game in order to do an achievement" it shouldn't be there.
I disagree. Personally I think the achievements that can change the way you normally play the game can be the most interesting achievements.

I'd say it's a perfectly acceptable rule for multiplayer achievements. A multiplayer achievement should not force you to play the game in a manner that is inconsistent with actual play. Hell, if you ask me, multiplayer achievements shouldn't exist at all.


I do like the ones that encourage you to play in a different manner, like getting x kills with a weapon. But if x is too big, it just encourages grinding for the achievements, instead of getting them through normal gameplay.
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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby Amnesiasoft » Fri May 21, 2010 5:06 am UTC

Gopher of Pern wrote:I do like the ones that encourage you to play in a different manner, like getting x kills with a weapon. But if x is too big, it just encourages grinding for the achievements, instead of getting them through normal gameplay.

I don't mean different as in use this weapon instead of that weapon, I mean different as in "Actively play in a manner that hurts your team." See: Half of TF2's achievements.

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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby Adacore » Fri May 21, 2010 12:07 pm UTC

Multiplayer achievements can be very valuable, if they encourage teamworking. They need to be really well thought through though, or people will find a way to cheat to get the achievements to the detriment of others playing the game. Rewarding people for reviving, providing ammo and giving assists, for example, might encourage support-type teamplay that wouldn't otherwise be seen.

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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby Amnesiasoft » Fri May 21, 2010 12:21 pm UTC

My qualm with there existence is more related to the fact that they're more or less unobtainable once the multiplayer community dies off.

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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby Glmclain » Fri May 21, 2010 12:52 pm UTC

Not sure if it's been mentioned, but did you know there are sites where you pay people to unlock XBOX 360 Achievements for you. And they're actually successful.

Seriously.
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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby ProZac » Fri May 21, 2010 1:33 pm UTC

Amnesiasoft wrote:Personally, I feel neither of those make for good achievements. Beating the game is just that, beating the game. It's not going above and beyond*, but neither is jumping 65,535 times. Achievements should be for things like, as was mentioned, a swordless/3-heart run of Zelda, or dragging that damned gnome with you through Episode 2.

Hrm, it's hard to clarify what is a good achievement and a bad achievement. I mean... beating the game is at least something. Maybe not spectacular, but I don't think every achievement needs to be 'The swordless run' either. Then again, a swordless run changes the way you play, and I'm fine with that. I suppose changing the way you play for an extra challenge is fine in single player. Changing the way you play is not fine in multiplayer (as someone pointed out TF2). Maybe a good way to put it is achievements shouldn't feel grindy? Not, do X a large # of times.
Gopher of Pern wrote:I agree with New User about the secret achievements. In Bioshock 2, one of the secret achievements is to
Spoiler:
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Now how am I supposed to know that doing that would give me an achievement? It's not something a person would normally do, unless they were mucking around a bit, but even then it would be a stretch.

See, now I would argue that is a good secret achievement. Opening that spoiled something in the game for me, therefore viewing it in an achievement list would have spoiled something. Good thing I don't intend to play it (though it did make me more intersted...). However, I generally don't look through achievement lists until I complete the game solely because of that.

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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby Endless Mike » Fri May 21, 2010 2:26 pm UTC

I don't actually care if they change the way multiplayer is played as long as it's not cooperative. If you want to run around in Halo deathmatch using only your fists, that's your prerogative. It lets me get my 1000 Kills achievement easier. If you want to do that in TF2, we have a problem.

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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby King Author » Fri May 21, 2010 6:58 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Yeah, I wouldn't say the concept of achievements started with Western developers. I can think of quite a few games in which you collect useless trinkets for useless screen art or costumes or whatever. I wouldn't say it started with Eastern ones either, but I haven't really researched the subject.

Done well, they're a way of proving that you did the swordless run in Legend of Zelda. Done poorly, they just showcase that you have way too much goddamn free time to have hit the use button 8,000 times on Dr. Jones.

Bad Developers make Bad Achievements. Eastern and Western design philosophies have nothing to do with it.

To me, it's precisely east vs west. Do you know the reason the PS3 even included Trophies? They added it near the end of the development cycle because they saw that Xbox 360 had it (360 came out awhile before PS3) and thought if they added something similar, it'd appeal more to Americans. Which is to say nothing of the fact that the Japanese simply don't like the Xbox. Not to mention that the American default viewpoint regarding anything is "competition!" c.f. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/M ... IsHardcore

But let me be clear that this is all the developers doing. American game design and advertisement is geared towards competition (and a ridiculously over-intense sense of masculinity), but that doesn't necessarily say anything about the consumers. Ironically enough, in Japan, videogames aren't taken as seriously (except by the hikkikomori, of course), which is why developers focus on cute/fun things instead of YEAAAHMANLYGOGOGO! which we get in America.

Also it's not a rumor -- Microsoft does require games for Xbox 360 to have at least ten Achievements and 100 Gamer Points or something (I don't know the exact number, but it's widely known; they also put a cap on the maximum number of Achievements and Gamer Points you're allowed to put in a game).

El Spark wrote:I love how they do the Badges in the City of Heroes/Villains franchise. Each badge is something like WoW's achievements (defeat X amount of certain enemies, explore Y area, finish Z task force, there are lots of different kinds), but each badge can then be used as a title for your character.

For instance, my main, Ten Strike, has acquired the titles "Legendary" and "Death-Defying" as a simple function of gaining levels. However, he also acquired the badge "Ten Times the Victor" for defeating Mary MacComber ten times. Taken together, his name reads as "The Legendary Death-Defying Ten Strike: Ten Times the Victor."

There's really nothing like finishing the Statesman's Task Force and being able to put the title "Saved the World" under your hero's name.

Well that's pretty neat, being able to use your Achievements to get custom titles in an MMO, but still, your typical offline, single-player Achievements serve little more purpose than to engender a sense of competition; play to win, instead of play for the enjoyment.

thicknavyrain wrote:
SexyTalon wrote:The No Bullet run is far more interesting to me - you're playing the game as expected, not doing much extra, just.. not using the obvious solution. And still winning.


That achievement did make the game a lot more fun for me, the bit with the antlions and exploding barrels, there were times where I wanted to cave and unload my full ammo clips but I didn't. Then when I finished it made me feel great, but then again recently on God of War 1 I tried playing Spartan mode, got halfway and died a bazillion times on one point and realised it was just pointless grind and switched to an easier mode and just didn't care. I think achievements can be fun if they're tasteful, like the gnome, completely pointless a lot of the time too but at any rate, I think they're such a great idea for developers that it's unlikely they'll go anytime soon.

I'd like to point out here that people have been doing things like "no X" runs, speed runs and all sorts of things since videogames were first invented. We never needed some useless Achievement to tell us what unusual ways of playing the game might be fun. Granted, there's no harm in "You managed a LLNIIENA run" Achievements, but 90% of Achievements are of the stupid "successfully steal from NPCs X times" type, and again, Achievements don't do anything; it's just bragging rights.

rigwarl wrote:Is the existence of mindless achievements negatively impacting your gameplay? If not, there are lots of people who do find them fun.

If you think about it, it's a pretty lofty expectation that every single part of a videogame appeals to you. You should be ecstatic if you find a video game where achievements (something completely optional) are the only aspect you don't like about it!

Which is why I said I'd like to see Achievements used for something, not I'd like to see Achievements go away. Duh they're fun for some people (even if I shake my head and think "they're completely missing the point"). Making Achievements actually useful couldn't hurt the fun for them, and would make them have a purpose for people like me who find mindless competition ridiculous.

Vaniver wrote:
King Author wrote:The thing is, it's not just about stupid bragging rights or who has more Gamer Points (you can't see, but I roll my eyes every time I read, write or say those words) -- you can use the tokens to unlock concept art and polygonal model galleries, the soundtrack and a few little features like a screenshot tool. They're all simple and of course, you could just view the art and listen to the soundtracks online without any effort, but it's neat. Plus, there's no in-game way to view how to get the Tokens, so you don't just look at a list of stupid things to do (make Altair break fifty pots people are carrying on their head; have Nico jump straight up in the air 100 times; collect 1,000,000 Gil) and then mindlessly do them.
This actually bothers me more, I think. You paid for content that you can't get unless you jump through some hoops. I mean, remember Brawl, where you could only play on like half the maps with like half the characters until you put ten hours into their stupid campaign? The campaign had some cool parts, but I remember sitting there thinking "wow, they are making me work to unlock the game I just paid for. This is wrong."

Make me pay $10 more for the collector's edition, and give me the concept art in a nice-looking book that I might keep around longer than the actual game.

(I don't actually mind customizations that you unlock through completing achievements, so long as they're mostly graphical- it's fun to choose what to unlock and to earn it. But that's also because you generally can pick what to do- "oh, if I do this quest I get a pet" - and you can probably earn enough to get the stuff you want most with casual play.)

None of the stuff you unlock with Tokens in MP3 has any bearing or limitation on the main game -- in Brawl, you do have to play in certain ways just to unlock all the characters. With MP3 I think it was really cool (it was just unlocking addons), whereas with Brawl, it was a nuisance (it was unlocking main content). Though personally, I loved the main campaign, heh. Granted, I played two players the whole way through, which makes any game a lot more fun. Still, I appreciate how a lot of people didn't like the campaign in Brawl. But that's not what I'm suggesting; I'm suggesting along the lines of MP3 -- you could completely ignore the Tokens and enjoy the full content of the main game. The Tokens were just for neat little extra stuff.

Glmclain wrote:Not sure if it's been mentioned, but did you know there are sites where you pay people to unlock XBOX 360 Achievements for you. And they're actually successful.

Seriously.

See, this is exactly why I dislike the Achievement paradigm Microsoft has set up. That's just preposterous.
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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby SecondTalon » Fri May 21, 2010 7:09 pm UTC

King Author wrote:
SexyTalon wrote:Yeah, I wouldn't say the concept of achievements started with Western developers. I can think of quite a few games in which you collect useless trinkets for useless screen art or costumes or whatever. I wouldn't say it started with Eastern ones either, but I haven't really researched the subject.
To me, it's precisely east vs west. Do you know the reason the PS3 even included Trophies? They added it near the end of the development cycle because they saw that Xbox 360 had it (360 came out awhile before PS3) and thought if they added something similar, it'd appeal more to Americans.
And American Kirby is hardcore. I disagree with your assessment that it's a Western-only idea.

You are right, Sony included a trophy system because their competitor had a trophy system. But Nintendo gave you a bonus for completing a game in X time... back in '86. I mean.. Microsoft may have created a system in which doing rediculous things rewards you in such a way that everyone on an interconnected network can, at a glance, view that you did X tasks for Y rewards, but such systems have always been in place - from collecting trinkets to unlock outfits, weapons, allies, whatever to collecting trinkets simply so you can get that 100% completion (and even using the 100% completion against you.. isn't there some Castlevania that to 100%, the game records it as being at 203% or something?)
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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby King Author » Fri May 21, 2010 7:39 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:
King Author wrote:
SexyTalon wrote:Yeah, I wouldn't say the concept of achievements started with Western developers. I can think of quite a few games in which you collect useless trinkets for useless screen art or costumes or whatever. I wouldn't say it started with Eastern ones either, but I haven't really researched the subject.
To me, it's precisely east vs west. Do you know the reason the PS3 even included Trophies? They added it near the end of the development cycle because they saw that Xbox 360 had it (360 came out awhile before PS3) and thought if they added something similar, it'd appeal more to Americans.
And American Kirby is hardcore. I disagree with your assessment that it's a Western-only idea.

You are right, Sony included a trophy system because their competitor had a trophy system. But Nintendo gave you a bonus for completing a game in X time... back in '86. I mean.. Microsoft may have created a system in which doing rediculous things rewards you in such a way that everyone on an interconnected network can, at a glance, view that you did X tasks for Y rewards, but such systems have always been in place - from collecting trinkets to unlock outfits, weapons, allies, whatever to collecting trinkets simply so you can get that 100% completion (and even using the 100% completion against you.. isn't there some Castlevania that to 100%, the game records it as being at 203% or something?)

Now you're just mincing words. The Bikini Samus ending is what we call an easter egg, not an "Achievement." Technically you could call the incidental NPC dialogue in an RPG "Achievements" and even the ending cinema in any game an "Achievement." It's Microsoft's screw-enjoyment-yay-competition paradigm that's the problem. Specifically because they're not real rewards (which Samus in a bikini most certainly is), they're just meaningless and contribute nothing to anything.
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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby SecondTalon » Fri May 21, 2010 8:02 pm UTC

Some achievements are or involve Easter eggs - The two aren't mutually exclusive (Visited the Developer Room!). Now, we may be speaking of two completely different things - you angry specifically at Sony and Microsoft's Trophy and Achievement systems while I'm rambling about systems in which statistics are tracked and rewards meted out based on hitting arbitrary markers (collect 10 packages! Spray 30 tags! Find 99 puppies!) because at a base level I don't see the difference between gathering 100 packages in GTA3 to unlock weapons* and falling 10,000 feet in Portal** to get the achievement. Both track various statistics and give you a reward.

As I said, done well they're at worst something that can be ignored. Done poorly they're just milestone markers for how much bullshit you're willing to put up with in a game. Case in point - Prototype. Of the trophies listed, four of those are what I would consider interesting - Hard To Kill (Beat the game without dying), Web Of Knowledge (Collect all the option crap that apparently explains what's going on), Nice Guy (Don't eat people) and Mankind Is Your Mask (Beat 3 missions without getting a military alert).

The rest of them seem to fall firmly in the "Bullshit" category, from the ones you get simply because you play the game the way it's meant to be played and follow the storyline (An achievement for learning to pilot all of the vehicles? That'd mean something if it wasn't something you picked up as part of the game) OR the kind of anal retentive bullshit that often gets an FAQ on GameFAQs about it revealing the glitched areas of the game where you can complete the "Shoot down 50 choppers with a tank" mission by hiding in a tunnel somewhere and firing at a particular spot to kill the eternally respawning Helicopter ever 5.8 seconds.

BUT... like I kinda hinted at earlier if I didn't outright say it - if you're annoyed with developers putting crap in their games specifically to keep people playing to get that 100% completed score - Microsoft didn't start that fire.


*Possibly a bad example, but I like it and Portal's one as a Point/Counterpoint - one requires that you spend an extraordinary amount of time combing the map for insignificant items, but once completed you get concrete in-game rewards for your diligence. The other requires that you merely be patient and gives you nothing in-game. If GTA3 was made today, both would be achievements. I have no idea if GTA4 does something similar.
**Or however fucking far it was. I don't care.
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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby coolguy5678 » Fri May 21, 2010 9:05 pm UTC

I'm sure most of you have seen this: http://armorgames.com/play/2893/achievement-unlocked

One thing that should be mentioned about the fall <large distance> acheivement in Portal is that it is, itself, a puzzle (not a particularly hard one, I'd admit, but I still don't know how to do the one for jumping <large distance> horizontally), so it actually adds to the game in some sense (although waiting for all that time is annoying). Note that unlike most Steam achievements, the icon is hidden until you get it, and the icon gives away the solution.

I wouldn't say achievements are entirely to add competition to non-competitive games; they also appeal to the people who like collecting and accumulating things.

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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby psion » Fri May 21, 2010 10:37 pm UTC

I like achievements when they give me an idea on how to play that I normally wouldn't. I'm not the kind of person to go into L4D2 and think, "Hey, this time I'm going to completely restrict myself to a melee weapon." In Half-Life2 Ep2, I didn't even know that you could stop all the striders in the finale, and it was fun learning how. All because of the achievement. I even liked the achievements in WoW to some extent. Before the WoW achievements I'd just sit around and wait for something to come up to do. After they were implemented, whenever I had nothing to do I could just go achievement hunting for that small sense of accomplishment. But... I do know some people that are severely addicted to them, and it's more often a negative than positive experience.

I just really hate when I get an achievement for completing a level, or doing something I was forced to do, or beating the game. Probably just a pet-peeve, as it doesn't affect the gameplay to see those things. But I really hate when games are advertised with how many achievements they have. It's really sad that that is actually considered when a gamer is looking for a game, and that people will buy/rent/play games solely for the purpose of getting the achievements, often times even hating the game that they're playing. I guess that's just the addiction of these things, and I can't blame game designers for employing it. I can get pissed off about it though.

This all sort of reminds me of the DICE "Design Outside the Box" Presentation

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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby Amnesiasoft » Fri May 21, 2010 11:06 pm UTC

King Author wrote:Microsoft does require games for Xbox 360 to have at least ten Achievements and 100 Gamer Points or something (I don't know the exact number, but it's widely known; they also put a cap on the maximum number of Achievements and Gamer Points you're allowed to put in a game).

I already mentioned the caps. Secondly, I already mentioned a game has fewer achievements than that: Avatar: The Burning Earth (or whatever it's called) at a whopping 3, which can all be obtained in under 5 minutes.

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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby Endless Mike » Sat May 22, 2010 2:40 am UTC

MS has revised the Achievement requirements over time and occasionally allowed developers to include more than the limit. I don't think Sony has any requirements for Trophy support.

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Re: A quick rant about Achievements/Trophies.

Postby The Scyphozoa » Sat May 22, 2010 9:09 pm UTC

King Author wrote:Fun things are fun. Cute things can be funny. Videogames can be fun.

This is actually how I view achievements. They exist only to entertain us with their cute titles. Example from The Lord of the Rings: Conquest. As Legolas, I climbed an Oliphaunt and killed it. I got the achievement "That still only counts as one." I lol'd at the title. It was cute.
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