Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bleep Bloop - Achievement Hunting - Ryviews Special Ryport

I've never been a gamer who is obsessed with getting achievements. In fact, until very recently I completed ignored them on the Xbox 360. I went through a phase where I was dedicated to getting them on Kongregate, but that was usually geared towards the special achievements that gave actual rewards, such as Gamestop Powerup points.

So what's the appeal of Achievements?
A year ago I would've sworn that there is absolutely no point to getting Xbox achievements. I thought the whole system was goofy. But since then I've become a fan of Rooster Teeth (and it's gaming centered Achievement Hunter). And I heard a very insightful reason to be going after achievements. Someone (I believe it was Burnie) pointed out that he likes getting achievements because he perceives that as how the developers wanted you to play. Kind of a best practices of sorts, where this isn't a requirement, but if you want to get the full, complete experience, you should do these tasks. Someone else at the company mentioned that it's nice to complete the difficult achievements because it sets you apart from many other gamers, like a badge of courage and stamina.

Those ideas definitely kickstarted a new outlook for me. If achievements are some sort of direction from developers for how they want the game to be played, then I see the appeal of completing a game so that you get sense of accomplishment and perfection. It's almost as though you're missing out on some message or experience in the game if you don't complete every achievement.

On the other hand, the realist in me hesitates at that thought, because while I'm an avid fan of games, I'm really not that good at them. I'm probably above average simply due to the hours I log, but in general I'd definitely never call myself "advanced". And there are a whole lots of achievements that I'm confident I would never be able to get, simply because my skill level is too low. I like the more free notion of completion, be it by completing the campaign, or some other player set goal, because that allows for less skilled players to retain that sense of accomplishment. So, in a way, I'm glad that achievements are not so pervasive that getting all of them is expected or enforced in some way.

The kind of achievements that I have always liked are the kind you frequently find in flash games. I like stretch goals that have in game rewards. Gemcraft Chapter 2 is a good example of this, where each achievement gives you a skill point. I love when those kind of challenges yield things I can use, because then I have a concrete reason to get it. There's no status symbol, no leaderboard that I'm concerned with, just my own gameplay. I might not be skilled enough to get those either, but I'm not getting them simply to complete the game (and therefore, somewhat obligated to comparing myself to others who have completed or attempted the same activity). I'm able to go after those goals simply to improve my gameplay experience.

Now, I do find it counter-intuitive to my outlook that I spend several years of college almost entirely playing flash games on Kongregate instead of Armor Games (which at the time had no achievements). For some reason, I cared (at least in some small part) about Kongregate achievements but not about Xbox Live achievements. But I think it goes back to my complaint about difficulty and scale. I was able to get most of the Kongregate achievements. And each game usually had 3 or 4. That's much more manageable than trying to tackle a game with 50+ achievements. I think that task was much more daunting in my mind.

Sweet, sweet badges

I suppose the point I'm trying to make is that the appeal of achievements can vary wildly from gamer to gamer, and I'm very appreciative that the system is set up in such way to allow achievement hunters to play and perfect games while allowing casual gamers to go at their own pace in their own way. It's a nice balance, and I hope that as gaming develops over the next few years that the balance is maintained.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject!

Until next time,


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