Achievement Design 101

Achievement Design 101 : "I'd like to take some time to share the lessons I’ve learned with all the game designers out there who are now adding achievements into their games — whether they be on Xbox 360, PS3, Steam, a Flash game, or an MMO." [via]

  1. I was just coming over here to crosspost this. :/

  2. Heh. Got to get up pretty early in the late afternoon to beat my unstoppable link-ganking technique!

  3. It’s a good read. I try to remind myself that achievements are still pretty young as a de facto part of games and that it takes time for people to really figure shit out.

    It’s frustrating to come across shitty achievements still in the context of games development where it feels like time is really compressed—a couple of years is a long time in some respects, especially with indie developers being able to react to stuff much faster than the AAA shops—but it’ll probably be a few more years before this stuff well and truly sinks in.

    I’m maybe more inclined to cut Hard For Hard’s Sake achievements slack, at least for major releases with moderate playthrough times, but I know that’s partly because I just like replaying some games and I don’t mind taking another shot at a Resident Evil title to try and pull off something stupid. In fact, RE’s pre-achievement-era use of playthrough constraints to drive special high-grade ending screens probably predisposed me toward stupid hard achievements. But it definitely is nice when it seems like it’s hard for the right reasons.

  4. A lot of this stuff seems like it’s not just good achievement design, but also good game design in general. Achievements that depend on a decent amount of luck are no more fun than game missions that depend on a decent amount of luck. Final Fantasy X fell into many of the same potholes described in this article for some of its sidequests, back before every game had achievements. There was one sidequest that pretty much came down to luck (was impossible to win unless you played a minigame almost perfectly AND got the random distribution of obstacles in your favor) and another one that was absurdly grindy (press X with the correct timing 100 times in a row).

    Well-designed achievements (like most of the ones in TF2) can be rather fun to earn, but I really don’t focus on grinding to obtain them.

    [I Have An Opinion, Sir progress: 29/50]

  5. *Is* there a universal system for what makes a good or bad achievement? Nobody made this guy play Ecco the Dolphin three times for an achievement. He just “had to.” Achievements are part of the Metagame, and I sort of think the vast majority of people playing the average game are not obsessing about achievements.

    I mean, I have achievements in my PnP D&D games, so I think they’re great and can add a lot when done right. I just don’t think that *bad* achievements are anything akin to crippling game design because they’re an optional mechanic, and shitty ones are only a problem if you compulsive about maxing achievements.

  6. 13. “Secret” achievements (in which the earning criteria are not displayed) are dumb. The description for them might as well just be, “Go look this up online.” There’s absolutely no point to them, other than just giving the player an errand. The only people who are surprised to earn secret achievements are the people who wouldn’t have bothered to check what the achievement is in the first place.

    I think he misses the point on this one. In any game where narrative is of importance, there’s the potential that the description or title of an achievement can spoil the supar sekrit plot twist. Secrect achievements let you get around that (a bit..if they show on your friends profile page or something then you’re still spoiled I guess).

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