December 31, 2012

Achievements in Gaming

The end of the year is here. So, what type of topic could I really discuss other than achievements in video games. You see, topical (I doubt it).

Achievements are a weird thing lately. Now, I don’t know when achievements really started in video games, but I do know that they started in MMOs with City of Heroes (CoH) and badges. Since that time most games have been including some form of achievements as a part of their game for some really bizarre methods for finishing a certain event. Many of these achievements are rather fun or just tacky thing. They do many things such as exploring the world map as a whole or actually attempting to make yourself better at specific encounters at large. However, there is a dark side to achievements that have crept in lately, and it’s become ever prevalent and rather tacky. This is what I call achievement bloat.

What is achievement bloat you might ask? Put simply, achievement bloat is the idea of just making up ludicrous achievements for no reason other than to have them. These achievements have bizarre, almost out of this world level of requirements to achieve, but strangely enough people just shrug their shoulders at them and think it is ok. How do I mean this? Let’s take kill achievements lately. Now originally you only need a hundred or so to achieve a kill achievement in CoH, with a few oddballs here, up or down. But now, kill achievements have ridiculous numbers attached to them, such as 5,000, and even more insulting is the reward doesn't match the effort required.

There are many other ridiculous achievements out there as well, such as achievements for opening your inventory, taking your first step in the world, hell for just moving the mouse. Achievements have been getting ridiculous lately and some of the stipulations attached to them are just getting worse. I don’t get why developers think this level of busy work is needed for achievements. Achievements should be things that people can possibly attain reasonably, not something designed as busy work in some vain attempt to stave off a looming doom as people get pissed off that you aren't developing content fast enough.

I don’t mind achievements; in fact I love achievements in a game. It gives me a small goal next to the larger ones to go after. What I don’t like is these incessant bloat achievements that shouldn't even be included. Kill achievements fine, a few hundred enemies that’s reasonable. Several thousand, that’s unacceptable. Achievements for exploring the world or reaching hard to reach locations, fine, achievements for walking across the street and clicking a mailbox, that’s stupid.

This level of achievement bloat needs to be stopped and curtailed, and developers need to start making realistic, more manageable achievements. Achievements should be, at most, about killing certain boss mobs in a time limit, or a certain way, or killing a certain number of goons but not 5,000 of them. Hell, when your game doesn't even throw mobs at people that fast, making people kill 5,000 of the same type of critter is just insulting to your players, just like giving them achievements for walking and talking is insulting to them. They want achievements for real accomplishments, not busy work meant to tide them over until the next update comes out.

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