Achievements - the Dilemma of Development


#1

The basic question dealing with achievements is: Does the game we develop drive the achievements or do the achievements we make drive the game?

In 2012, achievements became a topic of serious discussion in the project I was working on at the time. In 2013, CoG was struggling to implement achievements as well. By 2016, the fundamental question of including achievements was answered and now, it is rare to see a game without some kind of achievements included.

A couple of weeks ago, I was discussing the role of achievements with an author in a PM about their published work and in the rest of the series going forward. Has the achievement become so essential in today’s development that they dictate terms?

I’ve seen community members (of other publishers) demand that features, mechanics and systems be revised or taken out completely because they interfere with the accomplishment of achievements. I’ve seen publishers nix projects due in part, their inability to incorporate achievements in a satisfactory manor … the reality in development seems to indicate that achievements will be part of games going forward.

So, the question remains: Does the game we develop drive the achievements or do the achievements we make drive the game?

Discuss.


#2

Personally, I view achievements as cosmetic and essentially meaningless other than to say what you’ve accomplished. I mean, what do you get? A trophy, a higher score, and satisfaction from doing something? It’s hardly earth-shaking, though I guess it does depend on the game in question. A title like Bloodborne, which is difficult, might have achievements that are more worthwhile.

At least you can see what story elements you’ve missed in the choicescript titles though. So, I think they have more relevance here, as it’s all story for the most part.

Anyway, I can say that I personally wouldn’t put achievements first. They should, in my view, organically arise from the direction the story takes, at least in terms of choicescript.


#3

Well, there are two kinds of achievements I think. Those that you will get anyway and those
that you can only find through special routes (in the pick your own adventure type game).

The first type are there just so people get the achievement, but the experience the exact same thing even if the achievements are there. So those are just there for the achievements sake.

But the second type gives a player a chance to find out something new that he or she might miss otherwise. Those are nice to have in a game.

And personally I have this odd habit of checking on steam how many achievements I got compared to others. Guess it’s nice to know that other people liked a game as much as me and tried to get the same achievements, or, if no one did I can feel better about myself because I did manage to get it =P


#4

Speaking for a COG model, I don’t think so for most. They’re an extra feature, but they do often add something to the game in my opinion.

Thing is they can sometimes go hand in hand. You decide you want something to happen in the story and make an achievement to go with it. Authors often use achievements to “sign post” branches in the story that may otherwise be missed, you know there’s something there because there’s an achievement that you haven’t got. That’s a nice feature in my opinion.

On the other hand, not a bit fan of going through a story repeatedly to make minor changes in my choices to pick up every single achievement if there are large numbers of ones that rely on that (although I do know some people do seem to enjoy the challenge of a treasure hunt style find them all approach which is fine as well, what ever makes you happy :slightly_smiling: ) So in those maybe there is a case to be made of the achievements driving parts of a story line.

Anyway I think around here at least it’s still the story line that dominates but there’s a bit of a symbiotic relationship between the two.


#5

On the other hand, if a reader/gamer knows something is there because of a missing achievement and is unable to figure out how to accomplish the achievement on her own, isn’t that problematic? If a super-mount becomes available at a branch in the story-line but for whatever reason the reader fails to get there replay after replay, doesn’t that discourage and frustrate the reader? Sometimes ignorance can be bliss…

Sure, a person can get help on a forum or ask for a walkthru guide or Youtube video. Yet, what actual percentage of a game’s user-base uses these resources? A majority?

@mrwolf2 - if achievements are needed to signal something a reader may otherwise miss, isn’t that a weakness in writing that should be addressed prior to publishing?

With CoG publishing more titles on Steam and the Steam-user mentality of “needing” achievements, will this necessitate a shift in priority and/or use of achievements?

I am old-school, preferring no achievements and discovering everything because of my own initiative. Is there a danger I might miss content? Yes but it makes each playthru more enjoyable knowing that the content I saw was due to my choices and not out of a need to complete that content or because someone else discovered the optimum path and laid out the path needed for everyone.


#6

With CoG, achievements are there for those who want them; it’s not like X-Box where Microsoft forces every game to participate in their gamerscore nonsense. Nobody around here is holding a gun to anyone’s head and saying “have achievements!” So I think the big threat that you mentioned (that an inability to incorporate achievements will damage a project) isn’t there. Writers will include achievements in CoGs because that’s kind of the “done thing” in games nowadays, and to give the cheevo-hunters something to do, but I very much doubt that anyone will be damaging the game just to provide more achievement potential. The only really bad achievements are ones that are so obscure that they’ll frustrate said achievement-hunters.

Personally, I find them most useful when beta-testing. If there’s more achievements available, then there’s wings of the story I haven’t played and might want to look at and sweep for bugs.


#7

I’ve been meaning to start a thread on this, so here goes:

@DavidGil I personally enjoy achievements because of that, but I also feel that if that were their only use, I wouldn’t be a happy camper.

@mrwolf2 and @Ramidel You beat me to the punchline. It sometimes helps knowing exactly where the branchings are happening, as in Choice of Dragon (which is short and I’ve read through many times) and collecting all the achievements made me feel like I completed the story. However, rereading longer stories isn’t my forté @Jacic The symbolic relationship, I feel, is seeing the whole story. But that might just be me.
@Zolataya Maybe there could be a feature added to the achievements that’s like
Kill a guy (in chapter two)
Or something. And something I find frustrates me is not getting to see the whole story. Once I’ve played through the story two or three times, I look at the achievements screen, and I kinda have a feel for what I might’ve missed, and that makes me feel better. (A problem with that might be if you really hate spoilers). I don’t feel it is a weakness - this is a choice game, you know there are some branches you haven’t explored yet, this just helps you find them. Also, achievements can be something like “Heartless - You killed your mother and father”. Not all achievements are good things, and one I received right before I died (forgot which game.)
I like achievements, but that might be because I joined less than a year ago. What I don’t really like are a game having tons of hidden achievements because you have no idea where you wanna go to find them. Hidden achievements drive me crazy because I have no idea why I missed that achievement, or what it is. I’ll tollerate maybe one or two easy-to-get ones, but more than that just frustrates me to no end, especially if its hidden in the depths of the story.


#8

No I don’t think it’s always a weakness in writing if an achievement is used to signal something that might otherwise be missed. Sometimes is may even be good writing in that the story is not being obvious or predictable. Some choices are always going to make more minor changes (minor stat or fake choices) others may lead to an entirely new branch in the story and ending. Ignorance may sometimes be bliss, but I still like the opportunity to see if I can find it. Particularly if there are a bunch of achievements that hint as something quite different to what you’ve played so far, it makes me think it’s worth another read to find what looks like a very different story line. Not all choices point to an optimum playthough either (some definitely point to “failures” especially those where even what you think is going to be a bad choice (and is) still opens up different options or storylines).

No idea what percentage of people ask for help. Given requests I see on forums and walkthroughs posted to youtube, I’d have to think it’s not uncommon though.In that category, some achievements can act a bit like a walk though (ie self explanatory achievements). Others are cryptic. Depending on the story line it depends on which one is best, if written well. Some achievements could definitely come under spoilers which is not always a good thing. I’m with @Just_Because in that on the other hand having lots of hard to find hidden achievements can be annoying. I’d normally prefer a cryptic achievement that hints (but doesn’t tell) you what you’re looking for rather than a hidden one unless there’s no way to work it in otherwise without spoiling the story you haven’t read yet.

Some games allow you to turn off achievements or like COG have them in a separate section, I think it’s a good compromise, if you’re someone who really doesn’t want to know what might be out there, you can ignore all but the ones you stumble across by just not checking the achievement screen. (I often do not look at the achievement screen on a first play through).

Some of the COG don’t have achievements and they read perfectly fine without them as well. Most of the COG books that do include achievements would still be ok without them in my opinion and that can be kind of a test as to how relient on them a game has become. Given the style of games COG has, it’s likely to always have a lot of games that are story rather than achievement driven at its core. (By the way I can see your point both ways, one of my original WIP’s here so far does not have achievements. Originally I was not going to include any, but since having a change of heart more recently, I might add them in later as they’re kind of a fun add on, useful for signposting and yes some people do really like them so it makes the game more enjoyable for those readers. Still imo the storyline behind the game should always be the strongest aspect).


#9

I’m usually not the achievement hunter type, and I think that at least 90% of people are like this. If you look at any game on steam, you’re usually going to see very low percentages for achievements that are not from the main plot. Most people only get achievements by accident, and don’t look specifically for them.

However, I find that visual novels and text adventures are one of the only mediums where achievements are actually a welcome addition. I don’t know if anyone’s played the game Long live the queen, but in that visual novel it was an achievement in itself to manage to make it out alive till the end of the game. However, due to the very large number of stats, there were stat checks at every turn, and it was very easy to miss some very interesting plot points.

That’s where the achievements came in. Normally, you’d be happy enough that you managed to finish the game in one piece, but if you check out the achievements, you see all that stuff about a hidden conspiracy in which your family is involved and all sorts of other stuff, so you kind of start to want to know what that’s all about, which gives you incentive to play some more. I’ve clocked 13 hours in that game, which you could easily finish in 1 hour. I’ve seen people that clocked somewhere around 100 hours on it.

So my take on this is that probably 90% of the players will never bother to look at achievements, and many of those may only play the game once, from beginning to end. But it’s worth adding achievements for those other 10%, because it will make the gaming experience much more enjoyable for them. If you make your achievements sound interesting enough, you may even lure some of the people that only wanted to give the game one go to try another playthrough, just so that they can get to see how things lead to that interesting plot point you mentioned in your achievement description.


#10

A debate about archivements again?

Well, guess I’ll just state what I always do in this debate: I’m no archivement hunter, but I think archivements can be a good way of keeping track of what you’ve done and haven’t done, as well as informing the playter of what is possible to do - the player might not know that it’s possible to, say, gather all the macguffins, take a third option in a difficult situation or defeat a particular boss… To name a few examples. Doesn’t need to be archivements for every little thing in a game, but I see no reason for why there shouldn’t be a few at the very least. Funny thing, not too long ago I played a game om Steam without any archivements - and found that this fact irritated me, wishing that they’d at least put in one for when you beat each of the game bosses (each playthrough offer a different one, after all - so archivements’d be a nice way of keeping track there at least)


#11

I think this is an excellent discussion. @DarkSpeck, your comment surprised me. @Zolataya and I skimmed through the previous conversations and found no topics that matched all of the points of discussion brought up.

Personally, I love achievements. A small piece of trivia for you: Life of a Wizard was the first game, CoG and Hosted included, to try achievements in Choicescript. :slightly_smiling:

In other games, achievements are a great way to reward players with small wins and to act as a tutorial by walking players through the features. In Interactive Fiction, I see an entirely different purpose. Basically, I like it as a way to showcase branches. I want readers to see what interesting options are available as a way to encourage replaying. It works great for endings (like Life of a Mobster) or special things like artifacts (Lost Heir). And with sequels, even more so (like the friend quests from LH1 to LH2 and the foster quests from LH2 to LH3).

But, this means I want them at the end, since I’d like people to play the game a few times before thinking about achievements. There is a flag which can make the achievement visible or not, but only some platforms read that (iOS does, but Steam just shows all, etc) And even one that is not visible will still flash onto the screen when achieved.

In conclusion, I would love an option for the reader to select to hide the achievements. This seems like a great way to remove the anxiety and spoilers that some people experience. But, since most people like them and others are able to ignore them, the platforms themselves make hiding them impossible. They are hard coded right into the systems. This means that it’s up to the authors themselves to decide whether to use them or not. Although I respect the fact that some don’t like them, since the majority seem to enjoy them (and I do too), I will continue to use them myself.


#12

I like achievements that are just that, achievements.

If you max out a stat/relationship it’s nice to have the game give you a heads up that you did so. Or if you get the best/worst ending. To me they’re useful as sign posts that you’ve reached an end more than included for things like “made it through chapter one” that you find no matter what.

I don’t think it’s hard for authors to add basic achievements for stuff like romances or the different endings and that’s really enough to satisfy most people. Just small tokens to say you met a goal.

Choice of Robots went so far over the edge with achievements I’ve given up on ever getting them all.

Community college hero had a good balance IMO.

Some were basically givens but most were stuff like getting the different endings and romancing other characters – which is what I feel like achievements should be about rather than being excerises in repeating the same playthrough with maybe one or two different choices.

They should encourage people to find major divergences not the minor ones basically.


#13

Why? :confused:
Though on the subject of your games and your implementing of archivements in them, I think you’ve done so quite adequately in The Lost Heir trilogy so far :slightly_smiling: . You should perhaps have done a few more, such as one for each prestige class and/or mount - at least, I think so, judging by the fact that we get people asking how many of those and which exactly there are; showing this through the archivement list might have been better :slightly_smiling:


#14

I was surprised when you stated: [quote=“DarkSpeck, post:10, topic:14912”]
A debate about archivements again?
[/quote] I didn’t think there were many achievement discussions. I agreed with the rest of your comments. :slight_smile:

Yes, I considered an achievement for each prestige and each mount, but I was afraid of overdoing it (like Choice of Robots) or spoiling things by stating their names. :slight_smile: I strove for the balance. To entice without giving away too much. Tricky. Not sure if I got it right or not.


#15

There has been at least one or two that I’ve seen here as I recall - the latest was back in September, if my memory isn’t failing me…

Well, there’s no clear right or wrong there if you ask me - just saying that it’s one of the more common questions I see regarding lost heir 2 - which the prestige classes, mounts and familiars the MC can get are, that’s it. Just some food for thought, as one might call it…


#16

And well do I remember how much that increased the addictiveness of it. :slight_smile: It was a terrific way to signpost the most interesting class combos and outcomes.

I quite liked the achievements in CoRobots, but that’s doubtless because I really liked the game. Other games with a long achievement list haven’t inspired me to go hunting them in the same way as the Life of a… games and Robots did.


#17

I really liked Choice of Robots too. I just got drowned out with achievements. It didn’t hinder the game at all, it just made me ignore the achievements. :slightly_smiling:

I like that people are talking about possible prestige classes and legendary mounts. Mission accomplished!

Achievement Gained: Got People Talkin’


#18

Thanks! I was very pleased with how the achievements in CCH turned out. Generally, I think it’s helpful to mix in a few easy ones. Many readers get a rush when they see a little “Yay! You did it!” screen. It’s rather empowering! (And why shouldn’t you get an achievement for using a unicorn horn during you know what??)

This reminds me to send the update to CoG so the 46th (and last) achievement is actually achievable.


#19

A couple of thoughts and observations:

  1. I am honored that people are interested in this discussion and happy to see many of you join in the conversation, thanks.
  2. @DarkSpeck - I apologize that you feel this is a beaten to death topic. I did review other made topics but felt the way they approached the topic was different than what is happening here. Everyone’s perception will be different but I can only hope this discussion will provide perspective for active writers.

Hitting on some of the points made so far:

I do feel the use of achievements is different in a CoG project compared to a more sand-box orientated project. Sign-posts along the way of a railed journey is a good way of pointing out possible points of divergence and possibilities for replayability. I also feel a list of accomplishments achieved at the end of a session is a wonderful thing acting as a road-map of our last play-thru.

What I find more troubling is a list of missed achievements at the end of a session showing the reader what she missed along the way. The difference between a list of made achievements and a list of missed achievements is one of positive and one of negative encouragement.

@Lucid understands from our earlier discussion that I, as a reader of his latest work, felt a bit sad and wistful upon completing a session and being confronted by a list of “Here is what you missed”… I didn’t feel that way with Choice of Robots, perhaps because its list was focused on what I achieved.

I’m not advocating deletion of the “not achieved” list as most of us do get curious as to what is available but rather including such a list in a way that invites exploration if so desired. Having such a list on a separate “epilogue” type of page (the solution some authors employ here) is a much more elegant and less of an in-your-face alternative to incorporating the list in the last scene as other authors here have done.

Again, I really feel this thread to be useful and I appreciate the participation it has garnered so far. Thanks everyone.


#20

:laughing:
That’s one way to look at it :stuck_out_tongue:

[quote=“Zolataya, post:19, topic:14912, full:true”]

  1. @DarkSpeck - I apologize that you feel this is a beaten to death topic. I did review other made topics but felt the way they approached the topic was different than what is happening here. Everyone’s perception will be different but I can only hope this discussion will provide perspective for active writers. [/quote]

Oh, don’t misunderstand. My sentiments when making the comment wasn’t ‘Oh god, not THAT talked-to-death topic again!’ but rather ‘This topic again? Didn’t we discuss that one relatively recently around here?’ with a raised eyebrow…