What makes a good achievement?

What it says on the tin, really. I confess that when I play I don’t look at achievements much, certainly not on a first playthrough as I like to go in unknowing - though it’s fun when they pop up especially if it’s clear that I’ve stumbled on something rare. I can see how they can demonstrate how wide ranging a game might be.

What kinds of achievements do you enjoy most? Difficult challenges, niche rabbitholes, completionism? Are there ChoiceScript games where you especially enjoyed the achievements and pursuing them? Any weird ways of using them that caught your eye? How do you feel about hidden achievements? (Can you tell I’m researching for Noblesse Oblige which is in its latter development stages and I’ll need to think about it increasingly as I go through the final chapters?)

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I think this is from a bit of a strange perspective because I’m not super into collecting achievements in any game, but I tend to prefer achievements that encourage you to explore options that players might not consider.

For example (this is just what comes to mind because I’ve read about it recently in another thread), Parliament of Knives has an achievement for fighting a specific character. Because I have a “route” in the game that I prefer to take (decisions that I tend to all make the same choice on), it never even occurred to me that this confrontation was possible if you made different specific choices. BUT, since achievement is telling me “this is a possible thing that can happen but you haven’t seen it yet” it encourages me to explore more, making different choices so I can see this particular scene/outcome and/or see what choices could possibly lead to having to do this.

When doing this, however, the achievement needs to be just descriptive enough to intrigue the reader AND EITHER vague enough that it doesn’t spoiler the scene or the circumstances surrounding the scene have to be interesting enough that it doesn’t matter if its spoiled.

On the subject of achievements for reaching certain stat thresholds, I’m fairly neutral but when it comes to achievements for making certain specific stat checks, I do find that it encourages me to explore different builds (although if the scene of the PC overcoming said stat check isn’t appropriately exciting, the achievement can feel empty).

I tend dislike achievements that you get every single playthrough. To me they feel like participation trophy of sorts because they neither encourage exploration nor feel like a reward for anything aside from “thank you for reading this far” which kind of leads to the achievement feeling like unnecessary bloat.

TLDR: I enjoy achievements that hint at “possibilities” and encourage players to either explore unique story paths (that may be difficult to see in a normal playthrough) or try different builds

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This article might be useful, @HannahPS:

While a few of the listed types (ie marketing achievements) near the bottom of the article do not apply, the main categories listed should help you in your projects.

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Achievements aren’t a huge part of my play style, but they can be fun. I look at them sometimes before I play a game, sometimes after I finish my first playthrough, to get an idea what the game has to offer.

I think having a variety of Achievements is best. Achievements for meeting specific major goals are good, but pretty much par for the course. I like Achievements that reward trying a variety of character builds and story routes. My favorite Achievements are probably those that bring attention to a game’s less obvious possibilities. (I absolutely freaking love the way Eric Moser does Achievements. Most of his Achievements are fairly trivial as actual gameplay accomplishments, but you’d have to explore all the nooks and crannies of the game to chase them all down, and they’re written so tantalizingly that it’s hard not to want to chase them all down.)

I agree with the earlier commenter that Achievements you get every time you play feel cheap and unrewarding. It’s fine if some Achievements are easy to get, maybe even easier to get than not. Low-hanging fruit can whet the appetite for more! But just as every Achievement needs to be possible to achieve, every Achievement should also be possible not to achieve on any given playthrough.

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I like hunting for achievements. I dislike ones that are too easy - like achievements every player will get on each play-through. Anything that, in game, is difficult to achieve, could be an achievement IMO.

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Personally, I just don’t care. If something merely serves as a standing trophy, i’m not going to pursue it. If I stumble upon it by accident, so be it. Rewards on the other hand, is a whole different package. I would much rather hunt down skill points, cheat menus or hidden things that can actually be used within the game.

This is all really useful for codifying the vague thoughts I’d had. Thank you!

They actually are participation trophies. The developers can check achievement stats on Steam and whatnot to track how many of them have been won by their playerbase, and that gives them an idea of how their players are interacting with their game. Maybe you have 75% of them with the achievement for completing Chapter 3, but only 50% have it for Chapter 4. That’s a big drop, so it might be worth looking over that area to see if there’s anything you can either fix with a patch or avoid doing in your next game. Achievements can give you quite a bit of information on how your players are interacting with the game, which is why a lot of very basic things have achievements associated with them.

In terms of interesting ways to use achievements in CoG/HoG games, the one that immediately comes to mind is William Loman’s A Kiss from Death, where getting certain achievements can affect future playthroughs of the game. Seeing the ‘real ending’ requires a sort of mega-playthrough that consists of several actual playthroughs.

That aside, for games like this I generally like it when achievements point me towards content I might not have noticed without them or things that are particularly difficult to find. Parliament of Knives, Tally Ho, and Jolly Good: Cakes and Ale are good examples of what I mean here. The achievements alone aren’t enough to spoil plot points, but they’re enough to get me looking for certain things that I might not otherwise think to try, because I find I’m much more willing to make repeated attempts at something if there’s an achievement to let me know it’s possible.

As far as hidden achievements go, I don’t mind them for things like the ‘participation trophy’ style achievements, where the achievements are for things that are very difficult to miss and they mostly serve as markers of progress or as jokes, but I find them sort of counter-productive for my main use of achievements.

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I don’t like achievements as a player (or rather, I don’t care about them either way), but as a writer, I have three kinds of achievements for three different reasons:

  1. Statistical achievements. These are for me, some are what’s called ‘participation trophies’ above. They let me check my steam stats and see how many players finished the game, at which chapter they stopped if they didn’t, and how many picks a particular class or path among others. That helps me with further development and optimization for the next installment, and also suggests points where I might need to add/optimize content in future updates.

  2. “Proper” achievements. This is for succeeding with/finding cool interesting points in the game. This is to reward players for what they do. This also includes failing at stuff, since failure can unlock some very interesting routes. Some are easier, some are very, very hard.

  3. Teaser achievements. With a massively branching game like Retribution, I have a lot of achievements to tease people about alternative, rarer paths, and events. This is to make people curious about what they are, and how they can find them, and thus might lead to them exploring parts of the story they might have avoided otherwise.

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As a player I use achievements in a number of different ways.

  1. Visible major achievements can give me guidance about where I am trying to go. The first peak in the achievements list will be when I feel a bit lost in the game and need to guide my approach.

  2. Where a game can have variable levels of achievement on completion, they give me some incentive to replay and do better, hunting for the perfect score. That adds some value to the game as it enhances re-use. It also implies there is an in game experience or two I missed out on, so lets go back and see what the road not taken is like.

  3. Hidden achievements help with 2) above, but also, if they were hard to achieve they give me a clever clogs ego boost, so I like that.

In all cases though I desire the achievements to be something I strive for that are not certain to be mine at the end.

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