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Life Before Achievements


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Gamerscore's are just willy waving, agreed. But it seems so... I dunno. Cold? You meet someone online for the first time and all you really can know about them is how many points they've racked up.

I like the other style of willy waving better. Finish a Left 4 Dead campaign with some mates and watch them stats roll up the screen declaring each other the best/worst/most cowardly etc then fuck it. It's gone, forgotten and you're halfway through Blood Harvest already. Shouting stuff.

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Achievments are nice when they push you to try playing a game in new or interesting ways e.g. "the one free bullet" in the orange box (not that I actually did that one, i'm not crazy). What really annoys me are the new gears of war 2 ones; "kill ten enemies...on our new maps... that you have to pay us some money for... what? Cynical marketing ploy? Us?".

the thing with that is to make the extra 250 gamerscore or whatever it is available, the content has to be priced (or at least that's what i've been led to believe), so if the gears of war maps or whatnot were free, there wouldn't be the extra achievements to begin with. it's microsoft that made that be the case i believe, i've read that's the reason why the left 4 dead stuff won't (or hasn't) got achievements with it - because it's free.

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Mass Effect had a good system. Unlocking the achievement for using a certain power, enabled you to carry that power through to a new character, even for character types who wouldn't be able to use that power ordinarily. It enhanced the game.

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Mass Effect had a good system. Unlocking the achievement for using a certain power, enabled you to carry that power through to a new character, even for character types who wouldn't be able to use that power ordinarily. It enhanced the game.

I thought Mass Effect was a particularly poor example of how to do gamerpoints. Forcing you to play 90% of the entire game without switching characters, for example. The game should encourage you to experiment, sure, but ultimately to play it the way you want. You'd be missing out on loads if you played it all the way through like that, and I just don't see why anyone would want to in a game which is all about assembling a diverse squad for use in different tactical situations.

I quite like achievements actually, but the total score on its own means little. I am quite impressed though when I compare my games with other people and see that they 1000 pts for Fallout 3, or whatever. I've said this before but MS should introduce a gaming index figure - a kind of average for your score against your possible score. It would be more impressive for someone to have 3000 points who only owns three games, than someone with 60,000 odd who owns every title on the system.

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Agreed, but until that happens, they're completely worthless. Someone (?Meh) compared them to modern day high scores in the last achievement thread, but they really aren't. Achievements / trophies are a mix of skill, time (as in sheer number of hours put into a game) and money based recognition, whereas high scores are purely skill based. Completely agree with Biglime as well, there's nothing sadder than people playing / recommending a particular game becasause the achievements are easy to unlock. I remember the particularly sad and empty feeling I got from downloading and playing that shite Dorito's game all too well.

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I genuinely actually believe that people who, for example, buy shite games to get the gamerpoints from them are mentally ill.

There used to be a couple of guys on the Consolevania forum who did it. Playing things like fucking Two Worlds just to get the points. Spending life on meaningless numbers. They were twats, to be fair.

As opposed to.... what, spending hours of your life producing a niche show about videogames? Not working overseas as a volunteer building wells in Ethiopia is it? I don't think anyone who has over 14,000 posts on a videogames forum really has the authority to accuse anybody of wasting their time doing anything, surely?

I have bought my fair share of shite games for Gamerpoints, in fact I'm quickly playing through CSI:Hard Evidence and FIFA:RTWC at the moment as side dishes to Star Ocean. The reason is I'm enjoying a points battle with someone else over Live. It has become a competitive challenge to see how low each of us will go to get points. He has "taken the Avatar" which I have yet to do, but I own consoles from all three regions, and I am quite willing to abuse the Burger King games and College Hoops 2K6. The time "wasted" on us getting the points has resulted in more amusing gaming moments than finishing more worthy titles on the 360. I'll always fondly remember beating him to 40K points, by playing offline and surprising him with a 3K points gain in a week. The e-mail exchanges were priceless.

I also contest that easy points games are necessarily shite by default. I actually enjoyed King Kong, probably more than I have enjoyed "AAA" titles like GTAIV or Killzone 2, games which I am supposed to have enjoyed more. Two Worlds was pretty bad though, I'll give you that.

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The only time I've ever cared about getting achievements was when playing Crackdown. A friend and I bought it and played it co-op, with him hosting. He kept getting achievements for killing the gangs and so on, but because we were on his game, I didn't get the achievements, even though I'd done at least half the work. But then, I didn't care enough to play through on my game and get the achievements. Still, for a while, there was a small part of me that felt slighted by Realtime Worlds - "I've done all this shit on your game, and I'm not getting rewarded for it!"

Most of the time, as people have said above, I feel like achievements take some of the fun out of the games if you let them, either by making you collect all those flecks of shit that Ianos was pissed off about; or by telling you to do something you'd almost certainly have tried to do on your own (Fable II's 'have sex with several people at once') one and taking a bit of the 'wonder' (not the right word, but I can't think of the one I really mean) out of the game by telling you that it's possible.

On the other hand, of course, you can always just ignore them if you don't like them. Isn't there a way of turning notifications off?

Oh, and gamerscore is shite. I like the idea of making points redeemable somehow, but can't really think of how it'd be implemented in a way Microsoft would like, without them being massively devalued ("Get 1000 points and redeem it against this hat for your avatar that'd normally cost 30 pence!"). And then you'd be back at the stage where you're chasing after gamerpoints long after the game stops being fun, just so you can get your avatar a new hat.

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I thought Mass Effect was a particularly poor example of how to do gamerpoints. Forcing you to play 90% of the entire game without switching characters, for example. The game should encourage you to experiment, sure, but ultimately to play it the way you want. You'd be missing out on loads if you played it all the way through like that, and I just don't see why anyone would want to in a game which is all about assembling a diverse squad for use in different tactical situations.

Well, that aspect was shite, I agree. I really couldn't be bothered to go for those achievements. But the stuff I mentioned was good. Like any Bioware game, it's a mixed bag.

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I just remembered an interesting article on another forum I prowl that's relevant to achievements and the impact they can have on games. It describes how the inclusion of achievements can, in a sense, interrupt a game's immersive qualities by putting all these side-tasks and goals in the back of a player's mind. Dead Space is the specific example cited. Find it here if you want to have a read.

It’s not that achievements have no place in our games. Encouraging thorough and repeated play whilst fostering competition with your friends; these things are for the good. However, it is worth considering when and why they stop encouraging a second play-through and rather begin to sully the first. Does the problem lie with inappropriately conceived achievements, or is it simply the unavoidable curse of the achievement whore?
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Some people have some issues if they somehow feel an arbitrary system that you can follow/ignore to your heart's content somehow 'devalues' their gaming experience. I mean, feeling you haven't finished a game because you haven't got 1000g from it? Feeling your console is mocking you? That's just as mental as buying crap games for the points.

And re: Mass Effect - you aren't 'forced' to play through the game with the same characters if you don't care about points. And even if you do care about them, the need to chase them is as OCD as being a completionist in pre-achievement days.

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The 360 achievements system is pretty meaningless.

There is no normalisation across games, so 600 points in one game is not the same thing as 600 points in another, FEAR for example I only got 80 points and I completed the game. In Prince of Persia you get 80 points just for starting the damn game.

So they can't be used any sort of reflection of gamer skill, consequently they don't feel that rewarding.

They are there, just a kind of background thing for me, I don't like or dislike them.

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The only game I play with achievements is wow, and I really only use them to extend the old content.

I don't have a 360 so I could have this wrong, but as I understand it there is no way just by knowing someones score to tell if they have played a tiny amount of 100 games, or a few games very thoroughly.

Surely a ratio of games/score would at least have some meaning.

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And re: Mass Effect - you aren't 'forced' to play through the game with the same characters if you don't care about points.

Well you can turn them off if you're really not bothered at all, but that's not the point I was making. Some achievements are just better thought out and fit better into the game than others.

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Well you can turn them off if you're really not bothered at all, but that's not the point I was making. Some achievements are just better thought out and fit better into the game than others.

I understand your point, but I still disagree. If you wanted to *any* of the ally achievements you'd have to play nearly *all* of the sidequests with the same team, so by default you'd have to be somebody that was looking to try and 'do' everything in the game, so my point still stands. I also disagree that you'd be missing out on loads, in fact the only example I can think of is maybe some loot if you don't have decryption skills in your team - and the best weapons and stuff you buy anyway, and can't be found (SPECTRE stuff).

Many people fully-completed RPGs long before achievements came along, which involved many of the same types of things (pointless-grinding, doing certain things at certain times, etc), so it isn't that different.

Hell, if anything, you could make the case that achievements can help simplyfy how to fully complete something (if you are so inclined), by giving you an idea of what to do. In that respect, it's secret achievements that are pointless.

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I just can't imagine anybody wanting to play the game like that though, it seems forced.

Yeah, but then they wouldn't really be the people who would chase after the 25g (or whatever) you get for it. Which is my point.

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The only game I have all the achievements for is Track & Field, and that's ridiculously easy to do. I don't bother with achievements for their own sake but I do like it when they present a target that's tough but fun to achieve, and then I'll go for it in the course of gameplay.

Currently, I'm working towards Test of Faith on Mirror's Edge by finishing the game on Hard without firing a gun. If that achievement didn't exist, then I probably wouldn't try this - not because I think it's not fun, but because I wouldn't be sure if it was even possible to get through the game without a shootout. Because it's there, it's a nice target to reach and the game encourages it.

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Question 1 - can you imagine life without achievements?

Question 2 - pre-achievement, what did you do to willy wave?

Question 3 - what is your best time on the speccy version of Sabateur as mine was well under four minutes (I think). Sabateur was a firm favourite of my Dad's and this was one game he brought up.

1 - Yes

2 - As a kid playing with friends, we'd ask each other if we'd completed games, if someone had and the rest hadn't, they were best. On multiplayer games, whoever owned the fuck out of the others had to be referred to as 'daddy'.

3 - Like 2 minutes or something.

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I have bought my fair share of shite games for Gamerpoints

So you've paid real money for shit, in order to make a meaningless number go higher. A number that is no reflection on gamer skill or anything. Just a number. In fact, a stupidly high number makes you look worse than a really low one does, in my book.

And that's what you did. You did that. It's what you did.

And hey, I loved making that niche show about games. Did you enjoy CSI or any of these other stinkers you paid for and played?

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I kept a note of scores back in the day, and I still do today although not in exactly the same way. I rarely take any notice of achievements, although its sometimes nice to have them pop up when you do something cool or difficult to pull off. But on my Arcade Cab, its all about scores, both for the classic arcade games and all the classic pinball. I've even rigged it so that it saves the highscores straight to an external site via FTP, so that my mate with an Arcade Cabinet shares the same scoreboard as me (it's our own mini version of Live and works absolutely brilliantly). Really adds to the competitive element, as well as being sometimes infuriating if I turn my cab on and suddenly find out he has beaten my Donkey Kong or Juno First score :wub:

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But on my Arcade Cab, its all about scores, both for the classic arcade games and all the classic pinball. I've even rigged it so that it saves the highscores straight to an external site via FTP, so that my mate with an Arcade Cabinet shares the same scoreboard as me (it's our own mini version of Live and works absolutely brilliantly). Really adds to the competitive element, as well as being sometimes infuriating if I turn my cab on and suddenly find out he has beaten my Donkey Kong or Juno First score :wub:

That's brilliant. Just brilliant.

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I prefer Trophies to Achievements. Or, perhaps more accurately, I dislike Gamerscore. Both systems are fairly meaningless, sure, but the thing I like about Sony's version is that it has Platinums which you only receive after getting all the other Trophies in a retail game. It's the equivalent of getting 1000G on the 360, but the number of Platinums you have is right there on the first tab of your profile; it's the closest thing to the ratio system people earlier in the thread were asking for.

I am quite OCD about Trophies, I'd be the first to admit that. I've never bought a game just to get more or played something I didn't like just to get them, but when I do buy something I like having that Platinum to aim for. It makes me play games more than I otherwise would — I'd probably have got rid of Dead Space after going through it once, but I still have it because I intend to go back and 100% it at some point — and I really like the more creative Achievements/Trophies that encourage you to do things you might otherwise not have done, such as 'Test of Faith' in Mirror's Edge or 'Pacifism' in Geometry Wars. There's also quite a few which I hate and simply won't bother with — the aforementioned Mass Effect buddy ones, or online-only targets that ask you to kill 6 billion players and the like — but overall I see them as a positive thing.

Bizarrely I've never been one for hi-score tables. Part of the reason for that is probably that I like to play lots of different games; there's never been anything like Counter-Strike that I play everyday. In fact I'm not sure I even go after Achievements or Trophies in a competitive manner, it's more just for my own sake, the satisfaction of looking at a game and being able to say, "That was a cool game, and I got everything out of it." And then I can move on to play something else.

Oh, this is a bit tangential but Achievements and Trophies have also pushed me to play games on the hardest difficulties. Sometimes it's frustrating, other times rewarding, but I always come away knowing a bit about the game in question; a lot of games fall apart when they get harder, and as I'm quite interested in game design I like seeing where they went wrong and thinking what could have been done to improve the game.

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So you've paid real money for shit, in order to make a meaningless number go higher. A number that is no reflection on gamer skill or anything. Just a number. In fact, a stupidly high number makes you look worse than a really low one does, in my book.

And that's what you did. You did that. It's what you did.

And hey, I loved making that niche show about games. Did you enjoy CSI or any of these other stinkers you paid for and played?

The glib answer would be I enjoyed CSI:Hard Evidence a lot more than I enjoyed the last season of Consolevania, wouldn't it? (Love your work man, only joking).

It's not a strong title, for sure, but it's fairly interesting, and it's all over in about 5 hours or so. Same with FIFA:RTWC. It's midly diverting, I can listen to podcasts while I play it, and once again, it's about 5 hours worth of breezy playtime until it can be put aside. The cost of the games isn't really an issue. They were about a fiver a pop. You'd pay that for a kebab in Edinburgh these days - and not even a good kebab with both the sauces on it.

Gamerscore in an abstract sense, of course, has no real meaning. Titles don't have their achievements normalised by some central body for consistency. It has meaning to me however, as I'm in an enjoyable ongoing battle with someone else on Live. Again, I'm sure this has no real meaning either in the grand scheme of things, but it brings both of us some enjoyment in our day to day lives, as each party tries to out-manoeuvre the other, and think up ridiculous reasons why we're playing particular titles.... ("no...no.... that's not fair.... I love Pippa Funnell... I always have....")

Gaming bragging rights don't always have to centre around skill - take the MMORPG space, where bragging rights often come from excessive grinding to achieve items that no sane person with a job and a family could ever hope to get - and it's the same in our little competition. It isn't a benchmark of skill, or even time. It's almost a morality contest, mixed with a meta-game of each party attempting to rack up points while the other is asleep or on holiday.

This is why achievements are such a strong concept - they can mean so many different things to so many different people. From a historical record of what you've played, to an obsessive ticklist of how to finish a particular game, to a strange meta-competition with a mate over your total scrore. Achievements can be all these things, or none of them, depending on your preferences. You'll always have the typical forum response on a thread like this from at least 50% of people who say they aren't interested. Fair enough. But you'll also get a sizable percentage who declare them tragic, and sad, and the people who like them to have some sort of mental illness - but then that's the Internet for you.

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