Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Achievement "Edge"

DemolitionNinja and I were discussing why we weren't playing Metroid Prime 3 yesterday, and it merits some discussion. I hadn't even finished the first level yet, and I've had the game since launch. He played through the first couple of levels and lost interest.

Halo 3 eclipsed MP3 hard, especially since the controls were more familiar and the multiplayer is addictive. While I like the Wii remote for text entry, I don't really like it for FPS; the controls don't always sync up with the games as expected. While MP3 did the best job thus far for the Wii, it's still not as good as it should be. This is part of the problem.

On a separate tangent, we concluded that the lack of achievements is starting to hinder our non-360 games. It has nothing to do with gamerscore; my friends passed my low score long ago and I'm not bothered whatsoever. The achievements themselves are the key; they serve a few covert purposes that were not apparent before.

Continue reading...

I realized that achievements can be used as progress indicators in several games, since there's usually an achievement for beating such and such a level. They can also provide motivation to experience more of the story, since alternate endings usual involve achievements as well. Somewhat related is seeing more of the game when going after non-necessary-item-collection achievements.

All-in-all, this key provides motivation to extract replay value from a game. The idea is still brilliant, and I think naysayers concentrate too much on the negative aspect of achievements. Sure, there are individuals who won't truly "earn" some of their achievements, and there will be some who are obsessed with their near-meaningless gamerscore. But those who "get it" will try to hit that difficult goal just to prove to themselves they can.

One example was with Guitar Hero two. One of my online friends had beaten GH2 on Expert. I saw that and realized that I play guitar and I haven't even done that. I had to prove to myself that I could do it, too. Once I had got there, I felt plenty of vindication; so much so that I 5-starred all of Hard and most of Expert. The satisfaction that resulted in seeing that little mark on my record somehow feels worth it.

When playing re-released games on XBL, the achievements are even more essential. I thought I was good and games like Pacman, Contra, and Streets of Rage 2. But the challenges presented by the achievements really tested my skills, and showed there was still plenty left in these old titles. I'm still working on SoR2! That's something that the Virtual Console fails to do on the're getting the same challenges you've mastered in the past with no new goals or changes.

Re-rant this article is, but it's amazing how Microsoft took some great ideas and sunk them like sharks teeth into our gaming world. It's hard to go backwards and go without all the additions that XBL and gamercards have brought to the table. Within seconds, we can challenge ourselves more, or compete with the world. The Xbox 360 is our digital crack...and we consume willingly.

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