• Don’t have a Gamasutra account, so commenting here:
    I agree with the general thrust that Achievements are mostly insulting, pointless, distracting, and/or better used as variants. Achivements in-line with the game’s core objectives (“You completed the Lava level!”) are merely mile markers, and those outside of the core (“Aerial Hat Trick – kill an airborne enemy, steal his hat, and wear it, all while you are also airborne”) are either distractions, or insults to the player’s creativity, “You’d never think of this on your own, so we had to spell it out for you… moron.”

    However, there is one benefit which you fail to touch on, that of concision. Achievements can act as jargon to quickly describe a complex situation. If I were to try to describe a difficult action, process, or exploit (and, if they exist at all, Achievements should probably be complex and difficult) it would take a while to set up the whole scenario before getting to the point. I might not even know the name of the “Boss Character” I just defeated, or how to lay out the sequence of events that led up to it. When the Achievement pops up, it tells you “here’s an easy way to describe what just happened when you’re talking to someone else who has had the same experience.” This “jargon” advantage certainly doesn’t justify banal Achievements, but it can be useful when applied correctly.

  • keithburgun

    I think to your latter point, I would just say – every game can use a Roguelike-like text-feeder! 😀

  • Kdansky

    >You may as well have a timer that doles out a random nonsensical compliment every 15 minutes, such as “you are attractive” or “you’ve got a great sense of humor.”

    You know, that would be a great idea. I like getting compliments!

    > Influencing player behaviour
    I remember when WoW got achievements. To me, it broke the game. Suddenly, everyone else was hunting for ridiculous crap like “complete all the quests in the level 5 zone” and spent hundreds of hours filling in a checklist of worthless items.

    The only achievements I like are the follwing:

    Desktop Dungeons: When you complete an early Dungeon, you unlock another class to play with, and another enemy type to fill the maps. It changes the rules of the game, and is only an achievement because that’s our common descriptor now.

    Tetris: Get an achievement when you manage to get X points. That makes sense, because the objective has already been to get X points. I also like the “killed Boss X” achievements as suggested by Paul just above, and I think they are the same category. In a sense, I like to have a log of my game progress. Some games change their start menu screen when you get to a certain point, that’s also nice.

  • Nahil

    In your Tetris example, the problem is that you’d get a really highscore and you’d be ecstatic, and then the little achievement would pop up and then you’d think, “Oh, they expected me to get this far. I guess everyone else has gotten this score…”

  • keithburgun

    >>Desktop Dungeons: When you complete an early Dungeon, you unlock another class to play with, and another enemy type to fill the maps. It changes the rules of the game, and is only an achievement because that’s our common descriptor now.

    To me, that’s not an achievement, that’s an unlockable. I’m not against all unlockables. In fact, what you’re describing is an unlockable variant.

    >>Tetris: Get an achievement when you manage to get X points. That makes sense, because the objective has already been to get X points.

    Yep, I’m OK with that too. Auro will have this, with a RANK system, wherein different high scores will earn you different titles.

  • Kdansky

    Yeah, both examples are not actually achievements. So in the end, achievements still suck. 🙂

  • I’d have to agree with the Matt Rob comment on Gamasutra (and those providing further examples)
    http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/185436/an_alternative_to_achievements.php?page=3#comment185878

    The use of Achievements as a social meta game is always what I’ve enjoyed about them, but their mis-implementation and abuse has always annoyed me. This is why I love aggregate sites like raptr so much 🙂

  • keithburgun

    I replied to his comment!