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Report article RSS Feed What kind of tropy / achievement system is the best?

Some ruminations about the possible trophy system in our upcoming game Overgrowth. I want to start some discussion before committing to a specific system.

Posted by jeffr on Aug 3rd, 2009

In Overgrowth, we are going to have some sort of achievement / trophy system. This is necessary for our Steam release, but we're going to take it a step further and integrate it into Overgrowth itself so Mac, Linux, and non-Steam Windows players can all have an awesome trophy system.

Overgrowth trophy
Iiro J├Ąppinen made us this hot trophy icon

I have mixed feelings about achievements. On one hand, they are a common tactic to create the illusion of accomplishment without adding any real "meat" to your game. On the other hand, they have become standard in the industry, and most people (myself included) like them. The achievement meta-game is ubiquitous and practically required these days, so it's kind of a no-brainer.

I feel like a lot of games simply tack on achievements at the last minute because Microsoft or Valve requires them to. For instance, Duels of the Planeswalker has 12 achievements, most of which are things like "Win a game" or "Complete a challenge". These achievements are not really noteworthy -- they don't really commemorate a cool event or make you particularly proud.

As much as I'd like to bash Duels for having relatively boring achievements, I still enjoyed receiving them as I played through. The feeling of accomplishment is powerful, and even with the most basic of achievements, I think there is still a lot of value in them. I think that Armor Games' Achievement Unlocked demonstrates this very effectively. The actual game is amazingly crappy, but the meta-game that the achievements create is genuinely fun.

With a little foresight, I think we can do better; both in the quality of achievements and the achievement platform itself. I'd like to start some discussion about achievements before we begin development of our official achievement system.

Overgrowth trophy
A more realistic Overgrowth trophy

What are some of the best achievements you've seen in other games? Which system (Steam achievements, Xbox achievements, PS3s trophies, etc.) is the best?(permalink)


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Post comment Comments
chris_sloany
chris_sloany Aug 4 2009, 3:35am says:

i personally like getting them for how many kills i got. Thats always fun to get trophies for that.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Doom-Hazmat
Doom-Hazmat Aug 4 2009, 4:34am says:

I'm a big fan of challenge systems, which reward a player with a virtual currency or unlockables, Possibly new animals to play as in overgrowth? I want to unlock a Duck-Bill Platupus Monk :O.

+3 votes     reply to comment
Eagle0600
Eagle0600 Sep 10 2009, 10:30am replied:

The problem with that is that you are then creating content that a majority of the users are missing out on. I think achievements should just remain little trophies on the side. Bragging rights, but not necessary for any of the game-play/content.

+1 vote     reply to comment
OldBoy
OldBoy Aug 4 2009, 4:36am says:

I thought about achievements for excellent performances during missions. For example accomplishing all secondary mission objectives. So more 'unique' achievements.
Medal of charity for ruescueing all villagers or whatever :D

+3 votes     reply to comment
moci
moci Aug 4 2009, 5:01am says:

I think achievements are good. But only if you can achieve them when you are just playing the game. And not by luck or whatever.

There are achievements that you:
- never knew about
- don't know what they need to get achieved
- can only be achieved by luck

So a good achievement would be: kill 3 enemies with headshot without dying, in a row.

This is a clear description, and is not impossible to do but is still "cool" if you do pull of a triple headshot kill.

+3 votes     reply to comment
Kasplatt
Kasplatt Aug 4 2009, 5:57am says:

I like the achievements steam has got going on lately, you know, get 10 kills, get 100 kills, get 250 kills, kill 5 enemies in a row without dieing. I love it when there are achievements that are hard to unlock, that require a bit of dedication, not just something you do in just one second, that's why I like that SSX snowboarding game that much, not because I'm a big snowboarding game fan, but because there was always stuff to unlock by getting the highest scores possible. Just let these inspire you and I'm sure you'll be able to think up some really nice achievements, skins and such would be a great award aswell, so you can show others you've done it. Just not something that gives one an advantage.

+1 vote     reply to comment
figalot
figalot Aug 4 2009, 7:06am says:

the thing to remmeber that you dont want multiplayer acheivments that leed to servers made for people just standing there hitting each other 1 billion times to get a silly peice of txt

+2 votes     reply to comment
stenchy
stenchy Aug 4 2009, 9:07am replied:

Or encourage team killing ala Turok :P

+1 vote     reply to comment
jeffr
jeffr Aug 4 2009, 6:01pm replied:

Yeah, that is pretty lame. Multiplayer should probably be separate, or have skill based achievements like QuakeLive.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Kissaki
Kissaki Aug 4 2009, 9:24am says:

Maybe a 3 parts system would be good.
Some, not so many, easy achievements to get the newcomers going,
some fun achievements, like the HL2 ep3 one with the gnome,
and some hard ones really telling ppl, that guy did something awesome.

Making it 3 so different parts you could also differentiate them, like with the background color of their icons or sth.

The most important thing is that it won't lead to ppl only longing for achievements on hindrance of others.
They should be a plus, not an alternative making ppl. forget about playing together.

0 votes     reply to comment
dill1233
dill1233 Aug 4 2009, 9:33am says:

For me, personally, I like getting achievements for some of the most random things that are actually a difficulty to achieve. For Instance, in Halo 3 for the XBox 360, you get an achievement for splattering a bunch of people. When I got that achievement, it made me feel really special for killing so many people in a unique way. So, my suggestion is make a lot of achievements, but instead of basic stuff like beating the game, etc. make them for unheard of methods in the gaming world. By the way, I like the "Realistic" Overgrowth trophy better.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Aimforthehead
Aimforthehead Aug 4 2009, 10:45am says:

Why not give actual rewards for achievements? Unlock certain areas, or something.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Eagle0600
Eagle0600 Sep 10 2009, 10:32am replied:

See my reply to Doom-Hazmat's comment above.

+1 vote     reply to comment
ninjadave
ninjadave Aug 4 2009, 12:28pm says:

There was a magazine that wrote an article on this you know.

Achievements that really suck are ones that will drain your time or force you to change your gameplay style dramatically.

I personally really dislike ones you didn't really earn. Where you simply set foot in multiplayer and earn an achievement.

+1 vote     reply to comment
-=[Colorado]=-
-=[Colorado]=- Aug 4 2009, 5:06pm says:

Maybe some easy ones and some with a higher difficult and some for experts.
So every player gets a chance to unlock sth. and you can motivied them to get better.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Noremakk
Noremakk Aug 5 2009, 2:27am says:

Achievements are best when there are some of every kind. Throw some with big numbers (like killing 1000 enemies) in there for a good sense of achievement for the players, but also put in several of the following:
giveaways (first time doing this and that, achievements related to the completion of story missions, etc.)
dumb luck (kill 3 enemies with one roundhouse kick and other things that will happen when not expected)
silly ones (spend a whole level crouched and other ridiculous activities)
and, of course, the impossible (play through the whole game without being hit)

+3 votes     reply to comment
Eagle0600
Eagle0600 Sep 10 2009, 10:33am replied:

Ones that detract from actually playing the game like spending a minute crouching are quite simply a bad idea. End of story.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Orann
Orann Aug 5 2009, 2:44am says:

Achievements, to be entertaining, need to be several things:

1: Challenging
-People don't value what they don't have to work for

2: Interesting
-Getting X Kills in a row without dying is passable for one achievement, but it gets old Fast.

3: Rewarding of Variation in Playstyle
-In my eyes, acheivements are subtle goals that encourage players to change the way they act or fight in order to experience more of the game. Rewarding this kind of behavior takes steps towards removing the problem of players just finding one strategy that works, then repeating that for an entire game then complaining that it's boring. To really harness the power of achievements, you need to make them show off unique and interesting playstyles or techniques, then require the player to reach a certain level of skill in said playstyle to get the achievement before moving on.

By doing this, the player experiences the game in a lot of different ways, and gets rewarded for it.

This is something I should probably write a whole article on at some point.

+3 votes     reply to comment
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