The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Achievements Aren’t An Achievement

Posted by BigWords on August 5, 2009

The advances in the Xbox360’s Achievements put the kibosh on one of my ideas, which was to be a handbook of bastard-difficult boasts which people could share and add to. I thought up some simple ones which – while being very hard to get – managed to stay within the realms of the do-able. It is pointless to ponder the possibilities of such tasks while the spectre of cheats hangs over the process, but the idea isn’t so much about the accumulation of achievements as the achievement itself.

I’ll explain better, because the prospect takes some getting used to.

Think about GTA: Vice City for a moment (which was one of the games I had included in the outline), and you will see some hardcore gaming opportunities. If you can complete the game to 100% in one sitting, and managing to avoid being busted or wasted, then that would qualify as seriously hardcore gaming. Similarly, the Thief games are well-known for their unforgiving combat, so completing the game without saving at any point would also buy you major bragging rights.

Call Of Duty. Use only handguns. I know, you can’t complete the game without the rocket launcher, but still… No rifles. Ever.

Deus Ex. Play without using upgrades, and kill no more than twenty people in the entire game. It isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially near the end stages.

Hostile Waters. Don’t collect any more energy once you have four units, and keep them alive until the end of the level. And, to make things even more interesting, don’t use the ship’s cannons in portions of the game where they are non-critical.

There was going to be strata of difficulty, so that people who didn’t play games compulsively weren’t left out of the fun, and I came up with some simpler challenges that everyone could partake in. You did find the hidden message on the wall in GTA III? Didn’t you? Or find the part of the roof which could only be reached by climbing onto it from a van, then you fall through a whirlwind of colors before being plonked back on the sidewalk…

The main thrust of the idea was to get people thinking about games in a completely different way, to look beyond what you’re meant to be doing, and see what is possible with the game. There’s a world of opportunities waiting if you look beyond the traditional linearity, and a massive amount of fun in trying to break personal records.

Achievements has, as with all popular concepts, degenerated into a mindless mess. People aren’t getting the brilliant games and struggling with hard levels in the numbers they should,, and the shitty film tie-ins (are there any good ones?) are being used to boost Gamerscores to ridiculous levels. It should have been so much more important than a way to shift an otherwise unexceptional game.

“Hey kids, want 1000 points? Shitty Generic Film Tie-In 2: Even Worse Than The Original will give you those points in less than two hours of gameplay…”

Bragging rights on the size of your Gamerscore is now suspended…


2 Responses to “Achievements Aren’t An Achievement”

  1. searingscarlet said

    That is the mentality of an obsessive person though. I can be the first to admit that if I had the skills to be playing at that level, I would be sucked into that particular type of mindset of just wanting to out do someone else. It didn’t even have to be anything quite brag worthy 100% GTA on one goal, or beating hardest DDR level with capoeira. The closest I have became stupidly obsessive with high school was the phone game Snake II, simply because there were a few other people who were trying to outdo each other. I know.

    Am I proud of it? No. Do I think it’s the ideal way of how things should be? Oh no. But I do understand why people do it. I just avoid those hang outs so I’m not sucked in too.


  2. bigwords88 said

    Obsessive? Yes. Fun? Absolutely the best. It is horribly addictive, and yet I can’t help but start thinking of ways to make things more complicated.

    There is also Passive Aggressive Gameplay, which deserves a mention – especially because nobody seems to have elucidated on the way of playing this game mode. The basic idea is to take any game wherein combat is promoted at the cost of all else, and the more people you kill, the higher you rank. In passive Aggressive you have to kill people without directly attacking anyone, being prevented from shooting, stabbing or other direct methods, leaving traps as the only offensive weapon left in gameplay. It is possible (though very difficult) to survive through nearly any single player game by fooling the AI into walking into planted mines, running off cliffs, falling into trapdoors, etc.

    For gamers who aren’t up to a certain skill level, I suggest trying to complete a specific task, then refining how they accomplish the methods in which they go about (for example) clearing a level. Picking releases based on mutability of the core playability is also essential, because trying to do anything too off-script in a highly-linear game is asking for a migraine.

    I appreciate your comments. Thanks for stopping by.

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