Forced points of no significance

In my not so humble opinion, THIS is how every game that takes itself seriously should implement achievements/trophies, if at all.

I don’t have a PS3 nor a 360, but I can safely say that I particularly hate how every single game notifies you that you’ve just won an achievement/trophy: A ding sound, and a congratulatory message that can potentially obstruct crucial parts of the screen at just the worst possible time. But it’s not just that. They irk me to no end because they are designed to please for no reason whatsoever: Hey! I just jumped around the plaza 50 times and got a congratulatory message! Woot! Now I’ll waste 3 hours trying to fall from a 50 foot drop onto a glass of water conveniently placed for such a stunt.

But that’s being unfair. I mean, it’s not Sony’s or Microsoft’s fault that some developers reward the most uninteresting activities or the most pedestrian accomplishments (I’m so awesome I just won 5 atomic tangerine points for playing for more than 10 minutes!). However, they DO force developers to implement this system, and that’s kind of understandable if you think about the problem from a business point of view, but as a game designer I can’t stop squirming at the idea of having to implement this system for all my games if I were to work with these consoles.

I’m making a game about a man slowly realising he’s no longer young, please tell me, where should I put achievements? Of course, I can think of a few places where Sony and Microsoft can shove these achievements, but that’s besides the point.

Now, since *most* games are actually loud and/or silly, having a congratulatory message pop up at any point in time doesn’t feel out-of-place for the most part. That’s fine, and that’s why you don’t see too many people complaining about how “this achievement ruined the moment for me” or something along those lines.

But what if we have serious games? Games that aren’t about just having fun. What if Passage had achievements that popped up the more loot you gathered and the more distance you travelled? It would most definitely ruin the feel of the game, or at the very least, change it substantially.

Imagine if every game flashed THIS thing across the screen every time the player made a mistake, all because the great big companies wasted some good money on the copyright, and dammit, they may as well milk it for all it's worth.

While we are at it, why don’t we force them lazy game designers to add a standardized system of levels and experience to every single game ever released? You know, because market research has proven it to be a hit with the cool kids of today. Of course, we couldn’t just implement this system and not force everybody to implement it, otherwise nobody would! And we would have wasted our precious time developing the system! Why would we implement it in the first place if nobody’s going to use it? That’s crazy talk!

Seriously though, that’s what they are doing, both Microsoft and Sony with forcing achievements down developers throats: They are basically dictating how game designers should do their job.

And I don’t like that.


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