Wednesday, September 5, 2007

All That Hard Work for Nothing

I love hearing that bleep and seeing that little pop up that says you've just unlocked an achievement. But come on developers, at least make it worth something!

I'm not talking about all those 5 point achievements for completing the training exercises. How much more inventive can the control scheme get for a first person shooter? You point and you shoot . . . or you die. I'm talking about an achievement that was worth 0 points. Yep, that's right. Zero. Zip. Nada. Zilch.

On Labor Day Xbox slashed the price of some of their Xbox Live Arcade games. A friend of mine took Microsoft up on the deal and bought the discounted games. Now, he's not a person that plays the arcade games so he roped in a few friends to make the experience more enjoyable. After a round of Gauntlet (one of my old-time favorites that I don't play nearly enough) he moved on to Small Arms.

Once he got the game settings taken care of I jumped in and we all started wailing on each other. (It's really very therapeutic for our friendships - honest.) During the first game I heard the bleep and earned a 2x achievement. WooHoo! Now we're talking. We pounded on each other and had an open player slot so people would jump in the game and we'd pound on them too . . . and then they'd jump out. A little while later when the game ended after someone jumped in (don't remember who) I heard that little beep and saw the pop up for the "Six Degrees of Small Arms" achievements. None of us knew what this was for so we all took a moment to look at our achievement list. And boy were we surprised.

The achievement reads something like "play the game with someone who already has this achievement." Fine. Okay we get it. It's one of those "virus" achievements. You know "the Mingler" or "secret achievement - play with someone who has this achievement to unlock." These achievements seem to serve the purpose to get people to play their games online. Mix it up. Go against real humans instead of the AI all the time. So you would think that this achievement would be worth something.

What was the "Six Degrees of Small Arms" achievement worth. You guessed it. Zero. What's the point of that. It's like saying "we want you to play online with other people but we don't want you to be rewarded for it." Is that any way to encourage people to get out there and play? Why go through all that hard work and effort (okay, maybe it wasn't that much work or effort and it was kind of fun) but then not give a payout in the end. It's almost as bad as those achievements you get in some games for just putting the disk in the machine. There's no effort in that at all (at least for most people).

Make it mean something. Or is all that hard work for nothing?

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