Thursday, August 4, 2011

Poll Resuls - Do you like secret achievements?

Why don't you come in really close and I'll tell you a secret . . .


Okay, so maybe that wasn't a secret. But if you want me to tell you mine, you've got to tell me yours first.

But onto the poll results. Here they are:

Do you like secret achievements in games?

Yes, I love the mystery of 'em = 0 votes
No, I hate not knowing what to play for = 4 votes
You know, I just don't really care = o votes
For me, nothing stays a secret for long = 1 vote

Well, I voted with the majority. I think orphan summed it up nicely in the comments when I released the poll. If you don't want to look that up he basically said that secret achievements for the story are okay. If you play through everything you'll eventually unlocked them and they won't be a secret anymore. I really like this idea.

As a developer wouldn't you want the people who play your games to discover the story as it unfolds as they play it? If you put in an achievement that states something like "sacrifice your dog to save your life" or "you just married your handsome prince" don't you think, that moment in the story would become less emotionally powerful if the gamer had already seen that "spoiler" on their achievement list?

I have friends who look at the list of achievements as soon as they put the game in, even before they've played any of it. They're looking for information to how the story is going to play out. Are most of the achievement towards the beginning? Towards the end? Are they story based or multiplayer based? If they're looking to get all achievements in a game it helps to know how you might want to play it.

One things Xbox Live does right (IMHO) is that if one of your friends have unlocked a secret achievement it will still show up as secret when you try to look at their achievement list. They earned that secret achievement, now it's time for you to earn it so you can know what it is.

But that's where the problem is. Not all developers put in story based secret achievements. They have secret achievements for doing very specific things that might not fall into the "regular" way someone would play the game. There might be a specific task that you need to perform in a specific area that is not related to elements of the story. If you don't know what those things are you're never going to get that achievement . . . unless you look it up and specifically play the game to do those things. While I can't speak for the developers about that, I don't think that's what they had in mind on how they wanted you to play the game.

And what if you wanted to know what those secret achievements were? You can't find out on Xbox Live so you've got to go to a computer and look them up. There are tons of sights that will tell you what all the achievements are and what you need to do to get them. But if you're playing the game and concentrating on doing a specific thing in a specific area are you really paying any attention to what's actually going on in the story? Is that how we should be playing games?

Now, I've played games trying to do specific things. Like finding all the Intel or cog tags or journals or what-nots that developers like to hide in their games. But those achievements aren't usually secret. The developers WANT you to explore their world and find things. By seeing an achievement that says "find all 50 purple bottle caps" then you know to be on the look out for them as you play. And you'll spend time exploring every nook and cranny in an area to make sure you haven't missed one. If the developers made that achievement secret and your character picked up a purple bottle cap in the game would you even know that it meant something? Probably not.

To sum things up, in general, I don't like secret achievements. But if used wisely, and to prevent gamers from finding spoilers in games, I think they can be very beneficial to playing games. I just don't like it when they make them so secret and selective about what you need to do that you spend almost as much time looking them up as you do playing the game. Because once you know you have to "defeat the Gorgon for killing the love of your life" are you really going to want to play the game when you know what happens?