Achievements again. The curse in gaming. Or does it have to be? Can they be done well? Something strange happened after the Steam summer sale and I actually stumbled onto some achievements that made sense.
I ranted earlier about the whole achievement whoring aspect and being a completionist even though I don’t want to be. And how I’d prefer they never implemented achievements in games at all.
And while I was playing World of Warcraft just a day before the 6.2 patch I once again felt the terrible wrongness of achievements. Not only they exist to haunt me, they are linkable in-game and thus something people can actively boast about.
The Curve. “Looking for healer, link curve or no invite.”
It all comes down to this one silly achievement that really doesn’t tell that a player is a good one. All it tells you is that the player at some point has been in a raid group that killed a certain boss. They could have been the absolute worst person there. Even the one dying within 10 seconds and watching the rest of the match dead on the floor. Or it could be a bought kill, or their big brother’s account. Who knows.
Not only they demand this silly achievement – usually paired with ridiculously high level gear, like over the average of the drops in the content they are currently doing – but they are being complete asses about it. People who barely understand English and can’t even spell the name of the raid dungeon they’re going to. People who use CAPS and exclamation marks!!! and who are incredibly rude “fail=kick”. They might even be reserving some loot drops for themselves. And they require you to link this achievement or gtfo.
I mean, they are looking for people so that they could do that dungeon themselves. How about asking nicely? I know raid leading is a tough job and I completely understand these group leaders demand something from the people they are trying to herd through the content. But the hostile style and incredibly high requirements are just ridiculous. Maybe, just maybe, if there were no achievements, they’d actually talk to the people, like a sentence or two. And while I’m certainly not one to converse with strangers just for the fun of it, if I’m joining someone’s organized group or trying to get people to join mine, it really isn’t too much to exchange a few words to see if the people have an idea of what they’re supposed to do and the ability to work with others.
And yes, I got my curve. The silly thing. And I bothered to log in and spend hours finding a decent pug group to get it done. I’m stupid like that.
So… after letting out all this bile I’ll move on to the games that have done something right with their achievements. I recently played and reviewed Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today and mentioned it having a variety of wonderfully morbid and silly achievements. Basically the game rewarded the player when they tried the most strange combinations of items and actions. That made being stuck a lot more fun. Like why wouldn’t I hang some Christmas lights onto a hanged corpse? The achievement titles themselves are also nods to a variety of horror and sci-fi cult movies.
But it still isn’t exactly nailing it. Some people – who are possibly even worse completionists than I am – will have a terrible time literally trying everything to everything. I could leave the unclaimed achievements like that because the game was a linear adventure which was played through and that’s that. I don’t feel the constant pressure of the game reminding me about the not-yet-achieved things and there’s definitely no pressure from other players.
The game which, in my humble opinion, nailed it is Banished. It’s a lightweight city-building strategy game that doesn’t have a campaign, not even scenarios to complete. There’s just a few map options and the player starts their village and most likely will watch it starve. But the achievements! In this game they have a meaning. They make the scenarios, the goals the player can try instead of just trying to keep their village alive. They actually made the game more interesting, and better.
One could argue that the achievements only improve Banished because it’s too simple to begin with. That those scenarios or campaigns should be implemented in the game directly. And maybe there’s a bit of truth in it, but it still works well like this.
Now I think I’ll try to challenge myself – or at least my buttocks – for another couple of achievements in Banished before I write a review about it.