Ryan Wilson

WPR Discusses: Gaming without Achievements

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With the Wii U a little less than a week away, many news outlets have come out of the woodwork looking for controversial factoids about the upcoming system. The biggest one I’ve been noticing lately is that the Wii U will not ship with any sort of built-in reward system. With Xbox 360, PlayStation 3/Vita, and even Steam having some sort of achievement system, Nintendo has yet to adopt anything like this natively.

Given the current state of gaming, do you think that this exclusion will hurt the system? Do you think Nintendo is on to something?

You’re lucky to only get towed. In some states, it’s the death penalty.

Ryan Thomason

I spent 90% of my gaming life not getting any kinds of achievements that were recognizable other than telling my friends what I did in the game that particular time. When Xbox Live started adding them, I still never went out of my way to try and do something that would add a little badge or whatnot to my avatar. I simply don’t care. I don’t think Nintendo really cares either, from my memories of Nintendo games it’s been more about sitting with people and sharing experiences as a group and interacting with them in the meat-space, not getting a badge to show off to 12 year olds that don’t give a rats ass about you.

People are always just looking for an angle to bash on a system, especially the first one in a new “Generation” to come out. Wii slaughtered everyone for the longest time in terms of retail sales and keeping people interested enough to buy systems with a low price point that WASN’T losing money on each system sold. Nintendo is a Juggernaut for a reason, just because they don’t do what all the flashy cool kids are doesn’t make them obsolete, it kind of makes them a leader.

*Nintendo just unlocked the Leadership Achievement*

Damn.

Jermaine Pulliam

While I love the concept of achievements, I don’t think it’s necessary for Nintendo to have such a system on their platform. Sony took awhile to implement Trophies and I still don’t think they did a good jobs with that. As long as the games are there, people will come.

Ryan Wilson

I think that ultimately it’s on the Xbox 360 where achievements really seem to matter to people. The use of points along with a shiny pop up message is a real ego-stroker for some people. Perhaps this harkens back to the arcade days where one can become “Chuck E. Cheese famous” by posting a high score on the local machine. Steam and PlayStation 3 seem to offer very little in the e-Peen department.

Why’s this? Because Achievements are, first and foremost, a way to pad a game. This is exactly what we did back when we relied on our parents to buy us new games. We’d attempt to beat our tired games in new interesting way (I can’t be the only one who tried it holding the controller upside down)

I give Wii U credit for not forcing this guideline on their developers. Let’s face facts…not all games are meant to be played through more than once. The magic is gone now. All you’re giving us now is tedious busywork…and we have daytime jobs for that.

Jermaine Pulliam

If done correctly, achievements should expose game play that would otherwise go unnoticed. I mean that’s what I would like them to do ideally. I don’t necessarily agree that they are their for padding but to bring to light things you would never try. Let’s imagine if they put achievements on Super Mario Bros. 3 for the original NES. We all know their are hidden whistles in that game that let you bypass large chunks of it entirely. I didn’t need achievements to forgo using these whistles and play each level but imagine if that had been an achievement. It would serve two purposes: inform players that there are whistles in the game and challenge you to beat the game without using them. I’m not saying that all games need achievements but I am saying that Nintendo should have at least had a system to provide players the option. I like having a record of the games I played and they way I played them. I don’t use my Gamerscore to compare with the large population but I use it as a nostalgia trip of sorts. It’s purely information for me to look at and remember.

Ryan Wilson

The first Uncharted came with an achievement system of sorts before Sony introduced the trophy system. By completing these challenges, players could unlock cheats, new player models, and filters. I find this to be much more rewarding than a pop-up kudos.

Now the Wii U isn’t forbidding developers from implementing an achievement system of their own, and Miiverse (which is seriously what they’re calling it) will likely allow players to post in-game progress (complete with a confirmed spoiler filter for slow completers). I’m sure this will be unlocked for the developers to allow players to post their own trophies in-game.

Jermaine Pulliam

Honestly, and I don’t know if this is possible or not, but I rather not have the pop-up at all. I just want that stuff to be logged so I can look it up whenever I want. I do like the way Uncharted handled it but like you said, we are adults who don’t have the luxury of multiple play through sessions anymore. I think at the end of the day, the game should be rewarding on its own and not rely on cool unlocks or cheevos to provide that sense of accomplishment. I just want to make sure I’m clear that I enjoy achievement systems purely for historical record purposes. I think I can love without them though.

Ryan Thomason

While I never played Uncharted, I do like achievement systems that reward me directly beyond a pop up that can be spread around. Unlocking the extra stuff by putting in all the efforts are vastly more rewarding to me in a game. Though I do get what Jermaine is saying that having something like the Gamerscore to catalog your achievements for personal nostalgia reasons. I know there are times back in the day of retro gaming, in a game where you do something awesome for all your time and efforts, and sit there thinking about how awesome it was, then you forget it as you continued on. You never remember again until you decided to play the game again or if it happens to come up in conversation. If you look at your Gamerscore instead, everything is there, and memories can come back easier as you see a specific achievement.

I think what I’m getting at, is that yes, sometimes you do something awesome and want to display it to the world (i.e. Your Friends) Having the achievement popups are good for that, modern technology has made that possible. Essentially it comes down to the user and their ego. Which we all know most gamers have no ego about their online persona (*snickers*) I think we’re all guilty of it from time to time, but sometimes, we do something that we justify as being worthy of display and a few pat on the backs from yourself and hopefully a friend or two. It’s a double sided coin, to display your achievements unlocked or not, in the end it just comes down to the player.

Evan Burkey

My rebuttal to Ryan T’s previous comment

I like achievements, and actively seek to complete them in my 360 games (for some reason I just don’t care about PS3 trophies… no idea why). For me, it’s not about showing everybody online like our friend above, but as a record of personal, well, achievement. Some games do this well, for example Persona 4 Arena: While there are basic achievements like completing a tutorial or beating the single player story, there are others like win 30 online matches or pull off 20 One More Bursts (not an easy feat). In working for those achievements, they made me a better player at the game.

However, requiring developers to put achievements in doesn’t seem to be the best policy. In some cases, they are just added fluff; Avatar: The Burning Earth being a prime example of doing it wrong. Other devs have lazy achievements like Beat Chapter 1, Beat Chapter 2, etc. I’m a fan of what Steam does, where achievements are optional. Now, they’re kind of forced to do this because of the openness of the PC platform, but I like that it adds something to some of the games hosted on there. Steam achievements have no point value, they’re just there to push you in a direction. Some of them are lazy, but others aren’t. I for one have been trying to complete all the achievements for Skyrim just because I can. It’s forced me to play the game in ways I may not have thought of or tried.


Now it’s your turn, readers. What are your thoughts on Nintendo’s decision to ditch the concept of digital kudos?

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