All things Achievements, Trophies, Meta

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Chopper
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All things Achievements, Trophies, Meta

Post by Chopper » May 29th, 2018, 7:50 am

I think there are some interesting discussions to be had around this area.

I'm not necessarily a trophy hunter - most of the platinums I've achieved are for story games like the Walking Dead, where you get the thing just for completing the game - but I can't deny there is something satisfying about ramping up that gamerscore or what have you.

I'm really interested in two things - one is the funny/strange stats you see from time to time. For example did you know that The Evil Within 2 was completed by 47.8% of its buyers? (29.8% on Normal difficulty or higher, and another 18% on Easy). That's a staggering statistic for me. It's a 15-20 hour game. Does it mean that the Evil Within 2 has a more committed fan base than usual? Does it mean that it was a super-engaging game? I enjoy wondering about these things.

The big thing though, is the Meta. I'm possibly not even labelling this correctly, let me explain.

One of the things about Demon's Souls that makes it my all time favourite game, is the 'meta' game you had to play in order to get the platinum. You had to play through 3.5 times. You had to manipulate the world tendency to make certain enemies appear and to open certain areas. You had to beat all the optional mini bosses. You had to specialise your character in order to be clever or holy enough to engage with the spell vendors. You had to trigger certain questlines, including one where the NPCs were being murdered behind your back. You had to track all the crystal lizards. In short, you had to engage with every system and character in the game in order to achieve the platinum, and I thought this was magnificent.

I was wondering if there are any other games that provide this rich and rewarding experience via what I'm calling the Metagame?

Also feel free to pontificate on trophies/cheevos generally and how you feel about them, love, hate or indifferent.

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Re: All things Achievements, Trophies, Meta

Post by Flabyo » May 29th, 2018, 8:25 am

I could get very boring very quickly in a thread like this, I know a *lot* about designing achievements. What works, what doesn’t, what players really hate etc...

I might dig out and post my taxonomy of them if I have a spare moment this evening.

My favourite achievement stat is that over half the people that bought Modern Warfare 2 never started the single player campaign. (The Cheevo pops right at the beginning of the opening cut scene)

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Re: All things Achievements, Trophies, Meta

Post by Stanshall » May 29th, 2018, 8:31 am

No interest in them in general. Most seem to be either jokey ('hold L2 for an hour haha') or something to while away the hours in a retirement home ('a million headshots with the SMG' - kerching - 'now a million with the pistol'). I understand that on XB, you can cash them in or something. Seems honorable but I assume they're like remortgaging your house to buy a million cereal boxes to claim your Tony the Tiger teabag strainer.

That said, I always quite enjoy when they pop, so I'm a bit of a hypocrite. I agree re: Souls games. They're a way of telling you how much genuinely different 'content' (bad word) you've experienced, rather than simply how long you've ground them out joylessly, in servile deference to your instinct to clean house and tick boxes.

No disrespect to anyone who is into achievements, etc. Just giving my perspective and I'm quite hot.

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Re: All things Achievements, Trophies, Meta

Post by Chopper » May 29th, 2018, 9:28 am

Flabyo wrote:
May 29th, 2018, 8:25 am
I could get very boring very quickly in a thread like this, I know a *lot* about designing achievements. What works, what doesn’t, what players really hate etc...

I might dig out and post my taxonomy of them if I have a spare moment this evening.
Please do! As long as it doesn't destroy the 'magic' for us (I'm joking!).
Stanshall wrote:
May 29th, 2018, 8:31 am
No interest in them in general. Most seem to be either jokey ('hold L2 for an hour haha') or something to while away the hours in a retirement home ('a million headshots with the SMG' - kerching - 'now a million with the pistol').
I hate the 'Collect All Documents' ones. I go through games, especially exploration-based games, with a fine toothed comb, so I always fancy getting this one. In reality I pick up the 'Half the documents collected' one about ten minutes from the end of the game.
That said, I always quite enjoy when they pop, so I'm a bit of a hypocrite.
Definitely something that appeals to our lizard brains. I remember my brother once tried to set the Playstation trophy popping sound as the text alert sound on his phone. :lol:

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Re: All things Achievements, Trophies, Meta

Post by Suits » May 29th, 2018, 10:00 am

I go back and forth on this greatly.

To the point now, I generally try and ignore all in game achievements/trophies unless I really want to spend more productive time in a game once I’ve beaten the main game.

I was caught up in the early years of the Xbox and it’s Gamerscore number chasing. In 2008 myself and mate had a friendly rivalry about who could get the highest score. This ended when my friend took a midnight trip to Tesco’s to pick up games he’s never normally play and that were reported as an easy 1000.

At this point he was playing games, purely for the points.

Something I could feel myself potentially falling into.

One positive from this, was that often we’d arrange achievement nights, where we’d pick a game, normally a two-player experience and try and get as many achievements as we could over the weekend. This would involve lugging my TV over his, with my Xbox and we’d play for hours and hours. I look back on that fondly and these were often good games, that we’d smash, not just silly rubbish to trudge through for the points. Left for Dead is one that springs to mind.

I must have racked up about 70’000 points by about 2009 – not massive but was considered dedicated back then at that time.

Then I stopped.

I found myself spending less time on newer games, that I wanted to play and more time chasing things that didn’t matter or would drive me insane. I remember getting elastic bands and rigging up my Xbox 360 controller for the final achievement on Darksiders – where you had to cover a vast distance on your horse, one that wasn’t close to be being finished once you’d gotten every other achievement.

I ticked over 100’000 early this year and while I’m conscious of what my score kind of is, I don’t follow it anymore.

My friend on the other hand, is still greatly into it and has flown past the 300’000 mark, playing hours and hours of things he’s not fussed on to tell me that he found every hidden outfit on Lego Indiana Jones – Cool.

Which leads me onto my other negative point about virtual rewards like this.

Some people, I know this for a fact, won’t play other non-platform games, as they think that time spent on a different platform than to the one that they are actively mining for points – is a waste of time. Madness.

Madness to me anyway. I’m sure that they get a rewarding feeling from doing that and good for them.

But when people say Nintendo hasn’t got an achievement/trophy system, so what’s the point in playing Breath of the Wild – it does honestly winds me up. Why are you even playing games then ??

All that said, if Nintendo announced a similar system at E3 I’d be chuffed. I would. Some sort of badge on my profile to show that I’d Caned Kirby All-Star Allies would be sweet.

I also think that implemented properly, it can really enhance the flavour of some games.

It was touched on earlier as a bad point I think but games like Bioshock & ODST where you are actively encouraged to seek out all of the Voice Recorders or ringing telephones with a virtual achievement, really gave me a much better understanding of those worlds and did for me, make the game a better experience for me.

I think used cleverly they can be a wonderful tool to bring out aspects of games like story or even different ways of playing games to people that otherwise may have missed those aspects of a game, the downside, is that once they get your teeth into people they can shift the focus of why we even play games in the first place.

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Re: All things Achievements, Trophies, Meta

Post by KSubzero1000 » May 29th, 2018, 10:22 am

For me it very much depends on the quality of both the game and the trophy itself. If either of those don't check out (pointless collectibles, low replay value, endless grinding, most multiplayer ones, etc...), then I don't bother with the concept. Some games I love, like Yakuza, have such poorly designed hamster wheel-style trophy lists that I have absolutely zero intention of ever "completing" them.

But if the game is fun to play and has a well-designed, skill-based trophy list, then I do find them to be a rewarding and worthwhile endeavor and I certainly appreciate the extra incentive to accomplish certain tasks. Beating Challenge 6 in Vanquish remains one of my most precious gaming memories to this day, and I'm not sure I would have persevered long enough to beat it without that achievement carrot dangling in front of me the entire time. Likewise, I'm currently playing through Infinifactory and this game has fantastic trophies that are rewarded for beating certain levels in an optimized way, which really forces the player to squeeze that little extra juice out of the various systems and come up with ingenious solutions. I love these!

So I'm kind of in the middle of the road on this one. Looking at my trophy / achievement lists, I see a lot of low% games that I am not bothered by in the slightest, but I also see a select few platinum / 1000GS I am very proud of (Vanquish, Dead Space 2, Resogun, Bloodborne, MGS2, MGS3, The Witness, REmake, Resident Evil Zero and most GoWs, for example).

Overall, I think trophies are a neat concept that can definitely add to a game's fun factor if designed properly and I wish more developers would put time and effort into creating them. They do however seem to have the unfortunate side effect of a lot of developers not including proper challenge modes into their games any more, which is a semi-related issue for me.

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Re: All things Achievements, Trophies, Meta

Post by Alex79uk » May 29th, 2018, 10:45 am

I pretend I don't care about trophies, but actually I really enjoy seeing one pop up in the corner of my screen. It's best when it's something you might not have done, like jumping in the swimming pool in Uncharted, or throwing a ball in a bin or pushing someone off a roof in another game. I've never actively gone out of my way to platinum a game, but I have deliberately gone after specific trophies before. Like all the horse tricks in SotC for example.

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Re: All things Achievements, Trophies, Meta

Post by kintaris » May 29th, 2018, 11:26 am

Well I work for achievement and trophy hunting sites so I'm a little biased.

For me it creates a really fun niche community. We're writing guides and walkthroughs and debating the most efficient ways to get to a trophy, much like one might debate a speed-run. We're meeting up in huge groups to try and boost those grindy achievements, meeting people all over the world and becoming friends. And we're promoting indie titles that have interesting, straightforward lists to give them a boost.

Over on TA and TT we use them to dig into our backlogs by running competitions and tournaments based on achievements you have yet to unlock, which has more than once led me to finally playing a game I now love.

It's all relatively meaningless fun, but then a significant chunk of gaming is, and generally I find achievement and trophy hunting communities to be pretty friendly and respectful as we share common goals. Not as nice as here of course, but generally good-natured.

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Re: All things Achievements, Trophies, Meta

Post by Flabyo » May 29th, 2018, 11:54 am

The silly competitions and challenges on TrueAchievements are the main reason finally got around to subscribing for the infinite rescans.

That Winter Olympics one was nuts, heh.

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Re: All things Achievements, Trophies, Meta

Post by kintaris » May 29th, 2018, 12:28 pm

Flabyo wrote:
May 29th, 2018, 11:54 am
The silly competitions and challenges on TrueAchievements are the main reason finally got around to subscribing for the infinite rescans.

That Winter Olympics one was nuts, heh.
Hopefully we should be able to get the same level of community engagement up on TrueTrophies at some point; that's actually why I'm focusing on PlayStation over Xbox at the moment. But I generally find that trophy hunters are less dedicated to the hunt than their achievement-hunting counterparts. I don't know if that rings true for anyone else, or why that might be. I think there's a certain Pavlovian response to seeing your Gamerscore racking up into the tens of thousands that trophy collecting can't quite match. But maybe we just haven't fully broken into that niche community yet.

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Re: All things Achievements, Trophies, Meta

Post by KSubzero1000 » May 29th, 2018, 1:13 pm

kintaris wrote:
May 29th, 2018, 12:28 pm
But I generally find that trophy hunters are less dedicated to the hunt than their achievement-hunting counterparts. I don't know if that rings true for anyone else, or why that might be.
I've noticed this as well. Perhaps it's because the achievement system predates the trophy system by several years, and a lot of today's dedicated hunters were Xbox 360 early adopters that have decided to stick with their established format of choice so as to not "lose" any progress?

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Re: All things Achievements, Trophies, Meta

Post by Flabyo » May 29th, 2018, 1:15 pm

For me I’ve had a 360 for far longer than I had a ps3 (and the ps3 didn’t launch with the trophy system) and that’s continued into my XBO days. I tend to get multi platform titles for the MS machines purely because that’s where most of my score is. I don’t let it put me off buying the exclusive games for other consoles, but if it’s on the MS machine, that’s usually where I play it.

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Re: All things Achievements, Trophies, Meta

Post by Flabyo » June 1st, 2018, 9:57 am

I said I’d do this, so here we go...

This is a fairly light hearted thing I put together a year or two back that talks about what is good, meh and bad when designing achievements. It’s a combination of my own biases, some empirical data from the Fable series, and various pieces on gamasutra on the topic.

The Good:
Spoiler: show
Basic Progress
eg, ‘Finished chapter one’ - the meat and potatoes of the design. People expect to get at least some points just for playing through the game. The skill with writing these is to try and avoid spoilers in the names and descriptions. A lot of story based games duck out by making these ones ‘secret’, I prefer to avoid secret achievements altogether (there’s reasonable evidence they put certain types of player off even buying the game…)

Exploring the mechanics
These are the lower end of the ‘get X kills with weapon Y’ and ‘unlock a skill on the melee tree’ type ones. You put these in to encourage players to explore other play styles in the game. But there’s a line between ‘you should give the shotgun a go for a bit’ and ‘you should grind hours with the shotgun’. You reward experimentation, not specialisation.

Exploring the fringes
These are the ones you put in to reward players who poke around the edges of your experience. Ideally these are low pointers, the reward for these is actually finding the cool thing. Portal 2 has a few good ones.

Achievement as metatext
Tricky to pull off, but memorable if you do. This covers things like using an achievement to mock a trope (press X to start in the Simpsons game, for example). But you can’t really get away with doing one that someone else has done already. Favourite example: ‘this is the part where he kills us’ in Portal 2.

Reward Highly Skilled play, but not Big Time Commitment
Try to find things that are difficult to do and reward the player for doing them. Pulling off a fancy shot in FIFA, landing a long combo in Killer Instinct. But avoid ones where the skill is over a long period, like ‘win 10 ranked games in a row’. The people you’re targeting with that will breeze it and not care, but no-one else will get close.

Score Attack
Depends on the game somewhat, but score targets worked for the first generation of video games for a reason. Just keep them within the reach of your players, you want people to feel its just within reach, not that they’ll never reach it.

Community in-jokes
If the game is one that develops a strong community, then referencing that community in some way in DLC achievements or title updates is a really good thing to do. Show the people that love your game that you appreciate it. (For example, ‘Fox Finish’ in Mortal Kombat X)
The Meh:
Spoiler: show
you can do these, but don’t overdo them.

Collectibles
Dull as ditchwater for the most part, especially if the game doesn’t have a mechanism for making them easier to find. Sunset Overdrive strikes a good balance with these, they’re not too hard to find but require player skill to collect, and there are ways to get the game to mark them on your map to remove the frustration of finding the right place. Crackdown does not do this. Crackdown can get in the sea.

Coverage in general
You want players to explore the game and see the content you’ve made. But you don’t really want to require them to touch every inch of it. Everyone remembers trying to find the last road you didn’t drive on yet in Forza Horizon. (They get this one right with the ‘visit all the car meet ups’ one, that requires exploration but not a sadistic level of it)

Competitive MP achievements in general
Possibly a controversial opinion, but I think your MP reward structure should exist entirely outside of the achievements system. You have so many other options to reward players in an MP game that are far more meaningful. Badges, titles, skins… all things that you show to other players to prove how good you are. Thats what you should be focusing on.

Co-operative achievements
More of a grey area. If the game leans heavily on co-op play you’re probably fine. If its a mode of play very few will use you’re going to end up eventually with an achievement that is extremely hard to get for most.

An achievement for getting all the other achievements
Just because the Sony trophy system gives you this one for free doesn’t mean you need to copy the mechanic into the xbox port. Especially if you decide to make it a large chunk of the overall point total.

Either / Or
Common in story games, these are where you present the player with a choice and there’s an achievement linked to each choice. You can’t get both without save scumming or playing through again. (Being able to replay from checkpoints once you’ve finished a game helps a lot with these). I’m very on the fence with these, some story games you really do want to see both outcomes, others it just feels like pointless busy work.

Perfect Play
Some people really love these, but they’re going to be out of the range of most players without a walkthrough so you need to be careful. If you’re going to have one, at least have a system to let the player know that they’re no longer perfect so they can go back to an earlier save state.

Virals
I’ve yet to really see a good one that does anything that doesn’t just end up as ‘play the game online and you’ll eventually get it’.
The bad. Do not do this.
Spoiler: show
Anything that requires spending money that isn’t directly linked to buying substantive DLC.
If you have horse armour, don’t stick an achievement on using it. If you have a 10 hour DLC campaign, go nuts.

MP achievements where your game is primarily single player.
People really don’t like these. No-one is interested in grinding kills in the multiplayer of Tomb Raider. Or playing the multiplayer in Perfect Dark Zero at all.

0 point ‘unachievements
They weren’t funny when Team Ninja did them in DOA3 in the 360’s launch line up, and they’re not funny now. Why are you trying to encourage people to be bad at your game?

Encouraging Grief Play
I’m always astounded when a game ships with one of these. We’re talking things like ‘accidentally kill your teammates 10 times’. It’s hard enough to design games that don’t have problems with griefers without actively encouraging it!

Time Limited in some way
Everything should be available to all players regardless of when they choose to play. You may not think appealing to completionists is something you care about, but they care and will be very noisy about it.

Referencing a topical meme
At best it won’t be topical by the time the game launches. At worst you’ll learn that it’s taken on a new deeply offensive twist since you put it in. (And patching these things used to be really hard, its a little easier with XBO and PS4 though, the back end is better now)

Developer in-jokes
These are so unbelievably tempting when you’re building the game. Almost none of them survive to launch. These also include mocking games from other companies, you just look petty.

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Re: All things Achievements, Trophies, Meta

Post by Alex79uk » June 1st, 2018, 10:02 am

That was interesting, Flabyo, thanks for posting.

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Re: All things Achievements, Trophies, Meta

Post by Flabyo » June 1st, 2018, 10:13 am

For those who study this stuff, the achievement list for Overwatch is probably required reading. So much right, equally as much wrong.

They have a lot of skill based ones, split up per hero, which is good. But they’re really inconsistent. Some are of the form ‘if you’re playing this hero well you’ll get this eventually’, like Soldier 76s one’s. But others are ‘you have to actively play differently from how you should to get this’ like Sombra’s.

Waaaaaay too many time limited ones as well. It is not a popular game on TrueAchievements.

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Re: All things Achievements, Trophies, Meta

Post by kintaris » June 2nd, 2018, 7:40 am

Totally with you on multiplayer achievements. If you have built a substantial multiplayer experience it will almost certainly have its own ranking and rewards systems, normally more nuanced and complex than achievements allow for - so there isn't any point in putting those ridiculous grindy achievements into the mix when a lot of the time their requirements run counter to the game's internal progression system.

And equally if you are experimenting with multiplayer as a bolt-on to the single player, limit your achievements to just "giving it a go". You want to invite as many people in as you can. Grindy achievements won't attract the achievement hunting niche; in fact a big chunk of them won't play your game at all, because hunters like to 100% achievement lists.

Do people here have achievements or trophies that they are particularly proud of? Off the top of my head, finishing The Witcher 2 on Dark mode felt very satisfying and a great way to celebrate a game I really enjoyed on a lower difficulty level. I also can't believe I managed to get the achievement for never dying once in Alien Isolation as I am a wimp and terrible at stealth :lol:

Side note: I think the Detroit trophy list is pretty good. As Flabyo said there is a fine line when it comes to making the player see different binary outcomes, but as I head to the Platinum I have found much more respect for some of the writing and particularly the voice acting, just by exploring alternative paths to a trophy.

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Re: All things Achievements, Trophies, Meta

Post by Chopper » June 2nd, 2018, 8:06 am

Good reading, Flabyo!

Kintaris: I have a platinum on both the Euro and US Demons Souls, which I’m not that proud of but is probably my only real ‘achievement’ in gaming.

Was briefly considering doing the Korean version at one point too but thought better of it :lol:

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Re: All things Achievements, Trophies, Meta

Post by Chopper » June 16th, 2018, 11:40 am

Dark Souls Remastered has an impressive 3.5% of players who have achieved the Platinum trophy already after less than a month on release.

Other Souls games Platinum rates:

Dark Souls 6.2%
Dark Souls 2 (PS3) 4.2%
Dark Souls 2 SOTS (PS4) 4.2%
Dark Souls 3 4.9%

Bloodborne 5.5%

Demon's Souls EU 3.6%
Demon's Souls US 2.9%

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Re: All things Achievements, Trophies, Meta

Post by KSubzero1000 » June 16th, 2018, 2:14 pm

Well, the Souls games have one of the most dedicated communities around, so if anything those numbers seem a tiny bit low to me. Especially Bloodborne.

Plus the DS1 trophy list is definitely feasible. Somewhat time-consuming, but feasible.

Speaking of feasible, the Assault Android Cactus list is ruthless. I don't think I'll manage to grab that one! :P

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Re: All things Achievements, Trophies, Meta

Post by Chopper » June 16th, 2018, 3:08 pm

All figures taken directly off my Playstation so I assume they are correct!

Interestingly, if you rank the games best-to-worst based on this, you don't go too far wrong. Though you have to leave Demons out as it was a bit ahead of its time ;)

1. DS1
2. Bloodborne
3. DS3
4. DS2

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