In response to "A Break in Immersion" from The Escapist Forum: I've always seen Achievements as a sort of meta-game. You play games individually, then you see how many achievements you can get from all the games you have played/are playing. I'm not an achievement whore mind you, but sometimes it's fun to sit down with a list of Achievements for a game and say "Okay; this session is dedicated to Achievements and nothing else." After all this is gaming we're talking about: not film or literature. The art in games is, and always should be, the game. Story comes second, and with that so does immersion.
If game developers focus too much on turning games into movies (which is what I hear when I read articles like this), then we'll lose the things that make gaming such an engaging hobby to begin with.
I love the Kool-Aid Man reference you have in the image there. You're right, any distraction like that in SotC would have ruined about half of the beauty of that game. I remember when my buddy and I were playing through it together, we were in one of the common rooms of our residence and it was during the day so there was enough light so that we could see our reflections in the television and we said: "Oh, what the fuck!? Alright close all the blinds, we can't ruin the immersion". So we did, we closed all the blinds, making the room as dark as possible so that there was no glare, no distraction from our game. Achievements are definitely a jutting fall back into reality. For that I'm glad that Call of Cthulu: DCotE came out before the 360.
In response to "Bridging the Skill Gap" from The Escapist Forum: Great article! TF2 is an all-around glowing-great example of POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT, and the achievements are just another added layer of goodness. I remember reading about a breakthru they had in testing, where they realized that most people didn't like playing Medic until they added an audible "Thank you" to the game. Most players don't show appreciation for the medic, so by building it into the game as an automatic response, players were felt appreciated and much more inclined to take on this crucial role. The achievements work the same way - by accomplishing these goals that push you to further your gameplay experience, you're rewarded with a trophy that signifies your commitment to learning that aspect of the game and utilizing it. Anyone who spends their time grinding to earn these achievements is missing out on what could be the best hours of gameplay.
It's always been my belief that achievements hurt the overall game experience and that talking about a "good achievement system" is a misnomer. That being said Valve, as a developer, is generally not as bad as most who put achievements in their games. Many of them do give you an idea how the game should be played, but at the same time there are some that would be counter intuitive in an actual game, like medic achievements for helping a heavy punch people, killing three people with an uber scout, or the heavy achievement for taunting while invincible. Others require such specific circumstances that you'll never get the chance for them outside an achievement server, like blowing up 5 buildings with an uber demo (engies are rarely stupid enough to put 5 things right next to each other) or Ubi Concordia, IBI Victoria the only one I don't have, or FYI I'm a medic since spies never actually call for medics anymore.
Really it's better not to waste development time trying to fix a broken system. Developers should just stop putting achievements in games and focus on actual gameplay. Games were fine before achievements and they'll be fine again without them.