Letters to the Editor

God Save the Queen


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.

300lb. Samoan

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.



In response to “Building a Better Achievement” from The Escapist Forum: Hear hear! I love a good achievement, but difficult and tedious ones – those along the lines of “(verb) all the (noun)s” – are usually just irritating. I don’t want to know that I’ve squished 310 of 333 grubs in Half-Life 2 Episode 2! I’m torn between naturally wanting the achievement and not wanting to painstakingly search through a whole long section of the game with a fine-tooth comb to get it. The payoff is not worth the effort, but knowing that the reward exists is hard to ignore. It’s like an itch that takes two hours of tedious work and constant reference to an online game guide to scratch.

On the other hand, achievements that encourage you to do something fun or rewarding can really enhance a game. Some of Crackdown’s achievements encouraged you to experiment with the sandbox in ways you might not have thought of, like “Make your way to the top of the Agency Tower”, “Use explosives to keep a car up in the air for seven seconds” and “Shoot and kill 5 gang members in a single jump (while airborne).” Because so much of the fun of that game lay in the comic-book physics, it was great to have these little suggestions of fun things to try.

For these forums, I think of “Getting your comment published in next week’s Escapist” as my own private achievement! 😀 [Ed. note: Grats!]


I’m a fan of most kinds of achievements.

– The ones that are awarded simply for completing levels/the game are nice in that it’s good for comparison on how far someone’s played through a game. I see a ton of people on Halo 3 online who don’t even have the first mission complete achievement in the campaign.

– The ones for collecting are moderately irritating when it’s just some arbitrary… thing. It’s much better when it’s something you’d want anyways: see for example the Tonic Collector in Bioshock: it’s for getting all the tonics in the game, which is something I would have wanted. A reward for completeness. The only reason to add arbitrary bits is to reward for exploration.

– The ridiculous hard achievements are a good way for telling who’s the pro gamer, and who’s the new guy. I’ve never seen anyone with “War is Heck” from Endwar, but if I do see anyone with it, like hell I am fighting them.

The only kind of achievement I don’t like is the ones for being at some place in the world leaderboard. I think GRAW has one of these for being #1… it sucks because it’s virtually impossible to have. Somewhere out there, there is a mouthbreathing ball of cheeto crumbs who will never let you have it.



In response to “Bow Before the Worm-Slayer” from The Escapist Forum: I love Titles in Online games. I play Guild Wars, which is not about gameplay, not about story, not about the community, not about combat and not about strategy: it’s about vanity. It’s about showing off and looking good.
My Canthan Assassin currently has a buttloado of titles that are hard to get: Legendary Vanquisher, Grandmaster Cartographer, Saviour of Cantha, Saviour of Elona, Saviour of Tyria, all 3 Skill Hunter titles, Slayer of Gods, and Rank 6 in Heroes’ Ascent, among other less meaningful ones. Yet the one I always display, no matter the situation, is called Connoisseur of Confectionaries. You get it by gaining 10,000 Sweet Tooth points, which you get by eating sweet things like cakes, cookies and candy. Why? Because it’s difficult and expensive to get, and because it just sounds great.



In response to “Achieving Azeroth” from The Escapist Forum: Excellent article, it really took me back to all the time I devoted to WoW – I gave it up months before Burning Crusade was released. Reading this almost makes me want to install it again and invest in the expansion packs, but with a baby on the way, I think it would probably be a terrible idea for me to get back into it. What really got me hooked on the game wasn’t the questing and PVPing, it was the auction house. For some reason I got more of a thrill during the one or two days that I controlled the copper, silver, gold, and leather markets of the server I was playing on than any of the quests, raids, and battles I participated in. Though spending half a day helping a fellow guild member complete all the druid sea lion quests (whatever they were called) was the best of all my WoW experiences.

I play a lot of COD4 and a bit of TF2 these days (addictions I can control), and am not all that hung up on getting achievements in either game. Hell, I’m happy if I manage to make it anywhere above the bottom five scores.


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