Mid-Week Blog: Keeping Track

Having started a handful of new games over the past month or so, a trend that seems to persist in a lot of modern video games was once again brought to my attention, or should I say the lack of a trend. You see despite it being years since the feature was first introduced to the games industry, there still seems to be a significant lack of games with ample achievement tracking.

 Uh, sorry, wrong Orange Box.

Really my ideal package would be to see a game that tracks achievements a bit like a cross between The Orange Box and World of Warcraft. I want menus where I can see the progress I’ve made towards each achievement, pop-ups when I reach a significant milestone towards a certain achievement, and when achievements involve interacting with specific locations, items, enemies etc. I don’t just want my progress to be conveyed to me numerically, I want it communicated in specifics. For example, say I’m playing an action-adventure game which includes three melee weapons and there’s an achievement for getting a kill using all three. I don’t just want to see that I’ve got a kill with 2/3 weapons, I want to see achievement tracking that shows me I’ve got a kill with the sword, and the chainsaw, but not with the bat. However, for most games these kinds of features seem a far way off when a lot of games still lack basic achievement tracking.

I know that in the grand scheme of things this kind of feature is a small addition to a game, but that’s why it confuses me that it’s not a more widely implemented feature. Don’t think I’m left in a blind rage over this lack of achievement tracking, I just feel a little bemused by its absence. If you’re playing a game on Xbox LIVE, Steam, Playstation Network, or even some other services, achievements are going to be part of the experience. Most people who play games on these services seem to at least care about achievements, and a surprising number of people are absolutely hooked on them. Given this it seems like you could please a lot of people with not too much effort (keep in mind we’re talking about “effort” as a relative term within the field of games development) just by putting achievement tracking systems in your game. Perhaps if we all wish really hard we’ll see more of that loveable achievement tracking in 2011. Good luck, have Batman.

-Gamer_152

12 Comments
13 Comments
Posted by Gamer_152

Having started a handful of new games over the past month or so, a trend that seems to persist in a lot of modern video games was once again brought to my attention, or should I say the lack of a trend. You see despite it being years since the feature was first introduced to the games industry, there still seems to be a significant lack of games with ample achievement tracking.

 Uh, sorry, wrong Orange Box.

Really my ideal package would be to see a game that tracks achievements a bit like a cross between The Orange Box and World of Warcraft. I want menus where I can see the progress I’ve made towards each achievement, pop-ups when I reach a significant milestone towards a certain achievement, and when achievements involve interacting with specific locations, items, enemies etc. I don’t just want my progress to be conveyed to me numerically, I want it communicated in specifics. For example, say I’m playing an action-adventure game which includes three melee weapons and there’s an achievement for getting a kill using all three. I don’t just want to see that I’ve got a kill with 2/3 weapons, I want to see achievement tracking that shows me I’ve got a kill with the sword, and the chainsaw, but not with the bat. However, for most games these kinds of features seem a far way off when a lot of games still lack basic achievement tracking.

I know that in the grand scheme of things this kind of feature is a small addition to a game, but that’s why it confuses me that it’s not a more widely implemented feature. Don’t think I’m left in a blind rage over this lack of achievement tracking, I just feel a little bemused by its absence. If you’re playing a game on Xbox LIVE, Steam, Playstation Network, or even some other services, achievements are going to be part of the experience. Most people who play games on these services seem to at least care about achievements, and a surprising number of people are absolutely hooked on them. Given this it seems like you could please a lot of people with not too much effort (keep in mind we’re talking about “effort” as a relative term within the field of games development) just by putting achievement tracking systems in your game. Perhaps if we all wish really hard we’ll see more of that loveable achievement tracking in 2011. Good luck, have Batman.

-Gamer_152

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Posted by Claude

I still have mixed feeling about achievements. At one point, I had the notifications turned off on my Xbox 360, but eventually turned them back on. I think I've gone out of my way to get only one achievement since I've had my Xbox 360. I tied a lady up and placed her on the railroad tracks in Red Dead Redemption. The only reason I knew about the achievement was from my reading about it on Giant Bomb.

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

I like the way Fallout New Vegas keeps track of its smaller in-game achievements, but I'd like to see the system go universal for Microsoft achievements.  I'm sure it's something we'll see eventually, though whether or not it will be retroactive will, of course, depend entirely on the publishers and developers. 

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Posted by Gamer_152
@Claude said:
" I still have mixed feeling about achievements. At one point, I had the notifications turned off on my Xbox 360, but eventually turned them back on. I think I've gone out of my way to get only one achievement since I've had my Xbox 360. I tied a lady up and placed her on the railroad tracks in Red Dead Redemption. The only reason I knew about the achievement was from my reading about it on Giant Bomb. "
On the whole I enjoy achievements but I can see why other people love or hate them. That one in RDR was actually rather fun to do. Hmm, Maybe I could do an entire blog on achievements themselves.
 
@Sparky_Buzzsaw said:
"I like the way Fallout New Vegas keeps track of its smaller in-game achievements, but I'd like to see the system go universal for Microsoft achievements.  I'm sure it's something we'll see eventually, though whether or not it will be retroactive will, of course, depend entirely on the publishers and developers.  "
Yeah, it makes sense that that's going to be where this kind of feature is going and it'll be cool when it's here. Surely Microsoft understand how valued a feature achievement tracking is, and maybe they'll implement it long before most developers would have tried. On the other hand Microsoft is very sparing with it's major feature updates to the Xbox and perhaps we'll have to see achievement tracking become a more established feature in games before they'll implement that kind of system. Either way I'm not sure we'll see much if any retroactive achievement tracking, it probably wouldn't be seen by most developers and publishers as something that wouldn't pull enough players back to old games to be worth investing in.
 

Man, I've got a lousy number of views on this blog for the amount of time it's been up. I wish I'd given it a more straightforward or eye-catching title. Oh well, I learned a lesson.
Moderator
Posted by Claude
@Gamer_152:  Have you noticed there's been an increase of in-game achievements? I just bought Shadow Complex and little things pop up all the time. Even on my Wii, there's in-game achievements or stamps or whatever. 
 
But as you stated, no tracking. I just happen upon them most of the time.
Posted by WatanabeKazuma

I don't know, a lot of recent games seem to incorporate a tracking feature in some form, I would like to say it become a universal trend though I agree.  
 
Listening to the latest Bombcast I was getting angry at Jeff describing the troubles he is having in Borderlands with achievements, it's a perfect example of what can go wrong when something like this is overlooked.
 
@Gamer_152:  Don't worry about the amount of views, it could be worst, could be my blog!

Posted by Aetheldod

 Well I only actively pursue the achievements out of the games I really enjoy , which translates to only Mass Effect 1/2 and the Orange Box  , excluding Team Fortress , is there one thing I don't like  are the  "on line" achievements *shudders*

Posted by Gamer_152
@Claude said:
" @Gamer_152:  Have you noticed there's been an increase of in-game achievements? I just bought Shadow Complex and little things pop up all the time. Even on my Wii, there's in-game achievements or stamps or whatever."
I really liked the way Super Smash Bros. Brawl did it. You unlocked achievement equivalents but they all came with in-game rewards.
 
@WatanabeKazuma said:
" I don't know, a lot of recent games seem to incorporate a tracking feature in some form, I would like to say it become a universal trend though I agree."
Have there really been that many games that have incorporated it? I mean I've still got some stuff from 2010 still to play but if it really is that out there I've been repeatedly missing it.
 
@Aetheldod said:
" Well I only actively pursue the achievements out of the games I really enjoy , which translates to only Mass Effect 1/2 and the Orange Box  , excluding Team Fortress , is there one thing I don't like  are the  "on line" achievements *shudders*"
I remember the tracking in ME2. It was kinda useful but there were areas where it could have been a bit more specific in showing achievement progress.
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Edited by face15

I'm not gonna read all that. To be honest. 
 
But that Orange Box joke is fucking amazing. Thank you.

Online
Posted by Gamer_152
@face15 said:
" I'm not gonna read all that. To be honest.  But that Orange Box joke is fucking amazing. Thank you. "
I was wondering how long it was going to be until somebody recognised my frankly amazing witticism.
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Posted by Azteck

I really wish more games gave you some kind of idea how far you've progressed in an achievement. I really like achievements, and I often go after them so not being able to see how much I've done (if it's a goal of doing like 100 actions of some kind) is really annoying

Posted by jimb0

I think I like the idea of just stat tracking in general. A lot of games implement an option to see your time played, deaths, kills and such and it does seem odd that a lot of those details are left out of the achievement realm and it's upsetting when I come across a game that does not do these things. 
 
It's interesting, Game Center on the iPhone shows the progress towards certain achievements via a percentage value and a circle graphic, which I found to be rather pleasant. 
 
I would totally love to see that sort of thing carry over onto the consoles.

Posted by Gamer_152
@jimb0 said:
" I think I like the idea of just stat tracking in general. A lot of games implement an option to see your time played, deaths, kills and such and it does seem odd that a lot of those details are left out of the achievement realm and it's upsetting when I come across a game that does not do these things. "
I love stat tracking in general too. I go mad for the kinds of pages and pages of stats a game like World of Warcraft presents.
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