The best argument against achievements yet.

Posted by sodacat (214 posts) -

First off, I don't like The Walking Dead franchise, I don't like the zombie genre, and I don't like Telltale Games. That said, I have really enjoyed the first two chapters of Telltale's Walking Dead game. It has learned all the right lessons from Alpha Protocol, and while the non-dialogue interactivity of the game is lacking it's no worse than AP's bland shooting/stealth segments. Telltale's in-house engine is still barely functional, but although I have encountered plenty of programming errors, I've yet to encounter any scripting errors. I've been playing games long enough that I can ignore coding snafus if the core concept of the game is compelling enough.

This brings me to the achievements, which the game should not have. Thankfully Telltale realised that too, which is why every achievement for the game is automatic and none of them require you to do anything specific. If you had to think about how your choices in the game would affect your achievements the game's entire foundation would crumble. Unfortunately some asshole decided that the achievement titles should have "silly" and "ironic" names, because that's what the kids love. Walking Dead's second chapter is incredibly cliche, but it is handled with the kind of effort and care that makes cliches shine. I was with the game the entire way... right up until, directly after the chapter's final climax, I was informed by my PS3 that I fought like a dairy farmer. I was having an emotional moment with the game right there, and then it was all washed away for the sake of a Monkey Island reference.

Walking Dead is far and away the best product Telltale has made. I was willing to put up with the engine glitches and the railroading, but I won't stand for a game that sabotages itself for the sake of a point counter.

#1 Posted by sodacat (214 posts) -

First off, I don't like The Walking Dead franchise, I don't like the zombie genre, and I don't like Telltale Games. That said, I have really enjoyed the first two chapters of Telltale's Walking Dead game. It has learned all the right lessons from Alpha Protocol, and while the non-dialogue interactivity of the game is lacking it's no worse than AP's bland shooting/stealth segments. Telltale's in-house engine is still barely functional, but although I have encountered plenty of programming errors, I've yet to encounter any scripting errors. I've been playing games long enough that I can ignore coding snafus if the core concept of the game is compelling enough.

This brings me to the achievements, which the game should not have. Thankfully Telltale realised that too, which is why every achievement for the game is automatic and none of them require you to do anything specific. If you had to think about how your choices in the game would affect your achievements the game's entire foundation would crumble. Unfortunately some asshole decided that the achievement titles should have "silly" and "ironic" names, because that's what the kids love. Walking Dead's second chapter is incredibly cliche, but it is handled with the kind of effort and care that makes cliches shine. I was with the game the entire way... right up until, directly after the chapter's final climax, I was informed by my PS3 that I fought like a dairy farmer. I was having an emotional moment with the game right there, and then it was all washed away for the sake of a Monkey Island reference.

Walking Dead is far and away the best product Telltale has made. I was willing to put up with the engine glitches and the railroading, but I won't stand for a game that sabotages itself for the sake of a point counter.

#2 Edited by Shivoa (620 posts) -

Imagine a world where you could turn off the notifications and it would be just as if the game had no achievements unless you actually wanted them.

Imagine a world where many people enjoy having their progress recorded; checking to see how they compare to friends in terms of what they ingest from these recorded markers; and even love the bits where clever developers find ways of adding to their product by pointing at specific play styles or optional content in the non-linear section of the game (ie the bit that makes it a game and not a movie, user agency).

I know the Walking Dead developers think MS shouldn't force achievements on them (see recent Idle Thumbs) and that this waterfalls into forcing them on the optional platforms of PSN and Steam but so far their arguments just make me think the next generation of consoles should have 3 states for notifications (always on, let the developer decide, always off) so the developer can let their preference be known to the users by flagging it in a config file for the game.

I'm all for the freedom of the PC platform and so ultimately I think it should be up to the developers to decide and do how they wish, but if I was God of a platform then I'd make it mandatory to have them and if you really hate it so much then give half of them away for starting the game and the other half for looking at the credits screen if you really want to ignore them. Make them all secret and use my 3rd setting option to let users who trust you to decide this for them never see them.

#3 Posted by sodacat (214 posts) -

The achievements have to be there, sure, but they don't have to actively undermine the game. Heavy Rain delayed achievement notifications until after a chapter was completed. Naming the achievements something other than inane pop culture references would help too! The MGS HD collection had this exact same problem.

#4 Posted by Ravenlight (8040 posts) -

@sodacat said:

First off, I don't like The Walking Dead franchise [...] That said, I have really enjoyed the first two chapters

What?

#5 Posted by xyzygy (9936 posts) -

Or, if you don't care about them, go on not caring about them and leave them for the people who do. Was that hard?

#6 Posted by sodacat (214 posts) -

@Ravenlight: I read the comic and didn't care for it. I watched the first episode of the show and didn't care for it. I would have ignored the game entirely based on my previous experience with Telltale Games, but the first two chapters were included with PS+ so I figured I didn't have anything to lose except time.

#7 Posted by SomeDeliCook (2272 posts) -

I wish there was a seperate option to turn off just achievement notifications. I don't like when they pop up during atmospheric games, but I still want to know when a friend sends me an invite or a message.

#8 Posted by phrali (646 posts) -

op you can just turn off notifications if it really bothers you that much, meanwhile a bajillion other people really like achievements

#9 Posted by natetodamax (19191 posts) -

Can't you just turn off notifications? That's what I did on 360.

#10 Posted by Rafaelfc (1324 posts) -

your entire experience was RUINED because of a cutesy achievement name, wow... just wow!

#11 Posted by The_Tolman (430 posts) -

@Ravenlight said:

@sodacat said:

First off, I don't like The Walking Dead franchise [...] That said, I have really enjoyed the first two chapters

What?

First off, President Bush was my least favorite President [...] That said, I really enjoyed his first two terms.

#12 Posted by sodacat (214 posts) -

@Rafaelfc said:

your entire experience was RUINED because of a cutesy achievement name, wow... just wow!

Have you seen 2001? Imagine if Bowman, during the scene where he enters the monolith, suddenly blurted out 'I'm tripping balls!' Would you say that would have had a detrimental effect on the movie as a whole? I would!

#13 Posted by High_Nunez (218 posts) -

@sodacat: I get where your coming from. It's how I feel about video games in general. It's why I never really get too emotionally immersed. I'm always aware I'm playing a game. Once that sets in, it's hard to take anything it does too seriously. Having said that, The Walking Dead game is easier to get immersed in because it's so passive, although all the little stuff popping up every so often it's like it's saying "hey, dude, this is a game". I'm not familiar with the PS3 enough to know if you can turn notifications on/off. If you can, you probably should turn 'em off from here on out.

#14 Posted by Rafaelfc (1324 posts) -

@sodacat said:

@Rafaelfc said:

your entire experience was RUINED because of a cutesy achievement name, wow... just wow!

Have you seen 2001? Imagine if Bowman, during the scene where he enters the monolith, suddenly blurted out 'I'm tripping balls!' Would you say that would have had a detrimental effect on the movie as a whole? I would!

I see your point.

But for me, I guess it's a format difference thing. If it was in a serious and thoughtful film such as 2001 it would be terrible. But since it's on a game, I think it comes with the territory, no achievement bleep has ever diminished the enjoyment I got out of games, The Walking Dead included.

You'll hate the achievements in Asura's Wrath...

#15 Posted by TheDudeOfGaming (6078 posts) -

@sodacat said:

First off, I don't like The Walking Dead franchise, I don't like the zombie genre, and I don't like Telltale Games.

You lie!

#16 Posted by sodacat (214 posts) -

@TheDudeOfGaming said:

@sodacat said:

First off, I don't like The Walking Dead franchise, I don't like the zombie genre, and I don't like Telltale Games.

You lie!

I bought Dead Rising 2 because I wanted to play a co-op game with my friend, and I bought Yakuza Dead Souls because it was a Yakuza game (and boyo did I get burned on that). I enjoyed Dead Nation, but that was A) free, and B) a solid twinstick shooter. You could have replaced the zombies with aliens and not had to change anything about the game. I've actually stayed away from some games that are in a genre I enjoy, like Dead Island, because they have zombies.

#17 Posted by Brodehouse (9791 posts) -

GODDAMN YOU ACHIEVEMENT! I had forgot I was playing a video game! I thought I was actually a southern black man until you broke the spell!

Dude video games are video games. Did you know you could pull up a pause menu, too? What if someone knocked on your door while you're playing? ARGH IMMERSION BREAKER!

#18 Posted by Dagbiker (6957 posts) -

I do not see how one game is an argument against the whole of achievements. Also Telltales engine is fine on the PC, I think your playing on the wrong platform. Also turn notifications off.

#19 Posted by Dad_Is_A_Zombie (1225 posts) -

Shallow, ridiculous complaint. The achievements are fine and the game has been excellent.

#20 Posted by medacris (648 posts) -

I'd read/watch just one issue/episode more just to get a fair judgement of the series. The first installment of anything is sometimes awkward because the writers haven't gotten their footing yet.

I don't mind achievements in other games (say an FPS or an RPG) because they encourage you to try new things, but I agree in adventure games they aren't as needed. Maybe just have ones for checkpoints in the story or finding Easter eggs, or something.

#21 Posted by yoshisaur (2700 posts) -

I don't want to sound harsh, but if a person's immersion is broken by a simply pop-up like an achievement, there wasn't much immersion in the first place. I think we all still know we are sitting at a computer or sitting on a couch at some point, a pop-up can't really do much more harm than realizing you're holding a "controller" of some sorts to command make-believe graphics.

However, I see nothing wrong with the standard of shutting that sort of thing off. If a person does by chance lose something from the pop-ups, I think that it is simple and easy enough for a developer to add that to a game with no exception.

#22 Posted by pyromagnestir (4283 posts) -

@Shivoa said:

Imagine a world where you could turn off the notifications and it would be just as if the game had no achievements unless you actually wanted them.

Imagine a world where many people enjoy having their progress recorded; checking to see how they compare to friends in terms of what they ingest from these recorded markers; and even love the bits where clever developers find ways of adding to their product by pointing at specific play styles or optional content in the non-linear section of the game (ie the bit that makes it a game and not a movie, user agency).

I know the Walking Dead developers think MS shouldn't force achievements on them (see recent Idle Thumbs) and that this waterfalls into forcing them on the optional platforms of PSN and Steam but so far their arguments just make me think the next generation of consoles should have 3 states for notifications (always on, let the developer decide, always off) so the developer can let their preference be known to the users by flagging it in a config file for the game.

I'm all for the freedom of the PC platform and so ultimately I think it should be up to the developers to decide and do how they wish, but if I was God of a platform then I'd make it mandatory to have them and if you really hate it so much then give half of them away for starting the game and the other half for looking at the credits screen if you really want to ignore them. Make them all secret and use my 3rd setting option to let users who trust you to decide this for them never see them.

Turn off notifications. Problem solved. This is certainly not the best argument against achievements yet.

#23 Posted by IBurningStar (2161 posts) -

Turn off notifications if it takes you out of things that much. Problem solved.

#24 Posted by sodacat (214 posts) -

For the ten people in this thread who have never touched a PS3: no, you actually can't turn off notifications.

#25 Posted by Kidavenger (3528 posts) -

@sodacat said:

First off, I don't like The Walking Dead franchise,

What?

#26 Posted by Shivoa (620 posts) -

@sodacat said:

For the ten people in this thread who have never touched a PS3: no, you actually can't turn off notifications.

The global notifications off toggle in the system settings doesn't do it? That seems like a really good reason to complain about Sony to provide the same option that PC (Steam/UPlay/GfWL) and 360 users have to disable those notifications if they want. Not a reason to deprive all users who do want achievements from having them and choosing to have them visible or not as prompts.

#27 Posted by rockyhorrorgerri (373 posts) -

@TheDudeOfGaming said:

@sodacat said:

First off, I don't like The Walking Dead franchise, I don't like the zombie genre, and I don't like Telltale Games.

You lie!

I can agree that upon watching an episode of The Walking Dead, I HATED it. Questioned everyone I knew who watched it... just aweful. Also not a HUGE fan myself of survival games. I am more of an adventure/csi/puzzle/strategy/rpg's. I do play zombie and survival games.. Dead rising was crazy fun... though worst 360 game I've played has by far been Deadly Premonition.

That being said... I love Telltale. Probably only reason why I jumped to buy this game when it came out. It really has given me perspective into possibly giving TWD a chance.. somewhere down the line :D

#28 Posted by pweidman (2319 posts) -

Not even a real argument against achieves at all here. With the pc and 360 having the ability to turn off notifications, this is more of an argument against an oversight by Sony and their PS3, if indeed there is no toggle for notices.

#29 Posted by sodacat (214 posts) -

@pweidman: To everyone making this case I still don't see it as a valid argument. I should not have to go out of my way to keep a product from sabotaging its own premise.

#30 Posted by Rohok (554 posts) -

@sodacat said:

For the ten people in this thread who have never touched a PS3: no, you actually can't turn off notifications.

Buy a 360 and then turn off notifications.

#31 Posted by Baillie (4075 posts) -

I'd hardly call yourself being immersed if a pop up on the screen breaks it.

#32 Posted by Mixwizzard (83 posts) -

Wait a minute, you don't like The Walking Dead, Zombies or Telltale. But you bought Ep.1 and 2?

#33 Posted by sodacat (214 posts) -

@Mixwizzard: Naw, they came with PS+. I'll try anything, even things I'm sure that I'll hate, if I don't have to pay for it.

#34 Posted by DrDarkStryfe (1104 posts) -

I have turned off Achievement notifications years ago. Problem solved.

#35 Posted by Zippedbinders (983 posts) -

If its that big of a deal, play the version direct from Telltale's store. Its a separate thing from Steam, and doesn't feature any achievements, thats how all of their products have been.

I've never gotten an achievement in a Telltale game.

#36 Posted by Shivoa (620 posts) -

@sodacat said:

@pweidman: To everyone making this case I still don't see it as a valid argument. I should not have to go out of my way to keep a product from sabotaging its own premise.

Just to make sure no one is hiding behind a straw man here, you say the popups are breaking your immersion and the reason why you wouldn't turn them off is... and that is where I get lost. You're arguing that everyone who wants achievements should be denied because you don't think you should have to go into a settings menu to customise your experience to your exact standards? That even though you may have the choice (and certainly do on PC or 360) to configure the experience to how you want it that this isn't enough, you demand every other gamer not have achievements either. It sounds like (but maybe I'm getting this wrong) your hatred of achievements isn't actually linked to this situation you've outlined.

#37 Posted by sodacat (214 posts) -

@Shivoa: I don't hate achievements. I actually quite like achievements (that little number on my bio bar should say as much). What I don't like is games which are crippled by them. Story focused games gain nothing from achievements, and in this case my experience was influenced for the worse by an achievement. Telltale went into this game knowing that having achievements on was the default for the vast majority of their players, and yet they chose to diffuse their atmosphere by naming them after inane pop culture references rather than something innocuous. They also could have chosen to have them pop up outside of cutscenes and gameplay, like Heavy Rain did. Their hands were not tied in this situation.

#38 Posted by Shivoa (620 posts) -

@sodacat: Story focussed games with achievements gain the ability for people to publish their progress to (and compare against) friends as well as the developers using this to get feedback on completion rates and such like without building their own snooping system that sends data back to their servers (using the achievements privacy settings to allow people to opt out of this anonymous data collection process in an informed way).

If you personally think that a story based games is no place for achievements then it is your responsibility to switch it off (campaign to Sony if that notification toggle doesn't work for achievement notifications - it seems an odd oversight) when you realise you are playing a story game. You may not like the pop-culture focussed nature of this developer's choice but (unlike something like WoW where they integrate that stuff into all the textual content for the questing) it is an optional component that you can opt out of.

As my first response pointed out, the game developers in this case agree with you but to me this is only an argument to allow a toggle between notification on and off that is 'let the developer decide'. The power to opt into achievement systems (privacy settings, notification settings) is already with the user and allowing games without achievements will remove that option from users.

#39 Posted by sins_of_mosin (1556 posts) -

Achievements make a lot of bad games worth playing.

#40 Posted by sodacat (214 posts) -

@sins_of_mosin said:

Achievements make a lot of bad games worth playing.

Son you are part of a behavioural control experiment far beyond your wildest imaginings.

#41 Posted by sins_of_mosin (1556 posts) -
@sodacat said:

@sins_of_mosin said:

Achievements make a lot of bad games worth playing.

Son you are part of a behavioural control experiment far beyond your wildest imaginings.

Grandchild put down the tin foil hat.  It still don't make you buy those bad games, just rent or borrow.  Nor does it make you get the so bad they are broken games.  Hell I call Kane & Lynch 1 and 2 a bad game and the achievements made it barely bearable.
#42 Posted by NickL (2246 posts) -

@sodacat said:

@sins_of_mosin said:

Achievements make a lot of bad games worth playing.

Son you are part of a behavioural control experiment far beyond your wildest imaginings.

Making bad games worth playing is a bad argument for them, but they definitely make games with no replay value.... replayable.

#43 Posted by senorfuzzeh (385 posts) -

@The_Tolman said:

@Ravenlight said:

@sodacat said:

First off, I don't like The Walking Dead franchise [...] That said, I have really enjoyed the first two chapters

What?

First off, President Bush was my least favorite President [...] That said, I really enjoyed his first two terms.

Lawl.

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