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.
 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.