Bridging the Skill Gap
Achievements aren't just an in-game diversion - they can educate players about key gameplay concepts and turn novices into skilled veterans. Rob Zacny analyzes how the best achievements can teach you how to play - and how the worst ones can potentially break a game.
Read Full Article
First of all a great read.
I agree with pretty much everything here. I think Valve are really hitting the nail on the head with achievements right now, although I do believe that some of the achievements are too particular and need you to do something that would probably be detrimental to the team effort, for example the medic achievement that requires you to uber-charge a scout and get 3 kills from him. Whilst it does add a level difficulty for the more hardcore gamer to strive for, in very few situation will this be an option in such a team based game.
I think that was the point. They made a few of the achievements so that you would probably have to play for a long time before the opportunity to get it would even come up.
I think that most complaints about the TF2 achievements have been exaggerated. It's true that during the first couple of weeks when a new pack is out you see a lot of people not really playing to win and even doing idiotic things like hanging in the spawn room munching on sandwiches instead of joining the fight, but it dies down pretty quickly. I think that's more than outweighed by the benefits for new players.
Another game that had a really good set of achievements was Geometry Wars 2. I think there's a pattern here. Achievements work really well in giving structure and advancement to a game that would otherwise only have advancement in the form of better performance by the player.
I'm not sure archievements really distinguish the skilled from the unskilled, many are just grind, stuff that anyone can do provided he has the necessary patience to actually spend as much time as needed. Those 1000 double jumps there are an example. The really difficult things (someone suggested for UT3: "Land a headshot while falling off a building") are probably not easy to track, after all the game has no common sense and requires fixed criteria to figure out when an archievement is actually reached and we don't want it to waste much CPU on determining that either (a "destroy an enemy force by surrounding it and attacking from all sides" archievement in an RTS would not be easy to compute).
KZ2's MP is an example of unlocking, pretty much a different beast. While there are different stances on unlocking in singleplayer I think there is no sane reason to have unlocking in a competitive multiplayer environment. Multiplayer is the last refuge of those who seek to jump right into the action within a moment's notice because they know how the game plays and just want to measure themselves against their fellow men (something singleplayer with its lengthy intro cinematics, no-gamer-left-behind approach and endless tutorials that only stop short of telling you how to breathe in their idiocy has long since stopped providing). You can't have a competitive match without giving both players access to the same tools. Look at how Onslaught does it, in free play you use your SP unlocks and get to show off your archievements (in the shape of lv3 weapons) to other people but once you go into ranked mode unlocks are disabled, everyone gets access to the full arsenal because it's not worth ranking when the playing field is not level.
Unlocks are fine in a singleplayer game, possibly even in a local multiplayer game like Smash Bros or Mario Kart, provided there's enough material available from the start that it won't cripple your playing experience and unlocking new characters is more of a bonus than a mandatory part of making the game fun. It's absolutely not fine in a competitive online match where different players can have different unlocks available.
What I think would help more to make people be good players is to have tutorials that actually teach you how to play, not just how to move your character or click on a unit. I mean things like fighting game tutorials that would teach you advanced combo techniques and character styles instead of merely "this is punch, this is kick, now go out and be amazed how people can eliminate you with massive combos when you can barely block properly" or RTSes with mindset training lessons about things like "money exists to be spent, if you develop a surplus you're not building enough units" and "getting crushed by 20 tanks 10 minutes into the game is not a rush, you should have at least that many tanks yourself by that point so stop wasting time and act faster!" Lessons that actually teach you how to play properly, not just how to make things move and expecting you to learn yourself how to avoid getting utterly annihilated. I've seen some attempt towards that in Treasure's Bleach DS fighting games with a mode that prompts you to perform a combo with specific attacks that end up teaching you things like launcher attacks with air juggling and flashstep cancels for regular attacks though at times it can be hard to figure out what exactly you have to do to perform it (e.g. the flashstep cancel is only listed as four strong attacks, you have to figure out yourself that flashsteps can cancel out of those and let you turn them into a combo).
The achievement system in games like Team Fortress 2 definitely encourage novices to hone their skills, if only to hear that sweet, sweet achievement sound. The problem still remains, though, is that novice players often end up in games where the veterans are so hardcore and so sure of themselves and their own skills (at least in their own minds), that they refuse to tolerate a player who is still trying to learn.
It makes it very frustrating for new players to want to stick around and learn if they're just going to get yelled at for their efforts.
Now all we need to do is to figure out how to quantify and qualify a "Doesn't act like a jerk" achievement!
The most annoying thing to me is seeing an achievement that's nigh unreachable. Who the hell can finish the ENTIRETY of Smash TV on one continue. I don't care what the achievement tracking sites say... it's NOT possible.
Beyond that, I hate games that make you invest hours and hours for any payout. If the first achievement you get is for finishing the game, something's wrong.
Also, we haven't seen the "Leaderboard position" achievement in a while, but it's worth repeating... id Software can go to hell for putting that in Quake 4.
This is the best of all the Achievement articles this week. The author does a thorough job of considering the utility of achievements, their affects on gameplay, and how that dictates the development of achievements.
This is my same argument for why achievements shouldn't reward you for playing the game: that's what the game is there for. Instead, achievements should be rewarding you for playing well and for rising from proficiency into mastery. They extend the depth of the game by offering optional, but worthwhile challenges for the player who has already finished the (these days, simplistic) game at its core.
I do question whether it's really necessary to have an entirely separate notion as an achievement. Couldn't games implement the same sort of idea within the challenges and objectives that make up the game? Consider World of Warcraft: there are hundreds of quests, where almost no quest is required, but some make up the central narrative of the story. Why not provide a path from beginning to end that is simple enough, but provide additional paths and content that are of a more challenging level? Casual players can play through the main story and feel satisfied, while the more hardcore can explore the rest of the content, rewarding them with more content and bigger challenges. It even provides the social posturing that comes with mastery -- you can brag to the noobs about all the cool raids that you had to practise for weeks to complete and all the amazing sights, sounds, and loot to be found. Not only will they be envious, they'll be driven to become masters themselves.
I agree with the fears that achievement-whoring becomes a part of the overall game. Players know about the achievements and the cool new toys that come with completing them. Even the most casual player who just wants to play a game is going to feel ripped off that he can't "play the whole game" because he doesn't want to devote hours on end to completing achievements. There will always be those who want everything for nothing -- it's the way of our society these days. Even TF2, where the unlocked weapons aren't any more powerful than the originals, leaves people in the cold when they can't use the items until they work for them. It essentially leads to a caste system, where those with more time and determination are allowed to enjoy more of the game.
There are ways to deal with the "achievement-whore" problem. Several people have made achievement maps for TF2. While these may be frowned upon by some (it's where all the achievement-whores do their thing), the truth is that it allows people to work strictly on achievements, keeping them from interrupting those playing the core game. Without achievement maps, those same people who really want to get achievements would be in the main servers, chasing down achievements instead of going after the map objectives.
I wholly appreciate the example of locked characters/tracks/weapons in racing and fighting games as bad examples of achievements. There's nothing more insulting after spending $60 on a game to be told that you have to work before you can play the game that you just purchased. It also makes game reviews less reliable. Inevitably, reviewers don't have time to unlock everything and play beginning to end. The result is two options: play a small subset of the game with only a few characters and maps, or use a code to unlock everything and miss the experience of having to unlock everything legitimately. It creates two mutually-exclusively paths, resulting in only half of a thorough review. We see similar problems with reviews of MMOs: the first 10 levels are fun, but everything after that is repetitive and boring. But reviewers don't get a chance to make it past the first 10 levels, so they give glowing reviews, whereas consumers throw the game out after a couple weeks of playing it.
Personally, I love the achievement system. My favorite example is as you put up, TF2, because to be honest I think they did a great job with it. You can sit down, and get back up an hour later with handfuls of achievements done, and most of the time you can really enjoy it in the mean time, they have a lot of humor, and they're a great way to show off some thought and skill. I've had every batch of achievements cleared through entirely a week after they come out... Because TF2 is by far my favorite Online-Multiplayer FPS, and these new pack updates keep giving me more reason to play.
"Achievement farming" tends to ruin this, but, for the most part I don't care- I do the achievements for fun, and even if no one else can tell I did them legitimately, I know, my friends know, and that just feels nice.
Well I have mixed opinions, but I guess I'm part of the old guard. I game to have fun, and while getting some of the achievements can be fun, they are usually meaningless, and at the end of the day I see little reason to invest hours and hours in some of this stuff.
I guess it's ultimatly like high scores on old arcade machines, there is generally no point to most of them.
Speaking for myself I think multiplayer is annoying, I tend to stay away from online multiplayer outside of MMORPGs. Achievements and the like, especially on unpoliced enviroments, simply lead to people being jerks. Say I want to play SF IV online, the existance of achievements encourages people to ditch from losing matches, or put opponents who beat them on "avoid" lists for "poor sportsmanship). It was even worse with say Soul Calibur IV.
I'm not really into competitive shooters (Fighting games and RPGs are more my thing, even if I'm not spectacular in either) so I can't really comment on the mechanics of say TF 2, but I do know that achievements and "rankings" have basically ruined fighting games as far as I'm concerned.
Maybe it's simply that I like to play a lot of differant games as opposed to sinking hundreds of hours into one game (except for a few very rare RPGs), but I also tend to agree that some of the "grind" achievements are misplaced, and inserted into the wrong generes of games.
I also tend to think that rewarding players for achievements is the way to go. I can see where it's a problem in competitive shooters, and to an extent with fighting games where the unlocked characters seem to be unbalanced in one way or another.
As someone who MOSTLY plays single player, I for example appreciated the achievements of Mass Effect the most since they actually did things if you ever wanted to play the game again.
When I play WoW, I tend to like the achievements there, and there IS a payoff for some of them, but I feel that it's seriously borked. For example if you collect 50 Static Pets which you can probably do from the local AH assuming you've got gold, you get a new static pet as a reward. Kind of cute I guess. Simply running through all the zones nets you a Tabard. A few achievements earn you titles. However most of these achievements are relatively simplistic compared to say wiping out all wings of Naxxaramas, or some of the specific requirements needed to get achievements from various bosses.
This is not to say that Naxxaramas is all THAT hard for raiders per-se, but ultimatly when I killed Kel'Thuzad the first time (both 10 and 25 man versions) I felt a sense of achievement. For that the game tossed me a few points and a notation, which is anti-climactic compared to actually getting something for easier achievements.
At any rate, I'm rambling. I guess my overall opinion is that there is no point to multiplayer achievements until they find some way of controlling the "human factor" in multiplayer (so far this only exists to any extent in MMOs). I tend to think that Achievements in general should come with some kind of payoff, and the harder/more spectacular the achievement the more impressive the pay off should be.
Ultimatly I feel that if they are going to reward a grind achievement (hunting down all these obtuse badges or flags or pigeons or whatever) there some be some in-game benefit to doing so rather than them simply existing for the achievement. Otherwise they might as well just award an achievement for amount of hours spent playing (which some games do).
-Achievements are goals
-Goals have the same frustration no matter what form they take
-Fun is what players want out of a game
-Losing constantly is frustrating, not fun
-Winning constantly is boring, not fun
Skill Balancers equalize pros and newbies so they simply have fun and can be laid on top of an already stable multiplayer game. These can be turned off for competitions.
-Team Fortress 2 uses achievements in an rpg leveling fashion instead of experience
-RPG leveling is addictive and unlocking new things is fun
-This idea is separate from achievements themselves and was combined with achievements in tf2
Killzone 2's system:
-start players with obvious, simple choices to avoid overwhelming them, meant to teach newbies
-pros are annoyed by this, they just want to compete immediately
-winning in killzone 2 unlocks everything faster
-call of duty 4's customization options have higher quantity than killzone 2; customization is more significant in call of duty 4
Instead of skill-balancing to avoid newbie frustration and pro boredom, developers have created pro-player-biased systems that allow good players to kill you 10x faster which is not fair or fun. Call of Duty 4's system is fake as all the abilities are too equally balanced to be worthy of unlocking. Give us everything from the start and skill balance for fun, and if you put rpg leveling in it make sure what we unlock is worth unlocking.
EDIT: I do enjoy achievements as they add new goals to accomplish that you would have had to think up yourself before. It is nice to rack up a score with them.
While the article was a good read, and I agree with your points on bridging the gap between the old guard and the new, I have to completely disagree with putting achievements into multiplayer games. I loathe games that do that, because they are achievements I will not likely ever get. I am not good at playing online competitively, and it is disheartening to have beaten a game and done everything that can be done, and still only have 75% of the achievements, because the rest are only unlockable online.
It gets really bad when said achievements aren't even creative; something like "Kill 10,000 enemies" is instantly a chore, and if it is a game where everyone plays extremely competitively, the only way to get the achievement is to first put in the time to be able to kill your enemies better than they can kill you, and THEN continue to grind for weeks or months on end. Similarly (but even worse, I think) is Final Fantasy 11's achievement for getting to level 75 IN EVERY CLASS. Ridiculous.
There are even achievements that are literally impossible to get now because they are online only - like the (somewhat) infamous games who have had their servers shut down, so you can't go online with the game at all. Not that one would want to buy any of those games now (I certainly wouldn't) but someone may have bought it, and now, down the road, find out that going back to finish the achievements on a game they started will never happen.
Games that are only for online play (like the PC version of TF2) get a pass on this for me, because if you bought it, clearly you are going to be playing it online. However, it greatly annoys me to have a lot of games with incomplete gamerscore because I don't have the time or money to play online and get them all.
I find this article raises an issue I have had with the Battlefield series. I always felt that Battlefield 2 raised the bar in online gaming by creating the commander. For those unfamiliar with the mechanic, at the beginning of a map whoever wanted to be the commander could cast their ballot. If you were the only one who wanted to become the commander then you automatically were assigned the role. If there were numerous people vying for the role, though, then the individual with the higher rank won.
I always found this mechanic to be fantastic. It 'hopefully' gave your team a leader who was more experienced and who could therefore give better direction. While it sucked if you wanted to be the commander it gave you a good reason to keep training. Hopefully you or the guy who beat you to the commanders seat would know when to tell you squad leaders to abandon a spawn point or to rally at some other location. You would hope he knew how to send up UAV's and when to hit the enemy with an artillery barrage. And on a good server, you would KNOW when the commander was doing his job, especially if you were a squad leader.
While the Commander mechanic had its failures - like a high ranked player who had never tried his hand and spend a couple matches learning how to command (sorry - that was me) it was still better than most.
In my opinion the above mechanic is an unspoken achievement. While i would prefer to have segregated a commanding rank from that of the fps side (commanders played from an RTS topdown view of the world) it still worked pretty damn well.
In a way, FPS games popularity has grown as a direct result of these unspoken or temporary achievements. Counterstrike had money as a reward for performing well. Rescue a hostage and complete the round - win some money. Just get the hostage to follow you - get some money. Shoot the hostage - loose money. It's like being a healer in an MMO. You may not have a great kill count but you made it possible to surivive the encounter.
I suppose the point is that now achievements aren't just rewards for doing something temporarily. Where as in Battlefield 2 you only knew that the high ranking guy spend a number of hours playing the game in Left4Dead you knew that some guy had beaten all 4 levels on elite or head shot the witch. In the end, I prefer an achievement system that gives recognition for doing something difficult not because you want fame but because that knowledge will allow another teammate to benefit from it. If i know someone is an amazing helicopter pilot I'm more willing to sit in the back seat. If i know someone is an amazing sniper, i'm more willing to back them up or take point.
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.
Achievements are fun to have, but I dislike the way TF2 tied weapon upgrades to them. There are even maps created specifically to farm achievements, because the upgrades are important to have. But once you have the upgrades, sometimes you regret having farmed for them because you don't get the satisfaction of unlocking them through normal play.
That was a great article. I agree with pretty much everything on there. I find achievements to be a great method of adding replay value to a game. For example, I would never bother trying to find every single ant lion grub in Half-Life 2: Episode 2, if there was not an achievement for it. On a second time through I spent extra time trying to listen and find all the little buggers (I still haven't got them all, one time I missed just one grub). In itself, this added its own little mini game or scavenger hunt, and it's totally optional, but the achievement gives me some incentive to try it.
I also agree on how the achievements can help and hurt like in TF2. I can agree with people on how having to get the achievements to get the weapons does hurt it somewhat but I feel like Valve is experimenting. For example, when the Medic update was released (,the first class update), one is required to obtain ALL of the special Medic achievements in order to unlock the last weapon. Since around the Pyro update (,the second class update,) they have lowered the amount of achievements needed to get each weapon.
...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...
I know what you mean, though I see it a little differently. I was able to get the "Medical Breakthrough" (,the uber demo one,) in dustbowl at the very first point, so that wasn't a problem for me but I did find ubering scouts and having an uber heavy punch people did feel like it was silly as scouts don't do much damage and as such almost never get ubered. I have almost never seen a scout be ubered with the exception of people trying for the achievement. Similar situation for the heavy, though he is more likely to be ubered, my problem with the achievement is that if Valve is using the achievements for what we should do, then they messed up on having the heavy punch people when he can do more damage at a faster rate with his mini gun. Other than that, I can agree with you completely on. (And I still don't have "Got a light?" because no spy just flicks cigarettes in a normal game.)
I believe Valve is trying to make the best use of achievements and its a shame its hurting a lot of players, but Valve does really seem to listen to its consumers, and I'm sure that they will use the best judgment in utilizing these updates. I personally would think that for each milestone, the player can choose exactly which of the three items they want to unlock first. This doesn't fix the problem for players who don't want the use of unlockables but I would think there is a way for a server to limit players to use only the original weapons, and if not, we should be asking Valve for that option.
I also believe in having, in some cases, very difficult achievements to get. Hell, if I ended up playing for the amount of time needed to get those Rome: Total War achievements you were describing, I would want a little something to show for it. This works best if its not something required for full content. Well that's all I wanted to say, again, great article, can't wait to read the next one.
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.
Similar situation for the heavy, though he is more likely to be ubered, my problem with the achievement is that if Valve is using the achievements for what we should do, then they messed up on having the heavy punch people when he can do more damage at a faster rate with his mini gun.
But when he's using the minigun he's nearly stationary. On the other hand, an ubered-heavy could go in and punch three snipers in a cluster slightly faster, with less chance of them escaping, and return to cover before the uber wears off. Some of these ridiculous achievements are to reward "you just had to be there" moments, and some of them are rewarding players for thinking outside the box.
I thought this was a well done article. Liked what it had to say and the way it said it.
But I read the comments and I can't help but think of my experience with Burnout 3: Takedown. I hate racing games. I'm terrible at them, and just don't have the time or energy to really become a master of them.
I got Burnout 3 because of some really good reviews, it was used, and some comments on Penny Arcade that said you were rewarded for everything.
And it's true! You finish a race, you get stars. Top 3, new car. You finish first, you get special cars. For practically every fucking thing you do in that game, you get some new bonus. It's small that bonus, but you get it. And so I kept playing, even going back to races trying to get in the top 3 so I could move on, unlock something new. I didn't have to finish first. Which is a huge relief to someone who just wants to play a game to have fun, not master it.
Getting rewards for just playing a game actually can help encourage someone who isn't good at the genre to keep playing it. Hell, I kept playing Gears of War on Hardcore because I got achievements for both Hardcore and Casual when I finished a segment. And maybe I became better at that game, but goddamned if I wasn't frustrated and hating the game when it was over. I finished it that way b/c I'd come that far, you know?
I would still like to do something with those points I get on XBL, or PSN, but sometimes it's just nice to get a pat on the back for finishing what everyone else considers normal play.
I do love achievments, but CO-OP achievments from games like Crackdown, Guitar Hero, and Halo Wars really get me mad.
Co-Op achievements are the reason I'm minus one friend. Literally, I actually murdered him. Point is, it's never my falt and everybody else needs to pay if I don't get an achievement.
This was another nicely written article Mr Zacny cheers. I especially enjoy it when you slide in bits and bobs such as getting achievements because they "are there" like the proverbial mountains.
Anyway, onto the topic at hand... Achievements: I like em! In some ways anyway.
I really think they do add an element of differentiation to the gameplay and goals without destroying the experience for everyone. I am a decent enough player at most games as many Escapist readers are but god I hate it when I buy a game with huge anticipation and at considerable expense and find it to be just plain brutal to play. Probably the first example of a game like that for me was Contra on the NES. I played it for hours with my mate and I think we only ever got past the first 3 or 4 levels on a few occasions. We certainly didnt get near the finish line! Other examples could include Ecco The Dolphin or (and I must admit I do actually like the following game) Shadow of the Colossus. HARD.
I said that we played Contra over and over but the reason was really that we didnt have all that many other titles to play. If I bought that game tomorrow I would probably be pissed off with it within a couple of days and sell it or let it rot for being the bastard tough waste of time it was. There are soooo many great titles available these days and I dont have the time to waste on being killed by the same ridiculously hard end of level boss 99 brazillion times anymore.
So coming to some kind of point, achievement systems (IF implemented well and thats a big IF I know) are really useful for allowing everyone to get into a game, yet add that element of real challenge thats often missing these days. That way if I really like a game then I can still have a proper bit of gaming to do, but people who are more casual or maybe not as into a particular genre are not risking throwing away $$$ all the time because the developer decided it was more important to give the fanboys a tricky challenge.
PS On the subject of tricky games, I still remember the warm glow of completing UFO: Enemy Unknown for the first time. I even named myself after the X-com orginisatio in honour of the game and my own glorious achievement! :-) They dont make em like that anymore! Perhaps sometimes a game should just be hard to actually finish I suppose....
TF2 works because it's a good game. Add achievements to a game with poor mechanics and it won't work.
It's still all about gameplay and achievements don't change that.
For multiplayer, dedicated servers are still the best solution.
For singleplayer the tried old difficult settings still work best.
Achievements are stupid, plain and simple. here is a reward for picking up a gun! or shooting a guy in the head in a shooter where you are suppose to shoot a guy in the head. Then of course are the silly 'challenge' achievements which only have a slightly higher merit.
This is a tricky topic to talk about though, the skilled players versus the non-skilled players and how they play together. Mostly because you can easily sound like a pompous jerk, without even trying.
I personaly and in all probability wrongly think that these systems not only hurt games but the people who play them. Lowering the bar and trying to even and encorage people who really just need to play the game and learn at their own pace with stepping stones allows players to be extreamly lazy. TF2 is super guilty of this.
Back in the day, I was not very good at counter-strike. but I learned where the snipers would be, how the weapons handled and how to work and communicate with my team because I wanted to win. Same as people who play chess learn allot of moves or those who play basketball learn how to shoot and play the ball.
TF2 does not require any of that, you never win, even when you win and it doesn't really tell you that YOU are losing even when you lose. it hits you up with feel good stuff like, best damage run, achievements, a found item etc.
A goal of a game is to have fun, I understand that. but I feel game developers are preventing gamers from becoming 'professional' in the same way that other recognized game mediums have.
Games company's see skilled players are the enemy while in other game mediums Skilled players are hero's and role models. You might suck, but you don't need a pat on the back or an artificial trophy for 'participating' in the game. You need to shut up, you need to watch and listen...and most of all, you need to learn.
Why are Game company's insisting that people who play their games don't need to learn anything? why does our society seem to promote this?
It makes me sound like a jerk, yes. but if you REALLY want to feel good about yourself...DO SOMETHING and stop letting a game give you things that really don't matter and handi-caps that slow you from 'learning' to play.
*edit* and just for good measure, TF2 is a horrible game. it makes me feel horrible and its complete anarchy and choas on maps with more then 24 players. There is no "Team" in team fortress two. I'm happy it makes others happy, but it doesn't hold a candle to the original and its a failure in my eyes...a cheap cash in and money generator for Valve that removed the spirit of team gameplay.
I think that it is important to note that many of the achievements in games these days are not an accurate reflection of skill by the players who accomplish them. Sure, there are some achievements that are genuinely difficult, but many of these achievements could be unlocked by anyone with enough time, dedication or even luck. Time, dedication and luck does not equate to skill.
For example, an achievement that say requires you to headshot 10 people in 10 seconds with X gun may seem like a difficult achievement, one that probably requires a bit of skill. For Joe, a skilled FPS gamer who picked up gun X and performed/undertook the achievement one time and first time under normal game circumstances, this achievement could be described as one achieved through skill. However, if we take Bob, a novice player playing under abnormal but ideal conditions for the achievement to take place (e.g. custom/achievement map), purposefully attempting to complete the achievement multiple times and only succeeding on the 8th attempt, we could easily say the achievement was not completed through skill. It would be more related to time, dedication and luck ... and even cheating, depending on how you look at it.
Personally, I have never liked achievements. To me they are a somewhat egotistic and narcissistic attempt at making players feel good about their actions, actions that are sometimes completely lacking in any kind of skill and often detrimental to their ability to play the game. Back in the day when games were actually hard, there were no achievements for the guy who finished a game on the hardest difficulty, and no ability to compare achievements with others in vain attempts at evaluating their own self worth. To me, achievements are almost as bad as games that make players feel their game statistics are important. All this crap about having more game points, a positive kill:death ratio, % accuracy and high kill count are often major misrepresentations of someone's ability to win games. You may have excellent statistics, but you could have contributed to the defeat of your team more than the people you consider to have played worse than you. You, who hid at your sniper's vantage, killed only 4 people with 100% accuracy and died 0 times ... in the last 30 mins VS the guy who killed 10 guys, died 20 times due to being outnumbered in every engagement and slowly lost objectives due to not having adequate support.
I guess what I am trying to say is that there is this association with achievements and skill that I think is wholly untrue. There are some achievements that are difficult, that time dedication and luck can grant you access to, but making a strong distinction between that and actual player skill (e.g. consistently useful rocket jumping, high reflexes, good hand eye coordination, micro etc) I think is very important not only for the gaming community, but for developers as well. Only then will achievements actually denote skill in games.
Time + Dedication + Luck != Skill
People who care about achievements will spend the time getting them and are already skilled players--my mum isn't going after a high gamerscore. People who don't, won't bother ever looking at them.
Who gained anything?