Make Your Achievements Relevant
Posted on Fri Nov 18 2011 10:00:22 GMT+0000 (UTC)
A couple of weeks ago, the Playstation Store released the original Crash Bandicoot 1, 2 and 3 for free to their Plus members. Being a member, I couldn't help but take this opportunity to play Crash 1, in particular, as it is probably the most thoroughly I've ever played a platform game. I have to say, it is really refreshing to return to some of your loved childhood games and see them through the lens of a developer.
In particular, one moment from Crash Bandicoot really resonated with me, almost like a wake up call, which I have captured via iPad video camera (sorry for the TV filming):
What we are seeing above, is a friendly reminder at the end of the level of what you missed along the way in the form of crates falling on Crash's head. In case you haven't played - collecting all the crates on each level earned you a gem and every gem was another step in the path to an alternate ending. Some levels earned you special gems that were needed in order to get all the crates on other levels.
What really struck me about this game was the time the developers had taken to deeply integrate their achievements into the gameplay and story. Looking at it from the perspective of what really hooked me on the game as a child was just how relevant getting all those crates had been to me.
Achievements - Old School vs. New School
You may have noticed I'm talking about a 15 year old game that doesn't have achievements in the modern sense. That is, Crash Bandicoot didn't assign you arbitrary points that accumulated in a central system across all games which you then shared with your friends. As far as I see it, these are two different achievement styles, both intended to give the player a sense of accomplishment and add to replay value. The real difference is that one takes planning and effort while the other can be added on a whim to any game. As a result, one type resonates with gamers and the other just feeds the achievement addicts.
Achievements For Everyone vs. For Addicts
By taking the time to plan and better integrate achievements into a game's story and gameplay - we are creating replay value that is relevant to everyone. By taking the time to only add achievements skin deep, we are only creating replay value for the achievement addicts - those obsessed with completeness of everything. These people are willing to jump through your hoops and grind for results but they aren't a good representation of the larger population of players.
iOS Success Stories
Think about games that have well integrated achievements and how it impacts replay value. Two successful (slightly similar) iOS examples I can think of are Tiny Wings and Jetpack Joyride. Tiny Wings gives you a few missions at a time and slowly levels your nest up - increasing your multiplier and final score potential. Jetpack Joyride lets you do side missions and collect coins in order to buy costumes and items to improve your chances of travelling further. Both of these games let achievements have a direct impact on gameplay and even impact the score. They both also work upon dead simple gameplay yet deliver incredible replay value.
So when planning your next game, think about how you might deeply integrate achievements for better relevance -- I know I will be.