Former lead designer at BioWare (Dragon Age: Origins, Neverwinter Nights). Creator of Raiders of the Serpent Sea.

6 Comments

  • Mordi Peshkess

    If we’re already on the subject…What are your views on Achievements and Trophies?¬†

    Personally I see them as a natural¬†evolution¬†of that “High Score” meta game. I just don’t think developers have been using them right at all. Some get them, most don’t.¬†

  • Brent Knowles

    Yep, I like Achievements and Trophies. I think they’re great for measuring progress and comparing progress. They can also be useful to encourage repeat playthrus or to encourage play coverage.

    If setup smartly they can also be useful to developers to get a feel for how the game is being played — which can be beneficial and dangerous, depending on how it is used.

    I think developing achievements is still an area of growth for the industry, so I definitely see how some devs could be doing them wrong. I’m curious, are there some titles ¬†that you feel are doing them really well?

    I’m liking XCOM’s¬†achievements¬†personally, but then I’m really enjoying the game too so I suspect this goes hand in hand a bit. I have went out of my way to try and get achievements in XCOM, which I haven’t really done before.

  • Mordi Peshkess

    I just got Xcom myself. 59 minutes in and I’m¬†still¬†learning the game…LOL…That takes me back man. I love the opening mission where they pretty much¬†eviscerate¬†most of the squad. Can’t wait to do some MP with my buddies. I don’t want to sound too front but Feel free to add me on steam if you want: The_Voided (I know it sounds Emo…SuperJew was taken).¬†

    *Long post coming so excuse my bad grammer. It’s 5 am here and my insomnia is on “max settings” .anyways , back on subject.

    I think it really is a matter of how you implement the achievements. When it started, developers (mostly Japanese) were showing signs of having a really tough time with them. I think only in the past 2 years developers started really getting how to implement them right.

    To answer your question; I really liked what Quantic Dream did on Heavy Rain (I can’t stress enough how much I love that game. If you ever get a chance Brent then please play this game) and how they implemented the trophies, which was a¬†genius¬†decision on their part and frankly I am¬†surprised¬†developers didn’t do this sooner. Also¬†amazes¬†me how nobody is using that concept. What they did basically did it that as you play the game you got no notification¬†whatsoever¬†regarding the trophies. Only at the end of the chapter you saw which trophies you got according to your actions. They did it in order to have the player’s gaming session flow naturally and not be dictated by the “hunt for trophies” which, in my¬†opinion,¬† can ruin a game for you sometimes. Also, a lot of the trophies were hidden when going through the list so you either had to play the game and pick different actions or had to resort to go online to look them up.

    Another game that I thought implemented the trophies right was a game I think you heard of, Dragon Age Origins. I liked how the trophies (yes I played it on the PS3 but in my defense I did not have a gaming PC at that time) felt like they were implemented around the story and not the other way around. True they were the usual “Complete this such-an-such action” but you guys created a compelling enough world that I wanted to play through every origin story and experience every romance (except Zevran. Not because he was gay but because that character just creeps me out. Excuse my language but he comes off as a guy who would *bleep* a person in the ass and not have the common courtesy to give him a reach around). The trophies I got not because I was specifically going for them but because I wanted to explore everything the game had to offer.

    To me where that concept fails is on MP. I can’t tell you enough how many time a good MP session got¬†completely¬†FUBAR because some¬†schmock¬†was going for some meaningless points. However, when implemented right it can actually encourage team work.

    My other issue with trophies and¬†achievements¬†is that they don’t really offer anything beyond the point it gives you. Why not have them unlock extra items in the game, or have them unlock extra features on the game disc, like developer’s¬†commentary¬†or extra video¬†featurette, or extra hidden levels where the player can just mess around with. It’s a really wasted potential if you think about it. Not many games do it. The one that really comes to mind is the God of War games where you unlock extra suits and¬†video¬†easter eggs by¬†completing¬†challenge¬†arenas. Even something as¬†trivial¬†as an extra clothing item for you main¬†character¬†can go a long way in terms of player-to-developer relationship. At least that’s what I think.

    Man that was long.

  • Brent Knowles

    Wow, thanks for the detailed reply!

    I understand what you are saying: having the trophies unlock extra play/items makes them more appealing. That makes sense. I can’t think of too many games that do that… I know one of the Transformers games did. As you got achievements you unlocked old episodes of the cartoon and vehicle skins, I think.

    And I hadn’t considered how annoying the hunt for achievements might be in multiplayer games as I don’t play MP. ¬†But that could be really frustrating.

    Again, thanks!

    Take care,

     Brent

  • Mordi Peshkess

    Anytime. 

    I forgot to include an example of bad trophies and it’s in what considers one the greatest games this generation; Uncharted 2. I don’t know if you played it but the game is just such a delight. It’s one of those games that makes you want to wake up sunday morning and sneaking to the living room in your undies to play while everyone is still sleeping. Anyways, great game,¬†horrible¬†trophy implementation. You went around the level¬†collection¬†“treasures” that added nothing to the story, offered no reward (save for the trophies they got you), and didn’t even have a meaningful short background story. The rest of the trophies also felt as inane.¬†

    It just saddens me that so many gamers these days are about the Achievement or Trophy. They will play¬†literally¬†the crappiest game you can think of just to have the points. They lost the main factor that makes games so special, FUN! They don’t even enjoy those game but they will play them anyways.¬†

    Sad really. 

    On the subject of trophies rewarding the player with in game contant. I know that lack of it is not a problem as artists create tons of material for the designers and programmers. how hard is it to incorporate them into the game and is it even cost efficient?

    Thanks again. 

    Back to killing aliens. They are kicking my butt. Any pointers? lol

  • Brent Knowles

    Thanks for the further details. I haven’t played Uncharted 2(I have the first but never finished it).

    I see Achivements as an extra layer and am surprised that players would play games they don’t enjoy just to collect them! (Though I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, I guess).

    As for killing aliens… I haven’t been doing too good myself. The only tip I’ve picked up is to stun more aliens in the early game ¬†(even more than what you need for interrogation) so you can collect their weapons instead of paying to build them yourself. And launch lots of¬†satellites¬†early.

    – Brent

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