Achieving the Unachievable
All different kinds of arguments have been made both for and against global in-game merit systems (i.e. Xbox’s Achievements or PS3’s Trophies). I don’t think they will go away anytime soon and, personally, I sorta like them, but, their continued success all boils down to their design quality. Some of them are both fun and interesting and others are just plain stupid. A few enthusiast have taken it upon themselves to write-up a few guidelines for designing better achievements (a link evades me), but that discussion is for another post. This post is about earning them. And I’m not talking about the whorish form. I’m talking about earning the achievements that truly fit their name.
Recently, Robert Bowling dropped a few “Call Of Duty4″ stats in his blog. The last on the list was the following:
“2.8%, or 283,632 people have completed Airplane on Veteran difficulty.” (via Xbox Live)
For those of you who don’t know, that’s the “Mile High Club” Achievement. I don’t know how many points it is worth or what kind of trophy it is, and it doesn’t matter. Only 283,632 people have earned it out of about 10,000,000. There are about 500 videos on YouTube of people showing off their conquest or trying to teach others to do so (Even one guy showing himself fail miserably with an M. Night Shyamalan style finish). If you manage to snag this achievement, you might as well break out the escargot and a bottle of Dom Pérignon, because you, my friend, have achieved.
Excessive gamerscores and trophy counts don’t necessarily indicate an elite achiever - the integrity is tied to a handful of status-defining achievements that are based, 99.9%, on the player’s skill. However, skill alone won’t even be enough for most people. These rare beasties require an advanced level of dedication and perseverance and because they are borderline impossible, and whomever acquire them are truly special. The threat of impossibility is what drives them to rise to the challenge. Nothing is more satisfying than the assuagement of completion after hours, days, weeks, or even months of frustration and humbling defeat.
These are a few of which I would consider for this elite achievement category:
- “Ninja Gaiden 2″ - Way of the Master Ninja (Complete this incredibly difficult game on the hardest difficulty)
- “Mega Man 9″ - Invincible (Complete the game without dying…Yea, right.)
- “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09″ - Medalist (10 Under Par on Tour Pro difficulty. Practice makes perfect.)
While writing this, I found myself drifting into reflection of my own achievement status. I cringed at the sight of my +20k gamerscore as I realized I am seriously lacking any superior achievements. So, I embarked on my journey for mile high vengeance and after two and a half hours…Success: Initiating swagger…
Any other recommendations for achievement earning magnificence?