First off, let me say I love achievements. The reason why I’ve moved from being a rabid PC gamer to a sell-out console gamer has a lot to do with the lusty lure of achievements. They change the way we perceive games, they give a lasting physical presence to the time that we’ve wiled away mashing those 4 colourful buttons on the controller.
However, in game design terms, they have to be vary carefully written. A single achievement can add hours of extra gameplay or completely break a game. Remy has already gone into this and I don’t have much to add, so go read his post for more opinion of this fact.
I just wanted to make a comment about those scummy, loathsome individuals who have taken the achievements as being the be-all and end-all of their gaming experience, and thus fucking it up for the rest of us (at least for online play). Those people who are gaming online and dropping out of matches, or refusing to play with people who won’t help them with their achievement hunt. This has effectively made me realise that these people should be contained and allowed to only interract with each other so that the rest of us can be rid of them. Here’s my proposal how:
Design a new controller for gamers with this mindset. I call it the iWin controller:
These people can now play online only against other owners of the iWin. It works in any game and the game mechanic is this: the first person to press the patented iWin button, wins. Achievements can be unlocked such as 6,000,000 points for winning. But only other owners of the iWin can see the achievements of other iWin owners. The ergonomic design also comes with a keyboard to allow people to boast about their ability with shouts of “I win!!1! lol!!!11”
Effectively we will quarantine all these gamers into a neat virtual sub-world of petty assholeness that is essentially invisible to the rest of us who want to enjoy our gaming time online.
All controllers will have a small thermonuclear device hidden inside that will detonate once sales of the device stop, thus adding chlorine to the gene-pool.