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Microsoft's achievement system that accompanied the release of the Xbox 360 is, perhaps, one of the most innovative additions to gaming in recent years. Love it or hate it, it's undeniable that the system has spawned new terms such as "achievement whore," and has changed the playstyle of many, many players. While the achievement system has its naysayers, it's also undeniable that the desire to increase your Gamescore and show off your achievements has increased the overall longevity and replay value of games for the people who care about such things --- even the crappiest game can be extended into tens of hours of play, just to watch a little number increase, should your personality be so inclined to feel satisfaction from that. For me, personally, I just love the feeling of conquering something I couldn't do or wouldn't do otherwise, such as Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe's Kombo Challenges. Even though the path to achieving the Kombo Challenges might not have been "fun," the feeling of completion and victory made it worth it, but it's a journey I wouldn't have started without the achievements in mind. For those who don't care, with the exception of multiplayer achievements (more on this below), achievements are optional and do you no harm, move along. In short, I'm addicted, and I would love nothing more than to see the achievement system expanded beyond the 360 into some kind of universal platform for all games, of all systems.
Imagine a kind of centralized (free?) achievement system that your 360, PS3, Wii, PC, and all future systems connected to. Utilizing the 360 template of 1000 points per game, 250 points per "arcade" game, suddenly your smashed windows in Smash Bros. Brawl would have some worth to your centralized gaming profile, rather than just being a series of trophies constricted to just Brawl itself, and your hundreds of hours spent in Sins of a Solar Empire wouldn't be an experience constrained to sitting in a dark room alone at night. The "leveling" system associated with the trophies/achievements is also an appealing idea. An amalgamation of what the 360 and PS3 have done together combined into a sleek and seamless achievement system that covers all games of all systems...that is my dream for one facet of the future of gaming.
This would call for an overhaul of what constitutes as an achievement and what doesn't. I think this write-up, http://www.videogamemedia.com/articles/editorials/2068 , exceptionally points out the flaws in the current achievement system. The key obstructions, in my view, are multiplayer achievements because these can negatively effect other players, i.e. getting stuck on the same team as someone who is exclusively using the Chainsaw to strive for that Chainsaw achievement. Other achievements are simply poorly made or laughable, such X-Men: The Official Game's last achievement, which is worth 50g and is unlocked when you unlock all the other 950g (getting an achievement for getting an achievement is not an achievement!). I think the "impossible" achievements should stay, but be relegated to a higher score that extends beyond the standard 1000g, i.e. killing 50,000 zombies would grant you an extra bonus 200g, unrelated to the standard 1000g completion. So this way the hardcore can still have their cake, while not penalizing the people who at least have something that resembles a life from being able to reach the 100% completion rate of 1000g.
What I want to see is one profile per person to track ALL gaming activity from this generation of consoles and on. With achievements being the forefront of this operation, it would be ideal to incorporate individual game statistics into this system as well, so that all of your stats for Halo 3 could be accessed from any system's menu or web browser at any time, and be compared and contrasted to your friends. As it stands now, just using Halo 3 as an example, how many in-game badges you've received, or how many melee kills you have, can only be viewed from Bungie's website. The data is constricted to that website only, so the only way to do a comparison with your friends is to sit the controller down, go to the computer, load up Bungie's site, and so on. Integrated access to this system from any console's menu would be much more convenient and seamless.
The fatal flaw with this idea is that, in the words of Tim Robbins, the corporations are all corporation-y, and as a result, they will never back down from their own systems of achievements/trophies/etc., and they will never cooperate to come to a common ground, a common system.
The bottom line is that achievements are on the rise; what Microsoft started has expanded to the PS3, World of Warcraft, and so on, and it will not stop there. I'd like to see all of these fragmented systems come together, once and for all, to give the individual player a universal recognition as a player of multiple games, rather than just one game or one system.
What do you think? I can understand apathy; after all, some people simply don't care about achievements at all. But for those who are against the idea of a centralized achievements system for multiple systems, I want to know why. For those who like this idea, critique it and expand on it. Would you pay money for a centralized gaming profile? What other features would you like to see?
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