Let’s talk achievement points for a second because there’s something I need to get off my chest. This is aimed directly at game developers and whoever is the liason for said developers and the XBL team. What the hell is up with achievement point being 100% fucking impossible to get. Although there’s a site that offers tips and tutorials on how to get all 1000 points out of your game you either have to be a 14 year old shut in with 4 thumbs, unlimited bandwidth, a friends list 500 people strong and a constant IV supply of Red Bull, or some sort of fucking zombie gamer.

I like the concept of achievement points, I really do. I have a few myself as you can plainly see. It adds an extra little icing onto the cake you were already going to eat to begin with. I play video games for two reasons: A) for entertainment and/or some sort of “leisure sport” and B) to finish them to my satisfaction. Achievement points are like a 50% “street cred” and 50% “thank you for playing” in my eyes. I was already going to finish Mass Effect. It was on my to-do list. Getting 100pts for doing what I was already planning on was just a nice bonus.

What becomes bothersome is that points and accomplishments aren’t relative. For example, Guitar Hero 3. I’ve beaten Guitar Hero 3. How many points do I have out of the 1000? 70. I’m sorry, but beating a game should give you 700-900 points out of that 1000. Another example, Rainbow Six, I beat R6 in both modes, solo and co-op on HARD, played online quite a bit and I have a whopping 355 out of 1000 points. And the most ridiculous example as of late, Mass Effect. I finished Mass Effect, playing through what I felt was a healthy percentage of the side missions, and I’ve got 435/1000. Chip, who I know is a consummate and dedicated gamer, who probably did way more side quests than I did, only has 515.

The problem is realistic re-playability and, for a large percentage, online play. I know for a fact that I’m never going to go back and play Halo 3, Skate, Gears of War, and the like, online to the extent that I get all the unlocks. It’s impossible. I can see maybe being dedicated to a game, maybe two, but playing Halo 3 enough to earn the rank of “supreme douchlord” or whatever it is, and getting the measly 20 points for it requires the player to have absolutely no life at all. Same thing goes for offline games like Mass Effect. To get the other HALF of the points for playing the game would require not one, not two, but at least 3 complete game play throughs (40+ hours X 3) on Legendary. That’s retarded.

Average players will play a game once, strait through. Games with Co-Op might get 2 or 3 turns. Games with a large percentage of its action in multiplayer mode will get played until the next multiplayer game comes out if you don’t hang it up sooner.

If we are rewarding the playing of the game itself, shouldn’t the completion of the game warrant the majority of the points? Don’t make me go back through the game to collect flags/coins/items over and over again for a disproportionate amount of points. Some points sure, but not HALF.
Let me say that I have no problem with the existence of these achievements. I think it’s a handy tool developers can use to add a little replayability to a game but they should be worth something like 5 points and all but the most hard core of gamers should be insane enough to get them. I finish a game, I should have 950 points. If I really want to keep playing, and collect bullcrap items, then I can finish off those last few points.

Having a total completed game, beaten in multiple ways, yeild 200 points or less is an insult to the gamer. That’s like saying that really hard game you just beat was nothing. Nothing. Yup, you saved the universe, captured the castle, stopped the alien horde, here’s $0.25, nice job. It’s demeaning. “No, I saved the fucking planet, rescued the girl, killed the ultimate bad ass, it’s time for a friggin reward!”

I couldn’t tell you how pissed I was when I finished Gears of War, beat General Raas, saved the day… and got a pathetic 10 points for it. I’ve counted, and Gears has 57 possible achievements, 27 of those are online only. That’s insulting to the people who don’t want to pay for XBL.

What really really chaps my ass, and was the main reason for todays rant, is the existence of hardware specific achievements. Yup, I’m talking about the XBL Camera. It’s sad that game makers are forced by the Microsoft marketing department to put in achievements for this piece of crap. It’s 640×480 and it’s $40! All so you can get the last achievement in Burnout. What’s worse is that some of Burnout achievements are tied to OTHER people having this crappy camera. You get achievement points for collecting “mug shots” of other players when they lose. That’s bullcrap. Now, not only do you have to have one, now your friends do too? Come on.

I’m going to finish Burnout, it’s a great game and I’m playing it because I enjoy it (which is the point). But when I beat it, by rough estimate, I’ll have 600 points. There’s simply no way for me to get the rest. Getting the rest would require things like 8 player co-op racing (friends not internet strangers), a XBL camera, and 50 other people to have the same camera. That is never going to happen. Not ever.

That’s sad.

Achievement points are nice, but they’ve completely warped the sense of accomplishment you get for “beating” a game. I can see what they’re doing. They know the demographic they’re targeting and they’re egging them on. They’re saying “you think you’re good, you’re not that good, try harder”, and for a gamer, that’s like messing around with their sister. Something needs to be proven, someone needs to be beaten, contests need to be won. Gamers are competitors at their core. Saying “you’re not good enough to finish” is a slap in the face.

I’m glad that I’m (mostly) able to resist it. I’m glad I’m not concerned about going back and finishing games that I played months/years ago just for a few stupid points that literally mean nothing. There’s nothing in achievement points. They exist to give the gamer a sense of accomplishment. But if your sense of accomplishment is satisfied with merely playing the game to the best of your ability, then you have nothing to fear. Points are meaningless to you.

What worries me are the kids online right now, playing Halo 3 until 4am, trying to get those last points in, thinking that that’s what they need to do to “achieve”. Somewhere between Mario level 8-4 and today we’ve lost what it means to game in the first place. Stupid points have replaced good old fashion feelings of accomplishment when Bowser final dies. I would love to see a game in the future, for the 360, come out with 1 achievement, worth all 1000 points, just for finishing the game.

That would be perfect.