My Achievement Philosophy
I’m an achievement whore. Kind of. For my Master’s thesis I plan on doing a comprehensive study of existing achievement structures in games, generalizing the types of achievements that pop up across games of similar genres or audience targets. This would also do some work toward establishing the difference between a good set of achievements for a game versus a poor one. I’ll write more on this later; this post is about how I go about getting achievements on 360 games.
I have a very specific ethos when it comes to achievement gathering. I don’t play any game that I don’t want to play (I nabbed the 1000 in Avatar because I was bored and there was nothing good to rent at the time). I don’t play sports games or children’s games. I don’t boost online achievements (with the exception of Steppin’ Razor on Halo 3). I’m not a game completionist, unless I own a game and like it one hell of a lot. Because I have a lot of schoolwork and a social life, I don’t like wasting time getting achievements or playing the same game for too long.
My basic strategy is to expose myself to as many of a game’s options and experiences before moving on to another; therefore, I have a kind of min-max strategy for achievement scoring. I will play a single-player campaign once, on the hardest difficulty that I can manage. I will also play any multiplayer content that a game has, as long as the networks aren’t so bugged out that I get fed up and ignore the online content altogether. When I play a game’s campaign, I will look at the achievements beforehand and nab any of them that I can figure out as I go through. I will stop at points in the game to grind for a “kill x numbers of dudes with x weapon in one blast” kind of achievement. I won’t follow step-by-step walkthroughs unless completely baffled by a puzzle (like one time dilation puzzle in Braid). This means that I tend to avoid achievements such as “find every x in this huge game map we’ve created to hide x in.” For multiplayer achievements, I will look at the list before playing to know what I’m aiming for. I will play online content for a game until I’m bored with it. This means that I’ve never gotten any “10,000 online kills” or “reach General rank” achievements. I will go out of my way to kill people in particular ways if it will garner an achievement.
This pretty much sums up my method. It leads to a minimum of time wasting and frustration, and since I move through games pretty quickly I’ve still managed to rack up a respectable gamerscore (with an average of 600 points or so per game). I think the restriction of not playing anything I don’t want to just for achievements is key here. I’m not really impressed when I see people with a ton of children’s games under their belts. This is not to say that I don’t respect players with 200,000-odd gamerscore… as long as they don’t use save states. I’m not really one to judge the amount of free time people are willing to commit to playing video games. I just personally choose to pursue my achievement obsession with a critical distance and a mind for not wasting too much of my own time.