Chungking Espresso

360 Achievers Widget

Posted in Projects, Schoolwork by Simon Ferrari on March 23, 2009

I had to prototype a Dashboard widget for Janet Murray’s “Designing the Medium” class. Since I’m an achievement whore constantly trying to justify to others the value I see in achievements as a new, generalizable reward structure in games and as a meta-game, I hacked together something that would host the kind of discussion around achievements that I’ve been looking for.

The only existant 360-related widgets on Apple right now are Gamercard widgets (pretty simple, usually it just sets up a dummy Live account to redirect requests through and then shows you your Gamercard) and the 1337pwn Friends List widget (does about the same, a dummy account looks up information on Friends you enter into the widget and then shows you if they’re online and what they’re playing). This is what I came up with (oh and it actually works, if I’d just designed the layout in Illustrator it would’ve been a lot prettier, but it was my first venture into J-script):

360widget

Basically I wanted a widget on my Dashboard that would quickly retrieve information that I would usually have to search for for 15 minutes on an achievement site like 360achievements.org. The genre tabs on the top, the game icons on the left, and each individual achievement listed are all coded in slick Javascript (from Scriptaculous) that cascades when clicked – heavy credit goes to Bobby Schweizer, who showed me how to adapt some of his code for the project.When you switch between games, the widget will remember the last achievement you were looking at for any given game.

Everything from “Achievement Comments” down is a wiki. The back end isn’t fully implemented, because I’m not a hardcore coder. On the back there are some RSS feeds and a place to input your Gamertag to pull up your Gamercard. The basic idea is that the widget would read your Tag to see the games you’ve played, which would then grant you access to the wikis for the games you actually know something about.

My basic valuation of achievements is that they both parse games into meaningful units while also highlighting modes of play that might otherwise go ignored by players if they didn’t have an explicit, displayable reason to do so (the achievement). A good example of this notion is the 99 achievements for the Orange Box, which focused me toward playing numerous encounters in the games in ways that I wouldn’t have thought of myself.

Bring on the use-ability complaints, bitches! (here are some: my grid could use some work, the achievement list is a bit awkward and hard to differentiate, and I couldn’t figure out how to make the Javascript show you what achievement you’d selected)

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4 Responses

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  1. deckard47 said, on March 25, 2009 at 9:09 am

    This is pretty sweet. And you’re right about the Orange Box achievements driving us to explore new ways of playing. Except that Damn gnome. I refuse to cart all the way to the rocket.

    On a different note, sorry about being unresponsive L4D-wise last night. I have family over, and then tomorrow I’ll be heading to the West Coast, for more family things. Anyway, I’ll be back Monday, and then, _for real_ L4D.

  2. Simon Ferrari said, on March 25, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Thanks for the compliment! My teacher liked it, even though she didn’t really understand what the Hell was going on (I wasn’t explaining it well, in the lame 5-minute presentation format I had to work within).

    No worries about L4D. I haven’t been on as much this past weekend, and yesterday I got to do some awesome GoW co-op with Krystian from Game Design Scrapbook.

  3. Simon Ferrari said, on March 25, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Oh and the gnome was incredibly satisfying to finally finish. Then right after it’s done you have to do the “prevent a single building from getting ‘sploded” achievement, which was almost as annoying.

  4. Krystian Majewski said, on March 28, 2009 at 4:46 am

    That’s a cool tool! I especially like the additional features like tips and links for research and discussion. But maybe that’s only because you linked my post 😉


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