Chungking Espresso

Design Sketch: Achievement Wars

Posted in Gaming by Simon Ferrari on August 8, 2009

XBOX Live, or a website with access to achievement databases such as, should create a game where players can battle each other, Magic-style, with their achievements. Achievement structures in online services and consoles have reached saturation. World of Warcraft has them now, Flash sites have them, every console except the Wii has them, and Steam has them. There’s even an iPhone app called Booyah! that gives players achievements for writing journal entries about their real-life betterment experiences, such as hanging out with friends and exercising. Now that the market is saturated and achievements are a requirement instead of something that sets a platform apart, we need to figure out something to actually do with them. Because XBL already allows outside websites to draw on their databases for the instantaneous creation of GamerCards, like the one you see to the right, I think the 360 achievements would be the best system to build a Magic-style game upon. Those Playstation trophies you see on the card below the XBOX one? I had to add those manually. Sony needs to get its act together.

Here is the beauty of building a game on top of the 360 achievement structure: instead of having to buy booster packs to supplement your playing deck, you would just buy games. This would definitely drive sales on downloadable games. You could begin by designing the game around a limited number of disc and downloadble titles, perhaps the top sellers for the console. This would ensure the maximum number of potential players for the core game. Just as Magic releases subsequent evolutions of tournament-playable card series, you would slowly integrate new games into the system to drive the sales of those games. If the game were popular, devs would probably petition you to integrate their games into your system. At the least, it would fetch a decent amount of advertising revenue.

The most common cards in any trading card game are the energy, mana, land, resource, etc. cards. The most common achievement come from progressing through a game (ie: “You completed level 1!”). So these achievements would be where you drew your resource cards from. Instead of having elemental or color-based decks, you would base decks on the game genre. First-person shooters would be create an aggressive deck (Magic‘s red), simulation games a defensive deck (Magic‘s white), etc. Achievements for making certain numbers of kills against an eneemy type or with certain weapons would make your base creature cards. Obviously, the achievements renowned for their difficulty would grant hero cards. You could easily limit the number of these allowed per deck or in play. Achievements for executing tricky feats in games or finding secrets would become your spell and artifact type cards.

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2 Responses

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  1. Nick LaLone said, on August 9, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    In all my travels around Xbox Live, i’ve seen two people with a higher Gamerscore than yours. You would be king!

    That said, this game would drive sales a little i’d wager. I would play a game and complete it so I wouldn’t have to clean out single games. My game library would probably skyrocket.

    pitch it to Microsoft!

  2. Ben Medler said, on August 14, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Of course I like the idea, I had a similar idea for business cards at conferences. It’s not like you do anything with them anyways 🙂

    The main problem I see is the same problem with achievements in general, that of “cheating” to get achievements. Places like Booyah or Chore Wars which allow people to either set their own achievements or give them out based on self-reports would inflate the market. If you limit it to only 360 games then you still run into problem with players mining achievements or focusing on the players who can afford more games. Each of whom automatically become top players, no skill required.

    There are ways around this, base card strength on the percentage of players who have award the achievement; making rarer achievements more powerful. Turning the game into it’s own game, instead of a metagame, meaning players can purchase “achievement” cards without having to gather them in-game. Upkeep, tier systems or some other modifiers to help protect the weak from the strong players would be necessary too.

    Or, per your description, this can just be a game for power gamers, the ones who DO gain all the achievements in their games. Microsoft is not above offering premium products, as was the case with Windows Vista Ultimate. So perhaps it would work if they only based it on achievements awarded, it gives back to the players who do spend their money on 360 games and play through them all.

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