Do’s and Don’ts when Designing In-Game Achievements
I’ve been reading up on in-game achievements when designing games. Here is my summary.
- Achievements that challenge and benchmark players’ skills.
- Achievements that make players explore the game’s features.
- Achievements that inspire players to try new things.
- Achievements spread evenly throughout the experience.
- Clever and descriptive names for achievements.
- A few super-hard achievements (if they still make sense).
- Achievements that drive players into abnormal play styles.
- Achievements that are too easy to obtain.
- Achievements that reward failure.
- Impossible achievements.
- Achievements tied to points or high scores.
- Meta-achievements (e.g. get exactly 666 points, not more).
- A too-narrow window of opportunity for earning a certain achievement.
- Secret achievements – they can be looked up online anyway.
- Players will take the easiest route to an achievement, not necessarily the intended one.
- Achievements do affect the overall impression of a game – “player doesn’t have to take it” is not a valid argument.
- Multiplayer achievements are challenging to design, as “abnormal play styles” have a larger impact when involving other players.
- Console achievements are generally tied to specific goals, while casual achievements are easier to come by (e.g. play 20 times).
- It is not unusual for casual games to release new achievements each month.
Sources: “Unlocking Achievements: Rewarding Skill With Player Incentives” (Mary Jane Irwin, April 1, 2009, Gamasutra) and “Achievement Design 101” (Greg McClanahan, February 12, 2009, Gamasutra).