A Reply to Matt Helgeson (From Someone That Does Not Work In the Industry) - Demon Ragnarok Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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A Reply to Matt Helgeson (From Someone That Does Not Work In the Industry)

After reading Matt Helgeson's opinion piece in the latest issue of Game Informer, I felt the need to reply. But to be honest, I think I have a bit more to say than I can fit in a letter to the magazine. Let me preface this by saying that if you were dissatisfied with the achievement system, Matt, then I am happy for your fresh start.However, I found several issues with your opinion piece.

I think my biggest problem with your piece is a pervasive sense of ignorance to the sub-culture of the achievement hunter. Gearbox head, Randy Pitchford has made, in my opinion, has made the most accurate analysis of this subculture. In his belief, the achievement hunter is a new breed of hard core gamer.

For myself, achievements are a form of game within a game. While you see some as being mindless pats on the head, there are some that are difficult, show a level of dedication, and inevitably bring a new degree of depth and perspective to the game play.

Here are some great examples of challenging, and fun achievements:

Gunless Wonder (Alan Wake):

For this achievement,you must go from the start point of the final chapter, and make it all the way to the lake at the end of the level without firing a gun. The only items you can use are flares, flashbangs and utilize the occasional spotlight or vehicle. Almost the entire time you are being chased by taken and without the ability to fire, this achievement is very hectic and adds a whole new level of fear to the experience.

Granted, it adds nothing in the way of story, but it is still a fun and challenging way to experience this game.

Brass Balls (Bioshock):

For this achievement, you must survive Rapture, on the hardest difficulty, and with respawns turned off. This means that if you die at any time (and it's quite easy to be killed by a big daddy), it is game over. Again, it adds nothing (outside of a degree of realism) to the story, but is a great challenge and can prove to be a lot of fun.

There are plenty more achievements out there that are fun and challenging even if they add nothing to the story.

Another point that I completely disagree with is your assessment that of achievement leader boards and your belief that the majority of those gamers either cheated or farmed their achievements on lesser titles. You continue on to say in your closing that you would rather go online and test your skills against others. However, the online games that you would rather test your skills on have glitches that people exploit, and in the case of games that unlock more abilities as you play more (i.e. Modern Warfare 2), people boost to give themselves an advantage. I fail to see where there is a difference.

Your examples of achievements that you like are also questionable. Every one of them were things that you, as someone who enjoys being engrossed in the story of your games, regardless of an added achievement. I think suggesting that developers should make more achievements like this is fairly dubious as it means you would have to make no changes to the way you play in order to receive achievements.

Finally,there is the achievement hunting communities. If you have never utilized a website like True Achievements, it might be difficult to grasp a community created to bring gamers together and set up gaming sessions on some older titles. This means an extended life for games that people might not have been able to get to right away.This also gives publishers incentive to not shut down servers on titles prematurely. These sessions are dedicated to the pursuit of achievements, but it is something that we as a community on Game Informer Online have been unable to do even with newer titles.

In the end, I can see where you are coming from with your opinion. However, I think there is much more to achievements than you may be willing to give credit for.

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