Article: How To Design Effective Achievements

The Cake Is Not A Lie: How To Design Effective Achievements
Lucas Blair [2011]

This is a really good article about something that everyone likes to add to their games: achievements/trophies/medals.

The author gives interesting advice about what to do and what to avoid when implementing a reward system in your game (of course, this is mostly the author's opinion, which means that nothing must be taken as complete truth, but it's nice as a starters guide).

The article addresses the following topics:
  • Measurement vs Completion Achievements
  • Expected vs Unexpected Achievements
  • Achievement Difficulty
  • Achievement Notifications
  • Achievement Permanence
  • Negative Achievements
  • Incremental and Meta-Achievements
  • Competitive and Non-Competitive Achievements

I agree with most of his conclusions, like "Use measurement achievements instead of completion achievements to increase intrinsic motivation through feedback" The only one that I disagree a little bit is the negative achievement one.

He says that negative achivements like "You died 100 times, congrats!" are detrimental to the player's experience, I think that depending on the game, they can be really fun. For example, in a game like Super Meat Boy, it would make sense because you will inevitably die a few thousand times before you complete the game. Another game where I've encountered negative achievements is Amorphous+. I got the "Killed 100 times" award and the "Killed in 10 different ways" award. I didn't found those achievements as adding insult to injury, but more like a "well, at least I got something". Plus, it added a little bit of humor to the gameplay.

I don't think every game out there could pull this off, but when they do, it's really cool.

All I'm saying is that if it makes sense, including negative achievements can be fun, but they could still backfire if not handled with care for the reasons stated in the article.

Read the whole article:

Blair, Lucas (2011). The Cake Is Not A Lie: How To Design Effective Achievements. Accessed in 3/jun/2011 from

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