The Post-Production Continued
“News? Well ghee bud, news is anything. News is everything! Rumour, conjecture, tidbits, sound bytes, speculation, copy/paste. Hell, whatever scores us hits man. And, of course, whatever takes us doctors of journalism the least amount of time to write!” – actual games journalist.
Achievements are a last hoorah caught in a no man’s land between The Production and The Post-Production. There’s no point worrying about achievements during The Production of your game, consider them instead the stepping stone between these two glorious checkpoints on your gallant quest for riches and fame.
It is extremely important to get achievements right. In today’s gaming world, achievements are perhaps the most important aspect of game making after multi player and graphics. Good achievement etiquette is essential if you want to satisfy The Whores (and you most definitely do!)
What is achievements?
Achievements are little square awards handed out to the player when he completes a level or presses start on the menu screen. They are an evolution of, say, the statistics screen or the classic leaderboard. Where, in the past, merely the act of collecting 100 hidden packages in Grand Theft Auto or attaining rank number one in the world on Guitar Hero was enough to satisfy the gamers’ thirst for self-worth, in the contemporary computer gaming sphere the gamer must be explicitly rewarded else he will not play your game.
Accompanying the little square award is a number of G-units that contribute to a gamers’ overall tally of G-units. The more G-units he has, the bigger his “e-penis” and the more he can brag to his inferior clique of friends. It is a well know fact that Alpha Males have the most achievement points and will be the first to be invited into the secret nuclear bunkers when the doom-clock strikes 12.
Why bother with achievements?
Achievements are a powerful tool; gamers will actually waste entire days chasing achievements, even in games that suck a hairy dog nipple. They will grow fat and lazy, accumulate enough cholesterol to kill an adult orangutang, develop acute social-retardation and forego the basic principles of human hygiene just for those 4 G-units! Basically, even if your game sucks, you can still sell a lot of copies if you get the achievements spot on.
But what constitutes an achievement? Well, anything! Anything that takes a single iota of effort is an achievement. Reward the unspectacular; cause the mediocre to feel grand and your game will be a smash hit!
It’s generally a good idea to include plenty of online achievements as well as lots of really annoying ones that take months to get. Be sure to include an achievement that rewards the player for playing 18 years in the future; that way they definitely won’t sell your game on the black market! Also include achievements worth 0 G-units for playing on certain days of the year and easily missable achievements that force the player to play through your game at least eleven times.
The ultimate secret to successful achievement implementation is actually quite similar to the grounding principles of successful multi player making. Create incremental achievements that players are constantly working toward. XXX kills with the shotgun is a great example because while the gamer feels as though he’s making progress towards something erroneously deemed an “achievement”, he’ll subconsciously want to continue playing your game regardless of whether or not he’s actually having any fun. And he probably won’t be! This inexplicably dumb feeling can be augmented further still if you include verisimilitude-shattering progress bars that pop up on the screen whenever the player reaches a milestone towards that achievement. “Oh golly”, the player will think, “only 254,986 more kills with the wrench to go!”
Here are some suggestions of surefire hit achievements you could put in your game, complete with their worth in G-units.
i. Complete the first level (5 G-units)
ii. Complete all levels on super-hard difficulty (6 G-units)
iii. Complete all levels again on super-duper-easy difficulty (7 G-units)
iiii. Complete the game (11 G-units)
v. Complete the game again on super-hard difficulty (15 G-units)
vi. Complete the game again on super-duper-easy difficulty (16 G-units)
Pro-tip: force the player to complete your game on all 3 difficulties if he wants the achievements. None of this “stacking” business.
vii. Get 10,000 kills with the pistol (5 G-units)
viii. Get 100,000 kills online with the crowbar (1 G-units)
ix. Get 100,000 kills online with the grenade launcher (300 G-units)
x. Get the “good” ending (10 G-units)
xi. “Get the “bad” ending (10 G-units)
xii. Kill 1,000,000,000,000 enemies in single player (2 G-units)
xiii. Play online for 400 hours (5 G-units)
xiv. Play the computer game online on December 25. 2048 (200 G-units)
xv. Press start on the menu screen (300 G-units)
xvi. Leave the game on pause for 72 hours (400 G-units)
xvii. Watch the unskippable, 2 hour long credit sequence (800 G-units)
xviii. Buy some DLC (1000 G-units)
xix. Complete the entire game on 4-player co-op on super-duper hard difficulty with nobody taking any damage or pressing pause all between the hours of 3am and 7am on 25/12/12. (0 G-units)
Pro tip: If your game is really shit then just have 5 really easy achievements. That way, Whores will buy your game just for the easy G-units!
Here is a possible achievement list I mocked up to showcase some of the good achievement etiquette we spoke about earlier.
The Face Book and Tweeter Integration
Nobody truly understands the internet. A while back we believed that it was primarily a breeding ground for information and pornography; a place to go to either relax or plagiarise. Now, you can do your grocery shopping on the internet, watch live executions, stream pornography instantly (while watching live executions) and lose your job for posting dumb-dumb comments on Tweeter about how the people who pay your salary are big stinking apes.
Tweeter and the Face Book are what social scientists (aka not real scientists) call “Social Medias”. Effectively, they act as a metaphorical megaphone for retards and racists to blurt balderdash about how boring their lives are and how better the world would be if The Middle East was reduced to a smouldering crater and the immigrants were sent back to Africa.The Face Book is a terrible thing that instils paranoia and fear and a false sense of self-worth into everybody who uses it.
The Face Book and Tweeter are mostly used as a big communal vomit bucket that lets mankind heave hefty chunks of verbal diarrhea out into public. It’s loud and offensive and mostly useless, but somewhere in amongst the wild frenzy of jibber-jabber and pointless tripe, computer games makers have found a neat way of getting free publicity! So Tweet lots.
With The Face Book, just by ticking a box your players can spam millions of other Face Books with autobot-comments like “Johnny Bravo is playing Deep Space Butt Monkeys 7!” Of course, having read that, all Johnny’s friends will inevitably rush out and buy Deep Space Butt Monkeys 7! They certainly won’t delete him as a friend or call him a fudge-nugget in the comment section.
The same effect can be had with Tweeter but there are additional “apps” that work in association with it. For example, Raptr automatically informs people on Tweeter which games your fellow Tweeters have been playing over the last 24 hours. Cor! Fascinating! Other apps even inform the inter-sphere which achievements their buddies have earned. And gamers actually dedicate time to use these. It is free publicity that doesn’t require even a dash of effort on your behalf. You do not need to understand it. Do not attempt to understand it. Merely respect it.
Today, we understand less about the internet than we did ten years ago. Is it sentient? We can’t be sure. Is it capable of wiping out the human race? Perhaps. We know it’s contributing greatly to the downfall of mankind, inflating levels of stupidity among human beings as well as offering a heightened, utterly false sense of self-worth to all that use it. It is, basically, an infinite landfill site but us computer games makers have carved a tidy little niche in this Information Super Motorway and you’d do well to take advantage of everything here before humankind is sucked into a stinking black hole filled with its own excrement and inanity.
A visual representation of The Tweetersphere:
Once you’re waiting patiently for your game to release at number one in the Christmas charts – and polishing off that DLC – you can unveil what is known in the industry as a computer game demo. This is short for computer game demonstration. It is very important that your computer game demonstration conveys how awesome, exciting and innovative your computer game is. This is particularly important if you’re releasing between September and December when FIFA Soccer 12 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare always come out. You’ll win better Metacritic scores than both of them if you follow these simple rules:
i. Ensure the demo level is the tutorial level from your game
I cannot emphasise the importance of this. Gamers do not want to experience your game at the height of its brilliance; they want to know all about your characters and which button lets them roll backward whilst they’re curled up in the fetal position.
Make sure you hold the player’s hand throughout the tutorial demo. Players get scared when they experience something new. Include lots of on-screen text instructions that they can’t skip to calm them down. Don’t allow them to see your game’s greatest features. At the end of the demo, play a little video that shows off your game’s greatest features. Make sure players can’t skip this. If players wish to repeat the demo, ensure they’re forced to repeat the tutorial as well.
ii. Make it near-impossible to actually start the demo
You’re not a working class whore. Don’t just let players jump right into your demo without a little legwork! Bog them down with menu screens, videos, scripts and options. Ask players whether they’d like to play the demo on easy, medium, hard, very hard, or superduper hard. If they choose anything other than medium, tell them that option is unavailable in the demo. Once they’ve chosen medium difficulty, ask them to confirm that decision. Make them choose which character they want to play as but be sure to hide that character behind all the characters they can’t play as. Request the player fiddle with a slider to ensure the brightness settings on his TV are correct.
iii. Make it near-impossible to actually leave the demo
Finally, when the player finishes the demo, don’t let him leave without first bombarding him with information about your game. When is it coming out? Where should he pre-order it from? Which bonuses will he get for pre-ordering the game? Which outlet will he have to pre-order it from to get the bonuses? How much is the season pass? Will there be an online pass? Is he allowed to play between the hours of 9am and 11pm?
iv. Do not..!
Do not, for the Love of God, allow the player free reign around your game-world in the demo. Just Because 2 did this and it got Metacritic 81%! Causation is correlation friends! Nobody buys Metacritic 81% games!
Do not allow the player to discover things for himself in the demo. Show him everything by forcing him to see it. Do not allow him to access more than the most fundamental mechanics. Save the best for when he buys the game. Better yet, save the best for the downloadable content!
Adhering to all of this advice will ensure your demo is unputdownable! If you’ve followed these instructions you’ve got yourself a sweet demo. Well done!
You have now come to the end of The Post Production. I hope the games journalists were kind and you wrote a super awesome review of your epic game to put on Metacritic. There’s but one thing left now…