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Xbox 360 Achievements Explained by Remedy (Alan Wake)

Xbox 360 Achievements Explained by Remedy (Alan Wake)

Features - Misc Features

(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

achievementpost-remedyI was reading the official Alan Wake forums and found a post regarding how achievements are structured for your Xbox 360 games, and one of the dev's made a detailed post about how exactly they are implemented.

I've always been very curious as to how the process goes and how much involvement Microsoft have in it, well check out this explanation to see, at least from Remedy's point of view, how they go about it.

By the way I used the picture on the left because, well, you know.

Mikko Rautalahti (Writer) Remedy Entertainment:

"I was pretty heavily involved with our achievement design (which probably illustrates as well as anything else just how broad the term "writer" can sometimes be) with Tim, one of our designers. The original idea was that he'd come up with them and I'd write the descriptions, but we ended up collaborating pretty closely on them. (I had prior experience with achievement design, and that came in pretty handy.)

Coming up with the achievements is not as easy as you might think; we had a lot of weird ideas for achievements, but implementing them isn't necessarily as easy as you'd think. Some of them can be a real bitch -- for example, someone actually had to go through the game repeatedly and hunt down every manuscript page, thermos and sign to ensure that the achievements were awarded.

If there's a bug somewhere in there, it can be a pretty time-consuming and tiresome process to get it fixed. Also, some things are surprisingly hard to track in the game, and adding code support for them probably isn't going to be quite as high on the priority list as things as, say, fixing critical bugs. For instance, we originally wanted to have an achievement for electrocuting X number of enemies, but it turned out that the game couldn't tell when a Taken got electrocuted (as opposed to, say, getting killed by falling off a cliff or in an explosion).

So that turned into "Collateral Carnage," which just deals with destroying Taken with any indirect means. (We could've insisted on a code feature to track electrocutions, but the programmers were busy enough as it was.)

We got some feedback from Microsoft on the achievements, but they weren't really involved with the design beyond that. They do, however, have pretty good guidelines for what's a good achievement and what isn't, and we did our best to follow those. We also decided the number of achievements and their point values, and Kai, our art team manager, created the icons. I was particularly happy with them, I think he did a great job.

In general, I think creating the achievements was fun enough. It can be a bit of a headache, but no more than anything else. This was the first game where we implemented them, and I think they turned out pretty well. I think we'll start the design process on them earlier the next time around, based on what we learned here. It'll make things easier on the coders, for one thing.

When questioned about Microsoft's achievement guidelines:

"I don't think they're particularly confidential, but they aren't that exciting, either. I mean, it's pretty obvious stuff, things like "make sure that achievements cannot be awarded if your game has cheat codes and they are enabled," "awarding achievements for failures may make the player feel like they're being mocked," "it's probably a good idea to make sure achievements are built so that the player feels like they're constantly making some progress," etc.

The guidelines are good, but in the grand scheme of things, they probably aren't quite as vital anymore, now that people are very familiar with the concept of achievements. Back when the Xbox 360 was still a new thing and people were still figuring out what they were all about, they would've been really helpful to a lot of people.

Take something like Fight Night Round 3, for example, which was one of the very early 360 titles -- it was definitely a lot of fun to play, but it had eight achievements, and you got them simply by winning specific fights or tournaments. Nothing wrong with that per se, but if you compare them to the achievements in Fight Night Round 4, the improvement in the latter game is pretty comprehensive."

When questioned about avatar awards:

"That's something I wasn't involved with at all. They're really a separate thing from the game itself -- I'm pretty sure we just provided Microsoft with some art assets and reference material, and they took it from there. The avatar awards are so standardized that I'd imagine it's extremely easy to create new clothing or whatever for them."

Comments (3)
3 Thursday, 26 August 2010 20:50
Pretty interesting read i always though M$ did the achievements, well there you go.
2 Thursday, 26 August 2010 00:34
Shane - Admin
Erm, not exactly the comment I was hoping for but I guess I deserved it for putting up that picture, I won't delete your comment.... this time.
1 Wednesday, 25 August 2010 23:46
Damn thats some tight snatch in that pic fuck the article get more pics like that on ehere im your boy :]]

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