Achievements

Yes, I’ve got an issue with achievements-systems. Linden Lab’s Amanda Van Nuys says it something that the Lab is looking at for Second Life.

What’s the big deal with achievements? They are, as Kent Quirk observes, a powerful motivator.

And that’s true. Offer a game-player a virtual-badge, and you manipulate their behaviour in a small way.

Offer them a bunch and you can channel their game-play. Right up to the moment that they unlock the last achievement available – or the last achievement they are interested in, and then they walk away. Many achievement-focused gamers don’t return to a game whose achievements they’ve completed to their satisfaction.

And then we have public achievements.

In my experience, once you make achievements publically visible, and it is like throwing a handful of gold doubloons into a mud pit. A lot of folks dive in after it, and there’s a lot of bad behaviour, whether or not anyone comes up with a coin.

It’s ugly and icky, and I rather think I’d watch TV than participate, thanks all the same.

This is why I never really got involved in Metaplace. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I wonder how many people might have thought likewise.

Second Life used to have assorted scores and leaderboards and they were removed for a number of reasons, some of which we can probably only speculate about.

For my money, having achievements or scores of some sort basically says “Hey, we don’t want people who will treat Second Life as a platform or as a world. We want people who will treat it like a game.”

15 thoughts on “Achievements”

  1. I completely disagree!

    Jacek Antonelli unlocked the “Commented on Dwell On It” achievement!

    Phew, now I don’t have to read this blog anymore.

    *wanders off to grind for the “Lived A Fulfilling Life” achievement*

  2. Well, I can’t hope to match Jacek’s achievement there… :)

    Yeah, the idea strikes me as really lame. They have (had?) something like this on vSide, and it struck me as weird and lame there, and I didn’t have the impression that it was Incredibly Motivating to anyone else, either. As I said on the inworldz forum where this came up, I think it would be cool if there were some well-done user-created level and achievement systems in SL (general ones, in addition to the many level-having RP systems that exist), but baking it into the platform sends a message that really turns me off. SL should *not* imho be trying to compete with WoW.

  3. heh maybe why the “metaplace” platform never was…… and all “we” got was a farm game… but a few got “bank” ? what now did Disney get? probably the same that Mattel got from Learning Co in 1998.)

    cash in quick… just like at harrahs…oops they too are playdom/ disney/ gambling/ gamerz in the “new” meta verse… same as the first.

  4. A few minor points that some pundits don’t like to admit or reveal:

    Achievements were missing from SL when the rapid growth began. Therefore achievements have nothing at all to do with growth that counts.

    The rapid growth period occurred with the so-called hard to use interface. The new harder to use interface has not resulted in anything but growth of Emerald viewer use.

    The rapid growth period occurred with the same tier rates and higher island setup fees. People complaining about tier today are unlikely to buy an island or increase tier much anyway because they are unwilling to back their SL activity with hard cash from a credit card.

    So yea achievements will not make any difference for LL. Anything LL does is instantly gamed because they have a history of encouraging such behavior. On the other hand if LL somehow encouraged more games like Bloodlines then of course there would be more achievement opportunities for the people that like that sort of stuff. Since such achievement opportunities have been in SL for years I fail to see the point other than it is apparent the people discussing achievements are unaware of what is going on in SL.

    Oh yea there is already an achievement system. It is called figuring out how to make your L$ points grow without a credit card.

  5. For me personally this is so stupid as to have, say, Mac OS X pre-installed with an achievements system (“You’ve unlocked the ‘Apple Mail’ achievement” or “Congrats! You’ve finally crashed Mac OS X for the first time!”), or Mozilla FireFox, or Adobe Photoshop…

    All right. So those are operating systems and applications, and not, uh, “entertainment”. Well, I wouldn’t be happy in having an achievements system for, say, Google Chat either. Or IRC.

    Ok, so, Second Life is neither of the above, but it’s a virtual world. So what? Why should all things remotely resembling a social networking environment have an achievement system? To the best of my knowledge, Facebook hasn’t an achievements system either, and that never stopped it from being used by 350 million users…

    In fact, with perhaps few exceptions, I have only encountered achievement systems in games, where they make a lot of sense. There might be some exceptions that are not really games. Can you name one? I don’t remember any… well… except the defunct There.com… the defunct Metaplace… I see a pattern here!

    So I truly believe this is Hamlet’s worse idea ever :)

    Nevertheless, I’m all for third-party, user-created achievement systems. They might be even a plugin for the forthcoming SL Viewer which might have client-side plugins. A few residents have just created something like that; I usually give SignpostMarv Martin’s own system as an example, which is API-based and can be plugged in by anyone to create their own achievements and allow the list to grow. You can watch him explaining his system on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qAKdgkll7c

    Third-party achievement systems are fun. Built-in, mandatory systems are an absolute no-no.

  6. Not a lot to add except I agree with Annes last point – make L$ enough without external RL input. As the proud owner of a maxed out CC I don’t have a choice anyway haha

  7. I think achievements would make a lot of sense in helping newcomers learn the basic functions. Tutorials at least to me are a lot more fun when there is tangible feedback on your progress, and a goal in mind.

    eg- unlock free items and upgrade from newcomer -> resident status once you have gone through the tuts.

    Achievements for ongoing gameplay, thats harder just because of the nature of what an open UGC virtual world is about.

    Time online? Chat messages sent? Currency sent to you? etc

    Or make it all user generated and people can create their own badging/level systems, that would be really cool (but a lot of new systems and UI work)

  8. Second Life orientation had a small achievements system there for quite some time (that was three iterations back). Apparently it didn’t produce any positive results.

  9. People CAN create their own badging/level systems; we do it all the time! Tiny Empires, tons of different RP systems for every taste, etc, etc. So no new work required there. :) Unless we think that the Lab publicizing such things to new Resis might help something…

    Tateru, I think one reason the tiny O-Island acheivements system didn’t produce any positive results is that it barely worked. I started an alt in that period, and was unable to finish the tasks, due to HUD textures not rezzing, slow responsiveness, and what seemed to be simple it-doesn’t-work bugs. I can only imagine how frustrating it must have been for an actual new user. So that is perhaps not a good datapoint on what a WORKING system might do…

    1. The inability of the Lab to get scripted systems working on the orientation and help islands over a long period was definitely a factor.

      I’m led to understand that it *did* work for some fair stretches though, and that it didn’t really help when it did.

  10. @Dale, I meant a badging/level system tied into profiles that can be viewed by others without them having to add anything special. Or is that already available and I am missing it?

  11. Ah, no, there’s nothing that ties into profiles. Not sure how that would work; if we have user-designed badge/level systems, I don’t know how that would be reflected in the profile.

    Interesting possibilities do occur! :) You could get a prompt saying “Grid-Wide Treasure Hunt would like to install a new Acheivements Page in your profile, is that okay?”, and if you said Yes there would then be a new tab in your profile that scripts (authorized somehow?) could write stuff into. Could be fun! But since as you say it would require work by the Lab, not the Resis, it’s much less likely to happen…

  12. @Simon & Dale: You can do it via Avatars United. Unless LL has decided to blow off that connection to millions of gamers. I thought they were going to draw parts of that into SL. After all search is a web page and they slipped in the events browser without anyone noticing. (I noticed it but did not actually investigate that day) Since search is a web page and profiles are consistently brought up as needing myspace style customizations.. Maybe it is worth discussing and kicking around on a forum and in world at gatherings some. It would open up a lot of opportunities for a form of vertical integration.

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