videogames

The de-mystification of games through achievements

achievement ygotas yugioh yu gi oh joey brooklyn rage

“Brooklyn Rage Achievement” by Zuo-Ci

About a week ago, I had another great conversation with my friend Dis. Dis (which is just the abbreviated version of the nickname he likes to use) is a guy who ponders about the stupidest things, but sometimes I join him in his mad thinking sprees and together we can actually discuss some fascinating things. Sometimes we elaborate on the philosophical depth of the Manual of the Warrior of the Light, just to continue the next day with a topic like euthanasia. Lately though, we have been discussing an even greater topic: achievements.

Yes folks, those blasted cheevos. Since they have become a shtick of gaming, achievements have us doing the weirdest things just to get that “achievement unlocked” pop-up. We place masks on zombies in Dead Rising, enjoy orgies in Fable II or simply press Start in The Simpsons Game. Achievements reward us for both normal and really strange activities in our favourite games, and are a nice pat on the back for most of us.

However, Dis and I came to the conclusion that achievements also contribute to the “de-mystification” of video games. In a way, achievements are spoilers. Simply seeing an achievement like “Kill Boss X without using the yellow power-ups” tells you that Boss X will probably be hard, and it also states that X will be a boss. What if X is your buddy for most of the game? Haven’t the achievements just given away a really cool twist? Also, achievements tell you about things you might not know are there. Many RPG’s hide legendary items throughout the world, which you should only learn about by talking to NPC’s or by stumbling upon them. However, one look in the achievements list tells you that you get fifty Gamer Points by finding Glundragir, Bane of the World Tree (or whatever the epic sword in your favourite RPG is called).

Of course, one might argue that in a time where walkthroughs are free to get on the Internet and message boards analyze every aspect of every title, games are already de-mystified. Still,  walkthroughs and message boards can be dodged, while it’s harder to escape from a built-in achievement list. If I want to like, I like to keep a new game exciting and mysterious, and achievements certainly don’t help.

What’s your opinion? Do cheevos ruin your sense of discovery and exploration, or do you fully endorse them, planning your playthroughs around getting as many of them as possible? Vote below, and leave your opinion!

Why you should give RIFT a spin when it goes F2P

f2p survival header

Over at GFN, I talked about the ins and outs of F2P games. After finishing the piece, I was far too eager to dive back into RIFT . I just couldn’t wait until June 12, so one thing lead to another and before I knew it, I was knee-deep in Telara and all its wonders. From day one, RIFT always felt like a pretty polished game to me. Though it follows many of the genre’s tropes, it’s a lot of fun to play. I hadn’t touched it in a while, so I was surprised by all the neat little additions. Trust me, there’s A LOT in RIFT these days, and soon, you can get it all for free. Free! Still not hyped? Alright, let me help you out!

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Geek Jitsu – gamifying health

While out running the other day, a sudden realization hit me as hard as my sore muscles the next morning: gamers love gaming. Wow, what a burst of genius, Chin! No, seriously, give me a minute to explain this. Gamers love gaming, which is something you probably knew. But what can we learn from that? Well, if you want a gamer to do something, turn that something into a game. Thus, if you want a gamer to stay fit, turn that into a game.

That is, of course, not a new way of thinking. The gamification of almost everything has been discussed thoroughly by experts, and I even had a post about creating achievements for your health plan a few months ago. Still, it strikes me as odd how small the market for fitness games is. Sure, you got all those Wii games that pretend to keep you fit, but next to those titles, you won’t find much. There are apps like Zombies, Run and sites like Fitocracy that gamify your workouts, but they are not enough for the healthy gamer who wants some more depth.

Why haven’t we seen a full-fledged RPG powered by your workout yet? Heck, let me take the chance then and provide all you game designers with a little concept for such a game. Let us call it Sprinteria, and let it be a game about brave heroes and adventurers in a world powered by your running sessions. It works like this: users sign up for Sprinteria on the website, and download the app that comes with it to their smartphone. When they are out running, the app tracks their distance, average and maximum speed, and approximate amount of burnt calories. These values are translated into action points at the end of your session, and then send to your digital alter ego in Sprinteria. Your in-game hero can use those points to perform actions, like going out to hunt monsters, craft items or participate in player-vs-player warfare. Through these actions, your hero acquires experience and becomes more powerful. Thus, your running sessions are the only source of power for your hero, motivating you to slip into those sweatpants and fuel your adventurer in Sprinteria!

Of course, this is just a simple idea, but a game like that would really fascinate me. There’s also room for improvement, meaning it could be an ever-growing program that offers different challenges every week or month. The point is that I believe that if you create a sports game that takes gamers seriously, those gamers will take sports seriously. You just have to approach them the right way.

While we’re at it, what’s your opinion? Any fitness games that motivate you to keep moving, or do you also have your own ideas when it comes to designing one? Maybe you are a game designer yourself, and see something in my little pitch here. No matter what, leave your comments below.

Stay healthy!

Slivers slither back into Magic

Just a few hours ago, Wizards of the Coast spoiled us with a look at some cards from their next core set Magic 2014. It’s normal for Wizards to give us a few spoilers way before the release of the set, but the cards we’ve seen now are proof of the return of one of Magic’s most iconic creature types: slivers. These nasty-looking beasts have first been sighted in the Tempest set, and had their last public appearance in Future Sight. Now, July will be the month they return to Standard play,

This has me hyped for two reasons. First of all, I hate sliver decks. I recall the days one of my friends built one, and though it was not complete, it annoyed the hell out of me that if he survived long enough, all his creatures had trample, flying, first strike and all other tools needed to ruin my day. However, I love slivers since I just love tribal mechanics. Focusing on a certain creature type gives me focus, and makes it easy for me to pick cards for a deck. Now, I’m actually considering building a sliver deck as soon as “M14” comes around, not just as a way to recover from childhood traumas.

How do you feel about the return of these hive-minds? What else do you hope to find in Magic 2014?

It’s never boring in Neverwinter

It seems that it was very sunny last Saturday, at least in the part of the world that my physical manifestation calls home. Honestly, I didn’t notice it that much. To my great surprise, Cryptic’s newest title Neverwinter was able to captivate me for most of my free Saturday, to a point where my girl had to text one of my housemates to check if I was still alive, since I hadn’t replied to any of her messages. Yeah, Neverwinter is that distracting!

Being distracting is one thing, but is it also good? Well, you’re about to find out in this short review!

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Geek Jitsu – three movie speeches that will keep you going

inspiration forward speech

“Moving Forward” by *Kaira27

It seems like motivation is a topic I keep returning to in this column, but there’s a simple reason for that: it’s what will make you succesful in the long run, so I don’t mind spending much time on this theme.

Motivation is something fragile and precious, and we run out of it faster than we expect. A few punches from life, and many of us are on their knees begging for a breather. Nothing wrong with that, we all need to catch our breath once in a while. However, giving up should not be your modus operandi. Your modus operandi should be to wipe off the blood, get back on your feet, and step right back into the arena of life.

Of course, getting that necessary kick for such a deed can be hard, and that’s where this post comes in. In this week’s Geek Jitsu, I’ll share with you my three favourite motivational speeches from three very different movies. Let’s get ourselves some motivational refills!

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March gaming, week 4 – getting kicked around & wrapping it all up

tsw the secret world

Wait, it’s almost Easter? It doesn’t look like that around here, considering the fact that we still have snow and a biting cold at night. Oh well, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that March is almost over, and so is my time with The Secret World. My final week in Funcom’s little gem was all about getting my pretty butt handed to me in PvP, and looking back at my time in this monster-infested world. So, read on to find out my final verdict of this game (or check out the previous weeks)!

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