Poll Question 073 – Have “Achievements” in Episode 2 made you play more?

8th March 2008

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

I’ve played and finished Half-Life 2: Episode 2 and thoroughly enjoyed it but I don’t think I have the patience to spend enough time required to achieve all the err.. achievements. Maybe if I were rewarded in some way, perhaps the opportunity to buy Episode 3 a week early or somethhin I may consider it.

So, this week’s Poll Question is:
Have “Achievements” in Episode 2 made you play more?

Talking of Reward

Does anybody know if you actually receive anything for completing all the achievements? Sure, you get the details on your Steam profile but beside that anything else? If I assume the answer is no then why bother?

Perhaps for the same reason people climb mountains: because they are there. We all like challenges. The only other game I play besides SP FPS game sis Trackmania Nations. It’s a free non-realistic driving game, with both online and offline modes. I play the same track over and over again just to get the best medal I can. Medals are linked to times. When you beat the first 90 tracks that come with the game you can play another 30 special ones.

The point is that I replay the game just to improve my time by 1/100th of a second but would never replay a mod. Maybe if there were more detailed statistics I might become more involved, who knows.

Taking It A Bit Further

I want to look briefly at the concept of rewarding players for gaining certain achievements. In a recently updated and very popular single player mod called The Citizen a new ending was added. This ending can only be seen if you collect all the Easter Eggs and this is fantastic and I wholeheartedly applaud the authors for adding interesting gameplay elements like this.

However, I’d like to offer a Devil’s Advocate view….

Why should only the better players be rewarded? What if you are simply a bad player do you deserve to miss the ending? Perhaps it should be the other way around. The bad player gets the reward for playing. Don’t they work just as hard as the better players?

Of course, nearly everything is life is geared towards this mentality. Better players earn more money, better performers get the best and highest paying jobs. A simple survival of the fittest mentality. However, I would counter that as society becomes more advanced and civilized it spends more effort on ensuring those less fortunate than us receive help and support.

How far could you take it? The player who finishes a game on HARD gets a small refund? DO people who understand the deeper elements of a film get to see special endings? No, of course not, the viewer with a better understand has an intrinsic reward over those less observant or less interested.

Games and mods are without doubt completely different from jobs and other entertainment but I can’t quite put my finger on it but feel we are missing the point.

The Poll


  1. Luke L

    I’ve only played HL2:Ep2 on the 360 which supports achievements in all new games now. It’s a clever idea, getting you to play more so you can compare achievements against friends. I don’t have as much time to play as I’d like to, but it does keep drawing you back, trying to find those last eggs etc. And in Halo 3, if you find all 13 skulls (their equivalent of easter eggs) you unlock hidden armour showing how much you’ve played.

  2. Kasperg

    In the case of The Citizen, I think we’re not strictly talking about missing or seeing an ending sequence. The truth is, what you do get to see after finding all of them is only related to the easter-egg hunt, and has no relevance to the story whatsoever.
    It’s a reward for those who took the time to explore every single little corner of the mod, and is not really related to being a good or a bad player at all. In other words, it’s something available for those who are really interested. The fact that we protected the secrets from cheating makes it an even more interesting challenge in our opinion.
    As for the Ep2 and Portal achievements, not only do they not motivate me to replay the games over and over again, but in fact they feel like a childish addition that brings me back to the fact that it’s just games made by people, instead of the immersive first person experiences they should be.

  3. Memobot

    I would say probably.
    I want to see achievements in HL2 and Episode 1. It can’t be that hard to put them into the PC versions can it?

  4. I replayed Episode 2 a little bit with a focus on achievements. I tried to get the grub hunt but missed (wait for it…) ONE grub! I was annoyed, and didn’t bother trying again.

    To be honest this sort of thing doesn’t really interest me much. I get far more satisfaction from well-crafted levels and engaging story and atmosphere than I do from tallying up ‘special kills” or whatever. It’s not like I’m going to print out my achievements list and show it to all my friends.

    It’s fun if you have nothing else to do I guess.

  5. Anonymous

    To be honest, achievements in Half-life 2: Episode 2 didn’t really expand my enjoyment of the series in any way; it actually made me dislike Episode 2 more than I normally would have.

    A lot of the achievements throughout the game were rather unintuitive and very lengthy, such as a grub hunt where you set out to squash 320-something little defenseless worms in an environment that has constant pitfalls and unclimbable walls that keep you from backtracking to make sure you get every single one of these bugs just for the sake of “achievement.” Where 300 would just be enough to call it a chore, the game forces you to have to find every single one of these things. I missed two… ONLY TWO… and failed because of it.

    All in all, it seems like a lot of the achievements were just placed there by Valve as a method to weakly expand the game where an extra boss battle or similar would have done the same thing only in a more entertaining way.

    Things such as beating Dog at an extremely easy car race to some complex seem to only go out to show that Valve decided to have alternate dialogs occur for different events for some reason.

    The achievements seemed most appropriate in Portal where there were extra mini-maps after beating the game to give a sense of accomplishment even after the original storyline was completed, similar to any of the Grand Theft Auto games. In Team Fortress 2, they have a point, I guess… but I’m pretty much stuck at 65% because I’m a terrible engineer and refuse to have 9 random friends over Steam.

    To be short, the achievements in Half-life 2: Ep 2 didn’t really expand the game-play much, but it definitely killed the enjoyment when pursuing these achievements the first time I was playing through this game.

  6. zeroth404

    Ep2 has achievements? lol, I never knew.

    It’s nice to have the option of trying for achievements in TF2, but they aren’t something I focus on. It’s just extra junk they threw in the game because it was easy. Nothing I have a desire to fuss with.

  7. Chris Fox

    I quite like the idea of achievements but I think they should be more integrated into the gameplay, especially when they are part of a story-based game.

    I’d like to see them as actual gameplay side-quests, rather than just a list of things in a menu.

    Some of them could also provide more tangible rewards, such as maybe a different mode to play the game in, or some new weapons, or some new area to explore. Etc.

    Resident Evil IV got this spot on. I must’ve played that game through 10 times in a row before I got bored.

  8. n00bie51

    I enjoy unlocking Achievements and I think they can be fun. However, on Xbox Live, I frequently see people who play merely to increase their Gamerscore, or points they acquire that are rewarded with each Achievement. You can find people like that on Steam, but it’s much more severe with the Xbox 360. It’s fun to get them, but developers don’t always create suitable “achievements.” There should be Achievements that are easier to get than others, but developers don’t make them all easy or difficult to get. You might be able to unlock all the Achievements for a game in one day and you’ll get 1,000 Gamerscore, but some games have Achievements that might take weeks, months, even years to unlock. Because of that, it’s inconsistent, and that makes me value them less. If they were all proper and met a consistent criteria, then I would give them some more respect. Also, much like ranks or statistics, people will be willing to play unsportsmanlike, glitch, exploit, and/or cheat in order to unlock Achievements, ruining the experience in multiplayer for others and devaluing the Achievement.

    Another thing: If they did what they should do, they would be all be measurements of success and skill. However, they don’t. For example, Gears of War has an Achievement that is unlocked when a player gets 10,000 kills in ranked matches. If you unlock it, perhaps that means you’re good at the game, perhaps that means you’re a noob who spent forever trying to get it and once you got it you never played the game again. If you don’t unlock it, does that mean you’re a worse player than those who do have it? Not necessarily, of course. Professional gamers wouldn’t have an Achievement like that unlocked because the ranking system sucks, inconsistent, and doesn’t offer as much challenge as if they played organized, private matches in scrims and clans where they might disable Achievements due to fear of players staging to get them.

    Finally, you should always enjoy the experience over artificial indicators of success. Is your definition of enjoyment a flawed system of receiving artificial indicators of success? An accurate collective record of all your success and accomplishment is great, but is the Achievement/Gamerscore system for Steam and Xbox Live accurate or consistent? No.

    Now, I got carried away. To answer the question of the article: Yes. Achievements can add replayability to a game and it’s nice to accomplish goals set by the developer, but achievements shouldn’t be the feature that makes you want to play a game over and over again and sometimes the goals set aren’t really notable accomplishments worthy to be called “achievements” to begin with.

  9. Not all achievements have to do with being a “Better” player. Some of the achievements are geared towards getting you to realize you can do something that wouldn’t be obvious to do on your own (such as kill a combine/zombine with their own grenade, or kill a hunter with its own fletchets) another achievement simply prompts you to actually take up a personal type of challenge on top of the challenge of just beating the game, like getting the gnome all the way to the end of the game and putting it in the rocket. Some of the achievements are simply for doing stuff that’s required to advance through the game anyway.

    Admittedly, the kill all antlion grubs thing is irritating. (I missed it by less than TEN!) not playing EP2 over again just for that.

  10. Amanda

    No, I dislike achievements. The only Half Live achievement I actually went out of my way to complete was HL2’s We Don’t Go to Ravenholm using only the Gravity Gun.

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