I’ve been playing one particular mobile game recently. It’s not really that good of a game, and it’s not unique or interesting enough to warrant any discussion on the game itself. But there is one particular issue I have with the game that really irritates me.
In that game, you can collect tokens to earn extra points. And there are a whole series of achievements based on collecting a specific number of tokens. Thing is, the token spawns are random and you can’t completely control whether you collect the tokens or not. Thus, whether you collect the specific amount of tokens or not is entirely up to chance.
Having achievements based entirely on luck irritates me, since I can’t earn it at all. I just need to play the game over and over again and hope that the numbers align before the Moon fell out of orbit and crash into Earth and obliterate all life on it. I know why they do that. You can skip achievements with a large amount of credits, and you can buy credits with real cash. And you can only earn achievements sequentially and one-by-one, so you’ll either waste credits or grind for days until you managed to get that achievement somehow. Still, those achievements irritate me to no end.
Luck-based achievements are obnoxious, takes no skill, and is incredibly frustrating since you can’t actually try to achieve them. It’s a colossal waste of time. The only way achievements can be worse is that it’s tied directly to microtransactions. Spending $250 dollars gets you the “Bronze Spender” achievement. $500 gets you the “Silver Spender” achievement. $1000, “Gold Spender”. And for a low, low price of $5000 you get the “A Sucker Born Every Minute” achievement.
Achievements based on completing a chapter in a story-based game is a good way to gauge your progress, as well as serving as a reminder of how far you’ve come, and how much longer you need to go. Achievements based on doing something extremely tricky are achievements in the most literal sense, as you actually need to put in a lot of effort and skill to achieve those. Achievements based on doing something stupid, such as the “I Swear! I Did It By Mistake!” achievement in Lollipop Chainsaw is there for some goofy fun. And achievements involving multiple people coordinating together like “Tune Merasmus’s Multi-Dimensional Television” is more of a fun social experience than anything. Not to mention coordinating multiple people to achieve something is a rather huge achievement, especially if everyone involved are in different teams.
My main problem with luck-based achievements, and also busywork achievements by extension, is that if there’s nothing separating the player and the achievement aside from constant tedium, toil and boring repetition, earning that achievement isn’t satisfying. It will at most give you a sense of relief that the damn achievement is not there any more. It adds nothing but annoyance and irritation to the players trying to earn achievements.
On the flip side, achievements involving something rather basic and easy, such as walking or picking up a collectible, is irritating for a completely different reason. It literally takes no effort to do so, and it feels that the devs are being condescending. Let me actually earn something, dammit!
In conclusion, achievements need to be meaningful. Sure, that is rather subjective, but there should be some effort and skill required to earn them, and they have to mean something to the player, either by the achievement being a sign of skill, a gag, a measure of progress,or some token of appreciation. An achievement achieved through tedious busywork or through no effort at all is meaningless to the player.