Researching a Game to Get Ideas for an Interesting Achievement Set
PLEASE NOTE: This article is targeted not only for achievement creators, but also to regular users!
Here I describe what I usually do when researching a game to get ideas for a cool achievement set. To be honest I’m currently not really active as an achievement creator, but I still like to research some games and post ideas in the forums.
There isn’t any fancy technical stuff here. My hope is to make this article useful for any community member, even “non-devs”, to get inspired and research some games they want achievements for. They can then post their ideas on the forums and an “official” achievement creator can implement them.
Examples of useful stuff that can be found in a manual:
- Character names
- Ingame awards that can be converted in achievements
- Item descriptions
- Example of how it’s useful: if an item gives to much power, there could be an achievement for “killing Boss X without using item Y”
- Secret spots
- Easter eggs
- Strategies to make something easier/faster (they can be converted in an achievement)
- Ingame cheats
- Note: Achievements must be protected to prevent them being easily unlocked via cheats
- Tip: Stage-select cheats are like an encouragement to create more challenging cheevos and allow players to quickly go to the place where the challenge starts.
Longplay / Speedruns
These videos can show some secret spots, warp zones or even give good inspiration to create some challenges.
Note: be careful with “inspiration” you get from speedruns! They can make you feel that some really tough challenges are easy. Be sure to check if the challenge is reasonable with other players.
Pro-tip: look at those guys on our Global Ranking and DM one/some of them if they would be willing to test if an achievement is actually feasible.
Example: in my achievement set for Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master, there is a damageless achievement for each boss. I saw an youtube video with all bosses being defeated damageless, I thought it was feasible but when I tried I realized that it’s not that simple. Before dropping the idea I contacted BerserkerBR and he agreed to test the cheevos for me. He confirmed they are feasible if you put some effort memorizing the bosses’ movements. Now I see that many players are proving those achievements can be unlocked.
Similar Achievement Sets
Checking existing achievement sets for similar games can also be a good source of inspiration. But please, don’t copy’n’paste all the concepts, just use them as inspiration and put your creativity on your set.
Tips With Examples
Here I’m gonna list achievements I created using the tips I mentioned above.
If the game has in-game awards (like those statiscs at the end of an stage, giving you a bonus if you collected X items), consider creating an equivalent achievement for it.
NOTE: if the ingame award is incredibly hard, consider creating an achievement for getting that award at least once (not in every single stage)
In Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master (Mega Drive) you get a nice bonus on your score if you finish a stage without taking damage nor using shurikins nor using ninjitsu. You can get this award in every stage (except the last one). However, this is a very tough challenge (specially because of the no damage + no shurikins).
But if the game creators created an award for it, I thought it should somehow be addressed in an achievement. Then I created only the Perfect Bonus achievement that can be unlocked if you meet those requirements in any stage.
Warpzones vs. Full Path
If the game has shortcuts/warpzones, consider creating an achievement for finding the warpzone and also another one for taking the “full path”.
It encourages the player to explore the game as a whole.
Magic Sword (SNES) is a game with 6 secret doors that are warp zones. The requirements to reveal each door is different, and I only learned about them in a GameFAQ.
It’s fun to discover and find those secret doors, so they surely deserve their own achievements. But the brave players who decide to climb the whole tower with no warpzones also deserve to be awarded for that.
That’s why I created one achievement for each secret door, and also the Marathonist one, for climbing the whole tower, floor by floor, and then beat the game - but as I’m a really nice guy, I’m allowing easy mode. ;)
In-Game Stage Select Cheat
If the game has a stage-select cheat, consider creating a more challenging cheevo that can be easily accessible through the cheat so players can retry.
Guerrilla War (NES) is a game where you have a lot of hostages on each stage, and (unfortunatelly) it’s easy to accidentally kill them. So, finishing a stage without killing any hostage is pretty tough achievement. However, as the game has an ingame stage select cheat, I decided to go ahead with the challenge, for each stage.
Zero Wing (Mega Drive) is one of those shoot’em up games where once you max up your upgrades things become much easier. So, starting a stage with no powerups and finishing them (specially the later ones) is an interesting challenge. As the game has a stage select cheat, I decided to create achievements for starting each stage with no powerups and finishing it.
Damageless Cheevos & Retry Factor
When creating damageless cheevos (or any other really tough one), take into consideration the “retry factor”. If the player needs to spend several minutes until reaching the point where the challenge starts, probably the cheevo needs to be nerfed. I personally prefer to award “good gamers”, not necessarily “gamers with a lot of free time”.
Although Shinobi III (Mega Drive) doesn’t have a cheat for stage select, all those damageless cheevos work when playing in easy mode. And in this game, when you play on easy mode, you start the game with 9 lives. So, if you take damage, you can lose a life to retry.
Anyways, check this video to memorize some of the bosses’ movements.
On our documentation there’s an in-depth article about Achievement Design. If you’re serious about this topic, it’s really worth reading!