*Feel free to swap Achievements with Trophies or your preferred arbitrary term.
A few months back, I finally turned off Achievements notifications. I’d grown tired of the graphic blipping into my screen during an important cut-scene or actively disrupting my engagement with gameplay mid-shot, mid-jump. I’ve never been a completionist, so my relationship with Achivements and their ilk were limited to goals that encouraged me to play the game in an interesting way, adopting a new strategy.
Very few games have those kinds of Achievements, though. The bad was outweighing the good, and as the points themselves do not provide me any joy as a gamer, the disruption was proving too much.
Of course, I’m a hypocrite; recently, I bragged on Twitter about achieving all 200 points possible in Costume Quest. However, the one Achievement that lingered, the one that kept me playing for an hour more than I needed to finish the game, involved capturing all the available costumes. The costumes are much of Costume Quest’s gameplay, a successful merging of gameplay incentive and Achiemement directive. The two were mingling together, prompting me to seek all of the points.
There is a second, more shameful reason, though. I miss the feedback loop that Achivements provide. Achievements are the worst kind of rapid-fire feedback loop, a constant pat on the back that tells the player they’re doing something right. You don’t earn anything for unlocking Achievements, something Microsoft scrapped after they realized players didn’t need anything more than the incentive of points. But like anything that feels good, when it disappears, you want it again. Achievements are like crack, so even though I’m not someone who’s addicted enough to become a completionist, my own reaction is enough to show me why someone would spend 50+ hours getting Assassin’s Creed towards 100%.
I also miss experiencing the good Achievements, despite those being few and far between. Perhaps what I’m asking for is better implementation of the Achivement notification. More discretion. Wait for a pause. I’m going to keep the notification turned off for a little while longer. Like most addictions, maybe I just need to keep the habit at bay long enough and I’ll forget all about it. I’ve finished Halo: Reach, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, Enslaved: Journey to the West, Call of Duty: Black Ops and Medal of Honor without any idea of my Achievement progress. Did I enjoy those games any less?
I don’t believe so. (Of course, I’ll never really know, either.)
That’s why I liked the way Quantic Dream did it in Heavy Rain — they saved Trophy notifications for the loading screens between chapters, so the little “ding!” didn’t interrupt the game.
It was a well-made film and all — I liked the score, the special effects were fine, and the acting has only gotten progressively better with each movie — but I feel like it really suffered from being-the-first-half-of-something syndrome. Unlike entries in a proper series (e.g., A New Hope, Fellowship of the Ring), Part 1 didn’t really work as a self-contained film. And while I get the argument that “it just reminded me how boring much of the book was,” I think that was okay (not ideal, but tolerable) in the book because:
(A) you were enthralled by the world that J.K. Rowling had created, and you wanted to spend as much time as possible in it because you knew it would all be “over” soon; and
(B) if you did find part of the book boring, all you had to do was get through that part (say, the next fifty or hundred pages), and things would start happening.
That’s not an option with the films. Part 1 kinda just ended — there wasn’t really a traditional rising action/climax/denouement structure to it, which is to be expected, but even so, it didn’t really go anywhere — and now, Warner Bros. is making viewers wait eight months for the payoff to what amounted to 146 minutes of build-up. And by splitting the film up in this manner, they’ve doubled their revenue but have also put themselves behind the eight-ball: Part 1 isn’t a very good film when evaluated on its own merits, which puts that much more pressure on Part 2 to be one hell of a series closer in order to make up for its directionless predecessor.
It’s probably better for both the producers and series fans that they did it this way, as opposed to making one three- or four-hour film that cut way too much from the book, but even so … I’m left feeling underwhelmed, to say the least. Even if you say that the job of Part 1 is to leave you anticipating Part 2, I don’t think it did that job very well.
I’m still definitely going to see it, of course, and I hope that they can pull it off.
[Edit: I did really like the animation for Hermione’s reading of “The Tale of the Three Brothers.”]
“The commercial success of both Fox News and MSNBC is a source of nonpartisan sadness for me. While I can appreciate the financial logic of drowning television viewers in a flood of opinions designed to confirm their own biases, the trend is not good for the republic. It is, though, the natural outcome of a growing sense of national entitlement. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s oft-quoted observation that “everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts,” seems almost quaint in an environment that flaunts opinions as though they were facts.
And so, among the many benefits we have come to believe the founding fathers intended for us, the latest is news we can choose. Beginning, perhaps, from the reasonable perspective that absolute objectivity is unattainable, Fox News and MSNBC no longer even attempt it. They show us the world not as it is, but as partisans (and loyal viewers) at either end of the political spectrum would like it to be. This is to journalism what Bernie Madoff was to investment: He told his customers what they wanted to hear, and by the time they learned the truth, their money was gone.
It is also part of a pervasive ethos that eschews facts in favor of an idealized reality. The fashion industry has apparently known this for years: Esquire magazine recently found that men’s jeans from a variety of name-brand manufacturers are cut large but labeled small. The actual waist sizes are anywhere from three to six inches roomier than their labels insist.
Perhaps it doesn’t matter that we are being flattered into believing what any full-length mirror can tell us is untrue. But when our accountants, bankers and lawyers, our doctors and our politicians tell us only what we want to hear, despite hard evidence to the contrary, we are headed for disaster. We need only look at our housing industry, our credit card debt, the cost of two wars subsidized by borrowed money, and the rising deficit to understand the dangers of entitlement run rampant. We celebrate truth as a virtue, but only in the abstract. What we really need in our search for truth is a commodity that used to be at the heart of good journalism: facts — along with a willingness to present those facts without fear or favor.”—Ted Koppel, longtime managing editor of ABC News’ Nightline, in a Washington Post guest editorial on the death of real news
“There are comments here are on all sorts of things: Politics, literature, movies, art, health, God, the universe. Most of the comments are useful and literate, and many are elegantly written. ‘The best comments you are likely to find anywhere on the web,’ I’ve heard it said.
But why are you writing them? Don’t you have anything else to do? Every day there are untold millions of comments, texts, and online interactions. Millions. And each one says, I am here and I extend my consciousness to there. There might have been a time when humans were content to sit and simply be, like the goat I saw yesterday sitting contently in a patch of sunshine at the Lincoln Park Zoo. That time was long ago. We want the news. We want to chatter and gossip. We want to say ‘I am alive’ in a billion billion different ways. And now here is internet, providing such an easy, easy way to do that.
The biological reason we fall in love may be to encourage reproduction. Yet why did nature provide homosexuality if that is the only purpose? Why do people marry with no prospects of children? Babies are not the only thing two people can create together. They can create a safe private world. They can create a reality that affirms their values. They can stand for something. They can find someone to laugh with, and confide in. Someone to hold them when they need to be held. A danger of the internet would be if we begin to meet those needs without feeling there has to be another person in the room.”—Roger Ebert, “All the lonely people”
“To be sure, we all have our complaints. And while there is no other city where I could imagine living, there are many places that, for different purposes, I would rather be. But this too is a very New York sentiment. Chance made me an American, but I chose to be a New Yorker. I probably always was.”—the late Tony Judt, “My Endless New York”