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Proposal: Simplified Achievement Guidelines For Atari 2600, 7800, ColecoVision, Vectrex, Apple, C64, Games with repeated phases.


Posted: 05 Aug, 2017 20:14
Hi All,
I'd like to propose a set of guidelines for making simplified achievement sets for games that don't have enough variety or challenge for a full 400 point achievement set without overvalued achievements.

When, eventually, RA gets support for Atari 2600 games and ColecoVision games and Vectrex games and so forth, people start creating achievement sets for these older, simpler games that are still enjoyable and challenging, they shouldn't be held to the same standards for more modern games of the 8 and 16 bit eras.

Soft cap: 200 points/20 achievements (minimum 10).
The guidelines for achievement sets state that games should have achievements totaling 400 points. For many games this is a perfect number, but some games that have only a few different screens repeated over many or unlimited phases (Donkey Kong, Asteroids, Centipede, etc) should probably total less to avoid filler-type achievements, ones that are overvalued simply to fill out a set to make an even 400. So I suggest these games be capped at 200 points, instead. Similarly to Microsoft's XBox 360 Arcade titles being 200 points/12 achievements, while full retail titles are 1000/up to 99 achievements.

Phase/level progression limit: Repetition/unique features
In games that introduce new elements every few levels, there are new challenges or enemies or goals to accomplish after certain points. These are good points for level based progression achievements. Once the last new feature/enemy/goal is accomplished and the game continues to allow the player to play, there is very little reason to continue other than scoring, which is of limited achievement value and should be tracked separately, ie, a scoring or level leaderboard. For example, Donkey Kong 3: The game repeats the same set of levels over a long series of phases, but after a certain point, no new enemies or features are encountered, meaning progressing past a certain level yields nothing but points or phase number attained. While reaching that certain point should yield an achievement for making it to the "end" of the game as the original developer designed, anything beyond that point is uninteresting and repetitive, and doesn't add value to the player. This may be only a handful of levels or phases or loops, in some cases. It should never be 99 or arbitrary numbers for show (Get to level 50, Get to level 100) when the game becomes repetitive after level 18. This simply rewards players that have observed game patterns and can exploit them for long runs that don't necessarily offer additional levels of challenge or skill. Again - if this type of thing is appropriate for a game, make a level or phase-based leaderboard to allow highly skilled players to be acknowledged for making it to the highest phase or level they can.

Bonus lives/chances: 1/3/5 when appropriate
Earning a bonus life in some games is rather simple and can be achieved by scoring many points. In others, it must be picked up or earned by completing a challenge or reaching a boss. Given that games usually allow a single chance or 3 chances, achievements for bonus lives should be limited to one to a reasonable number more than the player started with. While earning 99 bonus lives may be a valid challenge in some games, it might be time consuming, tedious, and pointless in others. For example, if it was possible to earn 99 bonus lives in Asteroids, what's the value in achieving that goal? If a player is good enough to earn 99 bonus lives, they probably don't need that many lives to play further through the game, so earning that many lives is fruitless. Destroying 99 saucers is a much more valid goal for an achievement.

Scoring: 10%/25%/50%/100% of maximum score allowed by game.
Scoring achievements can also be arbitrary and meaningless due to player skill levels varying greatly. For a game to be truly mastered, the player should be able to at least beat the highest score shown in-game on the high score display. Beyond that point, perhaps limit the scoring achievements to 4 or 5, for varying degrees of the maximum attainable score allowed by the number of digits the game supports. Requiring a player to get 999,999 points in a game that only counts up to 999,950 serves no purpose but frustration. Likewise, a game that is easily farmed for points, such as Commando, where there is no level time limit and a player could simply rubber band a controller to turbo fire at an enemy spawn and walk away to earn points, makes high scoring achievements and leaderboards valueless. Suggestion: In a game that tracks scoring up to 999,999, give the player an achievement for getting 10,000, 50,000, 250,000, and maybe 500,000.

So for simple games like Asteroids or Donkey Kong on Atari 2600 or ColecoVision, try and spread out 200 points over 15-20 achievements. A handful of level/wave/phase achievements, a couple for bonus lives, some for score, and then the remainder for creative achievements around killing a variety of enemy types, or passing levels unharmed, collecting score or power up random drops, etc. For a game like Space Invaders, for example, there's very little variety in enemy patterns and level progression, and no power ups or collectibles. Taking inspiration from one of the newer Space Invaders remixes, an achievement for killing all the aliens in a row, or column, is a good pattern based one. In Centipede, an optional one would be to destroy all the mushrooms on the screen. Donkey Kong 3, let each plant be hijacked by an enemy insect then rescued before the level is over.

I'm writing this in an effort to avoid achievement sets for simple games becoming too tedious and wave or score based. Mastering a game by getting to 1m points and level 99 is tedious and doesn't guide the player towards optional challenges. Giving the player a variety of challenges and goals to keep the game entertaining WHILE getting to level 99, or more realistically, level 10 or 20, is more important when creating achievements.

When creating a set, the creator should read any guides available on GameFaqs or a game's Wiki, if it exists, to get ideas for achievements - particularly for easter eggs and protecting achievements from cheat codes, unless the creator wants codes to be allowed.

Achievements that are too challenging so that only 1-2% of players can unlock them should be avoided and saved for a ~Bonus~ achievement set for extreme players that desire levels of challenge beyond what the original developers and designers had intended. Completing a level without killing an enemy, if possible, or only facing left, or never using provided powerups.

This guideline is very much a work in progress and I fully expect participation from the community in suggesting or modifying what I've proposed so far.
Thanks for reading/suggesting!

Posted: 01 Sep, 2017 15:07
There's a lot of great ideas here.

Posted: 19 Oct, 2017 11:54
Last Edit: 19 Oct, 2017 22:30
Atari 2600 achievements! Cool!

Posted: 30 Oct, 2017 13:34
I would love to see cheevos for Atari 2600. Was talking with my friend and we got a bunch of interesting achievements for Seaquest (my favorite atari2600 game).

I'm going to post our ideas here just to not lose them. I hope you don't mind it :)


Score cheevos:
- 50k
- 100k
- 150k
- 200k
- 250k
- 300k

No-death cheevos:
- 50k
- 100k
- 150k
- 200k (more than 200k deathless is insane!)

Other cheevos:
- Finish N stages without reloading the Oxygen (maybe more than one cheevo for that)
- Finish N stages with a blinking Oxygen bar
- Ecologist: Finish N stages without shooting any fish
- Pacifist: Finish N stages without shooting any submarine
- Rescuer: Finish N stages without letting any diver go out the screen

Posted: 30 Oct, 2017 16:14
Last Edit: 30 Oct, 2017 18:54
What kind of score is reasonable to expect a player to attain varies extremely by the game. Donkey Kong for the NES, for example, tracks score up to 999999, but expecting people to get 500000 points is ridiculous. The current set has one for 100000, which is good, players are going to hit that mark at some point during the fifth loop (which also has an achievement for completing it). 1942 also tracks score up to 999999, but here a player is pretty much guaranteed to roll the score before finishing the game, so the current set having an achievement for 990000 points is fair. It's very reasonable to expect players to get that many.

What kind of score/level achievements a game should have should be determined by someone familiar with that particular game, not by some overall guideline.

Posted: 17 Jan, 2018 19:34
Last Edit: 17 Jan, 2018 19:36
Leaderboards for Atari 2600 could have more sense than achievements. I really agree with Atari 2600 achievements, fair score achievements to get players familiar with the game are OK, and also the "Other cheevos" mentioned by for Seaquest seems fun to achieve. I cannot wait to see them!

Having in mind that Atari 2600 was released when Arcades were hitting hard (not much to see when lot of Atari 2600 shares similar mechanics), reaching top score was one of the main attractions of this kind of games.

Although some games could challenge the player to reach further "zones", like bridges in River Raid, Pitfall, Mr. Postman..., most of Atari 2600 games are highly defined by player score goals.

Posted: 09 Nov, 2018 03:09
So now Atari 2600 and 7800 achievements are created and working and the sets are turning out very fun thanks to some creative developers - The Seaquest and Pitfall! sets are great examples of how you can take very simple games and create additional challenges and achievements from what seems to be a very one dimensional game.

Does anyone have any additions or changes to suggest for this proposed guideline for creating simplified sets like these?


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