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June 17th, 2008

Achievement unlocked

Heh, one of you dear readers checked my Xbox Live Gamertag and sent me eMail, asking am I really doing TAGAP and TAGAP 2 or am I just goofing around hunting achievements on Xbox 360. Rest assured, the focus is on TAGAP and TAGAP 2, but every once in a while I just take a break, play some games and achieve stuff.

TAGAP v1.7 is nearing completion. I've been able to fix several could-be-issues as well as improved general stability of the whole engine. There are only three known assertion and/or other glitches to tackle before the release, so this was a good moment to have a small break before going into full crunch mode.

I guess this question is a direct result of me unlocking everything in Clive Barker's Jericho, ramping up my Gamerscore by 1000 points within a week. Yeah, I know, I have no life. I admit that achievements of Jericho weren't actually inspiring – they were more painful than fun to get, focusing on playing the game on Hard and avoid getting incapacitated. For those who don't know Jericho, its main gameplay device is the fact that player has already died and is now a ghost that can posses other members of the squad, making dying just a bump in the road. Taking this away from the player made it all rather boring, uninspired grinding. That clearly wasn't the intended way to play the game, sucking the very feeling of achieving out of it.

And this really made me think about the achievements of TAGAP 2. I don't want a single one of them to be irritating and that's why you won't see, say, any difficulty-setting bound achievements. This way all the achievements can be unlocked by everyone willing enough to pursue them, no matter are you a highly skilled SHMUP fanatic or less hardcore gamer.

The achievements I already had planned out fit in with this decision well. From achievement stand-point my biggest inspiration has been games like The Orange Box and Halo 3. The achievements in those two aren't just for killing 'x amount' of stuff or completing levels in 'x period of time', but instead encourage gameplay experimentation. For example, Half-Life 2 rewards players for killing stuff with a toilet seat, while Halo 3 offers an achievement for taking out an enemy with equipment. Simple, yes, but make you think differently as compared to standard run-n-gun moments – and that's what we're aiming for.

How will TAGAP 2 achievements work, then? That's still under discussion. As much we'd like to have some sort of online ranking and community features, they aren't our main priority right now, tuning out the gameplay is. I'm pretty certain actual Windows Live Achievements are out of the question, as it's highly unlikely that Microsoft would provide us, pseudo-pro hobbyist freeware crew, some Live dev-kits.

Time will tell and there's lots of it left until TAGAP 2 goes online.

Until next time,

Jouni Lahtinen, the head penguin