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Achievement Theory

June 23, 2024 - Waugh101
As TF2C’s art lead, I don’t tend to be very involved in the gameplay side of things. Yet it has a lot of topics ripe for these behind-the-scenes blog posts. For a look into one of those topics, I asked our gameplay folks about their process for designing achievements. Here’s some of what I heard.

The game’s achievements can be grouped into three general categories:

Tutorial achievements are designed to introduce players to mechanics that they might not otherwise pick up on. They’re particularly helpful for more obscure interactions, like the Wrench’s ability to defuse thrown Dynamite Packs.

Progression Milestones
Progression milestones are intended to encourage desired behaviors and help build useful habits. For example, rewarding cumulative healing or playing a variety of maps. They also give returning players longer-term goals to look forward to.

Challenges are designed to be more difficult tasks. These give achievement hunters harder goals to push for. They also act to reward more general players for a skillful or lucky move. Examples of challenges include landing a long-range RPG shot or surviving a full round as VIP.

There are some more general considerations, too. For instance, it should ideally take more than a month to complete all achievements, but it should also be easy enough to earn one every day or two. When we release new weapons, achievements should accompany them. These new achievements should also come with counterparts for existing weapons, though. This helps to keep older stock still feeling worthwhile to use. Lastly, achievements should be spread fairly evenly between classes. However, it's important to keep in mind that different classes will get different types of achievements more easily.

To compliment all of this, the difficulty-based completion sounds and increased progression pop-ups help improve the game feel around them.

It was around this point that I asked “So when do you start painting pretty pictures?” I could sense some weird looks behind the screen; I think I’ll stick to the art department. Here’s hoping they don’t nerf my account’s damage or anything.