"Flower" isn't about winning or losing, living or dying; "Flower" is an experience, a type of interactive art, a different kind of fun that we're used to in games, but it also features trophies to unlock, which means the collect-a-thon aspect of "Flower' and other challenges are left for hardcore players to discover. Read More...

One of the more common requests I get from gamers who know I'm interviewing Epic Games' Cliff Bleszinski is to grill him about the "Gears of War" "Seriously" Achievement. It's supposed to reward gamers who have scored 10,000 kills in ranked Vs. matches (see here).

Bad news: That Achievement sometimes doesn't kick in for a long time. That makes people angry.

Good news: Cliff Bleszinski has read the complaints and says that "Gears of War 2"'s Seriously 2.0 Achievement (100,000 kills needed this time) will work better.

He told me that the development team was already on the case: Read More...

I can't remember what prompted it, but two days ago I had an idea that I think would help video game companies discourage gamers from buying used copies of games instead of new ones. They do hate the process, you know.

My idea is that if a game company wants to convince the average GameStop consumer to buy a new copy of "Gears of War 2" or "Resistance 2," they should build an an Achievement or Trophy into the game called "Bought The Game New."

Simple as that.

Here's how it would work: the game company packages their game with a single-use card that contains a password that can be inputted and verified by Xbox Live or PlayStation Network. Inputting the password earns the player an Achievement/Trophy that acknowledges that the player bought the game.

With that simple maneuver, the many gamers who love racking up Gamerscore points or Trophies would find themselves more inclined to buy their games new, rather than buy old ones or rent. This technique would be cheaper -- though possibly less alluring -- than companies like EA charging purchasers of used games extra to unlock all of a game's features or Microsoft issuing exclusive maps for people who buy new copies of "Gears."

So who's up for a "Bought The Game New" Achievement? Or would that be terrible for gamers?

With the myriad of things to do in "World of Warcraft," it seemed inevitable that the game would include its own Achievement system.

Last week, when I spoke with lead "WoW"designer Jeffrey Kaplan, he told me the inspiration behind it was that many at Blizzard are fans of other Achievement systems.

"We found that players are always looking for bragging rights and recognition of their past accomplishments," he told me in an interview last week. "It's more to feel like you got a trophy for doing something special, but in no way would this increase your character power. We didn't want to force you into weird sorts of gameplay that you wouldn't be doing anyway; we wanted it to more be sort of a reflection of what players were already doing."


When I spoke with lead "World of Warcraft" designer Jeff Kaplan yesterday about the game's new Achievement system, he revealed that eventually players will have a Blizzard Account that shows Achievements from other Blizzard games they've played, including the upcoming titles "Diablo III" and "StarCraft II."

"Eventually, our plans are for the Achievement system to become an account-based system," he explained.

When the new Blizzard Accounts are active, a player's 'WoW' points can be added to an overall score dubbed an account holder's "Blizzard Level." "It's basically a gamerscore," Kaplan said, when I made reference to Xbox Live's Achievement system. "For now the points are just a 'WoW' character score. As we graduate to that Blizzard Account system, which is right on the horizon, it will switch over to a Blizzard Level."


'Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2' LogoIf I was able to be one of 36 members of the gaming media to nominate the best games of E3, surely someone will allow me, today, to nominate my pick for best Xbox Achievement of 2008?

Who cares if the year is barely halfway finished? How can there be a better Xbox 360 Achievement than "Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2"'s Wax Off?

Let's back up for a second. In my last diary entryI wrote about my Tuesday morning session with "GWRE2." I liked the twin-stick shooter but didn't feel yet that it was the best game in the series.

I hadn't unlocked all of the game's six modes yet. On Tuesday night I did, and the game became my favorite "Geometry Wars," after all. Credit the new game's Pacifism mode, which ensnared me with the best let-me-try-one-more allure of a good bag of potato chips. Pacifism Mode also contains what I think is the best and most smartly designed Achievement of the year: Wax Off.
Let me make my case..

Atari's "Alone in the Dark" arrives on Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, Wii and PC next month.

It won't arrive on PlayStation 3 until later, which means it could include support for the PS3's virtual world Home service and the system's Achievements-like system called trophies.

Home was one of Phil Harrison's babies at Sony, where he served as head of worldwide studios until a couple of months ago. He always seemed very proud of what Sony could accomplish with Home. But it didn't happen while he was there.

I figured that now that he's president of Atari's parent company, Infogrames, he might have some insight on whether "Alone in the Dark" could support Home and incorporate trophies later this year.

"If the libraries are available, then yeah, I would hope that the PS3 version can take advantage of that," he told me last week.

No Home guarantees yet, readers. Not even from Phil Harrison.

The Xbox 360 version of "Grand Theft Auto IV" has 50 official Achievements. But no list of Achievements can tabulate all of interesting things you can do in a "GTA."

Here are several things I achieved in my first seven hours in the game that you can strive for too, if you get the M-rated game once it launches Tuesday..

100% Unofficial Extra "Grand Theft Auto IV" Achievements

  • Caught A Visual Joke Reference To Master Chief
  • Saw Reflection Of The Elevated Train In The Hood Of My Car While Driving In First-Person View
  • Walked Into a Six-Star Wanted Rating
  • Watched a Pantomime Cowboy -- Really!
  • Heard a Character Say The Words 'Hot Coffee'
  • Used A Car to Knock A Cup Of Coffee From Someone's Hand -- Without Knocking The Person Off Their Feet
  • Lost Niko's Hat

Most of these things wouldn't have been possible in previous "GTA" games. A lot of them are physics-dependent. Not all of them, though. Not the Master Chief thing.

So why stop at 50? If ever there was a game so rich with possibilities in its world that gamers could make up their own list of Achievements, "GTA IV" is it.

DGamerThere are Achievements, Entitlements, eventually trophies, and now there are Honors, courtesy of Disney's upcoming DGamer social network for the Nintendo DS.

DGamer comes first attached to "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian." As the first title coming out of Disney's newly formed Fall Line Studios, a group focused exclusively on Wii and DS development, there's quite a bit riding on the reaction to this initial outing.

Disney's hopes are pinned to the younger crowd flocking towards DGamer, Disney's gaming take on the Facebook/Xbox Live/MySpace phenomenon, an extension of what the company has already been toying with on Disney.com.

I decided to give it a whirl yesterday. Unfortunately, Disney rejected my screen name!


Game DemosDemos may be the best way to find out if you like a game, but releasing one might not be in a publisher's best financial interest, according to a study discussed at last week's MI6 video game marketing conference.

This is the same study, presented by Gregory Short and Geoffery Zatkin, heads of the Electronic Entertainment Design and Research Group (EEDAR), which recommended marketing teams should work with developers to come up with an Xbox 360 game's Achievements.

While demos may be effective at producing word-of-mouth, the EEDAR found that the highest selling games on both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 produced buzz via Xbox Live Marketplace and PlayStation Network with trailers alone.

There are some other interesting bits extrapolate, so let's look at how the sales break down…


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