A week or so ago I spoke about how Achievements, when used effectively, can extend the life of a game. They can be used to tempt and tease you into playing in different ways or even just trying to reach for the near impossible. Last night saw another Achievement hunting exercise for a handful of us as we continued down Bungie’s Road to Recon in Halo: ODST. Far from being just an attempt at boosting our gamerscore, it was a bid to unlock hidden titbits but also a fine example of how a developer can reach out to the community and make them feel special.
Ever since the launch of Halo 3 a special style of armour has only been available to select few. Originally only Bungie employees were granted the ability to wear it but over time players who caught Bungie’s eye were also handed a set. As ever with a rampant community, what you can’t have you want and so began the lust for Recon, as it was known.
Bungie has always been a sterling example of how a developer should interact with the community. From weekly updates that drip feed information and give personalities to those usually anonymous names on the credits, to theming online matches around Halloween, Valentines Day and other major events, they are always reaching out and not only talking to their user base but listening to them, too. Well, at least those that don’t have a tendency to insert numbers where vowels ought to be. Out of this came The Road to Recon, a further meta-game within the Halo products that will unlock Recon for the player should they complete a list of objectives, mainly Achievements. The end goal of an alternate helmet may not seem a big deal for many who read this but to the Halo community it’s now a mark of your dedication to the cause and another well thought out offering to the community from Bungie.
It works on many levels, too. Even though the community is comparatively small, I like to think my involvement with Viva Piñata has gone some way in enhancing the game for those I interact with, too. Whether it be talking with a dev frankly about the game, showing that we still care about a product several years after launch or even injecting the odd Easter Egg into proceedings here and there, I am a big advocate of the developer’s equivalent of after sales care.
So many studios, rightly or wrongly, treat the pressing of the final product as the end of the process. Whilst it might be the end for the developers have slaved day and night to get the game to your console, it is only the beginning for you.