How I Got Past Trophies and Achievements in Gaming

Hello, my name is Jason, and I’m a recovering Achievement/Trophy Hunter.

Not too long ago, I posted on here about my efforts to hit 100,000 GamerScore, along with a trip down memory lane of how I go to that point. I ended up getting my 100K GS, and even recorded it as well. On top of that, I also recently earned my 1000th PlayStation Trophy as well, coordinating it so that my Platinum Trophy for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn was the one to put me over the top (it also was my 10th Platinum, too). And, with those two actions completed, I declared achievement/trophy hunting to be over for me.

You see, there was a time in gaming history not too long ago where Achievements and Trophies did not exist. Gamers played games strictly for the sake of fun. I realize that most people still do that and ignore Achievements/Trophies, but I found myself among those that are called Achievement/Trophy Hunters. I mostly detailed my path down the Hunter route in my previous post, but it became an addicting experience. In addition to playing “lame” games that had easy paths to 100% (1000 GamerScore or a Platinum Trophy), what the Achievement/Trophy Hunter path did, at least for me, was create an overwhelming backlog of games[1]. This was because I would finish a game and then have to go back and either replay it entirely in some fashion (higher difficulty, different character(s), a specific time to beat, etc), replay certain levels for other tasks (time to beat, collectibles, etc.), or just grind out menial tasks (X number of kills with Y weapon). Even though the story of the game was essentially finished, I hadn’t moved on and was still on the same game while others were waiting to be played And then, when I got to them, the same thing would happen, and thus my backlog would increase[2].

Sometimes I would look up how hard it was to 100% a game on X360a.org on my phone right in the store before deciding whether or not to buy it.

Here is a rundown of games that I own but still have yet to play from the past generation:
The Last of Us
Journey
Borderlands 1 & Borderlands 2
Red Dead Redemption
– L.A. Noire
Halo 4
Final Fantasy XIII-2 & Final Fantasy XIII-3
Eternal Sonata
Tales of Xillia
Tales of Vesperia
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
Beyond: Two Souls
Batman: Arkham Origins
Sleeping Dogs
A Wolf Among Us
The Walking Dead

And that is such a small percentage of games I own that I just haven’t gotten to yet. There are many more, thanks to PlayStation Plus (and to a much lesser degree, Xbox Games with Gold) churning out multiple titles each month[3]. In fact, I only just got to play BioShock Infinite and I was blown away by it. I was only a year and a half late to the party.

There’s definitely perks to waiting to play games. I almost never buy games new these days, and thus wait until they drop in price a good amount. Having a backlog helps this out. I simply keep my eye on titles I am interested in playing. If they ever hit the magic price point of $9.99, I immediately buy them at that point. Sometimes sooner, too, of course. The thing is, when I experience a game like BioShock Infinite and go online to talk about how awesome it is… well, by that time, everyone is like, “…yeah, we know.” It’d be like calling a friend over to your computer to show him this really funny SNL skit where Christopher Walken keeps asking for more cowbell. Great in its time, but its magic has faded a bit by now. Meanwhile, I’m basking in the afterglow of awesomeness and have nobody to share it with, and I end up having a conversation with my wife that goes like this.

Now, I certainly am not saying Achievements and Trophies are a bane upon the industry. They were a brilliant idea from Microsoft, and I think they helped establish the Xbox 360 early on as a go-to system, even beyond the fact that the Xbox 360 launched a year before the more expensive PS3. By the time the PS3 came along — even if someone owned both systems — Achievements being available for a multiplatform game certainly made me buy it for the Xbox 360 instead[4]. I mean, I might as well earn some GamerScore while I play, right? Sony must have noticed this, because they implemented a Trophy system for their platform as well within a couple of years. Still, by then, early-adopters of the two systems had developed their own Gamer Profile on Xbox 360, and it just made sense to stay with it, rather than start fresh on PlayStation. However, any newcomers to one system or the other would potentially develop a sense of brand loyalty, if just for the sake of continuing their ascent in GamerScore or Trophy Level.

I happened to switch myself at some point, preferring the PlayStation Trophy system over the Xbox Achievement system. However, by that time, I wasn’t playing the “lame” games anymore. What I still was doing, though, was a silly process that went something like this:
1) A game gets my attention (PS+, saw on sale or dirt cheap at GameStop)
2) Look up the game on XboxAchievements.com or PlayStationTrophies.org and see how easy or difficult it is to get 100%/Platinum[5]
3) If easy, acquire game. If hard, pass it up.
4) Beat game, then acquire every Trophy, even if it sucks (I’m looking at you, Superman Returns)

You see, “fun factor” was not even a consideration! I’d mostly skip FPS games entirely, because their Achievement list required multiplayer, and Lord knows I am something awful at online deathmatch FPS games. I’ve tried, but it’s usually results in, “Okay, match has started, now if I can get my bearings… Where do I want to go first? Oh, I’m dead. Alright” and repeat until I turn it off in embarrassed frustration. And yet, I did enjoy the story of the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series; I just stopped the franchise when I’d see multiplayer trophies.

When my wife bought me a PS3 for my birthday, I returned Fallout 3 for it. I wanted it for X360 instead so I could earn more GamerScore.

You might say, “Well you did factor in fun, since FPS don’t seem to be your thing.” True enough, but I’d do the same thing with RPGs, which are my favorite genre. Most RPG titles have Achievements that require massive grinding (ie get all characters to max level). I’d generally skip RPGs (hence three of them in the list above) because of the timesink associated with them. Those I did play — Lost Odyssey and Final Fantasy XIII, for example — I did grind out for the 100%/Platinum anyway, whether or not I really enjoyed (the former) or really did not enjoy (the latter) the game.

So how did I overcome my addiction? Well, I’d say the pivotal moment for me came this past Spring, when I learned that a free-to-play MMO on PS3 called Free Realms was shutting down. I had tried out this game when I first got my PlayStation 3 and spent most of my time on it playing demos. The thing about Free Realms is that, though it’s technically free-to-play, you can’t level up past Level 5 without a subscription. And most of its associated Trophies are for getting to Level 20 in the myriad classes available in the game. Since I had played this game, it appeared in my PSN Profile with a 0% completion to it. This, of course, was unacceptable. So what I did, realizing I had roughly six weeks left, was create a spreadsheet to plot out my gaming. I worked out how many levels I’d need on average per day to hit 20 on all of them before shutdown. I’d grind out each day in the various classes and update my spreadsheet, all in hopes of obtaining an elusive Platinum Trophy that would never again be attainable. While the game had plenty of enjoyable experiences to it, there was also plenty of monotony to it as well. I like to think that, spread over time, the game might be enjoyable with friends, but it became “work” for me to grind it out each day to maintain my quota. It was around this time that I realized not only was I no longer playing games for the fun of it, but I actually had a PS4 and XB1 that I had not even played games on yet, all because of my Achievement/Trophy addiction and subsequent backlog as a result.

I did obtain the Platinum Trophy for Free Realms, and I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same thing for any other kind of Trophy that would be deemed “never again attainable,” such as a game whose servers are going offline forever, but it definitely awoke me with a, “What the hell am I doing here?” epiphany.

It was around this time that I realized not only was I no longer playing games for the fun of it, but I actually had a PS4 and XB1 that I had not even played games on yet, all because of my Achievement/Trophy addiction and subsequent backlog as a result.

These days, following the cessation of my Hunting status, my playstyle has adapted to this kind of process:
1) A game gets my attention
2) Does it look fun to play?
3) Play it (or add it to the queue!)
4) When story is complete, move on to the next

If I enjoy a game a lot, I may continue to play it some more at Step 4. One of the recent titles where this happened was a PlayStation Vita title called Mutant Mudds Deluxe. It’s a 16-bit style game (all hail the Super Nintendo!) with a crappy barebones story. However, the gameplay was so fun that I spent a good deal of time after beating every level going back and obtaining all the collectibles (as well as playing the harder bonus levels) until I earned the Platinum Trophy. The difference is that it didn’t feel like a grind to me; I genuinely enjoyed playing it. Conversely, when I finished Velocity 2x — another game that I really enjoyed — I moved on. I did do the bonus levels for it and acquire collectibles, because I enjoyed that aspect. But the trophies for getting a Perfect rating in every level were beyond something I was willing to do, and so I moved on. No Platinum for that game, but I’m okay with that.

Because I have such a huge backlog, what I’ve resolved myself to doing for the most part is Step 4 above. Should I ever make it through my backlog and find myself wondering what to play (fat chance, but one can dream!), I can go back to these games and play them again for the missing Trophies. For example, after beating Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and Uncharted: Golden Abyss, I replayed each on Hard difficulty, earned X kills with Y weapon, and acquired all collectibles. For each title. Before moving on to the next game. When I beat Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, I moved on. Even with BioShock Infinite, a game I’d put in my Top 5 Games of All-Time (seriously, go play it), I moved on when I beat it. I didn’t go for weapon kills or replay the game on the hardest mode. I may, someday, but I won’t actually gain anything other than trophies, and I’m past that[6].

And that’s where I’m at now. It’s made things a lot more fun as well. Now, I hopped into Ryse on Xbox One with not a single expectation and loved it. Now, when I’m playing a game and an Achievement/Trophy pop up, I think “oh, cool” and check out what I’ve actually done to earn it. This is a far cry from knowing a Trophy was coming because I was following a (Trophy) guide. Now, I pop in a game and just play it without a guide[7].

Now, it’s almost like it used to be, before all this Trophy/Achievement business became such a big part of gaming. At least for me, gaming’s just more fun that way.

 

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. I’d also be remiss if I did not mention playing Final Fantasy XI Online from 2004-2013 and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn from 2013 to present as another cause for my backlog increasing, as one must devote substantial amounts of time to MMO titles that take away from offline/single-player/non-MMO titles as well.
  2. Sites like PSNProfiles don’t help, either! Showing me the average “completion percentage” of games would make me feel like, “I’ve gotta go back and play more of this game to raise my overall completion percentage!” There’s also the situation of seeing a friend you’re not too far behind and that you simply must not only catch up, but surpass!
  3. I’ve still yet play any of the PS4/XB1 freebies since their release 10 months ago!
  4. My wife bought me a PlayStation 4 for my birthday, along with Fallout 3. I returned the game, because I wanted to play it on Xbox 360 and earn GamerScore there.
  5. I’d sometimes do in the store itself on my smartphone. Or jot down the names of the games (at a GameStop sale) and look them up when I got home before I bought them.
  6. I definitely do plan to go back to it and at least play the DLC for its story at some point.
  7. The one exception to this is that I do still look up new games on X360a or PST, not for difficulty, but for “Missables.” Being that I have a backlog, I don’t want to play through a game more than once if I can help it. Knowing whether or not there are situations in a game where “If you miss this, you’ll have to start over” (Game Developers, please stop this) versus “No missables. Can go back via Level Select” (or something similar) is a huge help and potential massive time-saver.

Hello, my name is Jason, and I’m a recovering Achievement/Trophy Hunter.

Not too long ago, I posted on here about my efforts to hit 100,000 GamerScore, along with a trip down memory lane of how I go to that point. I ended up getting my 100K GS, and even recorded it as well. On top of that, I also recently earned my 1000th PlayStation Trophy as well, coordinating it so that my Platinum Trophy for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn was the one to put me over the top (it also was my 10th Platinum, too). And, with those two actions completed, I declared achievement/trophy hunting to be over for me.

You see, there was a time in gaming history not too long ago where Achievements and Trophies did not exist. Gamers played games strictly for the sake of fun. I realize that most people still do that and ignore Achievements/Trophies, but I found myself among those that are called Achievement/Trophy Hunters. I mostly detailed my path down the Hunter route in my previous post, but it became an addicting experience. In addition to playing “lame” games that had easy paths to 100% (1000 GamerScore or a Platinum Trophy), what the Achievement/Trophy Hunter path did, at least for me, was create an overwhelming backlog of games[1]. This was because I would finish a game and then have to go back and either replay it entirely in some fashion (higher difficulty, different character(s), a specific time to beat, etc), replay certain levels for other tasks (time to beat, collectibles, etc.), or just grind out menial tasks (X number of kills with Y weapon). Even though the story of the game was essentially finished, I hadn’t moved on and was still on the same game while others were waiting to be played And then, when I got to them, the same thing would happen, and thus my backlog would increase[2].

Sometimes I would look up how hard it was to 100% a game on X360a.org on my phone right in the store before deciding whether or not to buy it.

Here is a rundown of games that I own but still have yet to play from the past generation:
The Last of Us
Journey
Borderlands 1 & Borderlands 2
Red Dead Redemption
– L.A. Noire
Halo 4
Final Fantasy XIII-2 & Final Fantasy XIII-3
Eternal Sonata
Tales of Xillia
Tales of Vesperia
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
Beyond: Two Souls
Batman: Arkham Origins
Sleeping Dogs
A Wolf Among Us
The Walking Dead

And that is such a small percentage of games I own that I just haven’t gotten to yet. There are many more, thanks to PlayStation Plus (and to a much lesser degree, Xbox Games with Gold) churning out multiple titles each month[3]. In fact, I only just got to play BioShock Infinite and I was blown away by it. I was only a year and a half late to the party.

There’s definitely perks to waiting to play games. I almost never buy games new these days, and thus wait until they drop in price a good amount. Having a backlog helps this out. I simply keep my eye on titles I am interested in playing. If they ever hit the magic price point of $9.99, I immediately buy them at that point. Sometimes sooner, too, of course. The thing is, when I experience a game like BioShock Infinite and go online to talk about how awesome it is… well, by that time, everyone is like, “…yeah, we know.” It’d be like calling a friend over to your computer to show him this really funny SNL skit where Christopher Walken keeps asking for more cowbell. Great in its time, but its magic has faded a bit by now. Meanwhile, I’m basking in the afterglow of awesomeness and have nobody to share it with, and I end up having a conversation with my wife that goes like this.

Now, I certainly am not saying Achievements and Trophies are a bane upon the industry. They were a brilliant idea from Microsoft, and I think they helped establish the Xbox 360 early on as a go-to system, even beyond the fact that the Xbox 360 launched a year before the more expensive PS3. By the time the PS3 came along — even if someone owned both systems — Achievements being available for a multiplatform game certainly made me buy it for the Xbox 360 instead[4]. I mean, I might as well earn some GamerScore while I play, right? Sony must have noticed this, because they implemented a Trophy system for their platform as well within a couple of years. Still, by then, early-adopters of the two systems had developed their own Gamer Profile on Xbox 360, and it just made sense to stay with it, rather than start fresh on PlayStation. However, any newcomers to one system or the other would potentially develop a sense of brand loyalty, if just for the sake of continuing their ascent in GamerScore or Trophy Level.

I happened to switch myself at some point, preferring the PlayStation Trophy system over the Xbox Achievement system. However, by that time, I wasn’t playing the “lame” games anymore. What I still was doing, though, was a silly process that went something like this:
1) A game gets my attention (PS+, saw on sale or dirt cheap at GameStop)
2) Look up the game on XboxAchievements.com or PlayStationTrophies.org and see how easy or difficult it is to get 100%/Platinum[5]
3) If easy, acquire game. If hard, pass it up.
4) Beat game, then acquire every Trophy, even if it sucks (I’m looking at you, Superman Returns)

You see, “fun factor” was not even a consideration! I’d mostly skip FPS games entirely, because their Achievement list required multiplayer, and Lord knows I am something awful at online deathmatch FPS games. I’ve tried, but it’s usually results in, “Okay, match has started, now if I can get my bearings… Where do I want to go first? Oh, I’m dead. Alright” and repeat until I turn it off in embarrassed frustration. And yet, I did enjoy the story of the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series; I just stopped the franchise when I’d see multiplayer trophies.

When my wife bought me a PS3 for my birthday, I returned Fallout 3 for it. I wanted it for X360 instead so I could earn more GamerScore.

You might say, “Well you did factor in fun, since FPS don’t seem to be your thing.” True enough, but I’d do the same thing with RPGs, which are my favorite genre. Most RPG titles have Achievements that require massive grinding (ie get all characters to max level). I’d generally skip RPGs (hence three of them in the list above) because of the timesink associated with them. Those I did play — Lost Odyssey and Final Fantasy XIII, for example — I did grind out for the 100%/Platinum anyway, whether or not I really enjoyed (the former) or really did not enjoy (the latter) the game.

So how did I overcome my addiction? Well, I’d say the pivotal moment for me came this past Spring, when I learned that a free-to-play MMO on PS3 called Free Realms was shutting down. I had tried out this game when I first got my PlayStation 3 and spent most of my time on it playing demos. The thing about Free Realms is that, though it’s technically free-to-play, you can’t level up past Level 5 without a subscription. And most of its associated Trophies are for getting to Level 20 in the myriad classes available in the game. Since I had played this game, it appeared in my PSN Profile with a 0% completion to it. This, of course, was unacceptable. So what I did, realizing I had roughly six weeks left, was create a spreadsheet to plot out my gaming. I worked out how many levels I’d need on average per day to hit 20 on all of them before shutdown. I’d grind out each day in the various classes and update my spreadsheet, all in hopes of obtaining an elusive Platinum Trophy that would never again be attainable. While the game had plenty of enjoyable experiences to it, there was also plenty of monotony to it as well. I like to think that, spread over time, the game might be enjoyable with friends, but it became “work” for me to grind it out each day to maintain my quota. It was around this time that I realized not only was I no longer playing games for the fun of it, but I actually had a PS4 and XB1 that I had not even played games on yet, all because of my Achievement/Trophy addiction and subsequent backlog as a result.

I did obtain the Platinum Trophy for Free Realms, and I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same thing for any other kind of Trophy that would be deemed “never again attainable,” such as a game whose servers are going offline forever, but it definitely awoke me with a, “What the hell am I doing here?” epiphany.

It was around this time that I realized not only was I no longer playing games for the fun of it, but I actually had a PS4 and XB1 that I had not even played games on yet, all because of my Achievement/Trophy addiction and subsequent backlog as a result.

These days, following the cessation of my Hunting status, my playstyle has adapted to this kind of process:
1) A game gets my attention
2) Does it look fun to play?
3) Play it (or add it to the queue!)
4) When story is complete, move on to the next

If I enjoy a game a lot, I may continue to play it some more at Step 4. One of the recent titles where this happened was a PlayStation Vita title called Mutant Mudds Deluxe. It’s a 16-bit style game (all hail the Super Nintendo!) with a crappy barebones story. However, the gameplay was so fun that I spent a good deal of time after beating every level going back and obtaining all the collectibles (as well as playing the harder bonus levels) until I earned the Platinum Trophy. The difference is that it didn’t feel like a grind to me; I genuinely enjoyed playing it. Conversely, when I finished Velocity 2x — another game that I really enjoyed — I moved on. I did do the bonus levels for it and acquire collectibles, because I enjoyed that aspect. But the trophies for getting a Perfect rating in every level were beyond something I was willing to do, and so I moved on. No Platinum for that game, but I’m okay with that.

Because I have such a huge backlog, what I’ve resolved myself to doing for the most part is Step 4 above. Should I ever make it through my backlog and find myself wondering what to play (fat chance, but one can dream!), I can go back to these games and play them again for the missing Trophies. For example, after beating Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and Uncharted: Golden Abyss, I replayed each on Hard difficulty, earned X kills with Y weapon, and acquired all collectibles. For each title. Before moving on to the next game. When I beat Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, I moved on. Even with BioShock Infinite, a game I’d put in my Top 5 Games of All-Time (seriously, go play it), I moved on when I beat it. I didn’t go for weapon kills or replay the game on the hardest mode. I may, someday, but I won’t actually gain anything other than trophies, and I’m past that[6].

And that’s where I’m at now. It’s made things a lot more fun as well. Now, I hopped into Ryse on Xbox One with not a single expectation and loved it. Now, when I’m playing a game and an Achievement/Trophy pop up, I think “oh, cool” and check out what I’ve actually done to earn it. This is a far cry from knowing a Trophy was coming because I was following a (Trophy) guide. Now, I pop in a game and just play it without a guide[7].

Now, it’s almost like it used to be, before all this Trophy/Achievement business became such a big part of gaming. At least for me, gaming’s just more fun that way.

 

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. I’d also be remiss if I did not mention playing Final Fantasy XI Online from 2004-2013 and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn from 2013 to present as another cause for my backlog increasing, as one must devote substantial amounts of time to MMO titles that take away from offline/single-player/non-MMO titles as well.
  2. Sites like PSNProfiles don’t help, either! Showing me the average “completion percentage” of games would make me feel like, “I’ve gotta go back and play more of this game to raise my overall completion percentage!” There’s also the situation of seeing a friend you’re not too far behind and that you simply must not only catch up, but surpass!
  3. I’ve still yet play any of the PS4/XB1 freebies since their release 10 months ago!
  4. My wife bought me a PlayStation 4 for my birthday, along with Fallout 3. I returned the game, because I wanted to play it on Xbox 360 and earn GamerScore there.
  5. I’d sometimes do in the store itself on my smartphone. Or jot down the names of the games (at a GameStop sale) and look them up when I got home before I bought them.
  6. I definitely do plan to go back to it and at least play the DLC for its story at some point.
  7. The one exception to this is that I do still look up new games on X360a or PST, not for difficulty, but for “Missables.” Being that I have a backlog, I don’t want to play through a game more than once if I can help it. Knowing whether or not there are situations in a game where “If you miss this, you’ll have to start over” (Game Developers, please stop this) versus “No missables. Can go back via Level Select” (or something similar) is a huge help and potential massive time-saver.

About the author

Jason L. Hubsch

Jason L. Hubsch

I love music, video games, comic books, pro wrestling, politics, and God -- and not necessarily in that order! If you like any of these, chances are we'll get along.

Related posts

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *