I've previously mentioned that I'm currently working on an Awards-System for Traces of Illumination. I don't want to go too much into detail, yet, but keep you posted on what's going on in that area. So here we go:
The first time I got in touch with a system like that was World of Warcraft and the Achievements they have. Probably, X-Box Live was before that - and I'm pretty sure that kind of system was even in earlier games but at the moment I don't feel like doing that research.
It was clear to me pretty early on that I'd want to integrate such a kind of system into Traces of Illumination as well. Obviously, completing the tutorials and finding out some of the secrets available there would be worth an Award (I prefer to not use the term Achievement because I think it's already overused). Completing levels also is a thing that warrants a reward, and so is getting a new Tracer. But I also felt like there would be quite a few very interesting Awards more on the meta-level. Like, how often do you play (I took the badges of Unity Answers as an example for that, which is based on Stackoverflow).
One thing that I also felt where a properly designed Awards system would help a lot is having something to put into the various social media streams (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace ... and my own "social Web" on RaMtiGA which is also currently "under development"). I find it really annoying when I play a game on Facebook - and after playing, I have like 25 repetetive messages in my stream that are not only annoying for myself but also for all of my friends. With Awards, it's clearly defined when you get what - and whatever you get, you usually only get it once (well, unless ... one Award is letting go of the Awards you have already earned - which will let you do things again).
So a little less than two weeks ago I started with the database and pretty much completed that part, and also created the first 54 Awards, of which one is actually an Anti-Award for cheaters. I started with designing the look of the different types of Awards in the different stats (not touched, in progress and awarded) and am already pretty happy with that.
Today, while going for a walk in the wonderful spring-time environment another bunch of Awards started flowing into my mind. When I sat down to write them directly into the database, it turned out to be another 23 - so now I'm at 77. Mind you: 2 of the new ones are Anti-Awards that I really hope no one's ever getting: For being banned temporarily ("I got Banned") or permanently ("Game Over").
The others include publicly letting the Awards be know through different social media (Facebook, Twitter and MySpace for now) and one whole new type of Awards that I'm calling "Special". The inspiration for those came through something I feel especially beta-testers will like: Especially during development, there might be times when I might ask people to "start from scratch". So there are ways to make the system forget your in-game status and start as if you created a new player. This starts with just "Letting Go of Tutorials" but ends at dropping everything when the game is complete.
While thinking about creating an MMO, inspired through Richard Bartle, I spent quite some time considering the concept of "permanent death" in that kind of game. The idea is that under certain circumstances, you might actually lose your character. Obviously, in such a game you can't have your character be killed three times a day. But it provides the possibility to make certain events really matter because there is a real risk. And there's another aspect: While you lose everything your character has achieved in the game - you don't lose your experience in the game. You still know how to play. And that makes a difference.
In Traces of Illumination, there will be the possibility of "letting go" of all the in-game achievements and awards and start from the beginning - and the will award you the title "Reincarnated" because in a way it's like "permanent death" in the real world (which I consider to be quite less permanent than some other people may). Having that kind of Award (which, logically, is permanent) introduces quite a new dimension into the game which I find extremely exciting. My feeling is that the "Special" type of awards is complete as of today ... you should be able to take a look pretty soon (while the game is not far enough in its implementation for many of the awards to be earned, I'll nevertheless put the whole set online so you get an idea of what you can expect).
What I found really magical was that right after completing this I had a quick look at the Unity forums and the one posting that got me interested was about The Future of Gaming. It refers to a talk by Jesse Schell - and in that talk awards / achievements play a rather significant role. IMHO, this talk really gets the significance of gaming in our days and our near future to the point.
So ... "all" I have to do now is get all of that implemented in due time. Which I think is the greatest challenge in all of this ... but I'm working on it ;-)