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Naughty Dog's Lemarchand: Achievements Open A 'New World Of Game Design'

Speaking with Gamasutra as part of larger feature on in-game achievements, Naughty Dog's (Uncharted) Richard Lemarchand praised player incentives as "a j
Speaking with Gamasutra as part of larger feature on in-game achievements, Naughty Dog's (Uncharted) lead designer Richard Lemarchand praised player incentives for opening "a whole new world of game design". Lemarchand admits that earning trophies, Sony's incentive system, is a fairly simple idea, but also recognizes that they can potentially reward a variety of play styles, from exploration and speed runs to total mastery. They are also a way to chronicle accomplishments in the game. "We had 48 trophies in Uncharted," he says. "We saw how much players enjoyed them, and it got us excited about applying ourselves more seriously to the design of our trophy system and trying to find trophies that are unique and really attention-grabbing. That's what we're doing right now [brainstorming trophies for Uncharted 2: Among Thieves]." While the quest to collect trophies may drive some players into play styles that are not a natural fit for them, forcing them to complete tasks that negatively affect their experience with the game, the lead designer believes that in-game achievements also have the potential to break habits and preconceptions. He adds that the most compelling trophies are a benchmark of player skill that test their combat or traversing prowess, pointing to one of his favorite trophies, "Dyno-Might!", an award for killing three enemies witha single grenade, as an example. "You would sometimes get it by accident, but when it gave me the best feeling was when I did it on purpose -- whether by clever evaluation or because the stars aligned," says Lemarchand. He argues that these displays of skill carry more weight in the public sphere than those that commemorate a player reaching an arbitrary checkpoint. "This whole world of incentives, of public awards for things that players have done in the course of their unique experience of the game, is a jumping off point for a whole new world of game design." "It has to do with games becoming more social through connectivity and games breaking out of the constraints that they have had historically," the Uncharted lead designer continues. "We are fundamentally social creatures, and fundamentally playful creatures. Most everyone has that urge to be part of a social group -- to be seen in a social group." Lemarchand believes that trophies embody that spirit. You can read the full feature, which shares additional thoughts on in-game achievements from Infinity Ward community manager Robert Bowling, Skate 2 producer Brian Lindley, Turn 10 senior game designer Bill Giese, and more (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).

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