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The achievement that couldn't be unlocked
July 29, 2014 7:05 PM   Subscribe

Christine Love prankishly included an achievement in her visual novel Hate Plus that could not possibly be achieved. But gamers have refused to take no for an answer.
posted by Chrysostom (33 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
I didn't pay close enough attention to notice that achievement, but the one where people took a photo of them eating cake with the character and the dialog the game gives you accusing you of using GaneFAQs when you time skip are all great. Christine Love is my anime hero.
posted by NoraReed at 7:23 PM on July 29


On the subject of Love, please check out Digital: A Love Story. The best game I've ever played.
posted by gregoryg at 7:33 PM on July 29




I didn't really love a hate story, is hate plus better? I loved digital and don't take it personally.
posted by empath at 7:46 PM on July 29


Oh man, reviving Aerith. Bittersweet memories of being young and gullible on the internet.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 7:47 PM on July 29


The Stanley Parable has an achievement in the demo that is taken away shortly after you achieve it. And there's another for playing the game for the entire duration of a Tuesday. There are a couple of dubious ones in the full game: fully 2.6% of players have the unachievable achivement. (Gonna call shenanigans on the people who have the "don't play for five years" one.)
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 7:56 PM on July 29


I know that Love is conflicted about the efforts to save Mute, and reading the story, even I was, too. But... she did troll the players with an unachievable achievement. I suppose it's debatable as to whether she "trolled" anyone, but the fact that it's called an "achievement" yet cannot be obtained seems trollish to me.

What surprised me about the article, as interesting as it was, is that at no point (apparently) did the author ask Love why she created the achievement. The closest we get to an explanation is this line: "Christine Love included the achievement tied to Mute living at the end of the game as a joke, as I'm sure the name of the achievement lets on."

But if it's a joke, it's a trollish one. I mean, jokes are supposed to be funny, right? I'm not a gamer at all and wasn't familiar with anything mentioned in this story, but was there anyone who played Hate Plus and saw the "Level Four Revive Materia" achievement and guffawed? I mean, maybe. But it's telling that at no point does the article's author suggest any mirth as a result of this "joke."

Don't get me wrong—I'm not worked up about it. But this wasn't a joke. It was a trick. And if you play a trick on your fans, you have to expect consequences.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 8:19 PM on July 29 [2 favorites]


Suicide has been a fairly regular-ish theme in her stories and to me, it reads like a reference to the kinds of what-could-I-have-done? obsessing that loved ones go through.
posted by empath at 8:27 PM on July 29 [2 favorites]


I'm going to leave this thread right after I make this post because I fear spoilers, but I just wanted to say that the "bake a cake IRL" achievement is my favourite achievement concept ever and I am totally going to do that when I finally get around to playing Analogue and Hate Plus.
posted by chrominance at 8:28 PM on July 29


Dungeons of Dredmor has an achievement that is, basically, "Have a beer with the developers." The amount of obsessive rage this prompted was something to behold.

I haven't played Hate Plus (she said, guiltily looking at the unplayed copy of Analogue sitting on the top of her Steam Library*), but I think empath might have the right idea. Love's work has a lot of themes that this intersects with--fourth wall leaning, the interplay of what's physically "fake" and emotionally "real", the idea that you can't always save other people from their own self-destructive tendencies, the question of when "saving people from their own self-destructive tendencies" steps over into being controlling, etc. I have to think there's more to this than "trolling".

* I tried to explain the premise of the game to a non-gamer friend once shortly after I bought it in a Steam Sale. A few weeks later, she dubiously asked me how the "Korean space robots game" was going
posted by kagredon at 9:07 PM on July 29 [2 favorites]


I do find it interesting that the creator mentions that the entire purpose of this crusade has been, in a sense, to rob the character of the only moment of agency she demonstrates in the entire story.
posted by DoctorFedora at 10:56 PM on July 29 [3 favorites]


Gonna call shenanigans on the people who have the "don't play for five years" one.

You can achieve it by changing your computer's clock.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 3:23 AM on July 30


"bake a cake IRL"

Are you suggesting the achievement could be made by lying about the cake ?
posted by k5.user at 7:05 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


You can achieve it by changing your computer's clock.

Wouldn't that be a shenanigan?
posted by mrgoat at 7:16 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Are you suggesting the achievement could be made by lying about the cake ?

ISWYDT
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:21 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I see these achievements as more of an indictment of Valve more than anything. You don't see these sorts of achievements on either XBL or PSN, and that is most likely due to policy that prohibits them. (That doesn't meant that they don't have some crazy achievements, but there are no unobtainable ones.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:43 AM on July 30


You don't see these sorts of achievements on either XBL or PSN ...

Can you clarify what you mean ? Achievements in general are there, so you mean some subset of them ?
posted by k5.user at 8:24 AM on July 30


You don't see impossible achievements - ones that cannot be earned. There are some really difficult ones (looking at you, FFXI XBL achievements), but they can be earned.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:33 AM on July 30


I read this yesterday and what I took away is that it's a bit unfair for Christine Love to include an unattainable achievement and then slyly slag on anyone who's trying to circumvent it. I'm betting it wouldn't be an issue if she hadn't included the achievement. They're just solving the problem in front of them. No need to talk about how they're even now taking away the character's agency, seems a bit low.
posted by Carillon at 8:45 AM on July 30


Considering we live in a world with Frog Fractions and easter eggs and what-not I can see why people would buy the idea there's a way to save Aeris they just haven't found it yet. You can start a game knowing nothing or almost nothing about it, and discover 1000 things over the course of playing it. You're primed to believe that there could be a 1001st thing.


Some people are very aggressive about their achievements. I don't share that inclination, and am occasionally puzzled by the extent of it. The "have a beer with the developers" achievement kagredon linked to, there are a couple people in that thread angered by the unfairness of it all, that achieving this would require they travel to another country and have a beer with strangers. They can't just go, "No, I'm never going to do that just for a game," and move on, they have to blame the developers for imposing this requirement on them.


So yeah, putting in an achievement for saving Mute, I can see how that's going to combine these two inclinations.

But I can also see how Love thought she was doing her due diligence. Naming it Level Four Materia in reference to Aeris, she's trying use the parallel. I think she was trying to say something about accepting tragedy that you can't control, so I can see how a bunch of people rewriting the game so that they can control it could rub her the wrong way.
posted by RobotHero at 10:09 AM on July 30



Carillon is on to something. Shouldn't the achievement been something like "Accept The Things I Can't Control" if that was the behavior she thought was positive?
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 10:29 AM on July 30


RobotHero: The point is that an achievement should be earnable through the game, a point made in the initial achievement systems. That doesn't stop you from making an achievement that is difficult to earn (for example, when Square Enix ported FFXI to the 360, they added a number of achievements correlating to end game tasks that required a year or better of regular play to complete.)

I'm reminded of a poor practice that was encouraged in the old Doom level design community - to put an unaccessable hidden room in the level, so players would play the stage over and over to get that last percent. It's a form of cheating on the game designer's part.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:50 AM on July 30


There are a couple of dubious ones in the full game: fully 2.6% of players have the unachievable achivement. (Gonna call shenanigans on the people who have the "don't play for five years" one.)

In the case of Stanley Parable, deconstructing the game / debugging your way to achievements / 'lying' by changing your system clock is legit, as it is actually the direct result of how the 'narrative' is structured. The entire 'game' is specifically about immersion with fictional narratives, 'game' systems vs actual goals, script-breaking, etc. See also: "Save the Date", whereupon the 'completion' state of the meta-narrative is achieved by every player no matter what, however the actual process of completion is based on coming to terms as a player with the actions you're performing. (dancing around spoilers because I really was surprised by how much I liked StD)
posted by FatherDagon at 11:25 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Carillon is on to something. Shouldn't the achievement been something like "Accept The Things I Can't Control" if that was the behavior she thought was positive?

Why would you assume she wanted to encourage a positive emotion. Maybe she wanted to make you feel frustrated with the futility.
posted by empath at 11:56 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


I didn't say a positive emotion. I meant that she indicates that the reaction she wanted users to have to the events in the game was to acknowledge the agency of the Mute character. To do otherwise, she says, is "missing the point." Setting a goal that is contrary to that reaction and then acting disappointed when people attempt meet that goal, seems unfair to me. Or at least, putting in the achievement muddies what she says was the point.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 12:11 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Why would you assume she wanted to encourage a positive emotion. Maybe she wanted to make you feel frustrated with the futility

Ok, but games are one of the few things that actually let you solve pretty much any problem. Plus death of the author and all that. Either let mute die and have that be the point or understand that people are going to strive for that achievement. Idk I don't really have a dog in the race but was a bit surprised by her comments.
posted by Carillon at 12:43 PM on July 30


The experience of agency is unique to games and playing around with it is one of the ways artists have of achieving their aesthetic goals.
posted by empath at 2:08 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


I haven't played it and I am unlikely to do so, but am I the only one that thinks the picture of mute used in the article and game looks like a ripoff of Daryl Hannah's character from Kill Bill?
posted by Badgermann at 4:09 PM on July 30


It's a form of cheating on the game designer's part.

This is an interesting point of view for me. Part of it is that I think we disagree on the extent to which "achievements" can really be treated as part of the game, and not a bit of extra meta-fandom faff--but I'm also intrigued by saying that fucking with the audience's expectations is "cheating". Is it cheating that Inception doesn't give a clear answer to the nature of the protagonist's reality? Is it cheating that Christopher Nolan has declined to give a definitive answer about it when asked? People expect that there's going to be some kind of logic that's known to the creator, if no one else, right? (I realize that this is an imperfect analogy, since that's an in-narrative thing and achievements aren't, but it's hard to come up with an equivalent for movies.)

Is it cheating to release two versions of a book with one page changed? Was the (now mostly defunct with the rise of digital media) once-common practice of putting "hidden tracks" at the end of CDs cheating? What about when Clue had multiple endings at different theaters? Is it cheating that The Mousetrap asks people to keep the ending a secret, and what does it mean that they succeeded as long as they did?
posted by kagredon at 5:34 PM on July 30


Maybe a good analogy is the movies that claim to be "Based on a True Story" when they weren't. Do we encompass the marketing of the movie as part of the fiction, or do we call them out for being lying liars?

Or more favourably, a William Castle movie, where they might have screamers planted in the audience, or seats wired to tingle, or give everyone an insurance policy in case they die of fright. The use of peripherals to the movie instead of just what's up on screen.
posted by RobotHero at 10:27 PM on July 30


I just didn't get the impression that Love feels like she achieving her aesthetic goals here. She seems surprised and disappointed in the way that people are engaging with her work, even though it follows the exact same pattern from the FF game that she references in the achievement name.

If she was pleased with their frustration, I would agree that she was successfully subverting a trope of the form, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 4:54 AM on July 31


The loudest reaction people have is not the only reaction people have.

If she had just wanted to frustrate people she wouldn't have named it after the FFVII thing. That was a clue that trying to save her is futile, isn't it? If you just wanted to frustrate people you'd keep that secret as long as possible. But unlike He Is Only The Imposter's suggestion, she wanted something a little more subtle than calling it "Some Things You Can't Control." That lacks poetry. And the player doesn't go through the process of figuring it out if you just tell them.

It's the Kobayashi Maru. It's supposed to be unwinnable. And these people are Captain Kirk.
posted by RobotHero at 2:11 PM on July 31


RobotHero: "It's the Kobayashi Maru. It's supposed to be unwinnable. And these people are Captain Kirk."

Which Kirk of course beat by hacking the computers, then going on to have the most legendary career in Starfleet history.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:43 PM on August 2


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