Have you ever wondered how the geniuses over at Microsoft made achievements such an integral part of the Xbox experience? No? Are you wondering now that I asked? Great!
Over at the Xbox Engineering Blog, Platform Architect Vince Curley is spilling secrets about the early days of achievements and the heated debate about whether or not the system would notify you when you unlocked them:
"That trade-off was at the heart of the original decision we made to not give any indication that a new achievement had been awarded. Some people argued that games wouldn’t want toast popping up in the heat of battle and that game designers would want to use their own visual style to present achievements. Others argued for consistency and for reducing the work required of game developers. In the end we added the notification popup and its happy beep, which turned out to be the right decision, but for a long time it was anything but obvious."
Imagine, for just a moment, that developers had stuck to their original plan and the infamous toast never came to fruition. How different would your Xbox experience be? Would you be less likely to hunt down achievements?
For me, there's a real satisfaction in the notification you get when you unlock an achievement. I can't imagine not having that kind of immediate, visceral feedback, but it's interesting to learn that something so ingrained in our gaming experience almost wasn't. Hindsight is 20/20 and today, this debate seems pretty moot because of the success of the achievement system; however, without knowing how successful it would be, it's easy to understand why some developers thought it would be an intrusion.
Thankfully, they took a chance and included something that is the source of so much joy and causes thousands of gamers to throw up their hands and say, "Suck it, world! I'm a Doctor of The Peggle Arts!"
Source: Xbox Engineering Blog