Sunday, August 12, 2012

Platinum Get - A Discussion

This might be a topic that I have covered before and if it is, I do apologize for reiterating things, but I imagine I can bring a few new things to the table, as it were, since I've been thinking about it recently.  Or, rather, ever since I got the Platinum for Sound Shapes which, despite my bitching about Death Mode, seemed to come entirely too easily.  And it's basically that point which has been the driving point behind the conversation I've been having with myself ever since I got that, my twentieth Platinum trophy.  It's certainly a little refreshing, I'd say, but I'm not certain if that's a good thing or not, really.  Honestly, the whole thing just has me rethinking just how I feel about the trophy system as a whole, or at least re-thinking the way I already think of it, which is, and remains, mostly positive.  Still, it is a bit different when you're handed trophies in the way that Sound Shapes gives them, instead of how others (read:  Most games) do.

Most games treat their trophies as progress markers within the scope of the game, things that you're handed for reaching certain milestones that the developers, for whatever reason, simply want you to experience.  Whether it's just handing you a trophy for beating this stage, or for doing a certain thing a certain amount of times, it's generally just about doing something specific that is either within the spectrum of the game, or slightly outside of it.  In that aspect, Sound Shapes is entirely on that same level, and when I say entirely, I mean entirely - the entire trophy list of Sound Shapes is basically just progressive since you get trophies for beating Beat School and Death Mode trophies and little else.  (Beating the Campaign and the Platinum are the two exceptions, though hardly so)  I guess the argument could be made that, in essence -all- trophies and achievements are progressive, but I will try to make a case otherwise.

The other types of trophies are generally outside the scope of the game, in that it's not simply rewarding you for -playing- the game to its pre-destined conclusion.  These are more free-form, of course, being things that are handed to you for skimming below the surface, as it were.  For games that provide creation tools, you generally get something for attempting and contributing to it, either by publishing a level or even just saving one, assuming that you will eventually put it out there.  Otherwise, these generally point to the quirks that the developers decided to include or reward you for finding easter eggs or things of that nature.  inFamous 2 is the most notable example of this that I can think of, with their trophy "Don't Fence Me In" that points to the curious lack of ability to scale chain fences in the first game.  It is, of course, entirely possible that you could get through the whole game without getting that (I believe) as it pertains to a specific thing that you are not automatically guided to and expected to do.  These aren't to be confused with the trophies that cover the miscellany, as that is a different subset.

The miscellany subset is generally the things that cover progress done outside the scope of the general game.  You'll do parts of these in the main game, but usually they're designed so that you'll need to go out and actually work for it, or that it simply requires several playthroughs.  What comes to mind with this is [Prototype]'s "Trail of Corpses" trophy, which requires you to kill exactly 56,596 Infected which is not only a crazy large number, but a crazy specific one, which throws it back into miscellany.  These are generally just there to bait you to continue to play the game so that you stay into playing it and will continue to do so after the trophy is gotten.  It doesn't always work, but the conditioning of it is pretty obvious since the goal is generally easy to attain, but simply time-consuming to do so, requiring you to find a rhythm or a groove with the game that you won't be able to simply hop out of.  These are generally the trophies you're going to loathe because some of them, as the example, are outlandish in their requirements and it becomes less a goal and more a grind to get to it, often becoming a matter of simply not being worth it in the end.

My point in all this is that Sound Shapes list only picking from the first layout offers a trophy list that is all at once satisfying, but perhaps too easily so, which could be said of the game itself, if you paid any attention to my review of it.  As people who play games, we want different things at different moments, so it's hard to quantify one thing here and another thing there since the goalposts end up shifting depending on the context.  For instance, "Knock out 100 enemies with melee" in a game where the melee system is satisfying is much less a chore than one where it was obviously an after-thought.  But I think what we all want is a challenge and an incentive to spend time with this thing that we have purchased, sometimes the combination of both, which is provided to some by the mere multiplayer aspect of a game, and others, the trophies and achievements.  So when you have this Platinum trophy, something that generally signifies a challenge, a struggle through a game (usually a pleasant one, despite our gripings), but you don't feel like you did a whole lot to earn it, it's....well, it's a strange feeling.  I think it makes me appreciate some other lists a little more than I have, because even if some of the trophies are ridiculous, they did try a little harder to make you feel that you've earned this thing that is really not that important or anything.  Since it makes you genuinely remember them, gives you a 'story' to tell for them, like the stories I have for the 19 Platinum Trophies that aren't the 1 I got from Sound Shapes.

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