I posted this on patientgamers, but thought some people here may be interested. My most recent systems are the Xbox 360 and PS3. So many good games came out for them that I'm still working through. I've always been a moderate achievement hunter – I'll never buy a game just for achievements, but if I really love a game, I'll tell myself I'll do a second playthrough to mop them up, even if I don't end up getting around to it.
During COVID, I realized after a few months that I was spending a lot of time on virtual work meetings where I didn't have to think, but I had to be there in the rare case someone asked a question. I started looking through games that had those boring achievements I had skipped, getting all 200 pigeons in GTA IV, maxing out your level in Shadow Complex or FF XIII, getting MGS 4 emblems for rolling 200 times or whatever. I started doing those absentmindedly while on work meetings.
That led to me checking TrueAchievements more often to do a fuller look at what I was missing, and what I could be doing in the meantime with my idle hands. Now that I was paying attention to more achievements, the ones I was missing stood out more. Namely, multiplayer achievements for Halo 3, or Gears of War, or Red Dead Redemption, and so on. I forgot exactly how, but it was then that I found TrueAchievements' Gaming Sessions tool on their website. Not to be an ad for them, but I still can't believe how well thought out this system is. You post for a boosting session, it's color coded depending on what you're looking for, it's very easy to navigate through the calendar and find other similar sessions. You can set a desired number of players and people can sign up as "reserves" to be called on in case there are no shows. You can rank people, so you see if people become known for not showing up to sessions. This thing is impressive.
I took a peek and was blown away by how active the multiplayer achievement boosting scene was for early generation 360 games. To this day, there are daily sessions for Halo 3 ODST Firefight achievements, any Gears of War game, GTA IV and Red Dead multiplayer, even Call of Duty 3, for getting that obscure achievement for getting 20,000 points. I signed up and tried it out. I had this nagging feeling that multiplayer for the 360 could honestly be shut down any day now, and this might be a fleeting opportunity to get these achievements. I had never had a Xbox Gold subscription for years. I told myself I'd buy a 3 month subscription and see how much I could get done in that time. And that started one of the most interesting few months of my gaming life.
It's a little weird to start out, there's an etiquette you need to learn. When to friend the people who signed up, how long you wait for them to show up before giving them negative feedback, how to deal with people playing on different Xbox systems, who hosts the voice chat, etc… But when it started, it was a strange sense of community. I've never played an MMO or been into multiplayer games outside of a CoD 4 phase. But I think I now understand what people are talking about. Because we were doing inherently repetitive stuff, we'd talk about each others days, politics. We'd do goofy things while lining up to kill the other side in Gears of War. We'd have issues with people realizing what we were doing and trying to ruin the session. There were surprisingly a fair number of women doing it, and to the community's credit I heard no harassment or mean-spirited comments at all. I started thinking of evenings in terms of what I had, "I've got Cod 3 boosting every Monday night from 8-10, so I can fit a Red Dead online Poker achievement session at 10 on Monday if Cod 3 doesn't go too late. Then I'm making my way through the Halo ODST Firefight map achievements every Wednesday from 9-11, but those usually go late if we die once".
You start to see the same names and people. The same people boosting Gears of War 1 in October 2020 are very likely to be the people boosting Red Dead Redemption in October 2020, so you start developing relationships. There was my Australian friend. There was the kid from Iraq who spoke decent English and had his internet drop out constantly, but was so polite no one wanted to give him bad feedback. Everyone's there for a common purpose, so we all traded tips over voice chat on finishing these achievements most efficiently. We tried to see if we could do different achievements in parallel, could we get the map-specific win achievements while going for the weapon-specific kill achievements, things like that. A lot of the achievements, you could be idle while other people killed you, so I'd do laundry or other chores.
On a slightly more serious note, I could definitely tell some almost-debilitating OCD traits in the people I was talking to. It won't come as a surprise, but a lot of the people I'd talk to did buy games just for achievements, or had internal rules about getting all the achievements in a game before moving to the next one in a series. Or would not buy a game that had ridiculous achievements so it wouldn't taint their high completion percentage on TrueAchievements. Some people were very anal about their reputation on the Gaming Sessions tool. These people really lived and died by percentage numbers.
What's different from an MMO is that these relationships had an end date. Once someone got that achievement in CoD3 multiplayer, they weren't gonna play anymore (although some people were incredibly nice and did actually continue to boost for the sake of other people if they need a "fourth" or "eighth". Just shows the depth of relationships that are formed). So for an achievement like that which might be 20 hours of boosting (where you can be idle for the vast majority of the time) separated into 2 hour boosting sessions, when I started and was the new buck, there were people who were just about to get the achievement, people who were halfway, and people who had just started before me. As time went on, the "old guard" who hosted the sessions would get the achievement and leave. Soon I'd be a regular, teaching the newcomers what to do. And then I realized at one point I was the most senior person in the group and I was hosting the sessions. There was no one there that remembered the people and personalities that were in our group before. And then I got the achievement and left.
My 3 months of Xbox Live ran out. I got all the reasonable online achievements I wanted to (still not going to do unreasonable ones like Seriously in Gears or War or Wanted in GTA IV). I don't see myself getting Xbox Live again for some time. But man that time was really interesting. Does anyone else have any experience with the strange world of finding people to play old games online with?
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