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Sea Of Stars Achievements Interview Interview: Sea Of Stars Creative Director Discusses Achievement Design
The Sea of Stars achievements are here with the game joining Xbox Game Pass today. It’s a secretive achievement list, so if you’re interested in learning more about how developer Sabotage Studio came up with them, check out our interview with creative director Thierry Boulanger, who answered all our achievement questions!
Boulanger first shared his thoughts on the team’s design process for the game’s achievements. “The design process for the achievements was essentially… well, achievements are a given, right? They’re expected. It’s a well-established thing that no matter what game you make, if you don’t have that, it’s kind of a let-down. So I was like ‘Okay, let’s work that into what we’re making.’ So for about half of them, you stumble upon them as you go,” he continues. “They’re just markers of your progression, they give you a little pun about a thing you just did, and they encourage a feeling of ‘Hey, good job! You actually did just do that.’ And then some of them are hidden — these will either support completion, reassuring you with things like ‘Yes, you did open all the chests.’ The achievement helps a lot there, because it gives the player closure; they know for sure that they did everything. So a bunch of our achievements are for that.”

On top of those, Boulanger adds that “some of them are for harder challenges, like ‘if you really want to do everything, can you master the timing to bounce this Moonerang attack in combat 25 times?’ And also to make sure that no player is left behind, we have an in-game book that replicates the achievements you get on the side of the console’s operating system; this way you don’t have to exit the game to look at them, even if you’re playing on a console that supports achievements. And also, it’s just more diegetic that way — it’s part of the narrative, you have your little book that you open — it feels like everything is part of the world. You don’t have to go outside of the world to consult things about it.”

Sea Of StarsBouncyThe Bouncy achievement in Sea of Stars worth 25 pointsBounce a moonerang 25 times in a row
This thought process reflects Boulanger’s own opinion on what makes for an ideal achievement list. “For me, an ideal achievement list will kind of make me smile with a few puns that are way too ridiculous. Those make me feel like I’m having this handshake with the developers and an understanding that, ‘hey, we’re just here to have fun. You just killed a giant thing, let’s do a joke about it.’ So I think that’s a fun approach — it’s really lighthearted,” he says.

“I think a good list will offer closure and certainty about completion to players who are worrying about that; if you’re the achievement completionist type, you want to know for sure that you’ve turned every stone, so that confirmation is as good as it gets. And then also it should challenge you to approach the game in the way that you perhaps wouldn’t have. I feel like achievements sometimes come from something that we all did,” he says, reminiscing about the NES when he “couldn’t put Ninja Gaiden II down. I just played this game to death, and I remember thinking, ‘Oh, can I do the first level of the game without killing any enemies?’ I feel like we all had these little games that we put on top of the games back then, because the games were really short and we were looking for new angles to challenge ourselves to enjoy them, which would create new ways to approach them.”

Boulanger continues, adding, “I think achievements can be a great invitation to that sort of experimentation — and it can lead the player to discovery. They might think ‘Oh, I didn’t really care so much about this spell or this character or this way to think about combat, but now I’m putting these lenses on and I’m discovering a whole new game loop, a whole new way to play, and it kind of refreshes everything.’ So I think good achievements will have at least one or two that are either kind of frustrating or more challenging, in a way that will get you to see something that you’ve been missing in what the game can offer.”

If you’re looking for more details about the game, check out our larger Sea of Stars interview!

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