Offering Kudos

Kudos (n)
1. Respect given to a skilled individual
2. Praise bestowed upon for status achieved
3. Honour awarded to the ultimate winner

This was a loading screen from Metropolis Street Racer, a racing game on the Dreamcast. This was also the first time I was introduced to the word kudos. One of the tag lines for the game that displayed during the end of the game’s intro was it’s not about how fast you drive, but how you drive fast.

What this meant was that you were rewarded in game by driving well, whether it was maintaining speed, drifting, navigating obstacles, or other driving abilities. You were rewarded with kudos, and the better you did, the more kudos you earned. Each track or objective also wanted you to complete it within a certain time limit which you could also manipulate. If the target for completing two laps of a track was three minutes, you could adjust the timer, for example to two minutes thirty seconds. If you then completed the two laps within the new stricter time limit, you would be rewarded with a greater amount of kudos.

Some of this may sound familiar as it was also a structure that had been brought into Project Gotham Racing on the Xbox and Xbox 360, were the structure has been refined over the series. Both titles were created by Bizarre Creations, also responsible for delivering the recently released beta demo of Blur. (I think that was the first time I typed Blur properly and not gone back and realised I typed blue instead).

Apart from it being part of a scoring system, I’ve thought about other forms of kudos I’ve encountered through games. The immediate one that comes to mind are achievements and trophies. Those recognitions for completing a goal within a game set by the developers.

They come in many forms depending on the type of game, most have one or more for finishing the game and additional ones for finishing the game on different difficulties. Racing games may have some for finishing within time limits, first person shooters may have some for killing a certain amount of enemies, role playing games can reward you for reaching a certain rank, platformers may want you to collect a number of items along the way. There are numerous ways to offer kudos for playing games and completing objectives.

Another form of kudos that developers can reward you with is unlockables, and I’m not talking about unlocking a new character, car or map for a game. I’m talking about something that can be used outside of the game. Seeing as I spend most of my gaming time with the Xbox 360, it will be my basis for examples.

Someone just told these guys that the sudden disappearance of their men-bits was down to radioactivity, pleasing the one on the left that's waiting on a sex change but disappointing his partner on the right as he can't afford pneumatics

Twisted Pixel had created two games that I have played on the Xbox 360 that have had unlockables. The first was The Maw, which unlocked two gamer pics, which you could use for your dashboard profile pic, just for completing levels in the game. When you beat the game you also unlocked a premium theme for the dashboard. The same unlockables also occurred in Twisted Pixel’s next game, ’Splosion Man. As the Xbox 360 dashboard has gone through some changes, you have avatars on screen to represent you and then avatar clothing, ‘Splosion Man also came with two items of avatar clothing. So here are two games that not only have the normal achievements to unlock just like every other game, but you also got gamer pics, premium themes and avatar clothing.

Now you can get gamer pics, themes and avatar clothing for many games available on the system by going through the Live Marketplace and buying them, but Twisted Pixel actually gave you them for free. We may be being rewarded with awesome kudos for buying the games, but I think Twisted Pixel deserve kudos themselves for giving us so many extras that other developers charge for. The recently released Perfect Dark also has unlockables of gamer pics, avatar clothing and dashboard theme. At least according to the in-game awards menu, I have yet to start playing the game properly to unlock these.

Some companies go a different way and reward you with physical objects relating to the games, some in the form of items you get with special editions. They could just release the standalone version of the game, but this is a way to give something more to the fans or collectors. Sometimes, you will be paying more for the special edition but not always. I had bought the special edition of Oblivion when it first came out and it was the same price as the standard edition at the time. There were many items in the special edition, including a large map, a second CD and a book but the reason I bought it, was for the Septim coin, the currency within the game itself.

Suffering from severe constipation? About to do the TimeWarp... again? Ready to end it all because of his weird gnarly alien hand?? We'll never know.

When I bought my copy of Prototype, GameStop were giving away a free figurine of Alex Mercer (the game’s main character). The figurine was more impressive and detailed than the figurine that came in the special edition of Sacred 2 which also cost more. GAME gave away a deck of cards with the special edition of Saints Row 2, were the cards depicted different characters from the game. It’s always good to get something extra from the developers, but when the games stores start gving out stuff then us consumers are only too happy to receive these thank you items as kudos for shopping with them.

There are, no doubt, many other forms that kudos can come in, these are some that I have experienced. We can take any of the above for granted, but when a company takes time to create that something extra once the game is complete, whether it’s the naming of achievements/trophies or giving that something extra then I think the companies deserve kudos themselves.




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8 Comments

  1. MrCuddleswick says:

    I 100% agree on the avatar unlockables, gamer pics and themes.

    Not enough developers/publishers take advantage of this opportunity of a) extra motivation to complete their game and b) free marketing.

    I think it’s very cool to have a special avatar t-shirt that lets everyone know you completed something difficult.

  2. Rook says:

    I almost mentioned the t-shirt a few of you unlocked playing L4D2. The recent Sent U A Message also mentioned about unlockables in games too, and gave a website address you could go to check them out.

  3. Lorna says:

    Only time I’ve encountered unlockables was with the Maw I think. Not sure whether Carcassonne did or not, but I seem to recall ending up with some pics that I didn’t perhaps have before…time dims my memory too much now. I’m wary about giving snaps or kudos to companies who dish stuff out for free when there is always the ulterior motive to entice folk to buy…whether it is extra goodies and gubbins or unlockables for in-game items…still, I certainly wouldn’t turn them down.

  4. MarkuzR says:

    I reckon they should call avatar clothing by “Avatat” because that’s generally what it is! I’m not sure if I’ve ever been given any sort of gift for playing a game other than my Fallout 3 theme for the 360 dashboard… which I DO actually like. I wouldn’t pay money for it, so I’m glad it’s free.

    I suppose I just don’t see the point in awarding people with avatar items… surely any gamer, speaking from personal experience, sees their avatar for the brief 2-3 seconds that it takes for them to select “play X” and enter the game? I don’t know of anyone that spends time looking at their avatar, or browsing through their friends list going “oooooh doesn’t she look dapper?”. Maybe I’m just being overly cynical, but I’d rather that they rewarded us with good in-game shit instead, like fantastic weaponry or the ability to open up an additional room for more storage etc. I’d love if Burnout gave you something more than just cars with fancy paint jobs… I’d like to be able to add more speed or handling to my KITT car.

    Still… better than giving away nothing I suppose!

  5. Rook says:

    @Lorna – I’ve noticed I hd gamerpics from other games that never told me I was awarded them. Most of them are shite thou. Twisted Pixel did ask us to buy the DLC packs for The Maw, but they were cheap as well.

    @Markuz – you mightn’t look at your avatar for long but others do, when they check out which of their friends are online. I haven’t bought any avatar clothing, but free stuff is always good. None of it has been in black yet thou, gotta have standards.

  6. Victor says:

    I credit Kudos on Project Gotham Racing for getting me into gaming again in a major way. And I get achievement points just for the points, not for any kudos.

    (Ironyman approves of this comment)

  7. Kat says:

    I <3 avatar unlockables! I get messages from different friends almost everytime I wear something new so it's definitely noticed. I'm all for them, gives me a tiny piece of joy. I loved when we had our L4D2 pink t-shirt club. We looked hugely sad/cool all in a party with the same top on but it was a giggle and you can't put a price on that! Anyhoo, veering off the point, nice read Rook!

  8. Rook says:

    @Kat – Thinking about your L4D2 tees, I recall you guys wearing them in the 1 vs 100 game as well. So there’s avatar games as well. You can also use your avatar in Scene-It Box Office Smash and Guitar Hero 5. There’s a few games that the avatar unlockables are visible for more than just a cursory glance from the friends list.

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