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Farlander1991
08-23-2016, 02:31 PM
Hey guys.

So I'm back from vacation, and a new blog post with it. This time it's about collectibles in open-world games, and what defines good ones.

https://stanislavcostiuc.com/2016/08/23/assassins-creed-rogue-and-good-open-world-collectibles/

Hope you enjoy the read!

Kuiperdolin
08-23-2016, 04:44 PM
A big factor that you discount is that the good collectibles appear on the map (maybe after buying the "map"), giving yes-lifes a chance at getting them all. It's why the flags and eagle feathers were bad in the first two games and then the Borgia flags were good.

Farlander1991
08-23-2016, 04:57 PM
A big factor that you discount is that the good collectibles appear on the map (maybe after buying the "map"), giving yes-lifes a chance at getting them all. It's why the flags and eagle feathers were bad in the first two games and then the Borgia flags were good.

Yeah, I should've mentioned it. It's a helping factor indeed (especially when collectibles are numerous), though not a defining one. Case in point:

AC2/ACB - Glyphs - A good engaging collectible that people love finding and then solving (and it has all the 4 components that I've mentioned in the article), doesn't appear on maps.
AC4 - Animus fragments - Annoying randomly placed all over the place collectible (a lot of which are on little islands with nothing to do but to get that fragment and that's just busywork), appears on maps.

ERICATHERINE
08-23-2016, 07:16 PM
Yeah, I should've mentioned it. It's a helping factor indeed (especially when collectibles are numerous), though not a defining one. Case in point:

AC2/ACB - Glyphs - A good engaging collectible that people love finding and then solving (and it has all the 4 components that I've mentioned in the article), doesn't appear on maps.

In fact, for the glygh that's not totally true. If you go in the database of the game, you can see where to search the glyphs and in at least ac b, you can even put an icon on the map, which is at least near the glyphs locations . ^-^

Farlander1991
08-23-2016, 07:23 PM
In fact, for the glygh that's not totally true. If you go in the database of the game, you can see where to search the glyphs and in at least ac b, you can even put an icon on the map, which is at least near the glyphs locations . ^-^

And feathers are marked on the map when you see them in Eagle Vision and you know how many feathers there are in each district of the city. No one said there aren't any tools to help find the things, but neither feathers nor glyphs have a map for them in AC2 :)

ERICATHERINE
08-23-2016, 07:41 PM
And feathers are marked on the map when you see them in Eagle Vision and you know how many feathers there are in each district of the city. No one said there aren't any tools to help find the things, but neither feathers nor glyphs have a map for them in AC2 :)

Well there is way less glyphs than feathers. Also, they are always on a building that grey, instead of white, on the map and for each of these grey buildings, when you see them for the first time time, while playing you get a notification that it as been put in the database and if that building have a glyph on it, you see it on the notification. Plus, those building are so few and different from each other that in each new game, I know exactly where to go to find each glyph. ^-^

Farlander1991
08-23-2016, 08:04 PM
Well there is way less glyphs than feathers. Also, they are always on a building that grey, instead of white, on the map and for each of these grey buildings, when you see them for the first time time, while playing you get a notification that it as been put in the database and if that building have a glyph on it, you see it on the notification. Plus, those building are so few and different from each other that in each new game, I know exactly where to go to find each glyph. ^-^

All that's true, however:
1) The point is there's nothing that makes all glyphs appear on the map as icons, it's still something that the player has to put some effort in to reveal.
2) The pattern of grey buildings is not something that people get until quite a while in (it's easy for us to say that as we've replayed the game a bunch of times)
3) Even when you know that you need a grey building, there's more than twice grey buildings in a city then there are glyphs (for example Venice has 7 glyphs and about 20 grey landmark buildings)
4) Also, as a side note, in ACB glyphs are not necessarily on grey buildings, so there it's not a useful pattern :)

LoyalACFan
08-23-2016, 08:26 PM
Great post as always, Farlander. :) I do have one little quibble with your criteria, though; I think Reward is mandatory for a good collectible, even if it fulfills all the other three, and it has to be proportional to the amount of effort (or in your terminology, Engagement) that is required of the player. I can't think of a good example from AC off the top of my head, but the Target Practice Side Ops in MGS5 are a perfect illustration of what I'm talking about (for the purposes of this argument, think of each individual target as a collectible). You've got Intrigue ("what is this mission marker thing on my home turf?"), Engagement (many of the targets are in hard-to-reach areas or require trick shots to take out), and Context (Mother Base is used for combat training for your staff, so a target practice course makes sense) but there's no Reward whatsoever besides a trophy/achievement (and the trophy is for completing ALL of the game's side ops, so the Target Practice ones only constitute about 1% of the content there). As a result, the content falls completely flat despite meeting three of the four criteria.

ERICATHERINE
08-23-2016, 08:33 PM
4) Also, as a side note, in ACB glyphs are not necessarily on grey buildings, so there it's not a useful pattern :)

Yea, for the grey building I was talking about ac ii. For a quick exemple, I know pretty well that an ac b glyph is on an aqueduct side while the only thing that shows us where to find an aqueduct in a couple of icon, since we can't see the entire aqueduct's length on the map. On the other hand we can use the database icon of ac b to find that glyph. I understand your point though. ^-^

cawatrooper9
08-23-2016, 08:42 PM
Totally agree about the Ben Franklin pages- I was so offput by the fact that Haytham's task was so unceremoniously continued by Connor that I never even attempted carrying them.

I think if I had to pick a well done collectible from Black Flag, it would have to be the Peg Leg trophies. They were mostly hidden in puzzling spots, they had a (somewhat contrived) context, and there was plenty of incentive to get them, as they unlocked some really cool and unique missions (which themselves unlocked really interesting rewards).


I really like your take on viewpoints being collectibles. Interesting idea, and one that I think the devs may have agreed with since the first game. After all, the first few games were quick to point out how many viewpoints had been synched from the total, thereby encouraging "collecting" them all.
Flags in AC1 were really off-putting to me, though. So many flags, and so many varieties. Much easier to just get Borgia ones.

Ureh
08-23-2016, 08:55 PM
Bonus points to some of the collectibles in AC2/ACB tombs, there were a few good ones in there. I also liked the treasure maps in AC4 (and some of the ones in Ro). Finding the music boxes in ACS were pretty fun too if you only use the hints. Using a map/pic to pinpoint the location was pretty fun, I think. However not sure how the music boxes got to those places, and how long were they there? Who's Reuge? Maybe these questions will be answered once I access the vault.

But these are also the questions I ask when it comes to Shanties/flying pages. Sure some of them (especially the AC3 ones) can provide a bit of freerunning challenge, but how did those musical pages get there? Did a singer or musician just drop them or something? It's kinda like flags in that they sometimes make sense that they're there, and sometimes they don't. Like I'm going in Havana and don't see anyone singing but there's a page right there. How does Edward know that random page is special? Then when I catch it and bring it back to the Jackdaw, the song is in English instead of Spanish even though the shanty page was from Havana. It woulda been nice change of pace to to hear of the Spanish crew trying to sing the shanties.

cawatrooper9
08-23-2016, 09:24 PM
But these are also the questions I ask when it comes to Shanties/flying pages. Sure some of them (especially the AC3 ones) can provide a bit of freerunning challenge, but how did those musical pages get there? Did a singer or musician just drop them or something? It's kinda like flags in that they sometimes make sense that they're there, and sometimes they don't.

I always felt like that with Wanted posters, too. Like, the ones on ground level make sense- but why is there one outside of a seemingly inaccessible terrace on the third story of a building? Why one on the roof? Who is going to be able to get there, much less even see the poster? :p

Farlander1991
08-23-2016, 10:03 PM
Great post as always, Farlander. :) I do have one little quibble with your criteria, though; I think Reward is mandatory for a good collectible, even if it fulfills all the other three, and it has to be proportional to the amount of effort (or in your terminology, Engagement) that is required of the player. I can't think of a good example from AC off the top of my head, but the Target Practice Side Ops in MGS5 are a perfect illustration of what I'm talking about (for the purposes of this argument, think of each individual target as a collectible). You've got Intrigue ("what is this mission marker thing on my home turf?"), Engagement (many of the targets are in hard-to-reach areas or require trick shots to take out), and Context (Mother Base is used for combat training for your staff, so a target practice course makes sense) but there's no Reward whatsoever besides a trophy/achievement (and the trophy is for completing ALL of the game's side ops, so the Target Practice ones only constitute about 1% of the content there). As a result, the content falls completely flat despite meeting three of the four criteria.

Thanks :) Well, I'd argue that the reward can be very important but still not mandatory. This is not an open-world example, but in Rayman Legends (which I've mentioned in the post as well that it handles the 'collectibles' especially well), freeing (and 'collecting' them by doing so) all the 700 teensies is so enjoyable that it doesn't really matter that the reward is just one character skin that doesn't even look that good in comparison to many other character skins. It's undoubtedly a reward that's not proportional to the amount of time spent to get all the teensies and barely a reward at all, but the Intrigue (for each hidden teensie), Context and Engagement categories are handled so well that it doesn't really matter and it's still a great positive experience to collect them.


Totally agree about the Ben Franklin pages- I was so offput by the fact that Haytham's task was so unceremoniously continued by Connor that I never even attempted carrying them.

I think if I had to pick a well done collectible from Black Flag, it would have to be the Peg Leg trophies. They were mostly hidden in puzzling spots, they had a (somewhat contrived) context, and there was plenty of incentive to get them, as they unlocked some really cool and unique missions (which themselves unlocked really interesting rewards).

I think you wanted to say ACIII there instead of BF :p Yeah, the reward for Peg Leg trinkets was really high as actual mission content is probably the most premium, so to speak, kind of reward, and therefore the intrigue was high as you were really interested in what getting all the trinkets would lead to. In that sense it's probably the best of AC3's collectibles.


Bonus points to some of the collectibles in AC2/ACB tombs, there were a few good ones in there. I also liked the treasure maps in AC4 (and some of the ones in Ro). Finding the music boxes in ACS were pretty fun too if you only use the hints. Using a map/pic to pinpoint the location was pretty fun, I think. However not sure how the music boxes got to those places, and how long were they there? Who's Reuge? Maybe these questions will be answered once I access the vault.

But these are also the questions I ask when it comes to Shanties/flying pages. Sure some of them (especially the AC3 ones) can provide a bit of freerunning challenge, but how did those musical pages get there? Did a singer or musician just drop them or something? It's kinda like flags in that they sometimes make sense that they're there, and sometimes they don't. Like I'm going in Havana and don't see anyone singing but there's a page right there. How does Edward know that random page is special? Then when I catch it and bring it back to the Jackdaw, the song is in English instead of Spanish even though the shanty page was from Havana. It woulda been nice change of pace to to hear of the Spanish crew trying to sing the shanties.

These are good points, the only thing that I can say as a counterpoint is that it's one of those things that are up to suspension of disbelief (as do a lot of the things in artistic works, collectibles in games also require a certain amount of suspension), like leap of faiths and other things, and therefore it's a bit unique for each person.

When it comes to sea shanties though, I think it's easier to suspend disbelief due to the atmosphere of the context and the vagueness of the pages. You're a pirate collecting shanties for you crew to sing while you're travelling on a boat. The result is very atmospheric that adds to the fantasy, and thanks to the fact that the game doesn't try to explain how the pages got there in the first place it's pretty easy to not care about those questions and just focus on the atmosphere.

Which is actually a contrast to the music boxes of ACS. They have an interesting thematic and are pretty cool to find, however, because there's a whole backstory surrounding they don't make sense. Reuge was old enough that there were 'legends' surrounding him, which means that when there's a poem about a bench on the park, for example, there was a music box that was sitting there for at least a dozen years if not more on that one bench without anybody touching it. That breaks the suspension of disbelief.

BananaBlighter
08-23-2016, 10:50 PM
Great post as usual. Just wanted to ask though, what would you say about Syndicate's helix glitches? I mean, they're not very intriguing, though some can be a little tricky to get as you have to align the zipline correctly, resulting in some engagement. The context kinda makes sense, especially when tied to what happens after you have enough. But the reward, I think it's one of the best parts of Syndicate just because it's so different. However not all helix glitches are required to unlock it so after it's done there's no incentive to keep collecting.

Farlander1991
08-23-2016, 11:39 PM
Great post as usual. Just wanted to ask though, what would you say about Syndicate's helix glitches? I mean, they're not very intriguing, though some can be a little tricky to get as you have to align the zipline correctly, resulting in some engagement. The context kinda makes sense, especially when tied to what happens after you have enough. But the reward, I think it's one of the best parts of Syndicate just because it's so different. However not all helix glitches are required to unlock it so after it's done there's no incentive to keep collecting.

Uhm, the reward for glitches is so different and unique and one of the best parts? Wait, do you mean 'World War I simulation' for the reward? It's not unlocked by Helix Glitches, it's unlocked by completing Sequence 5 of the game. Helix Glitches unlock just the modern day lore in the database.

So I don't think Helix Glitches are very good.

If we take the categories that I've mentioned in the article, the intrigue aspect should've been the wonder of what the glitches unlock (like the glyphs in AC2/ACB, there's a mystery behind them), and it's absolutely absent due to the fact that it doesn't say anything about what it might unlock, and doesn't say anything when it unlocks.

And the reward, I don't think that it's fitting the adventurous gameplay of the past section. For example in AC4 you unlock all the e-mails and logs and everything in a slow-paced gameplay area. And you're doing that deliberately, so you're fully prepared for things like these. But unlocking it in the fast-paced traditional AC gameplay... maybe if you could listen to the logs in parallel to navigation it could work, but as it stands right now - no. The short and impactful 2 minute video of AC2 or an abstract gameplay section of ACB are better rewards for the past section than lots of lore pieces for which you have to put the game on pause many times to inspect properly.

If Helix Glitches actually unlocked World War I, then that would've been a different matter since for those collectibles you'd get a huge gameplay section, but it's not, it's unlocked automatically at a certain point of the campaign.

HDinHB
08-24-2016, 12:47 AM
I hope every dev that ever places a collectible in a game reads your article, prints it out, and puts in under their pillow.

BananaBlighter
08-25-2016, 03:19 PM
Uhm, the reward for glitches is so different and unique and one of the best parts? Wait, do you mean 'World War I simulation' for the reward? It's not unlocked by Helix Glitches, it's unlocked by completing Sequence 5 of the game. Helix Glitches unlock just the modern day lore in the database.

So I don't think Helix Glitches are very good.

If we take the categories that I've mentioned in the article, the intrigue aspect should've been the wonder of what the glitches unlock (like the glyphs in AC2/ACB, there's a mystery behind them), and it's absolutely absent due to the fact that it doesn't say anything about what it might unlock, and doesn't say anything when it unlocks.

And the reward, I don't think that it's fitting the adventurous gameplay of the past section. For example in AC4 you unlock all the e-mails and logs and everything in a slow-paced gameplay area. And you're doing that deliberately, so you're fully prepared for things like these. But unlocking it in the fast-paced traditional AC gameplay... maybe if you could listen to the logs in parallel to navigation it could work, but as it stands right now - no. The short and impactful 2 minute video of AC2 or an abstract gameplay section of ACB are better rewards for the past section than lots of lore pieces for which you have to put the game on pause many times to inspect properly.

If Helix Glitches actually unlocked World War I, then that would've been a different matter since for those collectibles you'd get a huge gameplay section, but it's not, it's unlocked automatically at a certain point of the campaign.

Wow that's embarrassing. Yes I was talking about the WW1 simulation. I don't know where but I heard that you needed something like 20 or so to unlock it. I only noticed it after I had gathered over that amount so I just believed what I had heard. If not then obviously the helix glitches are just another pointless grind.

I wonder how much else I've been misled to believe here on the internet.

cawatrooper9
08-25-2016, 04:58 PM
Wow that's embarrassing. Yes I was talking about the WW1 simulation. I don't know where but I heard that you needed something like 20 or so to unlock it. I only noticed it after I had gathered over that amount so I just believed what I had heard. If not then obviously the helix glitches are just another pointless grind.

I wonder how much else I've been misled to believe here on the internet.

I'm sure we've all looked for our proverbial Mew Under the Truck at one point or the other.

But yeah, you definitely don't need Helix Glitches to open it up, I never touch the things. I think you do have to wait until a certain sequence before it appears- maybe Sequence 5, or something around then.