Last month, a crew of Gaia's developers made a frenzied push to finish the first round of one of its most ambitious projects of the year. Let's hand it over to them for an in-depth look:
If you've played any video games recently, you're probably familiar with achievements. They're the little trophies that pop up when you complete some weird objective, like driving off the world's highest cliff or strangling a thousand butterflies or whatever.
We've been kicking around ideas for a Gaia achievement system for years now, but we couldn't seem to muster the manpower to do it right-- with something as big and all-encompassing as achievements, you can't do it halfway. This year, under the leadership of darknrgy, we finally put a team together to tackle it.
The first round of beta achievements went out in Gaia Labs a few weeks ago. A lot of them were small achievements for new users-- more on that in a minute-- but we've got plenty of more ambitious achievements in the works. Even if you've been on the site for years, we want to give you huge, tough challenges to work toward, like making 50,000 posts or creating a hugely popular thread. Of course, there'll be tons of crazy hidden achievements, too-- you never know when you'll get rewarded for something completely random, like posting in Chatterbox with no pants.
Achievements make for great bragging rights for veterans, so why the early focus on new users? A lot of new people who join Gaia tend to get confused and drop out before they figure out all the cool stuff to do. Rather than presenting a linear "newbie quest," which we tried in the past (it never really worked), achievements give people a set of goals that they can pursue in whatever order they want. If they're interested in the forums, they'll be rewarded for posting; if they want to check out the arenas, they'll earn points for rating art. Hopefully, this will lead to less confusion among new users, which is better for everyone-- nothing is sadder (and more annoying) than a bewildered newb.
We're hoping that Achievements will make the site more fun for all Gaians, whether they're old or new or anywhere between. If you have any awesome suggestions, please drop by the feedback thread.