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Achievements

Be better than "killed 10 rats"

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Introduction

Achievements are a simple and traditional feature for games that can help drive player engagement. While they are simple to implement (make work) coming up with a good achievement design is not so simple. You could of course
🤮
forth random achievements like "Played 15 min", "Logged into the game", and "Pressed the spacebar"; but these are often time harmful to the game and not helpful.

Quick Start

First you need to create your achievements on the Steam Developer portal. https://partner.steamgames.com/​

Create

Log into your Steam Developer Portal and access your app's admin page. Look for the Technical Tools section and select the Edit Steamworks Settings option.
Techincal Tools
From there select the Stats & Achievements > Achievements option and create your new achievements.
Make note of the value you use in the API Name field. You will use it when working with achievements in code.
In Unity, if you prefer to work with Achievements via an object reference then you can use our AchievementObject which is a Unity ScriptableObject that can be referenced and accessed like any other Unity Object.
Achievement test

Publish

You **MUST** publish your changes in Steam Developer Portal before they will be accessible via Steam API. In the Steam Developer Portal when you have pending changes you will see a red banner at the top of the screen ... click it and follow the instructions.

Use

Once your achievements are defined and published in Steam Developer Portal you can start using them. You have 3 options with how you choose to engage with achievements or any other Steam "artefact" like it.

Object

We have defined Scriptable Objects for every major artefact type, these make it easy to reference your achievements in-game objects. The Using Object References section of this article gives more detail.

Data Layer

We have defined C# structs for every major artefact type, these are suitable for DOTS and similar paradigms and do not require a reference at all. The Using Value Types section of this article gives more detail.

API Extensions

We have wrapped every API endpoint, callback and feature in an engine-specific static class for cases where you prefer to work with an API directly. The Using Heathen APIs section of this article gives more detail.

Using Achievements

The first thing to understand is that with stats and achievements, the process of setting them in two steps.
  1. 1.
    You assign the value such as myAch.IsAchieved = true;
  2. 2.
    You store the changes to the backend such as myAch.Store()
The notification popup will not trigger until the achievement is "stored". In the above examples "myAch" would be either an AchievementObject or AchievementData, both do the same thing, "Object" is a reference type based on ScriptableObject so can be easily referenced in Unity Editor while "Data" is a value type e.g. a C# struct and more suitable for DOTS and related structures.
Understand that not every game needs achievements, that if your going to have achievements they should be part of the game and not an afterthought you bolted on because why not. Meaningless achievements can harm the user experience by breaking immersion or simply drawing attention away during gameplay.
Following are some ideas for meaningful achievements and how you might tie those achievements into other aspects of your game.

New Player Experience

Think of your achievements like a meta quest ...
Meta means beyond or above, etc. and when we use it we mean a concept, information, etc. that is not part of the main but additional and external to it.
Like a meta quest, that is a quest for the player (not the character in-game world) to learn your game. To encourage them to explore the features and functions of your game in a structured manner and to offer some non-gameplay impacting rewards for doing so.
For a practical example of this see DOTA 2's "New Player Experience" aka "Welcome Quests" where they present "quests" for new players to do simple things like open menus, use features, review information, play each of the game modes, etc. Importantly this is not hidden from the player it's presented to the player in the menu just like a quest, showing what steps are yet to be done and which have been done.
Not sponsored/promoted, this is just a random video on the topic of DOTA 2 Welcome Quests you might find relevant

Player Tutorial

The best tutorials are fun and engaging parts of the game that happen to also teach the player mechanics, concepts, demonstrate tactics and strategies and more. Similar to the New Player Experience approach you can use Achievements as a means to draw attention to these instructions and reward their completion without forcing the player into them.

Item Rewards

Steam Inventory is a huge topic unto itself that needs its own guide. The overlay with Achievements is that you can restrict eligibility for Item Promotion drops based on unlocked achievements. You can use this with New Player Experience or Tutorial style achievements to award in-game items for completing the tasks.

Achievement Hunters

There are many types of players and a common one across all game genres is the "Collector" or "Hunter" This is a type of player that likes to "100%" the game. Be careful to not bloat your game with meaningless achievements as this will simply frustrate the collector but do make sure to track and reward them for fully exploring your game.

Creating Achievements

​Valve​

Steam Stats and Achievements provides an easy way for your game to provide persistent, roaming achievement and statistics tracking for your users. The user's data is associated with their Steam account, and each user's achievements and statistics can be formatted and displayed in their Steam Community Profile.
Achievements like stats are created in your Steam Developer Portal, once created there you can access them via their ID, if your use Heathen's Steamworks ... why aren't you it has a free version. Then you can import your Stats and Achievements into Unity or use our AchievementData structure to easily work with your achievements in code.
Valve's documentation on the Stats and Achievement features is a good place to get started.

Using Achievements

Storing Achievements

This is the process of committing any changes made during gameplay to the Steam backend. That is you can freely "set" the state of achievements and stats during gameplay such as incrementing kills of enemy units, player score, etc. These changes are written to the local cash, not directly to the backend.
When the game is closed or when you call "Store" the changes will be committed to the backend. This should be done at key points in the game such as at the end of a level, on player death, when a boss is defeated or at some other opportune time. It is generally not recommended that you constantly call Store() with each change.
Think about when you want that popup to show It will be immersion-breaking, it could cover parts of the screen, and it could cause things such as Windows Auto HDR to cause screen flicker ... in generally you want it to show only when the player is not actively engaged in gameplay such as on a menu, debriefing, "You Died" screen, etc.
There are several ways to store stats and achievements and they all do the same thing. They are simply different ways you can trigger the effect depending on what objects you have available in memory and how you are more comfortable as a developer.

AchievementData

Assuming you have a data object named myAch
myAch.Store();

AchievementObject

Assuming you have an object named myAch
myAch.Store();

API

API.StatsAndAchievements.Client.StoreStats();

Pop up

The Steam popup that you're used to seeing when you unlock an achievement or receive some other notification is not code in the game but rather the Steam client rendering overtop the game's window.
Players can force this to be disabled so do not assume it will always be present it's the user's choice as configured in the Steam client, not your game. This is not for you to control.
For achievements, this popup triggers when an achievement is stored not when it is set. Also, note that because it is rendering over the game window it will not likely work properly when testing in the Unity Editor or if you have a debugger or other app mounted to the process as this may restrict window updates and or add additional windows to the process.

Using Value Types

​Achievement Data​
Heathen's Steamworks' Achievement Data simplifies working with Steam achievements exposing common features to a simple struct.
//The achievement data struct is implicitly convertible from the string
//so you can convert the API name as a string into the data struct
AchievementData myAch = "achievement_API_name";
​
//You can understand the state of an achievement with simple fields
if(myAch.IsAchieved)
Debug.Log($"{UserData.Me.Name} achieved this on {myAch.UnlockTime}");
else
Debug.Log($"This has not been unlocked yet");
​
//You can unlock an achievement simply by assigning the IsAchieved value
myAch.IsAchieved = true;

Using Object References

​Achievement Object​
Heathen's Steamworks can "import" your achievements from Steam API directly and construct Scriptable Objects that make it possible to work with achievements with zero coding required.
Right from the Steam Settings object you import all of the Steam Achievements you defined in Valve's Steam Developer Portal.
You must have the simulation running so the Steam API is initialized and able to talk to the Steam client.
Once done you can find Scriptable Objects for each of the identified achievements nested under your Steam Settings
You can learn more about the Achievement Object in our documentation. Using this object you can reference this achievement in any of your logic and easily test for unlock and unlock the achievement.
using UnityEngine;
using HeathenEngineering.SteamworksIntegration;
​
public class ExampleScript : MonoBehaviour
{
public AchievementObject myAchievement;
void Start()
{
if(myAchievement.IsAchieved)
Debug.Log("It is unlocked");
else
Debug.Log("It is locked");
}
}

Using Heathen APIs

​API​
Heathen's Steamworks wraps Valve's Steam API with a C# and Unity-friendly tool kit. All features related to stats and achievements can be found in the StatsAndAchievements.Client class. In most cases, you won't need to use this low-level tool but it is available to you and works very similar to the raw Steam API.
using UnityEngine;
using Achievements = HeathenEngineering.SteamworksIntegration.API.StatsAndAchievements.Client;
​
public class ExampleScript : MonoBehaviour
{
void Start()
{
Achievements.GetAchievement("ACH_TRAVEL_FAR_ACCUM", out bool isAchieved);
if(isAchieved)
Debug.Log("It is unlocked");
else
Debug.Log("It is locked");
//To unlock it
Achievements.SetAchievement("ACH_TRAVEL_FAR_ACCUM");
//To re-lock it
Achievements.ClearAchievement("ACH_TRAVEL_FAR_ACCUM");
}
}