(I’ve been sitting on a bunch of posts, being too lazy and/or preoccupied to clean them up, insert hyperlinks, and publish them. I finally summoned the will to get them out this morning. Here’s the first.)
If you haven’t already done so, I recommend checking out Kongai, a digital trading card game designed by David Sirlin and publicly released on Kongregate a couple months ago. David, for those of you who don’t know him, is the guy rebalancing Street Fighter for XBLA/PSN (and a very thoughtful designer, in general.)
Kongai is a well-designed card game, but what’s remarkable about Kongai is not necessarily its gameplay, but how Kongai is positioned within the larger context of Kongregate. Kongai cards are awarded the same way LIVE Achievements are – in reward for accomplishing explicit challenges in the various games found across Kongregate. (Actually, Kongai cards are more like Pogo Badges, because Badges are awarded for time-limited challenges, unlike LIVE Achievements, which are hardcoded to a game prior to its release and which never expire.) Having played Kongai for a while now, I can personally testify to the allure of virtual awards that have concrete value in a playable metagame in addition to the “status value” of normal Achievements!
There are quite a few portals and networks claiming to offer “Achievements 2.0”, but Kongai is the first thing I have encountered that feels even remotely advanced enough to merit such a claim. Gamasutra published an article on the design of Kongai, if you’re curious to learn more.