Many people don’t know, but Xbox Achievements have a special place in my heart. When the Xbox 360 was first launched, like many people I was mesmerized by the addition of achievements and gamer-score. I was so intrigued I actually started the first website for tracking achievements on Xbox 360 way back in December of 2005. Xbox360Achievements.com was my first dive in to hosting my own online community, and it blew up over night thanks in large part to an early plug from Major Nelson. For about six months I’d head home daily after my 40+ hour a week day job and hand code in countless new gaming achievements for people to look up, track and discuss.
I wasn’t a programmer, so everything was hand coded using HTML in a fairly simple site running Joomla. As you can imagine, it was a scaling nightmare. It wasn’t tough at first when only a handful of new Xbox games would come out every week, but when the console starting building momentum, I simply couldn’t keep up. I’d have to download the images from Xbox.com, upload them to my site, put in every description, and then submit. After a while it became too much, so I sold the site off in haste. Since that day I’ve regretted not having the knowledge to have that site reach it’s full potential like many of the now great Achievement sites out there, simply because I couldn’t code.
Sob story aside, achievements have pretty much taken over in popular culture. Not long after Xbox 360 started it, the PlayStation 3 had it’s trophies and other games and content makers were copying the idea. From Apple to Foursquare, badges and achievements are all over the place, so it is safe to say they are here to stay. Now you can add one more item to that list of achievement goodness. A fun little team at Microsoft has come up with the idea for adding achievements and badges that you can unlock for Visual Studio 2012! Apparently these have been around since Visual Studio 2010, but they’re new to me and they’ve recently been updated for the latest version of Visual Studio.
Just like with Xbox 360 Achievements, you can accumulate points and compare yourself on the Channel 9 leaderboard. While all of this sounds quite silly, the achievements serve a greater purpose. They are fun incentive for people to try out new aspects of Visual Studio or interesting things within the code. They’re a fun and rewarding little way to have people step outside of their comfort zone and trying something new. The achievement pages themselves actually link to MSDN articles offering more information about the action which unlocked the achievement (example).
Bring Some Game To Your Code!
A software engineer’s glory so often goes unnoticed. Attention seems to come either when there are bugs or when the final project ships. But rarely is a developer appreciated for all the nuances and subtleties of a piece of code–and all the heroics it took to write it. With Visual Studio Achievements Beta, your talents are recognized as you perform various coding feats, unlock achievements and earn badges.
How It Works
With the Visual Studio Achievements Extension, achievements are unlocked based on your activity. Your code is analyzed on a background thread each time you compile. In addition, the extension listens for certain events and actions that you may perform in Visual Studio, reporting progress on these events to the server. When you unlock an achievement, Visual Studio lets you know visually with a pop-up.
As mentioned earlier, the achievement extension is available now for Visual Studio 2012, and has been for some time for Visual Studio 2010. Remember, the goal behind achievements is to encourage you to explore a wide range of the features and related technologies available in Visual Studio, while having some fun at the same time. I know which one I’m aiming for first, Fifty Shades of Data which is apparently known as the “AllBoundUpAchievement” (see URL). You can publish your achievement unlocks to Facebook, or they’ve also created a nifty little widget to share them on your blog or website. LET THE GEEKS REJOICE!3