This is a guest column from Juha Vainio, an Executive Producer at Remedy Entertainment, the development team behind our 2019 Game of the Year, Control. [poilib element=”accentDivider”]
I’ve never been one to chase achievements or trophies in games. I usually play the main storyline, some side quests, and that’s it. Prior to launching Control, I had zero Platinum trophies on PS4. But, Control being my game, I decided well in advance that Control will be the first game I platinum – to collect all the trophies.
So I got to it and played the game diligently, finished the main storyline, all the side quests and started hunting all the trophies. Control is not the hardest game to platinum so the progress was decent. I believe it was October 2019 when I got all the trophies but one, the “Master Parautilitarian”, awarded for unlocking all of Jesse’s abilities.
I had still a few powers missing, so I went on getting them and was pretty excited when I was enabling my final ability, supposedly triggering the trophy. But… the trophy didn’t trigger – meaning neither did the Platinum.
Clearly a bug, I asked our QA if they had bumped into anything similar. They hadn’t. I then went to our community management and asked if they had noticed anyone complaining about something similar – they hadn’t, either. So it must have been quite a rare bug.
Finally, I approached our programmers and asked how this could happen. At first, they denied it could even happen at all. Then, with minor pushing, they checked the code and confirmed there’s no chance that could happen. When I presented them with visual evidence, they said, in that voice that only programmers can do, “Interesting”.
After a few days, the programmers came up with a possible cause: they had made some fundamental changes to how abilities were counted just before launch. Apparently, I had played the pre-release build and some of my abilities were counted using the old system, the rest with the new. So the system thought I didn’t have enough abilities for the trophy, even though I did. I asked the team how long would it take to fix this so that I could get my trophy but without anybody else getting screwed. “Too long,” they said.
Of course, as the Executive Producer of Control, I’m responsible for the bug priorities, so this naturally went straight to the top of the to-do pile! That is, until the team asked, “do you want us fixing this, or do you want us working on The Foundation expansion?”. As much as it pained me, The Foundation was more important, so the bug was left unfixed.
That didn’t mean I gave up, though. As a trusted Sony developer, I had access to the developer support portal. I went and explained the situation to Sony’s support team and subtly asked if they could just flip the switch on the back-end and unlock the trophy for me. “No”, they said. “All the trophies need to be unlocked from within gameplay”. Which makes lots of sense, but didn’t make me any happier.
I continued harassing our programmers every once in a while, but they didn’t budge. But suddenly, as an inadvertent answer to my prayers, one of our designers came up with the idea of being able to reset all the ability points. Unaware of my particular predicament – he was trying to solve another issue with it – the idea got my full support. The programmers and I weren’t actually sure if that would fix my problem or not, but it was our best shot, so I took it.
For weeks and weeks, I held my breath and waited, in pain, to see if it would work or not. The feature was part of the March 25 Control Update, and on that day I anxiously sat beside my PS4 while the update loaded. I launched the game. I went to a Control Point to access my ability tree. … and noticed I needed to farm 30.000 Source to be able to reset the Ability Tree!
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After about 30 minutes I had collected enough Source to be able to reset the tree. So, once again, I again located a Control Point, accessed the ability tree, and reset everything. Then I proceeded, with shaky hands, to enable the abilities one by one. I almost couldn’t finish, I was so afraid that it wouldn’t work. I was almost sure it wouldn’t.
But it did! I got my “Master Parautilitarian”, followed closely by my First Platinum Trophy ever!