Is there anything that can’t be turned into a game? Apparently not.

Microsoft today embraced the gamification trend by introducing a new plug-in for its Visual Studio development program that will let software developers unlock achievements, receive badges and work their way up a leaderboard based on the code they write.

And of course, they can also brag about their achievements on Facebook and Twitter.

It might sound a little silly, and it’s definitely not entirely serious — particularly when it comes to the “Just for Fun” achievements such as the “Potty Mouth” award for using five different curse words in a single file.

But there are some practical goals behind it. Apart from shining a light on the work of developers, the achievements are designed to highlight Visual Studio features that many developers might not know about.

There are 32 achievements, including stuff we can all understand like the “Lonely” badge for coding on a Friday or Saturday night or the “Scroll Bar Wizard” badge, for writing a single line of code at least 300 characters long. Then there are achievements that must be funny to developers, such as the “Turtles All The Way Down” badge, for writing a class with ten levels of inheritance, and “Interrupting Cow,” for having 10 breakpoints in a file.

The full list is available here.

So how does it work? “The Visual Studio Achievements plug-in analyzes a background thread each time code is compiled, as well as listens for particular events and actions from Visual Studio,” explains Karsten Januszewski, software development engineer for Microsoft’s Channel 9 developer site. “When certain criteria or actions are detected, the plug-in triggers a pop-up alert and awards a new badge, which is then displayed on the public leaderboard and the developer’s Channel 9 profile.”

The project was inspired by a post from a Visual Studio user.

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  • Guest

    The equivelant of “Clippy” for devs. What a colossal waste of time. Hey MS how about investing in the tools?!?? And not this cruft.

    • Guest

      Humans perform better when things are made into games. Sorry old man, this is but a taste of the future. Don’t shave the beard, though. Beards never go out of style.

    • Anonymous

      Can you name another IDE that matches Visual Studio feature for feature? It is the one of the best IDEs out period and has a ton of MS funded support behind it (which would be that investment you were talking about genius)

      • Alastair

        NetBeans and Eclipse.

        • Anonymous

          OK, now you are being silly. Are you going to use NetBeans and Eclipse to do .NET development? Are you going to use VS to do JAVA development? NO!

          Let me rephrase for my original point for literal net: Only a troll would say that MS has not invested in VS and that this side project is somehow diverting significant resources away from making improvement to VS and its future incarnations.

  • Guest

    Now you know how MS can spend $9.5 billion on R&D annually while delivering almost no innovative products.

  • Max

    Visual Studio is one of – or maybe even THE – best product MS has ever come up with!

    • Guest

      Exactly. So why pollute it with gaming crap? What kind of developers are they trying to attract, 12 year olds?

      • Vasili Sviridov

        Most programmers are geeks, and for us – this is fun. Fun at work makes us more happy and we produce better code.

        • Blah

          No, for you, this is fun.  Who are you to decide what all geeks like?

          • Guest

            Who are you? What does it matter? This is an optional functionality and an exercise in what the system can do. Are you unable to think about how this could be used for a something other than game-reward structure? Who are you to decide what is useful for everyone? Go back to bed.

          • Anonymous

            Well, you sure are dumb enough to whine about an opt-in joke as if it was somehow forced on you.

          • Matthew Graybosch

            Get over yourself. It’s a plugin. Nobody’s holding a knife to your throat and forcing you to install it.

          • Alastair

            Correct. In the plug-ins case at least. The MS WIN + VS combination? Different story.

          • Matthew Graybosch

            Take it up with somebody who gives a shit.

      • Alastair

        Exactly, 12 year olds. Subsidise, if not bribe, the schools to use Windows and teach the kids Microsoft languages. Not much of a businessman, are you?

  • TB

    Is there a badge for crashing VS?  Because I can barely make it through a day without 2010 crashing at least once.  Good to know they’re playing around instead of fixing the godawful bugs they introduced with their bizarre .Net rewrite of the IDE…

    • olanmills

      I’m not really sure what you’re doing then, unless you’re trying to earn these achievements and have solutions with a hundred projects…

  • Rob Gerwing

    This is a genius idea.. Great way to win over market share developers.

    • Alastair

      Yeah count me in. I’m chucking it all in with Linux and Buying a copy of Windows and Whatever.NET for this.

      (Sorry, MSFT: That wasn’t the truth but maybe some people will use it for a few minutes before they get to see the happy new blue face in Windows 8)

  • Vinnie

    Jesus H Christ! They need to fix the damn bugs not add achievements!!! WTF!!!

  • Richard Kennard

    Can I claim prior art?

    3 years ago I posted this blog as a joke:

    Now it appears Microsoft has actually gone and done it!

  • olanmills

    I thought this seemed like a cool idea until I read the actual achievements list. It’s atrocious. Why would you want to be at the top of the leaderboards for this? “Don’t hire me!” is what it says. The majority of the achievements are earned by implementing bad practices.

    • Jdzions

      There are seven “bad practices” achievments, and they’re called “Bad Practices” explicitly. And 6 of them are worth zero points. (One is worth 5 points, but I’m not really sure it’s a bad practice per se.) You won’t get on the leaderboard by committing any of those.

      It’s a fun toy. Far more useful than Google Doodles, for example. There are about a half-dozen achievements that will lead devs into potentially useful parts of VS they didn’t know about (e.g. automatic stub generation to facilitate TDD, using the various architecture or UML tools, using several code cleanup tools…)

      Don’t like it? Don’t load it.

  • Doug Rathbone

    This is really old news and this was nearly 4 months ago… glad to see most people only get their news from /.

  • Lxm_ufo


  • Yama

    Damn.. pls fix bugz.. rather then going for this s-h-i-t.. 

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