Rant about unlockables and keys grinding

Hello there people.
Let’s start another discussion. This time about unlockables which are also tied with keys and some other feature or more precisely the lack of it.

Let’s get to the beginning. This is the expansion of some of my thoughts in this topic: I need to talk about Chicken Invaders You can read it. It’s not that bad, I think.

  • CI3

This was the part where we got introduced to the unlockables. It was pretty easy, you complete the game and it unlock something. There were unlocks for beating the game on different difficulty levels but it could use some better explaining or even any explaining at all since it’s quite confusing how many times you need to beat the game. It also had 1 troll unlockable, but it was ok. Honestly unlockables in CI3 couldn’t be even described as grinding. Sure. Beating the game 3 times (2 veteran and 1 ssh) isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, but it was manageable. Or at least it would be if not for some weird gamedev design choice

  • CI2

We needed to return to CI2 to see the root of the problem. You see CI2 introduced the concept of editions. Editions were standalone versions of the original game but with changed textures and music. Them being standalone was nothing especially good or especially bad, because you could just install 1 of them and save your space, but unfortunately due to that (and due to some other weird choice) all of them had different saves. In CI2 it wasn’t a problem since the only thing saves had there was the highscores and the settings configuration so it was just a mild inconvenience.

  • CI3 again

Let’s come back to CI3 with our new knowledge. Unlocking everything in CI3 would take you 3x1.5 hours so 4.5 hours. And now multiply it by 3 because the save files are still separate for all editions. And you get 13.5 hours for unlocking everything in every CI3 edition.

  • Origin story of the darkest addition

We finally arrived to the main reason this topic started - keys. While it was a good idea to let players decide what to unlock, some of them were much too high and you barely got big numbers of keys from plays. If we take a look at a farming guide we can see that it take ~32 hours at average to unlock everything if you play on SSH. The best result was ~25 hours. It is a massive, and I really mean that - a massive increase in the needed hours from CI3. Even counting all editions the best result is nearly 2 times more (~1.8x). But speaking of editions. Since all episodes are following the formula I noticed (Chicken Invaders X - X special editions) it means that CI4 got 4 special editions. And all of them had different save files. Meaning that you need 128 (4x32) hours to unlock everything in all of the editions. Situation looks a little better in CI5, only because IA didn’t make any new editions for quite some time, but it would also follow the editions formula since the Halloween was introduced and eventually it may have more. But let’s be real and take the current state for calculation. Grinding situation is pretty much exactly the same here so you would need 96 (3x32) hours.

Summing it up CI3, CI4 and CI5 with all their editions would need 237.5 hours
If we include the 2 missing editions from CI5 that we may get in the future we would hit 301.5 hours.

  • Google Play Ban

I had some thoughts about google play ban of Chicken Invaders games. I remember reading somewhere that it was because of repetitivity or clones. After all the editions were also available as standalones there. It is essentially the same game just with different music and textures. Maybe this was the reason of that ban. I agree that Google has some questionable decisions often and it could have nothing to do with actual reason but I think it’s a good guess

  • Steam DLCs

I wanted to begin by saying that it’s a fresh situation but CI games are there from 2015 which was 7 years ago. On Steam CI editions are not standalones. Technically they are, but you can’t install just them without basic game. So the advantage of saving space doesn’t exist there.

  • Solving the current editions grind

While I think recreating CI episodes in CIU to let you play with your current equipment is neat it wouldn’t help the fact that episodes are grindfest and with CI6 it would only get worse. That’s why I think creating a main save profile for all episodes would be the least effort solution to cut needed hours greatly. Adding key multiplier would also help but you still need to start from scratch in every edition.

With main profile you would have access to your progress across all editions for 1 episode. It could store all your stats, settings, unlocked unlockables and highscores. In CI5 it could also store your spaceship customization.

  • CI6 in the future

It’s a good time to talk about it before IA starts working on it. Honestly it’s time to stop with standalones in the current form. Advantage of saving space is no longer relevant since most PCs have much more storage space now. That’s why in addition to needing 1 profile for all editions I also suggest to look into ways of implementing it better. Editions are just textures and music replacements . You could make texture packs and music packs which the player could download after buying and then unpack it to the game folder.

  • CI6 in the future continued (missing edit)

While the editions separate save files would be solved it doesn’t help with the grindy unlockables that we currently have in episodes. We could rewind to the CI3 way of doing it, but I have something which I believe would be more fun than just beating a game few times. Ofc we don’t know how CI6 would look like and if it even is linear (classic 1.5-2 hours campaign), but this system would work nonetheless.

I suggest that the unlockables should be tied to medals. This way it would be an incentive for the players to actually go for the medals. Ofc this would also mean that you would need to beat the game few times since we have 3 different difficulties (and now in CIU even more), but I doubt it would hit the hours needed for completing the older episodes. In CI6 we would have new medals from CIU but also I hope some new challenges like “getting all medals in one play” from my old topic (Ideas from my old email conversation). With harder medals it would be good if the unlockable is something more than a cosmetic change - maybe new spaceship, maybe some permanent regenerative satellites, hidden weapon? Something fun for suffering.

That’s all folks.

Key collectibles are the creation of a devil and never should have been added + editions need to share the progress across them.

Few questions for InterAction Studios.

  1. Why did you introduce keys to the CI4?
  2. Why did you raise required hours to unlock everything by so much?
  3. Why all editions have different save files?
  4. Why couldn’t you make editions access the same save files?

Thanks to Orandza and Emerald for providing accurate data because I absolutely didn’t want to waste my time playing the episodes again. There is some limit.

Steam Community :: Guide :: Unlocking everything (CI3)
Steam Community :: Guide :: How to farm keys (CI4)
Steam Community :: Guide :: How to farm keys (CI5)


I don’t have very strong opinions about some points in here but if we talk about player experience, i can say (back to 2011 or 2012 maybe) when i proposed myself to get all of the unlockables of ci4, i needed to play ci4 for a big ammout of times and it was a lot time consuming and as i got closer to unlock most of the expensive stuff, boring. In CI3 i needed to play around a few more times than 3 because i used to play with rookie and veteran most of the time but still, it took me less time than ci4 or ci5 and was less tiresome.

Overall, if CI6 ever becomes a thing one day, i really hope that the unlockables system is not the same like ci4 and ci5, i think the system of ci3 could work quite well with some modifications or another complete different system that is less grinding fest or just the solution that you purposed, it also whould be great enough.

Absolutely agree with all of your points.

1 Like

I never found keys as something bad but the grind for Hen solo ship in CI4 was bad and probably the worst game design decision in the entire series.

I never saw the point of why editions should exist in the first place. They are pointless, decontextualize the gamplay from the story and slowed down development time for the next episodes.

I knew I forgot to talk about something. I only talked about editions in CI6 not the unlockables… I’ll add it to the post.

Yeah. It didn’t help that this ship didn’t have any advantages at all. Not even a single one.

Actually that’s a good question for IA Studios. Would love to hear about it.

I agree on Hen Solo’s ship being just too much of a grind for what it is. At that point, I’d rather have it hiddenly unlockable as easter egg, like the troll unlockable on CI3.

About editions, I agree they could be more efficient if they simply were an asset pack that gets loaded instead of standard, as you legitimally cannot find an HDD smaller than 160GB even on e-waste landfills probably.

And about CI6, I don’t know if it should exist as-is at all. CIU has the potential to be the alpha and the omega, and one thing I suggested long time ago was, providing your game key, just load the respective campaing as ‘episodes’. Sure there are differences like overall screen space, but having everything into one engine that gets continously improved and fixed seems a better idea than having unresolved bugs on an old engine. Plus, playing CI5 or 4 to a lesser extent with any gun other than neutron gun or utensil poker after unlocking, it would be very nice.

CIU already does that with the anniversary edition which mimics the first game and it feels great.


Uh, so that unlockables could actually be unlocked? :smirk:

I looked at the stats for CI3 and there were a lot of players with several hundred hours of flight time, so I calibrated the yield based on that. Since unlockables can now be unlocked in any order, the true ‘grind time’ until a player unlocks their must-have items is typically much lower.

One is not obliged to unlock everything. That’s why the most expensive unlockable is essentially cosmetic.

It was a technical decision to keep editions completely separate, because they were sold as such by 3rd-party sites. In retrospect, the iA editions could share progress because they are always bought together, but it’s too late to retrofit this now without significant technical complications related to progress merging (progress files are encrypted with separate keys).


Ok, we all laughed. Now for real tho. Don’t avoid the meaning of the question.

Chicken Invaders 3: Revenge of the Yolk Careers | InterAction studios
On this page just 51 people have more than 100 hours recorded. I checked all 20 subpages. This is just 5.1% of players in the top 1000. And mind you, it is the present state. Before CI4 released it must have looked different (or at least the number of people since the percentage could be the same).

Let’s take all the CI3 unlockables and look at their cost for CI4 shall we?

+Secret Weapon = 200; +Super Secret Mine Bombs = 100; +Damage Indicator = 50; +Superstar Hero = 40; +Progress Indicator = 50; +Points Indicator = 50
+Clupea Harengus = idk what to replace it with. Maybe the millenium since it is also a troll visual change.

Summing it up we get 490 keys. let’s round it to 500 for easy calculation. Taking the stats from posted earlier guide we need 15000 seconds at best for that which makes it 4.16 hours. If we take the average - we need 18708 seconds which is 5.19 hours.

Now, depending on what the time to finish CI3 campaign is we either get more time - 4.5h vs 5.19h or not that much lower - 6h vs 5.19h. And once again mind you, it’s just 6 unlockables out of 20. In CI3 you get the full 100% of them. Typically you would want to unlock much more of them - 2 weapons, maybe some docks for satellites and some more UI stuff.

Sure enough, but requiring 8.33 hours at best and 10.41 hours at average just to unlock a visual change is too much.

So, it can’t be solved with making something like container save file - new save file that just reads and keeps the values from the editions? Probably not due to that encryption you mentioned later, but why is it even needed?

So, in the event that we get CI6 in the future. Can we expect to have cross-edition save files?


The Steam editions also require you to have the base game to get the editions, so I hope cross-edition save files apply to the Steam edition too

This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.