The Achievement Cha-Cha

It ought to come as no surprise if you have read this blog for a while that I am fond of the achievement system in World of Warcraft.

Despite the fact that I rank higher as an “explorer” in the Bartle Test, achievements do tend to drive my actions.  Of course, I tend to view exploring different places, having seen the world as it were, as an achievement, so it is no doubt more a matter of  how I interpret the questions that is mucking up my results.

My Bartle Test results - Explorer!

My Bartle Test results - Explorer!

And it is not just in WoW that I like achievements.  In EverQuest II I had a reasonable pile of server first and three game-wide first achievements.  They were almost all related to trade skills where the different tiers of quality (all of this was pre-Live Update 24 which started the big move towards trade skill sanity) allowed for many ways to grab a server first.  My initial game-wide first involved my Woodworker taking a rare (and expensive) component and making the medium quality version of an trade skill item that had just been introduced to the game.

So, yes, I like achievements and will squander valuable resources both in-game (gold or rare harvests) and out (time) to get them.

And yet I have problems with most achievement systems.

In Lord of the Rings Online the achievements are a bit grindy.  (Not that some of the WoW achievements are not grindy.)  Plus you tend to zoom past some of them as you level up, so to go back and get them you have to slaughter mass quantities of no experience mobs.  I tend to find that a bit tough since gaining experience and levels counts as an achievement in my book as well, though one I am not so good at sticking to, so I tend to prefer achievements that give me experience AND something shiny.

Warhammer Online went the hidden achievement route (as did LOTRO for their emote based titles), which seems a bit counter-intuitive to me.  The achiever in me likes to have a nice laundry list of potential tasks.  That is the enticement, the fact that I know I’ll get a shiny if only I can find some way to fall 65 yards and live. (And maybe get a two-fer if I bandage myself quick while my health is under 5%!)  The object of these achievements is to say, “Here are 101 crazy things to do when you’re bored and we’ll acknowledge when you’ve done them.”  The Tome of (Hidden) Knowledge doesn’t give you that list until after the fact.  Some people like that, I don’t.

The vast majority of EverQuest II achievements are of the server first variety, which is great and satisfying if you’re the person who gets it.  But once it has been taken it is gone, never to be seen again.  EQ2 also has a series of achievement-like things that award titles and the like.  But titles, while a nice and obvious sign of achievement, get out of control fast pretty fast in EQ2.  I have characters with piles of titles.  And, of course, you can only display one title at a time. (Two at a time, I suppose, if you get a prefix and suffix title.)

EVE has an achievement-like in its certificates, though since they are relegated to the largely off-line training mechanism of EVE, I have not found certificate chasing a very compelling hobby.

And then there is WoW, with its bright and shiny achievement system that puts up awards for things you were going to do anyway (made level 10!  trained for a mount!), to things you might not do without the shiny dangling before you (yesterday’s explorer title or the loremaster title), to some things that only the most dedicated player might go after (killing all the rare spawn mobs in the Outlands or Northrend for example), with some goofiness mixed in for fun.

Yet as enamored as I am with the WoW achievements, I can still find problems.

Currently in Azeroth the Midsummer holiday event is running, though they must use a different calendar in Azeroth since according to my calendar summer just started.  Anyway, with this event there is the usual set of achievements offered to players related to things you can do in celebration of Midsummer.  These events are actually pretty sweet, offering cash and experience as a reward for a range of simple to mildly dangerous activities.  For pissing on a horde bonfire, which does flag you PvP, my level 76 dwarf hunter gets 20K experience and 6 gold while honoring an alliance fire gets him 10K and 3 gold.

Level 76 Quest Rewards

Level 76 Quest Rewards

Hot stuff, so to speak.  Back of the napkin I would estimate that there is a good 2 levels of experience to be had running around honoring your own sides fires while desecrating the opposing faction’s bonfires.

What is not to like?

Well, the problem is that my main achievement collecting character is also my instance group character.  If I were to run out and scoop up all of the achievements for Midsummer with Vikund, he would end up pretty close to level 80, if not there.  But our instance group tries to stick together when it comes to levels and I am already pushing the limit at 77.  Going to 80, or close to 80, would be seriously breaking faith with the group.

I can still run through the event and get some of the achievements with my other characters.  But their achievements are separate from the achievement’s of my main character.

So I am going to add yet another wish to my long MMO wishlist.

I would like something along the lines of an account-wide tally board for achievements.

I want to see the sum of the achievements for all of my characters.

I do not want this to replace the individual character achievement listings, but I would like some way to see the cumulative achievements across the game.

In addition to my problems with levels on my main, there are other achievement areas this would open up.

For example, I never do battlegrounds with Vikund.  I understand paladins can be reasonably effective in PvP, but when I want to do that I get out my hunter.  So my hunter has a reasonable pile of PvP achievements that I will never bother to try and pick up with my pally.

This universal achievement board could also open up achievements exclusive to the other faction.  You could see the total of both horde and alliance achievements, for those of us who play both sides of the game.  Blizzard could even add achievements for doing something on either faction or for doing something with more than one character or on more than one server.

Meta achievements.

So that is the long-winded path to my wish of the day.

Are you an achiever too?  Which MMO achievement system do you like?

14 thoughts on “The Achievement Cha-Cha

  1. ColinSFX

    I don’t follow developer news for the other MMOs closely, but Blizzard’s devs have expressed through Ghostcrawler that more account-based treatment of characters can be expected.

    Account-bound items like heirlooms and (newly) non-combat pets were the first step, and they’ve openly mentioned things like reputation grinds, mount skill training, and achievements as being on the list of possible account-based features in the future.

    Here’s looking at 4.0!

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  2. smakendahed

    Dude… you don’t have the Going Down? achievement yet? You’re a paladin right?

    You have Hand of Protection… Jump from way high up and cast bubble on yourself. In fact, you can get that for most group members, just make sure you are either in position to ‘catch’ them or you can cast on them as they jump.

    But make sure you’re grouped with the person, otherwise you can’t cast on them. I learned that the fun way (as I watched Kaldonar plummet to his doom).

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  3. Pingback: Bartle Test 2009 « Random Ogre Thoughts

  4. syncaine

    Oddly enough, the ToK is designed for explorers, so they can go out and explore and be rewarded. Achievements are for those who like having a list and chasing it down. I think it goes somewhat against the idea of an explorer if you are not willing to go out and see things just for the hell of seeing them, and if you happen to find an unlock, all the better. Needing a list to direct you from point A to point B does not sound much like exploring to me.

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  5. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @ColinSFX: I’ll be interested to see what comes of that.

    @Smakendahed: Oh, I’ve had “Going Down” for ages. I only realized after the fact that I could have gotten that the first aid achievement at the same time. I have since done that with my hunter. That achievement will come into play in this week’s instance group update.

    @Syncaine: Well, the exploration part of WoW achievements has names of places but it doesn’t tell you where to go. It is not exactly directing you from point A to point B. On the other hand, the ToK has plenty of non-exploration achievements (like falling a given distance and living), but you would never know because they are hidden until you actually do them. As I said above, some people like that, but I don’t. And I am going to bet most people just go to a web site to get the list, so why bother hiding it in the first place? Make it the Tome of Knowledge not the Tome of History.

    @Gaff: Put up any 0.0 kills lately?

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  6. We Fly Spitfires

    I like the WoW achievements too and IMO it’s the best implemented. I’ve played EQ2 for years but, like you said, achievements were pretty much contained to server first discoveries and the like. Warhammer Online has the Tome of Knowledge which, don’t get me wrong, is fabulous but for some reason the WoW achievement system just seems so much more easy going and intuitive. Maybe it’s something to do with the UI they’ve got. I’m also impressed at how seemlessly Blizzard incorporated it into the game.

    I’d love to see meta achievements too. I bet I’d be able to get the ‘altaholic’ one pretty quickly :)

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  7. Facepalm

    I think the Tome of Knowledge in WAR was one of the coolest features for me when I started playing. Blizzard, hot on their heels, obviously nailed the implimentation much better, lots of big, shiny eye-candy and less walls-of-text.

    Having a well mapped out list of goals is a very interesting way to mark progress and a much easier way to compare individual players.

    Extending the mechanism to account-wide achievements is a great idea and I’m glad to hear Blizzard is thinking along those lines as well.

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  8. Melf_Himself

    Syncaine, the explorer side of things isn’t necessarily about pioneering unchartered territory, it can just be about a general sense of wonder upon seeing a pretty place (or game mechanic, or mob, etc).

    Have a look here:

    http://blog.ihobo.com/2009/02/why-you-play-games.html

    Wilhelm, I too would like to see account-wide achievements. Personally I don’t really care much about what an individual character has achieved, but more about what I as a player have achieved. That applies especially to the grindier achievements that nobody wants to repeat.

    I think a system like you describe, where achievements for characters and for your account can be viewed / displayed would be good – as long as any activities that require a particular achievement check your account-wide achievement list, and not your local character list.

    Like, if you have to grind XXX faction to do a particular raid, you’d only have to do that on one character.

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  9. Sören

    Wilhelm, as I understand it, achiever in the Bartle-test means levels, gold, kills etc. All number-related. Some achievements in WoW are “bartle-achievements” (e.g. the mounts) while others like the geographical achievements may count as exploring in the Bartle-test. And, last but nort least, your way of going into instances without lengthy study in the web but just trying out yourself: that is definitely exploring in the Bartle-test.

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  10. *vlad*

    I don’t mind doing achievements, but in WoW there are so many that are pure gimmickry, especially in these seasonal events.
    “Whilst drunk and wearing the festival dress, kiss a troll rogue” and stuff like that – rubbish.
    Kill Flame Leviathan with 1,2,3 or 4 towers up – interested.

    Each to his own, I guess.

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  11. Ninetytwo

    Blizz has said account-wide achievements are on the “to-do” list. I’m like you, I hope it’s sooner, rather than later.

    Given the way Blizz is, in general, looking more at players as accounts and less as individual toons (bind to account items, deathknights starting at a high level, but only because you already have a high-level character) we’ll see more cross-toon pollenation in the future, I suspect.

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