Friday, February 13, 2009

Achievement Malaise, What Are They Good For?

So this is a post based on my other half's comment from yesterday. She made a couple good points, but I also felt a bit misrepresented by it. I started to respond and it quickly turned into a long winded diatribe, so I decided to make it a post of its own. I think it'll speak for itself...

First, here is a copy of what Fuubaar wrote, in case you don't want to check comments (or can't):
My whole mentality about these Festival Achievements is that not every joe shmo should be able to do it. They make it hard enough that it's a challenge to finish (325 cooking for the Merry Maker, having to visit every elder in the world aka time,etc.) Blizz didn't want to make these Luck based because too many people would bitch but making it so that you actually feel like you've accomplished something by the end, now There's the Achievement!

Ful gets upset about the time part because he only does it for ten minutes then throws his arms up in dismay. "What do I get out of this?" Well, mister, you can get a title, a sexy dress, and a slew of other things that are only Vanity. These things are there to make you more unique than other Human Warlocks. Even if you had the ultimate Gear in End Game Raiding, there is bound to be someone that is going to look just like you. That frustrates some people.

Anyways, I've heard the arguments regarding the Festival Achievements and their requirements. I do feel bad for the people who aren't 80 yet and want the title but there is next year.

So my first thought was: this sounds like a lover's quarrel... how topical :-)

Background: For those of you that don't know us, Fuu and I usually sit in the same room while playing and have these arguments in person, like any good nerdy couple. Then I get to pontificate on my blog, but made the mistake of giving her the address ;-). Thus, when she's saying I throw my hands up saying "what's in it for me?", she's usually right.

My second thought was: Sounds like Fuu wants to take care of Holiday posts from now on! :-D

But then I got serious:
First of all, I agree that it should be a smidgen difficult, but when you only have a week or so to do it, I don't want to spend 4-5 hours a night trying to beat my way through stuff just to get it done. The difficulty should be commensurate to the length of time offered.

Secondly, I dislike requiring you to basically get the achievement on a level 80 toon. I like to customize my toons a bit differently from each other. My 'lock is my main and my raider. He doesn't believe in frivolous BS titles like "Merrymaker" because it has nothing to do with raiding and is not warlocky at all. This isn't to say I'm RP'ing, just that when I'm on my main, my goal is to kill stuff, not run around doing various crap for a spiffy title.

My DK, on the other hand, she likes to look good. Getting a sexy dress for her is fun (I've mentioned I don't like the male clothes, so that may be part of it). I'll do random stuff on her because its fun to run around and do random things as a Death Knight. I mean, everyone likes to faceroll every now and then right? I like raiding better on my 'lock, but questing better on my DK. Is that odd? When you look at how squishie and slow an affliction 'lock is compared with at plate-wearing badass like my DK, its pretty obvious why questing on one would be easier than the other. Besides, DK is the new hotness. It's satisfying to go in and beat your head on stuff instead of trying to be all strategic like on my 'lock.

Differing playstyles aside, when you're going after a holiday title and yet you know from the start that a level barrier is going to prevent you from completing all the stuff (you'll be one measly little thing short), it really takes the motivation out of it. So, okay, I got my pretty dress, now what? I would have loved to get the "love fool" title on my DK cuz its funny. She's my crazy Kate Beckinsale hellion wannabe that I can faceroll on and still be cool. Mind you, facerolling for a warlock is probably still playing normal for a hunter (jk jk), but my point is that I don't min/max on her like I do on my 'lock. For her, it's about the look, and having a silly title to go with the look is totally a part of that. "Love Fool" would have been a good one, but there is no way I'm going from 76-80 in 7 days.

Also, saying "Wait until next year" is a total cop out. What if by next year they push out a new expansion (not likely I know), but still if you always took that mentality and you were always behind the "curve", then you'd never get the "fun" stuff. Especially when you're dealing with alts. It should be accessible NOW imo, since they could always change it next year too. With so many changes, who knows where the game will be in a year? I mean *gasp* we may even have all moved on to the next big thing. Again, not likely, but you know it's going to happen eventually. Even if it is WoW 2 or World of Starcraft or something else by Blizz. None of us are fortune tellers, so we have no idea what the future holds.

Besides, even with it being a PITA, every Joe Schmoe DOES do the achievements, or at least a high percentage. It's like when the Jenkins title first came out... everyone and their brother went and got it. Now, granted it was easy, but still. Who wasn't a Jenkins? My warlock, for one. At first, I thought it was cute and thought about getting it. Then when I saw 100+ more people with the title, I thought "why?" Fuu was talking about trying to differentiate by offering these sort of things, but I disagree. I think it almost makes us MORE the same. Blizz HAS to make it so a lot of people can do it, so its a necessary evil.

I think it's my opinion that they should either make it trivial enough that its easy to get, so that the people who have it are the people who really WANT it. -OR- Make it so ridiculously hard that you have to spend half a year to get it, so again, you really have to want it. But even that flies in the face of what I really want them to do.

What I'd REALLY like to see are achievements added that award titles for feats that DON'T just take an inordinate amount of time to get. It's like we're only rewarded titles for putting in tons of time (which makes sense with the current business model), but I guess I crave something that says "I'm a good player" not "I can spend more time on stuff than you". A lot of them are of the format of doing "x" amount of "y". Some of these even put people who didn't play before say, TBC, at a significant disadvantage. While I'm okay with rewarding people who have played longer, most of these end up becoming "farm" quests for bored people. Does the title really say anything other than they were willing to "farm" old content for a title? Show me the title that someone got just for being "good". Show me the title that says "if you bring this person in to the raid, they won't be an asshat." (And think of how useful that title would be, ha! We have in LFG: Soandso The Douchy... welp looks like we're gonna have a rough PuG today!).

Right now, I'm not sure such a title exists, and I really don't have a good solution for how to determine that. I mean there are some cool titles, but it seems like they all take a TON of time to get. How do you reward someone for just being good at the game? I guess bigger question would be "What makes a good player?" Plenty has been conjectured on that, and I think there is a general consensus among players on some traits that a "good" player would have.

For instance, I was talking about our OT doing the "little" things yesterday. It would have been fitting if he could have been given a title that says: "The Badass LoS'er" You could even do the clever Blizz play on words joke, like: "Achievement Unlocked: Way To Be A Loser!", get it? But how do you reward one for going above just "doing their job" when its hard to notice most of the time anyways? I mean, its not like you had to "put in the time" to get something like this, you just had to have an awareness of a particular situation and know how to react. Also, then how would you deal with people who just do it on purpose to get the title (ergo "faking" being a good player)?

I'll give you that some are better than others. Personally, I like the Loremaster title, as it shows you've experienced a lot of the lore and probably know your way around. Still, it is more based on spending a lot of time doing something, rather than having skill. Plus, being a post TBC player, it means I have to go back and "farm" old content to some extent. Some of the group boss fight achievements (like Oh Novos!) are good too, but they don't reward titles.

Clearly, I don't really have a good solution to fixing how I feel about achievements, which is one of the reasons I don't write about them very much. They're fun and give people a "to-do" list. They keep people with ADD (Fuu) actively attentive (which in and of itself is a feat of strength). They just fail to excite me personally. I always question, what does this really say, if anything? Does it describe my playstyle or character in any way? Does it tell people anything other than "I can look stuff up on WoWhead and follow instructions for a long period of time?" How do we reward the people that are just "good"? How do we make the titles actually *feel* epic?

I guess I just wanted to say that when I throw up my arms and ask "what's in it for me?", I'm not just whistlin' dixie; I really have put some deep thought into it. I just can't figure out how to feel about it.


  1. See now I have to come over here and set you straight because I just got done having a discussion like this with Abi. I think I need to steal Fuu so we can tra-la-la around and get Achievements together. You can have Abi and you guys can go throw dots around together or whatever it is that you shadowy folk do =P

    First of all I want to start by saying that the basis for doing a lot of the Achievements is to get the drake at the end of the year. There have been a lot of titles I don't like (Yes, I have Jenkins) and my answer is to simply not wear it. I wanted Laeyla the Love Fool because it had a nice ring to it but once I see too many people with it I'll probably go back to my Chef title. However it has a Pokemon affect. Once I started getting titles, I just wanted more and am really kicking myself for skipping the Christmas event, but moving on...

    Secondly, there ARE titles and Achievements that let you know certain things about players. The Achievement system isn't just based around froo-froo holidays and time sinks. There are all those Achievements for Naxx, ones for downing all the content in the game presently and of course the Twilight Vanquisher title for those able to do Sarth 3D - the hardest encounter in the game.

    I was having this conversation last night with the guild when a couple of them groaned at going for some Achievements in Naxx. Right now these raiding titles and Achievements are what the end game content is. A lot of them are not farmable and to get them (especially the Undying/Immortal) you have to be hand picked for not being an asshat to go in and even get it. Plenty of people are able to walk into Naxx10 and clear it... but how many of them can do it without crossing charges? living through Heigan? or dying at all for that matter?

    This works with PvP as well. There are a lot of titles and Achievements for Arena and BGs. I can tell you from experience and being a complete pvp newb, these achievements are not easy to get.

    For me, I played in BC and I had 4 70s, 3 of which were full epic. At the end of the expansion I didnt really feel accomplished. I dropped all that time into the game and who really new it besides me? I like the Achievement system because it keeps me occupied for the most part and on ONE character. By the time I have all these Holidays out of the way the xp nerf should have hit Northrend (hopefully) and maybe then I can start doing them on another toon, but until the nerf I really don't have a reason to level another toon.

    For now everyone can see from my gear that I raid and from my Achievement progress that I'm not your average soccer mom signing on for a shiny dress. To me thats what makes the Achievement system desirable and something to strive for.

  2. Well Said!

    Thank you!

    I do feel that these achievements set you appart from everyone else in the game... Yes, I know... other people are going to have them too. I'm actually shocked when someone doesnt have a title now a days. I am proud of every title that I have and will come across. Also, I do agree with you Blogoflight, when you start to see others with that title, you will show the one you are most proud of.

    Mine is Definately the Merrymaker because of my crazy lvling and dedication to raising my cooking from 50-325 in a few days.

    PS: When do you wanna steal me away for some Achievement fun ;)

  3. Ha, were you on when Abi and I were going on about caster gear the other night? Maybe we just want to see a title for all the non-holiday related research and effort we put in to gearing, min/maxing, and raid leading. Its not that I feel that all titles are evil or bad, just that there are far too many frivolous holiday ones compared with much harder time consuming ones... then you have just a very few "skill based" titles (i.e. raid or PvP type titles). The acheivements are probably pretty even and I think some of the new ones that reward you for doing certain things in a fight are of the right ilk. It's just that you don't neccessarily get a cool title for the effort that you put into being a successful raider. Sure a few exist, but is it "balanced"?

    Is any part of this game really balanced? lol That's a whole 'nother post tho ;-).

    I elaborated a little more in my post today about how I think they contributed to soured attitudes too.

    Perhaps in a World (... of Warcraft) that just seems so "pro-acheivement", I'm one voice of the minority that may feel that while they can be fun, they're not quite done right as it is.

  4. Eh, I'm not really anti-achievement or anything and I don't even think they're done wrong. I like that Blizzard found a way to reward players for doing things that they enjoy doing.

    PVP'ers get titles, people who enjoy questing and dungeon crawling get titles and raiders get titles based on some pretty hard achievements.

    I never did a lot of dailies in TBC, never had a netherdrake and was only exalted with the Scryers on 1 toon. I'm just a big fan of alts and I have no idea why lol.

  5. Yeah, I agree... I can't say I'm "anti"-achievement. I just feel like I don't get rewarded for the game I like to play. I like alts, I like understanding game mechanics. I don't do grinding or forcing myself through stuff for a title.

    I just don't like the attitude achievements have brought out in people. For instance, a bunch of people are getting together and PM me "Hey we're going for XXX achievement, wanna come?" I say "no thanks" and *I'm* the weird one for not wanting to do it. Then I hear the same people complain non-stop about how much of a PITA it was. If you don't like it, don't do it. It's that simple. I don't care what the "reward" is. Find your happiness in the game, and chase it. Don't ruin it for the rest of us by QQ'ing all 5 days of a holiday.

    I may be jaded because I've just heard Fuu complain all weekend about it, but she is just one of a huge huge many that just let loose with complaints all weekend. She was by no means the worse, because she basically enjoys such things, but man am I sick of hearing it. I guess that is my whole point. No sympathy on this blog :-).

  6. See but its just like raiding. Remember in Pre-BC when if you had epics you were the big time nerd who had no life *insert all the other QQing from casuals here*?

    Now anyone can jump into a pug Naxx group and get good gear.

    This is also the idea with the Achievements I think. A lot of them are epic time-sinks, while there are some that anyone and everyone can do... to a certain extent.

    What you're having now is all the "casual" people, the ones who aren't 80, the ones who dont have time to sit around for 6 hours and methodically get a gift package every hour on the hour.

    You're 100% correct in that there really is no way to balance it. Its either too hard for the casuals or too easy for those of us more hardcore players.

    Don't feel too bad though Fuu, I wasnt 70 for the Hallowed event and I couldnt find the time to do Merrymaker. I'm also not looking forward to the next Holiday either because its very PvP heavy >.<

    Just know that you will get it eventually and as long as you have the one (or two) title you really wanted and worked for, that its all worth it in the end for you.

    I love my Chef title personally, that was something that I worked hard to get and really fits both my toon and my personality.