Friday, July 31, 2009
I recently reached 5500 achievement points on my paladin. I know this isn't very much (I'm not even top-10 in my guild), but it's a lot more than I have on my alts, who sit on around 1500 achievement points.
When the achievement system was introduced I thought it was nonsense, and vowed not to give a rat's ass about it. But I think we all get hooked sooner or later. For me, it was when Naxx started to get dull, and the only challenge left was to do the achievements in there.
Achievements have changed the way we play the game.
First of all it's the obvious e-peen of having loads of achievement points.
Second, achievements are now being used as a "proof" that you are capable of something. How often do we not see the "LFM VoA-25, link achievement"? Achievements are of course not a good measure at all of anyone's capability, but it will at least give a hint that the player knows what it is all about.
Third, achievements force players to stay at the current content longer. First you have to down the boss. Then you have to down him with less raid members. Then you have to down him while constantly jumping or running in circles. Then you have to down him while closing your eyes, standing on one leg, and reciting the Holy Bible.... backwards. It's an ingenious way of Blizzard to make content last longer, even for hardcore players. And by looking at the number of achievements added every patch, they are well aware of it.
Fourth, it gives the hardcore players a shot at fame and glory by giving them titles and mounts to strout around in Dalaran with. Everybody will get the epics in the end, but only the hardcore will have the titles and mounts.
And last, but not least, it makes the players' ties to their character stronger than ever. Do you think that holy paladin with 10k achievement points are willing to reroll anytime soon? For every patch, the amount of achievement points are getting higher and the hill to climb to "catch up" with a reroll is getting steeper. As I mentioned at the start of this post: My alts are about 4000 achievement points behind my main. Dropping my main for any of those will seriously hurt my achievement e-peen.
So, are achievements good or bad?
Well, the good thing is that they have introduced an entire new dimension in playing. Now the goal is not just shiny epics, but also shiny achievements, titles, and mounts. More incentives make more people play more (TM).
People are a lot less likely to reroll, since they just cannot stand to face redoing all those achievements again on a new character. This would mean fewer "Flavor of the Month" characters, but also stronger feelings for one's main character.
But there are of course bad sides as well. How fun is it really to kill the same boss in eight different ways? Or wipe an entire night on a farmable boss because you have to do it another way to get an achievement? Or having a single mistake by a single player ruin the entire achievement for everyone for another week (e.g. The Immortal). Or having to pick another 249 pink eggs to get a chance to get a drop which you will need to get another achievement?
Personally, I think achievements are good. They add a flavor to the game, and make some boring aspects of it more meaningful.