Worst ideas in WoW! Today: Achievements

There have been a couple of additions to World of Warcraft that drastically changed the way we playe the game or how we experience the game world. In this series I’ll take a look on some major features that have made the game as a whole worse. Today we’ll start with a very popular gameplay feature: The ingame achievements.

“Blasphemy!” you say. “Achievements add so much to the game!” you say. Achievements are extremely popular and even I often go the extra mile for an achievement, so how can I complain? Most people like them and usually people who don’t like achievements are told to just ignore and not do them. Ignoring achievements is an option and a very good one. I applaud people who have the willpower to completely ignore them and just play and enjoy the game as if they didn’t exist in the first place. But I believe that most people who do achievements don’t really like to do them, but don’t realize it. Even I “like” getting an achievement, but I still think they’re a bad thing. I try to explain why 🙂

October 15th, 2008...the horror began!

Achievements were unleashed upon the unsuspecting mass of WoW players with the Wrath of the Lich King pre-patch 3.0.2 on October 15th of 2008 (14th if you played in the US). It was a huge new feature and followed the very popular achievement system introduced by Microsoft for the XBox360 in 2005. Many people accused Blizzard of just copying the original and they’re pretty much correct, as there’s not much to hide about the fact that the WoW achievement system is more or less identical to the XBox counterpart.

At first I thought achievements were great. Depending on your progress in the game prior to patch 3.0.2 you started out with a smaller or larger amount of already completed achievements.

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90% of /played in 10% of the content

Did you ever notice how you never have a lot of /played hours at a single level before you hit the current max level? Probably, but even if you didn’t, you certainly noticed how your current /played rises to ridiculous levels once you hit the maximum level. Which isn’t necessarily wrong. Everybody will hit the max level sooner or later and if you continue playing, you’ll spend a lot of time at that level.

But two things bug me about that in World of Warcraft. The first one is the leveling speed, which I already talked about in previous posts. Not only do you spend more time at max level than at any other leveling-level, you even spend a LOT more time at max level than during the whole leveling process combined. If you’ve played for a longer time you might have characters with /played hours going into the triple day digits. Now the game doesn’t allow that, but how much of your /played time would be left if you removed the time spent at Level 60,70,80,85 and 90? Unless we’re talking about a bank alt with dozens of days spent at level 2, it’s usually not a whole lot. Just leveling a character to max level takes about 5 days /played if you’re not too serious about it. But let’s say you do a lot of crafting, leveling professions and just chatting with the guild and double that number, bringing the total up to 10 days /played for a new character to hit the maximum level, which is actually a lot.

10 days of 100 days total is about 10%. Those 10 days won’t rise a whole lot. If you’re level 90 now, the next time you can add a couple of hours to that number is in 1 or 2 years when the next expansion hits and then you might bump your leveling time up by a few more days.

Leveling together...

One thing the high leveling speed does is reduce the chance you can level a character together with someone else, because unless both players don’t ever play on their own, chances are that one or two solo sessions will create a huge content gap and then it’s “See you at maxlevel!”.

But let’s get back to the main topic. You spend at least 90% of your time at the highest level and at most 10% actually leveling your character. As I said, there’s not really anything wrong with that, although I personally would prefer a much higher leveling percentage. But here’s the second thing that bugs me about this: Think for a moment what you actually DO while leveling and while playing at the level cap and where do you go?

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Reading is for noobs! (and it’s not worth it)

Done any quests recently? Sure you have! And if you’ve got a Mists of Pandaria account, you’ve probably done your fair share of daily quests already…probably more than ever.

But I’m not here to rant about the new daily quest system.

Try to remember the last couple of quests you did. Can you remember what you did in that quest? Oh sure, no problem! I had to collect 12 gems in one quest, kill 8 crocolisks in another one and gather 24 insect wings in yet another quest, easy!

Only it’s not! Do you remember who gave you the quest? Can you tell me exactly WHY you were given that task? Even better: Can you give me your characters motivation for doing that quest?

Yeah, I didn’t think so. You see, nobody actually reads anymore in World of Warcraft. And why should they? The game interface has received so many “improvements” over the last couple of years, that reading any quest and/or lore related text has become completely irrelevant. I’ve talked about this already in the 2 part leveling posting.

While reading questtext used to be absolutely vital to your success, it’s now completely optional as the game interface tells you where to go and what to do. And so, reading becomes just a waste of time and it’s not really important why you do something. It seems like players just care about experience/gold/items/coins/points/tokens/reputation and nothing else. Reading the quest text will just postpone the eventual reward. Blizzard could implement a quest where players have to club baby seals to death with the corpses of their parents and eat their brains at the end. It doesn’t matter…as long as there’s at least something remotely shiney at the end, players will do it, trust me. In fact, there are almost a dozen (including one daily) quests involving poop in World of Warcraft. I guess the quest team hired some fecophiliac during the development of TBC and didn’t fire him yet. Players will gladly collect piles of sh*t for a few bucks.

Ugh, wall of text!

But what’s the point of this posting: Well, Blizzard has officially stated that these days they design quests specifically with players in mind who don’t read a single word of quest text. So everything a player gets tasked with must be 100% clear without the player knowing what he’s actually doing. As long as there’s an arrow on the minimap and something sparkles when getting there, it’s fine.

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Now Playing: Wizardry Online

In the “Now Playing” series I’ll be taking a look at other MMORPGs every now and then. As you might remember, WoW has always been a temporary solution in my quest to find a worthy replacement for Ultima Online, so I’m always trying new games that look promising.

Wizardry is one of the oldest RPG series today, and probably the oldest still alive. The online game was released a while ago in Japan, where the series is still very popular and I tried to play it. I had the client, registered an account on my japanese eMail adress and even used a japanese proxy to connect to the game, but to no avail. The publisher was quite crafty and managed to lock me out of the game no matter what I did. At some point they announced an US/EU release of the game for some time in 2012, but as the year came to an end my hopes of ever playing Wizardry Online waned.

Until a couple of days ago, when suddenly, the open beta for the game started. Joy! I’ve spent a couple of hours in the game and talk a little bit about its supposed features and my newbie experience.

Here’s a trailer for the game: Wizardry Online

And here you can register for the open beta. You can download the client immediately and start playing: Wizardry Online Oh, and it’s free to play!

Character creation

The game didn’t let me change resolution or AA settings until I’ve made a new character…or I just missed the option before 😉

Okay, enough of that, how does the game play and how is it different from titles like World of Warcraft?

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Thy Dungeonman! Thy hunger! (Part 8: Finale)

Whoops…doomsday in a few hours, better get started on the final dungeon episode!

Okay, first a short overview of todays (final?) topic on dungeon instances:

  • A short look at MoP patch 5.1 and the changes to the valor/justice system since the launch
  • How dungeons changed the social aspect of WoW
  • A final overview and comparison of dungeons then and now
  • The way I’d like to see dungeons implemented in the game
  • and a bunch of old screenshots

 

Right, no time to waste! This calls for drastic measures:

Leeeeeeeroyyyy....

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Thy Dungeonman! Thy hunger! (Part 7: More rewards!)

Let’s not waste any time and jump right into the action, because today I hope to be able to finish the long series about dungeon instances.

Today we’ll cover the rewards beyond dungeon quests and boss drops that were introduced with TBC and are still in the game today, with some modifications to the original model.

 

Guys? I'm tanking here...

In a way, back in WoW classic, dungeons were their own reward. Their length and size, the lore surrounding them and the challenge were a big motivation and the quest rewards and usually very powerful boss loot were the icing on the cake. But it seems that wasn’t quite enough…

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Thy Dungeonman! Thy hunger! (Part 6: Reputation and Attunement)

Sorry for the lack of updates yesterday, I just couldn’t find the time to write a full entry and I haven’t been writing content in advance yet for these situations 😉

Okay, we’ve got a lot to cover today, so let’s get going!

A relaxing day at the lake!

What will we talk about today?

  • Reputation and dungeons: From classic, to TBC, to WotLK and Cata, to MoP
  • Attunement and Heroics: Why in TBC and why not today? Also: itemlevel requirements instead of attunements

I’ll try not to get carried away too much, so I can finish the dungeonman series with tomorrows posting. I’ve got a lot more topics to cover and I’m sure dungeons and instances will still pop up every now and then. The “my personal vision of the perfect dungeon system”-topic will also be featured tomorrow instead of today. I want to cover all aspects of the dungeons before that, or else it wouldn’t make much sense.

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Thy Dungeonman! Thy hunger! (Part 5: Levels and Loot)

Now that we’ve taken a lenghty look at the difficulty changes from expansion to expansion, todays main topic will be the relevance of dungeons to the overall progress of a character, both during endgame and while leveling as well. The rewards you’d get by running a dungeon or heroic are also related to this topic, so we will be examining those as well.

The difficulty changes affected all players, solo and guilded alike, but solo players had a much harder time during the beginning of Cataclysm. Random groups were struggling to finish a heroic dungeon. Easier dungeons might have been beneficial for solo players in random groups, but good groups of friends or guilds were, once again, without. challenging 5man content until the speed run challenge mode with MoP was introduced.

Gief lootz!

Here’s a short overview for today:

  • Dungeons during leveling and endgame, then and now
  • What to do with the loot? How long gear rewards lasted and what they were intended for

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