Is anyone else out there old enough to remember playing the Atari 2600? It wasn’t just a weird dream I had, right? Anyway, the 2600 was obviously long before any sort of long-distance multiplayer mayhem, so there really wasn’t a way to boast about your prowess in Pitfall or Defender to anyone outside of your immediate house. So Activision did something really neat back then, which was to challenge players to achieve certain high scores on different games, take a picture of the screen, and mail it in. If they considered it legit, they would mail you back an achievement patch to sew onto whatever:
Yes, that’s right — you could be the envy of every kid on the block with your “OINKERS” achievement patch! Obviously, this was beyond cool at the time, and still is today — and is an example of how these newfangled “achievement systems” in MMOs aren’t nearly as recent as one might believe.
Spinks has an excellent article out about the purpose of achievement systems, and I won’t reiterate what she already does perfectly. I will add a few thoughts:
- I really wish World of Warcraft’s achievement system would’ve been in the game since day one. Adding it years after the fact made it feel kind of pointless, since they couldn’t retroactively track everything you already did (just a few of the things).
- I liked City of Heroes’ badge system in theory, but never really got into doing it much. It felt a little abstract and obscure.
- I still advocate that Warhammer’s “hidden” unlocks are far less of a carrot for achievers, and they’d be better off making the unlocks visible to give people concrete goals to shoot for.
- I’m excited to explore Champions’ Perks system, mostly because it takes the achievement systems of the past and uses earned points as currency for new goodies. I like being rewarded for achievements!
- Despite some grumblings regarding achievements, they really appeal to a lot of folks and it’s quickly becoming a staple of MMOs — so get over your grumpyness and let the rest of us have our fun.
(And yes, this is the 474th post on Bio Break since starting it up last December… I think I’m a little wordy.)