Achievement Unlocked: 474 Posts!

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.)


17 thoughts on “Achievement Unlocked: 474 Posts!

  1. Andrew August 12, 2009 / 8:10 am

    “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!”

    Oh Syp…. please don’t tell me you truly believe that. Do you really want to feel obligated to grind out 10,000 foozles in order to get the “Grand-Master Foozle Annihilator” badge which will be just enough to buy some increase for your character?

    I dislike achievement systems in the first place, but tying them to in game useful rewards is just a recipe for a grindy nasty game.

    (I do love the Atari 2600 patches…. very cool!)

  2. zizlak August 12, 2009 / 8:13 am

    I don’t like the todo-list kinds of achievement systems.. makes them some kind of work.

    It’s for me like getting some rep at a faction.. Drove me away from WoW. I really hated it when playing WoW.

    A mixture might be fun, but not the whole list spread out..
    I want the fun when getting an achievement I wasn’t prepared on.

    I don’t want a star under my homework… I want the fun in exploration.

  3. James August 12, 2009 / 8:17 am

    Are all of those achivement patches yours? 🙂

    The WAR ToK is pretty well thought out, and with a good addon like Tome Titan, it makes the game much more interesting than mindless RvDoor!

  4. Ferrel August 12, 2009 / 8:19 am

    I am an achiever but if I’m not being rewarded for them I just ignore the systems. If I get them, sure! If not, no biggy.

    Nintendo did something similar. You could take pictures of your victory screen and send that off. Occasionally they would print it in Nintendo Power! I loved that magazine!

  5. Syp August 12, 2009 / 8:22 am

    Well, first of all, whatever criticisms are thrown at achievement systems can be used for pretty much every other part of MMOs — crafting, leveling, gearing up, reputation, etc. It’s all the same thing, just in different guises.

    Why achievements appeal to me is because they give me incentive to do different things, to get out of my normal routine and push myself to accomplish an interesting task. Having a big list of achievement “to do’s” are no different to me than lists of quests, and both are innately satisfying to me to finish and cross off. And seeing as how this system really resonates in a lot of folks, I’d say I’m very much not alone in that appeal. And let’s not forget — nobody’s forcing you to do them if you don’t want to.

    @ Andrew – That’s a negative way to look at it, for sure, and I see your point. Why I’m for it is that achievements that are just points for the sake of points is, in the end, a bit hollow. Giving me a reward for meeting these achievements gives my pursuits worth and is sort of like the icing on the cake. Let’s face it — we’re going to grind out 10,000 foozles anyway in a MMO unless we’re some sort of odd pacifist, so I might as well get awarded for it.

  6. pitrelli August 12, 2009 / 8:36 am

    I like achievements to an extent but WoW takes it a bit too far, achievement for getting a shave or collecting 10 pets? how about hugging a squirrel? yup they have that as well.

    I liked how warhammer implemented them. The fact they were hidden made it a bit more of a surprise and actually felt a bit more special when you were awarded it

  7. pitrelli August 12, 2009 / 8:39 am

    I’ll add in about WoWs achievement system, it adds another level to elitism – link this achiement, link that achievement. It is another epeen waving fiasco but can be amusing

  8. zizlak August 12, 2009 / 8:39 am

    Therefore I would boycott such a system.. as I boycott gear grind, rep grind, crafting grind and any kind of grind 😉 It’s not that I don’t repeatedly do some dungeons and other stuff, but that’s just because I do them with friends or my guild, not for gear etc.

    I can understand that people like todo-lists.. but everything laid out before you is so.. boring. In only giving you hints what might be an achievement, you are more pushed into unknown territories than in an “you know that boss? kill him and his pals 5 times and you get an award”. In mixing both types you can give everyone’s need something.. both the “I want to know what I have to do” and the “Let me explore a bit”.

    Side note.. I’ve played some games on the Atari2600. A friend of mine and I played Decathlon not so long ago 😉

  9. shadowwar August 12, 2009 / 8:57 am

    A little wordy? I started my blog in January and have 187 posts, and I consider myself to be a fairly active blogger. Saying you’re a little wordy is like saying water is wet.

    Much love, and congrats on your achievment!

  10. BVD August 12, 2009 / 9:06 am

    I do remember the 2600 growing up as a young boy… though I think I had the misfortune of owning the 5200, which certainly was not twice the system the 2600 was (though perhaps twice the weight?).

  11. theerivs August 12, 2009 / 9:15 am

    At first I was resistant to the Achievement system in WoW. I thought it was stupid. But last night when I was with this group, they were lets try for the achievement here. We went well “ball-out” for lack of a better term, and got it. I found it strangely satisfying. Challenge myself, and the team and got an achievement.

    Here’s the thing though once I got it, it feels hollow. Cause I got it already, why do it again.

  12. theerivs August 12, 2009 / 9:15 am

    P.S. Robot Tank for the Win!

  13. Sven August 12, 2009 / 12:01 pm

    I love the ToK in WAR. It’s probably my favorite implementation of an achievement system so far. While I thought the “kill X trolls” achievments were uninspired, they did add some flavor to leveling which I find can get tedious at times, in all games.

    My favorite achievments though were the ones that had you track down an item and then find and kill a specific creature. You usually got a bit of lore, a title, a misc item, and/or combat bonus against that type of creature. It generally took some doing and a bit of offline research, but I usually had a good time. If done correctly achievements should be pushing the player to explore more of the world.

  14. Pete S August 12, 2009 / 1:17 pm

    The thing about “hidden achievements” is that they only stay hidden until the first person discovers them and posts them to a Wiki somewhere. So they may as well be visible.

    If you want to be surprised, don’t look at whatever achievement panel the game offers, I guess..?

    I think some people (not anyone here) get annoyed by achievement-type systems (I’m thinking Deeds in LOTRO) because as soon as they learn of an Achievement they feel compelled to finish it, rather than letting themselves get it ‘naturally’.

    So they’ll sit in one place and kill 200 goblins to get an achievement… then go back to questing, and during their time questing they’ll kill another 500 goblins just in the course of traveling and doing quests. I only ‘grind’ Achievements when I’m ready to leave an area and still have some unfinished (and sometimes not even then… theyre always optional, it seems).

  15. cirdanx August 12, 2009 / 1:54 pm

    Personaly i can´t think of one achievement-system that is not better than wow´s. That´s their problem. Only handfull of titels, some tabards etc. pretty uncreative too. That´s my impression.

  16. ZenoZTankof August 12, 2009 / 4:05 pm

    I was too young to know the deal about the patches but I did have a freaking sweet jacket.–Atari-Official-Silver-Jacket–PROD2620.html

    In WOW, I have about 6500 points, 23 titles, countless tabards, and enough pets and mounts to start a small petting zoo/farm/furry convention and yes it feels very empty to me.

  17. zizlak August 13, 2009 / 3:00 am

    @Pete S

    I’m perfectly ok with the people who search up the achievements on the web or with some addon… If they want to get the achievement that way..that’s their decision.

    With the hidden system I have the option to decide whether I treat it as a todo list or get surprised sometimes. I prefer decision I may make rather than that they are made for me by the dev’s.

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