Posted in RIFT

Chasing Achievements

My rogue reached level 20 last night, but I can’t tear myself away from Silverwood — not yet.  I have achievements to attain.

Yes, I’m one of those achievement junkies who shamelessly pursues these ultimately meaningless accomplishments, finding some measure of pleasure in the effort.  RIFT’s achievement system has been, more or less, lifted wholesale from World of Warcraft’s, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it proved to a pretty popular system in WoW.  Achievements range from simple (hit level 10, uncover the whole map) to silly (jump off a tree-top without dying) to exceedingly difficult (collect all the artifact sets in a zone).  While each achievement contributes points toward your total score, this is strictly for bragging rights — there’s nothing you can DO with these achievements, except for the ones that grant you a title to wear.

Still, they’re addicting and even worthwhile to pursue for the following reasons:

(1) They make you feel special and accomplished.

Achievements are the game’s way of patting you on the back and giving you a boost of encouragement: “You did something great!  Huzzah!  Good for you!”  Now, they might not be saving-the-world awesome in scope, but people respond well to short, regular and genuine bursts of encouragement, even when playing a game.  We want to know we’re doing well, we want to feel that we’re progressing, and we need validation that our characters have purpose.

(2) They give you a goal to shoot for.

People who deride achievement systems as being meaningless numbers forget that these have roots in the oldest traditions of video games: high scores.  What was a high score back in the 70s and 80s than a number that simply told you how much you had accomplished in the game?  You couldn’t DO anything with a high score, but the fact it was there gave you something to aim for and try to surpass.

(3) They bind small communities together.

Some folks are annoyed by the achievement notifications that pop up in guild chat, and I can see their point, but I think it’s a good move on behalf of the devs.  For one thing, it’s a bit egotistical to brag on yourself, but if the game does it for you, it becomes okay.  For another thing, it tells us what each other is up to and keeps your awareness of guildies alive in your mind.  We should want to know and care everyone is doing, even if it’s silly and small, because guilds should be about community, not separation.

Finally, I’ve seen some of the trickier achievements become sort of collaboration projects between players, who come together to figure them out or share how they are done.  It becomes a social experience, and that’s always a good thing in MMOs.

(4) They get you off the beaten path to do new things in the game.

Face it, we all get stuck in ruts when we game.  We develop tunnel vision as we focus on doing the same-old, same-old every day, and that ultimately is poison for our career in that game.  Achievements are a way to coax us out of established patterns by saying, “I know you typically are just going to grind quests for a while, but why not climb up this huge mountain to see a new sight?  Or solve this tricky puzzle?  Or just jump off a bridge for the fun of it?”

Suddenly, you find yourself going places and doing things you probably wouldn’t on your own, as achievements cultivate the explorer (and achiever) in you.

And when I said that there are no real rewards for RIFT’s achievements?  I kind of lied.  At least twice so far I’ve gone to achievement points and found a nice bit of rare or elite treasure nearby as a bonus.

So I’m definitely trying to do as many of these as I can, and if that means I’m going to stay in a zone longer than normal, that’s just fine.  What’s the rush anyway?

16 thoughts on “Chasing Achievements

  1. I’m seeing a lot of people going around with the Base Jumper achievement. That’s one of the cooler titles I’ve seen in a MMO.

    There are going to be a huge amount of pointless deaths at the base of high points this month.

  2. Interesting. As a big fan of exploration and achievements, I might have to give RIFTS a shot. I mean, everyone else and their dog is doing it.

  3. I love the achievements in Rift, though I never really got into them in WoW. One of the things I’ve been most enjoying about Rift is all the hidden stuff – puzzles, cairns, secret little lootables. The achievement system rewards exploration. It’s fun to jump and climb to out of the way places on the map, only to find dancing squirrels, or some strange NPC standing next to glowing orbs and talking about building the ultimate weapon. I spent a couple of hours exploring the bottom of the Lake of Solace the other day, and came away with an achievement and the “Explorer of the Depths” title.

    Now I wonder if a Defiant rogue could jump off that Sanctum bridge for the Base Jumper title… 😉

  4. CO has a base jumper perk too, ironically. As for achievements, i’m not a fan any more. They are just another way of operant conditioning players.

  5. I’m finding achievements really worthwhile 🙂 They’re keeping the game fun, and preventing me from zooming onto level cap too quickly. The longer I dawdle around, the longer I’ll play and get enjoyment out of the game. I feel more like I’m getting my money’s worth ^^

  6. i like how the achievements in Rift is a more rare occurence than how WAR did it (giving it out like it was candy for Halloween).. makes it more special 🙂

  7. Achievements are the poor man’s quest. They are the journey (ie “do this cool thing”) without the reason or the reward. I find little to no value in them, and view them as cheap game design. My 2 cents.

  8. The best achievements are the ones you’re not even consciously chasing but when you get that popup accompanied by the achievement sound, its pretty cool.

  9. It’s odd, in single player games, I am a total completionist. In Mass Effect, I had to scan every single planet and visit every single anomaly. In Dragon Age, I had to complete every single board quest.

    But in MMO’s, meh. I only like the ones that give tangible rewards, even if that tangible reward is only a title.

  10. Heh Syp, no not exactly. Though maybe some day we will see this on other sites, that will gamify commenting.

    They do condition us though. If someone told you to go kill 5000 enemies, a task that would take probably 20+ hours as a straight up quest, we’d laugh in their faces. However give people achievements for killing 100, 1000, and 5000 enemies, with a costume unlock, and people can’t eat that stuff up fast enough.

    Champions Online has perks for every single enemy type in the game like that.

  11. I like my achievements. They keep me from being totally obsessed with the other things I am trying to accomplish.

  12. Usually I’m with Beleg. Why bother when there’s no reward other than a fleeting sense of achievement? Madness!

    However, when there’s actual reward, however paltry, I’m *so very* in. Silly titles are like crack for me, and I’ve been going totally silly trying to get them all. Curse you, Rift Cheese! I’d be 50 by now otherwise.

  13. One thing I seem to be completely immune to in all MMOs is “Achievements”. Unless they actually award something (a title, an item, experience) I have absolutely no interest in them whatsoever.

    But then, I don’t have the completist gene. Back when I was a very active comics fan I used to mystify many of my comics-fan friends with my complete lack of interest in completing sets or filling gaps in my collection. I was entirely happy to have big holes in a run of a series, only buying the issues that had something of interest.

    Consequently I can drop any quest half-way through, leave any area with content unfinished and very definitely go without completing any achievement. In fact I’d MUCH rather farm wool for six hours and sell it on the AH than make any attempt at obtaining an achievement.

    When they come completely out of the blue, however, that’s great! I love that. I got the title “the Shroomer” last night for bouncing down the mushroom outcroppings on the outside of a huge tree, Had no idea the achievement even existed.

  14. I am also still in Sliverwood & almost level 19 on my rogue. I picked up the title “Student Hazing Commitee” from maxing my rep with the Quicksliver College.

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