Monday, February 1, 2010

1 to 100

I'm on my way to It's Over Nine Thousand! and though I'm pretty much in striking distance and I expect I'll get it over the next few weeks thanks to soon-to-be-released ICC achievements. If I did 25-player raids this would have been pretty easy and I'd have it now from a few original Glory of the Raider achievements alone. But with a relatively small number of 25-player achievements under my belt (such as Dwarfageddon which can be two-boxed easily enough) I am down to scraping the bottom of the barrel and waiting for wings to open to get these last few points.

I have a lot more 10-player raiding achievement points than a typical player who focused on raiding, and my guild's top 10 spot on the GuildOx 10-player strict achievement rankings confirms this, but nine thousand is still an awful lot, and you don't get it strictly by doing PvE.

I'm not much of a PvPer normally, but I've done a lot of it to get achievement points. I made myself a big list of things that seemed reasonable to shoot for to separate them from things that don't seem reasonable at all (Ironman is pretty tough to get as a priest) from the perspective that I'm not going to trouble my guildmates by trying to convince them to run BGs in big teams devoted to pointing me up. Among the achievements in reach are the achievements for getting 100 wins in various BGs. The fact is, if you play a BG over and over and over you will eventually get 100 wins regardless of whether you can put together a high-caliber team to go in with. My win-loss record tends to remain pretty close to 50%, so it takes about 200 games to get the wins.

200 games, of course, is an awful lot. AB games take about 16-20 minutes. WSG takes anywhere from 6 to 27 minutes. SotA is usually shorter, but still over 10 minutes for most games. That places the time commitment to get 100 wins around the 50 hour mark plus or minus depending on the BG. And that's only counting time in the BG, not queue time.

I have no objection to achievements that take 50 hours. And I don't mind that they are only worth 10 points. I think trying to set the worth of achievements based on how long they take or how hard they are to achieve would be mostly silly, and giving 10 points for very easy and very hard achievements alike is a pretty good system. On the other hand, comparing BG wins to quests completed, money looted, emblems looted, levels attained, or any of a number of other things that you take a long time acquiring sort of makes the lack of steps in BG wins really stand out. I get an achievement for 50 quests, 100 quests, 250 quests, 500 quests, 1000, 2000 and 3000 quests completed. That is seven achievements. For battleground wins, I get an achievement for winning the first time, then I get another if I win 100 times.

So I go in, have no idea what I'm doing, play around, get lucky, and a little box pops on the screen to congratulate me (Hooray!). Then I spend 49 hours playing replaying and mastering the battleground (for whatever little effect that has on my team's ability to win) and I am greeted by nothing. No "Way to go!" or "At a' boy" for me, just a cold slog through a myriad of flags and corpses.

Now as I mentioned, I am pretty much going to get my achievement points over 9000 on the back of the raiding achievements for ICC at this point, so I have no need to beg for achievement points. This isn't about earning points. This is about the idea of achievement. 100 wins is a damn lot, and its an appropriate number, if you ask me, for the pinnacle of battleground wins, though putting in a higher and more ludicrous number wouldn't hurt (100 wins is a lot less than 3000 quests). But there should be stepping stones along the way. 10 wins, 25 wins, 50 wins. The point of this is not to hand out achievement points like candy, and it wouldn't be doing that, the point is that achievements are little congratulations for the things you do. They let your guild know what you are doing with your time when they pop up and mark milestones along your path. I completed every Strand of the Ancients achievement, aside from the 100 wins, in about 10 games. There are no milestones or landmarks along the way now, just another 168 gates to break down (in multiples of four or it doesn't count).

It's pretty obvious from a number of angles that there wasn't a great deal of thought put into what should be an achievement and what shouldn't be. There was clearly one team that made up the PvP achievements and another team that made up raiding achievements, and they didn't discuss methodology much. Achievements do not require balancing the way other aspects of the game do, but there are a few glaring problems that could be corrected. I think achievements have been very well received and are now an important part of the game, and I hope they fix the very haphazard nature of them when they are forced to reexamine them for Cataclysm.

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