Account Wide Achievements and the Sands of Time

Mists beta is out! Mists beta is out! *Jumps up and down* I thought it would be within a month but just days after monday is so cool. No invite for me yet so I’ll have to be patient and remember a watched pot never boils. Refreshing my account every 5 minutes won’t make the invite come any faster, it’ll probably be days/weeks before it comes. I do suck at being patient though.

Being an achievement nut achievements are a big deal to me. When it was announced that achievements might be going account wide I wasn’t sure what to feel. It was troubling that’s for sure as if it wasn’t implemented right then it could mess a lot up. As I promised on Mists Monday achievements get their own post as they are the most important part of warcraft to me. However, the post wasn’t long enough on it’s own and another topic I’ve been meaning to write about for a while is the effect of time on achievements. All of this after the break.

The positive side
Account wide achievements isn’t all doom and gloom. In fact it opens up the possibility for more achievements to aim for, or perhaps just be recognised. There’s serious options for these:

  • Having one of every class at each achievement level (10, 20 – 85, 90) could be one.
  •  Having one of every race is also a possibility but one I would be less enthused over. Classes are different, they play differently and have different roles whereas races are cosmetic choices. Yes, you have the racials but they aren’t game changers and well I suppose I don’t like certain races so I wouldn’t like to have to race change a character for an achievement. Playing through each races baby pool would be a better compromise.
  • Maxed every single profession.
  • Loremaster alliance and horde.
  • Multiple explorers, reputation, boss killing and much much more.

There’s also silly options like having each character do certain things, like the rogue cluck like a chicken in westfall and druid suicide into the whirlpool in Darkshore. This kind of account wide achievements I’d love to see.

The scary side
I have the same achievement on different characters for a reason. In some cases it was because I was levelling and it was easy to get (like shooting the birds in Badlands), then others because I swapped mains. I got a lot of the world event achievements on my mage before I acknowledged to myself that I really hate ranged dps. I don’t want that sort of progress to be wiped out. It’s part of my warcraft history and I want to keep it. Then there’s going for multiple loremaster’s. If you already have the achievement how would it register? how would you know for sure that you got it again?

While being able to see if someone has the achievement for say Firelands on their main, when they want to come on an alt, would make findings pugs easier it has it’s own pitfalls. As I can attest to the encounters are markedly different if you’re in a different role. Tactics which I don’t have to know, or care about, as healer are vital and all I have to concentrate on as tank. So long as it was obvious that the achievement was from a different character this could be ok but if it wasn’t then I forsee trouble.

What I’d like to see
Obviously I’d like to see the added account based achievements. I’d also like to see a sort of greyed out version of achievements in the achievement pane. They could be green or some other colour if they are achieved on another character but not this one. Much like with guild achievements there could be an effect where from any character you can see who has gained that achievement, perhaps with a number of how many times. This way the achievements are account wide but they are still separate – the best of both worlds.

The sands of time
On Sunday I finally got exalted with the Avenger’s of Hyjal which gave me my 50th exalted reputation. Between that, and my apprehension of what Mists Monday would have to say about my soloing, it was no surprise that I started to think about how time makes things easier. My friend who introduced me to warcraft worked on the Insane title pretty consistently for years. He got exalted with the Shen’dralar and he farmed millions of herbs to make Darkmoon decks. He got the Insane title just a few weeks before the new and improved Darkmoon faire came out. Now, being an achievement nut it’s a given that I’m working on this when I can. During the last Darkmoon faire I dinged exalted with them. Possibly the hardest, or at least the most expensive, of the Insane reputations and I go from friendly to exalted in a few months of dailies. I’m revered with three of the goblins and exalted with another so I’m well on my way there. Basically the only faction left is Ravenholdt.

The Insane is supposed to be insane. It’s supposed to be something that is incredibly hard, or grindy, and therefore not something that most people do. With Shen’dralar removed and Darkmoon now so easy it’s not uncommon to see people looking for groups to kill pirates in trade. The Insane is not insane any longer. Ravenholdt is the last hold out for this. It’ll take me a while unless I find people to group with for faster kills to revered and I’ll farm my own lockboxes. It’s the last hold out though for being a little tough unless you’re cash rich.

My guild put up some raids to finish off Glory of the Icecrown Raider (10 man) last week. I already have that (would love to do 25 man) but went anyway to make up numbers and give them a hand. I got my achievement towards the start of cata, everybody was 85 in the group but the best gear was some T11, I didn’t even have that. It wasn’t overly difficult but it was still a challenge in some areas. Last weekend we had seven people rather than the full ten, a couple weren’t paying attention at all, and we still got through a large portion of the achievements.

Now you can make the argument that when I did it at the start of cata it was a lot easier than at the end of wrath – I’m sure it was – but it’s even easier now. That is the effect of time on them. I mentioned in the Mists Monday post about how I wanted my soloing ability to increase, that right now I can solo wrath heroics and a couple of raid bosses, so next expac I want to be able to do cata dungeons and more wrath raids. I got my Glory of the Hero bar a couple of achievements through soloing which is definitely not operating as intended. Doing it that way meant I avoided the pitfalls of an idiot pug and retained some of the challenge. However, I could have just as easily recruited a couple of dependable guildies and steamrolled the lot.

I’m not saying that I want achievements to be removed when they become easier, because that’s not fair for those who never have the opportunity to do them. I guess what I’m saying is that I would have done it when it was hard I just didn’t get the chance. Yes part of me views achievements like Alysrazor’s don’t stand in the fire, and I just know that I could get it on my own, whereas there’s always that one person who can’t avoid the brushfire or the tornadoes. However, that is the easy way out. I would have got exalted with Darkmoon faire the old way. It would have taken a lot longer but I would have got there. My friend played since classic so he’s seen the game change. He doesn’t resent the fact that it was harder in the past to get things, or do things, as he had the opportunity to be part of the opening of the gates of Ahn’Qiraj. He had the chance to play through it all. He doesn’t resent that I can get an achievement in a few months that it took him years. It doesn’t bother him but it bothers me. I feel cheated, robbed of the chance, had the meaning of the achievement removed. When you work hard at something and get it you feel great, if you work less hard then it means less.

Blizz removed the rewards for Glory of the Raider and I both understand and disagree at the same time. I feel robbed slightly that I never had the opportunity, but get that taking it out preserved what the achievement meant to those who got it at the time. I don’t want blizz to ever remove rewards again, and with the backlash from the community I don’t think that they will. Really I don’t have an answer as there isn’t one. Achievements have to always be there to be obtained but they obviously get easier as time marches on.

Actually I do have an answer or an option at the very least. Blizz has the technology and it’s using it in the new challenge mode. If they applied that to old raids/dungeons in some sort of toggle then you can go back to how it was then. They could have some sort of mark on the achievement saying that you got it with normalised gear. Therefore while the date might be long after it was made easy you did it the way it was done originally. Naturally I’d like a different mark that would show that you got it on your own as obviously that is a challenge in a different way. Therefore, you can have your cake and eat it too. This won’t save all achievements from the sands of time but it could bring back a great deal of meaning to a lot of them.