Another look at account achievements

The other day Ghostcrawler made a post about account wide achievements. I wrote about these, what I wanted to see, and what I was scared about, just a couple of days after Mists Monday in March. However, this new information, while it’s not concrete as it’s still beta, is a lot more specific than the speculation we had before, and therefore needs looking at again.

Glass half empty?
Achievements are going account wide whether we like it or not. Now if you look at it in a glass half empty way then this isn’t good. All characters basically look at the same achievement panel as you’re only get one per account. I don’t know what’ll happen to the dates on the achievements there are multiples of, it’ll likely go to the first date it was earned on. This wipes out character history and in my view inspires laziness. I swapped mains at the start of cataclysm. I had over 5k achievement points on that old main including nearly having finished “what a long, strange trip” and I’ve redone almost everything on the new main and a lot more besides. I wanted the achievements on my main character and I worked to get them. I know it’s a game and it should be fun not work, but getting everything handed to you without effort isn’t fun. Also, as I mentioned in my previous post raiding encounters are very different depending on role. For example having the achievement on a priest is no guarantee you’ll know what to do on a prot pally. With no way to tell what character earned a specific achievement this could spell trouble for pugging the last couple spots for a raid.

There’s also the problem of bugs. When I logged in to the pre-cata patch when the world changed I was granted achievements I’d not got. For example, on my main I had “surveying the damage” probably because I had the “explorer” meta despite the fact that I’d not left Stormwind. On alts I got achievements for exploring zones that alt had never been in. I felt robbed of getting those achievements, particularly the ones that I just ‘got’ on my main. I know I could go and ‘do’ them afterwards but the first thing I said I’d do is go and explore the changed world. Logging in to find my character already ‘had’ was a huge disappointment for me and it was never fixed. My achievement point count fluctuated for about a week but achievements I’d not earned stayed. With achievements going account wide there’s going to be even more bugs like this and more missed opportunities.

Glass half full?
Anyway, so far I’ve just rehashed what I wrote before – boring. So, lets look at this from a glass half full perspective. On my old main I killed all the faction leaders and got my black war bear. I think that might be the only achievement I don’t have on my new main, as this is tough to get in cata, particularly compared to the zerg it was in wrath. When achievements go account wide I’ll have this on my main character again. Glass half empty says that it’s lazy, that I didn’t earn it on my paladin and if I want it I should have to earn it. Glass half full says I already have earned it so why shouldn’t it be included in my achievement points. I’m sitting on the fence on this one. The achievement nut in me wants all the achievements and doesn’t care how they are earned. The realist in me does care as there isn’t the same satisfaction when it’s easy as when it’s hard.

The one interesting point Ghostcrawler made, well one of many I suppose, is the “bring the player not the character” philosophy. Right now I raid Firelands every week on my paladin despite needing absolutely nothing there, aside from achievements which we don’t generally do. The one week we did do the “Bucket List” achievement I was on my druid as I was desperate to be a fire kitty and wanted Fandral’s staff. We haven’t done the “Bucket List” since and I don’t know if we will do it and I want it on my main. I want another part of the meta ticked off, though given we don’t do heroic it’ll still be a long time to completion. Anyway, I want the achievement on my main because it’s my main and that’s where I want my achievements. Thankfully my main is a hybrid otherwise I’d be in a worse situation as I’d have to swap characters to fill other roles, depending on what’s needed, and then I’d be feeling so sick when achievements were all random on various characters. With account wide achievements if I want to bring my druid and we get an achievement – no problem, same with my priest or my death knight or any other character.

Benefits to progression
This “bring the player not the character” philosophy has interesting implications for progression raiding. Of course there’s the gear barrier and you want your main character to be decked out in the best. However, different encounters demand different compositions e.g. ranged dps to melee or vice versa. Right now apart from the really hardcore players, who want to kill it first and don’t care about anything else, I think a lot of people (certainly myself) would be resistant to swapping characters to down an encounter as I’d then miss the achievement on my main. Even if I then got the achievement later it wouldn’t feel the same as getting it on my main first, your main should get things first. With account wide achievements the only thing you’d miss doing that is the gear, and after an encounter is on farm then you could bring your main for the gear. There isn’t the same, or I don’t feel the same, attachment to getting gear as I do achievements. So whether my main got the gear from a particular boss first or last wouldn’t be an issue for me.

Account only
Ghostcrawler briefly mentioned a new achievement, “every class to level 90” and then said maybe not sure we will. To me this is the only reason why achievements should go account wide. Yes there are other benefits but the possibility for more achievements is the draw for me. If blizz doesn’t follow through on this I will be a very sad panda. At a minimum I think blizz should add the “every class to level cap” and “every profession maxed” achievement.

Removal of achievements
So far on the beta no achievements have been removed. I always hope that they won’t remove them as then you lose the opportunity to get them. I’m keeping a close eye on it to see if there’s any I need to get in a hurry. There is a lot of speculation that the pet achievements for getting a certain number of pets will be removed, or at least the rewards will. Currently they are still there although they have been moved to the new pet battle section. I’m 20 pets short of 150 and so I’m hoping I don’t have to do some insane grinding as the new aoe looting would help so much for the last few pets. We shall have to see but I hope we get fair warning that they are going at the very least.

Interesting implications
Flying isn’t really a gold sink anymore but getting 310% flying on every alt still adds up to a fair chunk of change, particularly for casual players. On the beta right now if you have the achievement “what a long, strange trip” then upon mounting the violet proto-drake on an alt it grants max flying skill. This would remove that gold sink from the game although I can’t deny it would be nice to have fast flying on all characters. Then there’s reputation achievements. You can’t have account wide achievements for exalted reputations if you don’t have those exalted reputations. Again, while I won’t complain about not having to grind out a rep like Therazane on every character I want to play at max level, it does remove some of the reasons people play alts. However, what would happen to mutually exclusive faction reputations? Say I have exalted with the Aldor on one character and exalted with the Scryers on another. How would that work? Access to both on one character would be strange and would break the game. However, access to the profession plans for both without having to grind out both on every character would be nice, lazy but nice. Perhaps as it’s old content it wouldn’t matter anymore.

There’s also the gated content like Molten Front or Argent Tournament. I unlocked everything at the Argent Tournament on my mage just before cata came out. I then swapped mains to my paladin and unlocked it all again so that I could collect all the mounts and pets. This takes a very long time, even longer because you have to take breaks on account of getting sick of it, and so I’ve been unlocking and getting the pets on my druid as they are boe. When I stop being lazy, I’m going to level a horde to max level and get the pets on that, and then ask a friend to help me and cross my fingers no-one snipes them on transfer. Argent tournament unlocks, becoming a ‘champion’ are achievements so when achievements go account wide does this unlock everything on any character? That would certainly save a far bit of time though I’d still have to save up the tokens. The same with the Molten Front. I’m sitting on 80 tokens on my druid and I can’t get the Zen’Vorka’s cache with the pet in it as I haven’t unlocked everything. If it unlocked then I could use those tokens up usefully. With the pet being a rare drop it’s unlikely to be in the 3 bags I would buy so I’d have to keep doing the dailies anyway.

The implications for dailies are also staggering. If unlocking content, reputations etc. because of the achievements goes account wide then the 25 dailies restriction is much less of a restriction. On each character you could concentrate on one faction or area and therefore unlock exalted and maxed areas a lot quicker. Now, this wouldn’t necessarily, for example with something similar to the Molten Front, help unlock that quicker. As you’d probably have to do that on one character rather than being able to contribute on multiple characters to it. However, once it was unlocked on one if it then became available to them all, with all the vendor gear etc. that would be a huge grind and barrier removed to playing alts. I started to unlock the Molten Front for the second time on my druid and it was painful. I know people who unlocked it multiple times simultaneously because they wanted access to the gear on multiple characters, or for the profession plans etc. If that went account wide that is pretty amazing.

What happens when you run out of things to do? I’ve got to the stage on my main where there are very few achievements/reputations now that I can work on on my own. So I have to put events on the calendar and organise groups in order to go after these things. How many people are going to be interested in running things like this when achievements go account wide? They won’t want to take an alt to clear ICC for the proto-drake meta anymore. The pool of people wanting to run old content seriously (so not just zerging for transmog) is already quite small. Remove the reason for a lot of players and then you have even less. It’s already hard to get a group, this can only make that worse.

Account wide achievements are here to stay. There are good and bad points to it and really whatever you think of it it’s going to happen. I wish that they’d implement something like I suggested in my other post so that it’s easy to see what character earned something. However, I don’t think it’s likely and with blizz wavering on account only achievements I don’t know what to think. I know it’s the new reality and I have to accept it whether I like it or not but that still doesn’t make it a good thing.