Tanking for Dummies

No Faith in Achievements
March 13, 2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: Raiding, Rants | Tags: , ,


I am not overwhelmed by jealousy at your fancy plagued proto-drake.  Your “Immortal” title just says to me that you were lucky that no one lagged out or disconnected.  I am glad we can agree at least part of “Love Fool” might be accurate to describe what you just achieved.

So, no, I am not impressed.

I have made no mystery about how yawn worthy I think Achievements are.  I have even recommended that guilds (and the players that want to be part of them) need to build achievements into their charters and core concepts because they be downright divisive. This is a design issue.  Achievements should be an assessment of your skill as a player, but far too many of them depend on luck or persistence or both.  Raid achievements are particularly pithy and either represent more of a gear check, or a ping count.  Some of them outright require that you piss off your fellow raiders.  The new measure of dedication to your WoW buddies must be if you’re still friends after you’ve gotten your Proto-drake.

The thing that I think is perhaps most laughable about this situation is the pursuit of achievements can fly in the face of what, by more practical considerations, are actual achievements.  Did the raid get an upgrade in terms of gear?  Did you finish the raid quickly with minimal deaths?  Did you make efficient use of consumables?  Did you run every raid you could?  Including Archavon?  Did you find a new raider to add to your raid team?

Is your raid stronger today because of what you have done?

That question needs to be at the heart of achievement design, but there is only one achievement (okay two) among hundreds that actually reflects that value.  I am, of course, referring to the The Twilight Zone (and it’s big brother Heroic: The Twilight Zone).  That is, because, unlike all other achievements, doing Sartharion the hard way actually gives you items that are better than anything else you can get.

That is actually something you should brag about.  I am somewhat disappointed that the mount is the only additional reward you receive for downing three drakes instead of two, but the difficulty between doing it one way or the other is fairly trivial in my opinion.  I don’t mind going for that third drake.  The “Of the Nightfall” and “Twilight Vanquisher” (as well as the Twilight and Black Drakes, I suppose) are things that actually say something.  What are they saying you might ask?

It says, my raid will be more prepared, because the breastplate my tank got is their best in slot.

It says, my raid will be the first to down the Flame Leviathan, because our vehicles will have better stats because we spent the time to get the highest item level gear we could.

It says, in other words, that I pursue goals that make my raid stronger, because tomorrow’s challenges are more important than today’s vanity.

Axiom is pursuing all of the achievements, of course.  I do not mind helping, because I am a good friend and it is the nature of friendship to indulge our friends even when they are being obsessively completionist.  I would just hope that they would realize that every time someone needs to be benched or a wipe needs to be called to accommodate their desire, they don’t come across as being hardcore or l33t or what have you – save perhaps to other completionists.  What comes across is the selfishness and vanity of pursing achievements whose awards are purely cosmetic.

And that is the ultimate failing of Achievements in Wrath thus far and ultimately the failing the choice of awards, namely titles and mounts.  At least when they give us a sword its benefits extend to the raid no matter who has it equipped.  Even a sharded item gives some communal benefit.  A title or mount serves only to stroke the ego and gives nothing back to those who helped, especially those who just don’t get what the big deal is.

If Blizzard doesn’t learn this lesson with Achievement implementation in Ulduar, I have the feeling that it is going to be a long and painful expansion.


16 Comments so far
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Even though I feel slightly hypocritical saying this, since I have made posts about getting certain achievements and titles, I agree. Even though I enjoyed the novelty of achievements when they came out, now that the honeymoon’s over, so to speak, what’s coming out of the woodwork are the people that only care about getting their individual achievements and will use any player/guild to get to them.

People used to think of the group and BullCopra wrote a post reflecting your same idea of the need for group over self.

I do wonder though – if Blizz did happen to learn it’s lesson about achievements, what would do you think would change in the expansion? I wonder what the other side of the coin would be.

Comment by Anea

@ Anea – The most obvious recourse would be to give you something to buy with achievement points (and I don’t mean in game beer, umbrellas, or sunglasses – cool as those might be), or to have bosses like Sartharion where doing it the hard way would net you better quality items.

I would also like to never see an achievement like “The Immortal” again. It’s just stunning that someone in the design team didn’t raise their hand and say “You know, this achievement is overly influenced by factors that are outside the player’s control.” Or at least if they did it is amazing they didn’t listen to them.

On that note, I would like to point out that there is an achievement listed on the list that came out on MMO Champion yesterday that is a return of “The Undying” so I’m not holding my breath.

Comment by Tarsus

This is a great post. We’ve gotten a few of the achievements so far on our 25-man, largely by accident (Mama Said Knock You Out), but I don’t think we’re planning to do any of the ones like The Dedicated Few. I hope not, anyway. So far our officers have kept us on target, that the point isn’t an achievement, the point is to have fun (reason #1A above all), conquer the content in a smooth, clean fashion, and gear up as many people as possible for the next level of content.

I don’t give a rat’s backside about The Dedicated Few or even Glory of the Hero/Raider. My netherdrake does me just fine. The achievement I want right now is Twilight Vanquisher, because 24-25 of us will get it TOGETHER, even if only one of us walks out with a spiffy new mount. When we drop Sarth +3, I’ll be a happy bull.

Comment by Lewis

[…] it in perspective Tarsus over at Tanking for Dummies has a great post up about the achievement system and why it’s not always a good thing.  I don’t have a […]

Pingback by Keeping it in perspective « Achtung Panzercow

Even before achievements existed, guilds came up with crazy ways to go about raids, to keep things interesting, and add challenge.

Don’t underestimate the elements that go into the planning and execution of raid achievements. Dual 20 manning naxx required more out of game prep then anything I’d done prior (well, maybe since Kael tanking/healing assignments). 3 Min patchwerk isn’t just about gear, but about stacking and streching the raid to a higher standard. I could go on.

Comment by Yakra

@ Yakra – The only ones I am familiar with were severely under-manning bosses, using pets as tanks, and bringing undergeared alts. I’d be interested to know if you know about others I might have forgotten.

Also, I definitely recognize the difficulty that stacking or otherwise organizing a raid to get these achievements presents. I would caution, however, that your efforts are probably not buying you any affection from people like me who aren’t motivated by achievements as much as the completionists probably appreciate it. I might even go so far as to say that, given the particular special importance of the raid leader, that it is by friendship and loyalty to you that they are there to help. As much as I am sure that you would like a thank you (and I am sure that you deserve one) for the hard work you’re putting into organizing these raids – a similar thank you to the folks who accommodated things for effectively no reward (save the importance of friendship) would also be appreciated.

Comment by Tarsus

A bit of an update. Just read that the Immortal and Undying achievements from Ulduar are uncoupled from the meta achievement.


Small blessings.

Comment by Tarsus

Meh. In two months that chestpiece will be 15 gold from a vendor, and will only ever have made a significant difference if your raid is terrible (because content is and has always been based around gear that is “good enough,” which is far, FAR below “best available”).

It’s every bit as meaningless as the little badge of honor on your Armory page, which will still be there.

Comment by Yuki

@ Yuki – Nothing in WoW has the kind of quantifiable value that you are referring to. But if every member of your raid is equipped with Sarth + Drakes loot, I imagine that it would make a difference in that it allows for quicker/more certain progression on future content.

Comment by Tarsus

Only if your problem is numbers. Most of the time, it’s execution and the numbers don’t really matter until you get that down.

Comment by Yuki

Unfortunately, from what I hear there are a LOT more achievements for Ulduar than there are for current raid content.

Comment by Seri

@ Yuki – I don’t see them as being entirely mutually exclusive.

@ Seri – I noticed the list seemed very long. I don’t know if we’ve seen a list of everything that is required for the meta achievement.

Comment by Tarsus

I think what Yakra is really getting at here is that Achievements aren’t really about the attention you get from them. Guilds that do it for that generally aren’t real raid guilds. The achievements are about training for the future because experience is always more valuable than gear. Which is why Yakra wrote about that very topic a while ago :)


Comment by Veneretio

@ Vene – I would honestly sympathize more to that point of view if it wasn’t for The Immortal. Axiom came as close as it ever has to getting it last night but we lost someone to Heigan because they disconnected on the platform during phase one (Damn you Comcast!). I’ll defiantly give you that certain hard mode fights build skills (4 Horsemen certainly comes to mind!), but I don’t think you’ll see anyone trying to do hard mode fights (with the exception of the short-manning achievement) if they’re going for the meta achievement.

Call me a mercenary though, I’m not terribly motivated by something as abstract “experience.” In an absolute sense I know that it makes me a better player and that is more important than my gear level, but I need something more concrete at the end of the day to make things feel worthwhile. Gear for the raid does it for me. Better Gear (as from 3D and soon Ulsuar) for the raid makes it feel like something worth wiping on for a couple of nights in a row. “Glory of the Raider” would just be cake.

Comment by Tarsus

[…] Still, the entire incident has me thinking about Tarsus’s excellent No Faith in Achievements post in a whole new light.  I don’t necessarily agree that achievements are pointless, […]

Pingback by Gonna Go When The Volcano Blows! « Fel Fire

[…] I’ve stated before, I love achievements. So when I read this post complaining about the pointlessness of achievements I got a little up-in-arms. Let’s think […]

Pingback by Free Candy For Everyone » Blog Archive » But it’s all meaningless

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