Friday, September 20, 2013

Achievement Unlocked?

What started off as a comment on Twitter gained momentum and eye rolling from my side as my disinterest in the topic flared to life. I often attempt to suppress my negativity into focused, productive points. Sometimes, I find myself snorting in disgust and rolling my eyes as my fingers take on a life of their own. This is one of those times and it is completely due to my personal disinterest in the subject.

This is one of those times I don't expect much in the way of agreement with my opinion.

Said subject is achievements. I found that a Wikipedia page about them.
Achievements are included within games to extend the title's longevity and provide players with the impetus to more than simply complete the game but find all of its secrets. They are effectively arbitrary challenges laid out by the developer to be met by the player. These achievements may coincide with the inherent goals of the game itself, such as completing a level, with secondary goals such as finding secret power-ups or levels, or may also be independent of the game's primary or secondary goals, such as playing a certain number of times, viewing a video, beating a certain number of online opponents or completing a level in a certain amount of time. Certain achievements may refer to other achievements - many games have one achievement that require the player to have gained every other achievement.
The topic is achievements and the fact that Eve does not have an achievement system. The certificate system might be construed in a sideways fashion to be one. From the above, it may be obvious that I have no interest in an achievement system. However, I will say it clearly. I think achievement systems are silly and they have no appeal to me. I will also point out that it is my opinion and that other people may find loads of appeal and draw to the feature.

When expressing an opinion about something like an achievement system I do not think that it is right fro me to act as if my opinion is the only one that matters. It isn’t. I like that Eve does not have an achievement system but I will also not lay on the ground thrashing and ranting that the acquisition of one has destroyed my game and I must leave Eve in disgust forever.

I cannot understand the appeal of achievements. I'm not motivated by someone throwing me a bone or rewarding me for doing what I would do. The last game that I cared about achievements in was SSX and that was because the achievements were based around completing the tricks which were the entire point of the game. At one point my husband uploaded my Xbox or Playstation awards to send to my account and the poor thing vomited all over the number of unclaimed achievements that I had. I didn't even know there was a special place for them because I did not care. I have never claimed a certificate with Sugar or any other character other than Chella. I do not think I have claimed a certificate with Chella after my first month of pressing all the buttons.

But that is me. Achievements are ways to direct players to content and exploration. Many games have nonstatic content these days. Quests where NPCs are running across the map or unmarked adventures that the player can get into by picking up a piece of toilet paper from somewhere. The achievements nudge and push players towards exploration. I'm the person that reached level 25 in Skyrim before I completed the quest that let me kill the first dragon. That is something like the second quest. I just ran off in a random direction and never came back.

I decided that I should try to be positive on the subject. Or if not positive, productive. Ranting is easy. Dismissal is easier. What I have noticed is that I appear to be in the minority about it. Whether it is from actual interest or simple something that people have become used to and therefore notice when it is gone, there is interest in achievements. The problem with achievements is that they are often ridiculous.

When I play games occasionally a random message pops up and tells me I am amazing for playing the game. I think this is silly. What I find more interesting and more along the lines of information acquisition and mapping would be statics. A page/panel/list of ship kills by type, jumps made, ammunition used, stations possessing access, corporations joined... whatever... statics. Somewhere that people can see and follow in a neat list. Many, many games have these and I'd often watch my husband scroll through to see how many people he had run over with a firetruck or whatever else the game was tracking. I find that a bit more appealing because people flip through the list and go, "Oh, I didn't know you could..." or "I haven't tried..." vs "You have killed 100 monsters. You are the great slayer!" when you are level 3. Yay! The great slayer just like every other person in the game.

Another idea, if there are going to be achievements or achievements are the true goal and focus of the support group is to tie it into the Lore. It would give players another reason to go out and seek things. One problem with Lore in Eve is that I've learned about a lot of it after I can no longer access it because of low sec. The other problem is that much of it is tied to standings. To many players walk away from the standings grind. It speaks of a fundamental problem in the structure of standings and PvE but that is another (much larger) topic.

I am sure others, who are enthusiastic about the topic and the idea would and will have eloquent words to explain how amazing it is to kill ten wolves and get a title. Or how much deeper the subject is. I know that for many people putting something out there for them to achieve makes them want to achieve it. I don't feel that I have achieved anything but dancing through those hoops. But, again, that is me and my perception of things. I don't possess the 'have to have them all' drive about things.

In the deepest pit of truth I don't care if the game does or does not have achievements. If some window flickers to tell me that I am now the skull scourge, I don't care. If it helped catch people or satisfy them about the game because that is some huge missing aspect of the game then so be it. What I worry about is how interconnected the achievements would be to the game. Would they be something that I was forced into or would they be an optional extra as so many things are. The moment an achievement gives something or improves an aspect of game play it becomes a mandatory task to do. And that I would resent.


  1. Achievements are like a PVE score/killboard.
    And although I like the system I don't miss it in Eve and if given the choice I would prefer if it wasn't introduced.

    My first experience with the achievement system came with WoW and it was also the reason I quit that game.

    One of my major goals in the game was to get as many achievements as possible and to complete every possible non-repeatable horde quest in the game. I had even completed quests chains like

    With Cataclysm the mission achievements reset so with years of work out of the windows I had enough of WoW.

    I would expect the same issue with achievements in Eve, expansions breaking or resetting achievements.

    1. That would be the least of my worries. CCP has added to the game and taken some things away but resetting people has not been their thing. Look at their approach to the battlecruiser skill changes.

      If they did an achievement system they would add to it but not take from it at the player level, or adjust what it gives you. At the most, open up what it gives to others.

      But take away? No. I think their precedent to not take away from a game that involves true loss and stuff acquisition is solid.

  2. I like how Mass Effect handled achievements - you gained an actual in-game advantage for completing certain achievements. I'm not much for fluff acheivements - the kind that give you a pretty badge - but I have been known to occasionally chase down achievements that gave me an in-game boost.

  3. I have never claimed a certificate with Sugar or any other character other than Chella.

    I claimed all my certificates for my first year because EVEMon by default will bug you incessantly about any unclaimed ones. But eventually I figured out that you can turn that particular alert off.

    I think the certificate system could actually be useful if they allowed players to design their own. So, rather than focusing on putting any bogus achievements into the game I'd prefer CCP focus on improving what they already have.

    1. There was a large enough thread about revamping the certificate system that I expect to see it as a winter feature. It also functions within their new player assistance. The certificate system would be an incredible way to focus and help new players not go into full derp with skill selection by ignorance. If I bet on anything it would be an addition to that system next expansion.