The Neverending MMO Achievement Challenge

end-nigh1Word has come from Jim Sterling of Destructoid, reporting on another article which talks about the first player to supposedly “beat” World of Warcraft. Those of us who are crazy enough to be into MMOs know that the way that works, it means that someone has beaten all the content the game currently has to offer. In this case, Taiwanese player “Little Gray” has acquired just about all the achievements in the game, amassing some pretty interesting numbers along the way.

Now I could take the easy route and create a few Overly Positive Thoughts about how the really great achievement is not leaving the house or getting laid during this player’s gameplay, but Jim already beat me to that optimism, and I think this deserves another angle. First, I do really think it is some kind of accomplishment to get all of these achievements, because it does sort of prove that someone, with the right amount of dedication and playtime, can do so. Achievement hunting was popularized by the XBox 360 system of accomplishments and points, and while it was nice to go out and aspire to get all of them, it was never really a realistic goal to begin with.

This also proves a bit of the value behind unlocks and achievements in MMOs, which were arguably started by WAR and are now copied and continued in WoW. Successful MMOs appear to have a variety of interesting, yet time-consuming elements to them in order to appeal to players of all kinds. PvE’rs will tackle dungeons while PvP’ers will choose to prove their worth against other players, crafters will look to acquire recipes and prove to be an asset, and so on and so forth. People who find value in achievements are just another subset of players who are simply finding a way to enjoy their favorite MMO. In this respect I can’t fault Little Gray for doing what he did.

Besides, we all know that this isn’t truly the end – not when it comes to MMOs. There’s always going to be a bar raised, new content and levels to achieve, and yes, new achievements for any MMO in the market to have long-term life. Little Gray’s notion of “beating” World of Warcraft is quite temporary, and maybe that’s the true charm of playing games like this – they always have another challenge just over the next mountain that waits to be achieved. Will we see more in the future in terms of achievements? With the fact that someone just proved you could do it all, I’d count on it.

8 thoughts on “The Neverending MMO Achievement Challenge”

  1. Slurms says:

    "which were arguably started by WAR"

    Arguable indeed. LotRO had them a over a year prior to WAR and I'm not even sure that it was truly the first.

  2. River says:

    Actually I heard another MMO had Achievements before WAR, forgot which one though. I was never a big Achievement guy. I think the only one I ever want to get was the Brews End title…The Drunkard. I still love that title, best one in any MMO…period

  3. Frank says:

    Damn you people and your fact-checking! Haha!

    LoTRO did have them first technically, though they seemed so forgettable so as not to be thought of as a feature, per se.

    1. Slurms says:

      I'd say LotRO's deeds were only forgettable (as were WAR's tome unlocks) because they were built in. WoW's were made to be a grand deal because (a) they got press coverage for being added, and (b) because the game is FUCKING HUGE.

      I've seen each implementation, and I'd have to say LotRO's is the most meaningful. You actually have a reason to get the achievements.

  4. Rik says:

    The badges in City Of Heroes have the same function as achievement unlocks. Stillndouvt that was the first though.

    1. Ayane says:

      Was about to mention the badges in City of Heroes as well. It's the first MMO that I'm aware of that had something like that and it was far from forgettable. "Badge hunting" became a popular sport and I recall certain badges even giving some bonuses to your character.

      Though I do recall Star Wars Galaxies also having some kind of achievement system (where it was pretty forgettable, at least when I played) as it kept track of certain special missions you did.

      It's always tricky to call something "first" in these things as often it's the result of an evolutionary process. At what point do you call an achievement an "achievement"?

      1. Frank says:

        That's an interesting question, Ayane. I think that the idea of achievement is something that's been around since MMOs were out, just as a general concept. I just don't think there's been -tracking- for it til the games that people have mentioned in this thread of discussion. Arguably you could call most anything you could do in an MMO an achievement of sorts. It just hasn't been popularized or highlighted til recently.

        1. Slurms says:

          I'd argue (since we're doing so much of that in this thread) that it's due to a different type of mentality of player. The people who play CoH, LotRO, etc were in it for the experience of the game and it's social aspects. A vast majority of WoW players are after the carrot, straight up.

          kids these days….I tell ya

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