I’m a bit behind schedule, but there’s been some talk about Achievements lately and I wanted to toss in my 2 coppers.
So for all intents and purposes, Achievements got their start on the Xbox. Lots of games had 1-off kinds of things like in-game medals to collect, but Microsoft hit on something huge when they launched their cross-game points-based Achievements. Gamerscore became data point #1 for bragging rights.
Now, I’ve had a Gamertag for 6 years and my Gamerscore is 3,510, so that tells you something about how interested in Xbox Achievements I have been. (Plus I’ve gone long periods nursing a seething hatred for the Xbox 360 due to reliability issues, though I’ve gotten past that now.)
In terms of MMOs, Achievement-esque systems are big these days. LOTRO has the Deed system, Warhammer has the ToK, WoW has Achievements, Champions Online has Perks… all variations on a theme.
But a lot of these systems are rubbish. Why? Because the rewards are rubbish. Kill 5,000 mottled southern orcs and get a title. Big whoop. Finish this Xbox game on Insane Difficulty and get 100 gamerscore. Yawn!
LOTRO’s Deed system is meaningful in that it helps you sculpt your characters (you get Traits that you can slot by doing Deeds). Champions’ Perks seem to have some real impact on your character as well (I’m being vague due to 1 part NDA and 1 part ignorance here). WoW, as far as I know, only gives you titles. And I think Warhammer gave you badges that no one could see? Someone will correct me if I’m wrong here. I know I got badges from somewhere!
But anyway I digress, because there’s a new game in town. Microsoft recently released the Avatar Marketplace, where you can spend money on clothing and accessories for your Xbox Avatar. But more interestingly, the system supports *unlocking* clothing and accessories via earning in-game Achievements.
Sony is doing the same thing. For a long while their Trophies were just a score card, but now they’re adding virtual items for your Playstation Home apartment and avatar. (Granted we still need a good reason to log into Home to see this stuff. Playing Buzz is a tiny step in the right direction.)
I’m excited about these new systems. Points and Titles grew passe long ago, at least for me, but stupid little virtual geegaws from my stupid little avatar? That gets me excited. And no, sadly enough, I’m *not* being sarcastic, though I am laughing at myself as I admit this. Warhammer’s badges, had they been more visible, would’ve had me running all over the place trying to earn them, but they were so subtle that I couldn’t even notice them on my own character, let along on other peoples’.
I guess it all boils down to individuality. Earning these bits and bobs gives me the raw materials I need to make a more unique avatar. It’s all fluff, of course, whether on the 360, PS3 or in an MMO. But I’m a huge fan of fluff. I’ll happily do a quest to get some decorative item for my in-game house, y’know?
No real point to this lunchtime ramble beyond: More, please! I hope more MMO developers pick up this idea and run with it, adding achievement-related ‘appearance items’ or housing items to let us customize our characters and build a visible record of our journey. EQ2’s house items often come from quests, not achievements (though I suppose its a thin line between one and the other when you come right down to it), but it’s still cool that you can go into someone’s house, look at the various trophy items on their wall, and know where they’ve had to go in order to earn those items (assuming you’re steeped in the lore, that is).
On both the Xbox and the PS3, these new systems are just starting to ramp up. I hope they wind up being wildly popular. It’s always a good thing when devs add another way to enjoy the games we’re laying out $60 for.