Garbled thoughts on Account-Wide achievements

What Blizzard have said on the subject so far:

We are going to be testing out account wide features with Pet Battles that are coming with the introduction of Mists of Pandaria. If this proves to be successful, then we may even consider doing the same thing with mounts.

From here.

and

With Mists of Pandaria, account-wide achievements will indeed become available at the Battle.net account level, and many achievements will be shared among characters. A wide array of achievements will certainly be covered, including achievements that relate to everything from raiding and PvP to maxing out professions and assorted fun challenges.

From here.

While we’re still working out many of the details regarding account-wide achievement functionality, I want to clarify that we plan for the system to apply to all achievements — not just those added in Mists of Pandaria. It’s intended to be an overall change to the current achievement system.Our goal is to make it so that you feel like you only have to get an achievement once. We think the time and effort you put into achievements should be evident regardless of which character you’re playing. The update will be implemented at the Battle.net level and, as such, would apply to all of the attached World of Warcraft licenses on the account.

From here.

as well as

I want everyone to be a bit cautious about their expectations as of yet. We still have a lot of details to work out in regard to how this will all work. Once we have more specific information to share on it, we’ll let you all know. I don’t want anyone to get too far ahead on things until we can share more and explain any possible “ifs”, “ands”, and “buts” with you all should there be any put in place.

From here.

It sounds as if we’re going to have to change our mindsets when it comes to achievements. Instead of being something you collect on a character by character basis, it could well be account bound by the time MoP comes out.

I have to admit I’m torn on the topic.

On the one hand, my raiding achievements are spread across three characters as I swapped mains during the Burning Crusade to help my guild with our sudden Resto Shaman shortage during the Sunwell period. Having account-wide achievements would certainly help with that. Instead of having to refer a prospective guild to say four different armory profiles to back up your application, one character would show everything you have achieved in-game. It would make switching characters both for personal reasons and for raid balance/to help your guild out far more attractive too. It also makes sense as it’s us, the people behind the keyboard who complete the achievements and having then account-wide would reflect that. I (the player) put in the time and effort to get the Hand of A’dal achievement, to farm rank 12, to kill Yogg-Saron and all the other bits and pieces I’ve done over the years, so why shouldn’t all my characters show what I’ve done. As it currently stands, the character I’m currently playing the most was created in September 2011 and has achieved very little. Anyone looking at her in a vacuum  has no idea that I’ve played for almost seven years or that I’ve killed X on hardmode or Y when it was current content. So, yes, I would benefit from these prospective changes.

However (and you knew the but was coming didn’t you), I’m surprised at this comment in particular.

Our goal is to make it so that you feel like you only have to get an achievement once. We think the time and effort you put into achievements should be evident regardless of which character you’re playing.”

Doesn’t that shrink the game some what. Think of all the repeatable content which suddenly becomes irrelevant. You complete the Explorer once and you never have to do it again. Done Loremaster, great, now you don’t need to visit Stonetalon Mountains on another character ever again. What about titles/pets and mounts from achievements? Take farming Anzu for example, it’s not crucial and yes it can be annoying when it doesn’t drop on the 100th run but that still doesn’t mean it should be on all your characters just because you did it once. However, having the achievement without the reward (in the shape of titles/mounts/pets/tabards) surely flies in the face of “only have to get an achievement once” because without the reward, people will still want to get the achievement on more than one character. So that suggests that a lot of the rewards have to become account-wide too otherwise it’s a pointless exercise. I think this is the bit that bugs me the most. It would seem wrong to me in a game which is fundamentally about levelling and becoming stronger as you do so, that whenever you make a character, you receive a sackful of goodies, titles and achievements in the mail.

I realise the answer to the shrinking content is simple, just add more and making achievements account-wide does give Blizzard plenty of scope for that. Instead of getting 250 000 hks for example, add an achievement for for 500 000 and then 1 million across your account and so on. I also wonder how professions would work, does this mean that I never would have to level archaeology on another character ever again or that we might be seeing super awesome rewards for levelling it on multiple characters (please please please be the former!).

I also get that one account sharing all it’s pets is probably crucial to the success of the pet battle system. I mean if I put hours of work into levelling Pyewacket the Feline Familiar or Serenity the Firefly on one character, I wouldn’t want to waste time levelling that same pet with the same abilities on another character. However, I have to admit, I’m not too keen on it. What happens to the pets you have multiple times across your account? Take the little white kitten for example, I have several across my account and each one has a different story behind it. Some my husband’s alts purchased for particular characters as gifts, others I bought myself, racing other players to Lil Timmy and one I grabbed off the AH. Will those seven or eight little kittens just become one? If so, why waste time farming multiple pets of the same type on different characters. Take this years Lunar Festival, imagine farming multiple lanterns or spending massive amounts of gold to get one for each character and then discovering a few weeks down the line, hey, we’re making pets account bound, you only needed one… Yes, it means that my Hyacinth  Macaw might finally get some action but I still find myself a little unhappy at the idea.

I suppose what I envisioned when account-wide achievements first came up, seems completely different to what Blizzard envisioned. I imagined we’d get an extra tab on your achievement page, that would fit in between your “personal”, i.e. character achievements and the guild ones. An account wide list of everything you the player has achieved over your years of playing WoW, that regardless of which character you’re currently logged on, you can link or people can look at. By the sound of it, however, if things go according to plan, we might just have one achievement page which shows everything your characters have done. I thought at most, the Feats of Strength might be shared across your account but not much more. Take logging in on the game’s Xth anniversary, which character/s you did it on probably isn’t that important in the scale of things. However, on closer inspection of my Feats of Strength I have mixed feelings about even them. Should all my characters be “wielders of Val’anyr” or have access to my classic PvP ranks. I hit rank 12 once and rank 8 on another three characters which is enough to allow me to transmogrify the classic PvP sets on four characters. Being able to use them on all my characters would be awesome but then I don’t believe the restriction should exist in the first place. I’d rather Blizzard just did away with that restrictive rule rather than gave all my characters access to things which they didn’t earn. I know that sounds silly because “I” earned them and it shouldn’t matter which character I’m playing but to me at least it does.

Then there is the stalking potential and no I’m not paranoid. I’m actually one of those strange people who posts on Blizzard’s forums with their main character not a lv 10 or under. Anyone I’m arguing with is welcome to call me a scrub or worse (oddly enough people seem to end up apologising/playing nice, I’m clearly doing the whole PvP forum thing totally wrong). Your achievements across your account will end up like a unique fingerprint, especially when we take dates and Feats of Strength into account. I’m sure it wouldn’t take long for some enterprising person to come up with a website and a program for parsing armory data and linking all characters with that  unique fingerprint together. Suddenly hiding on the forums would get a lot harder, as would server transferring/renaming. I know that’s not necessarily a bad thing but some people do get hounded unfairly and this would make checking up/stalking people a lot simpler.

Yes, none of this is written in stone. It’s just idle speculation on my part based on a few comments made by people with their names in pretty blue text. Regardless though of what the achievement system does end up looking like in MoP, I suspect a sea change is on the way. Achievements look as if they are becoming a record of how we the players spend our time in Azeroth as opposed to how we spend our time playing each individual character on our account.

The next few months are going to be interesting.

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18 Responses

  1. Some really interesting comments here, not least the concept of anonymity being compromised. Needless to say there is a lot for those of us with, let’s say, a larger selection of characters to play with to consider… ^^

    • Yep, my stable of alts was the reason I was initially excited and of course having to switch mains to help my raiding guild out. However, the more I think about, the more doubts I have.

      Although however wide spread they make this, I will benefit so I suppose it’s just a case of wait and see. If it’s only pets, at least my rarer ones will get to see the light of day again.

  2. [...] Garbled Thoughts on Account Wide Achievements [...]

  3. I think it’s going to be interesting to see what they end up with. I’ll admit though that I’m someone who would love having access to all my pets and mounts on all characters. I tend to focus on my main for pets/mounts and since I switched my main for half of Wrath (then back to her in Cata) there’s quite a bit I’m missing when I did all the grinding on my Warrior instead of my Warlock for that time.

    Admittedly I don’t want to do Loremaster (if I ever even do it) on more than one character either. Then again, I don’t really care if it’s a title all my characters have either. I think it’d be nicer if there’s some sort of player-level of the account, and maybe you could see “earned Loremaster on ZZX”. I don’t know. As you said, maybe you wouldn’t want everyone to know everything about your characters after all.

    I don’t like having to do things on more than one character though, but that’s just me being lazy and not feeling like I have the time. So having some sort of account wide achievements would be nice. I would hate to ever switch mains again and having to do the 1 year long “What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been” yet again!

    But I agree that there’s a lot of question marks, and we may not really want everything we think we want either.

    For now, really all I want is all my mounts and pets. Cause I’m lazy ;) Oh, and I’d really really love for the shoulder enchants to be BoA because I’m so tired of grinding reputation with Therazane on my umpteenth character!

    • Shoulder enchants I agree with. Words can not express my loathing for Therazane and her dailies. It actually makes inscriptions appealing as a profession.

      Mounts is an iffy one for me. I have the Horsemans Reins on Druid number 3 who was a brief experiment into being a Moonkin and hasn’t been played for 2 years. Having access to that on a character I play would be great but every character…

      Looking forward to more details.

      • I would be happy with if mounts were somehow BoA when they dropped. You know, those rare drop ones that for some reason always seem to drop on your alts and never your main.. send it to your main and she can learn it. Not everyone has to get it, but would be nice to be able to choose which one.

        Therazane needs to learn to share!

        Regarding titles I don’t think they should be shared. Sure, the achievement can be shown if you look at someone’s achievements. Which is where I’m thinking it’d be nice if it showed which character it was achieved on, but the title should remain on that character.. if that makes sense.

        In the end, a lot of questions and uncertainties on what they’re planning, and I don’t even know exactly what I want. (But I have an unused headless horseman in an alt’s bag.. you know, just in case *lol*)

  4. Hi :), I followed the link to here from the MMOMeltingPot this morning. I just wanted to say the other side of this, for me and other people I know. I enjoy getting achievements for each of my characters for themselves and its how I spend my time ingame. I have 4 pre-Cata loremasters and had great fun doing each and every one of them. I play my characters as individuals and have one l85 rogue who never ever does dungeons so why should she run round with the dungeon and raid achievments my main has. Indeed, the idea of my l10 bank alt running back and forth between the letterbox, bank and ah displaying the title “Kingslayer” is ridiculous. A/c bound achievements will leave me with nothing to aim for in the future, no long term goals. I really think that Blizz should give the ability to turn off a/c bound achievements on the battlenet a/c page when they bring this in.

    • Whilst I’m clearly a lot lazier than you (currently going for my second and probably final Loremaster atm) this is why I’m torn. All my characters have distinct personalities and I tend to aim for titles/pets/mounts that I think suit each one. Everything being shared just seems wrong from that perspective. Plus I love getting achievements on my alts. My baby hunter just hit her first 100 hks and whilst that’s nothing in the scheme of things as “I” have over 300 000 across multiple characters, it still felt good. I would miss seeing the little common achievements popping up all over the place.

      Obviously the flip side of that is that Blizzard can and would have to add loads more new things for us to work towards but it still wouldn’t be the same. Shared pets I can just about come to terms with and it would certainly reduce the RNG factor of certain seasonal pets but everything else I feel is a step too far.

  5. I remember hearing about this and thinking oh, sounds good. After reading your post I’m not so sure. My bazillion alts do not deserve to run around with an Insane title.

    I get different titles on different characters because they fit them. It will be interesting to see how this is finally implemented, hope it’s not an alt demotivator.

    • Me too. My Gnome priest runs about with and giggles a lot. That just doesn’t suit any of my other characters. Although I suppose it’s personal choice as to whether any of the other characters use a title. I mean I doubt I’d ever use Conqueror of Ulduar, General or the Astral Walker on characters that didn’t earn them but then Blizzard wouldn’t be forcing me to either.

      As for whether it stops people levelling alts, I suppose we levelled them before achievements were added so technically it shouldn’t. I think what will make or break it for me, is the number of new and interesting achievements they manage to add to compliment any account-wide changes they make.

      Although regardless of what they do, I doubt I’m quitting yet :D

  6. Account wide achievements would scupper under 85 XP-off alts and twinks who were going for achievements at a certain level. Also the dedicated going for all achieves. I know this is a minority, off-piste sport, but a I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the side game of accumulating achieves on a 19 mage and lists are maintained on various forums. I hope they remain attached to a character but an additional, linkable tab, shows the account wide achievements. No reason why both models are not possible.

    • ” I hope they remain attached to a character but an additional, linkable tab, shows the account wide achievements. No reason why both models are not possible.”

      I think that’s the best solution, just hope Blizzard do too.

  7. Erinys, Grats on being featured in MMO Melting pot! I get excited when I see my blog buddies on it!!!

    I have to agree with you Erinys, I am not a fan of the account bound achievements. Mounts and pets yes. But it’s called an ACHIEVEMENT for a reason. I think if you cheapen the achievement then it’s not really an achievement anymore. And I am after all, a massive achievement junkie, I get great satisfaction from the work and effort I put into my one toon with lots of achievement points.

    Maybe they wanted to make it easier to distinguish the experienced player playing an alt from a nub… with that ridiculous pug system people use of asking you to link your achievement of that run before you can join in on the run.

    • I wondered that too but I think LFR has fixed the “need to be able to link the achievement” to a degree already.

  8. I would think it work in the same style as guild wars has there across account system with Titles. Most are account wide. while there is a percentage that do require you to complete said title on A different toon. While it all seems awesome in many ways There will be still some effort for alts to complete eg; Professions I doubt they give a maxed profession just cuz a main has.

    I can see them making raiding/Pets/mounts an across account based while you may find PvP titles, Prof’s open for all to actually complete.

    Love ya blog BTW =D

  9. [...] current Beta build and more than ever I find my feelings on the subject are mixed. When I wrote my original post on the topic, I was torn between liking and disliking but now, I think I’m definitely coming [...]

  10. You sure have given this a lot of thought. The whole stalking thing *is* a bit scary–I have my own set of stalkers that I keep on my friends’ list to know when it’s time to switch characters.. :O

    My idea, similar to yours, was that all the achievements across the toons of one account would be assembled onto the achievements interface and it would say, for example, Anoukisse achieved 5th anniversary/Octavien achieved Bane of the Fallen King/etc. Or that perhaps each toon would have a tab so you could have access to them all, and the *total points* across all your toons would belong to that one interface (unless in the case of duplicate achievements, i.e. Anoukisse, Ysobel, Octavien achieved 5th anniversary, only 10pts vs 30pts, if that makes sense).

    Ultimately, every expansion has brought with it its own set of mindset challenges, so I guess it’s up to us to decide what we’re going to do with it… But the stalking… yikes. Blizz better nip that one in the bud.

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