Achievements in Gaming

Beating the game is nifty and all, but dealing 1,000,000 points of fire damage is nothing to sneer at.

Beating the game on normal difficulty is nifty and all, but healing 1,000,000 points of life in a multiplayer blood bath is nothing to sneer at.

Sometime back, I suggested achievements for some MMORPG and at least one gentleman thought it was a terrible idea. He hated the thought of getting merit badges for our efforts and was quite vehement about it.

But depending upon the difficulty of the achievement, it can be a sign of considerable progress or a true badge of experience. I mean let’s face it, lots of people buy a game, play the single player once and then never pick it up again. And given the fact that games like Starcraft II and Team Fortress 2 are increasingly being played for money, knowing what a guy can do or has done can be a big deal.

In this manner, I feel that Team Fortress 2 has the right idea. While they do offer these one shot challenges of varying difficulty, the really respectable achievements can only come through significant amounts of time investment. You will not be earning 1,000 back stabs as a Spy in one go, or 1,000,000 points of explosive damage as the Demoman in a single sitting.

I suppose an average player could pull these things off either with a couple of weeks of intensive playing, or in a month or two provided they give up other leisurely activities. But I have to nod my head in respect to any player who has pulled these things off.

But in MMORPGs, achievements can be a great way to tell the newbies from the pros. How many times have newbies been killed in a dungeon for no other reason than not knowing what is around the corner? What to do? How to handle a boss? It happens. And if the other team mates can see the achievements of a player and note that they have or haven’t been through this dungeon or battlefield, they’ll know whether or not you have experience in this environment.

With that in mind, I think it would be great if there was a small routine that runs through the current chat window of an MMORPG to find key words, or takes note of the situation, and then compiles a list of related achievements for all related players that can be viewed through ALT+TAB. If everyone’s related achievements were made plain right then and there, leaders can quickly get a handle of who needs help and who will be alright with no guidance.

But lately, I don’t feel that achievements are really regarded as anything serious, and rightly so. Achievements for beating the single player game are nice, or killing 100 monsters or whatever. But when they’re not a real challenge, they’re not worthy of any respect. But winning 100 games in the highest ranking leagues of Starcraft II or dealing a million fire damage as a Pyro are signs of a veteran and worthy ally or opponent.

Achievements can be the best and most trustworthy way to find out how experienced a player is and make the experience far more enjoyable, if implemented correctly. And I think this can be a great evolution for gaming.

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