Closed Doors

This could just be the completist or Achiever in me talking, but players do not like to be told that they missed something and must start over if they want it. We MMO players are usually content that there are cosmetics available as one-time event rewards or such, but if something has gameplay value or is an ongoing part of the game, you can see people going through physical pain to reach it. It is bad enough that single-player games have Achievements that require you to do X before Y or else reload/restart, losing some hours, but how about an MMO where you might have that character for years? MMOs are virtually without consequences, so the one piddly consequence is a proud nail even if it only means you cannot have a title.

City of Heroes used to have the Isolator badge restricted to players who for some reason farmed 100 enemies in the tutorial. No point, no benefit except this, and nothing indicates its existence. You just need to know in advance that it is there and put in the time for it during the most boring part of the game. That is like design decisions duct taped together. That was compounded in Issue 7 with a change seemingly designed solely to taunt the players: one of those enemies would spawn every 45 minutes in the highest level PvP zone. Issue 11 added a mission that let players farm it post-tutorial, and the City of Villains equivalent was always available later via a mission on the tutorial map.

LotRO has “The Undying,” a title track for not dying until level 5/10/14/17/20. If you want to pursue that link, you can see some related unhappiness. Recommendations for getting the title were usually to solo (no PUG risk) and NOT to take the easiest content; you were in a race against the inevitable lag/bug/crash that would kill you, so you needed to get experience at a sane rate rather than trying to farm the weakest enemies. MMO designs that discourage grouping and trying challenging content are not good. The Guild Wars equivalent was even worse (earn more than 1,000,000xp with no deaths, go!), and it was mutually exclusive with another title. That changed in a 2011 update that made Survivor for earning X xp since your last death rather than without ever dying. This helped many slightly unbalanced people avoid going entirely off the deep end.

Feel free to toss in your favorite from other MMOs.

: Zubon

17 thoughts on “Closed Doors”

  1. This is the kind of thing that makes me wonder if achievers are actually just nuts (I mean that in the nicest possible way!). It’s just a bit of fun stuff for a pointless title. I don’t bother with things like Undying or Isolator myself because they’re silly, but fair play to people who like them.

    What I don’t understand is the screaming rage from achievers who didn’t get Undying (I don’t mean you, I’m remembering people on the LOTRO forums) who insist that they MUST keep restarting characters until they get it. Uh no, it’s just a silly title. They probably won’t ever use it after they get some they like better. They made it very meaningless deliberately to show you that it’s purely optional. What word of ‘optional’ do people not seem to understand.

    I do honestly think games are richer for having stuff like that, as long as it doesn’t affect game balance and is genuinely optional.

  2. I totally agree with Spinks. It would be a terrible shame to lose harmless, amusing, pointless fun like this because a tiny minority of very noisy people either have no sense of proportion or actual mental health problems.

    If it’s the former they shouldn’t be indulged; if the latter they probably need more help than a computer game or its customer service department is competent to provide.

    Actually, I *would* indulge the complainers. I’d just give them the titles or achievements on demand. Missed out on a meaningless title? Aw, shame! Never mind, here you go! All fixed! Enjoy!

    The people who should get the benefit of the titles would still get that benefit. They’d already be doing whatever needed to be done to without knowing the title or achievement existed and when the sound sample triggered and the big words flashed up on the screen they’d get all the surprise and pleasure the designer wanted them to have.

    Win-win.

    1. No, I’m saying that it’s an already-solved problem. For Undying/Survivor, go with the later Guild Wars implementation. For Isolator, go with the later City of Heroes implementation.

      I’m with Spinks on the “optional,” but I’m with the Achievers on “permanently closed doors in MMOs are usually bad.” I got Undying on one character and I’m happy. Other people really really want it on every character and will keep restarting, which seems insane, but there is an existing model that accommodates that insanity without harming the game or the player.

      1. I feel this kinda cheapens the term “achievement”, though. If it’s something you can just go do casually whenever you want, it’s not an achievement, it’s an item on a checklist. It’s like the achievements in some games that are awarded for just starting it up. Frankly, it’s nice when there are achievements that don’t merely test “can you stand to grind something enough?”

        Then again, maybe I’m callous because I managed to earn “The Undying” on 6 of my 7 initial characters. That one that got away was when I helped a friend who got us in over our heads. Proud nail, indeed, but I’ve invested too much into that character at this point (Supreme Master crafting, Kindred with her crafting guild) to want to reroll. So, I see it as something that either you get or you move on and grind out some other stuff (hey, look at all those factions!) for your achievements.

        1. They’re all items on a checklist. It’s not like any of the other thousands of City of Heroes badges, LotRO deeds, or WoW achievements are permanently time-restricted in that way, except for the holiday/anniversary event “and I was there” ones.

          Telke (below) mentioned a different implementation, but I don’t think that works for something like Undying or Isolator. It only makes sense because it was meant to imply that the checklist item was completed while the difficulty was at the intended level, which was no longer the case after the game moved on.

            1. In the context you’re saying, yes. You do not give someone a checklist and later mention, “If you want to complete it, you’ll need to start a new character.”

              If you want them to be true achievements, make them difficult, not limited to people who knew to pursue counter-intuitive goals that were not announced in advance.

              Side note: making achievements unachievable should seem intuitively obviously wrong.

  3. Not sure if you know but in CoH you can go back to the tutorial with the time travel Ouroboros mechanic to get the badge.

    Edit: Nevermind, reread and noticed. Silly me.

  4. You know, I have absolutely zero interest in PvP and there is nothing about it that’s enjoyable for me, but I don’t go around suggesting the people who do enjoy it have something wrong with them and we shoudn’t humor them.

    People who like playing the PvP game would rather have it be a game where everyone’s on an even footing and there are no arbitrary restrictions that only apply to some of the players. Same for people who play the collection game.

    Do some people who play the collection game make unreasonable demands and ask that the developpers cater to them especially? Sure. The same is true of some people who play the PvP game, and some who play the large raid game, and any other group of players who enjoy a particular subset of the MMO.

    Let’s not single out any single group of players as being somehow worse than others. (Except PvPers, because seriously, those guys are weirdos.)

    1. People who complain that they are ‘forced’ to do something which is very obviously optional are (IMO) in a different category from ‘people who play differently from me’.

      I don’t have an issue with people who come out and say ‘I’m an achiever and it’s a big deal to me to have as many achievements as possible so I will choose to do all this extra optional stuff.’ (Well, I do because I’m sore that this attitude seems to bleed into groups I play with as a mark of being a good player when really it’s just being a completionist which isn’t the same thing). But it’s this notion of “Arrgh Rage the devs MADE me do this annoying thing” that gets my wick.

      1. “Devs are forcing me to do X” is a fairly common rhethoric on MMO forums. Yeah, it’s just as stupid every time you see it, but it’s not limited to achievers.

  5. Early last expansion, WoW had achievements “The Undying”(10man)&”The Immortal”(25man)for clearing all 15 bosses in Naxxramas with no deaths on any boss fight.

    certain Naxx bosses were fairly dance-intensive ones, and thus a single disconnect or lagged-out player could mess up your entire weekly attempt. Few achievements have been the subject of more rage, I suspect. And as soon as naxx was no longer top-tier, the achievements were turned into Feats of Strength, no longer doable by players.

    I can’t think of any achievements that you could actively miss out on getting and have to restart, though.

  6. One thing I like about LotRO is that some of the achievements come not only with titles, but award improved abilities. For example, now that I’ve killed 50 wolves on my runekeeper my healing stone cannot be uninterrupted. Improved damage and/or healing are awarded for utilizing specific spells, which helps address the shackles of cookie-cutter spell rotations and encourages exploration of the spells developers have put effort into creating.

  7. A kind of a micro-topic, but still relevant to the blog-post if you ask me. Zubon mentioned achievements as challenges, not timelimited “to-do” lists that require rerolling or time-travel.

    I remember from back in WotLK in WoW, where Naxxramas had for almost each boss an achievement that were meant as a challenge. For example, on Patchwerk where you fought the enrage, the challenge was to beat him in a (for the gear level) respectably short amount of time. Another was to clear the “Spider Wing” within 20 minutes of killing the first boss of the wing, making it a mini-speedrun.

    These were also used in a meta-achievement, requiring completion of multiple of these, and giving a mount if you did it. What Blizzard soon realized was that most of these would be trivial once you hit the next tier of gear, and later on started locking the mount rewards for future completions.

    But what they also did was to experiment with a new model for these challenge achievements; Limit the gear level as well as impose the challenge. One such of these challenges existed for the hardest boss in the next raid up, Ulduar.
    What they rightly realized, however, is that most people can’t be bothered keeping a second set of outdated gear just for a single achievement.

    What they seem to not have realized yet, is that a mix of the Ulduar model and the planned Challenge Dungeon system in Mists of Pandaria could be combined to create challenge achievements that would be a challenge throughout the game, and therefore not have to take the old mounts out with every patch. Simply give the option to start a raid in Challenge Mode, where your gear is scaled to an appropiate level, then only give out these challenge achievements and mounts in the Challenge Mode raid.

    Do I believe Blizzard would do this? Probably not, but it would be a nice way to keep endgame content somewhat relevant throughout the lifespan of a MMO.

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