I have plenty of goals in Guild Wars 2. Their importance is like some weird slurry of where the wants and pressure change the densities of each goal. Right now I really want a permanent trader contract, as unfeasible as it is, but I am working towards it mostly by playing the market. I can easily create my Ascended back piece now since I finally got some pink goo, but that would cost 5-10% of the amount of the trader contract. I also need to kill Zhaitan, finish the Vigil banner, get another character to chef mastery, finish 4 more crafting professions, etc. I have no doubt I will not even come close to a permanent trader contract before another batch of particles floats to the top of my chaotic slurry.
There is one thing I do almost every day regardless of my goals: the daily achievement. Usually I play how I want to, and then nearing the end of my gaming time I shift gears to efficiently complete the daily. This usually means tracking down another 2-3 events and 6-8 more enemy types. Psychochild comments that, at least with regard to events, it does not bode well how quickly I have turned the system in to a grind. I’ve thought a lot about his comments especially with the daily achievement in mind.
The fastest I’ve ever done the daily achievement was 20 minutes. I still remember that time because I completed it seconds before the server shift to a fresh daily. In Bloodtide Coast I just happened to hit the perfect storm of events, and then I crusaded through the zone barely nabbing my last enemy type before the bell was rung. I am sure people have figured out how to do it in less time, especially using waypoints to hit key areas for the specific daily achievements.
Normally though this time pressure is far from my mind. Yet, the daily achievement is always factored in gameplay somewhere. I will gather materials I would have otherwise no interest in to make some progress towards daily gathering. I might wobble out of my way to snag a flamingo therebefore minding its own business before being sacrificed to the Mystic Coin gods. I also will likely fall into the waylay of an event I would otherwise have no intention of joining. These things just happen in the normal course of play.
Since Psychochild’s comment, I have paid more attention to my gaming patterns reflected upon an alleged grind. Last night I decided I needed to take my foot to the Claw of Jormag’s face, and I spent the time waiting for the ‘zooka-bait to appear by roaming around killing off a myriad of creature types and gathering materials. Seven of those materials were orichalcum and ancient wood, which would have been profitably gathered anyway. On the other hand, without the daily achievement I would not have gone down to kill an errant grawl. It is more likely I would have stood near the cannons dancing with all the other fools.
One night I completed my daily using an alt that is heading slowly towards Vigilism. On Elixabeth’s suggestion I headed back to the Plains of Ashford to clean up some tar elementals and help the scrap yard. Another night I headed back to the sylvari starting area with my sylvari main. A champion risen quaggan event that I had not yet seen was the star of that night, although I did enjoy getting a node of 5 vanilla beans from the jungle. Another night after knocking out my events in no time in WvW, I headed to Southsun Cove for the two last enemy types. I got roped in to farming karka for a good half hour enjoying the rhythmic monotony and drops.
Is this grind? None of these would have happened without the pressure of the daily achievement. I knew where I wanted to go, where it would be efficient to complete it. Yet, from the other side of the coin I was doing completely different things each night. There are of course the issues of places I would not go to complete the daily, but there are plenty of places that are beneficial, efficient, and fun to knock the daily out.
Each night I am sure I could plan a route that would let me finish the daily achievement in no time flat. I could grind it out in the truest sense. I would snag my pound of silver, some karma, and a chance at something else, and then I could work on whatever other goal I had. Or, I could just play. Yes, play with the daily achievement in mind to make sure flamingos get their due. Efficiency of action is not enough to cross the threshold to grind.
Soon enough it appears that daily achievements will be different each day of the week. How will things change if I no longer have to do any events? What other daily activities might take precedent? Later on the flamingo assassinations might stop entirely if I can choose a subset of the other offered achievements besides creature type. Yet, there will always be focus on efficiency. We are MMO players, are we not? But I think Guild Wars 2 daily achievement system is a pretty good way of rewarding just about everybody’s choice of how to play.