Notes from the Blizzard Developer Q&A, No. 5

And we’re back to another Blizzard Developer Q&A – this time the questions and answers focused around achievements! As usual, you can find the full thread here, and we’ll take a look at some of the questions and answers that I found most interesting. Ready? Let’s go.

Q: Will we ever be able to spend our achievement points on something? Or will there be a feature where it will be required to have x amount of points? – Nordicberry (Europe [English]), Hogosha & Wulkuhr (Europe [German]), Neroth (Europe [French]), Kularia (Northa America/ANZ), Trafalgarlaw (Latin America)

A: We want Achievements to remain as an optional thing you can do as bragging rights, or to challenge yourself. As soon as we add any kind of player power, or use them to gate anything, then they feel mandatory for a lot of players. In fact, we think one of the reason achievements are fun is that the drive to complete them is totally up to you, which keeps them (hopefully!) from feeling like a chore. If you want to go after some achievements that’s a choice, and choosing not to care about achievements doesn’t mean you’re making your character less powerful.

We do offer pets, mounts and titles for specific achievements, and we’re unlikely to ever do anything much more “mandatory” than those.

So essentially, this translates to “Don’t hold your breath.” Which I don’t entirely mind, honestly. I think that there are enough must do things in the game without making achievements one of them – enough point systems and enough things that you do to earn other things to spend on more things. Achievements? I’m fine with achievement hunting being something you do to get titles, or something you do a lot of and get a special award. Sure that means achievement points aren’t terribly useful right now aside from being a status symbol, but you know – I’m okay with that.

Q: Currently, the achievement rewards are more focused to common tasks, such as raids, events, PvP. Have you considered creating achievements with rewards that ask to do crazy things around the world, like for example, soloing bosses or mobs, or more achievements like the “Jenkins” one, that are meant to do crazy things. – Thodyr (Europe [Spanish]), Khaelthas (Europe [French]), Assmira (Europe [German])

A: We like for achievements to be fun, but we don’t want for players working on achievements to have a huge negative impact on other players. At first glance, soloing a boss mob might sound like a decent achievement. But consider that if the achievement is very easy to do then hitting all those dungeons may just feel like a chore. On the other hand, if it’s challenging to do then we suddenly have to go back and worry about class balance in a way we never had to before. Blood DKs for example excel at soloing older bosses because of their self-healing mechanic, but the same isn’t true of most other classes and specs. We try not to have achievements that require you to ask your group to do something really bizarre or not fun. “Run a dungeon without picking up any loot,” would just be frustrating every time you had to debate with your group whether you were going for the achievement or not. “Jenkins” is fun for a silly achievement, considering its history, but too much of that sort of thing would get tedious pretty quickly.

Wow – that’s actually a really interesting answer to a question that a lot of players have had. It’s difficult to walk the line between giving people really fun and interesting achievements based on fun and interesting things to do, and then giving someone something to do that winds up being a bore or a pain in the neck for other people you may be playing with.

I think there’s more of a dividing line though – Blizzard could very easily make some solo achievements that reward really amazing feats – like many of the ones that already exist – without upsetting gameplay for other players, so there’s room to maneuver. I like to think they’ll take it, but we’ll see.

Q: There are still no Achievements beyond “Collect 75 unique companion pets”. Can I expect a reward for 100 companion pets in the future? – Whitewnd (Korea)

A: Patch 4.1 has achievements for 100 and 125 companions. Those particular achievements don’t reward pets, but we’ll probably do another reward at some tier in the future, perhaps 150 or 200 pets.

Oh crap. I know some pet collectors that are going to freak right out with this news.

Well then – that does it for this round! There were tons of great questions this time, although many of them seemed to expound on one another and essentially come down to limitations of how the game was designed. We’ll see how Blizzard adapts or changes those features in the future.

What about you? Any questions about achievements you would have asked the devs that weren’t included? Let me hear them in the comments!

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