Thursday, June 26, 2008

Baseless Speculation: Towards Account-wide accomplishments?

I've previously discussed the question of whether games should reward your alts for time spent on your main. Well, the next generation of MMO releases may bring the question of character-specific accomplishments versus account-wide accomplishments into the forefront. So, some baseless speculation on not one, not two, but THREE as-yet unreleased products ensues. (I'm not sure if this means I'm 3 times more likely to get one of them right or 3 times less likely to get through the post without writing something that looks really stupid six months from now. ;))

Guild Wars 2: Account-wide accomplishments
The Eye of the North expansion to Guild Wars introduced a "Hall of Monuments", where players can display statues showing their characters' accomplishments. Unlike the comparative ease of LOTRO's title system (the lowest level titles unlock in as few as 30 mob kills, and some of them don't sound too stupid to ever use), Guild Wars titles are a significant grind, some of which are account-wide but many of which are specific to the character that unlocks them. The idea is that the upcoming sequel will be set in the future, but players of the original Guild Wars who actually have titles to display will be able to unearth their historic monuments and unlock stuff in the new game as well.

The news on this front was the following observation from the devs:
"Because the Hall of Monuments displays accomplishments on a character-by-character basis, many players have felt strongly discouraged from playing multiple characters.
The full tale is recounted in the (linked) June 24th patch notes, but it sounds like the new plan will let players keep all their accomplishments for all of their characters (I'm guessing that the old plan was that you had to pick a single character's monuments to import?). That's a pretty big step towards account-wide accomplishments. Based on the way GW1 is set-up, one imagines that these unlockable rewards will be cosmetic in nature.

Wrath: Maybe Account-Wide Accomplishments?
This one is up in the air, but the leaked info from the Alpha suggests that Blizzard is planning an accomplishment system. There's zero information on what the rewards would be, or even if it's going to make it into the game, but the list that's circulating around includes a number of things that would have to be account-wide rather than character-specific (some of them refer to leveling multiple characters to 80, this may be the account-wide flagging system they're going to use to indicate that a player has reached level 55 and thus unlocked Death Knights).

Again, with no information we can't say one way or the other what the rewards for these things would be. Cosmetic options (e.g. new hairstyles for the new barber shop?) would seem to make sense, though. I'd like to think Blizzard isn't stupid enough to award some irreplaceable gameplay benefit to leveling all 10 classes to 80, if for no other reason than because elite raiders/arena players would wind up paying powerlevelers to unlock them. The intriguing prospect behind exclusive titles/hairstyles/etc is for this to be one way for non-raid/arena players to visually distinguish themselves. It's been stated that Arena and Raid armor will have different models in the expansion, and perhaps a new title or whatnot will be the solo alt-a-holic's equivalent badge of honor. :)

Warhammer: Character Specific Unlocks with Gameplay Effects?
The Warhammer devs are touting a "Tome of Knowledge" that sounds a lot like LOTRO's Deed system - a variety of rewards (some of which will affect gameplay) for exploring, killing, questing, etc. I've panned LOTRO's system repeatedly in this space for, in my view, effectively requiring players to grind hundreds of mobs for trait upgrades (which aren't available outside of the deed system) or accept permanently lowered stats. I'm going to try and withhold judgment until the non-disclosure agreement on Warhammer is lifted, but this thing sure sounds like more of the same.

How many of these will I get right? As again this time next year. :)

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