Monday, February 16, 2009

Five Stages of Love Fool Grief

A narrative of the Blizzard Valentine's event:

1. Denial (Wednesday)
Sure, this is the same juvenile and tacky in-game event that it always has been (see Spinks' place for a concise summary). But at least this time there are achievements. Even better, there were some good memes surrounding the bugged ice stone has melted messages (apparently intended for the summer's edition of the Fire Festival). See also,

Some folks have even harnessed the spirit of entrepreneurship that exemplifies the offline Valentine's Day by finding a way to profit from it.

2. Irritation (Thursday)
Hm, now I've got all the achievements except for the one for the candy hearts. (Note: I had roses from a previous year.) That's a bit annoying. MMORPG's already have a bad name for providing "just 5 more minutes/one more quest" incentives, they don't need to add more and have them be time limited.

Don't get me wrong, I had some less than kind things to say about the previous Blizzard holidays which relied on a daily quest drop, so that's not my favorite mechanic for limiting rarity in a brief holiday either. However, at least daily quests can be done at a time of the players' choice. The Trick or Treat mechanic offers players 23 opportunities per day... but the clock is ticking at 60 minutes and 1 second after your last attempt. Hope you don't have to sleep, work, or spend part of a weekend that has two holidays in the US (Valentine's, always a great time to be neglecting relationships, and President's Day) offline for whatever reason.

3. Concern (Friday)
Alright, so it turns out that this thing is actually rare enough that it might move from "inconvenient" to "unobtainable" if I don't focus on it for the rest of the time I've got. It's some small chance to even get a candy bag out of my trick or treat gift in the first place (I've heard 20%, dunno if that is before or after they raised it), and then 10 chances to get the heart I still need (presumably 1 in 8).

Because the "do all the holidays" achievement is all-or-nothing, I MUST somehow complete this one or I won't get the reward for the three holidays I've already put a lot of effort into doing (plus work spent pre-farming several of the Brewfest achievements for next year). I'd better stay put in town until I finally get this thing to make sure I don't waste time.

(I was not alone - Daria and Larisa were also milling around town.)

3a. Boredom (Still Friday, a minute or so later)
Hmm... So I can't run instances because those take over an hour. Can't do Wintergrasp because I have no idea when it's going to happen and won't get credit if I can't stay. Already did the dailies I still need. Guess I might as well play some EQ2 and load up WoW on my laptop once an hour to loot the trick or treat gift.

(I ended up looting 7 bags over an 8 hour period, obtaining one sack of candy, and not having it contain the heart I needed. This was my third bag - according to a WoWhead comment, I should have had an 86% chance of obtaining the heart by now. Also, having a 1-minute cooldown on the bag of candy really is adding insult to injury. Making me sit on my rear for 10 minutes to click the bag 10 times just to find out that I had nothing to show for my 8 hour vigil doesn't make the mount any rarer, it just wastes my time.)

4. Resignation (Saturday)
My wife asks me why I'm so concerned about this thing, as she witnesses me two boxing a pair of different games in the morning (she was out on Friday night), and suggests that I buy a drake instead. I explain that it's faster than any mount I would otherwise have access to, and that I've been working towards getting it in previous months. Still, she raises the point that I shouldn't do it if it isn't fun. Ah, the wisdom of the non-gamer.

Anyway, we're going out for the rest of the day, so I'm only going to get one chance to loot the thing before bed, and otherwise Sunday will bring what Sunday brings. I'm past the point where anything I can do will influence this achievement - either it's going to happen in the next few tries or it isn't.

And I do indeed get a sack of candy in my one attempt for Saturday evening. Seven times I click it, seven times it gives me a heart I don't need, and seven times I sit on my rear for an entire minute waiting for my next chance to click it. The numbers suggest that 95% of players should get their eight different hearts within 4 sacks of candy, but independent events are independent and my chances to avoid joining the 5% in the next 3 clicks are the same as any other - 1 in 8.

Well, I'm glad that's over with.

5. Regret (Sunday)
As Klep writes, this is a very hollow "achievement" because there's nothing I could really do to influence it. There's no skill, and not really much in the way of perseverance - either it falls into my lap in the very brief time I have or it does not.

In order to fill in this checkbox, I feel like I lost access to my character for four days. I spent some time in WoW on Sunday doing previously mundane things that now felt vaguely comforting in that my time was my own once again. I'm not even guaranteed the mount after all this - Children's Week in May is almost as short, includes a PVP achievement that calls for players to enter a battleground and disregard the good of their team in favor of fighting over the flag for the achievement, and another achievement which becomes impossible if you're not able to play on all three of May 3, 4, and 5 (plus two days adjacent to those days), or if it bugs out (which it might if they don't put it on the PTR's, since the achievement it appears to be based on had various bugs).

If Blizzard had announced a quest at the beginning of the holiday to buy surplus candy hearts off a goblin after the event for 10,000 gold, I would have paid it not to have to go through the last week, even though that's all the money my character has, and I won't spend 2,000 gold on BOE epic raid gear I'd actually wear. If you'd sent me a copy of this post on Feb 10, before the holiday began, well, I don't know what I would have done because, again, I'd already sunk all the effort into the previous holidays. If you went back to before achievements rolled out, though? Will this all have been worth it?

It saddens me that the answer may well be "no".


  1. I'm confused. I have never tried for all the achievements in a Holiday before but the implication of you remarks is that I have misunderstood the achievement.

    In order to complete the "long strange crazy trip" (or whatever it's called)achievement you have to complete all the holiday achievements in a 365 day period? is that right? I understood it to be that you just had to complete them sometime, didn't matter if it was one year or five.

    If the whole clock resets at the end of the 365 days, I can't imagine why anyone would even try.

  2. I hear you on this one. I only have a few hours a night to play on weekdays thanks to work, and was raiding Naxx on most of sunday (hell if I'm going to skip a raid because of a seasonal event) and had only gotten one bag of candy so far -- which left me with half of my hearts still missing.

    Considering I created my current main after Brewfest last year and it would take her another year and a half to get the drake anyway (unless Blizz changes their mind on the brew of the month achievement later, anyway), I was close to giving up -- but luckily, after two peddlefeet pets, three black dresses, and three picnic baskets, I finally got my second bag of candy hearts and was lucky enough to get my other four hearts from it.

    The thing that confuses me is why they even bothered to remove perma-peddle and the black dress from the meta achievement for being "too random" but left the candy hearts in there. The bag of candy is just as rare, but you will need to get as many as four of them to get all of the hearts.

    Also, yes, that 1-minute cooldown is completely uncalled-for.

  3. The thing that confuses me is why they even bothered to remove perma-peddle and the black dress from the meta achievement for being "too random" but left the candy hearts in there. The bag of candy is just as rare, but you will need to get as many as four of them to get all of the hearts.

    This. Yeah, I managed to get a lovely black dress and a truesilver arrow... but not ONE single bag of candy.

    I already know it's going to take over a year since I boycotted Brewfest last year. (I didn't like the changes made to it). Ahhhwell. Gives me something to write about, right? :P

  4. @DJ: No, there is no requirement as to when you do the achievements, they'll presumably be available as long as WoW is. Technically speaking, when I say that I "won't get credit" for work I already done, it would only be for a year - presuming that the other holidays don't intervene, and that someone who missed a heart or whatever is able to get one in next year's holiday, which is relatively likely not to be changed.

    @Kiryn and Syrana: Grats on your Perma-Peedle(s). ;) I got a basket and three dresses (plus some dresses and another basket on an alt), but no perma-peedles. This is alright by me since I would never actually want the pet out, and I'm not close enough to 75 for the one pet to matter for achievements, but yes, it does seem odd that at least the dresses were much easier than something they didn't leave on the achievement.

  5. I have serious misgivings about the whole long strange trip achievement set. What will people do if they throw in some dumb grindy achievements in the last event in the list?

    In any case, it is an interesting view into what people will do for incentives. Because people will not only have to stay subscribed for a year, they'll also have to plan their holidays around it.

    The whole thing gives me serious misgivings, tbh. I hope at least it can be fun!

  6. I'll admit, I am addicted to the hoilday events for the sole purpose of the mount and the titles.

    It was pretty funny logging in for a minute each hour for a chance to get a bag of candy during my valentines night with my girlfriend lol.

    "Still, she raises the point that I shouldn't do it if it isn't fun. Ah, the wisdom of the non-gamer."

    Not going to lie, I true

  7. Oh here's just big applause for the funniest and best formulated round up post about this achievement. Absolutely excellent. I wish I could add someting intelligent but I can't, you've said it all.

  8. So very true. I only had time to play on the weekend (and not before), so I spent the whole Saturday with trying to get candies, and finally got the last one on Sunday afternoon. Think I got near 20 Gifts/Pledges of Adoration, no clue how you should do it if you don't have much time... On the plus side I had 55 min spare between some tries and so the army of alts now also is filled up with achievements. And I got some reading of several hours done in between as well.
    Still this title feels harder earned than clearing Naxx25...

  9. What the... I had logged in via OpenID to comment on another blog and now it defaulted to "Google/Blogger" instead of OpenID. Bad Google Single-Sign-On!

  10. I admit I got really lucky with the candies thing. I got all my hearts after two bags, but I was pretty worried about it.

    I've been pretty obsessed about getting "long strange trip" done too, because it is a test of strength in a way and I'm not sure if many people will be able to pull it off.

    The Children's week PvP one sure looks like it is going to be a pain.

    BTW Thanks for the link!

  11. Well Green, I think I got all of your candy bags - 4 bags in a row, I had the achievement after a bag and a half.

    Lucky that you had the roses from last year - I read up on the event ahead of time on WoW Insider, and was excited to see that I could solo or duo a lvl 60 dungeon for the red boquet of roses. Later (before I got around to slogging my way through Strat or somesuch) I found out that Blizz pulled the roses from the easy dungeons and put them in the high level ones. Got one black dress, and luckily had the perma-peddle from last year.

    I understand making it so some of the seasonal events require level 80, groups, etc. but as a slow leveling soloer, I was looking forward to this event as one of the few that I might be able to complete.

    Locking truly casual players out of the met-achievement? Annoying, but I understand. Being locked out of a Valentine's Day title? Stupid. As far as I know, there's no "lore" reason requiring level 80, cold weather flying, instance groups, etc.

  12. Candy hearts is the worst holiday achievement I've seen so far, but I started with the Father Winter event.

    Children's Week and Brew of the Month look to be equally idiotic.

    I'm fine with things like Skadi's mount (or ZG tiger, Attumen's, Baron's, etc.) being extremely rare. Fine, it's just a mount.

    But they came up with a year-long quest to (obviously) try to keep people constantly subscribed, and then added total randomness. Jeez, they could have just given people a mount (we're doing this for just a mount, just one!) for being subscribed for a full year.

    It is really terrible design. It isn't based around fun, and it's not even intelligently based around retention. Yeah, you'll retain some people; but once they fail one holiday after succeeding at four in a row, they may unsubscribe.

    It only helps keep people subscribed if they GET the achievement, Blizz. It's frightening that they don't understand that.



Comments on posts older than 14 days are moderated and will not appear until manually approved because the overwhelming majority of such comments are spam. Anonymous commenting has unfortunately been disabled due to the sheer volume of comments that are defeating Google's spam filter.