Blizzpoints

By Alec Meer on August 4th, 2008 at 10:56 am.

High-scores are adaptive creatures. They diminished in importance for a while, back when arcades were dwindling but home consoles/computers were isolated, offline devices, but with the rise and rise of broadband reinstating gaming’s social heritage, folks’ odd obsession with proving themselves more skilled than friends and strangers has come back with a vengeance.

So it’s no surprise that Blizzard, who are either the Apple or Microsoft of gaming depending on how you look at it, would get in on gamerscore mania.

There were already rumours that WoW: Wrath of the Lich King would include an Achievement system, but it turns out it’s wider than that. Achievements will be tracked across WoTLK, Starcraft II and Diablo III, and pooled into an overall Blizzard account.

Why? For the same reason as MS Gamerpoints or Steam Achievements (unlockables aside) – willy-waving. Blizzard seem to think they can make something a bit more out of it, however – “Rather than call it a ‘score’, we just wanted it to be like you’re levelling up on Blizzard games”, WoW lead Jeff Kaplan told MTV.

Which begs the question of if and when all these different splinter cells of gamer scores will become too numerous. Can a player maintain his level of interest in the intangible number attached to his name if he’s also working on three or four others at the same time?

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43 Comments »

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  1. Noc says:

    I’m going to chose to believe that that screenshot up there is legitimate and not Photoshopped at all. Because it’s better that way.

  2. Dan (WR) says:

    Achieve Blizzpoints! Amaze the friends and neighbours who never see you! Win fabulous prizes! Including

    Deep Vein Thrombosis!
    Obesity!
    Aaaaand…. Piles!

    In fairness, I don’t mind achievements as long as they’re not completely unreasonable, and they unlock something tangible in-game. Let’s hope it’s not all about todger comparison.

  3. DosFreak says:

    As long as I can turn them off so that I don’t see them I don’t mind them being in the game.

    /Doesn’t care about achievements.
    /Doesn’t need them.
    /Needs good gameplay.

  4. Jimbo says:

    “we just wanted it to be like you’re levelling up on Blizzard games”

    WOW I’M SOLD!!!

  5. rocketman71 says:

    God, I’m getting so tired of seeing achievements everywhere. Completing the game is achievement enough for me, and I certainly don’t need a badge to show my friends.

    As long as you don’t need them to get everything in the game, it’s OK with me, though.

  6. Flint says:

    I’m just happy more games are bringing out achievements. I don’t even care about the e-penis factor, I just love collectibles and achievements are a fun kind of collectible.

  7. Ian says:

    Achievements to me seem to be little more than an excuse for people with too much time to kill to grind through elements of games that obviously aren’t fun enough to replay without some carrot on a stick dangling next to them.

  8. Aftershock says:

    I want someone to come up with a unified system.. where you put in your steam username, your gamertag, and your battlenet2 thingummo, and it poops out a tag or something that has all three in it. That would be awesome.

  9. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    While I don’t give much of a toss about achievements, I’m just wondering what this means for those who do. A global score that tracks downs your achievements in multiple games by the same company seems like it could be a nice start… But for what? Other than this e-willy (wall-e’s evil twin?) business, it remains pretty ho hum.

    Unless they’re planning to do something else with it on the long run.

  10. Dinger says:

    Out of curiosity, I checked the HL2:EP2 achievements of a random sample of Steam users (well, okay, the five people in the RPS chatroom at the time). Of those, one had gotten _every single achievement_ out there. The others had merely gotten the “incidental” ones that would be picked up while finishing the game (Well, okay, I confess to having got [i]Little Rocket Man[/i] too, but more on that later).

    Some “achievements” are grind-tastic (“Matter over Mind”), but many derive from “challenges” that have been going on forever: timed runs, win Doom using only hand-to-hand weapons, whatever. Heck, just look at some Oblivion sites that give a whole list of silly things to do (“Never been in a Riot” achievement: use magic to cause 15 townspeople to kill or to knock each other unconscious with ten minutes) Only now, the game “authenticates” it just as it “authenticates” winning the game with a “win” message.
    Besides, when some pyro charges into a scrum, pulls a shotgun-taunt and kills someone, everyone in the game should know.

    So, sure “completing the game is achievement enough” just as “meeting the challenge is achievement enough.” But we all appreciate a message from the computer confirming that we have completed the game, or met the challenge.
    Show off achievements? I suppose that has value for some males, aged 16-20.

  11. The Hammer says:

    Well, the achievements in WoW are going to result in getting tabards, vanity pets, and lots of other cosmetic items. Presumably it’ll be the same with Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3, although for the former, I’m wondering how such cosmetics could be implemented.

  12. Dexton says:

    I am quite happy for aesthetic achievements, a new cloak, new colour for your rifle, a flag or a hat or something. It’s harmless fun.

    I am against things that influence the gameplay itself or give advantages to people that spent more time grinding on a particular game. I hate the idea that you are forced to grind for hours to get an achievement of some kind so that you can compete on an equal level, that has long been one of the biggest problems with mmorpgs and I would hate to see it extend to all mmo games.

  13. Mr_Day says:

    Ah, achievements. My secret pleasure, the reason I buy multiformat games on the 360. My guilty sin, how I love them so.

    Sadly, most achievements…well, aren’t. You completed the tutorial! Have an achievement! Why? How is that an achievement? It’s a requirement to play the game.

    You finished level 3! Go you! Have an achievement. Why? Again, not really that big a deal, is it?

    Rocket man? Now that is an ahievement. Maybe a bit over-board, I don’t know. But achievements should be for seemingly difficult feats of awesome. Or maybe just doing something totally wild.

    You got yourself killed in the tutorial? Now that is an achievement I want. They could call it “Wow. That. That is. Good lord, how did you even do that? We made you invincible and everything.”

  14. Harry says:

    Haha, mr. Day. I’d have totally pushed for having that in my game :)

  15. James G says:

    I think achievements are worthwhile when they present an interesting challenge, or a new way of playing. Thus, as Dinger mentioned, ‘Little Rocket Man’ is an example of what achievements can, erm, achieve if applied correctly, whereas ‘Get some grub’ is just a lesson in frustration.

    Meanwhile, high-scores are most fun when you are competing with people of a similar skill level. Being told you are 126292th out of 592188 isn’t very interesting. but getting one over your best mate, and being able to rub it in, is much more entertaining. (Especially if it is followed by them regaining the lead a day or two later.) I had some great times with family when competing over high scores to games like Tetris, Bloobs (Puzzle Bobble) and Squigs (Columns).

  16. Ragnar says:

    It would be *much* better if achievements were ties to the game world. Say that there is an achievement of using your environment to kill your enemies instead of with guns directly, then people in the game (such as Alyx in Hl2) should comment on how clever you are, instead of just being a screen with stupid achievements to be had.

  17. CrashT says:

    Is this the start of some Blizzard ARG, where you have to Level Up in Blizzard games in order improve your “character”?

  18. Yhancik says:

    I’d rather have a game that lets me achieve any crazy idea I’d have (like… I dunno, can I re-enact Weekend at Bernie’s in GTA4 ?). The Rocket man was a funny idea, but it should be just one idea among 9000 other ones. We shouldn’t need something as artificial as achievements to have us trying silly challenges and “new way of playing”.
    The game should be designed in a way that motivates us to find creative solutions (or even.. problems…).
    And we’d need “something” that would allow players to easily share their creative experiences with a game.

  19. EyeMessiah says:

    Meh. I hate leveling! My “character” is just fine. If games companies don’t stop mistaking tabletop RPG’s least imaginative innovations for fun gaming mechanics I am going to seriously consider reading books instead.

  20. Turin Turambar says:

    “we just wanted it to be like you’re levelling up on Blizzard games”

    Really? That’s just… really??? I am levelling up on Blizzard games? I am like, a level 3 bizzard fan, so i HAVE to get their next game and play it to death to level up to 4?

  21. andy says:

    whatever, if it gives someone wood, all the more power to them. i’ll continue to ignore the shit like i do on the 360/psn/etc.

  22. Michael says:

    I’m not against achievements. It’s not like we already don’t have them in many games, even as they are not called this.

    An achievement is something that you worked hard on and… well, achieved. Downing Ragnaros was an achievement. Beating Deus Ex without killing anyone was an achievement.

    If we get points for it – nice. If we don’t we still know we did it. And if you are into bragging – you can still brag.

    Likewise, if you can buy cool things with your points (like a title) then so much the better.

  23. cyrenic says:

    Attaching a score to the achievements is where things go bad. Steam achievements don’t do this, and Steam actually has interesting achievements (OMGWTFBBQ, etc.)

    This quote makes me think they’re going about this all the wrong ways:

    “Your ‘WoW’ score would be just one factor that will go into your Blizzard Level. And rather than call it a ’score,’ we just wanted it to be like you’re leveling up on Blizzard games… You’ll have this Blizzard identity, and you’ll be able to see things like ‘Oh, this guy was great at Diablo III, but he never played Starcraft and he was mediocre in WoW.’ That sort of thing.”

    “Leveling up on blizzard games” has already been thoroughly trashed here, and the assumption you can tell if someone was mediocre at a game from their “Blizzard Score” is just as ridiculous.

    Reading this announcement has dampened my enthusiasm about Starcraft II.

  24. Ginger Yellow says:

    I don’t really care about the score aspect of achievements. I like the, you know, achievement aspect.

  25. RichPowers says:

    I play games for fun; leave the achievement whoring to WoW, please. (This goes for TF2 as well.)

    *sighs*

    (Then again, if you can turn them off and ignore them, I really can’t complain.)

  26. Dorath says:

    Everything old is new again. I can recall back when Sierra adventure games had scores. While I’d get a bit miffed that I could win a game with only 60-70% of the max score, I didn’t really care then and I’m not going to care now.

  27. yutt says:

    The RPS community is amusing. I assume, at least some of you are fans of video games, particularly PC games, yet you seem to continually complain about everything.

    I guess enjoying your hobbies went out of vogue, so now we have to find new ways to collectively agree our hobbies are pointless, and the people that design, refine, and improve them are idiots.

    I rarely try for achievements unless they have a direct reward; I also never played Centipede to get the Hi Score. However, I can’t for the life of me understand how anyone could complain about these features.

  28. Michael says:

    Everything old is new again. I can recall back when Sierra adventure games had scores. While I’d get a bit miffed that I could win a game with only 60-70% of the max score, I didn’t really care then and I’m not going to care now.

    Quoted For Truth.

  29. Funky Badger says:

    Killing Underwater Weapon without using Knights of the Round. There’s an achievement for you. A pointless, exasperating achievement, but an achievement nontheless.

  30. Dr_demento says:

    Being a committed 360 player *dodges bouncers* I have to point out that, if handled properly, Achievements can be absolutely phenomenal. As evidence I cite one of the top five games of 2007: Crackdown. The gameplay was superb, the co-op too, but the Achievements were a textbook example of what Achievements ought to be, e.g. Body Armor (nail five gang members to a car with the harpoon gun, then drive around in it yelling “Reavers!” [optional]) and Global Impact (kill 30 people by throwing a five-foot brass globe at them while yelling Idlewild lyrics [optional]).

    On the other hand, games like BioShock had terrible, terrible Achievements; every single one was just “Killed person X” or “upgraded all guns” or “invented all tonics”.

    Achievements should:
    – Be something you mightn’t otherwise do
    – Be hella fun to get, i.e. NOT MMO-STYLE GRINDING
    – Not be boring, useless markers of progress
    – Inspire you to try new methods, routes etc.

    HL2 (on the 360, at least) had good ‘cheevmunts, as did Halo 3, although both had the one-per-level-pat-on-the-head issue.

  31. Arnulf says:

    I want glasses that while I’m wearing them show me the screen names of people on the streets with gamerscores attached.

    Science Fiction?

  32. Taxman says:

    I’m rather indifferent to achievements so I don’t go out of my to get them except for one case.

    Insomniac Games & Naughty Dog (Sony only studios) as far as I know came up with proto-achievements back on the PS2 but called them skill points & gave you extras such as cheats, game art, how it was made etc as a reward.

    That always spurred me on to get them as there was an actual reward instead of just inflating a score or just collect them all which seems to be the trend of achievements now. I wish other games would take a page out of their book.

  33. El Stevo says:

    I remember reading about achievements back before the 360 came out and thinking it was a cool idea. Then I got a 360 and it turns out I don’t give a shit.

  34. malkav11 says:

    I like achievements, but this seems pointless. The part of achievements that I dig is having a bunch of little merit badge type things in a central location so that I can look back at my accomplishments with pride. Also, gamerscore is amusing. But when the achievements *don’t* feed back into a central tracker (or do in this case, but a separate central tracker than most of my games), then it loses those aspects. I only bother with Mass Effect PC’s totally untracked, unconnected achievements because they have tangible in-game effects like unlocking weaponry in the shop and giving additional experience. Having stats on three games (one of which I stopped playing long ago) isn’t much of an improvement. Maybe they’ll partner up with Valve sometime and link these into Steam? Please?

    This, incidentally, is why I don’t feel like achievements work on PC – they’re a brilliant idea on 360, but that’s because Microsoft can and did mandate their inclusion in every single game on the platform, with a central tracker and thorough integration. The next best thing on PC (minus the three or four games that use GfW Live) is Steam – and as far as I know the only games that use Steam achievements to date are a) Valve’s own Orange Box games (so far discounting HL2 and Episode One, despite those games having achievements on 360 that could be transferred quite easily), and b) a handful of indie games like Audiosurf and Penny Arcade Adventures. Not exactly comprehensive even over the limited selection of games that use Steam as a platform.

  35. DosFreak says:

    To the above poster wanting to know why people complain about achievements:

    I don’t know about anyone else but for me I don’t want achievements in my games because I don’t care about them. I don’t want to have any notification of any lame ass achievements in my game. If I can turn them off then fine I’m okay with that. If I can’t then I’m not going to buy your game. It’s like advertisements. I don’t watch advertisements. I’ve mocked them since I was 6 and continue to do so to this day.

    It’s the same thing with DRM/Securom/selling overheating GPU’s (GTX 280). If I don’t like it and if I can’t do anything about it them I’m not going to buy it.

    Diablo isn’t really much of a game anyway unless you like clickfests and with it being W3ed/WOWED it probably won’t be worth playing. I guess we’ll see when it comes out.

  36. RichPowers says:

    I can ignore regular ol’ achievements. Achievements tied to unlockable weapons, especially in FPS’s like Battlefield 2 and Team Fortress 2, annoy me endlessly. If Blizzpoints are entirely cosmetic (“here’s a new shiny avatar to show off on the forums!!!111″), fine, but I’d hate to access to content contingent on killing X creatures using attack Y in Z seconds.

  37. mister slim says:

    I’m torn. Do I play World of Blizzard or World of World of Warcraft?

  38. CryingMinotaur says:

    Although many people seem to genuinely enjoy them, in many cases I find achievements to be an unnecessary external motivator that distract from the immersion and fun of the game (see this for an explanation of what I mean http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overjustification)

    I just want to be able to play my game in peace without having to worry about pulling off some statistically near-impossible feat or ridiculous grindathlon. Try going back and picture a classic like Deus Ex or Half-Life with achievements: for example, a counter displaying how many headcrabs I managed to kill with the crowbar seems stupid and inconsistent with the overall concept of total immersion Half-Life was striving for. Just doesn’t feel right, if you ask me.

    Btw, while on the topic of Blizzard, here’s what Diablo III’s lead designer had to say about those pesky fan-altered screenshots: http://multiplayerblog.mtv.com/2008/08/04/diablo-iii-designer-turns-tables/

  39. Konky Dong 2: Apocalypse says:

    I’m in the WotLK beta and I have to say that the achievemetns feel really tacked on. I was hoping they would be integrated better within the game (maybe something like LotRO’s Deed system) but they’re ripped wholesale from XBL.

    It’s sad because WoW was already a giant achievement machine. Achievements you can show off to your friends and peers (taking the form of loot and items) is what the entire game is based on. The new XBL achievement system is just kind of limp.

  40. UncleLou says:

    Worked well in Mythos, where achievements would allow you to gain some minor improvements, adding an additional layer of character customisation (build-wise, not visually).

    Meh. I hate leveling! My “character” is just fine. If games companies don’t stop mistaking tabletop RPG’s least imaginative innovation

    Seeing how the levelling and character building process is generally seen as one of the most fun aspects of the genre, maybe you should consider playing something different? Or read a few books indeed, that can’t hurt ;-)

  41. alphaxion says:

    well, it’s not a rumour they are in WotLK and they involve some really inane things – almost as though they’re pisstakes out of the whole thing.

    You have “furthest you have fallen without dieing” or “you have hugged X amount of people” and “you have said lol x amount of times” plus grindy ones like “you have completed 100,000 quests”.

    I would prefer if many of the achievements are simply absurd things that you’d only try to get when pissed… might give a game a new breath of life.

    achievement unlocked, aggro whore: you have aggro’d the entire map!

  42. malkav11 says:

    CryingMinotaur – for the most part, you *can* ignore ridiculous or grindy achievements. There are only two circumstances I can think of where you arguably might not be able to – if the achievement gave you some important benefit in game (like how the TF2 medic achievements used to work), or if the achievement were an automatic reward for completing some ridiculous or grindy part of the game that was required to move forwards. I’m for in-game rewards for achievements (they work splendidly in Mass Effect), but I would agree that those sorts of achievements are wrong for a reward system (unless you’re simply trying to provide rewards for long-term play, like City of Heroes’ veterancy program). And if the game requires that sort of thing just to progress, and you don’t want to do it, then obviously that’s the wrong game for you.

  43. Hermit says:

    Eventually, someone is going to come up with a “Metascore” website, which will take all your 360 and GFWL achievements, PS3 trophies, Steam Achievements, Greenhouse Achievements, Blizzpoints, etc and then turn them all into one single number for ultimate e-peen battling.