Of Achievements and Personal Landmarks

So today I’m going to write about achievements, not Xbox achievements, PS3 trophies or the one billion and two other variations on the now immensely popular system. I’m going to write about moments I really remember as special in my gaming history, of course some of those are marked by achievements from whatever system but some aren’t.

Mostly popularised by the current generation of consoles, achievements or trophies on Playstation 3 reward the player points that are added to a total on the user’s profile. For an idea that technically required minimal work it has proven to be one of the most popular additions to modern gaming. They have been criticised as a simple way to extend a games playtime and lauded as an innovative addition.

I personally think they’re a fantastic idea, if done correctly. Some stand out games like Crackdown had excellently designed achievements that encouraged you to play around with the physics engine. On the other hand, some games have suffered from lazy design and often utilise the “Oh you finished a mission, here have a shiny” philosophy, yet for some (myself included) shiny items are more than enough motivation.

Totally a chocobo

A recent example, I’ve been playing World of Warcraft for a fair few years (and yet still managed to go outside and have girlfriends! Take that stereotypes!) and well, if you play the game you should be aware of the number of rare mounts that can drop from certain bosses, don’t get excited it’s not like I got Mimiron’s Head or something. One of these mounts is the Swift White Hawkstrider.

Doesn’t sound impressive? Ok, this thing is a Chocobo, hands down, it’s a white Chocobo. Now I’m far from being a Final Fantasy fanboy, FF7 is not my be all and end all of gaming but I can appreciate a good game. As such I have been farming good old Kael’Thas Sunstrider and pillaging his terrace (man that sounds wrong) on a daily basis for over a year.

Lets break this down, the item has a 2-4% chance to drop from a boss kill and you can only do it once per day. I’ll refrain from going into the maths but it would require roughly 342 attempts to greatly stack the odds in your favour (99.9%). I clearly have rotten luck because I’m pretty sure it took me longer than that but it does give you some insight into the rarity of the item.

So last week it finally dropped, after countless attempts I bagged myself an awesome white chocobo, err I mean Swift White Hawkstrider. Still haven’t got one of those damn Orbs though. In essence this is a lazily designed achievement, something based on a random number generator with a limited amount of tries, if this only awarded me points I would have given up long ago, but dangle a shiny white chocobo in front of me and I’ll go for gold.

Outside of Azeroth one of my fondest memories of Xbox360 gaming has to be getting Zombie Genocider on Dead Rising. For those who haven’t played the game the achievement requires you to kill 53,594 zombies (conveniently also the population of the town) and then finish the game. When going for that number of kills it quickly becomes apparent that running around the mall really isn’t going to cut it so after some research and a bit of cunning we decided to hit the tunnels under the mall and rack up the kills by running zombies over. Getting to 53k still took us most of the day playing in shifts but it is genuinely something I will remember for a long time.

Frank West - world champion ninja reporter 2009

Bear with me here, because its about to look like I contradict myself a little. Zombie Genocider is my favourite example of a well designed achievement. For no more motivation than some gamerscore and the mad bloodlust that can only be sated by a zombie killing extravaganza* I willingly sat for a whole day and worked out a strategy that would allow us to pull it off with enough time to get to the helicopter at the games end.

So I turn it over to you commenters, what are you proud of pulling off in game? Got some killer stories about amazing CoD kill streaks? Or are you in a bleeding edge progression guild with Heroic Ragnaros on weekly farm?

*Yes, I know you get the Real Mega Buster for the achievement too but having something so powerful took a lot of the fun out of the game for me so I didn’t use it after the initial ‘new toy’ period.