Tome of Knowledge vs. Player AchievementsJuly 17, 2008
Well, I guess it’s official. Over a month and a half ago, I reported on a World of Warcraft beta leak in which an “Achievements” system — which eerily echoed Warhammer Online’s Tome of Knowledge — was being tested. People’s responses to the news ranged from “So what, it’s not like the Tome was original anyway” to “All Blizzard does is copy others! Bah!” to “Blizzard is just being business savvy, tacking on whatever they can to retain customers”.
So what does World of Warcraft’s “Player Achievements” system look like?
- A list of 500 achievements
- Achievements include PvP, world exploration, PvE, character development, weird stuff.
- Achievements will net players rewards, such as vanity pets, tabards and titles.
- Achievements are comparable with others.
- You can view achievements off-line as well.
Does this sound, um, just a tad familiar? Or, to put it more bluntly, a complete and total ripoff of WAR? I think so. I know I’m approaching this issue from WAR’s side, but as a previous WoW player, I’m intimately familiar with how much and often Blizzard shamelessly cribs ideas and features from its own games, other games, and even its own players (such as when player mods suddenly become integrated features). A lot of people have, and will continue to look at this as a non-issue: “So what? Players get more features in both games, win-win, no big deal. Again, it’s not like Mythic created this idea out of the blue — it’s entirely possible that both companies drew inspiration for their systems from the same sources (XBox Live, etc.).”
Bullcrap. No, really: bullcrap.
It’s not win-win, because this is Blizzard recognizing that their title has a limited shelf life and is starting to taste a little stale to its consumers — and they really will stoop to anything to keep people hooked on their product. Wrath of the Lich King isn’t about innovation at all; it’s more of the same, coupled with features that other MMOs (current and in development) have been working their hearts out on getting right. Of course Blizzard saw what WAR was doing, scratched their chin, and thought “Ayup, it’d work right good here, too.” The timing of this all is far past coincidental and into the realm of just plain insulting.
It’s not win-win, because one of WAR’s most highly-touted features now has a copycat brother who’s there to say, “Why do you want to try that game? We have whatever they do! And if not, we’ll be willing to throw it in.”
Turning it around on Mythic, hasn’t WAR taken huge cues and ideas from WoW and used it in their title? Sure. Yet despite what many people think, WAR isn’t going out of its way to copy WoW’s model, but to forge their own. The difference here is that I’m seeing Blizzard being reactive to Mythic’s features, and Mythic being proactive in creating their own without leaning hard on WoW as a template.
Agree or disagree with all of that, we as players are going to be boiling down the question into this: which will be better, the Tome or Achievements? Or better yet: what is fundamentally different between the two systems?
As far as I can tell, the biggest difference is that the Tome is integrated into the WAR experience from top to bottom, in and out; Player Achievements are a piggy-backed system long after the game has launched. On a superficial level, they both look similar — they track stats, offer up rewards, and track many of the same things. Yet Carrie and others at Mythic have talked long about how the Tome is more than just an XBox Achievements roster — it’s all about the emotion, the story, the connection to the player.
WoW’s Achievements are going to be another “to do” list, fun and polished no doubt, but not in a way that speaks to the players. I’m sure some WAR fans will approach the Tome as just another grind-worthy checklist, but when it integrates your character’s story, the lore of the surrounding area, interacts with the game and player on a meta level, and offers substantial rewards that give your gameplay an edge, it shows itself to be so much greater than another progression bar.
Of course, I’ve yet to get my hands on either system, but as despairing as this may be to some WAR fans or Mythic devs, I think it’s okay. Most players are smart enough to see through obvious company manipulation, and the ones that aren’t… well, do we want them playing WAR anyway? People see and respect quality and substance, and I’m not afraid that the Tome will win this little spat hands-down.