PvE, PvP and Achievements, oh my!

Let’s look at a simple mathematical formula.

PvE + (PvP + Achievement) = Drama

Okay, so it’s a silly formula. But I want to use it to illustrate a point.

At the moment there is a lot of unhappiness going around within the game because there are players that love PvP resentful of PvE players, and there are players that love PvE resentful of PvP players.

All of it is coming from friction between the two cultures over Achievements.

At it’s heart, this does come from a core design of World of Warcraft.

WoW consists of two seperate, distinct cultures; PvE and PvP. 

WoW seems to be two seperate games in one.

Players of the game may truly love both aspects of WoW equally, but within the rules of the game, they are handled and managed seperately.

You often hear about transforming behavior and motivating people through leading by example. In this case, the example we all follow is how PvE and PvP are set up, and the ways they are intentionally kept seperate (but where possible, equal).

What do I mean about seperate cultures by design? My point of view on this is directly relevant to my final point, so I’d like to explain.

In PvE, Player vs Environment, what is the goal?

The goal of PvE is to overcome challenges against AI controlled NPCs by working cooperatively with other players as part of a coordinated team.

In PvE raid design, no single person is of greater importance than another, because victory is not complete until the entire team successfully defeats the challenge. 

The player with the highest healing or damage on meters does not get bonus Emblems, gold or items. There is no MVP recognized by the game. Group wipe? Then group fail.

In PvE, the only true measure of success that makes world first headlines is “Boss downed”. When that boss is downed, it is the team that gets the well-deserved credit. All else is chest beating irrelevance.

Focused fire on a single target, coordinated movement out of AoE effects while maintaining unit seperation, synchronized tanking/taunting/kiting to handle adds and spawns or stacking debuffs, heals with multiple cleansing/CCing/debuffing duties, etc. Teamwork and prior proper planning to prevent piss poor performance.

What about PvP (Player vs Player)? How is it any different?

In PvP, it’s all about personal excellence against other living, thinking, reacting and planning opponents.

Real people, fighting against each other and using every trick they can think of, all in a fluid combat environment that requires various Battlefield objectives be met for faction victory.

But whether or not your faction reigns supreme, the focus is entirely on personal accomplishments, on excellence in playing your own character as an individual.

The line may seem to get blurred a bit, because overall success or failure within the Battleground hinges on how many players to a side both kicked individual ass AND were able to work together towards these Battlefield objectives.

At the end of the battle, however, it’s not just win or lose for a side. No, in a PvP Battleground, there is a Leaderboard that pops up which breaks the results of the entire battle down into individual accomplishments.

The leaderboard does show information that relates to team play. Who captured or assaulted flags or towers, etc. But all of the information, including numbers of honorable kills, is clearly presented, by intentional design, to single out and recognize excellence in individual effort. To put things in a “MVP” perspective.

Contrasting the two.

Those are the core differences between PvP and PvE. The difference in emphasis on teamwork recognition versus individual excellence.

Hey, sounds pretty good, right? Having the ability to play what is, in effect, two completely different game styles, each with very deep and exciting gameplay, using the same characters, and having the same games and relaxing opportunities for soloing and exploration and questing outside of these exciting challenges.

Oh, is it time for the guild to do the ICC raid? That’s fine, just let me finish this Wintergrasp battle and I’ll switch specs and gear and be right there!

Pretty cool. Pretty awesome. Brings a lot of replay value to the table.

So, that being established, on what points are the two cultures being brought into conflict?

There have always been, to some extent, conflict between avid fans of each of the two cultures. It’s the inevitable result of HAVING two seperate cultures with such a distinct difference in direction within the same game.

What’s brought things into heightened drama this time are the existence of Achievements in game that require active participation in both PvP and PvE content, Achievements that reward participation with highly desirable items (310% Speed Flying Mounts).

In a perfect World (of Warcraft)

Right now, the way it breaks down is that there are two Meta-Achievements that reward players with Proto-Drakes;

  • What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been (From completing all World Event Achievements such as Children’s Week, Hallow’s End, Love Fool, etc for a 310% speed Violet Proto-Drake)
  • Glory of the Hero (from completing all Heroic Dungeon Achievements such as Less-Rabi, Girl Loves to Skadi All The Time, etc for a 280% speed Red Proto-Drake)

As has been pointed out in the comments, there are also two raiding-based 310% flight speed mount achievements that are not part of this discussion.

Perception is very important to this topic. 

The current perception of these two Achievements is that the Glory of the Hero Meta-Achievement is a teamwork based PvE reward, and What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been is considered a mostly solo effort PvE reward that has some PvP uncomfortably shoehorned in.

Take a step back and distance yourself from the emotion of the situation. What does “What A long Strange Trip” really do? It consistently takes you not only to various places in the traditional PvE game world, but also into Battlegrounds to complete different PvP based objectives.

“What A Long, Strange Trip” has the feel of a Meta-Achievement designed to be an all-inclusive grab bag of a little bit of everything WoW has to offer. A little solo work, a little fed-ex questing, a little searching for a lucky drop, a little PvP, a little dungeon questing, a little world exploring.

Still standing back and looking at things dispassionately?

What I’d like to see is the acknowledgement of a THIRD culture within WoW.

We have talked about PvE, and PvP, but there is now, and has always been, a third culture within the game.

The World Explorer.

They are not particularly vocal, and rarely get attention, but you either are one, or know someone who is.

World Explorers do not particularly enjoy playing in small or large groups, which is pretty much 95% of end game content.

World Explorers do not particularly enjoy intense personal combat against other real players, which is PvP.

What World Explorers DO love is playing their characters and doing their own thing in World of Warcraft itself, adventuring, questing, exploring, leveling, learning, trying new things, and often once they get to max level, they lose interest in that character and switch to a new one, simply because they do not feel drawn to end game group activities.

Three cultures, not two.

I think the Meta-Achievements, again in a perfect world, should be changed to reflect the existence of three playstyles, and to benefit players that pursue their own chosen playstyle to the ultimate limit.

Keep Glory of the Hero the same. It is an excellent example of a teamwork/PvE based Meta-Achievement. But increase the reward to being 310% flight speed. The dedication needed to accomplish this Achievement is pretty impressive.

Modify What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been to remove both dungeon and PvP aspects of the Meta-Achievement. Make it the Achievement for people that love and follow the playstyle of the World Explorer. Perhaps even tie in Loremaster and exporing all zone areas into it. Again, it should not be easy, it should represent the ultimate expression of following that cultures’ preferred playstyle. Keep it a 310% speed mount.

And then, show the PvP culture the respect they deserve by adding a brand new, completely PvP based Meta-Achievement that would reward them their own 310% speed mount. Perhaps the Ebony Proto-Drake.

Perhaps that is something Blizzard is already contemplating. I have no idea.

What I do know is that having three distinct Meta-Achievements tailored to each of three playstyle cultures makes a lot of sense to me, in direct response to the current game design, and the distinct preferences of the players involved.

So. That’s my dream for a perfect World. 

Dealing with Harsh Reality.

Now that I’m done wishing in one hand, let’s move on to dealing with reality as it is (if you can call Achievements in a virtual world “reality”).

There is a lot of stress, a lot of unhappiness and a lot of drama in the game right now. Two cultures are in direct conflict.

For the purposes of the rest of this conversation, I am going to use the accepted “PvE” and “PvP” terms for two cultures, including World Explorers in the PvE group. It is the most commonly accepted and understood framework for the game. But you know what I mean. 🙂

For people that play PvP as their preferred playstyle, a playstyle that is equally valid and should be equally as respected as the others, this week SUCKS.

There you are playing the way you like, and the game design itself is sending people into your Battlegrounds that do not want to be there, and while they don’t want to get in your way, they really want that damn proto-drake.

So, an influx of the innocent, the ignorant, the confused and above all else the hopeful, just looking to duck in and get it done and get the hell out of the way of the people that belong there.

The people within your own faction will hate to see these people on their team, and will get pissed at them for the havok they cause. But PvP players have a term for PvE players when they’re on the opposing force.

I believe they’re called “farmable kills”.

For those of us among the World Exploring and PvE crowd, the first lesson to learn is, it’s all about individual achievement in PvP. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you will get steamrolled and die.

If you decide you want revenge, then just remember everyone had to start somewhere, and everyone gets pwned at some point. Get your fire up, reach deep down and find your intestinal fortitude, and devote yourself to learning how to fight back. 

If you decide you just want to get your Achievements and be done with it though, please remember you are a visitor in someone else’s house. 

Don’t be the player that zones in, get’s what you want for yourself and then bails on the run. Whether you do get your Achievement or not, please stick it out, do your best, and along the way why not try to learn to kick ass? Or at least support the ones that do.

Think about how it feels when it happens to you. You KNOW you see people do that in raids and dungeons all the time.

As an example, you go into a VoA pug, the group does the newest boss first, and as soon as he’s down and Frost/Drops are passed out, a bunch of people instantly drop group. After all, there’s nothing for THEM in the rest of the raid instance, so why should they stay? What, to help YOU out? Get real.

Selfish? Yes. After all, they needed you there to get them their shot at what they wanted. The difference is they aren’t willing to do the same thing for you. Selfish.

You see the same thing on a smaller scale during group runs like Love is in the Air, when people needed to get Roses as a boss drop. How many times during that week did you see or hear of groups forming, the first boss in Utgardt Keep killed, Roses needed and players instantly bail on the rest of the party. 

It’s all the same thing. You don’t like people acting selfish when you are in a group to see it to the end and win, and neither do PvP focused players. They’re in there to win over the opposite faction, not sit there and swap capping Towers for 20 minutes.

I think it’s a fine testament to how polite and nice most players are, that when an Achievement week brings the ignorant flooding the Battlegrounds, a lot of PvP folks WILL drop what they’re normally doing and help.

What you need to really keep close to your heart is, you are the intruder in their turf. It’s their house. This is the part of the game THEY like.

When you visit someone else’s house, be polite, wipe your feet, don’t take a dump in their living room, and when you come for the party, even if all you wanted was free food and an open tap, you stay until it would be a polite time to leave, as in, after you get the Achievement, you stay and help KILL THE OTHER BASTARDS and win the match.

That being said, if you are a member of the PvP culture, please, I ask of you to make a few allowances this week for the clumsy and clueless that stumble into your house, drunk and dazed, looking for the bathroom, but who are perfectly willing to piss on the rug in the corner if they can’t find what they’re looking for.

I know it’s trying, and I know it’s annoying, but this is your opportunity to sucker people into thinking Battlegrounds are filled with fun people just looking for a good time, instead of the evil, malicious little bastards looking to gut yers in a dark alley like we all know you are.

Remember… “farmable kills”.

Just try and sympathize. These are people who have been working on their Meta-Achievement all year, and are already feeling stressed out at doing something totally unfamiliar. If they want to get the very, very nice reward at the end of this rainbow, they don’t have any choice but to try and complete the challenge Blizzard set. 

In conclusion… until the day when the Achievements reflect our actual interests, all we can do is try and be civil and respectful to each other, remember that we want to treat other players how we’d like to be treated, make allowances to some extent, and above all else keep in mind…

It’s only for one week, and then we can all get on with our lives.

For myself… I tried for two days to do Alterac Valley. I looked at the stress everyone felt, the anger and frustration on both sides, and I made my decision for myself.

I am no longer going to pursue “What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been”.

I’m going to mentally assign it the lable “PvP Meta-Achievement”, and I’m moving on.

I will instead set for myself the goal of completing, someday, “Glory of the Hero”, and work towards improving my teamwork and knowledge for that purely PvE related goal. Yes, even though it doesn’t reward you with a 310% speed mount as the game currently sits.

I hope that, even if you don’t agree with what I’ve said in this post, you’ll take the time to be a little more understanding during this chaos, on both sides.

None of us are out to intentionally screw up the others. It’s not personal. Give folks a chance, and they’ll be only too glad to get out of your hair.

My thanks for those folks who pointed out the inaccuracy concerning Red Proto Drake speed. It didn’t change my point at all, but leaving the mistake would have confused a whole lot of people, and I honestly did not know that.

61 thoughts on “PvE, PvP and Achievements, oh my!

  1. I COMPLETELY agree with Drew. The School of Hard Knocks is hard and takes patiences and persistance, but give me that ANYDAY rather than than Noblegarden and omg The Love Fool. I find it MUCH harder to sit in once place and click on a damn egg before someone else does than to at least ATTEMPT battle grounds. The egg stealers were out in force and so pissy.

    I don’t think anything should be changed. I think What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been is great! Sure it’s tough, but it’s great that it forces people to try different aspects of the game – as you pointed out. While there are people complaining about the pvp aspect, I think there might be some who try it and like it. I did soo many battlegrounds and PVP to gear up my bear for Kara. Now my shadow priest has 5 pieces of pvp gear just from incidental honour and badges that I had laying around. I also very happily mind controlled a horde off the cliff in AB and LOVED IT. Those spells are there to be used! I love doing new things with them.

    I have the drake on 2 toons and I am proud of myself for sticking it out and not pulling my hair out clicking on eggs or returning the flag in WSG. It can be done!


  2. I think a lot of this comes from Blizzard seeing Battlegrounds as the “starter PvP” while serious PvP is Arenas. Thus, you have achievements that reward bad battleground behavior (EoTS flag caps, etc). Note that top-ranked gladiators do get a 310 speed mount at the end of each season. Hopeful, with the release of Cataclysm and the new emphasis on battlegrounds, we’ll see better designed battleground achievements and perhaps a 310 mount available in battlegrounds. (Incidentally, note that Arena is much more team oriented; you could compare BG scoring the DPS meter pissing contests you sometimes see in PuGed heroics, less often in high-end raiding)

    I disagree with you that Glory of the Hero should get a 310 mount. It’s just not that hard, at least now that ToC gear is available from heroics. Most of the achievements can be gotten incidentally or with a minimum of extra effort along the way, and even the few that are somewhat challenging are significantly easier than even the Naxx and Ulduar metas (which no longer give 310 drakes anyway).

    I could see a 310 drake coming from heroics, but you’d need some harder heroic achievements, and to update them as gearing improves. If they’d added the new achievements from Trial of the Champion and the ICC dungeons (and made up better achievements of Pit of Saron and Halls of Reflection; both Pit of Saron ones are things you should be doing anyway, We’re Not Retreating… is a little better, but it’s only one, and it’s not much more of a time pressure than simply staying ahead of the Lich King).

    I can also see removing at least some of the dungeon and/or PvP content from What a Long Strange Trip it’s Been (though I’d like a few things, like the Headless Horseman for Hallow’s End and stealing the enemy fires for the Fire Festival, stick around), and adding some more exploration style stuff. But, IMO, non of the dungeon requirements are particularly onerous (though drop rates could be improved for some items, or changed to group loot), and (as I said above) I think Blizzard will do a better job of designing the PvP achievements in Cataclysm.


  3. Yay for nice people – having stuffed up my EotS achievement twice (once by not realising my orphan had despawned, once by forgetting that nitro boosts dropped the flag these days), I eventually got it by asking the flag carrier if I could grab it for the cap (all the horde were off fighting somewhere else, so there was no risk in handing the flag over, and we were winning 3 bases to 1, so there wasn’t a great urgency in getting the flag capped)

    AV I got lucky and ended up in a game where alliance had skipped (or simply hadn’t guarded) all the towers and charged straight for the horde end boss. I must admit I didn’t give the horde hunter guarding the tower I capped a chance to offer any trades – I noticed his pet was already mostly dead, so sent my pet dashing in to kill it and then the hunter ran away. Fortunately I got the tower cap before he came back with friends 🙂

    And AB just happened to be a really even game with heaps of bases changing hands. One stables defence, *everybody* died with the base neutral and I was the first to get back after respawns.

    So just WSG to go 🙂

    I was initially irritated by this achievement, but I’ve actually been reminded that BGs are something I enjoy and have just been neglecting.


  4. I am among those pve players who tried out pvp a little while back and found out that I actually enjoy it. It was entirely a result of introducing experience gains in battlegrounds which simultaneously removed asshat twinks from the pool of players. What this did was create an environment where most everyone in the battleground was in pve leveling gear, and otherwise comparable to you except perhaps for a level discrepancy, which is actually much more balanced an experience than going up against pvp-geared folks in a level 80 BG with pve gear, no matter how ICC-blinged out you are.

    I love love love Alterac Valley. I think it’s the closest we can get to feeling like we’re an individual unit in someone’s game of Warcraft III. If you think about it that way, it’s actually kind of a treat.

    I would just note that, if you think School of Hard Knocks is bad, you should check out some of the regular pvp achievements in the BGs. Blizzard really is just asking you to stick your toe in the proverbial pvp waters with that one. It is also the one achievement for this holiday that represents any challenge, and you have a week to accomplish it.

    I would rather do School of Hard Knocks anyday though than have to compete with other toons in my faction for spawning eggs for the ~200 chocolates or so I needed for Noblegarden again. That’s maddening. At least in a BG, if you get frustrated, you can take it out on someone. 🙂


  5. @BBB & Tinderhoof

    I think that about nails it on the head. A lot of people really REALLY want that 310 speed mount – and I know of several who are resentful towards Blizzard for tying those mounts into PVE, PVP, or the Meta Acheive. A 310 speed mount makes a significant difference when farming, and I strongly suspect that with news that the 310 will be trainable, people will relax somewhat. At least I hope so.

    Then WALSTIB gets relegated to being something for those who want to complete it, rather than something for those who feel they NEED to complete it.

    All that aside, I would love to see an ‘explorer’-esque meta BBB.

    Thanks again for the great blog.


  6. Something to note. In the up coming expantion you will be able to train 310% flying by paying (an as yet unspecified amout) gold. Once you pay it all of your mounts are 310% flying. Just like us druids have for flight form now. They have also said that 310% will be as fast as flying ever gets. So everyone is going to end up on the same level regardless of achivments. Perhaps the goal is to remove some of the friction between the play styles of (PVP, Casual, Raider).


  7. Woot for World Explorers! I’m one and have no intentions of changing anytime soon. I don’t have any special drakes (except bronze form CoS) or titles (except Explorer) and don’t feel envy for those that do.
    Kudos to anyone who is PvP or PvE masters! You go and good luck! I’m gonna stay here & level my lowbies and enjoy the game. =)


  8. Also, someone doing this in an AV tower isn’t farming kills, so far from the action they get one kill every other minute whereas if they took part in actual BG objectives, they’d easily get 10x more.


  9. Slik, I owe you an apology man…

    Been experiencing first hand how someone is just ganking opposing faction folks who are trying to help people get achievements. Most often in Alterac Valley and WSG.

    Although I got School of Hard Knocks done on my mage, I’m still going in there over and over to help out the opposing faction get theirs.

    There was a shadow priest in AV yesterday who kept killing the alliance druid who was trying to help us. We asked him to stop, and he was just laughing and getting off on the attention. So what we did was, we decided to not help him when he got attacked – sure enough, that druid came back with 3 friends and pounded him into the flagstones while we all just sat around.

    Another disappointing thing I saw was this gnome mage helping out this horde pally get an achievement, as soon as he got his cap, he turned around and killed her. It really got to me… yeah its PVP, but ganking someone who just helped you get your achievement done is really low.

    I’m really enjoying PVP, but ganking people who are helping others isn’t PVP, its just a basement dweller feeling powerful for once in their miserable life.


  10. I have done the long strange trip. I have the drake. I did not do it alone. My son did the pvp portion of Children’s Week. Without his help would I not have the drake, nope no chance. Did I hear a why? O well I will tell you anyway. I hate getting yelled at for using my spec to the best of my ability. In the randomly assembled groups in the WG, EOE, there is often someone or a few who believe you are their bitch and our side would win if only you did it my way. To be fair they are probably right. They care very deeply about winning, it is not a game it is a reason for existance. But seeing YO DROOD NOOB START HEALING OR GET OUT does not make me feel a part of the group. I have been pew pewing a balance spec since lvl 50 two years ago. I am good at it. The last time I healed I let a group die to Crackler twice, and then the group broke up. Call me a quitter if you want but that was it for healing on my Druid. I don’t have time to learn strats for all the specs.
    I will never do the strange trip again. I will get Veteran Nanny on multiple characters. I do like Wintergrasp go figure, I also like AV, most likely I add to the opposition kill count but love the cannons and siege engines and wading into the scrum and hurting the opposition as much as possible. But I am an explorer at heart through and through with large battleground tendencies.


  11. It’s not the players on the opposing faction who make it hard for people to get this achievement, it’s the douchebags on your own side who go out of their way to screw you over just because they can. Often you see the enemy team trying to help you get it done. I was in an Alterac Valley game where the Frostwolf Towers must have changed hands 20 times in a minute thanks to a very helpful Blood Elf warlock until some Alliance douchebag came running down all the way from the Field of Strife where he was ganking guys crossing with orphans just to kill her purely and simply because he’d seen in BG chat that she was helping people get their achievement.

    In WSG a troll mage walked into the Alliance Flag Room , asked everyone to /wait, /waved at us all and walked over to our Flag, only to get annihilated by a douchebag Rogue and Warrior, who then proceeded to spam chat with “LOL FU CAREBARE NOOBS”. Would it have killed them to let her cap the flag before unloading on her? No, they did it just to screw us over. They did this for the entire game, on the rare occasion that the Horde managed to actually get our Flag, thee two douches always made sure they were the ones who returned it.

    These are by no means isolated incidents. The problem is that Battlegrounds are where douchebags live when they’re not spamming trade chat with Dirge and Anal “jokes”. Here’s something you’ve never seen: On Shade of Aran in Kara, someone spots a Flame Wreath and deliberately runs into it, jumping on the spot laughing and shouting “LOLOLOLOL FU NOOBS!” while he wipes the raid. You see crap like this every single time you’re in a Battlegorund.

    The way to get this done is to work together. Get your Guild Main Tank with 60k health to cap the flag for you in Eye of the Storm and bring it back to a base before dropping it so you can pick it up and cap it. Take turns with your friends clearing nodes in Arathi Basin and capping them. In WSG, see if the opposing team are feeling co-operative by sending your 60k health MT and a healer over to their Flag room, /waving, capping and dropping their flag a few times to let their own achievement hunters get it done. It really does work.


Comments are closed.