There are no achievements in Vanilla WoW, obviously, as the system wasn’t implemented until much later. But having played both before and during the achievement period, it is interesting to go back to the game when the achievement system was not in place. I have always considered the achievement system to be one of firmly tieing players down into the role of a mouse on a never-ending treadmill. No thought is required – achievement will pop up for doing some banal act, which is of itself completely the opposite of what I would consider an actual achievement to be, and this then sends the player off on a mindless merry-go-round to collect more of the same achievements, usually for no better goal than having a title above their head that should read, “Not only do I have no life or brain but I have no awareness of either.”

But then I considered the early quest system. I mean, is this much better? Isn’t this more of the same, the mindless running-around for not very much which is merely designed to keep us busy? Actually I think it is different in a variety of ways. Firstly there are tangible rewards, experience, gold and gear, as well as reputation with different factions which enable you to purchase other gear. So there is a tangible benefit. Also, a lot of these early quest lines are very good indeed. I’m presently involved in the old hunt for that nasty Stavlan fellow. It’s a nice atmospheric detective story which is keeping me nicely entertained even the second time around. Admittedly quite a few of the Vanilla quests are downright terrible, the pages of Stranglethorn Vale anyone? And a good many are simply kill a certain number of floozles. But they create a foundation of meaning in the world with which the player can do as they please. Which is in of itself a choice. You can choose to take a quest or you can choose that it is not for you, for whatever reason. Maybe you don’t like that style of quest, maybe you don’t want to go to that area, maybe you hate quests in general and will only do one for a specific piece of gear.

Achievements leave you no choice, at least as far as I can remember. You’re running through a zone and BAM! – achievement simply for wandering through a zone, aren’t you great???? Well, actually no, I think that this is facile and condescending and a pile of doggy-poo, but I have no choice in the matter. I must participate in this system and the more I am forced to do so the more infuriated I become. Much much worse is when I inadvertently find myself willingly participating in the mindless madness. For the achievement system is simply a cheap and unimaginative way of disguising the fact that the game designers are not prepared to put much more effort into the world. The rationale is to keep the players running around, nice and busy, on the mindless spinning-wheel so they don’t notice that the designers are not doing really that much that’s inspiring any more.

It is so nice to play in a world with no achievements. The only achievement here is are you any good at playing your class and that has to be earned the hard way. And more importantly, with some modicum of effort. Achievements are the MMO gaming version of political correctness; every child has to get a ribbon for running in the race. Which pretty soon makes all ribbons worthless except to the truly deluded. Which is most of you. So go back to your achievements, why do I care anyway?

Barely has Noblegarden finished than Childrens week is upon us. This involves hardy adventurers showing poor orphans the sights of the world. Which means dragging little kids into places of death and making them watch. Awesome. The WoW site discribes the event as a chance for the heroes of the world to give something back to the victims of war, the orphans.

But lets just take a moment to think about this for a moment … [thinking face]

I will ponder only the Alliance side of this as I am unfamiliar with the Horde equivalent. Being an orphan means that your mummy and daddy have died. And being Warcraft we can suppose that they died in horrible ways. Who, perchance, could have been the horrible people to kill these poor orphans parents?

Well, probably you and me if we’re honest about it. Take a step outside Stormwind and the first things to kill are Defias Brotherhood members, all of whom happen to be human and around the age of having a couple of kids. I always like the way the women die, leaning over on their side while emitting a plaintive sigh. And she died just cause I was running through the area to get a copper node and couldn’t be bothered avoiding her. Or even better, I just got a tasty mace drop in Naxx but I’ve never leveled the weapon skill. So I go and practice using my weapon on poor defias lowbies to get quick skill-ups.

So you could take your orphan on a little murder tour.

“So, little Bobby, this is where I killed your mommy. She was in this field here, standing by this wagon over here …”
“Why was she standing next to the wagon?”
“I have no idea. Anyway, she was just there standing around … actually, come to think of it she was just walking back and forth over the same patch of ground with a bunch of other defias. And I was running through the area to get to the Deadmines you see, and as I ran past she said, ‘Ah-Ha!’, like really loud, bro. So I had to kill all of them, which I did. See, if you look here you can still see some blood, I think. If I remember correctly I got some wool cloth off her, which was cool as wool is worth heaps on the auction house right now.”
“But … did she say something when she died?”
“No, just the usual plaintive sigh. Anyway, moving over here, your dad was a mage, right?”
“I think so …”
“Worked for the Defias as well, yeah?”
“That’s what Uncle Bob said.”
“Oh yeah, Uncle Bob, yeah we’re getting to him. Anyway, I got your dad over here in this abandoned school in Moonbrook. He was fighting some other hero, a dwarf if I remember correctly. And your dad was doing really well, until I got him from behind. He dropped a magic ring too!”
“That was our family ring, we’ve been looking for it everywhere.”
“Oh, I disenchanted that, sorry. But I got a skill up from the mats!”
“Can we go back to Stormwind now?”
“But we’ve only just gotten started! We’ve got all your aunts and uncles to see yet.”
“Please, really, I’d just like to go home.”
“Well, okay. But go home and practice your sword-play and when you’re bigger maybe I’ll get to kill you as well! Just drop something decent, eh? Maybe a BoE recipe or something rare. There’s this cool cooking one that’s a pain in the butt to get. Could you do that for me, bro?”

To all the orphans of Stormwind. We made them, and we’ll get to cut them down when they come out to revenge their parents deaths at our bloody hands. But for now we can use them to get some more achievements! Woo.Hoo!

Tis the season for Noblegarden. Here’s me being honest with you – I don’t do holiday events. I don’t care about them, I think they’re dumb, and for me the azure proto-drake will be cause for laughing at someone for wasting so much time on a stupid enterprise. If you want to talk one of your male friends into playing WoW, whatever you do, don’t try and do this during Noblegarden week. Bunny rabbits, kissing girls in dresses, mating bunnies, finding eggs … need I say more? Although if you’re trying to talk your girlfriend into playing WoW, this would be the perfect time. For me, the only holiday event that has any coolness at all is the Brewfest week. Drinking beer! Ohla!

But I would partake in Noblegarden if it was cool. If it was risque. If it wasn’t a whole heap of lameness. Here’s some ideas to make Noblegarden awesome. Assume that these new achievements are in addition to those already set for this holiday event.

New Noblegarden Achievements.

1. Fuming Bride.

For this achievement you must smear a chocolate egg all over the lovely dress of a noblegarden bride whilst wearing a tuxedo. The dress will be ruined for 30 minutes and the player wearing the dress will not be able to un-equip it for that time.

2. Laughing Bride.

Wear a lovely wedding dress for 30 minutes without having some loser in a tuxedo smear chocolate all over it. In addition, if you manage during this time to smear chocolate over someone wearing a tuxedo, then all your stats will be buffed by 50 for one day. This effect stacks

3. We’re hunting rabbits.

Travel to the enemy factions level 5 areas and kill as many players in bunny form as you can within a 20 minute period. Number of rabbits killed awards different achievements.

10 enemy rabbits killed
20 enemy rabbits killed
50 enemy rabbits killed
100 enemy rabbits killed (awards title Elmer Fudd)

4. Killer rabbits.

A random buff from opening an egg. Changes you into what seems to be a harmless and defenseless bunny rabbit. In actual fact each of your stats have been boosted by 500. Turn on those enemy players scything through your rabbit friends and take revenge in horrible ways. Buff lasts 60 minutes.