23 December 2017

The Guild Wars 2 Achievement Leaderboard Issue

Achievement points. Guild Wars 2 is all about it. At least if you care for achievements and account bonuses and other stuff you get for your achievement points. That's not everything. There's a whole different layer on this. If something has a leaderboard it's kinda like a tournament. It doesn't have to be Player vs Player.

Meaning of Leaderboards

Leaderboards It's a game element. People who have read into Gamification know a little about these. If you sort game elements by the intrinsic needs, leaderboards would be part of Competence. Competence is a category that includes elements, that give people the feeling of having done something, the feeling of having mastered a challenge, the feeling of having gotten better, the feeling of improvement. And how do leaderboards achieve this?

Leaderboards - How They Work

What is a leaderboard? Actually, it's just a list of names - the players or participants - sorted by their rating. Ascending in numbers or places. This means if a person is on the top of the first place, they're logically better than everyone else. If someone would be at the last place they're the worst in the category. If a person is worse than another they may feel bad and give up on this category. However, some people take this as inspiration and motivation to keep on working to get better and climb the leaderboard.

ArenaNet Did It Good

If someone is nearly last it is extremely demotivational. Especially if all people can see and know that said person is near to last. This problem can be solved and ArenaNet did it right. Limiting only the top 1000 to be publicly viewable and showing the people themselves who are not in the top 1000 that they're better than x% of everyone is a good way to keep people motivated. This way you can eliminate the negatives without affecting the positives too much. No one can say who is last and everyone can say they're better than a group of people.

Where ArenaNet Failed

Now, this is not a direct problem in their leaderboard system or a severe mistake that cannot be fixed but still, it's something that should be addressed at some point. Now to have a meaningful leaderboard it should allow people to be able to climb up to the first place. Anything else wouldn't be fair and exactly here lies the problem with the Achievement Point Leaderboard of Guild Wars 2. Overall those 5 years or more Guild Wars 2 has had some special events that gave achievement points. Wintersday, Halloween, New Year, some unique events like the Zephyr Sanctum or the Living World Season 1. All these special events gave achievement points that are no longer available in the game. Same with the abandoned achievements. They still award achievement points to those who have completed them but they were removed from the game. I am missing around 900-1000 achievement points that are now unattainable. Others will require a lot more. This handicap makes it hard to compete with other players.

Well Some Repeat, Right?

Yes, some special events repeat and you get more and more achievement points. The problem here, however, is that the people who've been playing longer might also still play these events. As long those people do that it's a fight for playing and a fight for who started first instead of a fight of competence.

My Solution

I don't like addressing problems without a solution and my first solution got already discarded. The problem in the old one was that the removed achievements that took more work weren't treated fairly.

This new solution does not change the achievement points on people at all. The idea is to change the leaderboard. All achievements that are removed, retired or do not reappear are listed in history except for reoccurring achievements like from the Super Adventure Box for example. The API knows this. If you could flag or move reoccurring achievements into their own category you could calculate how many attainable achievements the player has completed. Then you can sort the players by this descending and get your leaderboard that is fair for everyone and unbiased as well.

If people still want their "I was first". Diablo III has a system where it saves the date when the achievements were done. I guess you could argue to bring in something like this but that's not something I strive for.

The idea is to reward someone who is just as hard-working or works much harder than someone who started earlier but works just as much as they need to keep their spot.
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I'm a junior game developer and software developer and I created this blog to share my ideas, thoughts and whatever I'm working on or doing.