Friday, July 29, 2011

A Double Edged Sword

As mentioned before, I have a good number of MMORPG's installed on my desktop at this moment. Most of them I don't play, but for some reason keep installed on the computer. DDO, Age of Conan, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Warhammer Online, Guild Wars, LOTRO and Forsaken World would rank as the least played on there. The most currently are City of Heroes, World of Warcraft and Star Trek Online, which coincidentally are the ones I have active in terms of subscriptions, STO just being the 30 days I got out of the 10 dollar deal from Steam.

I like these games. The ones I don't play each have features about them I am totally in favor of. Conan's directional melee combat is fun, Guild Wars' mandatory dual-classing, DDO's...connection to D&D...actually, lemme go uninstall that now.

Regardless, each has features I appreciate. Yet I've never been able to commit to any of them to the level I have City of Heroes and WoW. These games are my home. For as long as I've played MMO's, I've had a subscription to one or the other. For some strange reason, I'd prefer to play these games when faced with a similar game. AoC, GW, Forsaken World; all those fantasy titles I can't commit to because I'm already invested in WoW. I can't get into Champions Online or DCUO because of City of Heroes.

I'd like to explore that a bit further though. I don't feel like it's a matter of laziness, such as not wanting to learn what Fate is in LOTRO (I still don't know.) or not enjoying the setting or content (Mark Hamill as the Joker? I'm game.) No, it's about making myself a new home in a place that isn't fundamentally different from my old one. I suppose it would be similar to the saying, "Why fix what isn't broken?" in that I don't want to change what I'm enjoying. I've made myself two "homes" that work perfectly fine, and I've painted the walls the colors I want them and set up all my stuff how I like. Why would I move into a house that has the same square footing, similar floor plan but a bit fancier kitchen? Ergo, why would I play RIFT when I already have a couple 80's in WoW?

Yes, I am looking for something radically different. But MMO companies count on that familiarity. Those who get really into an MMO pride themselves on being good at the game, and being able to give that feeling to players quickly is a way of getting them to stay. So certain conventions are kept: Controls schemes, the concept of talent trees, the "holy trinity" of RPG's; that sort of thing. All of this is meant to make players feel more comfortable. It works, admittedly, but it doesn't work for me.

Though, let's look at it from a different angle: I SHOULDN'T be playing all these different MMO's at once. MMO's are not like other games. They require large time sinks and investment into a character, and I would barely be scratching the surface of them all if I hopped between all the ones I have installed. Game hopping is not the right way to play an MMO. So I guess it is good I have found what works for me. Let's hope I'm willing to at least give some of the new games coming up a fair shot.

On a side note, I googled "What does a double edged sword look like?" The search results were not helpful. The image results were even less helpful. I'm not terribly sure how an asian woman in a bikini was supposed to answer my question, Google.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Wouldn't it be cool if...? Players WERE Gods

It's been said multiple times on the topic of player power levels: "We just get more and more powerful, beating bigger and bigger things. What happens when we beat everything? How can you challenge a god?"

Thinking in the vein of a traditional MMORPG, like WoW, then yes; the developers most likely could not challenge players if they had godly powers. However, if we experiment with the genre a bit, why can't we take a game like Black & White or The Sims and make it into a unique online experience?

So, wouldn't it be cool if players WERE omnipotent? Let's make the setting a universe. We have four realms: The first is the mortal plane where all the various planets and galaxies are. The reason we are using a universe instead of just one planet is simply due to the sheer number of potential players. This realm is where a good 75% of the gameplay takes place. You have your followers on your planet. It's all yours and only yours. This planet is your solo content. It is also a measure of your power, but not like levels. It is a number than can fluctuate based on your actions. Lose a battle, lose followers. Win a battle, or do any number of actions to aid/oppress your followers, you gain followers. Your followers have free will: You must convince them to venerate you.

Aid or Oppress? This is where two other realms come in, which are more of social lobbies where vendors and other services are kept. You are given an avatar to use in these lobbies that you can change with whatever currency is used to any other form you wish: Animal, humanoid, or just creepy floating eyeball. There is a Celestial and an Infernal one. Deities, through the actions they perform to gain followers, will be ranked as good or evil. The only grey area is the starting area, which is the fourth realm called Limbo. It is where your deity is created and learns his/her/it's powers. Balancing good and evil acts will allow you to visit either lobby, but this would be a difficult task in itself with little reward beyond that.

Interaction between players would be in the lobby or in the mortal realm, good deities waging war on evil deities, or assisting other players battles by sending troops to aid. I'm thinking a turn based or RTS style combat, in which troops are magically transported to the field of battle. Another idea would be to allow deities to create mortal champions, much like the figures in Greek and Roman mythology. Powerful allies, but losing them in battle would be a major setback for your forces.

Of course, the release of this game would be hindered by the possibility that people might find it religiously offensive. However, Black & White has had a decent following and I'm sure many people would love to see a third installment of the series, so there is a market for a similar type of gameplay. There are plenty of challenges for players who want to become deities. Hopefully a game will be able to eventually offer them.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Man is Keeping Me From Making Friends - Part 2

My fellow gamers and bloggers, levels are the chains that are keeping us down. Too long have we lived under an arbitrary number that determines how we can and cannot contribute to the experience of others. It is time to free ourselves from these bonds and make our own way in these virtual worlds!

Mock rallying cries aside, levels are in fact a very inelegant way of progression within a game. Just to help explore the concept, let's say I have a friend. His name is Hypothetical Fred. Hypothetical Fred is a level 70 orc warrior who wants me to start playing with him, but I am a lowly level 10 Paladin. Also a blood elf, which is doubly unfortunate for unrelated reasons.

As a level 10, there is nothing I can do to assist my friend in any way. I cannot make enough gold to help him out, because he makes more in a single daily. I cannot help him raid, or go into dungeons, or even quest without being a hilariously large burden. Nothing I can craft can help him either, unless he is a Roleplayer and enjoys having his veteran orc wearing copper armor. The only thing I can do is level up as quickly as I can in an attempt to catch up, at which point he'd probably already be in a raiding group and higher geared than me.

This is a relatively common system, and generally accepted as the standard in theme park MMO's. To be frank, it is a very unfriendly system. I have to put in hours and hours of work to be able to play with my friends at their level, or have them steamroll content for me which, though very helpful in leveling me up, is not the most exciting activity for either party. It is an intense barrier of entry: If I have friends who are already playing, then they have to wait for me to catch up or I have to play an eternal game of catching up to them. until we reach level cap.

Now, there are some systems that allow for leeway. City of Heros and Final Fantasy XI are two examples that allow a sort of temporary leveling system that brings you up or down, making the content you choose to tackle interesting and challenging for everyone. A very useful system, and I enjoy the no-hassle style of grouping it can bring, but it is simply a band-aid for the much larger problems levels bring.

I wish I had more than an examination of the flaws of this system, but unfortunately I don't. Levels work because they are the most established system for measuring player power. Skill based systems offer a different method to handle this, but even that relies on levels: just levels in a certain skill. Levels are nice: I like easily knowing what challenge various creatures will present at a single glance. But when it comes to playing with my friends, the situation becomes more difficult than it ever should be for a Multiplayer game.

EDIT - Massively just reported on a change coming to Everquest 2. Mercenaries to fill out a group. There may be plenty of players online, but I can't play with them so I have to hire an NPC to help me instead. A change that is good in spirit but illuminates the anti-social qualities that levels create.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Man is Keeping Me From Making Friends - Part 1

This is the first part of two posts involving issues I've had on my mind that affect the social situations that games place players in. 

I feel like a good number of MMO's lately are missing out on a key component of their games to provide hours of amusement, argument, fun and content. That is to say, other people. Decisions are made in order to lessen the effect other players have on your experience in game, as if to anticipate you are going to run into people you don't like and never want to play with again. WoW and RIFT's dungeon finder systems come to mind, as well as SWTOR's presumption that you will want to play with an NPC far more than an actual person. Part of this design choice to exclude other players must come from developers trying to out think the people who actually -are- jerks in-game by making them incapable of doing much to bother others in ways that wouldn't get them immediately banned.

And yet, these systems are also creating environments where each person's experience is self contained and not affected by other players. Yes, I did just repeat myself. However, if nobody can affect and you can affect nobody, how are you supposed to care about other people in the in-game community? The people in the guild are just a vehicle for more epics at that point. The obvious topic of discussion involving social consequences is that it forces people to be nice to each other because your reputation on a server matters. Making the consequences of social actions have in-game solutions (vote-kick, cross server dungeons, ignore other people and solo) not only assists the players in removing rude players from their experience but prevents them from allowing anyone else to affect their experience either.

One of my favorite things to say about the dungeon finder is that it changed WoW from a game where you play with each other to a game where you play adjacent to each other. Sure, you're in the same dungeon as them killing the same boss, but you have no motivation to assist or befriend the person next to you. Jerk or potential next best friend, it hardly matters who they are because your only goal is the loot and badges.

Now, one could say that you could avoid the dungeon finder altogether and group the "old school" way, but that is like giving someone a powerdrill and then telling them to manually screw in the bolts to the bookcase he's building. Everyone else is using it, and though you may be patted on the back for doing things manually you end up with the same result but slower than everyone else.

Don't mistake this for trying to advocate spamming trade for groups though. The Dungeon Finder accomplishes its task extremely well. It is only an example of how design choices can turn a community into just a rough collective of people. Another example is comparing Monoclegate to the fiasco from last year. EVE players formed an in-game protest and nearly shut down the central market hub. WoW players all posted on the forums and in blogs and sent e-mails to complain. the difference? EVE was a group effort, WoW was a collective of angry individuals each acting on their own accord, which just happened to coincide with the goal of the group.

Sometimes the urge to protect your players can be great, especially if you are an MMORPG player yourself and know firsthand how people can be terrible to each other from behind a computer screen. But some of these tools backfire and cause a community to dissolve into an rough collective. Making players depend on each other to succeed in a game outside of dungeons and raids may be a scary concept, but it has the potential to really solidify a community.

On an unrelated note, MMO Melting Pot is looking for more blogs to feature. I have shamelessly self promoted myself and I suggest you do too.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

IP Based MMO's are a Fantastic Opportunity

Mr. Gordan, I would like to voice my disagreement.

I think IP based MMO's are a fantastic boon to the industry, and though they may be high risk in some ways, let's be honest: How often does a scenario like what happened with SWG happen? There are few instances where the same IP even can be used for two different MMO's, much less there be a demand for it.

Intellectual Properties, as much as we like to hem and haw about how there are no more original games coming out, give a very stable start to any game. Were it not for their IP's, I don't think Star Wars Galaxies would have survived NGE at all, and possibly not even made it to that point. Simply the brand name "Star Wars" got people in the door and gave the company the money to back up whatever ideas the development team has going.

Now, we've seen companies do lackluster things with this opportunity. Warhammer was a solid game, but failed to live up to the hype. SWTOR is using a tried and true quest based/theme park/raid formula. Even Dungeons and Dragons Online swerved a bit but maintained a status quo for the genre. Given that these companies are investing in proven brands they would also be likely to invest in proven models. However, should we deviate from the path a bit we can find that IP's are in fact an excellent opportunity for the genre to grow.

Let's use SWG as an example. Yes, it came out before WoW, but it also came out after Everquest. There certainly might have been a pressure to make the game similar to that. Instead, they chose a sandbox method with huge worlds you could plant a house on, skill based progression, and a real faction war where you could set up a bunker to assist in plotting attacks. It was no paradise, for sure, and had its fair share of problems. But it was something different, and had a familiar IP and setting to get people comfortable to try it out.

That's what the genre needs more of right now. New concepts with familiar settings in order to bring these fresh ideas to the forefront, and fine tune them into fun experiences. Players go into Wurm Online and EVE Online, spend five, ten minutes and get confused beyond belief and leave. SWG had a complexity to it, but new players would stick around because they wanted to be like Boba Fett/Han Solo/Lando Calrissian. Familiar IP's give oddball concepts exactly what they need from players: A chance.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Alternative Alternatives

I feel it is necessary to balance out my previous post with something more thoughtful. In that line then, I'd like to riff off of it and talk about what makes an MMORPG sustainable, and possible ways to do so in a manner that is fun for the players and allows the developers to concentrate on improving the overall experience, and not just extending it by constantly increasing the level cap.

Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with that model, as WoW has clearly proven it can be an incredibly successful one. I for one am opposed to it as a design model because it it leads to an arms race between devs and players to create and master content, and because it does not allow developers to focus on the quality of a game beyond what happens at the end of leveling.

There is one more reason why I dislike this model, and it is because it follows the vein of normal games that have a definitive beginning and end. MMO's are supposed to be designed to be focused towards player retention and having an end to the content in your game is not consistent with that idea. This leaves developers in the situation of constantly creating new content so their playerbase doesn't get bored.

I think my opinion has been more than made clear already, let's talk alternatives.

Eliminate the Level System - This would be the blunt force trauma way of resolving the issue. Replacing leveling with an entirely skill based system would be one option, but once players reach the maximum amount of skill points available you are left with an end-game in that regard as well. No matter how diverse that skill system would be, you would still need to supply challenges to the player. No levels or skills at all would make player power dependent on the items they acquired. These are viable options but they are more dependent on what the content of the game is rather than using this alone.

Player Created Content - This option could be anywhere from the style of the Mission Architect system, in which PC content is a sideshow, or a sandbox style game like EVE where the other players in the game ARE the content. As I've mentioned before, I'm a huge supporter of sandbox style gameplay and would love to see the style flourish. this style has the advantage of making a tight knit community (in the case of EVE style) and sustaining a game very well due to a dedicated playerbase. However, as we've seen with (what a fellow blogger cleverly named) Monoclegate, this also leads your players to the assumption that the game is theirs, leaving much of the design control out of the developers hands without causing an uproar within the community and destabilizing the playerbase.

Broadening the Game - Instead of adding on top, why not add to the sides? MMORPG's have an incredible tendency to focus only on additions that supplement combat. Except for the First Aid skill in WoW. Honestly, I have no idea why that is still in the game. Tangent aside, instead of limiting a game to PvE and PvP, expand to player housing and allow players to buy and sell property lots. Create meaningful crafting professions that aren't just about making weapons or toys, such as building construction or supply gathering. The point is; you can still have raiding in a game and not force your players to only do that. If that's one of very limited choices for them, they may simply broaden their choices to choose another game.

Gameception - Pun aside, add in some self-contained challenges into the game. The Plants vs Zombies game in WoW comes to mind. Perhaps a Battleground could also take the form of your character as a general in a mini-RTS style, or turn based for that matter. Having one player with a top-down view of the field even in a regular BG would add a whole new level of strategy to the match. You may note that this category falls under broadening the game, but it's distinct enough to warrant its own.

Diversification would be my solution of choice, with a smattering of removing the level system for a skill based one. Player created content, Mission Architect style is not in a place yet to be the center of a game, and I wish Neverwinter the best of luck in pulling it off. EVE Online style sandboxing is also too complicated within the genre to amass any more than a niche following.

Even so, I'd like to hear other opinions on the subject. If you could remove end-game raiding as a main focus of a game and replace it with something else, what would you do? Or would you want to replace it at all?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Endgame Raiding is Not Sustainable

A friend of mine told me a Chinese proverb the other day. He said, "A man looked at a mountain that was next to his farm and said, "These mountains are blocking land that we could be using." So he made up his mind to move them. He would take stones from the bottom and move them away into the ocean. An old man happened to be passing by and laughed at him, saying that he would never be able to move the mountain. The man simply smiled at him and said, "Yes, but I have sons who will help. And my son's sons will, as well as their sons. And together we will move the mountain.""

Consider the developers of a game the mountain, and the man and his sons the players. In a successful game the player base will grow larger and larger, and should it hit a cap, better at their job.

What we see happening in World of Warcraft is a unique case in the industry, and one that many games that try and emulate their model should be aware of: endgame content problems. The massive player base of WoW as well as the skill of the players has brought the game to a point where the developers cannot create content fast enough for the players to not get bored before the next tier comes out. It simply does not last as long as it used to.

And personally, I don't believe it should. I do not believe that the endgame raiding model is a good model for a sustainable game. Has it been made into sustainable businesses, yes. I'd be an idiot not to see that. But I think it's a terrible game model. The model says to players from the get-go, "The fun part of the game is at max level. Everything else is just a means to an end.". It encourages developers to keep adding to the top of the game without altering the rest of the world. Which doesn't make it much of a world at all, just a static setting.

More importantly, it makes the only goals for the players the ones set by the developers. Though that may sound odd at first, consider this: In WoW, your options for endgame are PvP, PvE, start a new character or play with the market. The game is so rigidly structured that the developers are in an arms race to create new content before players get bored with the old content. Which then sets the mindset that the old content isn't meant to be fun. That part, I will admit, is a catch-22.

I believe Blizzard and WoW are currently at the tipping point where the players are starting to overtake the developers in terms of consuming content. Being incapable of adding any significant content to anything but the endgame except in very special scenarios is not a great way to sustain a virtual world. It may sustain a game, but a very rigid game. The experience is only extended, not broadened. You don't get to do new things, you only do the same things in different scenarios.

This has been a semi-rant, brought to you by Straw Fellow. Also, I'm not even sure if the story at the beginning was correct in the slightest.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Wouldn't it be cool if...? Squad Combat

I stepped into a Game Workshop the other day and met an excellent salesman. An hour later I walked our with a set of miniatures and paints. I have no intention of taking up this hobby, but I do plan on painting these. I thought it would be relaxing, but you try painting eyes on a goblin less than an inch high and not swearing.

I also recently tried the Star Trek Online trial. I have to say, I'm surprised I ignored the game for this long. It was very enjoyable, and the ability to put together a crew and be able to customize them as well was a lot of fun. Not sure if I'll pick the game up for the month it gives you, but still a fun experience.

How are these related? Well, they both relate to the topic of my newly titled post series, "Wouldn't it be cool if...?". In these I'll simply go over a topic I think would be a great addition to the MMO industry, whether it be in an established game or in a hypothetical game that I will describe.

As I'm painting my squad of ten infuriatingly small goblins and toying around with my crew that includes an Andorian with a huge Papa Smurf beard, I find myself more and more wishing that a game would include customizable combat groups much like Star Trek Online does. Only with more fleshing out of land combat and less space ships. SWTOR has the player companions, but they are static and based on your class, which breaks immersion for me because I heard you can have relationships with some companions. One companion, hundreds of girlfriends. Hate the game, not the player. Guild Wars allows for NPC characters to fill out a team, but there is no customization and the purpose is not to enhance combat, more to assist solo'ers.

No, the squad combat I'm thinking of is more like the Star Trek Online experience, or modeled more after the Neverwinter Nights games. Three or four members to a squad, each with their own abilities and tactics used to take down enemies. This hypothetical game would include the ability to compose your squad up of any amount of classes you like. All ranger team, all warriors, or a balanced tank/healer/DPS combo. Each character would have a third of he abilities of a normal MMORPG character, and one would be designated as the team leader who would accept quests and be directly controlled by the player. Think Mass Effect style, in which you command your two teammates but are only in direct control of Shepherd. Also, your teammate's AI isn't dumb as a brick.

Raids would require an army of characters, and each squad could be spacialized. We have a artillery section, a melee section, a medic squad, etc. etc. Dungeons could be completed solo or in groups of 3 players (9 characters altogether). This type of combat would lend itself better to war scenarios rather than typical MMORPG adventure mercenary settings. Picking a side would mean directly fighting for that side rather than going off for neutral factions.

Balance is always an issue though. After all, what's the point in PvP if everyone chooses all-rogue squads to DPS down enemies quickly? There would be many more combinations to test as one player could have access to far more abilities than the standard WoW player. Admittedly, this system would be a challenge. However, I think the ability to customize your squad to include who you want race and class wise, as well as possible squad colors and banners would lend itself to a different type of feel than the average MMORPG. Not more fun, perhaps, but an interesting choice nonetheless.


Monday, July 4, 2011

(Role)Players Don't Know What They Want

I've casually mentioned I am a roleplayer here and there, and I've done it in several games/venues so far. Lately, in terms of my venues of choice (WoW, City of Heroes) I have gotten myself into a rut. I love the process of character creating, I have more alts with character ideas than I know what to do with. The problem isn't with plot ideas either, as most of those ideas end up being written down and saved for the time when they can actually be used in a D&D campaign or RP event. No, I believe the problem is with the games I choose. And for the life of me I can't find a game that can supply what I would like to see.

I've made a previous post on how I'd like to see an MMO with Minecraft style functionality, but this desire of mine is a bit more specific. For example, a good measure of RP that exists in games like WoW falls into two catagories: Romance plots, or tavern meet and greets. There are no rules in place for those who wish an experience closer to a simulation rather than a game, and for good reason. A game within a game would not do. So characters cannot actually affect one another in any meaningful fashion. Sure, you can emote throwing punches and shooting them and throwing them into a pit of crocodiles, but at the end of the day nothing has really happened other than text.

I guess you could say this knowledge has put a damper on my desire to seek out roleplay lately. Collaborative storytelling is fun, but has its limits when any sort of event turns competitive. Your evil needs to either be supplied by an enemy mob, in which victory can be easily ascertained, or diplomatically won through out of character reasoning and agreement. Often these discussions turn to arguments and then both parties decide to take their balls and go home. This leaves holy orders full of Paladins, Priests and other dignitaries nothing to do other than kill NPC's and talk about how pious they are. Evil organizations are stuck in the same spot as well.

Stepping back for a moment, Nils and Gilded have a variety of interesting posts on simulation and games, Gilded being in the middle of his at the time of this writing. Many aspects of the simulation that would be deemed unfit for a game find themselves in a better light when presented to people who wish to portray a character's life in a fantasy setting. Even so, these qualities must have an element of control to them. For example, the topic of character level is one frequently debated. Should a level 20 warrior who has a backstory of being a veteran of several wars be able to best a level 70 young mage? If they were using the game mechanics rules, no. That mage would obliterate him in a humiliating heartbeat. In terms of the story that the players may want to create though, it may end differently.

Let's use a larger scale example. Given our hypothetical simulation game, a guild decides to set up a crafting fair to gather up a server's crafters to offer their services in one place to trade contacts, gain money, and what have you. The server's notorious bandit organization hears of this, sneaks their people into the fair and send in attackers on horses to cover the theft of some very expensive items and materials. Because this is a game, those bandits "ruined" the fair. The NPC guards were only able to take out a few of them before they got away, and scavengers grabbed some of the items off the corpses. The positive reaction to this would be to gather up your friends and chase after them, taking back what was yours and possibly earning a reward for the bounty on their heads. A fantastic immersive experience. But not the one you'd be guaranteed to get. More likely you'd get a lot of whining on the forums because that's not what the storytellers of the fair wanted it to turn out.

Partly what I'm trying to say here is that players love to build stories and plots, but despise it if anyone gets involved without their permission. Yes, my post did start with me complaining that the roleplay I've been finding is not exciting at all for me. To add on to that, I know many people who have quit WoW for that reason. In my last guild in particular, I could get one member on a tangent about how immersive EVE Online was at the drop of a hat. He was one of the reasons I tried the game actually. And most of us are aware that the best stories that come from that game are from things that actually happened.

But strangely enough all of those roleplayers did not immediately jump ship to join a more immersive game. Why? Because roleplayers are writers first and gamers second. The safe environment, though not exciting, is the one they truly want because then they can decide what happens to their characters and not some roving bandits. In the MMORPG culture we have cultivated, those bandits are griefers and a nuisance that the GM's should do something about, stealing from other players is an exploit that the developers should fix, and PvP without being able to opt out is a terrible feature.

Simulation has its place, but unfortunately that place is a niche, and is not the place that the roleplayers I know would want to play in, despite their and my claims to the contrary.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Catering to the Completionist in Me

I've only ever gotten 100% on two games in my life: Batman: Arkham Asylum and Super Mario 64. The first one was because I absolutely love riddles and puzzles, and even though very few of them were actually "riddles" it was very enjoyable to explore and find the solutions to them. That one I did without the help of gamefaqs, and it took me a few months of 1-2 hour spurts in the game to finish. Super Mario 64 I did because I had a strategy guide and thought you could ride Yoshi when you finished. I was so disappointed.

I bring this up because I'd like to talk about Achievements. Pretty much every 360 game ships with them, and a good 75% of them are given just for playing through the game. The other 25% are collect X number of doodads within the game. In World of Warcraft, this follows a similar pattern. You gain achievements for just playing the game (Boss kills, dungeon completes, level 20/30/40) and you have your collecting doodads (Loremaster, Lots of Pets, That Mount One I Can't Remember Off The Top of My Head) and then your miscellaneous ones.

So, why on earth do I have 100% in Arkham Asylum and not Loremaster?

To give you an answer that doesn't involve being the goddamn Batman, I believe it has to do with two factors. The challenge of the achievement, and how interesting that challenge was. You see, the best thing for me wasn't showing everyone online that I beat the game, it was simply that I enjoyed the challenge.

Loremaster is by no means an easy achievement; neither is Insanity, or Lots of Pets. However, the difference is that the challenge doesn't come from completing the actual achievement, it comes from the fact that it takes a large amount of time and travel. That, and actually beating down the quest mobs, but if you're doing this you're probably level 85 anyway. In Arkham, (assuming you weren't cheating) you were directed to the area it was in, but left to figure out the rest via clues in your notebook.

What I am suggesting here is not that every game should be like Batman, as tempting as that might be. I believe achievements should be challenging, interesting and rewarding. Not in the sense that it gives you something tangible at the end, but that you feel like you actually accomplished something cool. I don't mean to say that those who have pursued those achievements don't deserve a pat on the back. I'm just looking for something more engaging than doing the same thing I do in the game anyway, just in a different locale.