Xpovos315,340 (174,883)Virginia

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Xpovos

Xpovos' Blog (95 followers)

Dec
06
PermalinkChasing the Server Shutdown
I've written about the problems of Free-to-Play games frequently. For achievement-hunters, one of the biggest problems is that of course free-to-play games shut their servers down, eventually, and when they do, the achievements become discontinued--unavailable to any gamer who hadn't earned them prior to the shutdown.

While Free-to-Play games are the largest culprit, they are hardly the only ones. In one high-profile example, we had a long standing fight with EA about their continual shutdown of annual installment sports series. As the games became more "online" focused they had more and more online requirements for the achievements, and those servers don't pay for themselves, so eventually EA will shut them down as well. Perpetual online servers are unsustainable, no matter what Blizzard manages to do.

Discontinued achievements are also not a new topic for this blog, they are a sore spot for me and will likely continue to come up. But my recent efforts in Marvel Heroes Omega got me thinking about the process I go through after a server-shutdown is announced and how that dictates my gaming.

For Marvel Heroes, it worked out, kind of. I earned every achievement that I possibly could. The only achievement left for me in the game is the one they broke with a title update and never had a chance to fix. But now comes the difficult question. Was this a victory? Or a defeat? Surely, a victory. I did everything I could. And I even had a decently fun time doing it. But the truth is that it feels like a defeat because the game remains non-completed. Beyonder is my first genuinely discontinued Xbox One achievement. I have a few that are Unobtainable, but so far in the Xbox One chase, I'd caught them all--or they came back, as Killer Instinct's achievements did. It also feels like a defeat because, though I had some fun doing it, I was driven to achieve. It was a compulsion, not an actual desire from something within me. I did make a choice, but it was heavily influenced by forces outside of me.

I think these have gotten more frequent as well, though the server shutdowns are not. It may just be that I'm playing more games that have these problems, or I'm noticing it more now that I'm a more active achievement-hunter.

Some games where I have chased servers, and the end result.

2017
Kinect Adventures We had a bit of a scare with this one and I got it right away. Then it did go down for good it seems. 100% online done, still need to finish the SP.
Madden NFL 13 This one is a bit of a stretch in that I did finish it prior to the shutdown announcement, but I was motivated to get it done by the fact that an announcement was going to happen, so when a good opportunity arose, I took it. And the race finished about a month before the announcement dropped. 100% online done, still need to finish the SP.
FIFA 12 This one already had at least some discontinued achievements by the time I got to the server shutdown chase. As a result I wasn't committed to going for 100%, even 100% of the remaining. So it was a chill chase. Even still I earned all but 3 of the achievements I could, and those 3 were just too much of a grind to be worth it. Not even close to 100%.
Xbox Fitness This was probably THE big grind of 2016-2017. They gave us a year's notice, and I needed basically every minute of that as I attempted to "climb" 100,000 meters. 100% through and through.

2016
Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes - 2.0 Edition
Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition
Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition (Win 10)
All of the Disney Infinity servers went down in March, but most of my chase was in 2016 when the announcements came. Some were already done, such as the original Disney Infinity, but there was definitely some scramble here from me to get it done, particularly in 3.0 for the One, where the Arcade Ace was a pain, and I had to get it multiple times. All of the online is done for the series, but I have a bunch of MP to cleanup.
Project Spark (Win 8)
Project Spark
Most of the Project Spark Chase was actually in 2015 for the GTASC, but I finalized it in the downtime after that contest in January 2016, well in advance of the server shutdown. 100% done on both platforms.

2015
World Series of Poker: Full House Pro Possibly my best chronicled server chase. Like Marvel Heroes Omega, it ended with a single missed achievement, despite my actually doing everything that was possible.
Spartacus Legends A surprisingly less painful grind than I had any reason to expect. Still not a good game. 100% done.

2014
Ascend: Hand of Kul One of my very first server chases, it showed how oddly I was willing to behave to ensure that I earned the achievements before they disappeared. 100% done.
Karaoke Achievements This one is particularly odd because I didn't even start it until after the shutdown notice came. Why not just leave it alone? Because I could start it and finish it in the time period, and because it was free GamerScore. Somewhere, my wife still has video of me playing this game in her "blackmail" folder. 100% done.

Really, it's just a matter of finding out which games will be the server chase in 2018. Lies of Astraoth? AirMech Arena? Neverwinter (with Perfect World shutting down Gigantic and Runic, this is very possible). How about Happy Wars/Dungeons? World of Tanks--they're in some hot water after their latest cash grab efforts. So, it's not whether they'll be a chase... it's what I'm going to be chasing.
Posted by Xpovos on 06 December 17 at 18:48
Mr Granstaff I know Xbox Fitness was a big one for me too. Trying to think of any other server chases... I typically wrap online stuff up as soon as I can though.

Perhaps Halo Reach or Star Wars Battlefront might be my chase. I just started Reach and I have one achievement left in Battlefront, but that's a SP achievement. For whatever reason, it requires an online connection.
Posted by Mr Granstaff on 06 Dec at 19:20
SpeleoFool For me, any permanently unobtainable achievement would be like a scar. I've been tremendously fortunate to avoid getting burned except for Ticket to Ride and Netflix. And both still bother me.

I've chased more server shutdowns than I could name. There was a period where a server shutdown announcement was a beacon call to play a game and claim achievements before they disappear forever. I'd say I don't do that so often anymore, but within the last year or so I know I jumped on XBox Fitness, Arkham Origins and the Disney Infinity series for exactly that reason.

I've dodged many more shutdowns through pure happenstance, like PGR3 or that MP mode in Black Ops 2. And friends have helped me to avoid potentially disastrous mistakes like starting Project Spark when there would not have been time to complete enough weekly events.

In any case, I consider FTP games to be playing with fire* from a completion standpoint. There are virtually no impediments to prevent title updates from adding achievements indefinitely, broken achievements are all too common in all games these days, and there is no real incentive or enforcement to push developers to fix broken achievements. It seems it's more or less voluntary, and I simply don't trust FTP developers to follow through. I hate to say it, but the Marvel Heroes scenario is exactly what I expect from every FTP.

* ironically, I'm more comfortable playing with actual fire than I am putting my completions at risk with FTP games, lol.
Posted by SpeleoFool on 06 Dec at 21:35
Big Ell Karaoke was an awesome game. Sad to see it go. Same with Xbox Fitness.
Posted by Big Ell on 06 Dec at 22:01
Xpovos Yeah, Karaoke was surprisingly fun. It was less a game, though. I guess the same could be said of Xbox Fitness, which I obviously also really enjoyed. When I heard that MOSSA was bringing it back I was really hoping for a 1000GS Mossa Fitness "game" with Xbox tracking, basically the same thing, but limited to MOSSA. I'd have paid $60 for that for sure. Instead they gave us a bad P90X DVD set of the MOSSA XBOX Fitness workouts and charged something like $120 for it.
Posted by Xpovos on 06 Dec at 23:24
IAteA11ThePies Only one I can think of that I had was Warface. Decided to play it after the announced the shutdown so that I wasn't left wondering how good or otherwise it was, so that I'd not miss out entirely on ever getting a chance to play a game I'd had sitting on the hard drive since I got it.

I was happy I played it, I enjoyed the game quite a bit and regretted not playing it sooner. Sure I knew I'd never 100% it - but I didn't really care about that either.
Posted by IAteA11ThePies on 07 Dec at 03:37