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Ashaman73

Demonizing grinding ,why ?

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Well, we all know grinding and most of us will say, that grinding - doing something over and over to archive a goal - is boring and lack of gamedesign. On the other hand, everyone do it. This is not a new MMORPG only feature, I already grinded 4x99 berserkers in Bard's Tale(1985) or worms in Dungeon Master(1987), and I have to say, that it was one of the game experienced I remembered best and I didn't felt bored (althought I got some drinks while fighting the berserkers ;-) ). The fact is, the gamers are attracted to grinding like flies... whatever, but take a look at tower defense games. This games are all about grinding, aren't they ? Why does everyone try to fight grinding by limiting or punishing the player instead of pushing it. What would happen, if we take a MMORPG and introduce tower defense gameplay to it. How would it look like ? You start with an easy mob, killed it and get some temporary boost (blessing, adrenalin boost what ever). You have some time before the next mobs comes in to adjust your potions, spells, heal whatever. Every mob will get stronger and stronger, while its experience ratio will increase from very weak to good. At start the gain will be low, but while grinding over and over the difficulty and reward will increase dramatically. With a good run the player will be able to gain a lot of experiences, after some time his supplies will be used up and he has to take a break (go to nearby town to buy/sell items, visit the trainer etc.). If it makes the gamers happier doing it, why should we try to hinder them ? Are (MMO)RPGs really games any longer or are they not already some kind of virtual world or even virtual reality ? In a virtual world, is it bad to do some work to gain an advantage ? Or to "grind" some mobs while chatting with some friends ? In my opinion it is time to stop swimming against the current and turn our gamedesigns around and start utilizing "grinding". What do you think ?

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IMO the word "grinding" is attached to a game-mechanic *when* it becomes boring. If you're doing something over and over again, but aren't bored, then it's *not* a grind.
If you're doing it over and over again, wishing you didn't have to because you're bored of it and just want to progress to the next challenge, then that is a grind.

So... I guess this depends on exactly how you define "grinding". I define "grind" as tedious/monotonous/boring. If it's fun/entertaining (even if it's repetitive), then it's not grinding.

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I dont know that grinding necessarily has to be defined as boring... but certainly its at least not fun.

The problem with grinding is thats its based on hardwired reward-reponse mechanisms in the brain, where people are conditioned to repeat certain behaviours with the expectation of a reward. Just because you feel compelled to repeat a condition for a reward doesnt mean you're having fun, it just means you want to get back the feeling of fun that you had in the past.

Its like gambling addiction... people get addicted to gambling because of the high they feel the first time they gamble, and spend more and more money trying to get that feeling again - because the high they get diminishes as they get used to gambling, they put more and more effort into it just to try and keep the reward the same.

Grinding is designed the same: rewards like levels and abilities are frequent to begin with, and the player enjoys the high of accomplishment when they get them. As the game progresses, the levels and abilities are spaced further and further apart, and the player needs to invest more and more time into the game just to get the same high the got from 5 minutes of play time when they started the game. The player is conditioned to repeat the action, and they expect a reward, but for most people they eventually either need to reach an end (eg, end game content, or a new reward system to grind on which starts the process over again) or they realise they arent enjoying themselves and become disillusioned.

In the example in the OP, Im not convinced of the reason why the "reward will increase dramatically"... Simply having to work harder for something can sometimes have a minor effect on how proud you feel about it, but in general (particularly in games) I think the pride and effort dont increase at the same rate: To feel twice as proud, for example, the player might need to work 4 times as hard. You feel more when you get the reward, but in terms of overall reward for effort, you only actually get half as much.

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The only reasons why you would put grinding in your game is to artificially lengthen the game or to reward the player's commitment. Both are examples of bad game design in my opinion.

Putting grinding in an MMO is a necessity to keep players playing for months and months, obviously. I can't think of a reason why you would want to put it in a single player game. Even if it is to reward commitment it's a pretty bad way of doing so.

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Quote:

Hodgeman:
So... I guess this depends on exactly how you define "grinding". I define "grind" as tedious/monotonous/boring. If it's fun/entertaining (even if it's repetitive), then it's not grinding.

Well, defining grinding as the boring part of doing something over and over again is an knock-out argument :). My fault, let's say that I want to talk about repetitive actions encountered in RPGs to archive a certain goal.

Quote:

Its like gambling addiction... people get addicted to gambling because of the high they feel the first time they gamble, and spend more and more money trying to get that feeling again - because the high they get diminishes as they get used to gambling, they put more and more effort into it just to try and keep the reward the same.

This holds true if you hunt for certain, but seldom, rewards like rare or unique drops. But what about rewards which are assured like a certain amount of experience ?

People tend to "grind" to gain the next level, they don't feel happy or have fun, because they need just to kill 1000 mobs to gain the next level. If a game designer wants to get rid of this kind of grinding, he "tends" to punish the player i.e. by decreasing exp gained from certain mobs, decreasing spawn rate, item drop rate whatever, which shifts the grinding to other mobs or to longer grinding sessions.

My idea is to reward them for doing some repetitive work, but to increase the challange at the same time. If they want to optimize their experience rate support them, give them some opportunities to mow through hords of enemies and let them feel good, just like a tower defense game. Increase the challange until the player have to capitulate, give them some special reward if they overcome a certain number of "waves".

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If a game designer wants to get rid of this kind of grinding, he "tends" to punish the player i.e. by decreasing exp gained from certain mobs, decreasing spawn rate, item drop rate whatever, which shifts the grinding to other mobs or to longer grinding sessions.

My idea is to reward them for doing some repetitive work, but to increase the challange at the same time.

So decreasing the exp gained and so forcing the player to move up to bigger mobs isn't increasing the difficulty?

Also, why do you think that tower defense is grinding? Its a strategic puzzle. You have to build a path that is optimal, find faults and then work quickly to fix them. That means long term planning combined with fast passed edits before the mobs get through. That's not a grind, that's a dynamic game.

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I'm not sure that grinding is always bad, but I can give you an example of when it certainly is bad.

MMOs where the end game is PvP. Dark Age of Camelot was a good example of this, the end games was actually good fun, but to get there you had to grind, and at each next annual expansion you had to grind some more to stay powerful enough to even be able to enjoy PvP.

So effectively they had this really good fun PvP system, but they didn't want people to be able to jump straight into it because it would've meant they could do so, and also get bored of it earlier, and stop playing earlier.

Effectively they used grinding as a tool to make people play longer to reach the enjoyable part of the game to milk them of subscriptions for as long as possible.

In the long run it just didn't work, the grinding was too much for some and they gave up early, for some the repeated new grind with each expansion was too much, having done it once, got a taste of PvP then being forced back into it before they could PvP again and so on.

You shouldn't force players to do tedious rubbish before they can enjoy themselves, just let them enjoy themselves from the off. It may work short term, but as with Dark Age of Camelot, and now Mythic in general, it just didn't work out for them long term. People got fed up of being given the carrot and stick treatment.

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Quote:
Original post by Ashaman73
This is not a new MMORPG only feature, I already grinded 4x99 berserkers in Bard's Tale(1985) or worms in Dungeon Master(1987), and I have to say, that it was one of the game experienced I remembered best and I didn't felt bored (althought I got some drinks while fighting the berserkers ;-) ).

Ah, thank goodness for Mangar's Mind Blade...

Seriously though, this example isn't grinding. It was a one-off event that constituted 1 battle out of thousands. Grinding is when you have to keep repeating the same thing over and over as the main gameplay mechanic. Bard's Tale -did- have a big grinding element but that one battle wasn't it.

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Grinding is when you have to stop questing and go out to kill mobs so that you're high enough level to continue questing or there is no more quest. If the questing quantity is correct, then all quest have level range, and players will complete all quest will be at the appropriate level for the up coming quests. Basically, questing should not make the player under-leveled or over-leveled for the level range they intent to be. If the rewards are too much experience, then the player cannot complete all quests as they are over-leveled to get the quest. Quest should not give too less experience, the player has to go out of their way out of the story line and join the mob killing; this is grinding.

To combat grinding, there must be enough quest for the player to maintain working the progression path, but not too much that the player is force to make decisions early on because players do not want to have early permanent decisions ( they don't want to feel regret ) .

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Grinding has been demonized since a few people got huffy about the amount of time spent grinding in EQ. Instead now, we just have a different kind of grinding .. quest grinding. To me, this is as bad if not worse than the normal grinding that comes to mind when you mention the word. You spend more time running around to do and turn in quests than you do actually playing half the time.

On top of it, they have devalued the experience from individual mobs so much that you can't hope to level at even a decent pace without doing quests. And then on top of THAT, they devalue the experience you get in groups so much that you are penalized for grouping. My wife and I play games together. You used to level slightly faster in a duo than solo in EQ, AC, <insert older game here> (in the general case .. yes there are exceptions). In those games it generally took longer to kill mobs so the fact that you could kill almost twice as fast was a huge benefit. In WoW things die so quickly that you run out of stuff to kill when duoing. Your experience is also cut directly in half which means while you are killing faster overall, you are gaining less experience.

Both of us are sick of the quest grind. We are sick of having to run all over and do a bunch of gimmicky quest related stuff just to level. Every new game that we try now burns us out rather quickly due to quest grinding. I'd pay good money to go back to an open game that promotes exploration and killing over following the quest rails. I know we can't be the only people who feel this way.

I think there can be a balance, and there needs to be a balance. Reward killing and exploration, but weave in far fewer, but much more significant quests and I'd be hooked.

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