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In.Vain

Grinding as a difficulty slider

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Hello.

I recently spent a few minutes thinking about grinding and would like to present some of my findings here:

What is grinding?
Grinding is the process by which a player acquire some sort of in-game wealth (gold, experience or any other aquirable resource) in order to invest this wealth into in-game power (items, levels or any other power granting investment) by means of repeating a number of similar actions until he has gathered enough power to progress in the game's content.

Why do players grind?
Players grind when:
a) the game requires a higher level of in-game power before granting access to further content.
b) they feel that they can't or that it is very difficult to progress in the game's content at their current level of in-game power. In this case grinding is an attempt to reduce the game's difficulty. It trades time spent playing the game against in-game power.

When can players grind?
Grinding is possible in any game where:
a) the player can gather some sort of resource that can be invested directly or indirectly in in-game power and
b) there is a restocking source of this resource or
c) the resource doesn't deplete during a usual play-through.

How can a designer remove grinding from a game?
Follow these steps:
a) Remove any restocking resources.
b) Limit the remaining resources to the amount necessary to progress in the game for the targeted medium-skilled player.
c) Implement a difficulty setting to accommodate differently skilled players.

When should a game allow grinding?
A game should allow/encourage grinding when:
a) there is not enough content in the game to fill the targeted playtime. You can require high levels of in-game power to access more content so the player has to spent some time grinding.
b) the game targets a wide range of players and can't have a difficulty slider (e.g. multiplayer games). Skilled players can tackle difficult encounters at a lower level of in-game power and players that aren't mentally invested as much into gaming can use grinding as a tool to proceed in the game.
c) the game needs to have a large active community. Grinding takes time and thus ensures that players spend a lot of time playing the game. It also means that players stay at a certain level of content for a while which encourages socialisation.
d) the exhibition of in-game power is a design goal and the targeted audience can not be required to acquire playing skill.

When should a game not allow grinding?
A game shouldn't allow grinding when aquiring player skill and/or the exhibition of such is a design goal.

Do you agree with my theory or do you see any flaws in the conclusions I draw? Do you have some points to add that I forgot?

Thanks for your feedback.

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I feel to remove the desire for players to grind you reduce the difference in power from starting to maximum able to be gained. There is always going to be some sort of "grind" in an MMO. You need to build it for longevity and that results in a longer period of character development.

Reduce the effects of gear: This will result in less focus on gear and more focus on having fun. If a player can compete with even basic gear there is less "forced" grinding as you don't need to max out your equipment before being able to play. This makes it profitable to create better gear, but not required, thus removing the grind and making it an optional venture. How crafting is handled would also come with a "grind", but as it isn't forced, you can't really call it a grind. The player forces that rather than the game as it is completely optional to max out your gear, not mandatory.

This coincides with the second point.

Reduce the power curve for player characters: New players should be able to play with veteran players and both should be able to progress. Other games have added "mentoring" or even forced new players and veterans to be unable to group together for lack of experience/progress gained for either party. If you want to break down the artificial barriers preventing people from playing together, which brings the need to grind to be able to do so, you need to allow new players and veterans to be able to be productive together.

In modern MMOs you typically can't accompany a level 60 as a level 1 while they hunt. You would provide NO benefit and you would gain no experience for grouping. What should be aimed for is providing scaled content so that level 1 CAN contribute, even though meagerly, while the level 60 combats things that they would typically be able to solo. Thus, the level 60 has reason to bring the level 1, but also they both benefit from the encounters. Most people would say the level 1 is "leeching", but I see it as two players being able to play TOGETHER. That is the key. You don't want to force new players to have to grind for days, weeks, sometimes even months, just to play with their friends.

How do you control this "leeching" from becoming a means to power level that unbalances the game for those that don't power level? Why don't make levels determine everything of course! Combine levels with a skill based system and you can have quick advancement(levels) and slow advancement(skills). Scaling the content of the game is key and with a reduced power curve it should be far easier to balance as you don't have level 1s being gimped beyond belief compared to level 60 god like characters.

Lower gear influence. Lower character power curve. Better games.

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I think a lot more emphasis needs to be put on the use of a grinding system to extend the life of a game. That is the primary reason to put such a system in a game and why they seem to dominate the MMO genre. I personally think it's an acceptable design goal although it can be easily overdone.

[b]EDIT[/b]: forgot to add this part :rolleyes: . As a difficulty slider i think grinding is a very inefficient method. Although yes a player can avoid grinding and make life harder for themselves it would require substantial effort/time on the part of the player something that conflicts with a player wanting an "easy" game. If you make the grind to quick then there's no reason for a player to not grind unless there masochistic. The benefits of a difficultly setting that is somewhat independent from the game is the fact that a player can set it to hard and then turn it down if they hit a encounter they can't overcome this is, again, something that a grinding system could not realistically do.

In the majority of cases games can overcome the problems a difficulty setting would have in a game by using instances. "Hard modes" in WoW are an example of this. Additionally several games have the setting change the players personal stats so it is easier for them while still challenging for others. What I'm trying to get at here is the fact that there are better ways than grinding to let the player have control over the difficulty of the game.


[quote]Reduce the effects of gear: This will result in less focus on gear and more focus on having fun.[/quote]

I disagree with the wording here. Acquiring gear and thus gaining power is fun for a lot of players. In something like an MMORPG can even be one of the major sources of enjoyment PvE players. Your wording seems to imply its nothing more than an arbitrary inclusion by the developer to extend the time a player needs to play the game which is not the whole story.

[quote]Reduce the power curve for player characters: New players should be able to play with veteran players and both should be able to progress.[/quote]

Although well-meaning I don't think this is the ideal solution. It is important to reward the player's for the time they invest in a game. Allowing new players to easily catch up to veterans can do nothing but alienate those veteran players. It also provides new players something to aim for. The mentoring system you explained is a better solution although there is another one. Make sure there are activities that both a lower level and a higher level player can do together. In World of Warcraft this used to be world PvP for me and my friends who also played but I am sure there are other activities that could be included in a game that are somewhat independent from the levelling system.

Personally I have never quite understood the argument for allowing newer players to instantly player with their friends in the core areas of the game. Instead the fact I can play with them when I gain a sufficient number of levels have always been a source of motivation for me.

Generally I think people make the assumption that grinding is bad and needs to be lessened ignoring the fact that there are a variety of player types out there who gain enjoyment from a wide selection of game mechanics. Lower the influence of gear and the power curve of a game doesn't necessarily make it a better game for [i]all[/i] its player just [i]some [/i]of them.

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[quote name='Bigdeadbug' timestamp='1317743284' post='4869024']
I think a lot more emphasis needs to be put on the use of a grinding system to extend the life of a game. That is the primary reason to put such a system in a game and why they seem to dominate the MMO genre. I personally think it's an acceptable design goal although it can be easily overdone.

[quote]Reduce the effects of gear: This will result in less focus on gear and more focus on having fun.[/quote]

I disagree with the wording here. Acquiring gear and thus gaining power is fun for a lot of players. In something like an MMORPG can even be one of the major sources of enjoyment PvE players. Your wording seems to imply its nothing more than an arbitrary inclusion by the developer to extend the time a player needs to play the game which is not the whole story.

[quote]Reduce the power curve for player characters: New players should be able to play with veteran players and both should be able to progress.[/quote]

Although well-meaning I don't think this is the ideal solution. It is important to reward the player's for the time they invest in a game. Allowing new players to easily catch up to veterans can do nothing but alienate those veteran players. It also provides new players something to aim for. The mentoring system you explained is a better solution although there is another one. Make sure there are activities that both a lower level and a higher level player can do together. In World of Warcraft this used to be world PvP for me and my friends who also played but I am sure there are other activities that could be included in a game that are somewhat independent from the levelling system.

Personally I have never quite understood the argument for allowing newer players to instantly player with their friends in the core areas of the game. Instead the fact I can play with them when I gain a sufficient number of levels have always been a source of motivation for me.

Generally I think people make the assumption that grinding is bad and needs to be lessened ignoring the fact that there are a variety of player types out there who gain enjoyment from a wide selection of game mechanics. Lower the influence of gear and the power curve of a game doesn't necessarily make it a better game for [i]all[/i] its player just [i]some [/i]of them.




[/quote]

With what you say you feel that I have removed desire to attain the best of the best gear, I haven't, it is still there. It just isn't as vast a difference as typical MMORPGs. Those with the best gear will have an advantage. Those with the worst gear will still be able to compete. How is that flawed? All it does is reduce the difference between basic competitive gear and maximum gear to assist in lowering the gross inflation of character power. The desire for items will still be available.

Levels becoming less of a deciding factor doesn't take away from character development. You will still have to work towards your goals and increase your skills. Much like the reduction in overall power attained from gear this aims to reduce the overall power of a maximum character compared to a new character allowing for players to be able to play right from the get go. New players are not capable of single handedly competing against a veteran player nor is their rise to veteran a quick thing. Development is still required to compete directly, but not to play together.

Gear decay/destruction would hopefully be in effect as well. Not required, but works well in a game where gear isn't everything. You don't collect one set of gear and never worry about getting more until the next expansion comes out. You would need to constantly keep your character provided for, but not so often that it becomes detrimental to play. FFA PvP is not included, but full loot could still be implemented with certain restrictions to promote a healthy game experience. Full loot isn't a necessity, but I feel it wouldn't be terrible if done right, without FFA PvP.

These aren't aimed to be implemented into a standard MMORPG like WoW/Rift/Aion etc. Those games ARE designed to be gear/level based. Why is it so wrong to lessen the impact of those two factors, while still allowing for the development of your characters, to make a better game? More people being able to play together and compete without having to devote their life to a game is not a bad thing. Development of your character would still take time, it just wouldn't prevent you from being able to play the game.

Wouldn't you love to be able to take a week off and go on vacation without the fear of being left behind by your friends that have played while you haven't? Being able to jump right back into grouping with them when you return? This may not pertain to you directly, but I am sure there are plenty of people out there that would like to be able to enjoy doing stuff in real life without feeling handicapped from lack of playing their MMORPG as much as others. Frankly I think it would only add to the longevity of the game.



All of this goes along with any basic MMORPG requirements. The game has to be fun. There has to be things to do that are enjoyable for the players. I feel more can be provided if the vast difference in character power isn't as extreme. They can focus on the entirety of the game rather than the individual power stratas of the game. You don't need to provide more content for levels 1-5, 6-15, 16-23, 24-31, 32-38, 39-44, 45-50, you need to provide more content for just one player base. Sure, there is still a scale of weak to strong, but the vast difference in power is removed resulting in less repetitive content needed just to reach "end game".

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[quote]With what you say you feel that I have removed desire to attain the best of the best gear, I haven't, it is still there. It just isn't as vast a difference as typical MMORPGs. Those with the best gear will have an advantage. Those with the worst gear will still be able to compete. How is that flawed? All it does is reduce the difference between basic competitive gear and maximum gear to assist in lowering the gross inflation of character power. The desire for items will still be available.[/quote]


My point was to be careful when limiting the effect of such a system in a game where they are a significant presence because there is a reason they are there. I was attempting to show the other side of the argument, something I didn't pick up on in your original post. Theme-park MMORPGs use systems such as expansions/rubber banding to lessen this gap between old and new players (something I don't totally agree on but that's a discussion for another time). To be honest most of the typical MMORPGs I have played don't have much of an issue with this, I can only think of one example but that was due to bad planning on behalf of the developer.

[quote]Levels becoming less of a deciding factor doesn't take away from character development. You will still have to work towards your goals and increase your skills. Much like the reduction in overall power attained from gear this aims to reduce the overall power of a maximum character compared to a new character allowing for players to be able to play right from the get go. New players are not capable of single handedly competing against a veteran player nor is their rise to veteran a quick thing. Development is still required to compete directly, but not to play together.[/quote]


Much like I said above I was attempting to show the reasons why these systems are in place within some games. In fact, in these games, leveling becoming less important does take away from character development since it is the core way a player is shown/shows the degree by which their character has developed from its inception. The closer a new player is, power wise, to a veteran player the less drive a player will have to put the effort in to get to that level. It will also impact elements such as uniqueness. If you make everyone a badass from the word go no one is really a badass in the end.


[quote]Gear decay/destruction would hopefully be in effect as well. Not required, but works well in a game where gear isn't everything. You don't collect one set of gear and never worry about getting more until the next expansion comes out. You would need to constantly keep your character provided for, but not so often that it becomes detrimental to play. FFA PvP is not included, but full loot could still be implemented with certain restrictions to promote a healthy game experience. Full loot isn't a necessity, but I feel it wouldn't be terrible if done right, without FFA PvP.

These aren't aimed to be implemented into a standard MMORPG like WoW/Rift/Aion etc. Those games ARE designed to be gear/level based. Why is it so wrong to lessen the impact of those two factors, while still allowing for the development of your characters, to make a better game? More people being able to play together and compete without having to devote their life to a game is not a bad thing. Development of your character would still take time, it just wouldn't prevent you from being able to play the game.
[/quote]

See I think this is where my problem stems from, I was going to mention it in my previous post but I thought better of it. I was talking about "standard MMORPGs" since that is where the "grind" tends to be a perceived problem so I assumed (probably when I shouldn't have) that those where the games you wished to change. There are games that don't put a emphasis on those two factors and are very good in their own right but they also don't tend to suffer from the problems that grinds bring.

The odd thing I have noticed is that MMORPGs that feature a grind don't often require you to play for huge amounts of time (western ones anyway) only that you play somewhat regularly, whereas MMORPGs that feature the systems you talked about do often require more time to be invested to succeed in them.


[quote]Wouldn't you love to be able to take a week off and go on vacation without the fear of being left behind by your friends that have played while you haven't? Being able to jump right back into grouping with them when you return? This may not pertain to you directly, but I am sure there are plenty of people out there that would like to be able to enjoy doing stuff in real life without feeling handicapped from lack of playing their MMORPG as much as others. Frankly I think it would only add to the longevity of the game.
[/quote]Grinds themselves don't tend to hinder anyone leaving the game for a portion of time (say a week or two). If you leave for longer (say a few months) I think it's reasonable your friends would have progressed by a meaningful degree or what was the point in them continuing to play. Levelling grinds are a case where taking a week off may mean your friends are notably high level than you but in turn levels are a lot easier to gain MMORPGs now and there are systems in place to help them catch up. Gear grinds tend to be very slow paced meaning taking a week or two out wouldn't put you that far behind your friends. There are other grinds (such a reputation) where that can be a problem but such a setback tends not to be game breaking.

[quote]All of this goes along with any basic MMORPG requirements. The game has to be fun. There has to be things to do that are enjoyable for the players. I feel more can be provided if the vast difference in character power isn't as extreme. They can focus on the entirety of the game rather than the individual power stratas of the game. You don't need to provide more content for levels 1-5, 6-15, 16-23, 24-31, 32-38, 39-44, 45-50, you need to provide more content for just one player base. Sure, there is still a scale of weak to strong, but the vast difference in power is removed resulting in less repetitive content needed just to reach "end game".[/quote]

Grinds can be fun, which was the main point I wanted to get across to you in my previous post. Grinds now don't tend to be as extreme as they were in the past (although people used to and still do enjoy them in that form) I can only think of one recent grind that was "extreme". I mean why do they include them so heavily in some Korean MMORPGs? Because people enjoy it, they find it "fun". In western MMORPGs I don't see them being the huge issue they once were, apart from one case as I said although I'm not sure if that was just a vocal minority talking. They are no longer detrimental to the game.


As for your last point. It is true that you can focus on providing content for "everyone" if you remove levels all together but it is really no different than providing content for different levels. Every player will still needs to go through the level 1-5, 6-15, 16-23, 24-31, 32-38, 39-44, 45-50 content so everyone will experience it. All the level system does is to remove the need for a player to go back and do X level content making said content obsolete for that specific player. This if anything limits repetition. In all honesty with any progression based system this will end up happening at some point whether the progression be level/gear or something else entirely.

Again I will reiterate the point that I am talking about MMORPGs like WoW/Rift/Aion. I'm trying (and maybe failing) to point out that there is a reason for them to have such systems in place and those systems need to be somewhat meaningful to have the desired effect or appeal to specific players. There are games which work well without grinds or with limited grinds (say sandbox MMORPGs or PvP centred games) but removing or limiting them in a game no longer (and probably never) meant a better game would be created, only that a different games would that would in turn appeal to a different type of player.

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[quote name='Bigdeadbug' timestamp='1317761561' post='4869100']
[quote]With what you say you feel that I have removed desire to attain the best of the best gear, I haven't, it is still there. It just isn't as vast a difference as typical MMORPGs. Those with the best gear will have an advantage. Those with the worst gear will still be able to compete. How is that flawed? All it does is reduce the difference between basic competitive gear and maximum gear to assist in lowering the gross inflation of character power. The desire for items will still be available.[/quote]


My point was to be careful when limiting the effect of such a system in a game where they are a significant presence because there is a reason they are there. I was attempting to show the other side of the argument, something I didn't pick up on in your original post. Theme-park MMORPGs use systems such as expansions/rubber banding to lessen this gap between old and new players (something I don't totally agree on but that's a discussion for another time). To be honest most of the typical MMORPGs I have played don't have much of an issue with this, I can only think of one example but that was due to bad planning on behalf of the developer.

[quote]Levels becoming less of a deciding factor doesn't take away from character development. You will still have to work towards your goals and increase your skills. Much like the reduction in overall power attained from gear this aims to reduce the overall power of a maximum character compared to a new character allowing for players to be able to play right from the get go. New players are not capable of single handedly competing against a veteran player nor is their rise to veteran a quick thing. Development is still required to compete directly, but not to play together.[/quote]


Much like I said above I was attempting to show the reasons why these systems are in place within some games. In fact, in these games, leveling becoming less important does take away from character development since it is the core way a player is shown/shows the degree by which their character has developed from its inception. The closer a new player is, power wise, to a veteran player the less drive a player will have to put the effort in to get to that level. It will also impact elements such as uniqueness. If you make everyone a badass from the word go no one is really a badass in the end.


[quote]Gear decay/destruction would hopefully be in effect as well. Not required, but works well in a game where gear isn't everything. You don't collect one set of gear and never worry about getting more until the next expansion comes out. You would need to constantly keep your character provided for, but not so often that it becomes detrimental to play. FFA PvP is not included, but full loot could still be implemented with certain restrictions to promote a healthy game experience. Full loot isn't a necessity, but I feel it wouldn't be terrible if done right, without FFA PvP.

These aren't aimed to be implemented into a standard MMORPG like WoW/Rift/Aion etc. Those games ARE designed to be gear/level based. Why is it so wrong to lessen the impact of those two factors, while still allowing for the development of your characters, to make a better game? More people being able to play together and compete without having to devote their life to a game is not a bad thing. Development of your character would still take time, it just wouldn't prevent you from being able to play the game.
[/quote]

See I think this is where my problem stems from, I was going to mention it in my previous post but I thought better of it. I was talking about "standard MMORPGs" since that is where the "grind" tends to be a perceived problem so I assumed (probably when I shouldn't have) that those where the games you wished to change. There are games that don't put a emphasis on those two factors and are very good in their own right but they also don't tend to suffer from the problems that grinds bring.

The odd thing I have noticed is that MMORPGs that feature a grind don't often require you to play for huge amounts of time (western ones anyway) only that you play somewhat regularly, whereas MMORPGs that feature the systems you talked about do often require more time to be invested to succeed in them.


[quote]Wouldn't you love to be able to take a week off and go on vacation without the fear of being left behind by your friends that have played while you haven't? Being able to jump right back into grouping with them when you return? This may not pertain to you directly, but I am sure there are plenty of people out there that would like to be able to enjoy doing stuff in real life without feeling handicapped from lack of playing their MMORPG as much as others. Frankly I think it would only add to the longevity of the game.
[/quote]Grinds themselves don't tend to hinder anyone leaving the game for a portion of time (say a week or two). If you leave for longer (say a few months) I think it's reasonable your friends would have progressed by a meaningful degree or what was the point in them continuing to play. Levelling grinds are a case where taking a week off may mean your friends are notably high level than you but in turn levels are a lot easier to gain MMORPGs now and there are systems in place to help them catch up. Gear grinds tend to be very slow paced meaning taking a week or two out wouldn't put you that far behind your friends. There are other grinds (such a reputation) where that can be a problem but such a setback tends not to be game breaking.

[quote]All of this goes along with any basic MMORPG requirements. The game has to be fun. There has to be things to do that are enjoyable for the players. I feel more can be provided if the vast difference in character power isn't as extreme. They can focus on the entirety of the game rather than the individual power stratas of the game. You don't need to provide more content for levels 1-5, 6-15, 16-23, 24-31, 32-38, 39-44, 45-50, you need to provide more content for just one player base. Sure, there is still a scale of weak to strong, but the vast difference in power is removed resulting in less repetitive content needed just to reach "end game".[/quote]

Grinds can be fun, which was the main point I wanted to get across to you in my previous post. Grinds now don't tend to be as extreme as they were in the past (although people used to and still do enjoy them in that form) I can only think of one recent grind that was "extreme". I mean why do they include them so heavily in some Korean MMORPGs? Because people enjoy it, they find it "fun". In western MMORPGs I don't see them being the huge issue they once were, apart from one case as I said although I'm not sure if that was just a vocal minority talking. They are no longer detrimental to the game.


As for your last point. It is true that you can focus on providing content for "everyone" if you remove levels all together but it is really no different than providing content for different levels. Every player will still needs to go through the level 1-5, 6-15, 16-23, 24-31, 32-38, 39-44, 45-50 content so everyone will experience it. All the level system does is to remove the need for a player to go back and do X level content making said content obsolete for that specific player. This if anything limits repetition. In all honesty with any progression based system this will end up happening at some point whether the progression be level/gear or something else entirely.

Again I will reiterate the point that I am talking about MMORPGs like WoW/Rift/Aion. I'm trying (and maybe failing) to point out that there is a reason for them to have such systems in place and those systems need to be somewhat meaningful to have the desired effect or appeal to specific players. There are games which work well without grinds or with limited grinds (say sandbox MMORPGs or PvP centred games) but removing or limiting them in a game no longer (and probably never) meant a better game would be created, only that a different games would that would in turn appeal to a different type of player.


[/quote]

One way to enhance the "grind" is to look back to EQ1. You could solo grind, but only did so really well on a few classes, twinks were started to make up for this class balance issue so non-solo classes could solo. Group grinding was where it was at. That is my problem with newer MMORPGs. Their group grinding sucks BAD. They give you little to no reason to group aside from burning through repetitive quests or running instanced dungeons. Quest grinds suck. It is one thing to provide story, but thousands upon thousands of quests that EVERYONE gets? Terrible. At least limit it to some degree to add to replayability.

EQ1 you would pretty much be able to go from grind group to grind group grinding mobs. Terrible grind, yes, but at least you could converse with other people in a small scale to make it more enjoyable. That social interaction has been lost. I haven't had it since DAoC.

So that is something for you to focus on, making it more feasible to group grind, because at least that adds to a multiplayer game. Solo grinds are boring, but if it is still an option to a degree then people can still level that way, just more slowly. Group it up please and kill off the extreme amount of instanced dungeons. You can still have some, but for craps sakes please get some persistent dungeons going. Bunch of slack ass developers.

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It would be nice to see group grinding reintroduced into the more common MMORPGs. There seems to have been a push towards making single-player content for them and the the first casualty was group based grinding or open world activities (such as quests). I can understand why such mechanics but I don't agree with how heavily they have been implemented. If you look at EvE online and their mining system when compared to say WoW you can see how group grinding is actively discouraged by WoW. Something that mystifies me somewhat when both are massively multiplayer games.

I think I covered my board view on quests in the "Quests" vs "Favors" thread so I won't go ranting about it here as well :P.

Instances do have their place, especially since they allow the developer more control over the player experience but the dominance of them in MMORPGs does annoy me. In some cases it gets to the the point where there's little reason for having an open world since most of the core content is in instance form. There are even a lot of "MMOs" out there that realistically are not MMOs at all.

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some rambling...

It's (nearly) unavoidable that there will be repetitive content you must do to achieve something. This can be classified as grinding.
Even though you walk through a "tunnel area", the feeling is very similar to killing mobs in an open enviroment (wow).
In wow you grind mobs to reach the next level. In dragon age you "grind" through mobs to reach the next location.
The game starts to fail when you're starting to feel that this is (very) repetitive, and you only have the goal in mind. It get's boring, and leads you to quit.
Atleast that 's how I quit in dragon age, and all mmorpg's I've played, including most other games.
Combat itself should be exciting, but exploration is something I'd like to see more of. Exploration can be reward in itself if the game world is interesting.
Not having quest arrows, pointing you from a to b will force you to actually explore, and not just go where the arrow is pointing
(I'm not saying there shouldn't be some form of directions though, just make it a bit more immersing).

[b]It seems people worry alot about what the perfect percentage growth per level is, and magnitude og grinding vs longevity of game.
I do feel like they're asking the wrong questions. [/b]I would ask what should your strength be at start and end of game, and how it should be throughout the game. I would through interactions, remind the player who's stronger than you, and who you have outranked. Typical mmo's where you're always in level scaled areas gives barely any sense of advancement. I would try my best to remove the feeling of grinding. More interesting mob behaviour. More interesting game world (fun to explore). Other things to make it not just about killing. Zelda mixes puzzle based elements, exploration and combat and it works quite well. Puzzle based stuff and exploration is very repeatable though. You can still make "grinding" more fun by making it more dynamic. Wow's homogenously distributed lone mobs, walking in determined yet seemingly random (non essential) paths and with aggro circle is almost the complete opposite of dynamic.

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[quote name='ImmoralAtheist' timestamp='1317846959' post='4869532']Typical mmo's where you're always in level scaled areas gives barely any sense of advancement. I would try my best to remove the feeling of grinding. More interesting mob behaviour. More interesting game world (fun to explore). Other things to make it not just about killing. Zelda mixes puzzle based elements, exploration and combat and it works quite well. Puzzle based stuff and exploration is very repeatable though. You can still make "grinding" more fun by making it more dynamic.[/quote]Good point.

When the game design doesn't provide enough substantually different actions for the players to take or factors to weigh up against each other then even a game with a lot of varied content can become repetitive to the point where progression feels like grinding. I conclude that grinding is just an extreme example of repetitiveness.

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