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suliman

How to avoid open-world grind?

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Hi

Im designing several open-world games. Generally you are free to roam and do different things. You collect items or gain abilities or resources and can push further into the world or attempt harder tasks.

How to avoid that the game feels grindy or repetative? I rely on procedurally generated worlds mostly.

As an example: I work on a reimagening of "lost dutchman mine". You play a miner in the wild west. You search for deposits, mine valuables, sell them in towns and buy equipment and supplies to keep finding better mines or travel to harder areas with more dangers (and payoff). But it already feels slightly grindy... Is this a consequence of wanting stuff to be "realistic"? Like you need to gain money to buy food and things to keep going, at the same time the money is also what you need to progress etc.

If you have a linear set of "levels" such as in super mario it would be easier I think: each designed challenge needs to be completed and then the game gives you another challenge. But in an sort of open world, how can I handle this better?

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Management of your resources (eg money) is part of the gameplay. Im more concerned with progression or goal. That these are achieved by grinding or collecting. Or is this something innate in open world games?

Edited by suliman

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You can't avoid "grinding" in an open-world rpg. The reason is that you have to do certain actions multiple times to make your character better, acquire new stuff, buy an house, an horse, etc.

 

What you can do is to make the grinding fun, and the game that does this better is don't starve in my opinion.

Every day you mostly gravitate towards the same 4-5 "things" that you have to do: eat, sleep, explore, find resources.

But the thing that makes the game so fun to play is that even if you HAVE to constantly do all of those things, you can find yourself in a virtually infinite number of interesting situations depending on a hanful of variables. (season, weather, mental sanity, daytime)...

 

Don't try to avoid grinding, make it fun instead because the player will always need to do it!

 

Leonardo

Edited by erpeo93

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In my mind, I have always associated grinding with MMO's, rather than open-world. The idea was to create a simple reward loop to keep players engaging in a cost-effective manner for the developer (less content, less new gameplay). 

 

In your example of the mine, some suggestions that pop-up on my mind:

1) Make the upgrades meaningful in a sense of gameplay variation. Doing the same thing, but with higher numbers is bound to feel grindy. Maybe the new mines could require some sort of active skill that the other ones don't. Maybe you could mine with different equipment (like hydraulic mining, or dynamites).

 

2) Create a diversion for the time you are not mining. I think Stardew Valley does this superbly. You could have meaningful interactions going on, or you could set up a sort of company, or your own ore processing factory. 

 

3) If mining isn't actually the goal (but say, exploration), maybe you could get away without the gathering part of the equation. You "solve" a particular mine, and get ores based on your performance (how much you explored and so on).

 

All in all, I don't believe open-world needs to be grindy, but you also need to be conscious about how much time you expect people to do things. It is very difficult to make a gathering activity engaging, fun and non-grindy for 40-60h, but you could potentially do so if you trim the time-to-max of your (mining) activity.

 

I hope something out is this is helpful :)

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I find grind mechanics are also popular in free mobile projects to extend play time with minimum investment in assets or story. I don't find them necessary.

I would like simple routine clicking replaced by some way of automation, like making trading routes to move/trade resources, controlling mine excavation speed by some progress bar etc.

I think "grinding" routine could be replaced with automation during how game progress forward.

I liked how in Witcher they enhanced potion making, when you need to brew it only once, without a need to gather all of the herbs for each time you want to make a same potion.

Though too many automation can make game more of a strategy than an RPG. 

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Grind is what happens when the game runs out of new content (or hides the new content behind a pay wall that requires grinding to overcome).  There are only two ways to avoid it: make the game shorter, or increase the amount of novel content.

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Came in to say the same as the previous post.

Grinding basically means you're doing the same task too many times, and for no real benefit.  Make the task shorter or relevant to the game.

I have no interest in hunting up 25 quality pelts, but if I happen to come across that many pelts doing other tasks, I may not consider it a grind. For a well-designed game players will collect all the resources they need plus many extras by following along the main path.  If the task is for some non-essential bonus for a 100%'er or someone looking for an exotic element it might also be okay, like collect 300 elemental hearts for a unique elemental super-weapon, but that should not be along the main path.

If something feels like a grind and is not for an external challenge, make it shorter or otherwise integrate it into the gameplay challenge. 

This is a challenge in subscription-based MMOs, since they depend on players sticking around for revenue. If they can use psychological tricks like Skinner boxes to keep you playing long after it is fun, they will do it because that keeps the revenue flowing. They generally try to give quality content, but the grind still get built in.

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Stop chasing a "glorious vision" and limit ("contain") the design too something that can be a good game.  1+1=Chess.  You aren't going to achieve the glorious vision of "The Matrix", an "open world" or "living universe".  That will take 80-100 years, so don't try.  If you are making an "open world" make it a very small one, or separated into "areas" on a strategic map and not a single connected thing.

The glorious vision of the "open world" itself is your problem with "grinding"... it is a "grind" of emptiness and no game, just an empty "world" to "explore".

 

Edited by Kavik Kang

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Since I know almost nothing about the gameplay, I have 2 conflicting solutions for you.

1) What are the fun/exciting parts?  Streamline everything else a bit to get to those more easily.
2) Can the grind itself enhance the experience?  In Runescape, everyone naturally hates the grind, so the time spent grinding adds value to everything gained from it and makes full-looting PvP that much more tense.

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