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suliman

How to avoid open-world grind?

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On 2/9/2019 at 5:54 PM, frob said:

For a well-designed game players will collect all the resources they need plus many extras by following along the main path.

How do you motivate the player to collect, without overwhelming him with thoughts like 'For what purpose do i need this? What else do i need to craft some unknown thingy maybe? Where in the 50 pages of inventory, status, map, or quest GUI can i craft / exchange / sell or whatever?'

Personally, when playing an open world game i like to collect stuff i come across, but i rarely use it for anything because i'm overwhelmed / bored.

The first game coming to my mind which does this well is the old Magic Carpet with its Mana. It works because it's the only resource in the whole game, and it's application is simple to grasp but also interesting, diverse and critical.

So is this something most modern games may do wrong or am i just an exception? 

 

 

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On 2/9/2019 at 10:54 AM, frob said:

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.

I heartily disagree, as with this method you eliminate the need for the player to think for himself because you provide everything he needs on his way to the main goal. You want the player to use his wits and knowledge of the game and seek out what he wants to gather. And secondly, it's also a form of player choice. Should I get X or Y? And how much should I get? Third, the activity itself loses its identity since it just becomes part of the conglomerate of the main path.

 

On 2/8/2019 at 8:35 AM, suliman said:

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?

I can't know if its the realism that makes it feel grindy, but anyone can tell you that some realism kills fun factor. What I can tell you is if it does feel grindy, its because the activity (or activies) is no longer producing a positive experience. You need to add meaning to the activity or clean up the activity itself so that it flows pleasantly. You can add meaning in several ways. Make the player feel like he's partaking in a cool, interesting activity. That's the role playing aspect of the activity; make the context interesting and engaging. Another way to add meaning to the activity is to tweak the rewards of the activity, which is the bigger context, such as the gains in stats, the material rewards, the progression towards completing the game, and any other type of progression. I may be missing some forms of meaning, but this is just what I can think of atm. The point is that if the player is enjoying the activity, it won't feel like a grind because he won't be thinking about it as work, but as play. The other thing I mentioned was cleaning up the activity so that its a pleasant activity without hick ups, annoyances, or tedious snags that bring down the level of enjoyment, which leads to the feeling of grind.

So grind isn't just repetition. It's work without play, which is found in repetition, yes, but repetition can be enjoyable and not feel like a grind.

Finally, you mentioned the open world, nonlinear progression as possibly a problem making the game into a grind, but its not clear to me how so and you'd need to elaborate. My only guess is you're afraid you're overwhelming the player with too many activities and giving him a lack of a feeling of completion? I don't know what you're asking.

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On 2/17/2019 at 3:14 AM, Touchmybow said:

Finally, you mentioned the open world, nonlinear progression as possibly a problem making the game into a grind, but its not clear to me how so and you'd need to elaborate. My only guess is you're afraid you're overwhelming the player with too many activities and giving him a lack of a feeling of completion? I don't know what you're asking.

If the goal is to simply accumulate wealth, or get more levels, or get to the next/harder area, then the goal is "too open world" and it may not seem like a goal at all.

What I need is a goal this is beyond the simple grind (collecting stuff/skill/xp whatever to progress). Maybe I can look to games such as far cry or GTA: the main mission line is the goal, and the "earning" (grind) is to be able to tackle the next "storyline mission"... (you need something that is acquired in the open world grind, such as an item, enough levels or 500 gold pieces to take the caravan to the next valley).

So HOW you are able to tackle the next main task is open ended (so the player can do this in several ways) thus making it "an open world game".

Thoughts?

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I don't know what the best way to avoid grinding is, but if you make grinding fun then it won't be a problem. Take, for example, games like Warframe, Borderlands or Monster Hunter, they're all grindfests but they're fun grindfests. In Warframe, you have a lot of control over the movements of your character and it feels great to jump around and slice enemies to farm for gear you'll use to do the same things again. In Borderlands, nothing beats the shower of loot you get every time you beat a boss so that you can beat the same boss at a harder level. In Monster Hunter, you feel great to finally be able to topple huge creatures to get that weapon or amor you really need before advancing to more challenging monsters. With all these games, the core grind remains throughout the whole game but they're fun, so it doesn't get repetitive.

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Posted (edited)

-Turn grinding into a source of consumables widely used by the player, like having one-use spell enhancers/barriers dropped by different enemies or healing items that have low healing but can be spammed, of course, those items should be on their own dedicated button to prevent turning their use into a chore

- Make grinding have more than one reward, specially turn the grind into some short term objective AND the standard long term one

Example, you need 100 tortoise pelts to trade for Unstorable Pouch, or you need to hit 1000 times with your stick to upgrade your Stick Mastery Technique, then, killing tons of enemies is a must but is also very boring, to avoid that you give your character a power bar that can store up to 5 special power strikes and every power strike has to be charged by killing 5 enemies,  killing 100 enemies every time is a chore but 5-25 is not so much

variations:

Have a tree that feeds on the essence of defeated enemies, more essences give better fruits

have merchants or the state pay for every monster eliminated 

the aforementioned consumables

Based on this imagine you go on a quest to fetch the All-Seeing-Eye but the road is plagued by scorpions and tortoises, you kill the enemies and obtain fire barriers, water shoots and refill your power strikes to spam everything against the Fire Cockatoo guarding the eye, then you go back to the town and deliver the pelts required for the Unstorable Pouch, cash in your reward from killing monsters and feed essences to the tree to receive some healing fruits,  this way a fetch quest is still a fetch quest but not as boring as it could be

Edited by Gin Hindew 110

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Posted (edited)

How about making AI-based enemies that would be able to 'adapt' to players' tactics? I think this could help you avoid the feeling of 'grind' and make it more fun and strategic for the players.

That might be an 'expensive' solution though.

[off-topic comment deleted by moderator]

Edited by Tom Sloper
OT/hijack

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Posted (edited)

To me, grinding involves killing trash mobs repeatedly. I think developers do this because it's the simplest way to extend gameplay time without having to create new content for the game, and different people have different degrees of how much grind they enjoy or can at least put up with.

There's ways to add variety to grind though. If your first grind quest was to kill 10 rats. Your next grind quest could be to kill 10 rats in under 1 minute. You've imposed a new challenge to make the task feel somewhat fresh. Your next quest could be to battle 10 rats simultaneously rather than one at a time, killing them all and surviving. Your next task could be to protect 1 "good" rat from 10 evil rats attacking him.

My point is, even though grind involves no "new" content creation, you can still make it feel new or refreshing by adding specific challenges associated with the grind. Grind doesn't have to be a bad thing; it can be fun.

 

 

Edited by Jordan Hoffman

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5 hours ago, Jordan Hoffman said:

To me, grinding involves killing trash mobs repeatedly. I think developers do this because it's the simplest way to extend gameplay time without having to create new content for the game, and different people have different degrees of how much grind they enjoy or can at least put up with.

There's ways to add variety to grind though. If your first grind quest was to kill 10 rats. Your next grind quest could be to kill 10 rats in under 1 minute. You've imposed a new challenge to make the task feel somewhat fresh. Your next quest could be to battle 10 rats simultaneously rather than one at a time, killing them all and surviving. Your next task could be to protect 1 "good" rat from 10 evil rats attacking him.

My point is, even though grind involves no "new" content creation, you can still make it feel new or refreshing by adding specific challenges associated with the grind. Grind doesn't have to be a bad thing; it can be fun.

 

 

Once you create those quests, technically it is new content. It's just recycling.

I agree, challenges are limited in most mmos. I'm talking about quests that actually make you try. The thing is though that they should be optional, as most players like to casually play through content. I'll never forget the 45 timed scholomance run in WoW, I had to call upon a friend in a high place, haha. It was the first time I had to really perform in an otherwise grind/farm setting.

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This is actually a question I've been trying to answer for the last few months, and I think the only way to get around this is to either A) create a game completely unrelated to grinding at all, or B) have a smaller gameplay loop for material/equipment gathering that feeds into a larger scale late-game (like WoW raiding or Mount & Blade politics)

The game I've been trying to conceptualize is an MMO, open-world PvE game that combines elements of World of Warcraft world building, Black Desert combat & scale, Monster Hunter creature design and Escape from Tarkov weapon customization. Each of those games has a major grind loop for parts & gear, and the best way I can think of to eliminate that grind is to do the following:

1. Require fewer resources to craft an individual piece of equipment, making it easier to get your hands on something usable while avoiding mass farming and flooding markets/inventories as well as making those few rare resources of higher quality actually useful instead of just sitting in your inventory (i.e. Albion Online). 

2. Make each resource gained in some way unique, but predictable. This will make players care more about WHAT they are gathering rather than how MANY. Think of two hunks of iron ore; both will make iron swords, while one may be heavier and more durable while one may make a faster, sharper blade. You would have to make these stats in some way explicit so that players who are looking for a material to make their preference of item will not be grinding through unlucky RNG.

3. Make stats the safety net and competitive edge around player skill. Stat-based interactions, combat or otherwise, will inevitably lead to chasing the highest possible numbers; by allowing the bulk of player success to be decided by their skill, you encourage players not to grind endlessly for the one thing they "need" to take on a certain level of challenge, but still make them useful for players that do want to play solo, competitively, or need the extra buffer of defense or damage to make up for a lower skill level.

4. Limit the gathering loop by either limiting player inventory capacity, or by shortening the amount of time that they will be out gathering at a time. This would normally be frustrating to players (any looting game with an inventory limit ever), but combining this with point #1 and #5 it could (COULD!!!) make a much more farm-friendly environment.

5. Balance the importance of loot and play. Way too many games put their emphasis too heavily on gaining either equipment way past the point of barring low-level access and losing high-level appeal, or on the gear having complete irrelevance in the face of other factors (weighted leveling systems like Wolfenstein NB or new God of War). Balance this out carefully so that gear enables approaching the gameplay in a fun and interesting way, and the gameplay rewards the player with more gameplay through loot. Just having a shiny thing in your inventory means nothing if there is nothing to use it on!

6. Last one, and this is most subjective: eliminate RNG. It is highly tempting to make rare things rare by making them randomly drop, but this disproportionately varies rewards for players not according to their skill or achievement, but by random chance. This is the source of many grind-heavy loops (mass mat farming through mob grouping, being the most notable) and is a function that I think can be replaced by creative exploration, combat, and character progression solutions.

Wall of text over! Love this question. :)

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You need to have a fun game loop.  If your game feels boring after doing the same general task several times, then your game loop sucks.

Keep in mind random-gen doesn't equal to fun.  You need to apply rules to your generation in order to make the generation feel fun.  Complete randomness is actually bad.  There has to be things that you craft yourself and put into the generator.

As a side note, you're making several open world games and a strategy game.  You should probably slow down there, boss.

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