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BadSpock's Logical Conclusions.

My random thoughts about MMORPGs. A bit of critique, suggestion, debate, and insanity. Enjoy.

Author: BadSpock

The "Grind"

Posted by BadSpock Monday November 26 2007 at 3:13PM
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A game with levels and with gear that becomes stronger the higher level you are (i.e. any real RPG) is always going to be considered, by some, to be a "grind fest." Any skill based game where you advance your skills through using them, i.e. a progression system, will be considered by some to be a "grind."

It is unavoidable.

Story telling, environment, and varied game play will do much to destract players from "the grind," but in the end it's a matter of personal preference.

I would say that any person looking for a 100% "grind free" game should not be playing MMORPGs.

Having any sort of advancement system, be it skills or classes and levels, will contain elements many will call "a grind." The only solution is a character advancement free system. But then is it truly a RPG?

RPG's since the days of tabletop have nearly always included levels, stat tweaking, gear, etc. To remove these it to remove the elements that makes a game a RPG.

Even many modern FPS games like Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4 contain elements of a "grind."

In fact, the "grind" is defined by many as "repetitive content." What game does NOT have repetitive content? It is a COMPLETELY subjective measure, and as such, the "grind" is masked by other completely subjective means.

Meaning: What can you do to mask the repetitive nature of the game? There are many answers to this, but it boils down to "varied and different" content.

The same is true for real life. Those who work 8-5 know what I'm talking about. School is th same, college is generally more varied, but you are still performing repetitive tasks. Anything on a "schedule" can be considered repetitve by definition alone.

These things will never change.

The KEY factor is entertainment. Why can you do, both in your virtual life and real life, to distract yourself from "the grind?"

Many of us here at MMORPG.com choose to play video games (obviously) to mask the grind of our normal, daily lives.

That being said...

The only way to completely remove the "grind" in a game is 100% player to player interaction. No skills other then what the controls allow you to do. Some might call this "twich based" but they are thinking too linear. It's not hand eye coordination per say, but instead no hidden dice rolls or statistical calculations, what you do with the control you have (keyboard and mouse, joystick, game pad etc.) is what you get.

No NPCs, no quests or objectives, no mobs, nothing. Just a world full of players, and the actions they choose dictated by the limitations of the control scheme and rule structure.

NO GAME. NONE. Not even EVE nor DF can claim this, so don't even say it.

Why? Because this type of "game" is not a game at all, it's a simulation. A social simulation. Some people want that, obviously from reading sales statistics, more people play games because they want a "game."

You want a game with zero grind? You have to create one with an empty expanse of land, a control scheme that lets you manipulate anything in the game in nearly any possible way (based on rules), and no A.I. controlled anything (unless of course the AI is self aware which is currently impossible.)

It's simple, you see an object in the world, and you can interact with it in any way you choose to, as long as you obey the rules governing your actions. For example, you see a rock on the ground. You can pick it up and put it in your pocket, or throw it. If you throw it, the rules of gravity and mass, acceleration, trajectory etc. are put into effect. Or you could ignore the rock.

Modern game A.I. is becoming advanced enough to allow us many options for approaching a situation, or many possibilities to how the A.I. reacts to our inputs, but NO A.I. that isn't self aware and capable of expanding it's programming on it's own will ever give the dynamic range of options available to us in real life.

And even THEN! Players will probably still complete the same repetitive tasks over and over and over again. Thus, creating a "grind."

So, ask not for a game without a "grind."

Instead, ask for a game with fun and varied systems, capable of dynamic interaction and effective choice making proceedures that have a lasting impact on your character and the world around you. Ask for a game that is entertaining. Those trying to ask for anything more, need to simply do a reality check.

biofellis writes:

A couple quick points-

1. MMORPGs are yet to be proper RPGs to begin with- so to say 'should not be playing MMORPGs' really doesn't fit exactly.

2. I personally consider the grind the manditory treadmilling needed to acquire certain character assets/abilities- ie mounts at level 40 or certain skills. If a skill train of 'ride horse', 'ride beast', 'mounted combat HTH' allowed for the same crap you get just cause you're 40, then (except for the ridiculous price to pay for a mount in many games) that aspect of 'the grind' is effectively removed. You still have to rank those skills- but the 'dedicate your life' aspect of the grind is gone.

3. Repetitve content is just a lame game. Vary basic combat, and combat from different 'fighting damage shells' more so that different monsters need different strategies- not just better gear/healing. It's not 'the grind' IMO- just sad, and makes it more obvious when you have to kill a hundred shells to advance so you can do something ridiculous (like ride a mount).

4. You describe an FPS like Half-Life 2, but deeper- and as an MMO- it could be neat- except for the AI as you realize. the primary characteristic of role-playing is not to interact, but to evolve (as per epic fantasy and most sci-fi anyway). So, without skills, it's not an RPG, and without levels & advancement, challenges can't require improvement, research, or much more than lock/key systems (even hidden ones 'I talked to the guy, not let me pass').

Anyway, 'the grind' is not entertaining. Asking for more isn't unreal- it's just a particulat viewpoint of what obviously sucks & is immediately reconizable as not having to.

Interesting perspective otherwise.

Mon Nov 26 2007 4:41PM Report
BadSpock writes:

well you seemed to miss my point entirely lol.

I agree and stated that it isn't a RPG without skills/levels/classes etc. etc. hence why I said such a thing as I proposed would be a simulation, not a game and certainly not a MMORPG.

And the AI I described is currently impossible.

I agree that the "grind" is kind of a neccessary in a MMORPG because a RPG is about advancing. As you said, a manditory treadmill. What I was trying to say is that people who don't realize that shouldn't be playing MMORPGs (or at least complaining about "grinding")

So yeah, I think you missed the point entirely lol.

The main point is, all true MMORPGs have a grind, but the quality of the game is in the variety and entertainment value of the content, and the better it is the less you notice the grind.

Mon Nov 26 2007 4:53PM Report
biofellis writes:

'all true MMORPGs'? I'll leave that alone- there are none far as I know. You also paraphrased my view on treadmilling, but no matter.

"What I was trying to say is that people who don't realize that shouldn't be playing MMORPGs (or at least complaining about "grinding")"

Your proposed solution (you admitted yourself) doesn't even qualify as an RPG- it's a sim. But again, no matter. If your point is that skills and levels in itself make a grind, and that's an RPG- then fine- except I defined what I thought the grind was, which is different than your definition. Lets define things so we're each right in our own heads!

Yeah- I missed your point then. Just because my point was that, if I wanted to ride a horse like little girls do at camp, I have to friggin grind a few days of gameplay, just to acquire 1 stupid asset- that doesn't mean that BS couldn't be fixed just like I proposed- no- there's variety & entertainment for 40 levels! The models are so awesome, I barely notice the repetitive BS needed to get a stupid mount.

Furthermore, to ask that the grind be removed means, as you posted 'Those trying to ask for anything more, need to simply do a reality check.'

So...

Mounted Riding Grindfix (1.0)

  • Skills system to mounted combat- [x] Workable
  • Self-defined as 'impossible' AI-      [  ] Workable (oops- not)

Reality check: Failed

Mon Nov 26 2007 5:43PM Report
wan7830 writes:

People use the word grind to often that it's meaning get lost in the way...The OP makes a very good point, that as long as you want advancement, you need to work for it, and this process is usually repetitive. Whenever people see a player repeat an action twice, they go to Walmart, buy a bunch of colorful markers and post boards, and begin to protest the game holding giant "GRIND" signs...

The definition of grind is FUNLESS repetitive play!

"but in the end it's a matter of personal preference."

It's impossible to make a game without repeats, but you can consider a game grindless is you have fun during the process.

Now I feel stupid cuz I'm just repeating the OP's point -_-

Mon Nov 26 2007 5:50PM Report
biofellis writes:

I see his point & have no real problem with it. It's a real perception, and in many cases a problem. I just challenged his point that it's exactly as he defines it, or unsolvable by any means.

MMORPG=(donkey[you] chasing carrot on stick).

With mounts, this is true. This is grind to me.

MMORPG=(You learning something/advancing/journeying to carrot)

With levels, this should be true. This is 'grind' to him.

Anyway, enough's enough. Thanks for the perspective.

Mon Nov 26 2007 6:09PM Report
wan7830 writes:

I really don't want to post twice...but biofellis' post is so hilarious, I just have to comment on his posts...

I don't even know how to start...you seems to be missing the point completely...I'm going to record this page and save it for comedy purposes...

Parts that make me laugh:

"except I defined what I thought the grind was, which is different than your definition. Lets define things so we're each right in our own heads!" -The paragraph ends there...with no further explanation...It's like saying, "let me tell you what it is!", and then pause for 30 seconds.

"Yeah- I missed your point then. Just because my point was that,..." - That is pure gold, signature material right there.

"there's variety & entertainment for 40 levels!" -Yeah! I hate this BS so much that I will keep playing it just to make a point!

"Reality check: Failed" -Reality check CAN BE FAILED (OR PASSED)! I am so going to quote this out of context!

Simply outstanding!

Mon Nov 26 2007 6:23PM Report
biofellis writes:
  • Lots of laughing at people going on here.
  • The paragraph ends there...with no further explanation...It's like saying, "let me tell you what it is!", and then pause for 30 seconds. I thought I made it pretty clear that each of our definitions of what 'the grind' was were different, and figured anyone would easily realize that further 'intelligent' discussion on 'that' subject would only come by accepting other's views. Ignoring other definitions of the same word so you can be right isn't going to do this.
  • That is pure gold, signature material right there. Sarcasm was missed- big surprise there. He can miss my point and laugh at me for 'missing his' at the same time- just like you. Priceless.
  • Yeah! I hate this BS so much that I will keep playing it just to make a point! I don't know whether you agree with me or not here. I was being sarcastic which I guess you think is funny somehow. Whatever.
  • Reality check CAN BE FAILED (OR PASSED)! I am so going to quote this out of context! Again, whatever point you are making, it can only be accomplished by completely ignoring that obtaining mounts can be made less of a grind, and (more importantly) that the OP's assertion that people asking 'for anything more, need to simply do a reality check.' is invalid.

Good that you could drop by and add so much to the discussion. Your ideas are innovative and unique, a truly keen perspective. Your inabiliy to keep track of logic or recognize sarcasm do indeed make me worth laughing at- I mean really- I have a different definition of 'the grind' than you, so I need so badly to be LOLed at.

You are so uber. Probably 133t too. I am put in my place. Bookmark this page, show it to your friends.

"but in the end it's a matter of personal preference."

uh-huh.

Mon Nov 26 2007 7:03PM Report
BadSpock writes:

what the hell just happened to the comments on this blog post? I'm so confused!

I'll paraphrase my last sentance with its "intended" meaning for clarification....

For those looking for a MMORPG without any grind at all, you need to do a "reality check" because you won't find any.

But I do agree biofellis that in a MMORPG you are trying to as you said "learning something/advancing/journeying to carrot" and that isn't neccessarily a grind, it's only a grind if the game systems present it in a fashion that doesn't mask the repetitive nature of the tasks you must complete to learn/advance/journey.

Mon Nov 26 2007 8:23PM Report
qombi writes:

So true. I cringe inside a little every time I see some little kid refer to World of Warcraft or any of the easy games a "grind". If that is a "grind" then they really don't need to be playing a game where you advance your character, they should stick to FPS games.

Mon Nov 26 2007 11:30PM Report
qombi writes:

To add another comment, if World of Warcraft is a game then so is single player rpgs, they have levels and quest? World of Warcraft can be quested all the way (I hate that linear easy garbage btw) just like in single player rpgs, THERE IS NO GRIND. These kids shouldn't play any single player rpg either then. No Neverwinter Nights, Baldur's Gate, Diablo, Oblivion .. etc etc.

Mon Nov 26 2007 11:33PM Report
JB47394 writes:

I don't define RPGs as games with levels, progression and an inherent grind.  I define RPGs as games where players play a role.  Levels are not required in order to play a role.  Give all skills to all player characters in Eve Online and you'd still have a vast RPG.  The thing that an RPG needs is a structure that supports a natural course of interactions between characters.

Grinds are despised because they require players to complete a series of tasks that they aren't interested in doing so that they can get a certain result.  Grinds are worst when that series of tasks is a nothing more than the repetition of a single, simpleminded task.

Killing things for a week in order to get a horse is just silly.  There is no natural cause and effect there.  There is no role involved.  It is simply a means of telling players that having that horse is a sign of a willingness to grind through a series of unrelated tasks.

Eve Online is a far better RPG than the 3D fantasy MMOs.  Drop the time-based skill progression and it's almost a pure RPG.  The fact that the role played is one of a space-based paranoid megalomaniac makes it unappealing to me, but it does foster roleplaying because it supports a natural course of interactions between characters.

Does Eve Online have grinds?  Yes.  Are they a mandatory part of playing roles in Eve Online?  No.  Take any grind and it can be either turned into a form of engaging entertainment or automated.

Tue Nov 27 2007 10:09AM Report
BadSpock writes:

Does Eve Online have grinds? OH yes.

Yes, RPGs are about playing a role. EVE does allow you to play a role effectively, probably more so then many other MMORPGs due to the open nature of the game....

But mission/isk grinding is a worse grind then any game I've played besides SWG.

Is there anything wrong with that? Not neccessarily. It's just a different perspective on gaming.

Sandbox games allow you the freedom to play a role that you choose, but without developer created content, you end up grinding a LOT in order to advance your character to the point where you can effectively play that role.

Linear MMORPGs let you choose which role to play, rather then define your own role, but give you content to "mask" the grind as you advance your character.

You say killing things for a week in order to get a horse is silly, but I say grinding Isk for a month to buy a new ship is even more silly.

In linear games like Warcraft you don't simply grind kills for a week to buy that horse, you do quests. Yes, doing quests can be a "grind" but if you allow yourself to read the text and immerse yourself in the situation and story presented in the quests, the "grind" is much more hidden...

It's only a "grind" doing quests if you are looking at the quest as simply the means to an end, rather then understand that the quest is a mini story, an objective of itself, rather then simply something to grind on in order to eventually have the money to buy a horse.

In a game like EVE, the missions do indeed have a story, at least the ones I've played through... but most "grind" missions and mining simply to make Isk in order to buy new equipment/ships/insurance etc. etc. so that they can have the resources they need to fill to "role" they have defined for themselves.

So, it's a matter of personal preference.

I'd rather have a game that tried it's damnedest to mask the grind in what us linear MMO fans call "content"

Tue Nov 27 2007 11:50AM Report
JB47394 writes:

Heerobya, take out the grinds.  Pick a game and take them out.  All that's left once they're out is non-achievement entertainment.  Explorers will go exploring without the need to kill monsters before getting a horse.  They'll just go get a horse and go riding.  Crafters will start work on whatever they care to build without the need to kill monsters before getting a hammer and without the need to hammer out nails before being able to hammer out flanges, etc.  Socializers will figure out the music and emoting features so that they can give performances or play casual games in a tavern, whatever.

Now add back challenges for achievers.  They want progressions.  They could be based on player skill, but if preferred, they can be as simple as repeating some task over and over again until a counter reaches a magic number.  Then something dramatic happens to give that player their sense of achievement.

Whatever that achievement is, it cannot be central to the structure of the game because that would obviate every other form of entertainment in it.  Create a game of free-climbing of mountains for achievers.  Make it a PvP game, where players can push each other off the mountain.  Let them climb small mountains first, in order to accumulate the gear that lets them climb ever larger mountains.  Ultimately, Everest awaits, which is a massive challenge.

If we were to take out the grinds from World of Warcraft, there would be no game left.  The game is only about grinds.  If we were to take all of them out of Eve Online, the players would still battle out for dominion of the galaxy.  It is possible for a PvE game to present roles to players as well.  For example, when there are enemies.  If somebody wants to fight enemies, let them fight them.  No grinds.  Just go fight.  It's Street Fighter meets World of Warcraft.

The key to entertainment without grinds is providing intrinsically entertaining content.  People play such content because they enjoy the content.  That, as opposed to extrinsically entertaining content, which is played because of the material reward given for playing the content.

Tue Nov 27 2007 2:04PM Report
vajuras writes:

JB47394 writes great, compelling posts I agree with him 100%. Clap, clap, you rock man. Yep, RPGs were never about grinding up Levels and such. I can portray a role without the grind. Mind you- I really dont mind content in Single Player RPGs but MMORPGs usually miss it

And heerboya, you can purchase ISK from a farmer. You don't have to grind in EVE Online. Not saying to purchase ISK I know I never did- but I'm sure people do it seeing all the gold seller ads for EVE someone is keeping them in business

Tue Nov 27 2007 7:54PM Report
BadSpock writes:

I agree with you JB.

I generally always do.

However you speak so often about ideals and wishes, sugar coating the harsh realities that MMORPGs do require a grind.

Yes, you can do all kind of fun things in EVE that aren't simply "grinding for Isk" but you still have to grind for Isk so that when your ship blows up, you can buy another one.

If you removed the "grind" from EVE, yes, you could do all kinds of fun stuff, but all systems in a game are related. EVE is a game of economies, and you need money to participate in the economy.

All I am trying to say, is that all MMO games have a grind, but if the game content, either player created or developer created, is fun and engaging, it doens't feel like a grind. It feels like fun. That's all.

Yes, Vajuras, you can play a role without the grind. But that requires that the role you are playing fills the needs created by the game systems. Let me be specifc, if you play the role of a trader, maybe you go from system to system buying and selling equipment for a profit. Or you play the role of a miner, you mine asteroids and then sell the precious ores for the highest bidder. You are happy, you are content, you enjoy the content that you choose to participate in in order to fufill your requirements for the role you have choosen.

To you, these activities are fun and interesting. You enjoy it. To some, mining and trading all day to make money would be a "grind."

See, it's entirely subjective.

I'll say it again for clarifcation,

All MMO games have a grind, but if the game content, either player created or developer created, is fun and engaging (to you), it doens't feel like a grind(to you). It feels like fun(to you).

That's all. That's all that matters.

Wed Nov 28 2007 11:06AM Report
vajuras writes:

Yeah an MMORPG without grind is relaly mind blowing right? I get headaches when I think about it. I "like" grinding I do. I just want it to be 'optional' if you feel me. I liked grinding ISK in EVE online I did. just give me options on how to do it. Like trade, craft, pvp, pve (agent runs), etc. yeah the Agent missions were kinda dull though. But you get my gist- if an mmorpg could just give us many options to grind for $$$ its such a nice thing

EVE does have a sort of interesting time based skill timesink involved.

Man, every game I play has progression whether SP RPG or FPS pretty much. I think I'm okay with grinding as long as the activites are fun.

the people that must not have grind period I am perplexed by them to be honest. I would love to play such a game but I stil want goals like building a house and taking over the world haha

Wed Nov 28 2007 6:14PM Report
vajuras writes:

btw I know Guild Wars not considered a full blown MMO so it doesnt count in a way. But I felt they NAILED it! I leveled so many characters to max cap and I had the option to PVP for any skills I wanted. They really nailed it man

Wed Nov 28 2007 6:16PM Report
vajuras writes:

sorry for the triple post I just wanted to correct one thing you said about losing a ship in EVE Online. Well, that depends bro. If you fly little ships like me then the insurance pays you off. you only lose a tiny bit if anything (my guildies crafted my ships and I insured it so I think I made ISK from dying lol).

But maybe if you lose a TITAN then yes that maybe a ton. But dont forget EVE pays out the Insurance.

Doesnt make sense I hear you say! But think bout it- I lose my ship I gotta buy a new ship and ammo. The game is giving me money to pay a crafter. Genuis! EVE online is best modern day 'sandbox' MMO too me. its in a different genre altogether almost

Wed Nov 28 2007 6:35PM Report

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