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General Discussion

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News & Features Discussion  » General: Why Did the MMORPG Become a Grind?

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77 posts found

Novice Member

Joined: 7/03/04
Posts: 3618

7/11/12 10:08:25 PM#61

OP, thank you for a great article.  You sum up how I feel.  Also thanks for tipping the hat to Precu SWG.  The game was not perfect, but for many of us it was an immersive home for awhile.


I have not been playing mmos much lately.  I did subscribe for a month to Tera because I wanted to experience the combat mechanics and beautiful artwork, but the game design did not hold my interest.


Holding out for the next sandbox.  I may try a themepark here and there (maybe GW2), but I'm enjoying games like Skyrim and Fallout 3 New Vegas until something good comes along. 


Highlighted Blogger

Joined: 3/25/09
Posts: 666

Give me sparkly, twinkly...

7/11/12 11:01:25 PM#62


Are you really asking the question of how these games became a grind? Well, I can  going to sum it up in one word.


Each and every one of these wonderfully crafted games are created by a company that are backed by investors who think they are going to make a lot of money. Nothing runs on handshakes and hugs here. The whole dynamic of keeping a user base that will continually subscribe or prescribe to their games is built on progression, socializing, competition, and the human desire.

I want to get (insert game here) so I can be a (insert macguffin here) and be the best at (insert activity here).

Same thing applies across different gaming cultures whether it is a social media game on facebook, a single player game or an MMORPG. Players run off desire to be better than the next guy that leads them on this merry road to achieve their ULTIMATE GOAL. Only to stop for maybe a second or two when they get it to move on to the next ULTIMATE GOAL.

The word addiction has roots in Latin for slavery. It is a surrendering of freedom for a habit. The habit of progression, or achievements or creativity. We all have our habits that we fall into while we play these games. The socializer, the crafter, the killer, the achiever all have their respective roles as much as the tank, healer and damage dealer. These are rooted in our chemical reaction center that fire off the impulses of pleasure as we partake in these activities.

All of them have a part in the communities that form MMORPG's and depend on each other in a weird form of codependancy. These game developers and publishers know this because they spend a lot of money on research so they can CAPITALIZE on it.

I hope this cleared some things up and I didn't talk too far over your head.

Thanks for the write up, it sparked off some neurons, electrons and protons in my head.



Novice Member

Joined: 9/17/08
Posts: 2

7/12/12 3:10:24 AM#63


I was typing away and went to reread all that Andrew wrote, and realized the actual question asked was "What does the phrase MMORPG mean to you nowadays?". The name of this (new) column is what everyone is answering. Or am I mistaken?


I look again for the umpteenth time and am still not 100% sure. Not sure which to focus on, I guess I say this.     


MMORPG's use of grinding isn't inherently a bad thing. ALL gaming is really grinding of some kind, but the intensity and repetition of the individual task for each player verses the reward/enjoyment is a personal variable. I enjoy the level grind in MMO's, and I think generally it is too easy in my recent MMO game experiences. Aion(2+years) and SWTOR(1year) are using alternate character progression to encourage players to keep subscriptions, which isn't the type of grind I personally wanted from an MMO. 


Aion had ALOT of other grinding to advance, crazy numbers of kills for rare quest item drops. I blame that on lax enforcement of bot banning early on. Devs see people getting quests done too fast-items dropping in game too fast, natural response is slow it down but upping requirements. I admit that since NA release didn't have GameGuard, that didn't help the issue in theory, but I saw alot of bot action on china which DID have /shrug.


For having writen so little, I sure have been sitting here a long time :( before someone yaps SWTOR hasn't been out for a whole year, i'm counting beta time too, for Aion I was on china servers while NA beta servers were down until NA live... and left it when I got SWTOR beta invite was recieved. 



PvP > PvE


Novice Member

Joined: 5/20/12
Posts: 112

7/12/12 6:11:37 AM#64

There are two types of grind:


1) I'm out of quests so I have to go grind for the next level so I can get more quests. I absoulutely despise this type of grinder.


2) Quest: go kill 25~50 mob x. As long as this isn't an endless repeatable quest, I'm ok with it. It at least gives me a feeling of accomplishment and moving towards a goal.


Yes, some repeatable quests is ok. But one or two quests only and you only have those two things to do for 50% of your level or more? Or worse no quests at all for the same? AAUUGGG! I've quit more games over that garbage than I can count. If I have a reason to grind (rare drop, normal quests, title, etc) I'm ok with it. If it's grind solely because the devs were too lazy to provide content, I'm outta here...



Novice Member

Joined: 3/14/09
Posts: 6125

LARPer Hunter

7/12/12 6:16:16 AM#65

According to most gamers these days, "If you do it more than once, you're grinding".

Doesn't matter what it is; "Oh look, a mushroom - I'll pick it"... "Oh look, another one... but screw that, I'm not grinding mushrooms".

Writer / Musician / Game Designer

Now Playing: Skyrim, Wurm Online, Tropico 4
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Novice Member

Joined: 8/05/11
Posts: 12

7/12/12 6:17:58 AM#66
Originally posted by Vesavius

Awful article. Really. Jaundiced and somewhat elitest, and I am being kind.


EQ, despite it's grind (I will be clear here and say I like grind, if it's the RIGHT kind of grind), very much felt like a world and very much offered me a feeling of adventure, and people RPed in it all the time. It was as much of a ROLE PLAY game as you wanted it to be.


I suspect the author did not even play the game and is only intererested in demonising it through second hand experience and assumption.


When you ask 'Why then is it that most of your time is spent killing massive amounts of 'enemies' without making a single dent in the storyline'? you show me you didn't understand EQ at all. Though it had a backlore, a pretty disposable one tbh, it was NOT about making an impact on an established story. This is you showing me again you fail to understand what you are blaming. 


Tell any guy that stood there at the moment of completing his epic he didn't feel like a goddam hero.



wow, awesome post there.


tho i do admit im with the OP on this. mmorpg's aren't what they're supposed 2 be and the industry has been filled with greed. and i blame the invasion of casual gamers since '09 that (:


casual gamer: omg dis gai kiled me he is OP nerf nerf herpa-nerf

dedicated player:  learn 2 counter

company: nerfed.


Bitter Vet™

Joined: 9/13/06
Posts: 20051

Fools find no pleasure in understanding, but delight in airing their own opinions. Pvbs 18:2, NIV

7/12/12 6:22:38 AM#67
Originally posted by GTwander

According to most gamers these days, "If you do it more than once, you're grinding".

Doesn't matter what it is; "Oh look, a mushroom - I'll pick it"... "Oh look, another one... but screw that, I'm not grinding mushrooms".

I won't grind mushrooms unless they are the "magic" kind. 

Arrogant, Condescending, Dismissive, Elitist, "Meany", you speak as if these are bad things?
Still currently "subscribed" to EVE, and only EVE!!!
"This is the most intelligent, well qualified and articulate response to a post I have ever seen on these forums. It's a shame most people here won't have the attention span to read past the second line." - Anon


Novice Member

Joined: 9/15/10
Posts: 144

I am free of all prejudices. I hate everyone equally.

7/12/12 6:31:40 AM#68
Originally posted by PyrateLV

MMOs arent "Grinds" any longer. They are freaking "Facerolls" They are so easy, it takes no effort to get to max level.

No or limited DP,  Fast Travel, Soloable Content, Everyone has a Healing ability, etc.

The "Grind" was taken away long ago

And that has no hidden bias against a certain upcoming MMO whatsoever...

I fail to see what fast travel, all-player-healing and soloable content has to do with the degradation of MMO quality. All MMOs need some single-player content; it's what keeps us sane when faced with a particularly bad day of online assh*les. When you go too far along the spectrum though, player interaction ceases to matter.

Fast travel, healing and the levelling system are just utilities. Its the actual GAMEPLAY that matters - GAMEPLAY, which has seemingly come to mean "the most efficiently addictive set of actions that we can replicate from more successful titles".

I agree with several people above, and the article writer. Unless you make an MMO that is COMPLETELY player centric (such as EVE), or remove the model of levelling = power entirely, a Grind will be the primary method of character advancement. The genre as a whole seriously needs to break away from linear gameplay and levelling and return more to player-driven content if it wishes to evolve as a whole.

I'm really sick of the whole "There's a massive fanbase for X", or "Y would be a WoW-killer if it just had a chance".

There is no massive conspiracy waiting in the MMO playerbase.

There are no "sleeper-agent fans" waiting to convert once the X or Y is unleashed on the world.

  User Deleted
7/12/12 8:41:18 AM#69

UO itself was a grindfest. MMOs left the simulation side of their RPG nature (virtual world aka Sandbox) to adopt their nowadays standarized and mainstreamed arcade gameplay at the same speed that they left the level/skill-grind to jump into the gear-mill which at the end of the day it's just another form of grind.


Novice Member

Joined: 11/01/06
Posts: 2048

"Racing to endgame is like racing to the end of your vacation."

7/12/12 9:01:18 AM#70
Originally posted by Icewhite
Originally posted by Lord.Bachus

The grind came with EQ, Tough we didnt mind grinding back then, as it was the first virtuall 3D reallity 

Technically, it existed long before; several hundred single-player rpgs and several hundred MUDs.

There is no modern game set up with a decade as average time-to-cap.

The grind, I think, always existed to some degree.  Most people did not notice it until they were years into living constantly within the same game.  It is possible that games were just never meant to be abused by players to this extraordinary degree.

Is it the game aging, or is the player's tolerance for mid-90s (even late 80s) design standards?  How many wild boars must Cartman kill to make love, not warcraft?

Yet--Andrew!?  A thinly-disguised NGE rant?  Still ?!!!??!?!!!!  Just let it go already.

I read it exactly the same way.

So, regarding this article -- how is this news? It's an opinion piece, one seemingly uninformed, that seems like it could have been plucked from any of the many forum posts we see daily. Echoing back what the masses seem to clamor for is a great strategy for attention though...other than the fact that it is pure fluff.


Hard Core Member

Joined: 7/29/09
Posts: 99

7/12/12 9:26:11 AM#71

I remember the term "Grind" and "Endgame" turning up in MMOs simultaneously.  As soon as players began to talk about "endgame" in MMOs then suddenly everything that wasn't "endgame" content (epic raids or PvP) was considered "grind" content.

I've always believed that the original MUDs and MMOs were outgrowths of pen and paper RPGs.  They were 3D representations of what every D&D player pictured when they rolled the dice.

As a result everyone who played went in with the mentality of playing in a persistent world to explore and adventure in.  The fun was in going places and doing things with others.  The trouble came when people began to hit the goal of level caps and ask, "What do I do now?"  Well the answer was either level a new character (i.e. do the same things in the same places again) or fight the "world bosses" or fight other players.  Either that or wait until the developers added new content and raised the level cap (usually once or twice a year).

I don't think there is a real answer to this problem.  Even in life there is grinding.  I go to work and grind to make money.  I even have to grind faction with my wife sometimes.  Its just part of the matrix.  The only solution is for the individual players to stop looking at game mechanics as a "grind" to be raced through to get to the "endgame" and relearn to enjoy the enitre experience, just like you have to do in real life.  Its not the goal that's fun.  Its the journey.  No Dev can program that.

Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.


Novice Member

Joined: 7/14/10
Posts: 44

7/12/12 10:57:36 PM#72

LOL UO a grindfest? if you think that you never played or were the biggest noob of all time. You could roll a new toon an be capped in about 24hrs. Oh ya an you could go out naked and if yer skills were there you came back in some pimp gear. Or if you had crafters you could craft in about 10mintues that was comparable to some of the best looted gear in the game if you knew how to use it. Great article 100% right on teh money!!!!1337

  User Deleted
7/13/12 11:37:08 AM#73
Grind is getting a negative connotation, lvling grind is just in place to get you aquainted with new skills, gear grind for stats is in place to waste your time, gear grind for cosmetics is understandable, gold grinding = waste of time, achievement grinding is understandable, there always should be something that sets players apart according to the time put in, but there is a line that is crossed when all successful players are also grinding, it doesn't work in todays culture.

Novice Member

Joined: 11/07/04
Posts: 198

7/13/12 11:51:20 AM#74
Originally posted by XAPGames

Things to do in a basic themepark MMORPG:

  1. kill mobs
  2. kill other players
  3. gather items from kills
  4. gather items from resource nodes
  5. group run mazes killing mobs and gathering items (dungeons)
  6. do tasks for NPCs (one or more of the above)
  7. read storyline (related to tasks)
  8. watch cut scenes (related to tasks)
  9. assemble items into other items (crafting)
  10. buy items from vendors
  11. buy or trade items with other players
  12. equip items on character
  13. buy skills from vendors
  14. adjust skills / stats via UI
  15. interact with others in the process of doing the above

These things are done for two reasons, character progression (unlock skills, stats and new environments) and passive entertainment via storyline.


The reason MMORPGs are grindy (repetitive) is because there's a limited number of things to do.  The only things that change are environments and complexity of mechanics used to to do these activities.


Change games to get away from the grind?  Not likely.  Most are rehashes of the same activities with changes in how the activities are done, but not the activities themselves.


You are overcomplicating it... What you mean to say is... 

1. Kill something - open a box.

2. Run somewhere for a quest - open a box

3. See 1 and 2 combined.

4. Kill bigger stuff with the items from the boxes you opened in order to kill ever bigger stuff.

5. Repeat 4.


That, ladies and gentlemen, is MMO gameplay broken down.

Heaven and Hell is debatable - Karma is not.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/15/08
Posts: 3675

7/13/12 12:08:14 PM#75

     Didnt read the article. but really it comes down to one thing: THe longer the grind, the longer people will sub or pay......


Novice Member

Joined: 12/17/05
Posts: 19

7/14/12 2:56:19 AM#76

Reading the comments I think there is a misunderstanding of the main point of the article. I concluded this from hearing how many people are replying that they like grind because it gives them a sense of accomplishment; a feeling that they are working towards something.


So ask yourself - what are you working towards?

Some might answer endgame content. Well is endgame content really that good? Many of my friends who play games with a lot of levelling in it said that they stopped when they reached the endgame because the content was not very good, and their anecdotal stories are backed up by sub numbers. When you create a game and the player runs out of content they will stop playing the game.

Some answer the satisfaction of reaching the cap. Well if the game is designed so that everyone is supposed to eventually reach that cap then what have you achieved? The comments that highlight this are when you see people saying they like grind except when it is too slow to level you (because they lose that sense of accomplishment as they are not progressing), or that they say that it is too easy (because they lose that sense of accomplishment because they have not been challenged). But my question is even if the grind length / difficulty is right for you personally what have you really achieved?


That is the point of the article. You've achieved nothing, but the game makes you feel like you have achieved something. Now that's obviously a tip of the hat to the game, as it has provided an entertainment medium for you, but it has done so not by having let you achieve something but by creating the illusion of it. It deliberately slows you down from getting where you want to go.

Now this is not a themepark vs sandbox argument, because both styles of game equally do this. Character progression in many sandboxes is deliberately slowed down, with players opting to spend their time effectively trying to remove themselves from the world to their own small bubble to progress their character to a point where they were viable enough to rejoin. This is the same illusion of delierately restricting content from the player in order to increase sub fees (or for f2p to extend the life of advertising to you) by giving the player the expectation that things will be better just over the next hill.

Some games of course have evolved past this to a whole new philosophy where the restriction of later content has become the new content. It's quite ironic that there is now more content in getting to the 'content' that the disappointemnt of the 'content' (now dubbed endgame) has become a self fulfilling prophecy.



But why have levels at all?

Some people say it is to have a sense of character development. But levels is not character development because it has nothing to do with your character. You start off as a big muscly guy hitting things you end up as a big muscly guy hitting things, just in new inventive and more violent ways. In what way has your character progressed at all?

Some people say it is to give the player time to get better and to get used to the skills. By why should you need this via a restriction of skills? In particular there are certain skill combinations or ability choices that can alter your most efficient attack style which means eveything you learnt has to be relearned. And that can take a long time as your cognitive bias of anchoring makes it hard to give up old, once effective but now redundant, lessons you have learnt.

Some people just try to say that any argument along this line is just made from the ADD generation, and that you should be expected to work for your skills. They say that anything that just gives people what they want right away is inherently a bad thing. But in many games you effectively restrict the playerbase of those you are playing with if you string them out along a long time path. This is why many worlds end up only full of those on low levels (re-rolls and trialists) and high levels (capped vets). Even in sandboxes the perception of self viability can exclude these players from interacting.



The result is that you end up playing a very stale and formulaic game. Even ones that try some degree if innovation are often just polishing the same style. From being able to turn in quests without going back to the quest giver to large public quests that passers by can just join in (and ruin by upping the enemy count whilst being ineffective), it's the same thing.

The article is trying to address the lack of roleplaying in MMORPG. BEcause frankly there is none. I'm not talking about those who play in character all the time, but those that see the game as more than just abilities, stats and behind the scenes dice rolls. Now you'll never get away from that completely, because gamers love the stats - and that's not inherently a bad thing. But when all you present someone with is the focus of their stats then that's going to be their focus - which is exactly what levelling is. Notice how almost all MMORPGs will show you exactly where your character could develop? That it lets you plan your advancement and dangle what is over the hill of that next level in front of you. It gets you thinking and planning and wanting so that you stick with what you are doing. Even notice above how some people say that xp/level grind is a GOOD thing, but resource grind is a bad thing.

But notice how whilst doing this there is no story arc dangled ahead of you? Sure a quest might lead to a cool and unexpected case, but are people really thinking about what they might get story wise after the next quest, or what they might get character sheet wise? Even in the recent Secret World article where the author is talking about how cool the quest was they can't help but throw in a comment about the xp reward. My challenge is that a quest cannot be really cool until you don't even notice the xp reward.


And that's what grind is. Focusing on playing purely for advancement and not for the sake of playing. Sure if you enjoy the thing that you are doing then great. But you have to define grind as doing something for it's own sake. What the article is asking for is a paradigm shift. A move towards games where you are not playing just for the sake of your own character but because you are enjoying the story for it's own sake. Because you are interested in seeing how it unfolds. A bit like reading a book, but where you are the hero.

Hmmm... that sounds familar.


Advanced Member

Joined: 3/03/06
Posts: 1375

7/14/12 3:14:30 AM#77

Another god awful article from another writer who can't write and seems to know jack about the history of the industry.

MMORPG's have always been a grind since day 1, it's just different types of grinds, but others have already made any point i might try and make so i won't bother.

Expresso gave me a Hearthstone beta key.....I'm so happy :)

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