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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 2:13PM
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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.