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Reader Comments (9)

Posted: Oct 18th 2008 8:21AM CA said

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If you have a broad view of it like Mr.Jennings then yeah, every MMO is a grind.

I've always looked at a grind being when you had no alternative for xp other than just killing mobs outside of quests. Pretty much everything follows a simple formula. It's when you finish your quests and have to just "grind" mobs for the next level before more quests are up.

Posted: Oct 18th 2008 8:36AM LaughingTarget said

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I think you hit on something. It's a mentality thing as well. If what you're concerned with is the next level, every game, MMO or not, will be a guaranteed grind.
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Posted: Oct 18th 2008 9:13AM (Unverified) said

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I would certainly agree with that as well. Nothing in WAR has really felt like a grind to me because I've always had several other alternatives to how I spend my time in game so repetition has never been forced. You wanna see the grind in action, check out SWG pre-combat upgrade.

Posted: Oct 18th 2008 10:22AM JohnD212 said

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WAR unfortunately is built around grinding...PQ's are literally just killing 100 of something..then killing a few more in level 2 and finally killing a big boss. That's my definition of a grind. Going to Scenario is also a grind cause all you do it kill each other...revive...repeat repeat repeat. Unfortunately even Quests are literally just kill three of these and return. There is nothing creative in quests. RVR and taking of keeps is the only thing that would feel less grinding but unfortunately no one is doing it. Once you reach level 2 3 or 4 you really feel the grinding that is necessary.

WoW, though grinding in some areas has the advantage of a quest system that is very detailed, takes a great deal of work to complete and takes some real exploration to complete.

Grinding isn't bad if you're a hardcore player who plays all the time. If you're someone who has a life, works all day and comes home to play a few hours...the last thing you want to spend those few hours doing is killing 100 of the same character model you've seen for 3 weeks.

Posted: Oct 18th 2008 10:45AM (Unverified) said

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Seriously? WAR's quest system is just as detailed as WoW's is, which is to say, not very. The only difference is that in WAR it shows you exactly where to go. If you want to see a game with a truly detailed, story based quest system, it's all about LotRO. WoW is DEFINITLY not breaking any molds or innovating in that area.

And that's what Laughing Target said, which I agree with, it's all a perception/mentality thing. It sounds to me that your beef isn't with a specific game but the whole DIKU based MMO structure in general, or maybe even MMO's as a whole. Regardless of what game you're playing it can be a grind depending on what you find fun.
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Posted: Oct 18th 2008 10:04PM (Unverified) said

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Honestly, I've yet to try LoTRO, and I'm still a way away from WAR, but I must admit I'd have to agree with Tasogare - there are very few quest systems which go beyond the basics.

I'm most familiar with Guild Wars, and I use that as a yardstick. To me, a lot of the quest were brilliant.....killing the monsters to be able to reach said quest locations....not so much.

I don't mean to start a flame or anything, but unless I missed something, outside of the "Unique" quests in WoW like the Bombing Runs of BC, WoW quests are either "Kill X to get Z Y's" "Kill Z of X" or "Go from here to there." Not matter how much story you put on top, the actions are the same.

Maybe I'm jaded because I waded into GW first, (and as I said, haven't played some of the more recent games) but grind is a part of MMO's. The only way to eliminate it would be to start everyone off at maximum power and with any and all skills at their disposal and you might find something close....but you'd lose the feeling of character advancement in the process.

That said, a little grind is okay for me.

I should point out now that I'm horrible at PvP, so I tend to spend most of my time on PvE pursuits. As LaughingTarget mentioned maybe the mentality isn't just whether the grind is a stepping stone to the next target, maybe it's whether doing something too long makes you get too used to your actions and get bored?

Posted: Oct 19th 2008 1:36AM cray said

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Grind is a state of mind. You either enjoy doing the things deemed tedious to reach a goal or you don't. The solution, don't play. Its really that simple.

People are under the impression that character-building games are for everyone. That's the biggest myth Blizzard encouraged. They constantly advertise (with celebrities) telling everyone who hasn't played that WoW is the next best thing since a slice bread. Its created a situation where gamers who ordinarily would've never considered playing a RPG are complaining because the game is too tedious for them. Unfortunately you have those that are actual fans of the genre believing the complaints and are sharing the same mentality that game is a grind. Then you have players who don't understand why people are complaining, and are quickly labeled as elitist.

I predict that MMORPGs will continue to get dumbed down to appeal to general audiences and genre will evolve beyond the appeal of "Dungoens & Dragon" geek crowd. Its pretty much there already but in a few years its going to be radically different.

Posted: Oct 19th 2008 2:39AM Jeromai said

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Definitely a perception / mindset thing.

Grind is in the mind. If you're out looking for what you can gain from the 'ends' and not enjoying the 'means' by which you're doing it, it's grind.

Any game involves repetitive activity. An FPS involves you moving yourself (mostly implied by a weapon you can see) around a 3D maze/structure of some kind, decreasing opponent's health percentages in some fashion, towards a point of victory defined by the rules of the objective/scenario.

You can write similar things for RTS, MMOs, RPGs, etc.

One of the sticking points stopping any game from seeming like grind is IMMERSION.

Feeling like you are your character, in an appropriate world setting, brings an immediate visceral feel to the atmosphere - and takes your mind away from all the metagame rules. It's like a willing suspension of disbelief, to just react naturally, rather than figuring out how to game the system.

Which brings me to the little twist. Your perception / mindset changes towards grind the more you play.

Only natural. A lot of times, we're looking for the flow state in games. Challenge just about equalling your ability to handle it. Too much challenge, not enough ability = frustration. Too little challenge, too much ability = boredom, aka tedious grind.

But because the more you play a game, the more you learn about its rules, consciously or otherwise... well, it's a normal consequence that as you get more 'skilled' at the game, the set challenge becomes boring and predictable.

MMOs have followed the same ruleset for a long time now. Increase challenge by increasing number of mobs faced at any one time (player response: try to pull or crowd control), by the size of the mob's health bar (response: more damage through more people or better gear), through new content to figure out (response: race like a starved rat through it to find the cheese), blah blah. I'm sure all of us can name a few more.

One thing that is constant is the combat. So a player better like that game's combat mechanics and animations if they hope to enjoy the moment. Otherwise, each button press is a means to an ends of getting the other opponent dead.

Vets really have to make a conscious effort to enjoy the journey. Whether it's through character immersion, or changing around to different activities every now and then for variety.

Sometimes they might even slow down the pace on purpose to focus on an enjoyable activity: WAR scenarios in a certain level tier, or just spending social time with people they enjoy the company of, etc.

If not, things very easily become grind. All the more so for those trained by the achievement mindset of diku games like EQ and WoW: where winning = having the most l33t loot prestige.

I used to enjoy street sweeping in City of Heroes. Most people consider this grind, just mowing down enemies with standard button presses in order to gain lots of XP. They liked the missions with set objectives. What I did was to pretend to be the character, the hero, and stop the fellows on the street in that vein. It got somewhat zen and meditative.

I also liked it because there were different setups of mobs to react to, and higher con ones, than the standard 3 minions, or 1 lt 1 minion in missions. So consciously increasing level of challenge to hit a flow state.

I'm on hiatus from it right now because I felt stuff becoming grindy. Seeing through the illusion too handily. So a bit of distance and changing games to vary things up is necessary for me before going back to it.

Posted: Oct 19th 2008 3:45PM J Brad Hicks said

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It's not such a difficult question. The difference between a game and a grind is that a grind is when you're forced, or heavily induced, to do the exact same thing over and over again, long past the point where it's fun. By contrast, in a game, you do one particular thing enough times to get good at it, and then you go do something else. The something else doesn't even have to be all that different, but it does need to be different. For example, one plays an instance until you've seen all it has to offer and you've gotten good at it. Then when you'd really rather go do something else, you grind the instance because you need more of its particular loot, or because it's the only one you can find a team for, or for whatever reason other than because you're still having fun. It's not all that subtle a distinction.

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