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Reader Comments (45)

Posted: Jan 25th 2011 6:14PM FireWraith said

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Imo, grinding is repeating something over and over for the sake of an end-goal, not for the sake of actually doing the action. Playing on the same FPS map over and over because it's fun is not grinding because you are enjoying the action itself. Playing through the same boring instance for the 43rd time because you want the rare drop at the end is grinding. Killing the 400th mob because you need the experience is grinding.

If developers could make content fun, engaging, and dynamic, they would remove almost everything that people consider "grind".

Posted: Jan 25th 2011 9:07PM jeremys said

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@FireWraith

What happens when I run Deadmines 200 times and love it? But to you it's boring?

Then when we go to tell developers what we like or don't like, or when they try to figure out what players want, how does that help them design content that is fun and not a grind?
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Posted: Jan 25th 2011 9:27PM FireWraith said

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@jeremys

If you enjoy it, then it isn't a grind for you. Grinding is subjective. A definition can fit multiple opinions, even if not everyone agrees on WHAT a grind is. 1 definition, multiple ideas of what fits into that definition.
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Posted: Jan 25th 2011 10:00PM jeremys said

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@FireWraith

I agree, it's become subjective, but is that a good thing, bad thing, or it doesn't matter?

In terms of negative outcomes, I think it could go against players who are trying to tell developers how to handle grind, when grind is not specifically one concrete thing. Likewise, if all developers actually want to do is gauge an audience to make a game they'd enjoy more, how should they interpret grind for any mass of players?

Maybe it's best to just weed grind totally out of the equation and either as players ignore it in advertising or hype for new games, or at the least become more conscientious about what advertisers and developers are really telling us.
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Posted: Jan 25th 2011 10:11PM Holgranth said

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@FireWraith I was going to write the exact same thing except using an RTS as my example. :)
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Posted: Jan 26th 2011 10:47AM Nucleon said

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@Holgranth

I like going to the gym, staying fit for me is not a grind. Other people hate going to the gym, staying fit for them is a grind.

In practical terms grind basically gets attached to any activity that an individual no longer finds fun. Some completionists love things like "Loremaster" or killing mobs over and over to get that next level because it feeds their desire to advance forward and accomplish more. Others, find anything a grind which isn't "challenging". Plowing heroics is fun while you are learning systems and encounters, but becomes a grind after you've learned everything.

The only way to eliminate the grind is through honest and open player/dev communication and developing games with quality content that feeds our intrinsic human needs: accomplishment, challenge, entertainment, socialness, and commitment.
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Posted: Jan 25th 2011 6:17PM winterborn said

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Thats a big wall of text for the meaning of grinding : P

I think we consider something grinding when it feels like grinding.

We have killed 10 rats soo many times in soo many MMO's that more and more things feel grindy.

Devs need to be alot more creative then sending us to kill 10 more rats.

Posted: Jan 25th 2011 6:18PM Mystal said

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I believe the wikipedia definition is perfect. The common element I've found any time some thing feels grindy, whether in a game or in real life, is the feeling that you're doing some thing you don't like, repetitively, in order to get to some thing you do like or do expect to like.

I read your article twice and I still don't really see what your problem or confusion with that definition is. If you enjoy some thing, it's not a grind. If you don't enjoy it, but you do it repetitively because of the reward of a future payoff, it's a grind. A game which uses the promise of large increases in "power" or prestige to coax players through activities that aren't inherently being enjoyed is a grindy game. Some games are grindier than others, by design.

Posted: Jan 25th 2011 7:34PM jeremys said

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@Mystal The terms your using are more subjective, though. They change depending on how you feel and others feel at different times.

Does WoW feel grindy to you? You can bet that a lot of people out there will call you wrong and say WoW is not grindy. That is because of the subjective nature of the term(s).

What happens is companies find what appeals to you ears more than you heart and they go after it with a scapula.

Advertisers saying SWTOR, RIFT or TERA is not going to be grindy are using a term that everyone agrees is "bad" (but no one can agree on the definition) and they smile. "Yes, who doesn't hate grind?" Advertisers don't even need to explain what grind is at all to be able to please you and ask for your money.

That's the problem I have with it, and why Wikipedia's definition is ill and confusing.
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Posted: Jan 26th 2011 12:15AM Mystal said

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@jeremys

Yes, the nature of "grind" is that it is largely subjective. Different people can tackle the same content and perceive an entirely different level of grind. Even the same person can experience different levels of grind doing the same things.

Any game maker who treats "grind" like it's a discreet, measurable unit is simply being dishonest. If they're not talking about WHY their game is "less grindy" then they're not really saying any thing at all. I think the general concept among the games you talked about is that they're all aiming to make content feel more alive, and that you're either never going to repeat the same content twice, or if you do, it will barely be identifiable as the same content.

In the end, if the content sucks, but players feel compelled to play through it to get to later content, it might still feel like a grind. Or maybe players will simply quit playing. Or maybe it will work.

I believe that Blizzard has achieved a certain reduction in the "grind" quotient of WoW with the design of the new Cataclysm zones. These zones really flow nicely, and you can go through every single quest in every single zone without feeling like you're just punching a clock, because you're just playing the game. On the other hand, if you come to a quest or a group of quests that you don't like, you basically hit a wall, because until you get past those quests, you won't get any more to do. I imagine by the 6th or 7th time going through these zones, the questing is still going to feel grindy to most, because it's just repeating the same steps for the Nth time.
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Posted: Jan 25th 2011 6:29PM cowboyhugbees said

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I'm not sure I would limit my definition to an "action", per say. Getting 10 of these or killing 12 of those isn't enough to be classified as a grind.

For me, grinding is any activity that gets boring. One person's grind can be another person's fun.

For example, killing 10 boars isn't inherently "grindy" for me. If I have to spend 20 minutes trying to find that ONE boar that spawns every 20 minutes in a region, only then does it cross into the realm of "grind".

Therefore, developers trying to say they're "reducing grind" is a misnomer. Are they trying to decrease opportunities for boring, repetitive tasks to occur? Perhaps. But boredom is so subjective that they're kidding themselves if they honestly hope to cure it from the face of all long-play video games.

Posted: Jan 25th 2011 6:48PM WeirdJedi said

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When I use the word "grind" to describe anything, it usually accompanies the word "boring". It is a long process that protrudes you from furthering your goal. I try to avoid using the word "grind" with "farm". To "farm" something means you continue the same repetitive task in order to obtain something specific. In this case you choose to continue, when in reality you could stop at anytime. To "grind" just means you can't continue, even if you wanted to progress.

This is why some people use both words, grind and farm, synonymously. In order to progress in certain instances, they must farm better equipment. In a sense, they grind certain mobs or areas. This perhaps is why many dislike the leveling instance of role-playing games. In order to progress to the things they may like, they must do something that they might not enjoy.

Posted: Jan 25th 2011 7:37PM jeremys said

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@WeirdJedi Yes. So a company or new game coming out can tell you, "We eliminate grind!" and they know they don't actually have to tell you what grind is, because everyone is starting to see it as a negative word.
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Posted: Jan 25th 2011 11:55PM Jeromai said

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It's marketing speak. Advertisers have no conscience. Look at "No Fat" labels on things containing tons of sugar, which eventually gets converted into fat, but no oils in the ingredients.

Marketing doesn't care if what they promise results in a subset of people who didn't look beyond the marketingspeak being unhappy with their purchase later. As long as the promise is -technically- correct, they are safe from lawsuits. Done.

Players just have to know more about what they like and don't like. Darkfall can promise me "ultimate PvP action." Global Agenda's website happily states "multiplayer action, player-driven world." The two styles of PvP in both MMOs could hardly be more different. And one could make a good argument that Darkfall is a lot more player-driven than GA. But yet, without players, GA would be nothing either, so it is too player-driven.

Trying to nail down grind would be like trying to nail down what "ultimate PvP' is to different people. And I think we've had a few Daily Grinds and Soapboxes already about PvE and PvP. :)
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Posted: Jan 25th 2011 6:49PM Tom in VA said

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"Grind" to me is any in-game activity that one must repeat ad nauseum in order to achieve something of value.

An example of "grind" was the grinding of certain mobs (wargs, for example, or hillmen) in LotRO to gain a certain valuable trait. I really hate that kind of garbage, and LotRO lost some of its luster (for me, anyway) because of that kind of thing.

Grinding certain kinds of mobs just to gain reputation is perhaps the most odious kind of grind.

Grind as a cheap and cheesy treadmill-like ploy (like adding an exercise wheel to a gerbil cage) that developers introduce into their games to keep players (pre)occupied and subscribing.

Posted: Jan 25th 2011 7:17PM Yoh said

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You really like language, don't you Jeremy?
Well so do I, and I actually agree with you that words have meaning and the word grind is overly vague to be really all that applicable, and everyone and there dead dog has their own little pet meaning for the word.

To be honest I found your meaning to be too strict and not very useful, at least not anymore. But I do think the meaning has to be clear cut, just like pulling or kiting.


My meaning for the word is pretty clear cut, and widely applicable.
Grind is 'The repetition of any monotonous video-game related task'.
Please note that I make no mention of either the enjoyment factor nor the duration of said task.

But rather, it is that the task is without much variation is the defining characteristic. Whether one finds monotonous task tedious or not is mostly irrelevant, even thou that is the usual outcome.


For example I find most actives in MMO's, such as repeating the same quest or type of quests, as grind. Esp when during said quest I have to kill 10 rats, etc.
This is due to the lack in variation in not just the quest structure, but in other associated activities such as combat as well.

However, I have seen games that made me want to repeat a task which in itself DOES have plenty on variation, to which I no longer consider it a grind.

Such as with Monster Hunter: Freedom Unite (or others in the series), where I can continue to hunt and kill a certain monster over and over, in order to collect it's parts and create the weapons and/or armor that I am going for.
However, each engagement with said monster takes on average some 15-25 minutes, and each battle is different due to the chaotic nature of combat.

Or in short, it is repetitive, but certainly not monotonous.


I don't know whether or not you find this definition useful, but if you don't, I'd like to know why.

And so ends my forth-wall lecture.


~Yoh

Posted: Jan 25th 2011 7:43PM jeremys said

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@Yoh To be sure, we can usually all agree on broad ideas. But, what is monotonous. I spend 4 hours clicking resource nodes over and over, but that is not monotonous. I watch only 10 minutes of Nascar and I can't stand the "monotony" of it.

I think the end result is that if players are on the same page, it helps the players. It only benefits us, to be a cohesive and knowledgeable force to help sway how MMOs are made and what they should have in them and how they should be made for us, for what we want. But if we can't agree on what we want, we may find that it is not entirely the developers fault for making a game they thought we'd like.
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Posted: Jan 25th 2011 8:02PM Yoh said

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@jeremys By Monotonous, I'm using the dictionary definition, what did you think I was doing?

–adjective
1.
lacking in variety; tediously unvarying: the monotonous flat scenery.


I don't have the foggiest as to how your using the word, but your doing it wrong.
Clicking resource nodes for 4 hours is monotonous, because it is without variation.
Watching Nascars could be construed as monotonous, but is better described as boring or uninteresting to thous who don't care for racing.

Monotony and boring are not the same thing.
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Posted: Jan 25th 2011 9:16PM jeremys said

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@Yoh Yes, but is deadmines lacking in variety? Is killing ten rats in itself tediously unvarying?

I'd agree that a lot of "kill ten rat" quests do feel tedious and unvarying, but that is a large more clearly defined shared feeling that still cannot be conveyed very specifically by todays abstract usage of the word grind.

Clicking resource nodes repeatedly or killing rats over and over may not be tedious to all people.

Lacking in variety could also be: Ordinary, plain, boring, bland, etc...

I recall a cartoon years back of bicyclists running around a track about 3 times before the lead bicycler stopped and in a funny face addressed the camera "Monotonous isn't it."
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Posted: Jan 25th 2011 9:32PM Yoh said

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@jeremys First, yes, and yes.
Resource nodes and kill 10 rat activities tend to lack variety.

But your more stuck on 'where is the point it becomes tedious, bland, or boring'.
Well that part I admit is subjective, what one finds tedious is completely up to them as to what they find entertaining.

But I omitted that part right from the get go. And while most people use entertainment as a measuring stick for whether something can be considered grind or not, it is mostly irrelevant to the definition that I am trying to pin down here.


Either way it all very well and good to cast stones, but other then your first definition to which I find pretty much useless and not representative of the general consensus despite being an ill-defined term, do you have a better definition that is both useful and applicable?

If so I'd love to hear it.
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