Grind, the Everpresent

It’s kind of like suspension of disbelief.  Gameplay becomes grind ultimately when the player believes the tasks are artificial and arbitrary rather than naturally incorporated into what the character should be doing.

It is definitely one of the hardest MMO terms to define.  Almost like pornography.  You just know it when you see it (SFW).

It means that we’re just dolls.

p.s. I had an epic “grind” post – that spawned from the comments of Hobby Elements – covering when grind was used to teach, used to make a worthwhile feeling of accomplishment, etc… and I think the only intelligent thing that came out of the entire multi-rewritten post is what is above.

10 thoughts on “Grind, the Everpresent”

  1. What games would you say had grinds that were used to teach and make a worthwhile feeling of accomplishment?

    For me I would say UO and DAoC a little. In UO I would grind skills because they wouldn’t work when getting attacked in the middle of nowhere (or anywhere really). It definitely gave me a worthwhile feeling of accomplishment and you could say it taught me that I needed to do that in order to live as well.

    In DAoC it was grinding Tomte for phatz. You learn about your skills and which combination uses less endurance and which does the most damage. Plus you get low level phat lewt, which I love probably because of D2.

    Games stop being fun when you can’t pretend they’re real. Something tells me I forget that a lot.

  2. Well, I have noticed it in LOTRO for teaching using grind, and basically the feeling of accomplishment is in almost every game where grind is involved.

    In LOTRO:Mines of Moria, almost every quest hub has 1-3 kill ten rats quests. However, I think the dev use them so players kind of learn about the mobs they will be fighting throughout the quest chains from that quest hub. Same with LOTRO skill deeds that require players to use a skill X times. The players start looking for ways to use the skill to advance the deed.

    In A Tale in the Desert, one of the Tests is or was the Test of the Obelisk where in order to pass the Test the player has to build the tallest Obelisk in the region. Now, in a world without grind the player would just have to build an obelisk of the smallest magnitude, which is a very trivial task. However, as the Telling progresses passing the test turns into a week-long guild-intensive grind. Making thousands of bricks sucks. But, that player passes the test, I bet they can’t help but puff up their chest. They just passed a difficult test AND made it more difficult for their own tower to get beat.

  3. This is part of the reason why I’ve usually preferred heavily instanced games like CoH and GW. When I go to destroy an enemy base in CoH, it gets destroyed and stays that way – sure it’ll be back when the next player needs it, but I won’t see that. Even if I’ve destroyed 1000 Council bases in my years of playing, it feels like progress and the story arc advances.

    But respawn kills my sense of achievement. In WoW or WAR, I’m sent to wipe out an enemy camp, kill 20 orcs, and when I look over my shoulder as I leave… they’re ALL back. I’ve not done anything to reduce their population or power in the region, it’s just pointless busy work. That feels grindy to me. I don’t like to go fight just “for the hell of it”

  4. Grind, at least as a derogatory term, is subjective. One person’s trash is another’s treasure. I’ve heard people say that ALL grind is automatically bad, but generally I think they’re playing the wrong genre if that’s how they feel.

    The essence to me, is entertainment. If you find it fun, it’s probably repeatable to you. If you find it great fun, you might want to do it over and over again.

    With the amount of repetitive action in most MMORPGs (and pretty much any RP game), every player is going to hit a wall with some content that they’re not happy to grind out. So the key, is to give players as many choices as possible.

    For instance, I found WAR extremely grindy, leveling via PvP that I didn’t find as compelling. But the players who loved the PvP would sometimes accolade that it’s a grind-free game.

    It’s a strong argument for MMOs to be either niche, or have a wide variety of things to do. Anywhere inbetween is going to grind halt a lot of the playerbase.

  5. Good point Rog. I’ve been playing CS for 7 to 8 years and I can still sit down to play at 6PM, before I know it 3 hours have gone by. Usually on a single map server as well (talk about grindy).

  6. Yes, when you want to do the same thing over and over, that is great game design, rather than grind. Or at least game design that appeals to you, YMMV.

    Can we agree it is bad grind to require the repetition to move forward or keep playing? For example, I have seen flash games where you would need to repeat levels to be able to be high enough level to reach the last boss.

    If I can get a benefit for killing 10,000 rats, great, those who love rat-hunting will indulge. If I must kill 10,000 rats to enter the castle, this game sucks.

  7. To add to what Zubon said, one of the major appeals to an MMO over a standard RPG is that ability to repeat something you find fun.

    In a single player game, you do something once and its over. No matter how much I loved taking down Blackrock in Fallout 3, I can only do it once per character. I can capture keeps or complete raids however many times I wish (or need to, depending on the game)

  8. @Zubon: I’d say in an RPG having a solitary path that requires a serious grind is bound to make your game niche and probably not very RPG like really. So yeah, I’d call that either bad design or a very limited budget.

    In a non-MMO, well that could be catering to your genre / fanbase.

    I’m of the opinion that most games should not actually try to appeal to everyone, instead they should appeal to the people that do like to repeat that particular action. Even if that means only 1 in 1000 people like it, there’s still a whole whackload of people on the planet. Sometimes it’s good to focus on something very tightly, otherwise we get a lot of really bland games.

    An RPG is a different beast though, there are other aspects of character progression and being present in some sort of virtual world that appeals to players in different ways than strictly gameplay.

  9. Well I’m starting to sound muddled and squashed with a ballpeen hammer above, but I think you get the idea of my opinion on the topic. =P

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