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General: Sometimes You Just Have to Grind It Out

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,585MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

MMORPG.com columnist Michael Lafferty tackles one of MMO players' biggest complaints: THE GRIND. Michael has discovered that, as his title says, sometimes you just have to grind it. With this in mind, Michael talks to several game developers about the issue. Find out what they have to say about THE GRIND, leveling, starting areas and trying not to make games feel like work.



If you have played any number of MMOs, you’ve had more than your fill of grinding through inconsequential insects, reptiles and vermin in the early stages of the game. Grinds and MMOs are the co-joined twins from the same genre-defining mother, it seems, and have been around as long as the modern age of the category. A necessary evil? Perhaps, and maybe there is a bit more to it than merely requiring players to labor through the early game. The grind can be the forge that makes players earn their skills and qualify through the effort for end-game content. It also serves to familiarize players with the interface and combat mechanics and slowly dips the toe into the water that is the foundation of the game itself.

Read the rest of this terrific look at The Grind.


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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

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Comments

  • DracondisDracondis Reston, VAPosts: 176Member

    YOU!  Your rights to take and upload screenshts has been revoked!

    At least until you upgrade yuour graphics card.

     

    As for the article, very nice.  Yes, find out what sucks about the leveling and fix it.  Doing the same thing over and over and over and over isn't fun.

  • mCalvertmCalvert Tallahassee, FLPosts: 1,283Member

    Sorry, I dont buy it. These devs are just making excuses. Look at EVE - very little grind is forced on you. There is simply no excuse for the laziness in other MMOs which results in 'kill 10 rats'.

  • AthcearAthcear Washington, DCPosts: 420Member

    It's good to see realistic commentary from devs about this sort of thing. 

    Important facts:
    1. Free to Play games are poorly made.
    2. Casuals are not all idiots, but idiots call themselves casuals.
    3. Great solo and group content are not mutually exclusive, but they suffer when one is shoved into the mold of the other. The same is true of PvP and PvE.
    4. Community is more important than you think.

  • ComanComan Hattem, AKPosts: 2,026Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by mCalvert



    Sorry, I dont buy it. These devs are just making excuses. Look at EVE - very little grind is forced on you. There is simply no excuse for the laziness in other MMOs which results in 'kill 10 rats'.


     

    Have we played the same eve? The grind for ISK is always ongoing. Also most of the mission in even consist of the same basics as any other MMO. Take something from X to Y, kill target X or clear area X (This would be the same as kill 10 spiders). 

    Now the benifit of EvE is that there are a lot of ways to grind your ISK, but it is still an importend factor. 

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,642Member Uncommon

    Excellent article and hoping to see more of these. image

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • TorlukTorluk EdinburghPosts: 162Member

    In most MMO's the only necessary grind is leveling, which isn't a grind until the player makes it one, every other grind is just a way of easily creating cheap time-wasting content for dimwits. 

    Honestly, if a game is fun to play I'll subscribe a lot longer than if you fill it with unnecessary, time-wasting grinds to try and give me the illusion I'm achieving something by logging on to do boring repetitive tasks.  Please don't try to eek out a subscription by adding content in the form of grinds.

    For instance, Jesse King saying you could add leaderboards to make a grind more interesting.  Why on earth would you create a leaderboard for a grind?

    Grinds are a function of how much spare time you have and your ability to will yourself on with a repetitive task. Grinds don't require any particular skill to complete so all you end up comparing is how much time player A has wasted today compared to everyone else. 

    How can that possibly be justified as a worthy achievement? 

    How is that a healthy thing to be encouraging your players to compete in?

    Personally I would rather MMOs had no type of leaderboard for any aspect of the play, but if you are going to include one at least make it compare individual player skill.  The leaderboards in Lotro come across as a sick joke.

    However, I couldn't agree more with Laralyn McWilliams that many dev teams need to open MMO's back up to multiple playstyles.  Removing items that bind will go a long way to doing this by allowing players to use their own proficiency and preference for one area of play to keep them competitive in comparison to all of their peers via the economy.*

    EDIT: *That is to say, players will have the potential to purchase competitive items for all areas of the game by earning in-game currency from doing whatever it is for them that is the most fun.

  • barezzbarezz Granite City, ILPosts: 140Member Uncommon

    Overall a good article, but I really do not agree that Funcom's Rise of the Godslayer expansion desguised the grind in the slightest.  One of the major appeals, at least in the level 80 zones, is joining various factions and getting the rewards.  That system is the biggest mess of a insignia/token grind that I have ever seen.  If you want any of the gear you are going to run the same repeatable missions over and over.  if you want to get the more powerful gear pieces they require running the same instances over and over in "Hard mode".  Bottom line is that if you want any of the items you are going to have to grind away at the same small sliver of content.  While playing through the majority of the content may allow you to advance within a faction, it will not give you the "tokens" that you need to get any of the new items.

     

    Sure they have been slowly tweaking things, but what makes me shake my head is that Funcom talked in interviews about how their faction system was going to be sooo different and avoid the grind, and then upon release it is the most grindy faction system I have ever seen. 

  • TorlukTorluk EdinburghPosts: 162Member

    After re-reading the article I feel compelled to post again.

    “And three – vary the experience. Offer a number of different flavors of grind. Instances, crafting, collections, kills, daily quests. If a player gets to the point where they are really burned out on one, they can go do something else for a while. Also, whenever they can multi-task (collect crafting components WHILE achieving kills), players generally feel a lot better about the process.”

    Aboslutely, the best way to make grinds more fun is to include more of them.  /sarcasm off

    I don't mean to be riding on Jesse King so hard but, really, this is an absurd thing to say.

    We play MMORPGs to have fun, don't we? So why would you want to include even more boring, repetitive tasks? This seems so counter-productive to the service you are there to provide.

    If you want to create the next sensation in the genre then keep the gameplay fun for goodness sake.  This should be self-evident.

  • erictlewiserictlewis Cottondale, ALPosts: 3,026Member Uncommon

    I don't mind grinding something out like reputation, that is if at the end of the grind there is something worth getting.  Like a great rep mount, weapons,  something that makes your character better.

    However a lot of games have put in grind taht have no meaning at all other than to give you something to do while leveling up.

    Repeatable grinds without any kind of reward is also bad.

  • OldBikerOldBiker San Diego, CAPosts: 75Member

    Originally posted by Coman



    Originally posted by mCalvert



    Sorry, I dont buy it. These devs are just making excuses. Look at EVE - very little grind is forced on you. There is simply no excuse for the laziness in other MMOs which results in 'kill 10 rats'.


     

    Have we played the same eve? The grind for ISK is always ongoing. Also most of the mission in even consist of the same basics as any other MMO. Take something from X to Y, kill target X or clear area X (This would be the same as kill 10 spiders). 

    Now the benifit of EvE is that there are a lot of ways to grind your ISK, but it is still an importend factor. 


     

    Coman is right.  In Eve you don't grind levels but you do need ISK (in-game currency) to do just about everything.  The benefit of Eve is there lots of ways to make money so it doesn't feel like a grind.  There are even ways to have the game make money for you while you are logged off! 

    That said, I do agree with mCalvert.  The other devs are just making excuses.  Eve has pushed the limits of the genre sucessfully yet no one is taking notes.  A few games have tried to duplicate some of the elements of Eve that set it apart and they have botched it up.  I'm beginning to think that I'm going to have to wait until CCP releases thier next MMO before I see another game close to Eve.

  • MorvMorv Royal Oak, MIPosts: 331Member

    I would just like to opint out, there are plenty of ways to counter and correct any kind of grind in an MMO. To state otherwise is pure laziness, lack of creativity, and wrong.

    Give me $100 million dollars and I'll prove it.

  • MorvMorv Royal Oak, MIPosts: 331Member

    Originally posted by Morv



    I would just like to opint out, there are plenty of ways to counter and correct any kind of grind in an MMO. To state otherwise is pure laziness, lack of creativity, and wrong.

    Give me $100 million dollars and I'll prove it.


     

    I love how I can not edit my posts.

  • Gel214thGel214th Miami, FLPosts: 180Member Common

    We call it Grinding because 9 out of 10 times it takes no skill.

    You don't call playing FIFA 2010 repeatedly, or Forza Motorsport 'Grinding'.

    But you will call pressing the same sequence of keys , in the same area, vs the same creatures 300 times Grinding.

    The two are very different activities with the only similarity being repetition.

  • NovaRyuNovaRyu West Milford, FLPosts: 26Member

    Great article, enjoyed it.

  • HorusraHorusra maryland, MDPosts: 2,579Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by OldBiker

    Originally posted by Coman



    Originally posted by mCalvert



    Sorry, I dont buy it. These devs are just making excuses. Look at EVE - very little grind is forced on you. There is simply no excuse for the laziness in other MMOs which results in 'kill 10 rats'.


     

    Have we played the same eve? The grind for ISK is always ongoing. Also most of the mission in even consist of the same basics as any other MMO. Take something from X to Y, kill target X or clear area X (This would be the same as kill 10 spiders). 

    Now the benifit of EvE is that there are a lot of ways to grind your ISK, but it is still an importend factor. 


     

    Coman is right.  In Eve you don't grind levels but you do need ISK (in-game currency) to do just about everything.  The benefit of Eve is there lots of ways to make money so it doesn't feel like a grind.  There are even ways to have the game make money for you while you are logged off! 

    That said, I do agree with mCalvert.  The other devs are just making excuses.  Eve has pushed the limits of the genre sucessfully yet no one is taking notes.  A few games have tried to duplicate some of the elements of Eve that set it apart and they have botched it up.  I'm beginning to think that I'm going to have to wait until CCP releases thier next MMO before I see another game close to Eve.

     Eve has about the crappiest grind...mining (snore) and Missions (now blow...snore).  Nothing marginally "fun" in those.  PI is about as boring as watching paint dry.  There is a reason this game has a crap load of bots and CCP made a way to buy ISK with real money.

  • ZinderinZinderin Long Beach, CAPosts: 51Member

    What these comments by the Dev's point out to me is, MMO's as we know them are dead.  

     

    What I need to be doing is, dropping my subs to MMOs, and start buying standalone games with replay value .... start getting my social fix from Facebook and MySpace.

     

    Hell, at $15 a month x 2 (for me right now)... I can just buy a new SA game every other month and be saving money.

  • NovaRyuNovaRyu West Milford, FLPosts: 26Member

    Originally posted by Zinderin

    What these comments by the Dev's point out to me is, MMO's as we know them are dead.  

     

    What I need to be doing is, dropping my subs to MMOs, and start buying standalone games with replay value .... start getting my social fix from Facebook and MySpace.

     

    Hell, at $15 a month x 2 (for me right now)... I can just buy a new SA game every other month and be saving money.

    If you don't like what the dev's are saying, you should probably do that. I don't think anything too big is going to change in the next year or two from what we're playing right now.

     

    Lucky for people like me, I still somewhat enjoy the current batch of MMO's. I'm really looking forward to the slight (but much needed) tweaks to the forumla that the upcomming batch of MMO's are bringing.

  • alpheusalpheus new b, WIPosts: 72Member

    I had a hard time reading this article (specifically the dev quotes) and not having a big, bright flashing "hypocrite" pop into my head.  I guess I'm just nit picking here as no one is perfect.   However it is indeed hard to read some of these quotes and not want to bang my head against the wall.  They sure talk a nice talk but the fruits of their labor sure don't walk the walk.

     

    Eck, I must be jaded/

  • GustavoMGustavoM watPosts: 16Member
    I agree 100% with this article. MMO's needs more variety, and less repetitive actions.
  • KyleranKyleran Tampa, FLPosts: 19,980Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Horusra

    Originally posted by OldBiker


    Originally posted by Coman



    Originally posted by mCalvert



    Sorry, I dont buy it. These devs are just making excuses. Look at EVE - very little grind is forced on you. There is simply no excuse for the laziness in other MMOs which results in 'kill 10 rats'.


     

    Have we played the same eve? The grind for ISK is always ongoing. Also most of the mission in even consist of the same basics as any other MMO. Take something from X to Y, kill target X or clear area X (This would be the same as kill 10 spiders). 

    Now the benifit of EvE is that there are a lot of ways to grind your ISK, but it is still an importend factor. 


     

    Coman is right.  In Eve you don't grind levels but you do need ISK (in-game currency) to do just about everything.  The benefit of Eve is there lots of ways to make money so it doesn't feel like a grind.  There are even ways to have the game make money for you while you are logged off! 

    That said, I do agree with mCalvert.  The other devs are just making excuses.  Eve has pushed the limits of the genre sucessfully yet no one is taking notes.  A few games have tried to duplicate some of the elements of Eve that set it apart and they have botched it up.  I'm beginning to think that I'm going to have to wait until CCP releases thier next MMO before I see another game close to Eve.

     Eve has about the crappiest grind...mining (snore) and Missions (now blow...snore).  Nothing marginally "fun" in those.  PI is about as boring as watching paint dry.  There is a reason this game has a crap load of bots and CCP made a way to buy ISK with real money.

    Ah, but take your mission running or mining to the next level, move into low sec or 0.0 and suddenly it becomes a whole lot more challenging and intense.

    Toss in wormholes and battling sleepers (a challenge until you know what you're doing) and the thril of 0.0 space with on local and things get far more interesting.

    I don't find EVE's PVE all that boring, especially when you are out in PVP areas where the developers want you to be.

    Back to the article, like many before it there's quite a bit of moaning about the grind, and disgusing it, but still was pretty short on ideas on how to really make things better.

    MMO's are defined by their grind, and we as players all have different tolerance levels to it therefore its hard for Dev's to figure out what is the right amount of grind to include. (though it would appear Blizzard has it almost figured out)

     

    In my day MMORPG's were so hard we fought our way through dungeons in the snow, uphill both ways.
    "I don't have one life, I have many lives" - Grunty
    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

  • MordeathMordeath Nowhere, ALPosts: 131Member

    Sometimes you have to grind it out? Sometimes I have to get cavities filled, doesnt mean its fun. In regard to the AOC Night missions, while fun, its a single player aspect, nothing "MMO" about it. Find a way to make this "MMOish" and you have something.

  • battleaxebattleaxe Baton Rouge, LAPosts: 158Member

    The best definition for the grind:  The grind starts the minute you stop your gaming to calculate how many more actions you have to take (like mobs you have to kill) to get to the next milestone (level, area, skill, spell, etc.), and use that to guesstimate how long it will take.  You know you're done with the game when you decide it will take too long or you feel it's just not worth the hassle to continue. 

    Despite dev's wishing otherwise - no one likes the grind.  However, many will persevere through it...up to a point.

    Part of what creates the grind is the lack of fun involved in "standard" quests.  The standard fare for most quests in just about every MMO is one of four types of quests: kill the named mob, kill X mobs, loot X items, or deliver this there. 

    I'm kill X mobsed out.  I can't stand these quests - I've done too many for such stupid reasons that I'd rather just tar and feather X developers instead. 

    In MMOs, kill the named mob becomes stand in line to kill the named mob.   Whee.  He's so dangerous that even though his corpse(s) on the ground in front of me, I have to kill him again too.

    Loot X items becomes an effort in futility at points because the developers decide that I have to loot some mundane organic material from a quadroplegic, toothless, tongueless, noseless, blind, deaf, peltless, gutless, tailless, skinless, boneless, clawless, pawless, hairless, whiskerless, tendonless wolf that still manages to find me and hit me for a fair amount of damage.  If I'm going for wolf eyes, for example, it needs to drop two per kill.  Otherwise gamers are just going into disbelief and developer hate mode.

    Fedex is a job I don't want.  I understand and appreciate Fedex and UPS - I've delivered as many packages in MMOs as some of their long time workers have in real life.

    Developers - you need to think outside the box and come up with new quest fare.  The old stand bys have to go.

  • someforumguysomeforumguy HomePosts: 3,538Member Uncommon

    Guild Wars 2 will show what can be done differently. But will be ignored like GW in this aspect by other developers. Most of the mentioned MMO's in the article will have the classic grind.

  • LiltawenLiltawen San Antonio, TXPosts: 245Member

    RPGs= 100% grind (no matter how entertaining they make it-its still just killing thyings); MMOs = less depending upon which one. Its only grind if you let it; I level the boring parts out with RP- if the Devs give me a good reason to kill 10 whatevers great, if not I'll give myself one.

    What really interested me about the article was the reference to ' the Zen of Grind' Is this why 'Asian' MMOs have so much of it? What an interesting idea- I never thought of it that way before. OOOOOMMMMMMMM........

  • wootinwootin none, MEPosts: 259Member

    "“The genre as a whole doesn't need a massive overhaul,” said Georgeson. “I mean, there's plenty of room for innovation, but even using the existing game model, it doesn't all need to be thrown out and started from scratch."

    Yes. Yes it does need to be completely overhauled. Comments like these are driven by the desire to keep making money from doing the same thing over and over, because it's easier and less risky than doing something better. No fear. No excuses. Game companies are supposed to deliver real authentic fun, not cardboard fun covered in tinfoil.

    “Eliminate? No. Grinding has its own important place in MMO ecology. A large number of players clearly enjoy grinding in various forms. I mean, let’s face it – all of Farmville is nothing but a relaxing form of grind. For many players, grinding appears to serve as an almost meditative task that can be readily mastered and exercised in a relaxing, familiar pattern. Basically it’s the MMO version of Sudoku."

    No. The only reason people even know what a grind is is because early developers put it there to cover the lack of  playable content in v1.0 of MMO games. Then game company management discovered that Skinner boxes work on people and are a lot cheaper to make than actual playable (as in fun to play) content, so grind became the official "way to make money" in MMOs. And now people even tell the big lie "Grind is fun" as if it is not the exact opposite. I would lolz but the very concept makes the part of my heart that likes fun weep little red tears of sadness.

     

    Bottom line - every evil empire has lots of people in it that may not have created it, but now depend on it for their living. The brightest, nicest, most articulate of those people are invariably the ones out in public explaining to the slaves how good they really have things and how much the slaves owe the empire for working so hard on their behalf.

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