Quantcast

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Visionary Realms' approach to "the grind"

DullahanDullahan Member EpicPosts: 4,534
This was taken from a post by Brad McQuaid on the Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen forums today (2/18/2016). As a fan of Pantheon, I found it informative but also a window into how to combat some of the bigger problems in MMO game design. Its a pretty massive post, but for anyone interested in Pantheon or in MMO development in general, this is, imo, a must read.

Skip to 4th post for the tl:dr.

Aradune said:

Grinding is one of those tough topics to discuss because the term means different things to different people (like meaningful travel, camping, etc.)

Until we would all agree as to what it means for the purpose of this discussion, we'll see some posts saying 'yeah, no grinding!' and then just as many posts asserting 'no, grinding is great!'.

And, not only do people have different definitions, people also have different tastes and tolerances... what one might find too repetitive and therefore boring and grindy, another may not.

That said, I'll attempt to add clarity and at least talk about what I consider grinding, the good and the bad.

First of all, the 'bad' grinding actually fits into a larger issue -- overly repetitive gameplay.  Whenever an MMO has an advancement path that involves doing something fairly simple over and over again it risks creating a situation where 'bad' grinding not only exists as something you can do, but worse yet, sometimes it's the most efficient way to advance your character.  This scenario is especially bad because the player should never find himself in a situation where he can choose one of two paths:  Path 1 is more fun, more engaging, more challenging but then also less efficient in terms of character advancement.  Path 2 contains the overly repetitive gameplay but is also a more efficient path to advancement.  Studies have shown, both studies I have been involved with and also those I've read about, that in such a scenario, many (sometimes even most) players will choose the path with more efficient advancement even though it's less fun.  Allowing this to occur (and it's happened under my watch before, so I bear some responsibility) is an epic fail in terms of MMO game development.  It's bad(TM).  We need to avoid it if at all possible.

Now, again, where this can get tricky is that everyone is an individual.  Some people find certain MMO gameplay to be overly repetitive and grindy while others will find the same activity just fine.  The answer here for us is to know our target audience.  And that's where, of course, we need to listen to all of you!.  We need to make sure we don't have unnecessarily grindy content and mechanics in Pantheon, of course, but more specifically, we need to avoid what most of you guys feel is too grindy.  When it comes to activities other MMO players in general may find too grindy, we need to keep in mind that Pantheon isn't being designed to be all things for all people.  

I'd also like to talk briefly about why grindy content and mechanics have appeared in MMOs.  At one extreme, I've seen people assert that we put in grindy content just to punish players.  This, of course, is ludicrous.  I don't see any MMO developer, regardless of the type of MMO they are playing or their vision for what an MMO should be, purposely putting in grindy content just to piss off players.  That would be, well, really dumb at worst and simply bad game design at best.

I also see the assertion that grinds are put into MMOs to slow players down -- to slow their advancement.  In my experience this has occurred, but perhaps not as frequently as some might assume.  There have been times where players are indeed chewing through content so quickly (for any number of reasons) and I’ve been part of meetings where the goal was to find out some way to slow the rate of advancement.  In those meetings, adding grindy content and mechanics have been brought up (although usually as a temporary, band-aid fix).  Here's what I have to say about these scenarios:  1. of course, we'll do our best to not let that happen.  2. you really have to look deeper and try to understand why players are advancing so quickly.... is there an exploit or bug?  Is there a system out there that is just too easy?  Did we stupidly put in an item or two that are seriously too powerful that players are using to rip through content at a ridiculous pace?  I think it's really important that, on a case by case basis, the reason the rapid advancement is occurring has to be understood and then addressed.  Simply slowing the player down in other ways and not addressing the core issue and cause is a band-aid approach, and I'm definitely not a fan of band-aids.  Does it take more time and effort to both understand what is going on and then to properly address the situation?  Yes, and so adding some grind is the quicker, easier way out.  But that doesn't mean it's acceptable.  It isn't.

What's left?  What's left are systems and mechanics that are put into an MMO on purpose as part of character advancement that is not a reaction or a fix.  There's a lot of great examples out there... faction grinding comes to mind.  In order to access a certain area or to be allowed to speak to a certain NPC or to receive a certain quest, you have to have the right mixture of factions or the game won't let you proceed.  If we take a look at this example purely as an idea (in other words, remove the various implementations you've experienced, good or bad, and just look at the concept), I don't find anything wrong with it.  Using the faction example, that is pretty much what factions are there for:  they allow a character who wouldn't normally be able to interact with an 'enemy' faction to change how they are viewed in the world and, with some work, be able to change their faction standing and earn access.  As a concept I think most of us would agree that it's a good one.  Quick hats off to Bill Trost for coming up with the faction system in EQ -- before he did so, we were going to have a simpler D&D-like alignment system where your character could be evil at one extreme, neutral in the middle, and good at the other extreme.  Classic, workable, but pretty simplistic.  Bill game up with the faction system in EQ to replace the alignment system with something much more interesting.  What if good and evil were more relative?  What if one group didn't like another group, and then when you did something the first group did like, they liked you more and the faction opposing them liked you less?  And then, adding more complexity, what if you did something to please one group but then found out it also pleased another group, didn't affect at all your standing with yet another group, and then pissed off yet three more other groups you didn’t even know existed?  IMHO this system was ingenious and far, far superior to a more simplistic alignment system and I was more than happy to rip out that system in EQ and replace it with the faction system.  


Post edited by Dullahan on
«13

Comments

  • DullahanDullahan Member EpicPosts: 4,534
    Aradune said:

    The general concept of how to change your faction standing was pretty solid too.  Do things to please one faction and have your standing with various factions change accordingly.  Maybe its kill a mob, maybe it's complete a quest, etc.  And then we could also make it such that certain races and classes would start out in the gameworld with preset faction standings... instead of making Paladins 'good' in a general sense, we would add more depth and give them initial standings with various factions that, when all summed up, did make them generally 'good' but in a way that made more sense with the game world, lore, etc.  The system was more complex, but the depth it added and the compelling gameplay that could be associated with it more than justified such a system.

    But then, of course, came the real game with real players and like any MMO system, you learn a lot about your great idea when real people are actually using it.  It's why I am such a proponent of a nice, long beta:  there's all sorts of cool ideas we are coming up with, cool ideas that have come from the community, etc. that sound great on paper but may or may not survive contact with actual players.  Continuing to talk about factions (although I fully realize faction grinding is not the only example of grinding that's popped up in MMOs over the years), we found that fundamentally changing who your character is in terms of his standings should not be something easily achievable.  A Dark Elf can't simply kill a few evil races attacking a town of humans and then suddenly he's not considered the enemy, is embraced and welcomed into the human town.  Just like gaining experience or obtaining that rare drop, changing your factions in a significant way had to involve time and effort, and also, ideally, risk and reward.  If it didn't, then it really wasn't that meaningful of a system.  If we want travel to matter, we cannot let people teleport around with impunity.  If we want obtaining rare and exotic items to mean something, they can't drop off of easy mobs like a Piñata.  If we want overcoming a powerful boss mob to mean something, then failing to do so, dying, has to have a sting.

    All that said, however, if the most efficient way to change your faction standing is to kill certain mobs over and over again, often with little or no danger to yourself or your party, and often without having to really move about, then, at least in my opinion, we've allowed bad grinding to creep into the game.  

    Advancing in a PvE MMO generally revolves around two core mechanics:  overcoming a challenge and investing time.  There should be and are other ways, so don't assume I'm advocating simplicity here -- I think we can do better and provide more and more ways to advance your character -- but at least for the sake of this discussion, let's be honest and agree that in most cases, in most MMOs, when simplified, it comes down to 1. figuring out how to advance (beat a boss mob, finish a quest, etc.) and 2. putting your time in -- playing enough and having your time investment rewarded.   In one sense, it’s pretty simple.  In fact, one could argue that if it's figuring out how to overcome challenges (or, worse yet, reading how to do it on a spoiler site) and then just putting the time into playing the game, MMOs are fundamentally grindy.  Essentially, overcome the challenge, play a lot, rise and repeat, and eventually you are high level.  On the surface, that sounds pretty repetitive and boring to me.


  • DullahanDullahan Member EpicPosts: 4,534
    Aradune said:

    So yes, I'm getting somewhere with this, pardon my typical verbosity.

    Really, if you look at almost any game, MMO or otherwise, you can boil down 'how to play the game, how to progress in the game, and even how to 'beat' the game) to some pretty simplistic systems and mechanics.  The 'trick' is to create a game where while the players are accomplishing these core tasks, there is enough variety and variation intermixed with these mechanics that it doesn't feel to the player that he's really doing the same thing over and over again.  You create a great story behind why the player is doing something.  You create context.  You vary the situation -- you create interesting and different mobs to defeat, you create an interesting virtual world to explore, you create a sufficiently rich atmosphere around the player such that character advancement doesn't feel the same, feel repetitive, even though, fundamentally, he or she is doing the same sort of thing over and over again.

    This is simply good game design.  And it's certainly easier said than done.  It takes real effort.  And the better you do it, the better the game is.  The more immersive the experience, the more the player will enjoy the variety of scenarios, necessary tactics, needed items, and the need to travel around an interesting world.  If they are caught up in a great game, a great world, a great story and setting, a changing environment, then it won't matter to him that, ultimately, if boiled down and simplified, he's really doing the same sort of thing over and over again.  To me, this is one way to sum up or define good game design and implementation.  If you can pull this off, you've made a compelling game.  If you fail and the average player isn't caught up in an immersive experience, then he will see through it all and likely become quite bored at some point.  

    How does this relate to grinding?  To me grinding is part of what I was just talking about more generally -- it's one example of what can be done well or poorly.  If we can make 'faction grinding', again using the faction example, something that is involved, varied, and ultimately fun, then it's not really grinding -- at least not the 'bad' grinding I was talking about.  If you have to move around, kill a variety of mobs, complete quests, etc. in order to change your faction standing sufficiently to unlock an area you want access to, then you're not just changing your faction -- you're *playing* the game.  And it can be difficult -- it can involve challenge and it can involve a lot of time investment.  If the result is worth the time and effort and the risk/reward, then I think it's great.  As I alluded to earlier and also in other posts, I'm in favor of many ways to advance your character.  Just killing mobs to gain experience and levels, while traditional and fun if done right, isn't enough.  The more ways, the more options you have, to advance your character, the more interesting the game.  The more compelling and sticky the game too.  If you grow tired of working on one aspect of your character you should have options.  The less options you have, the greater the chance you’ll get bored and log off.  If it gets bad enough, maybe you don't log back in.  Variety is good.  People like variety, they like options, and at least the players we are targeting, don't like feeling like they're on rails.  They don't want to be led around and told what do to next.  While I don't think they want a pure sandbox, they also don't want the traditional themepark either.  And that's what Pantheon is:  a more open game where you are not led from one quest hub to another, where there is no 'golden path', where there are less strict rules confining your gameplay but rather different ways to achieve the same or similar goal.  

    What have we seen over the years that's gone beyond earning experience points?  AAAs is one.  Faction grinding is another.  Unlocking areas and regions (keying) is another.  Crafting.  Diplomacy in VG.  And as I've alluded to in other posts, we've got some cool ideas in this area for Pantheon, some of which should make it in by release, whereas some require an MMO that's already been released and around for a while in order to be properly implemented.  

    But as I try to bring this post to a close and bring us back to the OP, we have a responsibility to make sure that however many advancement paths there are, that they are interesting and varied.  That it doesn't feel overly repetitive or familiar... that it's not too grindy.  That and we also need to do our best to avoid situations where a more boring and less fun path is not also the more efficient -- again, players should not find themselves compelled to choose a more efficient but less fun route over a less efficient but more varied and fun route.  

    In the early MMOs there was a lot of grinding.  I've attempted to explain why but also to say that, regardless of reason, we should do our best to avoid it.  The good news is that we know a lot more now.  We know better how to identify gameplay that is too repetitive and, hopefully, how to tweak that gameplay and make it more interesting and compelling.  We know now that many players will choose having less fun in the short term if they believe it will get them to more fun in the future.  And we have better tools that should aid us in creating not just a greater quantity of content, but also better quality as well.  And so, while Pantheon is certainly a game heavily inspired by the 'older school' MMOs, we are not just re-creating an old-style MMO in a modern setting.  We are picking and choosing game mechanics and features, and doing it carefully.  As great as some of the earlier MMOs were, they all had flaws and issues as well.  As much as we learned what worked and what we'd like to see brought back to the MMO genre, we also saw what didn't work, what was unnecessary, what was tedious and repetitive.  And so as much as we are building on a foundation of what worked, we are also, just as importantly, not bringing back the flaws and errors of the past.  We're picking and choosing, and then building a lot of new, hopefully genre evolving features and mechanics, on top of that foundation.  


  • DullahanDullahan Member EpicPosts: 4,534
    Aradune said:

    As usual, I took advantage of the original topic (in this case grinding) and tried not only to simply address that issue but use it as a gateway and opportunity to bring up other related issues, other bigger issues, and share with you more and more of our philosophy as well as how we are approaching building Pantheon.  It makes for a longer read (sorry) but it seems more satisfying then just answering in one sentence: "With Pantheon, we will do our best to avoid overly repetitive or tedious game mechanics which often leads to what many players refer to as 'bad' grinding".  And that's because the OP really hit on something much bigger that is always a challenge when developing an MMO:  having different ways to advance your character is good.  Creating interesting environments, stories, settings, etc. to make character advancement more fun and less tedious is good.  Moving players around an interesting world in order to advance is good.  Taking short cuts and introducing repetitive gameplay is bad.  Band-aids are bad.  Slowing character advancement, when necessary, needs to be done with care and a real effort to avoid the grind.  

    So that’s it – that’s my take on repetition and tedium and our goal to avoid it whenever possible in Pantheon.  We definitely believe that we can bring challenge, cooperation, community, class interdependence, etc. back to MMOs without also dragging in un-fun and unnecessary grinding. 

    Just thought I'd throw this question out here. In the context of what was discussed above, what forms of "good grind" do you like? Do you have any ideas on a way grinding can be fun beyond those mentioned above?


  • DistopiaDistopia Member EpicPosts: 21,182
    edited February 2016

    Lore grinding, by that I mean much like the faction systems he describes, a series of features that tell the deeper story of the world through discovery, combat, crafting etc..etc..etc.. Different forms of information could be uncovered through advancement in these systems, skills to unlock, new items, even as far as tech which could lead to better crafting as well as combat vocations.

    For every minute you are angry , you lose 60 seconds of happiness."-Emerson


  • delete5230delete5230 Member EpicPosts: 6,528

    I don't mind grind. I don't mind being level 22 for a week, as long as the world is lush with a lot of things to do and a community to get to know.

    It's also nice getting that new class changing ability now and then.  That one very cool ability that makes you re-change your play style.

    I miss this so much !

  • ShaighShaigh Member RarePosts: 2,072
    I grinded way too much when I played MUD and I can't stomach grind like I once did.

    I like dungeon gameplay in general which means I can tolerate token systems for dungeons as long as there is a fair assortments of dungeons to play. I don't like excessive repetition of the same place, being forced to repeat specific dungeons for faction points means that its the game dictating what you play, and that's not fun.

    Still, I'm the kind of person that can repeat the same place 10 times just because its an item that improves me in raiding. However, I would rather join someone else going places for stuff than go on that hunt myself. It means that I can just play and have a good time instead of obsessing about gear.
    The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
  • AmatheAmathe Member LegendaryPosts: 7,566
    Dullahan said:

     In the context of what was discussed above, what forms of "good grind" do you like? Do you have any ideas on a way grinding can be fun beyond those mentioned above?
    When I played EQ I was never in any rush to level, because I was enjoying the journey. A big part of that enjoyment was places like Karnor's Castle, where some people were just random slaying, some were trying for named mobs, and some were trying for epic mobs. But we were all there in the same vicinity. It was a great design, it built community, and there were many other places in the game like that.

    Grinding became more of a concern when game companies started putting all the fun stuff at max level. The idea is you have to "earn your fun" by slogging through 60 crappy levels before you get to do anything enjoyable. That is bad design. And it is the #1 cause of "grind." 

    EQ1, EQ2, SWG, SWTOR, GW, GW2 CoH, CoV, FFXI, WoW, CO, War,TSW and a slew of free trials and beta tests

  • AraduneAradune Sigil Games CEOMember RarePosts: 294
    edited February 2016
    Amathe said:
    Dullahan said:

     In the context of what was discussed above, what forms of "good grind" do you like? Do you have any ideas on a way grinding can be fun beyond those mentioned above?
    When I played EQ I was never in any rush to level, because I was enjoying the journey. A big part of that enjoyment was places like Karnor's Castle, where some people were just random slaying, some were trying for named mobs, and some were trying for epic mobs. But we were all there in the same vicinity. It was a great design, it built community, and there were many other places in the game like that.

    Grinding became more of a concern when game companies started putting all the fun stuff at max level. The idea is you have to "earn your fun" by slogging through 60 crappy levels before you get to do anything enjoyable. That is bad design. And it is the #1 cause of "grind." 
    I don't know if the 'end game problem' is the #1 cause of the grind, but it's a big one, that's for sure.  The perception that all of the fun is at the 'end game' so we have to powerlevel to the end game as quickly as possible, to bypass all of the lower and mid level content, etc. in some sort of race to that 'end game' is a serious problem.  And it's us developers fault just as much as the players, if not more.  Over the years, and in some MMOs, it was indeed true:  the best, more interesting content was towards the higher levels.  That, and the time developers spent on the 'end game' was disproportionate to the time they spent keeping the rest of the game interesting, rewarding and compelling.

    I think one of the several challenges we face with Pantheon will be de--programming that perception because while the 'end game' is certainly going to be awesome, so also will the rest of the game be.  We want our world builders to make fantastic low and mid level areas to explore.  We want our game designers to put in great content (quests, boss mobs, etc.) at *all* levels.  But I hesitate to have them do that if everyone thinks the goal is to bypass that content and get to the 'end game' as quickly as possible.  It's even worse when people feel they need to powerlevel up to the 'end game' even if that power leveling is less fun than playing the game 'as intended'.  Then you have a bunch of grumpy people ignoring 3/4ths of your game and grinding their way through most of the game typically by doing something 'efficient' yet repetitive and tedious.

    Now we can stop or at least slow most of the power leveling, but then I hate to create game mechanics and rules that stop people from playing the way they want to play too.   The tiered advancement system we brought up months ago, while on 'hold' at the moment, was meant to help address this issue.

    --

    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Brad McQuaid
    CCO, Visionary Realms, Inc.
    www.pantheonmmo.com
    --------------------------------------------------------------

  • AmatheAmathe Member LegendaryPosts: 7,566
    Another issue is that many games lead you to believe that your story choices matter. Say, you are going down a road just exploring, you help some NPC, and somehow, down the road, that is going to matter. But it almost never matters (not in mmorpgs anyway).

    I have been playing these games for 13 years and never once has my helping Patty Jones with her skinned knee ever meant anything later in the game.

    If that changed, people may re-visit their desire to blow past the content on the way to end game. Unless of course they can just look up on a website the three lower level quests that really count and do only those. 

    EQ1, EQ2, SWG, SWTOR, GW, GW2 CoH, CoV, FFXI, WoW, CO, War,TSW and a slew of free trials and beta tests

  • TorvalTorval Member LegendaryPosts: 20,306
    I like faction "grinding". That is I enjoy most faction mechanics in EQ2. Some are overly simple gates to quests that stagger quest unlocks mixed with mob grinding. But the better faction unlocks have interesting stories behind them with contrary dynamics with other factions.

    I love the idea of factions because: 1) it is alignment done better. 2) if use with lore, stories, and adventures doesn't feel like a faction unlock.

    One of the most memorable faction implementations, for me, is in EQ2 Desert of Flames in Maj'Dul. There are three opposing factions. You start out with neutral or poor reputation with all three and the guards will attack you on sight in their respective areas. However there are honey pockets of safety where a faction representative will start you on a neutral footing and quests. The interesting trick is that when you do a quest with one faction you gain rep with them, but lose it with the others. However, there is a trick that if you play all three factions right you can gain great reputation with them all, get access to all the neat rewards, and come out on top. It involves taking more time and some mob grinding in there a little, but mostly choosing quests wisely and playing smart. It is a sort of a grind, but it definitely doesn't feel like it.

    What made the quests and faction gains most interesting is that there were all kinds of quest types in the area: crafting, lore and legends, heritage, signature, solo, epic with sub faction stories in pockets of the zone. It was still a sort of golden path because the raids were the ultimate in progression, but it was so twisty turny that one didn't feel like they were going down a guided adventure.

    To improve on that system I would say offering multiple avenues rather than a single twisty turny path would be an improvement.
    Fedora - A modern, free, and open source Operating System. https://getfedora.org/

    traveller, interloper, anomaly, iteration


  • AraduneAradune Sigil Games CEOMember RarePosts: 294
    Torval said:
    I like faction "grinding". That is I enjoy most faction mechanics in EQ2. Some are overly simple gates to quests that stagger quest unlocks mixed with mob grinding. But the better faction unlocks have interesting stories behind them with contrary dynamics with other factions.

    I love the idea of factions because: 1) it is alignment done better. 2) if use with lore, stories, and adventures doesn't feel like a faction unlock.

    One of the most memorable faction implementations, for me, is in EQ2 Desert of Flames in Maj'Dul. There are three opposing factions. You start out with neutral or poor reputation with all three and the guards will attack you on sight in their respective areas. However there are honey pockets of safety where a faction representative will start you on a neutral footing and quests. The interesting trick is that when you do a quest with one faction you gain rep with them, but lose it with the others. However, there is a trick that if you play all three factions right you can gain great reputation with them all, get access to all the neat rewards, and come out on top. It involves taking more time and some mob grinding in there a little, but mostly choosing quests wisely and playing smart. It is a sort of a grind, but it definitely doesn't feel like it.

    What made the quests and faction gains most interesting is that there were all kinds of quest types in the area: crafting, lore and legends, heritage, signature, solo, epic with sub faction stories in pockets of the zone. It was still a sort of golden path because the raids were the ultimate in progression, but it was so twisty turny that one didn't feel like they were going down a guided adventure.

    To improve on that system I would say offering multiple avenues rather than a single twisty turny path would be an improvement.
    I agree -- some of the 'grinding' was implemented well.  That's why I delineate in my original post between 'good' and 'bad' grinding.  What you describe is actually playing the game and devising tactics to change your factions.  

    --

    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Brad McQuaid
    CCO, Visionary Realms, Inc.
    www.pantheonmmo.com
    --------------------------------------------------------------

  • Raidan_EQRaidan_EQ Member UncommonPosts: 247
    Dullahan said:
    Just thought I'd throw this question out here. In the context of what was discussed above, what forms of "good grind" do you like? Do you have any ideas on a way grinding can be fun beyond those mentioned above?

    Amathe touched on it above with his Karnors example, but I've seen plenty of people refer to exp camps and camp-style dungeons in EQ as a grind, but, some of my most memorable experiences were the dungeon grinds - where we may have camped a specific mob, or series of mobs like the Frenzied -> Sentinel camp in Gukbottom.  The exp grind in a non-instanced dungeon with respawns where we spent hours together fighting and chatting combined with the slower progression/downtime allowed the community relationships to be able to foster.

    I also agree that that the focus on the journey 1-max level rather than the end-game makes everything feel like less of a grind.  But, much like anything, if there is meaningful variety of end-game activities than it helps alleviate the grind at end-game.

  • fs23otmfs23otm Member UncommonPosts: 503
    edited February 2016
    Grind is good... however, like Brad said grinding because it is the only efficient way is not...

    Factions in EQ and the grind... Good
    WoW/FFXIV token grind... bad
    Camping mobs and killing for xp and doing it in the areas you want.... good
    Quest grind where you don't read the text because they mean crap and just follow the markers....bad

  • KilrainKilrain Member RarePosts: 1,179
    Amathe said:
    Dullahan said:

     In the context of what was discussed above, what forms of "good grind" do you like? Do you have any ideas on a way grinding can be fun beyond those mentioned above?
    When I played EQ I was never in any rush to level, because I was enjoying the journey. A big part of that enjoyment was places like Karnor's Castle, where some people were just random slaying, some were trying for named mobs, and some were trying for epic mobs. But we were all there in the same vicinity. It was a great design, it built community, and there were many other places in the game like that.

    Grinding became more of a concern when game companies started putting all the fun stuff at max level. The idea is you have to "earn your fun" by slogging through 60 crappy levels before you get to do anything enjoyable. That is bad design. And it is the #1 cause of "grind." 
    This right here. I remember the sure enjoyment I got at Crushbone and it wasn't even a huge area. Putting this much fun and effort through every zone, every area, every level, every second becomes end game. Spend time on your game. Make it fun all the way through and then I will play it for years.
  • AmsaiAmsai Member UncommonPosts: 299
    @Aradune ;
    I hope you guys do end up including that tiered leveling system if its what I think you speak of. I asked Kilsin about it a couple months ago after the new site update and he said it had been cancelled and or changed. I really liked the trials/limit break system in XI(not XIV not even the same thing).  And would love a trial system of tests you have to overrcome in order to continue leveling.

    @Dullahan
    Sorry but I dont have any good ideas in this area. The only thing I can say is there have been some games that I get so caught up in that I dont even really notice the grind. Like Im so busy having fun that i turn my head and all the sudden notice oh cool im level 40. How the f$@% did that happen. Though this isbusually with games like Dark Souls or maybe Elder Scrolls?


  • TorvalTorval Member LegendaryPosts: 20,306
    fs23otm said:
    Grind is good... however, like Brad said grinding because it is the only efficient way is not...
    Factions in EQ and the grind... Good
    WoW/FFXIV token grind... bad
    Camping mobs and killing for xp and doing it in the areas you want.... good
    Quest grind where you don't read the text because they mean crap and just follow the markers....bad
    Any repetitive task that becomes the only option, or rather the single most efficient option, is bad design.

    Being able to grind mobs because you just feel like going out on a pve murdering rampage can be fun if it's rewarding and contributes to progression. When it becomes the primary means of a level span progression then that's bad.

    Factions are good if they're well implemented. Some faction grinds are just a simplistic tiered gate to content with the sole purpose of slowing down progression. A simple faction grind becomes nothing more than a quest/mob grind. A well implemented faction system can become about gaming and your play strategy.

    Quests where the entire meat of the quest is in story text are generally bad because you're reading about the adventure instead of having it. That's why people just click through because outside of lore and RP it doesn't necessarily hold much value. In my opinion quests should tell you about the quest giver's dilemma and then let you experience the story through the adventure.

    One game I think does this incredibly well is Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen. We given a little bit of verbal dialog about the situation in a conversational manner, not the heavy prose often seen in MMO quests. The objective area is often shown on the map so the player doesn't wander off in some irrelevant direction, but that doesn't mean easy access. It's more of a pointer and shove. Then the character and party must adventure their way to the location, fight foes/monsters along the way, and then figure out how to solve the dilemma from there. You want to get the book, but where is it? Is it on an NPC or in a chest? Do you have to kill them for it or will that hinder or fail your quest? Can you find the book by sneaking about?

    The problem with story text driven quests is that once again there is a golden path and that becomes predictable as time goes on. There are wikis or verbally incontinent players who like to play quest professor. With a system that explains quest problems and pushes the player in the mostly right direction that lets the developer make dynamic or open ended quests. No two players necessarily have the right quest answer. That complicates how grouping for quests is done, but isn't impossible with quest milestones or checkpoints.

    My main point here being that the problems are actually quite complicated and easy answers don't solve them. So it's not so easy to say this is good or bad. It's in the implementation. By the way reward tokens are a symptom of a much deeper design problem, not a problem in themselves.
    Fedora - A modern, free, and open source Operating System. https://getfedora.org/

    traveller, interloper, anomaly, iteration


  • AraduneAradune Sigil Games CEOMember RarePosts: 294
    edited February 2016
    Amsai said:
    @Aradune ;
    I hope you guys do end up including that tiered leveling system if its what I think you speak of. I asked Kilsin about it a couple months ago after the new site update and he said it had been cancelled and or changed. I really liked the trials/limit break system in XI(not XIV not even the same thing).  And would love a trial system of tests you have to overcome in order to continue leveling.
    Advanced Warning:  as of late when certain topics pop up I've not just tried to address or answer the issue, but, if applicable, i've tried to use it as a stepping stone to allow me to share my thoughts on larger, grander ideas.  The result of this so far has been that some people have enjoyed my missives, I've certainly enjoyed writing them, but then others have struggled with my verbosity and needing to dig through a long post just to find a simple answer.  So anyway, fair warning, this is one of the longer ones where I try to tackle more than just the OPs question or comment)

    We aren't really cancelling any of our new ideas.  If it makes sense to work on them now, we do and test it and see how we like it.  For most of these systems, however, we can't really test them without a community, which means we need to get into beta in order to know if the system is good, or needs to be tweaked, or even completely yanked.

    Then there are a subset of systems that some of us feel more passionate about than others.  The core systems and the differentiators you see on the website, and certainly the overall Vision, we are all definitely all on the same page (and have been since late November when we wrapped up the High Level Design doc and started writing up the lower level documents that define what these Pantheon differentiator systems are).  

    But then there are some systems and mechanics that different people on the design team feel more strongly about than others.  Usually they fall into the category of 'well, what if this happens?  And if it does, what is our plan to deal with it?'  Also, most of these types of systems impose more rules and are less sandboxxy.  

    So what we've done with these kinds of systems and mechanics is said, well, some of us think we'll need a system like this, while others do not.  Since we won't really know if we need these systems until beta, we pretty much put them on 'hold', so to speak.  Kilsin probably just heard it was on hold or something and assumed it was cancelled.  The tier/advancement system is not cancelled, it's on hold in case we need it or some variation of it.  

    I've posted about these sorts of things quite a few times, but it's worth re-stating:  while Pantheon is not a true sandbox MMO, one our goal is to make it as sandboxxy as possible while still having a solid game sitting within that sandbox.  What I mean by that is we really want to free players up to be able to do, within reason, whatever they want.  We are not fans of restricting what players can do.  We ARE big fans of emergent behavior.  We value community extremely highly and think that a solid community can police itself to a significant degree and that it should.  

    That said, there are times where we do have to step in.  In those cases, we will try to do it in a way that feels more open and not super strict.  We also prefer positive reinforcement over negative reinforcement -- I would much rather reward you for acting in a way that is pro-community and pro-Pantheon than to penalize you somehow for breaking some rule.

    Then, unfortunately, there are instances where we do have to step in and step in heavy handed.  Easy examples would be some player /shouting racial slurs, or some player doing something the community cannot deal with that results in him ruining the Pantheon experience for others -- certainly if one person can ruin the fun of more than 1 other person, then even though we're charging him a sub fee, we are losing money on him.  He doesn't belong in the game for both game and community reasons and he does't belong in the game for financial/business reasons.  

    Then there are those systems that we've come up with to deal with problems that might occur but, again, can't be sure until beta.  Most of these systems are proposed by me because I have the experience of not only building two MMOs previously to this, but also running MMOs in a live environment, post-launch, and dealing with customer service issues, nerfs, exploits, etc.  So sometimes, given Pantheon's design, I get a gut feeling that we may need a system of some sort to curb exploitation of the rules, or to help gamers that are new to social, cooperative MMOs get accustomed, or to deal with issues that I've seen happen when you set up a game like Pantheon.  A good example there would be dealing with MUDflation.  Since we are determined that we want real player driven economies we therefore need to make sure that most items are tradable.  But if we do that, then there will be some degree of MUDflation.  For me, the plusses for having a player driven economy far outweigh the negatives, but even with that being true, we likely will have to put in some systems to slow down or curb MUDflation as well as deal with its long term effects (shard aging, etc.)


    .... continued next post....
    Post edited by Aradune on

    --

    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Brad McQuaid
    CCO, Visionary Realms, Inc.
    www.pantheonmmo.com
    --------------------------------------------------------------

  • AraduneAradune Sigil Games CEOMember RarePosts: 294
    edited February 2016
    -- continued from last post --

    Bottom feeding is another example.  If we put compelling content in middle level dungeons, some players will level up and then head back to that dungeon and cherry pick the items.  In doing so, many (not all) will disrupt the experience of players in the same dungeon but who are of the appropriate level.  The easiest solution there, of course, is Instancing.  But with Instancing I strongly feel the negatives FAR outweigh the positives, especially for a game like Pantheon and its audience.  The next easiest solution is something I came up with years ago at SoE called Trivial Loot Code.  But the problem with TLC is that it penalizes everyone, not just the bottom feeders, and also that it's a hard rule.  So do I think there might be a problem we end up having to deal with?  Yes, but the negatives of TLC outweigh the positives, so if we do have to implement something to curb bottom feeding it will have to be a system that is less rigid and totalitarian.  

    This touches not just on my own game design philosophy, but on something that transcends games and reaches into a world view of mine:  I rarely favor creating a rule or a law to stop a minority of people from doing something bad at the expense of the majority's freedom and liberty.  Such solutions are often both easy to come up with and easy to implement but also, especially long term, they tend to do more harm than good.  You may have stopped or curbed the bad behavior of a small minority, but at what cost?  I mean, at the risk of getting political, we could solve a LOT of problems in our society really easily by creating a totalitarian state, putting us under martial law, etc.  We could stop most violence, the drug problem, etc.  Look at Czechoslovakia when it was under communist rule.  You still had the deep ethnic hatred between the different groups there -- it didn't suddenly disappear when the Soviets took over.  But by creating a totalitarian police state there simply was no way ethnic cleansing was going to go on. Then, after the fall of the Soviet Union, all of these problems reared their ugly heads again, we had horrible wars in the region, etc.  My point, of course, is that there are usually either very simple solutions that may work but end up creating a bunch of new problems, or that there are almost always very strict rules that can be implemented that do indeed address the issue, but at the cost of freedom (both freedom in the real world, or player freedom in an MMO). You may have heard the saying "those willing to give up liberty for more security deserve neither."   Well, in this case, you're not even giving anything up -- we're taking it from you, the majority, to fix a problem only abused by a minority.  So, this being unacceptable, we are tasked with the more difficult challenges, one of those being to create a game, a home for players where they feel free sans long lists of draconian rules and also where they feel empowered, able to deal with certain issues themselves without needing to involve we developers. 

    So, anyway, there are several systems that are on hold, on the shelf right now, that we will try out in beta if needed.  The tier/advancement system is one of those.  Essentially I am taking the almost 20 years of experience both developing and running MMOs and trying to come up with contingency plans in case something goes wrong or needs to be addressed.  This is something I am in a unique position to be able to offer.  I've seen lots of issues and made plenty of mistakes and I am very familiar with issues that don't pop up or become a serious problem until after launch or even after the game starts to really age.  And I've been thinking about ways to address those issues while still evolving the genre and moving it forward.  It's the way my brain works -- I'm always thinking not just about today and what we can do to move development forward, but also where I'd like to take Pantheon 3, 5, even 10 years after launch.  That's just who I am, how much I believe in the vast potential of MMOs post launch, and also a result of not being able to stay on EQ or VG long enough after launch in order to have had the opportunity to try some of these ideas and systems out.  It's one of the reasons I'm so excited about Pantheon and how we've set up VRI.  We're in this for the long haul -- Pantheon is NOT fire and forget.  I personally will not get the sense of accomplishment I am looking for if I'm not still working on this game years after release.  It's not that I have something to prove, per se.  I am very proud of both EQ and VG (warts and all).  It's more that I've deeply soul searched over the last 10 years or so (mostly since Sigil fell apart) and I came to realize that this is all I want to do:  make MMOs.  And not the same MMO over and over again, bringing it to a certain point, then letting it go and starting over.  I have no desire to make any other game in any other genre.  I'm happy to play them, but I don't want to work on them, and I think a big reason is because I don't feel like my work is done.  I don't have closure.  I've not had the opportunity to take an MMO where I think they can go long term -- it's what I refer to as my Grand Vision for an MMO.  The Vision is the core game and what we want to launch with.  The Grand Vision looks at launch like having a baby -- it's a beautiful thing, so full of potential, but it has its entire life ahead of him.  

    Anyway, in summary, there are systems and ideas that don't make any sense to implement until you are in beta or rapidly approach beta because they require a critical mass of people to really test.  There are also systems planned out to deal with problems that *might* occur given our game design and Vision, but until and if they do, it makes no sense to implement them.  And then there are ideas, systems and mechanics that don't make sense to implement until after the game has launched, has a healthy player base, a solid critical mass, and has started to mature.

    --

    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Brad McQuaid
    CCO, Visionary Realms, Inc.
    www.pantheonmmo.com
    --------------------------------------------------------------

  • AmsaiAmsai Member UncommonPosts: 299
    Thanks again Brad. Ill look forward to the testing then. And thanks for the in depth post about the systems that are on hold.


  • AmatheAmathe Member LegendaryPosts: 7,566
    As great as it would be for every problem to have an ingenious solution that works for everyone, sometimes you have to either split the baby or pick winners and losers.  

    Take for example KSing. One player wants ownership of a mob once he has engaged it. Another player thinks that all mobs should be attackable whether engaged by someone else or not. A third player thinks it should be based on who did the most damage. And a fourth thinks that basing it on the amount of damage favors KSing by higher level or better geared players. 

    There isn't a system that will make all those folks happy. You just have to pick something as consistent with your vision as possible and roll with that, knowing some folks will be pleased and others won't . 

    EQ1, EQ2, SWG, SWTOR, GW, GW2 CoH, CoV, FFXI, WoW, CO, War,TSW and a slew of free trials and beta tests

  • KayydKayyd Member UncommonPosts: 129
    I don't know that grinding is ever going to have a solution. Whenever you set a goal for players, regardless of what that goal may be, a significant number of players are going to play to achieve that goal as quickly as possible, even to the detriment of their own enjoyment. Then they will turn around and rail against the game as a being a grind.

    The problem is it's almost always perceived as more efficient to do what you know how to do than what you've never done before. Even when it's not, it's human nature. How many people that you go to lunch with have never had 95% of the menu at a restaurant, but don't want to go there because they are tired of the one or two dishes they always order.

    Same with MMOs, Sitting in the same spot killing mobs over and over is preferred because it's how you know to get experience, even if it might be better to just travel a short distance to a spot you've never been. You'd have to travel there and risk it being worse for leveling or crowded. You'd have to learn the new spot, the spawn cycles, the difficulty of the mobs, and if there's a death penalty, you might die. So you sit the same place you've always been killing the same thing over and over because you only have to do it another few hours to make level 37, then you can move to the next place you got experience last time you were level 37, or wherever the leveling guide says experience is best at level 37.

    Maybe I just didn't travel in the right circles, but I don't even recall "grind" being thrown around in the first year of EQ and it certainly seemed to take on a life of it's own with the introduction of levels 51-60 where the leveling time was greatly increased. People seemed more upset about hell levels than grinding. My perception was that the term was used more after the first couple of expansions than it had been at release, yet there was more to do. The more information is out there telling players how to get to max level quickly the more people do it, and the more people complain about the grind.

    My point is you can, and should, do what you can to avoid forcing people to grind, but part of grinding is human nature. All you can do is ask yourself if you've done what you can to make fun and compelling content at all levels and if you have then those that choose to ignore it and spend all their time in one spot are going to do so no matter what you do.
  • ThebeastttThebeasttt Member RarePosts: 1,130
    Ironically most new MMO's are completely devoid of endgame content. Online gaming has been shifting more towards meaningless busywork for some reason.

    Never forget your original words "content is king," especially endgame content. If you can make the journey there group focused, interesting and fun more power to you but no matter how fun leveling is half your playerbase will be powergrinding to max regardless.  Not packing the game full of endgame content would be MMO suicide, especially for the EQ fans.
  • Asherons_CallAsherons_Call Member CommonPosts: 5
    edited February 2016
    I loved "grind" in Asheron's Call compared to in games like WoW. Below is a small rant.. thanks for taking the time to read it if you do! 

    In AC grinding monsters you made new friends and communities were built. Compared to WoW, where is everyone is slogging through a chain of quests 1500+ long. That's 1500 different places to players to meet and separate. AC was massive, but players tended to go towards "hotspots" where they could meet with others and stay there for levels 20-40 (instead of getting separated by 20 different quests inside one WoW lvl)

    AC had a lot of cool mechanics like a meaningful guild (allegiance) system. A "Patron", a higher level character, would take "Vassals" under his/her wing. Provide them with help, information, items, etc. The give-take relationship was that a vassal gave his patron 5% of their earned experience, which isn't deducted from the vassals XP (free XP). A patron could also swear to another higher level character, which made the top patron a "Monarch", Monarchs were allegiance leaders (guild) who could promote officers, cores, etc. 

    Also from level one you could hunt for meaningful "end-game" items. Golems dropped motes for Atlan weapons. Shadows drop shards for Shadow Armor, and Crystals dropped... crystals for Shadow Armor. There was level 15 Golems, level 20, 25, 45, etc. And people tended to gather at places where these monsters spawned appropriate to their hunting ability.

    AC also had support skills, magics you could cast on yourself and others to buff their abilities and skills. This encouraged a very tight-nit community where in the beginning you could find swordsmen with buffing magic, and ask for buffs, even swear allegiance to him as a vassal, he gives you buffs, you hunt faster for more XP gain. 

    AC was very loose, and skill beats gear. Rough example, a level 20 player could kill level 60 monsters. And a level 40 player could kill a max level 126 character in a PVP fight if they used technique. 

    TLDR - Grind and mechanics that encourages community building is fun in my opinion. Grind that separates players at every twist and turn, grind that doesn't encourage socializing, and grind that is "just to get to max level" isn't fun. 

    @Aradune and @Dullahan ;

    PS. I would never recommend Asheron's Call to anyone nowadays. It's a been out for 16 years, and the original developers who thought up the socialization mechanics of allegiances and hotspots left a very, very long time ago. The game was bought by Microsoft and Turbine, which ruined it over time. 
  • GhavriggGhavrigg Member RarePosts: 1,308
    Seemed like a really long-winded way of saying that a game needs a great setting and variety of activities to not feel as grindy, but still be grindy, because grinding is life. 

    Not wrong, though. Good stuff. 
  • DullahanDullahan Member EpicPosts: 4,534
    edited February 2016
    Ironically most new MMO's are completely devoid of endgame content. Online gaming has been shifting more towards meaningless busywork for some reason.

    Never forget your original words "content is king," especially endgame content. If you can make the journey there group focused, interesting and fun more power to you but no matter how fun leveling is half your playerbase will be powergrinding to max regardless.  Not packing the game full of endgame content would be MMO suicide, especially for the EQ fans.
    When you say EQ fans, you mean EQ fans later in the game's life cycle. As someone who was part of the first raids worldwide and continued to raid on two servers up until Luclin, I can say with some authority that raiding was something a very small part of the population was engaged in.

    Today, its those hardcore players and raiders who clearly had a higher level of devotion and appreciation for EQ who we hear from the most 17 years later; however, they do not represent the average EQ player.

    If Pantheon is designed around the journey where there's real risk vs real reward, things take longer and content is king (not just raid content), I do not believe "end game" or raiding will be as imperative as it was in other games. That's not at all to say it shouldn't be there, only that there was a lot more to end game in EQ than getting together with 30 people and killing a dragon.
    Post edited by Dullahan on


Sign In or Register to comment.