View From the Road: An Axe to Grind, Part 1

John Funk

U.N. Owen Was Him?
Dec 20, 2005
20,364
0
0
View From the Road: An Axe to Grind, Part 1

What?s the difference between killing a bunch of enemies in TF2 and killing a bunch of enemies in Final Fantasy XI?

Read Full Article
 
Jul 22, 2009
3,596
0
0
My generally accepted definition of "grind" is doing something tedious over and over again.

It's what puts me off MMOs the most... those hours where you know you're doing arbitrary quests and killings low level enimies so you can kill slightly less-low level enemies.

APB is looking pretty good... too bad my PC doesn't get used for gaming enough to warrant me paying for subscription.

And how many thousands I must have killed in Halo so far...
 

Flying-Emu

New member
Oct 30, 2008
5,367
0
0
Aha!

I see a flaw in your argument, MISTER FUNK.

There are only NINE classes in TF2! Therefore, you only kill NINE people, not TEN!

*whisks away like the proverbial Batman*
 

steamweedlegoblin

New member
Apr 28, 2010
185
0
0
If I remember correctly, it was actually Everquest 2 that first made the transition from mob-grinding based leveling to quest based leveling. WoW didn't introduce the idea. WoW just became more popular.
 

Timbydude

Crime-Solving Rank 11 Paladin
Jul 15, 2009
958
0
0
This is basically why WoW became insanely popular. It masters the art of making a grind not feel like a grind.

FarmVille's success can be attributed to the same clever switcharound. All you do is grow crops and raise animals on a farm by clicking the same things over and over again, but the game disguises this by giving you rewards every few clicks. It's a cheap design trick that appears to work on the masses.

EDIT:

dradiscontact said:
If I remember correctly, it was actually Everquest 2 that first made the transition from mob-grinding based leveling to quest based leveling. WoW didn't introduce the idea. WoW just became more popular.
Everquest II only came out 3 weeks before WoW, so we can basically say that they introduced the mechanic at about the same time. And, from someone who's played both, it's apparent that WoW did it better; whereas EQ2 rarely ever strayed from the "Kill X enemies" formula, WoW at least has you going for other objectives from time to time.

Plus, EQII still required a lot more effort than WoW to be an active player. WoW's popularity mainly stems from the fact that it combined the elimination of the perceived grind with accessibility and the ability to either play the game casually or in a hardcore fashion.
 

John Funk

U.N. Owen Was Him?
Dec 20, 2005
20,364
0
0
dradiscontact said:
If I remember correctly, it was actually Everquest 2 that first made the transition from mob-grinding based leveling to quest based leveling. WoW didn't introduce the idea. WoW just became more popular.
EQ2 had it, yes, but WoW popularized the model because of its, well, popularity.
 

adderseal

New member
Nov 20, 2009
507
0
0
I think Pokemon is grind-tacular, but I still love it to bits. I think that with a MMOG you need to play every single day without fail, otherwise the careful web of contacts you've built up just fall apart. Your friends will get better at a much faster rate than you will. With Pokemon it's just pick-up-and-play when and where you want. You can give it a week, a month, the in-game trainers won't care. They'll just stand there waiting for you with the same leveled Pokemon. This is why I'm against an online Pokemon- it works so much better as a single-player game that allows mindless grinding fun without forcing any obligations on you.
You can choose to go down the competitive battling route and get those obligations, but that's your decision. It's not an integral part of gameplay.
 

The Big Eye

Truth-seeking Tail-chaser
Aug 19, 2009
135
0
0
Hang on a minute. Yes, you're killing enemies over and over again. Don't you do that in every game where combat is a major element of the experience?...

...The perceived difference between killing thousands of enemies in an MMOG and killing tons of enemies in Uncharted 2, of course, is that Nate Drake is murdering with a purpose in order to advance the story.
You, esteemed sir, are confusing "repetition" with "tedium." The two are not mutually inclusive. In a good combat game, your goal is not to kill one hundred enemies, but to kill one hundred enemies in one hundred different situations, with different surroundings, different available equipment, and different goals in each (or most) cases.
Mortal Kombat, for example, gives little kontext (see what I did there?) to your actions. But still, defeating Blaze three times (or, hell, a few dozen times) in a row would still be more fun than collecting an equivalent number of Swamp Rat Pituitary Glands - provided, of course, that you stripped the latter situation of its artificial reward. (In the same way, one mission from Generic First-Person Shooter #36, repeated over and over, would get boring fast no matter how many times you changed the name of the minor boss and gave you a different reason to flip the breaker switch.)

See, that's the problem with grinding. It makes repetitive actions seem meaningful through an arbitrary framing device. It rewards not skill, but persistence.
 

Gjarble

New member
Mar 8, 2010
10
0
0
I definitely agree with GamesB2 in that tedium is a larger factor than context in the enjoyability of grinding. To expand a bit: the most tedious tasks in video games are the ones that require little thought. When it comes to killing tons of enemies, the amount of thought required to do so is directly proportional to the number of enemies fought at once, the number of different kinds of enemies fought overall, the intelligence of the enemies, the amount of moves at your enemies' disposal, and the amount of moves at YOUR disposal. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think in most RPGs in general, MMO or otherwise, all of these factors except the last are low (with the exception of boss battles and other unusual situations). The art of good enemy design, IMO, is balancing these factors so as to always challenge the player without overwhelming them. Grinding that isn't a challenge feels most like grinding. Thus, in my mind, it takes much more thought (and therefore enjoyment) to defeat tons of REDs or BLUs in TF2 than, say, a forest full of Metapods.
 

Outright Villainy

New member
Jan 19, 2010
4,334
0
0
The Big Eye said:
Hang on a minute. Yes, you're killing enemies over and over again. Don't you do that in every game where combat is a major element of the experience?...

...The perceived difference between killing thousands of enemies in an MMOG and killing tons of enemies in Uncharted 2, of course, is that Nate Drake is murdering with a purpose in order to advance the story.
You, esteemed sir, are confusing "repetition" with "tedium." The two are not mutually inclusive. In a good combat game, your goal is not to kill one hundred enemies, but to kill one hundred enemies in one hundred different situations, with different surroundings, different available equipment, and different goals in each (or most) cases.
Mortal Kombat, for example, gives little kontext (see what I did there?) to your actions. But still, defeating Blaze three times (or, hell, a few dozen times) in a row would still be more fun than collecting an equivalent number of Swamp Rat Pituitary Glands - provided, of course, that you stripped the latter situation of its artificial reward. (In the same way, one mission from Generic First-Person Shooter #36, repeated over and over, would get boring fast no matter how many times you changed the name of the minor boss and gave you a different reason to flip the breaker switch.)

See, that's the problem with grinding. It makes repetitive actions seem meaningful through an arbitrary framing device. It rewards not skill, but persistence.
I agree. Context being the only difference would imply we only put up with killing loads of dudes because we want to see the story, and that grinding is just showing it on it's own where it then becomes tedious.
No.
It's as you said, it's the fact that you just have to be persistent, and mash one button over and over. Team fortress was easy to apply the logic of being objective based, but look at quake, counter strike and call of duty. Quake has no objectives or very simple ones. At any rate deathmatch was extremely popular. People wanted to murder dudes over and over for the sake of it, with no reward outside of that. Because in that game it took skill to murder dudes, and as long as your skill is being tested, people will enjoy it. For the latter two, those are objecive based games but everyone just goes ahead and plays it as death match anyway, further negating the point.
 

Booze Zombie

New member
Dec 8, 2007
7,416
0
0
I have personally never seen a difference between grinding and playing a game with masses of enemies trying to kill you, that may be because I approach them with the objective of bettering myself, which I suppose you could call "levelling up your mind", if you felt like being a bit silly.
But, I'm probably a bit strange, so, don't mind this paragraph.

With some FPS games approaching the online experience with level-ups, I think even the industry is beginning to think it's all a grind.
 

Kapol

Watch the spinning tails...
May 2, 2010
1,431
0
0
To me, grinding means 'doing the same task that has little to no challenge to it repeatedly.' This means that, in my definition, you can grind in almost any game. My main problem with grinding is facing off against opponents that I know are weak just for the EXP. Pokemon is likely the worst offender that I've played, but I've talked with some people who've gotten to the 4th level limit break on FF7 before the end of the first disk, or sit in the same spot in FF13 until they're character reaches max level. That really just means dull, tedious work that poses no challenge after a short time, and that's what I consider 'grinding' in video games.
 
Feb 13, 2008
19,430
0
0
John Funk said:
What?s the difference between killing a bunch of enemies in TF2 and killing a bunch of enemies in Final Fantasy XI?
Time, and fun.

I can kill 7 people in the time it takes me to suffer through one in any of the FF series.
I also know that each person I kill is relevant to my goals, rather than just upping the crawling experience bar of Final Fantasy XI.

Each kill MEANS something, and that's what stops it being a grind.
 

Ringwraith

Absolutely Useless
Jan 15, 2009
201
0
0
I only dislike 'grinding' of playing over and over if I get bored of it. I'm fairly resistant to getting bored easily, though slapping on some random music helps if the in-game music isn't enough to my liking to make up the difference.

You also classify grinding as something which requires very little effort. If you can kill things over and over without paying much attention, it can get dull quickly.
Now, if you having to pay attention to every last detail so it doesn't go horribly wrong and end up with your death, that automatically makes it lot less boring. As it's actually engaging your brain fully.
Also, simply being in a group all 'grinding' together can alleviate boredom, simply as pretty much everything is more enjoyable with other people than doing it alone. At the very least you have people to talk to.

I've been playing Dofus recently, which can be a bit 'grindy' at times, though I can usually queue up some attacks on my turn, and wait for everything to take it's turn while I chat to my guildmates or whatever. I've even surfed the web in between turns on occasion, as the game never goes full-full-screen, leaving the usual windows borders and buttons at the top and the taskbar is still available. It also flashes on the taskbar when it's your turn, which is ridiculously useful feature when you have 7 other people (which usually turns out to be 3 guys with alts or something[footnote]Though the game also names each Dofus window you open with the character you're playing as, so it's easy to play multiple characters at once without fumbling around for the right window.[/footnote]) in your party all taking turns.

I play pokemon a lot. Though a lot of level grinding has a habit of being required for the Elite Four (usually the only definite point in all of the games where you have to do this), if you want to raise lots of different pokemon, or if you're trying to tackle the post-Elite Four extras that have become more prevalent in recent games. Regardless, I rarely ever get bored of it. In fact, you can make the whole process go faster by disabling the animations, which helps speed through it if you're fighting the same guys over and over for their delicious xp.
 

snowman6251

New member
Nov 9, 2009
841
0
0
You know what the most obnoxious quests in MMO's are? Go fetch me 10 wolf hearts.

Seems straightforward enough. Kill ten wolves, loot their corpses, collect reward. Except apparently some wolves do not have hearts.

I'm sorry MMO you're right. A mammal having a heart is a recessive trait. How could I be so stupid?
 

Illustro Cado

New member
Jan 8, 2010
47
0
0
The Big Eye said:
You, esteemed sir, are confusing "repetition" with "tedium." The two are not mutually inclusive. In a good combat game, your goal is not to kill one hundred enemies, but to kill one hundred enemies in one hundred different situations, with different surroundings, different available equipment, and different goals in each (or most) cases.
Mortal Kombat, for example, gives little kontext (see what I did there?) to your actions. But still, defeating Blaze three times (or, hell, a few dozen times) in a row would still be more fun than collecting an equivalent number of Swamp Rat Pituitary Glands - provided, of course, that you stripped the latter situation of its artificial reward. (In the same way, one mission from Generic First-Person Shooter #36, repeated over and over, would get boring fast no matter how many times you changed the name of the minor boss and gave you a different reason to flip the breaker switch.)

See, that's the problem with grinding. It makes repetitive actions seem meaningful through an arbitrary framing device. It rewards not skill, but persistence.
But barring perfect conditions you'll fight the same enemies under different circumstances. I can't tell you the number of times I've had to be quick on my feet in WoW because an enemy respawned on top of one I just killed or I had to manage multiple enemies at once because I had little space to work with. In such a massive game with so many goals and so many people there's no way you'll be grinding under the same conditions, ideal or not, 100% of the time. The context is always changing.
 

Nimbus

Token Irish Guy
Oct 22, 2008
2,162
0
0
John Funk said:
Come back next week when we look at why the grind isn't necessarily something to be demonized.
*Slams breaks*

*Slinks rapidly*

Waitwhatwhonow?

John Funk said:
John Funk always winds up underleveled in Pokémon every single play-through.
You avoid battles too, huh?
 

Evil the White

New member
Apr 16, 2009
918
0
0
I'm sorry, you gave me such an amasing image of a nerdy Batman in that first paragraph that I wasn't able to pay attention to the reast of the article that much. I think I may come back and read it again when the Batman has left my mind.
 
Sep 17, 2009
2,851
0
0
Nimbus said:
John Funk said:
John Funk always winds up underleveled in Pokémon every single play-through.
You avoid battles too, huh?
I used to avoid battles as well, until I got Sapphire and then I found myself searching for battles and being upset that their weren't enough to level all of my guys to 100 before the 1st gym (I am being hyperbolic of course)!

OT: I think that every video game has a bit of grind in them, but MMO's just are more straight-forward with it. I find grinding in WoW easy if I put the TV on in the background.