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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Joystiq - Grinding and its relationship with RPGs

Default Joystiq - Grinding and its relationship with RPGs

August 8th, 2012, 07:27
Rowan Kaiser's regular RPG column at Joystiq looks at "grinding" within the genre:
Describing one's actions in Skyrim sounds a lot like "grinding": you randomly fight enemies in non-essential caves, and in so doing, improve your character with experience, money, and items. How is that different from spinning in place in (increasingly rare) games with random encounters? That's where the traditional definition of grinding starts to fall apart. See, the joy of Skyrim is the exploration. One may not play for the main plot at all, so defining these actions as "not-grinding" sounds absurd. But in Wizardry VII, the joy isn't completing the main plot either. It's interacting with the skill and class system, which, of course, is accessed through the experience points gained primarily from combat. Actions which are traditionally described as "grinding" inessential, repetitive tasks which build up the player character's abilities are not inessential after all.
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August 8th, 2012, 07:27
He is getting the concept of grinding a little wrong. A task is only repetitive when it is exactly the same thing over and over again for a significant amount of time. When you play a game like Skyrim you won'[ be fighting the same enemy over and over again like you do in some other games (like mmorpgs) so you don't do the exact same thing over and over. It is grinding if you are doing the exact same thing over and over like in many mmorpgs where you are fighting the same monster repeatedly with the same sequence of skills over and over for a long period of time.

PS. Not all games with random encounters are grinding games since some will very the way you need to fight the encounters and also very the power of the enemies.

PPS. I think the only real bad thing about grinding is when a game forces you to do it to continue like in many mmorpgs. Most single player rpgs don't force you to grind even if the option is available.
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August 8th, 2012, 07:37
Originally Posted by guenthar View Post
PPS. I think the only real bad thing about grinding is when a game forces you to do it to continue like in many mmorpgs. Most single player rpgs don't force you to grind even if the option is available.
Completely agree, and perhaps this is why I find most MMOs boring, because when I'm playing a singleplayer game, I've never been interested in rushing to level up or obtaining overpowered loot.

Someone could drop a +100 sword of deadly fire whatever in front of me, and I have no interest in picking it up because the game would become too easy and boring. Or maybe I'm playing a character who likes to use a crappy axe for whatever reason.

I'm more interested in exploring the world, joining factions, interacting with NPCs, etc., and I usually prefer to level up as slowly as possible, because whenever I get to be too powerful or too wealthy, the game becomes boring and I start over with a new character.
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August 8th, 2012, 07:53
because whenever I get to be too powerful or too wealthy, the game becomes boring and I start over with a new character.
or the opposite, you could be getting weaker and the enemies too powerful.

nothing wrong with grinding, as long as its fun-FPS games are total grindings gameplay, and still fun(to most gamers apparently).

if you have to master some combat strategies, or learn skills(like when to defend, when to circle your enemy etc) that's not grinding to me either.

but more related to joysticq article, i think they're right in general. the approach of games are less content, or too much content without any "fun" factor in them. hence they feed you with grinding tasks.

the point of games are to be fun. i started playing bard's tale just now, and even how stupid the gameplay is/combat there are some nice humorous dialogs which makes it a fun game(so far). games today are missing that, BIG.
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August 8th, 2012, 08:26
grinding is about combat design. For me this is not even second best.
1. being well written (dialogs, plot)
2. immersive environment (art design)
3. NPC design (just how complex them interactions are)
4. freedom of choice n' consequence
5 maybe combat mechanics
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August 8th, 2012, 10:24
Grinding is fully subjective. It's about what you enjoy and how much you enjoy it.

It's going to be very different from person to person. There's also a cultural factor, which is evident in the difference between, say, Asian and Western RPGs.

The Asian culture is generally more accepting of having to work more for less of a reward in their games.

So, like beauty, grinding is in the eye of the beholder.
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August 8th, 2012, 10:29
Originally Posted by guenthar View Post
He is getting the concept of grinding a little wrong. A task is only repetitive when it is exactly the same thing over and over again for a significant amount of time. When you play a game like Skyrim you won'[ be fighting the same enemy over and over again like you do in some other games (like mmorpgs) so you don't do the exact same thing over and over.
I'm not entirely sure I agree. In every TES game since Daggerfall I have greatly enjoyed spending part of my time playing the game in a situation where I take on the 'mundane' life of the character that I am playing. I stay at an inn, or my house, and I establish a daily routine that doesn't vary very much, but is simply me role playing my character - there is no purpose or ultimate goal I am trying to achieve by going through this repetitive type of session again and again, however I enjoy the inhabiting of my characters life for its own sake. I did the same in Ultima 7 now I think of it, and in fact, it's one of the defining characteristics of my favourite RPGs (not to have a whole game based on it, but simply be a good enough RPG that I can do it for a portion of the time if I want).

To me, grinding is something you don't actually like doing, but you do it in order to get or do something else.
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August 8th, 2012, 12:26
Grinding is something you get only in games with endless mobrespawn games. I despise such games and am trying not to buy them at all. Nongrinding, in fact nonrespawning games, outside of adventures genre are rare which is too bad.

Grinding gets added to a game not because designers believe it's fun, but because designers lack of ideas and can't make more different content. Everyone today thinks he can design a game. Basically it's true, but in 99% cases we get just a generic mobrespawn grinder game. Not only that, but to make a grinder game is cheap - in the same (ugly in most cases) map just give a player billions of respawns to kill and charge him with 50$.

Endless respawning is actually a slap in the face to the modern civilisation:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodo
And we wouldn't want to repeat something our predecessors did to this and some other species, right?
You may say "hell it's a game only", but games are played by kids. If you kill something, it's dead, plain and simple. If you continue to kill something, it'll become extinct. After so many games with grinding, kids won't think that.

So excuse me for spending my money only for games where grinding, in fact endless respawning, is nonexisting or is minimal (can be stopped for example by killing some necromancer).
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August 8th, 2012, 12:31
Yeah, I prefer a non grinding game. Its like I prefer getting an inheritance and never having to do a days work in my life. You get satisfaction from both.. its just a different kind. Grinding obviously adds to games hours, but it also adds to the possibility of dropping the game.. you know only 30% of ppl actually finish games, I am one of them.
Why would they want to play the game for a longer time , I don't know.. its not like you buy another copy or smtg.
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August 9th, 2012, 07:00
Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
I'm not entirely sure I agree. In every TES game since Daggerfall I have greatly enjoyed spending part of my time playing the game in a situation where I take on the 'mundane' life of the character that I am playing. I stay at an inn, or my house, and I establish a daily routine that doesn't vary very much, but is simply me role playing my character - there is no purpose or ultimate goal I am trying to achieve by going through this repetitive type of session again and again, however I enjoy the inhabiting of my characters life for its own sake. I did the same in Ultima 7 now I think of it, and in fact, it's one of the defining characteristics of my favourite RPGs (not to have a whole game based on it, but simply be a good enough RPG that I can do it for a portion of the time if I want).

To me, grinding is something you don't actually like doing, but you do it in order to get or do something else.
I agree with you and when I was saying that I was talking about the authors concept of what grinding is being wrong. What makes a repetitive action a grind is the lack of choice. When you decide to take on a daily life in a game you are making a choice to do that and hen you don't want to do it anymore you can still continue the game.
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August 9th, 2012, 09:34
Originally Posted by guenthar View Post
He is getting the concept of grinding a little wrong. A task is only repetitive when it is exactly the same thing over and over again for a significant amount of time. When you play a game like Skyrim you won'[ be fighting the same enemy over and over again like you do in some other games (like mmorpgs) so you don't do the exact same thing over and over. It is grinding if you are doing the exact same thing over and over like in many mmorpgs where you are fighting the same monster repeatedly with the same sequence of skills over and over for a long period of time.
Always heard of grinding the way he speaks of. Always heard of what you depict as being farming.
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August 13th, 2012, 22:43
Like many here I am perplexed by his equivalence. Grinding occurs when you stop experiencing new content, or in my opinion, stop LEARNING. In many rpgs, a few fights with the same enemies are good for not only building your skills, but appreciating them. FPS games are different because you have arguably two character skills (shooting and moving) and although it may be a simple repition of those skills, every encounter in a GOOD shooter is actually different. The enemies come from different sides, from different angles, use different tactics etc. A simple game of whackamole could be considered BORING or at least uncreative, but it's not GRINDING unless it keeps popping up the same configuration of targets over and over. An rpg can be grinding if it's not exactly the same encounter, because so many rpgs have extremely limited sets of moves. To many, it's not officially grinding if there's one hundred encounters on the way to the castle, because they're necessary to finish the plot, not done just to build stats. However, if your combat options are fight/cast/defend and you dont have a bunch of new moves to play with every couple of encounters I'm gonna call your game shit and boring — UNLESS there's some other awesome hook. I love some games for story and some for art and some for humor and some have combat that is really dynamic and full of potential —but overall, the rpg genre is a beehive of lame grinds, because the art, story, and combat are all terrible — plus SLOW! Naturally i'm here because I love rpgs, but this Kaiser is way offbase on this one. Give me an average shooter over an average RPG any day.
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August 14th, 2012, 07:42
Originally Posted by joxer View Post


So excuse me for spending my money only for games where grinding, in fact endless respawning, is nonexisting or is minimal (can be stopped for example by killing some necromancer).
I Hate respawning.
Really detest it.

To me, respawning equals grinding in a bad way.
and it kills immersion and illusion in a big way.

C
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August 14th, 2012, 21:03
I like me a little grinding away now and then, helps get rid of frustration and stress. Just as long as the entire gamplay experience doesnt consist of it!
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August 14th, 2012, 22:20
A fun way of "grinding" I've found is operforming the Duties in "SIM's Medieval".
No matter how boring or how complex they might be (within this environment) : You do have to perform them or otherwise your character gets punished ! Even the monarch !

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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