Tenfold Hate

Game Master, There Are Grinds in My MMO!
December 12, 2007, 1:05 am
Filed under: Gaming, MMORPGs, World of Warcraft

On this week’s Shut Up We’re Talking podcast, Brent from VirginWorlds dared suggest that despite all our bitching, MMORPGers LIKE grinding on some level. I immediately thought, “Hell no!”

As I finished my fifth “Kill 10 scary monsters and return to me with 10 scary monster scalps” quest in Vanguard tonight, something hit me. I was having a good time. And damn it, Brent had a point. But the fact remains, even if Marilyn Monroe is dangling a carrot in front of me, eventually I’m gonna get tired of looking at her. It’s not a question of whether or not MMOs will ever be grind-free. All “grind” really implies is that something has stopped feeling rewarding. Or perhaps more accurately, grind begins once repetition and monotony outweigh potential reward.

As the Ancient Gaming Noob pointed out in the same podcast, there are things that’d be downright monotonous that become a lot of fun if say, you’re engaging in those tasks with a group of friends. The multiplayer element of MMOs throws a random factor into tasks that, if performed solo, would become brain-numbingly repetitious pretty darn quickly. The right group dynamic offers a built-in social element, an added tactical element, and the extra satisfaction of working as a team that turns even the most repetitive Whac-A-Mole Furlbog rep grind into a night well spent.

If there’s enough variety to how they make me jump through hoops, I’ll do it again and again. Sometimes I want Marilyn dangling the carrot. Other times I’ll settle for Jayne Mansfield. I am a pretty simple animal. Initially all designers had to do is change the pretty scenery every so often, make the monsters bigger and scarier, throw me some coins and decent loot here and there, and I’d grind ’til the cows come home. This is where WoW lost me. They began using the same old formula for every rep grind and virtually every dungeon and every form of character advancement.

I don’t necessarily need an MMO that plays like a console game or an FPS. Eventually it’ll be a fun twist once someone actually gets it right–but honestly, for all my longing for that ‘next-gen’ title to blow the lid off the industry like UO or WoW did, all game companies really have to do is come up with more clever ways to throw me off: different formulas, different game mechanics, and different types of character progression.


1 Comment

Definite /signed, especially on the subtleties of the definition of “grind”…

Comment by damianov

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