by Joshua Temblett, Onrpg writer
Grinding is the chore that you hate doing, its the cleaning the toilet of all house work. Its horrible. Yet despite this, why do game designers decide to constantly add this feature into their games. Do developers really think that we just want to constantly fight the same monsters to level up? Do they really think that we (sometimes) want to pay $15 dollars a month for doing the same repetitive task over and over again? Simple answer, no. Yet we still pay monthly for this chore and still get sucked into the marketing rubbish that this game will be different from the rest.
Before I continue this mother of all rants I just wish to clarify that I personally do not mind grinding, a bit of killing monsters on your own (or of course a party) here and there is fine with me, as long as I have a goal to work for. In fact, levelling up for a quest can be fun as long as you know youre going to get a shiny new reward. What gets me is constant grinding with no (or little) reward. I hate it also when developers and the PR tell you that there is something around the corner, something new, something special. Of course these rewards are hours out of reach, meaning its going to take you a very long time to get to that one feature which is the reason why youre playing.
A lot of games choose to follow grinding as its an incredibly easy way to keep players hooked and remain in the game. For pay to play games this is the normal case, as the longer you keep them playing and waiting to get to the cool features, the longer they pay monthly, the more money the company get and the richer they become. Grinding and levelling up also make the player think theyre having fun by then addicting him/her as the player will always want to keep playing to achieve that level just above to look that slight bit cooler and gain that new piece of gear.
Grinding is of course easy to program compared to making real, good content that the gamer will enjoy as all that needs to be done with grinding is to make a load of load monsters inhabit an area, put a level cap on the next major event (or area) and hey presto you have just made a MMORPG. But it does not matter if it is bad, as it is cheap, keeps you playing and brings the money home for the company.
So you have got the grind, all you need now is a very low item drop rate, expensive items, armour and weapons and some awesome new feature. There, now your game is set to be distributed to the masses. Slap pay to play on that and you have an instant income.
So how can we stop the grind and rid it from the world for good? Well I would like to say dont buy or play games that have a lot of grinding in. However I know that this will never happen due to some of these games having good end game features, or features that appear midway through which of course inspire people to play and the fact that there will always be idiots in the world who pay for rubbish like that. The thing is for as long as MMORPGs retain the point and click style of play, there will always be the much hated grind. In order to be rid of such an evil the genre itself needs to break out of its tried and tested conventions and create a new way to play and new experiences. But of course this will not ever happen as this method of playing is what made the genre so great and well loved. We need developers to focus on creating more dynamic content and much fun orientated scenarios from which the player can level up in.
Guild Wars has started this trend of team bonding mission gameplay that creates a nice environment from which the player can level up in a successful way. Guild Wars has started the trend, and now we have to wait and see what other games have to offer. The genre has always surprised us, its loyal fans, so no doubt we will be surprised very soon.