Grinding in MMORPGs is like death and taxes in real-life, it’s the only thing you can guarantee. Some people don’t mind it, while other like me believe it’s the bane of existence in MMORPGs, however you rarely hear an argument for grinding. Today Spinks, over at Spinksville, made the statement asking, “Who are these people who want difficult MMOs?“, followed up by this statement in defense of grinding in MMORPGs.
The one unique selling point for MMOs has always been the virtual world and being able to be part of a virtual community. Pushing hardcore game mechanics on top of that has never really been a comfortable fit. Activities that busy people around the game world are good, especially if they are thematic. This is why we shouldn’t be so down on the concept of grinds.
To catch you up, over the past few days there has been much debate in the MMO blogosphere about what makes MMOs fun and one of the prevailing arguments has been the challenge of it. However after the statements above it seems Mrs. Spinks not only doesn’t care for any sort of challenge, but she’s more than fine with grinding away on mindless quests.
So I ask Spinks, Who are these players who prefer mindless grinding over any sort of challenge? I doubt Spinks is the only one with this type of opinion, but isn’t the main reason we play video games because they’re challenging? What’s challenging about killing 10 rabbits or delivering a letter across town? Absolutely nothing.
When looking at video gaming as a whole, MMORPGs are the only genre where you spend the majority of your time grinding. I get developers have to add content to slow players progression through the game and keep them playing, but how about some challenging quest or content players enjoy so much they won’t mind repeating.
Imagine a game like Call of Duty, normally when you begin this type of game there’s a extremely short training tutorial that teaches players how to move and use their weapons, even one or two training courses that players can run through to test their skills. Now imagine if instead of a 10 min intro tutorial this was extended to 50 hrs of gameplay which needed to be completed before the real game began. That would suck big time, right? Single RPGs don’t do it either, so don’t use the RPG genre as an excuse. So why is it ok for MMORPGs to do it?
The only legit answer is that developers have to fill the game with something and shit quests are the easiest way to accomplish this. Before players can access any sort of challenging quests or raids, they first have to spend hours upon hours of grinding though monotonous quests. This shouldn’t be accepted by players and is the main reason the MMORPG genre is still not part of the main stream of gaming.
As a MMORPG gamer and talking about the genre to friends who’ve never played any, but are still gamers, the reaction is always the same. I don’t have the time for it and it’s boring. That’s basically it, there’s no counter-point to that statement mostly because they’re right. “Oh, well after you spend about 50 hrs gringing, it starts to get fun”.
Grinding is the reason I’ve only reached the end game in two MMORPGs since being introduced to the genre 8 years ago and is the reason I quit playing a MMORPG 9 out of 10 times. Grinding is the reason why MMORPGs are not mainsteam and the reason botting is so popular. Grinding cannot be fixed with voice-over questing (sorry SWTOR). Grinding can only be done away with once developers realize thousands of quests are not needed and start creating high quality challenging content that offers players a real sense of accomplishment.