A Philosopher's Blog

World of GrindCraft

Posted in Technology, Video Games by Michael LaBossiere on February 27, 2011
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While I do enjoy World of Warcraft, the grind does, well, grind on me. I do understand that Blizzard uses the grind as a way of keeping people playing a longer time (and thus paying those monthly fees). However, it would be nice if they made the grind more pleasant. I suspect that would keep more people playing longer. After all, I assume that I am not the only one who has considered calling it quits in the face of the grind.

One grind is the reputation grind. In order to get certain items in the game, you need to get reputation with the faction that sells the items.  These include useful gear, enchants, as well as vanity items like pets and mounts. What bothers me about the reputation grind is that the content for gaining reputation runs out long before you actually achieve the highest reputation. So, for example, you might save the entire kingdom of the Ramakitties (as I call them) and still only be liked a bit. After that, you typically have to run dungeon after dungeon while wearing that faction’s tabard  to get the reputation. In some cases, the factions have daily quests that allow you to build up reputation by repeatedly doing the questions.

One obvious solution would be to add more content so that people can build reputation by doing new and hopefully interesting things rather than grinding away in dungeons or doing dailies. These grinds could also be improved.

A second grind is the dungeon grind. The instances have the better item drops and also are the source of the Justice and Valor points needed to buy even better items. To keep people playing and paying, it takes a long time to get the points needed to buy items and, of course, the item drops are random and very limited in quantity (usually one good item per boss).

While the dungeons are a challenge at first and then fun, they soon become something of a chore of seemingly endless grinding. In addition to it seeming a bit odd to kill the same boss hundreds of time, it also becomes boring to do the same thing over and over and over. One obvious solution is to add more content. Another fix is to have truly random dungeons that generate a random map, populate it with random monsters and drops loot from a huge list of items (rather than just a few). True, the bosses could not be as scripted as the fixed bosses, but at least it would provide some different experiences and break up the monotony of the grind. Heck, I’d be happy to send Blizzard all my own dungeon designs from years of gaming to help them out.

A third grind is the daily quest. While the idea of a quest that you can repeat daily makes things easy on Blizzard, it becomes boring very fast. In fact, it becomes very much like work: do the same basic damn thing day after day in order to get some minor payment. This would not be as bad if the quests were not rather dull (usually just gathering items or killing X number of things) or if at least made some sense as to why the quest was being done everyday. For example, it seems a bit odd to kill the same monster (like Chillmaw) everyday. It is like being trapped in Groundhog Day. It would also help a bit if it did not take so long to get decent rewards. I do get that they need to drag out play and that it should not be too easy to get the good stuff. However, unless you are willing to grind the damn dailies every damn day it will take you a very, very long time to get the good stuff.

One solution is to make the dailies more interesting or at least have a larger variety of dailies that cycle through. Making them make more sense would also help a bit. Adding more levels of stuff could also be a good option so that there is more of a feeling that your efforts are actually yielding some results. The items should also be added to with the various patches so that the rewards do not become obsolete or pointless when better items are added as drops.

A fourth grind is crafting and gathering. To make items in the game, players need to gather (or buy) the materials and this tends to be a rather slow process. Items often require a lot of materials and the really good ones typically require things that you can only get by chance (like the Chaos Orbs). This is all well and good for folks who are willing to spend hours grinding for material or the gold to get it, but it becomes a tedious chore for folks who mainly want to do interesting things involving new content. Of course, Blizzard keeps things slow to keep people playing longer and to also make things a bit harder for gold farmers. Ironically, though, it is often this grind that drives people to buy gold and characters.

The solution seems to be to either increase the rate at which materials are gathered or cut down a bit on what is required to make things. This could be offset by offering even more things to make at various item levels so that people still have the option to grind for countless hours to make the really good stuff. This would also offset the problem that crafted items tend to be rendered obsolete when new patches come out.

Of course, the best way to avoid the grind is to just not play. 🙂

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3 Responses

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  1. Asur said, on February 27, 2011 at 11:05 am

    “Another fix is to have truly random dungeons that generate a random map, populate it with random monsters and drops loot from a huge list of items (rather than just a few).”

    Anarchy Online is the only mmo I’ve played that’s implemented that on a large scale, and even though their system is pretty skeletal, I’m really enthusiastic about the potential of systems like this. Like you, I feel silly killing the same set of dudes for the nth time.

    I dream of going into random dungeons that have logical layouts and mobs that, apparently, don’t just stand around staring at walls waiting for people to come by.

    I dream of logical patrol routes and structural security features, of AI’s that work as teams and PVM that feels more like PVP.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on February 28, 2011 at 2:29 pm

      Excellent ideas. I know that this can be done-after all, first person shooters provide robust scenarios of just that sort. I also think it would be interesting to have PvP instances. One possibility would to be allow one set of players to control monster “vehicles” (like in the quests) that they use against other players in the instance. The rewards could be drops, XP, loot and points for the characters while the people who play the monsters could earn points or some sort of tokens to buy interesting and useful items.

  2. […] World of GrindCraft (aphilosopher.wordpress.com) Tags: Call of Duty, farming, Game mechanics, grinding, Minecraft, motivation, Pokémon, video games Comments RSS feed LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

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