How grindy am you?

Umm…actually doing things to gain level and power is exactly what grinding is, whether it be sidequesting in DA:O or farming in DS. Not to be too much of a nitpick but I think you might be confusing completionist gaming and grinding.

Yeah, but weren’t the Dragon Age side quests actually interesting and different from one another and not difficult to fit into the regular game and didn’t require a lot of backtracking and stuff? That’s not really consistent with the notion of grind, which is supposed to be monotonous. I did most of the side quests in Dragon Age entirely by accident - I only had to try to do maybe two of them, and that because I didn’t do the plot in the right order to hit them all in the first pass.

What few JRPGs I tried I quit because of the grind. Maybe I tried the wrong ones (FFX and XII), but I couldn’t go on after killing 99 times the same enemy.

I think one of the great strengths of Bioware games is that you level up without thinking about it. That is, I never consciously tried to level up, instead, I just followed the quests and story.

Yeah, at least not in Final Fantasy terms. Even though the chanter’s board quests felt like MMO fetch quests and were “more grindy” than other quests, they still had a motivation that made sense in the context of the game’s world.

Agreed…DA does a great job of keeping you interested in going off to do random stuff to gain levels. I think not respawning enemies helps too, since you can’t just run about leveling. I suppose it’s a bit hard to classify sidequesting in DA:O as either completionist or grinding, since it is basically both.

I know I was interested by Dragon Age’s side quests. Never has picking mushrooms for a cloth sack quest dispenser ever been so interesting and engaging.

Yes, well…they are not all home runs.

This is exactly the difference between Assassin’s Creed and Assassin’s Creed II for me. In AC1 I quickly got to the point in which I purposely avoided every investigative activity that involved me doing something within a timed limit. I gave up after the first few attempts. I just went for the minimum investigations needed to proceed with the assassination

In AC2, I find myself trying almost everything.

I’ll grind only if it provides me with more content. To get a unique weapon, or something of that nature. If there’s a unique weapon, you bet I’ll grind to see my character holding it.
I don’t grind to raise my level, get money or healing items, I just play the game normally in that respect.

Same here, sometimes I would forget to finish what I was out to do because I’d get sidetracked with something else.

I grind if there is a reasonable shot at finishing without having to resort to walkthroughs or if there’s some really cool payoff. For instance, in AC1 I finished everything except the Templars and flags (though I did get all the flags in Masyaf, a reasonably small area to explore). In Crackdown, I found all non-hidden orbs without a walkthrough because there was a reasonable shot at doing so (audio cues, easy to see from a distance, etc). In the Tony Hawk games, I generally bust out as much as I can to get ranked pretty highly in game, but I rarely get 100% on the ultra-hard everythings, crazy gaps and lines, etc. In Oblivion, I spent dozens of hours playing side quest shit without even starting the main story past the priest. Same with Fallout 3. I like doing the stuff that has a payoff, even if the payoff is to me as player (as opposed to a payoff for my character’s buildout), to appreciate side stories and environments in game.

In AC2 I did walkthrough-grind the feathers because I wanted the 2 associated achievements (50 feathers, Auditore cape), but that was out of the ordinary for me. I did everything else though: all side missions, all purchases, etc. Grinding the feathers did get me to some spectacular game artwork though, facades and scenery and things I didn’t appreciate while focusing on game elements during the storyline.

Note: I don’t play MMOs, though, so no grind opinion there.

Uhhh, no. Grinding is quite simply being forced to do repetitive tasks, not even at the specific behest of the game, in order to be able to progress. It’s also done voluntarily to look for a random drop or hidden item that is not necessary to progress. WoW reputation quests were grinding. Killing enemies just to get experience so that you can get the next level of quests is grinding, and should never EVER happen in any videogame, or the developers fucked up (early WoW, Age of Conan).

Sidequesting in DA is not repetitive, unless you count going back to the same area to do something else as repetitive (it’s not, in this context).

How am I confusing completionist gaming and grinding? Doing sidequests in DA:O is most certainly completionist gaming, as is doing grey or green level quests in WoW. Indeed, in DA:O “grinding” is almost impossible. Nothing regenerates, so you don’t need to keep going back out to kill more of the same monsters or “farm” the herbs you need (since they sell them anyways). (edit: I just read your next post after typing this, sorry).

Can achievements be a grind? Sure. Is it forcing you to do one task repetitiously? If I were to load up Left 4 Dead just to kill zombies to get the 53,000+ Zombie Genocidest achievement, I’d be grinding. If I got the achievement casually while just playing the game, figuring I’ll get it eventually, then I’d be having fun. If I were to replay Devil May Cry 3 levels (which I do, because it’s the best game in the world and anyone who doesn’t think so is a pussy) just to get the orbs so that I can get more powerups so that I can play the next level without getting my ass kicked on Very Hard mode, then I’m grinding.

Grinding is a voluntary action that someone chooses to do to gain levels/items/powerups, or is forced to do. I’m not “grinding” when I play DA:O.

Sorry Pogo…I misunderstood what you meant, I think we are saying the same thing.

All good in the hood.

Going by the later clarification of “grinding = completionist” I voted for “I like grinding but not to the point of boredom”. I got bored killing more than 10 or so pigeons at a time in GTA4, but each of those 10-pigeon sessions is very enjoyable.

The side quests in Dragon Age (and to a lesser extent Assassin’s Creed II) are different enough that they don’t feel like grinding.

Grinding as in “repeat exactly the same task over and over again” I hate. For example, while I’ve taken several different characters through Diablo II, I only feel the need to do the basic difficulty level.

I hate that as well. I’m happy to complete all the jobs a game offers but if I have to repeat the same jobs to keep moving towards the end of the game, I get bored and annoyed and most likely stop playing. Also applies to difficult battles that require too many replays, although I’m more tolerant of this if the battles are short.

Playing Guild Wars has spoiled me on the mechanical side of RPGs. In that game, you hit the level cap early and you never really “grind” as such, whether for XP, money or items. All the gear is pretty much the same in terms of effectiveness, and most item-hunting is for bragging rights or cool-looking skins. I wish more RPGs were like this, instead of doing the same old level treadmill.

When it comes to completionist gaming… yeah, I’ll do all the quests, explore all the areas, and so on. Or at least 95% of them. It really does help if the game makes an effort to integrate the sidequests into the setting, though.

I used to grind a lot, usually on random spawns in areas that had them, and usually in games where this gave me the edge to do well later on (level based quests or objectives which were then easy.) A lot of games have curbed this quite a bit now.

The only “grinding” I feel I do anymore is when it’s involved indirectly in exploration (Fallout 3 for example) or in something like item or currency gain (World of Warcraft dailies.) Repetitive grinding just kills it for me these days. I don’t have the gaming stamina I had when I was 20, I’m much more prone to just say “fuck it” and play something else.

An example of when I thought grinding was at it’s peak of “holy hell this is ridiculous” … my 5 years of playing Everquest.

To satisfy both questions that have been formed in the evolution of this thread:

  1. I’m very much a completionist. If there’s a sidequest or an unexplored nook in the automap, it’s a siren song to me. I cannot help but finish everything, which ironically often has the undesirable side effect of me not finishing the game because it gets a little boring when there’s not much story or game in those little nooks on the map or “fetch quest #7648 from meaningless NPC.” I think that’s part of the reason why I enjoy Dragon Age so much - it allows me to do all the sidequests and satisfy that urge, but they’re limited in number and only appear when the conditions are right. Also, there’s no open world to worry about taking care of every spot on the map, but there’s enough of a quasi-open world that it at least gives a similar feeling of immersion.

  2. I used to grind. A lot. I think I enjoyed imagining myself as the character, growing more and more powerful and able to enact my will upon the world merely by striking down another thousand 2 HP goblins. Of course, that’s so much easier than gaining power in the real world, where actual work is involved. I actually suspect it’s my ongoing experience with real-world grinding that has caused the video game version to be less and less satisfactory just from the growing cognitive dissonance. I still partake once in a while, but it’s becoming more rare.

PS - as an aside, I recently complained to my boss about poor level design choices for my building, and he just gave me a blank stare.

At least the real world doesn’t have automatic monster scaling.

Is there any gamer in the history of the universe that actually likes that feature?

I hate monster scaling, but let me play devil’s advocate for a moment.

In any RPG, there are certain key combats you must complete to finish the game. These combats should be challenging. Or at the very least, not pushovers.

Balancing the difficulty of these combats is difficult, because you don’t know precisely how powerful the player will be when they encounter those combats. How much side-stuff they’ve done, and how well they’ve built their character or party will affect this. They might have a ton of experience points, but your game system may allow them a lot of leeway in how they spent it. If they’re inept, they may have a much weaker party than you expect. If they’re very good, the party may be unexpectedly powerful.

The traditional solution is to make the key combats a very difficult, and provide unlimited ways to gain experience. This will force some players to grind random monsters for experience to gain the power they need, but at least the combat won’t be too easy, and thus boring and disappointing.

Alternately, you can specify a minimum difficulty, and scale the monsters if the party is more powerful. Thus the combat won’t be too easy, and you won’t force weaker players to grind before they can attempt it. The intent is for scaling to reduce boring grinding for those players.

A major drawback is that if you are too aggressive with your scaling, weak players will never be able to beat the key combats. The traditional method allows for player-adjustable difficulty just by gaining more experience, with no upper limit to how easy they can make the combat. A scaled monster may scale too much for some players, so that additional experience does not help.

The upshot is I think there’s something to be said for mild scaling. And a cap on how much a monster can scale is probably always a good idea.

  • Gus

LOL - thank heavens for that. Yeah, I can understand the utility of monster scaling from a development perspective, but it usually just kills immersion and adds aggravation.