Wednesday, December 15, 2010

EXP Podcast #108: On the Grind

In clinical psychology, continually doing a repetitive action with little or no justification is tell-tale sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder. In MMOs, it's just called the grind. Why, after so many complaints, is the grind still a major feature of nearly every MMO RPG on the market? Inspired a post from Zach Best writing for Game Design Aspect of the Month, that is the very question Scott and I will be exploring in this week's podcast. You can find the original article and a pouch of magic destiny in the show notes. We also encourage you to leave your own gaming experiences in the comments section below.

Discussion starters:

- Do you enjoy grinding? Does it fulfill an important purpose for you?
- Is grinding a permanent feature of games with leveling mechanics?
- How much of the grind is self-imposed?

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Show notes:

>- Run time: 28 min 20 sec
- “The Opposite of Grind," by Zach Best via Game Design Aspect of the Month
- Music provided by Brad Sucks


  1. Oh, on the topic of Mass Effect 2, it oh so does have grinding. It's not even very well hidden, it is also entirely put outside of normal gameplay.
    I'm talking about planet scanning of course.
    I'm not sure if it's possible to finish the game without partaking in this.
    It's tedious, boring, really the most chore like activity in an otherwise really well thought through and interesting game.

    I'd go as far as saying that Crackdown had the neatest grinding mechanic with it's agility orbs. Yes, I admit, I'm a HUGE fan of this system.
    Agility orbs are strewn all over the (vertical) world of Crackdown, and hunting them down, especially the bigger ones, immediatly boosts the characters jumping and sprinting capacities. The twist is, ESPECIALLY the bigger ones are hard to reach, and getting to them requires skill as well as having collected some other agility orbs before.
    So it's leveling without leveling, grinding that's totally embedded and only hardly recognizable as such.
    But Crackdown in general is a game I'd hope a lot more people would take note of, design wise. There's so much in there...

  2. Good point about Mass Effect. I haven't played much of either game, but I have heard people complain about planets.

    That Crackdown example sounds really neat. It highlights the difference between a task that teaches and refines skills and plain old busy-work. Did Crackdown 2 implement this same system?