Tai_MT

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I had issues with the Crystarium.  I also have issues with game systems that don't drop money for monster kills.


My issue with the Crystarium is that it's a linear progression tree (no options, it's linear the whole way through) which means it doesn't need to exist and could've been a simple, "You gained a level!  Here's your stats" affair instead of the overly complicated nonsense it was.  I much preferred the Sphere Grid to the Crystarium as it provided lots of options (at least once you got the items to open up the other paths) and you could turn your hard hitters into speed demons or turn Rikku into a super fast Black Mage... etcetera.


My issues with game systems that don't drop money is two-fold.  The first of which is that these systems typically include some form of crafting system or some other use for the monster drops.  Which means... without a guide, you have NO WAY of knowing what monster drops you need to keep for your gear or which you need to sell for money.  I don't know who first came up with this design system, but I find it kind of stupid.  If you want me to sell the items the monsters drop to attain my money, then it needs to be VERY CLEAR which items I'm meant to be selling for this purpose... or, even better... don't include an alternate use for these items what-so-ever, so that I don't have to worry about stockpiling them for some other purpose.


Then again, the only real difference between selling a monster drop and the monster just straight up dropping money is the inconvenience of having to go to a freakin' store to get the money I got from combat.  Well, that, and one system requires more grind because drops are never 100%.  Ya'll know my stance on unnecessary grind.


Personally, I like the system FFXV has going for it in regards to monsters not dropping money.  You get paid for doing quests and hunts.  You can sell the monster drops if you want, but they aren't worth much and are more worth the time to put them into your magic.  The game seems to scale up your money drops from each quest to your levels, so you get ever increasing amounts of money to spend by just playing the game.  And if you're really hard up for cash, just repeat a hunt for a smaller amount of money than the first time.  For most quests, I'm receiving I think something like 6K cash each completion.  That money goes a long way.  Doesn't even require I grind monsters for it.
 

M.I.A.

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"Which means... without a guide, you have NO WAY of knowing what monster drops you need to keep for your gear or which you need to sell for money."


YES!! Don't get me wrong, a decent, comprehensive crafting system can boost a games fun factor.. but when it's ALL a shot in the dark, it's more obnoxious than enjoyable. I've dropped games that are heavily relient on crafting, yet give no indication of crafting "recipes" or where each item can be a craftable item AND a usable item AND sellable item.. 





-Mia
 

RHachicho

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It's certainly true that you need to separate crafting items from vendor trash somehow .. Honestly I think in most rpgmaker games vendor trash isn't really a good option. You see the only purpose vendor trash serves is when your inventory is limited. It forces inventory management. And the presence of a full bag is a good prompt that says "It's time to go back to town" This is why so many mmo's have vendor trash. It's a limiter .. and a sneaky way to force people into upgrading their inventory so they can stay out longer.


One compromise could be making some craftable "for sale" items. If you tier out your crafting ingredients eventually some of those ingredients will be worthless. However if you give the player a recipe to make something sellable out of those ingredients you can give the player a rather realistic means of increasing their income. This also works well if you use crafting levels/crafting xp as this allows you to make simple stuff for crafting xp.


Just simply replacing mob gold with vendor trash is pretty pointless imho though.
 

Tai_MT

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I have problems with "vendor trash" as well.  Namely that it's really not worth returning to towns to sell.  Even at low levels I find myself simply dropping the "vendor trash" because if I drop it, I can obtain perhaps a piece of armor or weapon instead that's worth at least 5x what that piece of vendor trash was.  In most MMOs, it's usually 20x whatever vendor trash you pick up.

I find it frustrating to be GIVEN vendor trash because of its fairly high drop rate and fairly low value per inventory slot.  I don't need my 5 copper that badly.  I'll drop the griffon talon and pick up the Flaming Sword of Sundering instead and sell that for 57 silvers and 22 copper.  Better use of my inventory space.

Vendor trash simply becomes "not worth picking up" in most MMOs or "first thing dropped" instead of the "inventory management" it was meant to be.  And that's because, as long as there is an option to destroy those items or drop them, that's what players will do instead of hauling them back to town for the miniscule amount of money they'd get for selling them.
 

RHachicho

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Well .. Most of us aren't designing MMO's but there's a lot of factors in an MMO apart from the player experience. Fact is if you wanna keep subs you gotta keep players busy. That's just how the business works. That's the whole reason why you NEVER see an mmo with an unlimited inventory. Repeated trips to town are time the player spends subbed. Work to create bags to expand the inventory is time the player spends subbed. Time they spend sorting through their bag deleting vendor trash so they can pick up that green armor piece .. Is more subbed time. MMO's are so grindy because that's how they make their money. The same works with Free to play .. except it's to frustrate you into buying ingame currency .. rather than to keep you subbed. It's all very well to complain about Raiding in MMO's Saying you should only have to do it once. But what happens when people are done gearing up is 90% of the time they unsub to wait for the next raid. Any MMO that actually made a system like that would be committing financial seppuku.


Which is why honestly a lot of the mmo arguments don't really apply to a console rpg like those made in rpgmaker. There is almost NO reason to use vendor trash in a JRPG. Or to have you farm bosses for random drops. TBH I think comparing JRPG's to MMO's is kinda like comparing them to Diablo style action rpg's. There are similarities but .. for all intents and purposes they might as well be different genres.
 
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Tai_MT

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Well, the problem with vendor trash, even in an MMO, is that it does not need to exist.  You can accomplish the same "spend time going back to town to sell stuff" without it, by just dropping loot that is valuable enough to pick up, but not valuable enough to be constantly equipping new gear.  Or, you can dismantle that gear to turn it into crafting materials that you then have to go back into town to either use or store for later use.  Vendor trash literally exists because devs have no idea how to do a "limited inventory system".  That, and... well... "tradition".


Here's my problem with the "raid grind".  While yes, you have to keep players coming back in an MMO, there are more enjoyable ways to do it.  Unfortunately for the devs who work on that game... it requires them not be lazy.  Or to at least have a modicum of intelligence.  The reason MMOs have so much "grind" in them is because it's CHEAPER THAN MAKING NEW CONTENT.  That's it.  It's easier to require a player run a Raid three or four dozen times than it is to make the same amount of new content to run.  Basically, it's lazy work for maximum profit.  It's lucky so many players haven't figured that out in so many MMO games.

Want to know how I'd fix raids to eliminate the grind while also giving out the drops you need?  Several ways.


1.  Each time you run the raid you get ONE piece of equipment you need.  Once you've got it, so long as it's in your account somewhere (equipped, banked, whatever), it won't drop from the raid again.  So, if you have to get 6 pieces of gear, you run that raid 6 times for each piece, but each run is worth the effort.  Which piece drops each time is random.  Keep your weapon drops random so that you can obtain multiples for different classes or builds if you want them, to give further incentive to play them again... or no incentive if you've already got the armor and accessories you want.  But, you guarantee the drops.  Drop is guaranteed, but what drops is taken from a table where everything has an equal chance to drop.


2.  Rotate out the Raid mechanics on a semi-regular basis.  I'd have something like 4-6 rolling patterns for a Raid.  I'd prefer a different pattern for each day of the week (at the very least to keep it interesting), but changing it out every week or every two weeks might be fun too.  You could even offer specific drops for each rotation in order to ensure people do them each rotation.  It then isn't "okay, everyone knows how to do this raid, everyone just do your part and we'll AFK through this with our brains on auto-pilot".  It turns into, "okay, what day is it?  What loot we trying to get?  Should we run it today or next week when it changes?  How will we deal with the changes?"  I'd even make what it rotated to and from semi-random so that there was no discernable pattern going on... or alter it as player count dropped off.  Maybe keep a team on to invent new ways the raids could work so you could eventually get up to 15 variations or so... to keep the game fresh and interesting.


3.  I'd reuse old Raids by introducing new loot tables to them every so often.  Maybe you've outgrown that level 30 raid and you never run it again because... why bother?  Okay, what if there's new loot in there every so often?  Or, maybe high level players obtain some kind of "currency" from these low level raids that they can spend somewhere else for other things.  This would incentivize high level players sheparding low level ones more often, or even taking on newbies into guilds, because you aren't losing anything by helping them do a low level raid.  Maybe these tokens can buy cosmetics or mounts or pets or something.  Maybe unique skins for existing things.  Maybe even temporary guild-wide boosts.  There's lots of ways to do this, but it would make even the act of running low-level raids more fun and interesting.


4.  Maybe old raids sometimes get boosts on certain rotations to make them more difficult.  Or, maybe I just add a "difficulty" option to each raid so players can decide what loot tables they want to roll off of.


The problem with all these suggestions, however, is that they require actual game devs to put actual work into the product.  They'd be forced to provide content instead of grind.  And it costs money to employ people to make content continuously.  Or even on a semi-regular basis (which is why expansion packs happen instead of regular updates that change things... it's cheaper to release a single $60 expansion than provide seventy times the content of that expansion over the same amount of months it took to develop it).  There are MMOs that actually attempt to do this with smaller updates as time goes on.  Guild Wars 2 currently engages in "Living Story" and frequent new items in their stores for people to buy.

I, personally, enjoy that sort of system in an MMO.  I don't have to grind.  I can do whatever I like, I'll still get all the best gear, I don't pay a subscription fee, and I binge play sometimes... or sometimes play for 10 minutes.  If I want something I think is cool or useful, I might drop them $20 or something and get it.  Or, buy in-game currency for other purchases later.  Grind exists, but is entirely optional.  There are Raids now, but you don't have to run them for any real purpose if you don't want to.  There are Legendary Weapons you can obtain, but you don't need them (and you can honestly buy all the materials if you've managed to scrape together the gold to get them in order to craft them, instead of the insane grind that currently exists to get them).  There are goals and a story and events all over the map to keep you engaged, along with currencies.  There are achievements to give you direction when you want to do something else (including if you just want to mindlessly grind something for a while).

I look at a game like that as "An MMO done well".  MMOs can exist without grind.  They can rake in significant amounts of cash without that grind.  Playerbase will wildly fluctuate, yes, but the players enjoying themselves will pay for things and continue to play as long as they're having fun.  Which means, it's up to the developer to keep providing fun.

But, to get back to the subject at hand...

Yeah, comparing MMOs and singleplayer RPGs is usually an apples/oranges affair.  I don't think that means we SHOULDN'T try to bridge the gap between the two or SHOULDN'T learn from the mistakes of apples in order to make oranges better (and vice versa!).  Execution of these things is always going to be different, due to the nature of the two types of RPG (well, if your MMO is an RPG).  But, I think things like "grind" are universal.  I think we, as game devs (amateur or otherwise), should always be seeking to minimize frustration, annoyance, and boredom in a game, unless those things have a definitive purpose we want.  Even with all that excessive grind in MMOs, there's "burn out" and long stretches where players don't show up to play... and have no urge to come back, because they've long since burned themselves out on your existing content... and when they realize your new content is essentially the same as the old... they'll fail to return.  Casual gamers are the ones least likely to return to a "grind" system, because they don't want to spend that kind of time playing a game.  They've got 100 other games they're playing.  Ones that respect their time.

Grind is always best when it's optional and when it's because the player decided to do it... and not because the dev designed the game to be run that way.

Also, I personally believe that in MMOs there shouldn't be a "perfect" set of end gear to obtain.  Not even from a Raid.  I think there should be plenty of options and side-grades to prevent one kind of gear from being the best.  But, this also requires multiple builds of characters/classes to be viable...  Which most MMOs don't due because it's a nightmare to balance.  Plus, each piece of equipment is hours someone has to work... and that gets expensive. :D   I believe that if you do the hardest raid and you're "done gearing up" once you got the gear... then the game isn't designed well, because you should haven't multiple options for how you can play, and side-grades.  Endgame Gear shouldn't be a single definitive answer.  It should be options.  But, that's my rant on MMOs.

Grind can always be minimized in any kind of game you play.  It's just that when you minimize or eliminate it, you have to actually put some work into the game to provide content and fun instead of a Skinner Box.
 

Lord Semaj

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Vendor trash in MMOs is another topic really.  It was made to curb afk farmer bots and later to sell bag space.  Originally vendor trash had a purpose and served as equipment.  Later devs made the vendor trash so worthless that they were simply bag fillers.  A bot couldn't farm all night because his bag would cap out in an hour.
 

Tai_MT

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So... vendor trash existed in order to curb people who didn't want to grind, but still wanted the rewards of grind, so they made afk bots...

Okay, I'm laughing pretty hard now.  Why wasn't the fixing of this issue simply, "maybe there's a way to make PLAYING THE GAME more fun than USING A BOT TO AFK IT"?
 

Lord Semaj

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Same reason devs do anything.  It's cheaper!  Who needs to give players content every month when you can make a single raid they're required to repeat for months?  Don't design new monsters, just recolor the existing ones and give them a prefix.


Copy Pasta - The food of champions.
 
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RHachicho

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So yeah I know we all want to believe we exist in this wish fulfillment universe where devs slave away at a loss to bring us perfect gaming experiences that cater to our every need. Unfortunately we don't exist in that universe. We exist in this one. And wanting to make money off your hard work .. as much as possible without turning off your fan base is nothing to be ashamed of. MMO's do things the way they do because that's how they work as financial entities. Do you have any idea how much work you'd have to put in to even a single boss fight to make it fun on multiple playthroughs and make it balanced with multiple skill sets. You can point to certain MMO's like guild wars 2 etc but they still have plenty of grind and the scale of that game never really competed with the greats. Rotating out raid mechanics basically means creating more mechanics than you need and balancing them all together. Which is not just more work .. It's exponentially more work. Updating old raids for new content is often not possible because the class mechanics have changed and the bosses would have to be all but redone. Might as well give people something new if you're going to do that. 


And frankly considering the amount of boss drops there are always getting an item you need from every boss = unsub after 2 weeks for a raid that took you 3 - 4 months if not more to develop. And your server running costs don't go away when 3/4 of your player base goes off to play GTA while you make a new raid. That is NOT going to return your investment. These companies can't run at a loss. It's all very well to accuse companies of being "cheap" and believe me that DOES happen. But all too often there are some very reasonable explanations for the decisions they make. You might not like it as a player because it's pretty manipulative. But that's how MMO's HAVE to work. If you don't like it .. don't play MMO's .. It's why I don't anymore .. in fact.


I'm sorry but at the moment you just sound like someone who has spent way too much time in MMO's complaining about MMO's Because you have a chip on your shoulder about the time you feel you "wasted" without actually knowing a thing about what it take's to actually make and more importantly maintain an MMO and get your money back.


Regardless though that's the last thing I'll say about MMO's as I don't think it's really on topic.
 

Basileus

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@Dr. Delibird


Sorry, but I really couldn't get into the Crystarium in FF XIII. I actually never got what that game was going for at all in terms of battles, grinding, and progression. On the one hand, the game doesn't give Gil or EXP as rewards for combat and instead gives out Monster Drops and CP. Monster Drops can be sold at save points for the Gil you needs to buy items, or specific items can be used to upgrade your weapons and accessories. CP can be used in the Crystarium to unlock stat bonuses and new skills for whatever class you put the points into. This suggests that the game's primary progression system is weapon upgrades for an overall boost in effectiveness and focusing points into your favorite class to specialize your party. On the other hand...the game doesn't really...have stats. Like, almost all of the stats got cut entirely and you don't even get armor, just a weapon and an accessory (you can unlock a second accessory slot later on). I don't often use items in Final Fantasy anyway so I saved my drops and upgraded Lightning's weapons a bunch instead...but I didn't really see an increase in performance. She was on-par with the rest of the party even though I didn't touch their gear yet, and she didn't really do any worse when I swapped to a non-upgraded weapon because I liked its special ability better. Likewise, the Crystarium felt rather superfluous. It did boost my combat power, but it was completely linear so there was no choice and each level was highly gated so in each chapter I unlocked whatever I could then banked the leftover points. It actually felt worse than level grinding because at least normal grinding cut out the middleman and just gave you the levels and stats as you earned them instead of making you wait and not offering anything to compensate.


To me, FF XIII combat felt like it didn't reward combat in general, let alone grinding. Each combat encounter was very long due to the enormous enemy HP and the required Stagger Gauge mechanic to do proper damage. If the fights were more rewarding I could have handled that just fine, but as it was I felt like the game didn't reward my time properly and that caused the combat to feel boring and meaningless since I felt like I was just wasting my time if I ever fought anything that wasn't a boss. As someone that actually likes grinding in other games, that was pretty crushing.


I think that a system similar to FF XIII's could do well, but it would need to be better designed to make the gear upgrading actually matter and free up the player's choices in the point-buy system. 


Re: "Vender Trash"


I think that a grind-y type of game can still make good use of items that have no purpose beyond selling them. However, it would depend heavily on other systems to make it function in a more interesting way. For example: Dark Souls and Dragon Quest both allow the player to continue after death instead of going to Game Over. The price for this is all of your souls (essentially Money and EXP in one) in Dark Souls, and half your gold in Dragon Quest (and then you have to shell out even more to actually revive your party...) but in both you keep your items and levels when you die. This introduces something more like "Asset Management" as the player has to take risk into account and "diversify their assets" so they don't lose everything in an accident. If you grind a lot and only get souls/gold and happen to die on your way back, you would lose all/most of that time and effort. But if some of that wealth was instead given in the form of items that could be sold and weren't lost when the player died, then they become a valuable commodity since the player can hang on to them and not worry about losing them if they die. 


In Dark Souls, the player will find a lot of items that only grants souls upon use. A novice player may use the items immediately upon finding them and could easily lose all of those souls minutes later when they fall for a death trap or fail to dodge roll in time. A smart player will save them and only use them right before they need to buy something, like an expensive key item or a weapon upgrade, keeping them in item for so they don't lose that wealth when they inevitably die.


In Dragon Quest, there are a good amount of items that will sell decently well and serve little to no other purpose. A novice player may sell them as soon as they get back into town just to empty their inventory and lose half of it upon going to the next area and dying to the tougher monsters there...then losing the other half to revive their team. A smart player will hang onto a handful of the most valuable items and only sell them to buy a nice weapon/armor upgrade or as an emergency resurrection fund in case they spend all their money on items and don't have enough left to revive the team after a party wipe.
 

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This thread is going way off topic.  It is not about vendor trash in MMOs.  It is about what happens, or does not happen, in RPGs made by RPGMaker engines.  We've got some significant essays rather than posts in here, and it could be discouraging for any member who wants to get ideas/opinions about the topic to wade through.


Please keep on topic.
 

Dr. Delibird

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@Basileus I am sorry I worded it kinda poorly. I meant to say that the concept of the systems used in FF XIII could be a good starting point (I think XIII-2 did improve but that is an entirely seperate topic).


I was thinking that maybe there needs to be a system in place that garuntees some form of incremental progression every single battle but cannot be abused but is also still a meaningful form of progression. I think such a system is possible but I think if we can create appropriate money sinks, give meaning to the level progression system being used and made sure that item drops are just as useful (in the long run, not immediately) as the money sinks and level progression system then I think any form of grinding (whether purposeful or otherwise) shouldn't be a problem at all.
 

Basileus

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@Dr. Delibird


Yeah, I could see the concept of the system working if it was tweaked. Perhaps make a point-buy system that is more thoughtful for longer-term gameplay decisions and improve the weapon upgrades to be good for shorter-term improvements to combat effectiveness. 


I think the most important thing is for the developer to always give the player goals to work towards. You can give the player smaller rewards more frequently so they always feel like they at least got something for their effort, or you could give out big rewards that need to be worked toward for some time that feel super satisfying to finally get. I would say transparency is needed for long-term reward systems though - if the player doesn't know what they are working toward then there is a risk of them quitting before the reach it. For short-term rewards, I think it isn't a problem to keep things a mystery since the player can expect the regular rewards and can get a pleasant surprise when they get something nice periodically.


The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim does a good job of transparency for long-term rewards. Grinding skills can be boring as heck and may even be unbearable if that was all there was, but being able to see the awesome perks in the back of the skill trees made every skill level feel like a step closer to a big, gameplay-changing perk.


Pokemon is a good example of gaining levels relatively quickly with hidden rewards. The player learns quickly that those small stat gains made each level add up and are important to take on tough enemies later on. But every so often the game hands out a new skill or an evolution that can feel awesome to get since they are not handed out often and may be a life-saver if you were under-leveled and struggling a bit (or literally using Struggle because you burned all your PP somehow).


I can see that some players will always dislike grinding and want to only deal with quests and story and cutscenes rather than getting bogged down in combat. But I think an intelligent reward system coupled with fun gameplay can still be a very fun experience for the majority of players even if it occasionally results in spending a lot of time in non-story battles.
 

M.I.A.

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The only way I can see grinding being worth while.. is if it's FUN. Which is difficult to balance and predict what other players perceive as "fun".


I'm trying in my current project to keep battles minimal, but engaging and rewarding.


I have done away with a "Progress System", no XP.. no Level Up. Every battle has the potential to be your last if you aren't prepared, from beginning to end. The difference is learning how to adapt and change up strategies.


Battles are all on map, barring a few of the plot battles. No randoms. So you could effectively avoid most battles. It is not advisable to skip all of them though, since gold is hard to come by and battle drops are the only real way to obtain it.


Even if you did engage a battle when you didn't mean to/want to/wanted to avoid it, you can run away. If you do run away, there is a grace period of inactivity for the enemy event. However, if that same enemy event runs into again, the escape command is disabled and you must now work through the battle.


The goal of any game developer, should be to get your game out there, tell your story, and have as much potential to be ENJOYABLE for others. Grinding just isn't all that engaging in my opinion. In fact, I find it quite the opposite. If I've had to run out and grind just to lvl up for the next section.. I feel like it removes you from the overall story in an RPG.


If there are drastic spikes in difficulty within a game from one chapter to the next, and the immediate and only solution from the developer to design for the player to close those gaps is grinding, then there is a problem with how the developer feels about adding substantial and story telling content to keep the player engaged between chapters.


A casual player should be able to go from chapter to chapter in a continuous flow. Sure, there will be climbs in difficulty, but those should be capable of being overcome in a natural progressive pace.. not halt everything you're doing and grind for three hours. Grinding should be available for those players who want the best of the best crafting loot and want to beat a game as a completionist.


My favorite contrasts to this are the original Final Fantasy on NES vs. Super Mario RPG on SNES.


Final Fantasy? Grind grind grind grind. Super Mario? Beatable casually, but grinding is helpful. :)


But these are just my opinions and theories.. a GAME theory. ;)


-Mia
 

Basileus

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...I'm thinking that you may be better off writing a book instead. If your goal is to tell a story and you cut gameplay like combat encounters and progression systems from the game because you feel it detracts from the story, then I think that your priority is to write a good story instead of making a good game.


If you did away with the progression system and EXP, then why did you bother to keep Gold in the game?


If you want all non-plot battles to be relatively easily avoidable, then why did you include them at all?


Did you do anything to actually reward combat in your game?


If not, then why did you decide that your game needed combat at all if you try to actively discourage the player from actually fighting?


I don't think it is wise for any game developer to EVER consider the gameplay to be getting in the way of the story. Writers tell stories, which are meant to be read. Devs make games, which are meant to be played. I can see trying to avoid unnecessary grinding in your project, but I'm not seeing what you replaced that grinding with.


Stripping away all story elements, what do you want your players to actually do?


What kinds of decisions do you want the player to make if there is no progression system for them to consider?


Is there any way for the player to have choices or express themselves in the game?


I think that "grinding" refers more to occasions where players essentially put the game on hold to mindlessly fight random encounters, like running circles outside of town for a few hours. If the player is walking from Point A to Point B to get the magical MacGuffin to give to the Guard back in town, then all of the combat encounters along the way should NOT be considered grinding - all of those monsters are part of the challenge, the reason why the Hero needs to exist. The monsters are too tough for the Guard but he needs the MacGuffin to save the King from his mysterious illness. If just any schmuck could walk up and pick up the MacGuffin without a single fight...then why have Heroes at all? How is the Hero to ever prove his worth if he does not battle the forces of darkness at every turn and really fight to accomplish his goals. Any idiot could just coast along with no battles and fight a handful of story bosses that are scaled to match his non-scaling power.


The Odyssey is a literal epic that takes place over a 10 year voyage and is considered a masterwork of storytelling, but it gets to cheat because the storyteller gets to skip all of the boring parts where Odysseus and his crew sail the open ocean for months at a time and nothing interesting happens. A game doesn't really get to do that - if you just skip all travel then the player has to wonder what the hell happened along the way and feels they lost agency. So if you need to have something to do while the player is traveling to their story destination - and you do - then you need to provides things for them to actually do. If the player is just walking down empty corridors and avoiding all combat encounters - because they are meaningless and unrewarding - and just progressing the story as fast as possible with no gameplay decisions to consider...then they may as well be reading a VERY unwieldy book.
 
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M.I.A.

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I wouldn't want to write a book for folks to pick and choose what parts they agree with and decide not to consider the entire sentiment of the story as a whole. 


But since you used writing a book as an example, let me explain what "grinding" would look like in a story book in contrast to what I feel like grinding is in RPGs.


imagine reading a book about a group of people traveling across the globe, finishing a chapter, and moving through the story.. now imagine 26 pages of nothing but "we walked through the woods".


And then imagine that scenario repeated before any relevant sort of story information moved them forward to the next chapter. Thats what grinding feels like to me, in an RPG.


you seem to have skipped over the part when I said that developers should add content to their games. Content can that can add value, such as story telling and combat. To keep a player engaged. "Walking through the woods" (or running in circles around a town) for long times because it's NECESSARY is not engaging, its padding. It adds no real content. 


The challenge for for the developer is to balance what combat is necessary to move through the story and continuing rewarding the player, and what combat is grinding for the sake of grinding.


i do believe grinding can have its place in a game. As I said, for the completionist.. for the "gotta collect everything" players.. for the moments when you just need a little more gold/parts for that new armor.. but for the casual players, the story and combat should provide enough challenge and reward without grind, exhaust resources, sleep at the inn, rinse and repeat for each and every town. 


Thats what I was saying. Also, I said "could" skip, I never once said it was as easy. ??


there are a few RPGs out there that don't use a traditional progression/XP based system. And for the most part I still find them challenging and rewarding, with minimal grinding. And I appreciate the efforts and thought put into those systems for trying to make something as tedious and boring as grinding not so tedious and boring. ?
 

Basileus

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I don't think we are quite on the same page here.


Yes, a book that had 26 pages of "The Hero walked uneventfully for days" would be hella boring. But the nature of books as a storytelling medium means that they do not have to cover that time period. Books can cheat by using time skips because the reader is detached from the story and only cares about the interesting bits.


Video games cannot afford to do this. The player isn't just an observer - they are actually engaged in the story. Cutting any amount of time means denying them part of "their" story and breaking their immersion. Since games have to cover the parts where "The Hero walks for days to reach his destination" that journey is not allowed to be uneventful. The player needs to have actual gameplay to engage with between story segments (and preferably inside the story segments too).


So ultimately, what I'd like to know is what you mean by "Real Content".


Are Quests considered content? If so, then how does the game handle quests? Unless everything is done exactly where the Quest Giver is standing, then obviously the player must go somewhere and do something. So what should the player do in the in-between parts where they have received their Quest but have not yet arrived at the place where they need to do things? I can think of two good examples to juxtapose here:


Dragon Quest: The player receives a Quest to go to a tower and recover a lost treasure stolen by thieves. The player leaves town and must battle through wild monsters to reach the tower, and then must battle the monsters within the tower to reach the top, at the top the player fights the bandit leader to get the treasure back and bring the bandit leader to justice. The main challenges are combat encounters - the player can choose to run and save their resources, but doing so means not getting Gold and EXP and being weaker later on. The real purpose of the fights is to add tension by giving the player obstacles to overcome on the way to their goal. The monsters may even prove too difficult on the first run, forcing the player to turn back to heal up, stock up, and try again stronger than before.


Mass Effect: The player receives a request to recover a lost data chip on The Citadel. The player leaves the area they got the quest in and walks through multiple floors and loading screens with no obstacles, challenges, or real gameplay. The player talks to a different NPC and goes through dialog options, probably convincing the NPC to hand over the chip without a fight on their first attempt. The player then walks all the way back - through multiple loading screens - uneventfully to report their success and claim their reward.


In this case, Dragon Quest may have "grind" in it but at least there was consistent gameplay. The method used by Mass Effect had the player walking up and down empty hallways with nothing happening just to do a non-action dialogue sequence with an NPC to finish the Quest. While the Quest itself may have had interesting dialogue and world-building lore, there was nothing to engage the player in between those segments. 


I strongly disagree that combat encounters are "padding". Unless your game is meant for the pure casual market, there needs to be some kind of challenge. Every Quest needs to have some kind of challenge for the Hero to overcome. If the Hero is tasked with slaying a Goblin Chief, then doesn't it make sense that the Hero should have to fight a bunch of Goblins to get to him? If the Hero is supposed to slay a Dragon up on Mount Kills-You-Dead, then shouldn't there be something in between the Hero getting the Quest and the Hero reaching the Dragon to justify why no one else could reach the summit of the mountain?


It doesn't matter if you want puzzles, or random mob encounters, or fishing mini-games - there needs to be something to invoke thought and button presses in between story bits. It's only a "grind" if you make the player do those things for no reason or require way too much of it to succeed.
 

M.I.A.

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Hehe. I actually believe we are closer on the same page than it seems and we just aren't conveying that very well. 


Im more or less saying that whatever is in the game, should serve the purpose of furthering the story and provide enjoyable gameplay for the player.  Grinding for grinding sake, in my opinion, does neither (for me, but some people like that kind of gameplay).


but when you remove or alter part of a gameplay experience or formula (such as grinding, leveling up, experience points, etc.), whatever you introduce in its place should also further progress the story AND still be an enjoyable experience for the player.


i actually agree with a lot of the things you're saying as well. An example of a game without Leveling or XP, is "The Legend of Legacy". It replaces leveling, stat building, and skill learning through Leveling Up, to more of a "defend more often to increase defense" "attack more offen to increase attack" "use magic more often to permanently learn magic" type arrangement.


it can still feel grindy at times, but not for grinding sake. The battles are avoidable, but still necessary to progress further in the story and character stats. 


Its balanced, fair, and still engaging.. all without a xp/level system. 


Quests, as you mentioned, are also an excellent means to keep a story progressing, getting loot, and gaining skills, without the necessity of grinding for grinding sake.
 

Dr. Delibird

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Is it not grinding, just with a different mask on, to have players forced into doing quests for the same ammount of character progression as they would get with the traditional run around in a circle outside of town grinding?


I mean it is all well and good to have quests the reward the player. However when you are bottle necking character progression into mostly from quests then it is the same thing as a lot of Final Fanatasy games have done where you get to a new area or boss and find out you aren't strong enough so you have to grind battles for a bit. The difference being is that the player gets to that same challenge and thinks to themselves "looks like I have to complete more quests" instead. They are effectively the same thing done differently, improper use of gating the player and adding padding to the game.


Quests and encounters are not to blame for this. If you want to eliminate forced grinding in all it's forms then all you have to do is make sure no situation arises in your game where grinding is the only way to progress foward. Maybe it is an option which is fine but maybe there is another solution for those who do not like grinding.
 

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