Tuesday, September 07, 2010

I don't really do grind

Wikipedia defines grind as "the process of engaging in repetitive and/or non-entertaining gameplay in order to gain access to other features within the game". I don't really do grind. When Painkiller asked me to repeat all of the levels on a harder difficulty setting just to unlock a bonus ending I declined. As far as I am concerned I have finished the game. I don't really do grind.

Its not that grinding is always a bad thing. Think of knitting, think of fishing. Many hobbies of older times worked on similar principles. There is something relaxing about doing the same familiar task over and over in the knowledge that the repetition will eventually add up to a longed for reward. Indeed it could that in today's "I want it now" world grinding in games is a welcome return to delayed gratification and may even be good for the soul. Nevertheless I don't fish and I don't knit and in gaming I don't do grind.

That puts me at something of a disadvantage when it come to mmorpgs because the whole business model requires that players will repeat the same limited amount of content over and over in order to achieve in game rewards. If you aren't prepared to do the grind then you aren't allowed to have the shiny. I am not immune to the lure of shiny rewards. Every time I play an mmorpg I eventually find myself slipping into grind mode,  repeating some repetitive action over and over in pursuit of a reward but my innate dislike of grinding usually rebels and more often than not I end up leaving the game before my grind is finished.

Returning to Lotro recently after an absence of almost a year I reckoned I would be immune to grind because I am so far behind the rest of my kin that there is no point trying to catch up. They are all off raiding radiance gated dungeons whereas I don't even meet the requirements for the dungeon before the dungeon before last. I do miss the fun of challenging group content but with a gap so large why bother.

Except that Turbine have thought of that. Realising that radiance gated progression was creating an impenetrable barrier to new players they introduced a range of new ways to get it. Mirkwood has several three and six man dungeons that allow you to bypass the Moria radiance grind. The forthcoming free to play expansion is re-scaling some older dungeons and the new rewards will include radiance armour. Thinking about this my mind starts to wander. If I start running these new instances repeatedly (and do the complementary skirmish runs which are also necessary) I will eventually be able to catch up and once again I will be able to raid with my kin.

STOP!

Time for a reality check. I don't do grind. If I set out to run those dungeons repeatedly just so I can gear up for further raiding then in all likelihood I will abandon the game a bored couple of weeks later.

There is a bright side however. These new dungeons runs are likely to be very popular when they come out and they have NO RADIANCE GATING. Therefore I won't be excluded from joining them. Rather than seeing them as a means to an end, a necessary grind in order to access end game raiding why not enjoy them for what they are? Challenging group content that I won't be excluded from. It isn't really grind if you are doing it because you enjoy the content.

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