Well, we all agreed that grinding is usually a bad thing for MMOs. And as any bad thing, it also comes with some effects. The first and most obvious is on community. Because the game causes players to get bored relatively quick, the community is in constant change. At least at a faster rate than usual. As high level players realize there is less and less for them to do in-game, new players take their place and so on. Usually games have a group of players that play constantly and usually they praise the game on forums and sites. But with gamers coming and going, this is less likely to happen. Another usual problem are the bots. Even if they are forbidden in most games and the ones that break this rule are harshly punished, there will always be people who get away with it. This in not only unfair, but annoying to other players. Furthermore, the constant bots along with usual players who also have to play long hours in order to stay competitive put a lot of stress on servers. So, another problem comes up, server congestion, and we all know what that means for gameplay...

Enough with WHY? (at least for now). It's now replaced by HOW? How can game developers make games more interesting and less boring, and how us, gamers, can make a difference? First of all, don't despair! There are solutions to grinding, some of them already implemented. One of the most obvious solution is the elimination of one of the main reasons for grinding: levels. Instead a skill based system might be used. This way, the player no longer has to kill countless enemies to reach the level cap. They will have a chance to be part of the elite right from the very start. One game that tried it and proved successful is EVE Online. The game goes a step further, allowing players to train their skills continuously even when they are offline. This way they make players enjoy their time spent in-game and solve the problem of server congestion caused by long constant playing. Another obvious solution is variety. Instead of making players do the same thing again and again game developers should introduce varied quests, which may include even PvP. For example, instead of making the player kill ten bugs, it would be much better to make him kill 10 players from the enemy faction. This way, the game-play becomes more challenging because real enemies are much more unpredictable than AI. Furthermore, this can make PvE fans enjoy PvP a bit more. Even implementing PvP experience gain like Warhammer Online and later World of Warcraft did is a viable solution. Anyway, one of the most important measures against grinding is a rich imagination of the game designers. Sadly this is not always the case.

One other trick to tackle repetitive gameplay is the in-game bot system. Yes, you've heard right! You know how they say, "If you can't beat them, join them". And this is exactly what some companies did. One such example is "Magic World Online". Many may consider it the average Asian grinder... and in many aspects... well, maybe except for the grind part. Although this type of gameplay was not eliminated, it was made easier for gamers to deal with it. Instead of wasting your time with pointless kills, the automated system does it for you. Even though it is sometimes seen with skepticism, it represents a cheap alternative to grinding, considering that also it mostly eliminates the problem of cheaters and illegal bots.

The solution?

As you all realize grinding is a major plague that roams around the MMO world. Although we have analyzed causes, effects and ways to cope with it, the real solution lies on us... the gamers. A game, in order to survive has to be profitable, and in order to do so, it has to have a reasonable number of players. As long as people are going to play any crap game thrown away on the market just to squeeze some more money and are willing to pay for it nothing is going to change... because it doesn't have to. Companies are led by the belief that "if it works don't change it", so as long as this kind of games bring them money, nothing is going to change. It is up to us, the players to make things better by severely punishing mediocrity and trying to support good original games that really make us feel good, have fun and get us out of daily boredom.

So, next time, think twice before you play yet another mediocre game created just to milk money out of gamers... You can make a difference too!


Written by Sicaru Adrian for MMORPG Gate