This week on Video Game Tuesday I’m going to be talking about grinding.
What Grinding is: In RPGs, one usually gains strength and abilities through repeatedly killing monsters, over and over again.Forget trying to figure out the right combination of elemental attacks; just walk around a certain area and kill smaller monsters for a week, then pound away at the ‘boss monster’ as if you were the Incredible Hulk. (taken from tvtropes.org)
That is the basic idea behind grinding, and while it often applies to leveling your character up, it can also occur in other areas of a game. It’s also often attached to rare weapons/items in some way, either through having to grind to obtain such things reliably or to increase their power.
Why it can be bad: Sometimes, often in older RPGs, you need to hit a certain level to continue with the storyline or beat a certain boss. Most players hate this, and it’s been phased out of most games now, although some more recent games still have it. Final Fantasy 13 is one of the more recent examples where you are encouraged (through the use of incredibly hard bosses) to grind enemies over and over again before continuing in certain parts of the story.
Where it can be good: To earn really special weapons in games, if you just get lucky instead of having to “earn” it you are often despised by other players when they see you having that item. Legendary items like Valanyr and Shadowmourne from World of Warcraft are good examples of good grinding to earn it because you have to complete a long quest line to earn it; compared to the Twin Blades of Azzinoth is an example of the just getting lucky process.
Where it annoys me: I hate being forced to grind to continue in storylines, unless the combat system of the game is particularly fun. I didn’t mind grinding in Final Fantasy 13, I loved the combat system and the chance to use it more wasn’t a bad thing at all to me. Games like Destiny however force you to obtain better gear, and you could only earn it through pure chance and no other way, before continuing in the story. I don’t like having to leave it all up to chance, and many others don’t either. I’d much rather have a surefire, if slower way, of obtaining gear. A good example of such a system is the Tome system from Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn. I earn through various activities Tomes that will allow me to buy gear if I’m not getting very lucky. It might take me a different sort of grind to get those tomes, but that type grind is often much more enjoyable because there are more than one way of gaining such items.
Grinding in General: Grinding will never go away, it can be faster to just grind out something in some occasions. A good example of a good grind is the spirit bonding system in Final Fantasy 14. If you go to a certain place in South Shroud you can fight quickly respawning enemies in a very tight circle that will give 5% of spirit bond per lap around. I can deal with that, as it doesn’t take more than a minute or two if I’m alone, and 15 seconds if I’m partnered with a White Mage, to go through a single lap.
That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday.