Tobold's Blog
Sunday, August 03, 2014
If you grind, it is time to stop playing

I was reading a negative review of Magic 2015 where the author complained that he had to "grind" or pay to get all the cards. I found that a curious remark. For me the game of Magic 2015 consists of playing against all the different computer decks with my own creations. Magic 2015 is so much better than previous incarnations because it allows me to play with decks I made myself. I don't see a grind. If anything I am worried that I am already in the middle of world 4 out of 5, and once I have finished the last world there will be no more new cards to gain when playing. I'll probably keep playing new decks against the computer anyway, but it is always nicer if you get a reward for winning.

Then I was playing Wildstar. I did a shiphand mission I hadn't done before, and that is usually the type of content I like the most. But this time it felt like a grind, in spite of me even gaining a level. So did questing, playing the AH, and everything else I had planned. And then I realized that the only difference between "playing" and "grinding" is whether you are having fun or not. Magic 2015 isn't feeling like a grind to me, because I am having fun. Wildstar has stopped being fun, and now it feels like a grind to me. So I unsubscribed from Wildstar, luckily it was the last day of my second month in the game and I could cancel my subscription before paying for a third month.

For me, MMORPGs are under pressure from two sides: One side is that there is very limited innovation, so even a new game has only a few months of really new stuff before I am back to the same sort of questing or other activity that I already did in many games before. From the other side my time is under pressure from the seemingly endless number of games around. For example besides Magic 2015 on the iPad I am also playing a new and very nice village builder game on the iPad called Adventure Era. A reader sent me a Steam code for Divinity: Original Sin for review. I still have those 71% of unplayed games in my Steam library. And there are games I would love to try out, but haven't even bought the platform on which they are running, like Bravely Default on the 3DS.

MMORPGs are more time-intensive than other games. Which is great if you have lots of time and not much else to do. But if there is lots of other entertainment available, a game has to be special to be able to justify so much attention. The current batch isn't.

That's a very fair assessment except for one thing: it contains two mutually contradictory statements.

"...the only difference between "playing" and "grinding" is whether you are having fun or not"

"..if there is lots of other entertainment available, a game has to be special to be able to justify so much attention. The current batch isn't."

Except that if a given individual IS having fun then it DOES justify whatever degree of attention he or she is investing. I'm fully aware of all the other forms of entertainment available but none of them offer the same degree of "fun" that MMOs do, so I prefer to give my attention to MMOs. If that changes, so will the way I spend my time, but from my perspective MMOS are just getting better and better at providing the kind of entertainment I want. If I have any problem its that there are just way too many excellent MMO choices and no possible way to give them all the time and attention they deserve.
Tobold, you played GW2?

I think it is time for you try it, now you saw the grinding that is WS. If you played GW2 before, it is a good time for return.

Because when you talk about "innovation" I see it at GW2 and I not see it at WS or ESO....
advocatus diaboli redux:

1) I wonder if you were you that different than NCsoft's financial forecasts? I would hope they knew what a niche game they were making. So getting 60+15+15 from a million or three could pay back all their investment and allow for the small number of 1% raiders to maintain the game. You weren't the target market; you lack the desire for long attunement chains gating ePeen raiding.

2) There is also the "miss right now" factor. Killing ten WoW or Wildstar rats is not fun now. But while they were new, killing ten technicolor Wildstar rats was fun. In spite of how the HC commenters deride the MMO tourists, there is a lot to be said for an arguably similar experience in a different environment. I get the impression many publishers are planning for 2008, where you play one MMO faithfully - yet they can't afford to generate enough themepark content to satisfy. A player who spends 10 weeks spaced throughout the year in five MMOs may get less of that same-old-grind feel than someone who plays 50 weeks in one MMO. Better for player, not good for games based upon fixed teams doing content weekly (e.g. raiding)
Not even with the free 14 day trial from Square Enix for FFXIV?
Uh Oh.

Looking up from Empire on the iPad, any chance we could get a description of Adventure Era? I see only 15 votes but almost all 5 star.
Looking up from Empire on the iPad

Would that be Empire Deluxe Mobile Edition, the iPad version of Empire Wargame of the Century? Or Empire: The Deck Building Strategy Game? Or Empire: Four Kingdoms?
Wow Tobold, you are still writing. Hit the nail on the head too. I am right here with you with hundreds of games to play and feel like I'm doing the same thing again and again. How many times do I have to put a ragtag groups of people together to defeat the big bad and win the game? Good to see you still making sense in a senseless genre.
This really resonates with me. When my friends ask me how I can play wurm online, my answer is I just don't grind. I play, and when something I'm doing starts to feel like a dull job instead of play, I stop.
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