Grinding is never a good thing and signifies when a game design’s progression model stops working for the player. The actual form of grinding can be difficult to describe, because it’s different for every video game and genre due to the mechanics involved. Sometimes the grind is mechanical, other times it’s just the nature of the game and how it’s played. For today’s post, we’re going to try to define what grinding is and some telltale signs to avoid when building your game.
On an episode of the Perceptive Podcast, I spoke with Jamie Madigan from Psychology of Games on the subject of motivating someone to keep playing a game. The cast was a fascinating discussion, but there was one topic that came up that is too big to just leave it to the cast, and that is the difference between short and long-term progression in game design. As developers do everything they can to keep someone playing and invested in their titles, short-term progression is ultimately the better fit.
Guild Wars is arguably one of the most impressive game ideas and first games from a new studio of the last decade. While other developers tried to compete directly with World of Warcraft and Blizzard, Arena.Net went a different direction creating a MMO built around small level caps, CCG design, small group focus and no monthly fees. With Guild Wars 2, the developers have gone with a bigger is better mantra and while there are a lot of impressive details here, some of the magic of the original has disappeared.