Author Topic: RPGs and grindyness.  (Read 4709 times)

Offline Revenantus

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RPGs and grindyness.
« on: November 10, 2009, 04:20:35 PM »
This essentially summarises why I have trouble getting into games that require 'grinding'.

There's a significant distinction between enjoying each moment, and enjoying the end result. Both of these have their merits, but in the context of a game I want to enjoy the time I play, as well as ultimately achieving a victory/high score. If, to enjoy the result, or even to achieve a better result, I am required to perform a task that detracts from my moment to moment pleasure, then I think there's a design issue that needs addressing.

Offline x4000

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RPGs and grindyness.
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2009, 04:26:55 PM »
Yeah, I think that's exactly right.  Final Fantasy VI has always been one of my very favorite games, particularly because of the story and the characters, but the level of grindyness to the combat in many parts of it is very unfun for me, which makes it hard for me to go back and play that game often.  By contrast, Chrono Trigger is much less grindy (and it's one of my other very favorite games), so I find it much easier to return to.  Secret of Mana does not have particularly deep combat, but it is more fast-paced and fun even than Chrono Trigger's combat in many ways.  Someday when I make a Japanese-style RPG, I hope to blend what is good about an active combat system (as seen in many 3D third-person action games today, but implemented in 2D), but with a better and more engrossing story than what those sorts of games typically offer.

For me personally, the RPG genre is often about doing semi-fun activities to get a very fun result, so that's been a genre that has an uneven history with me, even though my very favorite games are in that genre.  That was a tangent, but I think it's all basically the same sort of challenge, just in different genre contexts.
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Offline Kjara

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RPGs and grindyness.
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2009, 04:34:05 PM »
In contrast I found SOM very grindy(even if its not required to actually beat the game) if you want the sprites magic to be useful in the end game, you have to find someplace outside an inn and grind his magic levels up.  Not that SOM isn't a fun game, but I find it more grindy than say, ffIV(which if you want to go the other direction, is possible to beat without using espers at all, or even leveling at all--though the non-leveling strategies sometimes abuse some programming bugs with the slots--the unique skills that each character get can be very very powerful if used correctly).  If you have an obsession with max stats, then yeah, ffIV can be grindy(though honestly besides magic, most of the stats in it don't mean much).

I can't recall if theres any repeatable monster that you can steal tabs from in chrono trigger(I think they might exist for some tab types but not others?), but thats about the extent of the possible grinding there(besides doing new game +'s to max your stats).

Offline x4000

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« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2009, 04:41:34 PM »
I found FFIV really grindy, FFVI less so.  The part right before the floating continent I typically had to grind on, and then some parts later on if you don't swap your party members in and out of active duty enough normally.  I generally prefer to play with Celes, Sabin, Edgar, and Cyan as my party, and the fact that it kept making me go off and use other characters (aside from when the narrative splits, which is cool -- I'm talking about in the freeform segments) was more than a bit annoying.  By contrast, games like FFX or Chrono Trigger leveled the characters who are not active, so you tend to not have to play with side characters except when the narrative splits.

I can see what you mean about why SoM would be grindy at times, but I tend to not be very completionist with the stats on those games, and I find that skill at dodging and with some basic specific spells generally makes that game very beatable.  If I were inclined to experiment around more, I'd find it more grindy, I think.  By contrast I find FFVI more grindy because it makes me experiment around more with the characters even when it is purportedly letting me do as I please.  Needing 12 effective characters at the end of the game, with not much warning of that, is game design that wouldn't quite fly these days -- for accessibility reasons, mainly.

All three of those are tremendous games, each one a masterpiece, but that doesn't mean that the mechanics in particular can't benefit from the last 10-15 years of accessibility improvements (for anyone else who might be following along and get offended).
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Offline Kjara

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RPGs and grindyness.
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2009, 06:06:58 PM »
Bleh, I flipped VI and IV mentally.

I'll stand by my above point on VI not being that grindy unless you want max stats. 
You actually only need somewhere between 5 and 8 actual decent chars by the end(you can abuse mog and the moggle charm for one party(though you can't beat bosses with it, so you have to know when the bosses are coming up and switch which way you send your real party--by restarting the dungeon after killing every boss or so), and one char with max magic evade(since normal evade was broken)+ the illumnia-somethingorother(bet the ragnarok at the arena) sword/offering could easily solo the end game for another party--need perhaps one other decent char in that party to prevent roulette deaths).

For IV, the old snes version is very ungrindy if you know what you are doing--I seem to recall the first playthrough as not too bad(but I don't remem it that well, its been waaaay too long) until you hit the last few areas.  I used to when bored in undergrad do 10 hour runs of the game :).  For the newest GBA or DS versions, the difficulty is pushed up enough that its has gotten to be quite grindy.

V is the other side of the coin, and if you don't know what you are doing, very very grindy(mostly in terms of job skills).

For SOM the first time I went through I liked the offensive mage character, so I ended up beating most of the bosses with him, which is trivial after you have increased your magic ranking(and maintain your stock of mana healing items), but takes quite a while.  Considering how useless the weapon skill ranks generally are, if you rely mostly on the fighter and healing with the defensive mage, you only need to grind levels occasionally, which isn't bad at all since the combat system is fun.--On my latest playthrough I abused the mage char again, without explicit grinding, but abusing the mana drain spell, and it was still a little grindy, but not so bad and I was still able to reach reasonable levels with it before the bosses that are a pain without it.

But yeah, all three(4) are good games.

Offline x4000

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RPGs and grindyness.
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2009, 06:15:11 PM »
Bleh, I flipped VI and IV mentally.

I figured.  No worrries.

I'll stand by my above point on VI not being that grindy unless you want max stats. 
You actually only need somewhere between 5 and 8 actual decent chars by the end(you can abuse mog and the moggle charm for one party(though you can't beat bosses with it, so you have to know when the bosses are coming up and switch which way you send your real party--by restarting the dungeon after killing every boss or so), and one char with max magic evade(since normal evade was broken)+ the illumnia-somethingorother(bet the ragnarok at the arena) sword/offering could easily solo the end game for another party--need perhaps one other decent char in that party to prevent roulette deaths).

Granted, if you know all the secrets and find all the extra weapons and exploit those, it's not grindy at all.  I know most of the secrets, but tend to play in a bit more relaxed fashion and don't meta-game too much with it.  So that in turn makes it more grindy for me, specifically.

For IV, the old snes version is very ungrindy if you know what you are doing--I seem to recall the first playthrough as not too bad(but I don't remem it that well, its been waaaay too long) until you hit the last few areas.  I used to when bored in undergrad do 10 hour runs of the game :).  For the newest GBA or DS versions, the difficulty is pushed up enough that its has gotten to be quite grindy.

There again, "if you know what you are doing" is a pretty key statement.  To be fair, none of the versions were particularly grindy for me, but that is one game I still have yet to ever finish, despite owning three separate versions of it.  I always get a bit stuck on the moon, finding myself underpowered, and just lose interest.  I never made the same emotional connection with IV that I did with VI or CT, so the emotional payoff for me was seemingly not worth the pain of getting there.

V is the other side of the coin, and if you don't know what you are doing, very very grindy(mostly in terms of job skills).

Holy heck, yes.  I got through around half of this, if I recall, but never had much interest in going further.  I made almost no connection with the characters here, so it was not all that interesting to me in general as a game.

For SOM the first time I went through I liked the offensive mage character, so I ended up beating most of the bosses with him, which is trivial after you have increased your magic ranking(and maintain your stock of mana healing items), but takes quite a while.  Considering how useless the weapon skill ranks generally are, if you rely mostly on the fighter and healing with the defensive mage, you only need to grind levels occasionally, which isn't bad at all since the combat system is fun.--On my latest playthrough I abused the mage char again, without explicit grinding, but abusing the mana drain spell, and it was still a little grindy, but not so bad and I was still able to reach reasonable levels with it before the bosses that are a pain without it.

I tend to like the fighter, and get his sword pretty high.  With one ranged weapon also high on him, he's pretty brutal against bosses.  Then just also controlling the magic of the sprite, spamming lightning, fireball, and a couple of others really is a killer combo that makes the game pretty easy until the very last battle, which even then isn't too bad if your mana sword is all the way charged.

But yeah, all three(4) are good games.

Indeed!  I'm struck by how much playstyle seems to affect the perception of how grindy any given game is, though. :)
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Offline Kjara

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Re: RPGs and grindyness.
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2009, 07:03:25 PM »
***MINOR SPOILERS(FOR SOM)***

My main problem with SOM was similar to your VI end game issue, I always viewed the dyrad spells on both chars as pretty useless, so the game dumps a final battle that the only magic level that really matters(besides perhaps the cure spell) on both your mages was the dryad spell(plus I was used to nuking things with my mage :)).  I'm pretty sure my first game, they were both at level 1 or 0, and the spell lasts pretty much no time at that level.  Its beatable(esp if you have gotten any of the special armors in the final area), but still annoying.

***END SPOILERS***

On VI you have a point, but I think its pretty common for people to find at least the moggle charm, and with just that you can reduce the requirement to 8 chars or so(and with the amount of force char usage here and there, hopefully you have at least 6 reasonablly developed, prob more so if you don't know what chars its going to force upon you at certain points, I find it gets easier and easier to not have enough developed chars when you know whats going to happen--of course being forced to use x, y and z when you haven't used them much yet might force a bit of grindyness whenever it happens, but should at least spread it out some).

For IV, yeah the moon is the first time it gets tough.  Part of my speedrun involved knowing what to run from (starting about there the list goes way up--many things just really aren't worth killing at that point)--Still have to grind a bit for the final boss though so he doesn't 1 shot the weaker chars too much.  I'll have to do another of those over christmas break or something, its been a while.
I picked up the DS version recently, and you have to grind at least a little even for the 2nd fiend(the water guy), unless you want to replay the battle until you make 0 mistakes(basically timing your spells right) and get lucky that he doesn't silence someone when you need them.  I haven't had the time to grind past that part yet.

At this point I've played both of them way too many times to make reasonable assumptions on what a new player plays like though (plus with stuff like gamefaqs, I really wonder how many people honestly play through their first playthrough blind these days).

At the risk of going off topic on an off-topic post:
If you are interested in pretty much non-grindy but high difficulty, theres a romhack of final fantasy tactics that fits the bill(ff v1.3--partially due to the fact that enemies pick up power at a faster rate than you if you try to grind :)).  I'd suggest playing through the original first if you havn't though, since it starts out pretty hard, and only gets worse(and seems to expect you to know the basics).  Oh hey, I haven't checked it out in a while, seems like theres an easytype version out now(that includes alot of the balance changes, but not quite so much difficulty).

Offline eRe4s3r

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Re: RPGs and grindyness.
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2009, 02:31:32 AM »
oi - Final Fantasy games are not RPG's they are JRPG's - big difference

As for RPG's - well Dragon Age comes to mind, certainly has no grind given that the enemies level up with you... Planescape Torment - Mass Effect or Baldurs Gate 1/2 - The Witcher - Gothic 1/2 and Risen - Neverwinter Nights 1, 2 etc. All these have barely if any grind in the sense you see it in JRPG's

It also just so happens that i just mentioned most of the decent rpg's for PC ;)

Atm i have to say Baldurs gate 2 remains my all-time favorite, but Dragon age my all time 2nd place.

In the end - RPG's are meant to be played for story and i was never a huge fan of the japanese rpg stories, especially final fantasy (can you blame me? ff7 came out for pc when planescape torment was on my table, one of the best most intelligent and complex rpg's of this time) - Usually i drop final fantasy games when the random fights start ^^
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Offline Spikey00

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Re: RPGs and grindyness.
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2009, 03:58:00 PM »
Simply for me, if I have fun grinding interacting with friends then it doesn't really matter to me.

Grinding in silly MMORPG MapleStory however, proves that somewhat to be wrong, though friends make it 66% better.  At least, that was a long time ago since I've actually touched that game significantly...
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Offline Volatar

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Re: RPGs and grindyness.
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2009, 04:04:28 PM »
Oh man, I remember Maplestory. That game is 100% grind, yet was somewhat fun for some reason.

Offline Spikey00

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Re: RPGs and grindyness.
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2009, 05:52:00 PM »
I know, right! 

What level were you!?  :D

I was 74 I think, from Beta Tespia.
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Offline Kjara

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Re: RPGs and grindyness.
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2009, 07:00:14 PM »
Honestly, if you care only about story, why not just read a book?

Its a mix of gameplay + story for me.  At times I'd fine with amazing gameplay and subpar story, just at other times I'd be fine with amazing story and subpar gameplay, but both factor in.

I also don't really agree with you that wrgp's are the only "real" rpgs (or that that list even come closes to listing most of the decent rpgs on the pc--in my opinion and for my definition of rpg).

You are completely ignoring say: fallout 1/2, anachronox, adom/angband/nethack/castle of the winds/tome, arcanum, the original bard's tale games, betrayal at krondor/antara, diablo 1/2, daggerfall/morrowind(and perhaps oblivion), icewind dale, the might and magic series, the wizardry series, the gold/silver box's, star control 2, ... etc (and plenty I'm missing/haven't played I'm sure).  Honestly, there are jprgs, and wrgps(and rogue-likes, and muds/mmo's, and srpgs, and argps, and etc...), but all are rgps--some have aged better than others, but I have enjoyed most of them at one time or another.  They may not be your cup of tea, but they do exist.

(Note that I am a fan of the baldurs gate + planescape as well--as well as most of the list above).
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Offline eRe4s3r

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Re: RPGs and grindyness.
« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2009, 07:43:01 PM »
Mhh good points ;)

Well i seem to have alzheimer hah, of course F1/2 and morrowind and all those you mentioned (might i mention "The Longest Journey" ^^ ) are great rpgs too.

Thanks for mentioning big world project.. but that sounds like a huge hassle to get running ;/

Wish someone would just make a complete installer for the whole deal.. installing bg1 on vista or getting it to even run is not something i want to do ever again (did it once.. that was 1 time to much ;p)

For me BG1 never actually worked on vista (windowed just crashes and fullscreen is a single graphic error) bg 2 works.. but only windowed

Bleh ;/  ;D
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Offline Kjara

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Re: RPGs and grindyness.
« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2009, 07:48:16 PM »
Big world is waaay easier than it used to be (it is basically an installer--well after you get bg1 and bg2 installed yourself--you start it up and tell it what mods to install, then leave it).  Used to take me hours to install mods/figure out what mods would install without issues for bg 2 (it still takes hours, it just takes hours while I can go and do something else now :)).

If you want to play bg 1(and bg 2 works), just use bgt(it runs bg1 inside bg2 with the bg2 engine).  Have to install both to get it to work, but its nice.

And yeah, I'm sure I'm missing plenty off my list as well :).

Offline Volatar

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Re: RPGs and grindyness.
« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2009, 09:27:16 PM »
I know, right! 

What level were you!?  :D

I was 74 I think, from Beta Tespia.

Lol, I have a few ~20 chars and one level 30 char, I never had enough time on my hands to get THAT far lol.