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RPGs and grindyness.

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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.

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.

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).

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).

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.


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