There’s been a lot of talk lately about grinding, some for it, some against it, and some just not sure how to define where it shows up. Here’s some links, all of which are worth a read and/or listen:
- Adam Sessler’s Soapbox says that grinding is good
- An interest article by Daniel Feit follows up on this
- And then there’s this direct response to Feit’s article by Gerren Fisher, which argues that if someone enjoys the gameplay mechanic attached to grinding then it isn’t a grind at all
Having named my blog Grinding Down for a reason, I feel equally mixed about this subject.
It’s a staple of RPGs, sometimes more prevalent than not, and I much prefer it to be an optional sort of thing. Cases where it has not been optional are Eternal Sonata and Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King. In both these games, I found myself stuck at a boss fight that I was clearly not ready for…which meant wasting an hour or two grinding, fighting the same monsters over and over, sleeping at the same inn to heal for cheap over and over, and so on. This is depressing. There might as well have been a scratch on the game’s disc because this kind of grinding is basically stating, “You can not play this game any more. Not until you kill X more slimes/whatever. Ha ha, fooled you.”
I’m surprised I haven’t had to grind yet in Fallout 3. Or maybe I have and I just haven’t noticed. Playing as a sneaky thief, I don’t necessary have to be super strong to kill a room of ghouls. I can instead just sneak past them. All experience that I’ve gained along the way (now a Level 21) has felt natural and just enough to get me through the next section. Whereas in Oblivion, a game that levels you up so long as you constantly use the same skills over and over, grinding there is visibly obvious. Want to excel in blunt weapons? Better start smacking some mudcrabs around.
Truthfully, I’m fine with grinding so long as I don’t know it is happening, so long as it is an enjoyable aspect of the game and not jarring, so long as the reward is worth the work. I have fought and defeated Emerald Weapon in Final Fantasy VII, and this was during the days of “no Internet guides”; all I had was my thumbs and the knowledge that I needed to have Cloud and the gang at incredibly high levels. So I spent a weekend grinding. This involved fighting, fighting, fighting, take a potty break, fighting, lunch, fighting, fighting, fighting, dinner, fighting, fighting, potty break, possibly a shower (I can’t remember anymore), fighting, fighting, and then bed. Once I felt battle-ready, I saved and then took Emerald Weapon down after much stress and sweating. The question remains…was grinding to gain XP to be strong enough to beat a boss to gain even more XP worth it? Not really. In addition to experience, you get the Earth Harp item, which is tradable for the remaining master materias. Meh. I could’ve been outside reading or something. That part of my youth is gone, and I have nothing to show for it.