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Grinding or not grinding... that's the question

Games with combat, inventory, crafting and more beside a story and dating/life sim gameplay

Grinding or not grinding... that's the question

Postby jack1974 » Sun Feb 24, 2013 10:01 am

I'm really starting to thinking that allowing free grinding like I did in Loren maybe is not a great idea... even having "level scaling" enemies/encounters, it's hard for the author to balance everything (usually people doing RPG like Bioware have like... 50 testers testing daily and report problems to the coders!).
In Planet Stronghold I allowed grinding but everything was calculated. I mean the amount of possible EXP you get from grinding was fixed, there were semi-random encounters but was a finite number, and the encounter weren't random (only the position on the map). So in Easy mode you could fight the plot-advancing battles without grinding, while in Hard mode it was almost a requirement. This way though I was able to fine-tune each battle, since even with the grinding the party level/skills was within a certain range.
Of course I am also a player, so I know that is fun to exploit game bugs/cheats/weaknesses :lol: I like when I find a way to break the AI and I yell obscenities in front of the computer. But allowing unlimited grinding could even result in totally unbalanced battles later in the game (especially in a loooong game like Loren).

So for the next RPGs, I'm thinking about what to do. In Planet Stronghold 2, after talking with the coder (Anima) which was the first one to warn me about the grinding problems, we're going to allow random battles but the amount of XP you'll get from grinding will be very low, the reward will mostly come with other game assets (resources for cratfting mostly). I think that idea is cool, so you still get some XP if you grind, and some other form of reward, but prevents the battles to become unbalanced.

Anyway, next RPG framework has even AI autobattles so I should be able to instantly test if a battle is too easy/hard 8)
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Re: Grinding or not grinding... that's the question

Postby Nightsnow » Sun Feb 24, 2013 2:53 pm

Well, I hate grinding so any game where I don't have to do that is much preffered.

The problem with grinding without levelscaling is that some final bosses because so easy that you can walk all over them even if they are suppossely a demi-god or destroyer of the worlds or something.

The problem with grinding with level-scaling is that players often complain about them not feeling as if they are getting more powerfull.

I personally just think that level-grinding is boring. It is just fight, fight, fight. God knows that I could not finish some of the earlist (I think it must have been final fantasy) because I simply refused walking around the world map and doing 30+ of pointlessly fighting.
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Re: Grinding or not grinding... that's the question

Postby jack1974 » Sun Feb 24, 2013 3:50 pm

Yes you have summarized well the problems in both approaches. I'm like you, I don't like much grinding: however I know for sure that there are many people who like it...
I like the idea of grinding influencing OTHER things rather than just farming XP. Or maybe just reserve the grinding for an Iron Mode (or Nightmare or whatever you want to call the hardest difficulty level), so in that mode it gives EXP and is almost required :)
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Re: Grinding or not grinding... that's the question

Postby Leadman » Sun Feb 24, 2013 4:43 pm

To me, honestly, I actually prefer the option to be able to grind, even though it always makes me bored in the end anyway.

However, I generally prefer a "fixed" enemy level, were at certain places the enemies are between leevel 6 and 11, for example.
So, if you're lower than that, it'll be hard battles, but also good XP (as taking down a bigger7stronger target should yield more XP). The other way around, if you are level 25 and take down a lowly level 1 Slime, you get 0 XP. And the same with a level 3 Wolf or Goblin or whatever.
You can still fight them, for items or whatever (or because you want to), but they don't give XP.

That way, to continuing the increase of XP at a reasonable rate, you HAVE to go fight the stronger mobs, that can be hard and challenging despite your high level.

AND in the end, if you happen to have reached the highest level, so that even the highest level monsters aren't a challenge anymore (and don't give XP because you're the highest level and only gives items, which could be a good reason to still fight them), I think you have earned being 'uber'-powerful.

There's also the Final Fantasy approach, where the last boss can be taken down with difficulty in the middling levels, where people without the feel for grinding can realistically be at. But then included are some ultra strong optinal bosses that require good equipment, right strategies, maybe some sidequests done, AND high level. SO even if you then get to breeze through the final boss, giving you a feel of "no real hassle", there's still quite a challenge to be had.


Frankly, the approaches are many, but I think removing or negating grinding a lot is harmful for the experience of an RPG game. Rather, one could do an XP scaling system, so that you can't pick XP up from low level mobs when you reach a certain level yourself.
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Re: Grinding or not grinding... that's the question

Postby jack1974 » Sun Feb 24, 2013 5:00 pm

Yes that's the approach used in many MMORPG, like Everquest 1-2 which I used to play. It's a good system indeed, and solves many problems. I think might try with that in future :)
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Re: Grinding or not grinding... that's the question

Postby Franka » Sun Feb 24, 2013 5:45 pm

I like grinding for optionals, like collectibles, so grinding for crafting would be cool. Though if crafting makes you overpowered, you've just exchanged level overpower with crafting overpower, so no big difference.
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Re: Grinding or not grinding... that's the question

Postby fleetp » Sun Feb 24, 2013 6:00 pm

I like the having the option to grind.
Why? I like big ones, that's why.
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Re: Grinding or not grinding... that's the question

Postby Lonestar51 » Mon Feb 25, 2013 12:53 pm

I did not mind the grinding in Loren (as opposed to those joking/powerful answers).

What I really like in an RPG is the possibility to explore the area. Something which gives me the feeling I am in control. If I feel like doing the quest, fine. otherwise, I will just look what is behind the wall, inside the cave, roaming through the wood... Morrowind and Oblivion are good examples. But this "free choices" brings us back to the grinding problem: If I choose to depopulate half the map, I get a lot of experience (not to mention nifty swords ;-) ) and this causes the balancing problems explained above. OK, really free roaming will not possible with the resources a small producer like winterwolves can bring to the world.

Still, if done right, a bit of grinding opportunities may help giving me this "exploring" feeling, this "doing choices" feeling. Like choosing if I want to do the sidekick-quests in Planet Stronghold. Even the "help villager - get XP and goodwill" choices in Loren were better than following the mainquest on rails all the time.
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Re: Grinding or not grinding... that's the question

Postby jack1974 » Mon Feb 25, 2013 1:24 pm

I know what you mean, I think is not much about resources, but the style of RPGs I am making...for story-based games exploration is a bit complicated to add/do it properly. I could get it with a 2d map but then I would get the "RPGMaker feel" which personally I really can't stand :lol: In any case examples like the one you mentioned are definitely possible.
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Re: Grinding or not grinding... that's the question

Postby Seloun » Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:56 pm

I like the general idea that XP from grinding would be limited, but crafting materials could be found by grinding. However, it would require some care to not effectively make this into another form of 'xp'. Probably the safest way would be make grinding only provide consumable types indefinitely (anything which has a opportunity cost for using in combat) rather than actual gear (or any other passive, no opportunity cost bonus). For example, maybe you can collect a thousand super potions, but if you can only use one a turn, the real benefit is limited even if the actual amount is not. It would still allow the user to prepare for battles if the consumables were otherwise relatively rare and relatively strong. If you could actually generate better passive (or rather no opportunity cost) bonuses this would merely become another form of progression.

Scaling XP is also a good idea. Done that way, it can provide a mechanism to make 'failing' less onerous. For example, suppose you got XP for succeeding at some task (which is skill dependent); if you lose out on that XP, you may be further behind than expected. If you have a target level at a certain point in the game, you can have enemies provide relatively generous XP until that point, after which the XP return drops significantly (possibly to 0); this allows people who might have missed out on sidequest XP or alternative progression XP to still catch up by grinding a little, and stay with the curve, and makes it easy to see when you're 'ready' to move on.
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