Slice the Grinds

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I talked a bit about what LOTRO's grinds are yesterday, but I didn't have any solutions. Merely, I asked, why does it have to be that way. Well, here's a thought about what could be done.

Grinds are doing the same task over and over again for a long period of time. It's only at the end of that period of time is there a rewards. Oftentimes, we as the player have become so jaded over having to grind, we're not nearly so receptive to the reward as we could be, even if it's a fairly good reward, something we wanted. There's nothing to keep us going between when we start the grind and when we end it. How about spreading the reward throughout the "grind", so as you're doing the task, you're getting rewarded and reassured more often.

The reward, however, must be something the player can see affect his character. It can't be something intangible such as points. Rep-points might be given out on a per-mob basis, but after a certain amount of time, they loose their impact. A series of small, but meaningful rewards is a better motivation then one large reward at the end of a long grind.

An example in LOTRO might be the slayer deeds which reward trait upgrades. These aren't very large upgrades to begin with, so there's already a problem of large grinds for small reward. But what about giving each mob kill, or a set of 5 or 10 mob kills an incremental increase in the stats (traits) you're going after. LOTRO frequently uses a whole number to signify strength, rather than percentages. In this example, percentages would be better suited to seeing this incremental increase. Rather than have a set number of mob kills, certain mobs will just increase your stats. It is also possible to have a maximum threshold of effective kills, with diminishing returns nearing that point to move players onto other deeds (and thus areas of the gameworld). The player here is seeing an increase of numbers that mean something more than just points or a tally, but the overall "difficulty" of the deed, that is, the number of mobs slain, isn't necessarily reduced.

A potential problem with this idea is when grinds are used to reward gear. You either have the gear, or you don't. LOTRO is implementing a legendary items system, which essentially allows you to upgrade your weapons. Something similar with all types of gear would eliminate the grind for the gear upgrade. In this case, smaller upgrades would be rewarded as you're "grinding" that marginally increase the stats of your gear, rather than an all-at-once reward at the end.

That's just one idea that floated into my head. How it could be implemented to the current LOTRO game isn't something I could speculated about. However, it is a way that the grind might be sliced.

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