Greedy Goblin

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Have to grind

Spinks wrote a good analysis on tokens instead of drops. One of her points just hit me: tokens force grinding.

If monsters drop random loot, you either leave the instance with a new item, or with no item. On the other hand with token system, you surely leave your first N instances with nothing, just to surely leave your N+1-th instance with a loot. And not just any loot. A loot of your choice.

Blizzard created something great (from their point of view), a way to "force" players into instances.

We know that beyond a reasonably good gear, we don't need more. Unless they plan Ulduar to be completed by only 10% of the players, I'm damn sure that an enchanted-gemmed mix of ilvl 200 epics and blues are enough for anyone who can actually play to complete Ulduar 25 without achievements. For achievements, it's better to use Ulduar 25 items, isn't it?

Yet the bad players (and their social supporters) keep on calling M&S "undergeared". This idea created an atmosphere where having less than best-in slots is somehow a shame.

Random drops create an excuse: "I farmed as hard as I could, but it never dropped". Since tokens, you can't pull this, since the answer would be: "go, grind 100 more Badge of Whatever n00b".

People are also having a quite stupid mental scheme to overvalue things they worked hard, since otherwise they had to face that they just wasted their time. So the guy who grinded 30 badges will grind 30 more.

I could obviously say: "since better gear is not needed, badges are also pointless to grind". But here comes the really nasty part: "everyone likes to achieve a variety of different rewards for doing the same content — tokens, chance at a good drop, cash, reputation. And cutting down the number of rewards from one type of raid while increasing it in another (with the addition of the legendary weapon) could well tip the balance."

For me the only reward is the experience. Not the ingame XP point, but the new knowledge, in my RL head, the new skills (even if it's just better reaction time). The gear is not a reward, it's a mean to keep on moving for more experience.

The point is not that the gear is just purple pixels. For me, the real world gear, like clothes, vehicles, tools, food and such are also just means to get experience, knowledge, fun. I see that somehow the people consider their possessions a "reward" and also source of pride, "status". For me, it's obviously stupid, but I don't have much hope to convince anyone to agree.

People keep on grinding money in the real world. Money is like raid tokens. Every month they get some. "5 more months and I can buy a new car" is not much different from "10 more heroic and I can buy a new trinket".

It seems that the mind of the people is driven by these rewards and they can be forced to do something that is not challenging, not teaching them anything, and not fun at all: grind.

I can't really do anything against it, except linking to Thorstein Veblen's book again (my three pages summary: 1, 2, 3). I hope he can convince at least a few people to stop grinding for purple pixels and black-metal-paint. When you stop grinding, you'll notice that a whole world of experience is out there. And you'll also see that somehow gold, gear and even that goddamn metal box on 19" wheels comes much easier.

Tokens are a strong force to make you grind. Be stronger!


LarĂ­sa said...

If you're constantly losing in the RNG thing, if every /roll ends up in a single-digit-number, tokens is a nice comfort at some point in your gearing up career.

However I've reached the point where the emblems almost feel like an insult. They symbolize the fact that we've run out of raiding content, that we've geared up in Naxx and now just are waiting. The loot is sharded, the emblems are useless since there's nothing we want to buy for them. We just grind Naxx because there's nothing else to do. And as you pointed out - we all play for the experience, not for tokens.

Daniel said...

Badges just accumulate over time. Got few hundred of them after buying all the heirlooms, the DPS items, the tanking items. From my point of view after doing 18 times UP to get the red sword of courage I began to hate the RNG of the game. So I got lots of badges this way. But I am a tank - so a little difference in my gear can make a big difference on the outcome of the encounter. The fact that I got lots of nice vendor and rep epics this way is nice. So in a case you are right - every outcome that has slow and steady path to it can force grind. And for the M&S it does forces them to grind a whole month only nexus and uk to get the epic items they need, since it is the only heroics they can manage to do.

For me - the more rewards the better. I can always buy some more heirlooms and ofspec gear and gems(if 3.1 patch notes are correct)and frozen orbs.

This is like saying having daily quests forces you to grind for money - no - I just do the ones that are fun for me the money is nice bonus for a person like me that prefers to stay away from the game economy - usually 2 daily quest are one night of riding expenses so its nice doing them anyway.

Plastic Rat said...

You know, I run Nax with my guild because I enjoy it. I like the challenge, I like the teamwork and I like some of the chatter over vent.

I don't sign up to Nax every weekend for tokens or loot. I sign up because that's the game. That's what I'm paying 15 bucks a month for. To play that game.

People seriously seem to have their priorities screwed up when they're 'working' in a video game to achieve.. what?

I have never had a problem being undergeared and had to 'grind' for gear. And my performance in raids is quite ok thanks, my DPS is either number 1 or number 2 on recount, so I'm not being carried.

If you're playing this game for 'gear' you have to ask yourself what your goal actually is. So you can make a pretty picture with your avatar on the login screen before you turn off the PC?

Egotistical priest said it best. Play the game, and the loot will come.

phoenixboy said...

Tokens are ust a bonus, just a lesser bonus than gear. Badges is just for that piece of gear that you had been using since level 76 or so.

Max said...

For me the only reward is the experience. Not the ingame XP point, but the new knowledge, in my RL head, the new skills (even if it's just better reaction time).Oh, man, it's really strange to hear silliness like that from a supposedly rational man you seem to be. There is no knowledge or skills to gain from that game, and that "i improve reaction time" is biggest and most obvious self-deceit in entirety of gaming (really, you want better reaction - go play table-tennis if not against someone then against the wall, or something like that, it will do you much better then months of video-games).

The only ones who can begin to talk about RL-skill improvement are guild/raid-leaders who get to get, practice and hone their leadership and adjacent skills.

For everyone else profit comes in form of relaxation and distraction from RL, and that's the only thing they get from playing.

Jeff said...

This is the odd world of zero sum economics. The idea is that in order for one person to gain another must loose. However, WoW is an open economy with an unlimited supply of currency and resources. In this event there will always be devaluation of commodities as there is an ever increasing supply and a limited demand. Instead of searching for ways to win where others lose, you should be searching for ways to grow the whole pie, which you do by running this site.
The more people can increase their supply of money by making more with less time the better off every one becomes.

Ron said...

Let me clue you in - it is all a grind. All of it.

Here is how to play WoW smart.

1. Buy an expansion when it comes out.
2. Level to new max level.
3. Maybe raid a little or do business to get yourself a few epics so you get to feel a little of the character's power. The initial epics are a big improvement over your greens.
4. Quit playing for 2 years until the next expansion.
5. Repeat

Any other approach is a pointless grind.

Helver said...

I know I'm a little silly about this, but my perspective is that I've paid for the game and all the content in it. I want to see all the content that I've paid for. So I want to explore every zone; do every quest (even the stupid escort quest in SoS); play every race and every class. While I understand that a large portion of the developers' time is spent on end-game content, I think there is still a lot of content that most people breeze through without spending the time to enjoy it.

Yaggle said...

Wrath of the Lich King is a superbly crafted masterpiece from a techincal point of view.
It is also an uninspired, over-hyped, un-original piece of garbage from a creative point of view. The best way to spend one's existence in Northrend is make all the gold possible and dream of all the wonderful things we can do with that gold in the next expansion. I could really give a rat's ass about gearing up in WOTLK.

Anonymous said...


You fight against the grind, but I would argue that your current quest for gold in nothing more than a grind as well. In our current state of WoW, assuming you don't have a family of 30 toons to support, there is NOTHING that can be done with as much gold as you have now.

Considering each class/spec will have probably a total of 6 or so BOE/crafted new items from the patch, there's really not much to spend gold on after that (and only about 1/3 of those items will be BiS, so their value os debatable).

So running your businesses as you do, I really don't see the point past 50k gold or so. What do you do with it past buying dual-spec and 3-4 BOE gear items? (I'm assuming here that anyone can keep their toon in gems/chants/consumables via a few daily quests and raid rewards. If they can't do that, that's another story).

If you are that adept at analysing a market, I'd suggest trying your had at SecondLife, where the in-game gold actually has tangible value in the real world. :-)

Zico said...

I don't agree with Max. The team work and other cooperative and social skills are clearly not the only RL XP you can gain from WoW (or other games for that matter). I will not list every skill, but just take PvP: strategy design, the need to take fast decisions under pressure when circumstances change, etc.

Sounds like RL skills to me.

Anonymous said...

I'd actually tend to dissagree with emblems leading to a grind. This response tailors much more to 25 man raids as opposed to heroics.

The badge system is another implementation aimed towards the causal/non-hardcore raider. It caters to the guild who may not have the numbers to field a 25man raid team or the guild that simply doesn't raid enough to clear 25nax/os/maly. What the badges give these people is a 100% chance to get comparable gear (though its not BiS) The emblems dont affect people in serious raiding guilds at all except for PvP gear. My guild has been clearing nax since the first week we attempted it in november. I have 15/15 valor and most BiS gear and am using 0 gear from 25 man badges. Its simply another tier to garuntee casuals a chance

spinksville said...

It's cool that lots of people here raid for fun (I do too, I like the people).

But I promise you it's a lot easier to get 9/24 other people to come with you if the raid offers a variety of extra rewards too.

Bristal said...

Playing this game opened a whole new world of online databases, blogs, forums, addon management (which forced me to get a bit more comfortable with the OS/file management of my computer), chatspeak, mathematical theorycrafting, and on and on. I would agree that there are few RL skills gained in actually playing the game (mashing buttons at the right time), but preparing and researching how to play the game better definitely hones skills that might impress an employer or two.

If you've ever walked away from a raid pissed off that you were passed over or left out or somehow wronged and got over it on your own without taking it out on someone, you also learned something valuable.

And I would argue that Gevlon's 180K GP buys him a fair amount of credibility that keeps a lot of us coming here every day. And credibility is what a lot of those kids grinding purple pixels are after.

Thaumaturgos said...

Gevlon, I'm interested in your view on something: what if there is a part of the game - say a specific instance - that you really enjoy doing, and happily do several times. Is this 'grinding'? Or is it something else?

I really enjoy the Culling of Stratholme. I have done it three times now, and have enjoyed it immensely each time. It have also gotten several badges out of it, and some nice shiny toys. But it is the experience of the instance that I go back for. is this still grinding? Is 'fun' a legitimate reason to repeat something?

Then there is Kara: I will never tire of most of that instance. PLUS, one day (mutter, mutter) the enchant for Mongoose will drop from Moroes. Now this is clearly grinding, with a view to getting somethign that will make an ingame profit. Is this a bad thing?

No sarcasm here, just trying to identify if there is a line below (above?) which you see that repeating things is not grinding.

AlexC said...

"If you are that adept at analysing a market, I'd suggest trying your had at SecondLife, where the in-game gold actually has tangible value in the real world. :-)"

I wholeheartedly second this motion. Gevlon; have you ever considered moving your MMO economics course to another class room?

Gibbiex said...

Maybe this is off-topic, but i found some characters easier to 'grind' epics than others. For example, i can't get in groups on my 80 hunter to save my life. Every vault run i'm in its half hunters and half DKs, who have the same problem apparently.

On my resto druid, getting groups (and thus access to loot) is insanely easy, if I can't find a group within 5 minutes, its indicative that not much is happening and I log out.

I'd love to run Naxx more on my hunter, but my guild doesn't do much raiding, and the dps slots are gone in seconds in PUGs (plus who has the time/energy to spend in pugs anyways?)

However, the hunter is great for mob grinding (as are DKs). So, some toons are better for some types of grinds (and everything is a grind, really).