euskalzabe

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
May 9, 2009
Messages
1,478
I was playing Horizon Zero Dawn yesterday, and had an unpleasant realization about the current state of gaming dynamics in today's market.

A few weeks ago, I played Destiny 2. Fun game, despite me not loving online PvP, I enjoyed the story and grinding with some friends. Got to level 20 and power 272 on the base game. Then I played FFXV. Again, decent story, enjoyable game, played about 40h until I was at level 65, finished the game, put it down, finding completing the remaining side missions unexciting. Now, playing HZD, at level 12, I'll be grinding for a while to level-up until the appropriate 30some level for the final mission of the game. As I play HZD, I'm waiting on a nice discount for AC Origins to finally buy it and play what has been a critically acclaimed game.

And yet, the second I thought of that, my stomach sank. It'll be another game where I'll have to spend an arbitrarily chosen number of hours to level up to whatever is needed to progress in the story. Is this endless grind all that games have become? Because that is a sad, boring prospect for the industry. I play games "late" because my job doesn't allow me too many free hours, so I tend to be on a year-late cadence (side benefit: I buy everything on sales for anywhere from $10 to $20). I feel like for the past 3 months, all I've done is grind and grind and grind to level up and level up and level up, all while being served tiny pieces of storyline that count as a "fully developed" plot.

And you know what? I couldn't tell you much about Destiny 2's story. I'm fully aware I don't understand half of what happened in FFXV but it looked cool. I've started skipping dialog lines in HZD because every side mission feels like it needs to justify its existence with bland, irrelevant little plots that have no meaning or impact for the main story, other than being tangentially related (these bad robots from the main story harmed this little area, go there and help for a while!). And I know, some people will tell me now, "of course you're not enjoying the story, you're skipping those dialogs!", to which I'll answer, I'm not skipping the main storylines, only the garbage side ones where the writing is poor and the relevance towards the actual main plot is questionable, at best. They're palpable attempts at forcing you to grind some more, with a tiny shred of some for of plot to motivate you (barely) to keep going. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I actually remember the Mass Effect Andromeda story much better than any of those grinding games, because it actually bothered to make an effort and tell me a story directly. Sure, there was grind, but nowhere near as much as D2, FFXV or HZD. Or ACO for that matter.

You know what was the last game I played where I remember the story completely? Uncharted 4. I remember everything, because the game told me a story, and I didn't force me to gain XP for endless hours until an arbitrarily decided level so that I'm deemed worthy of receiving another sliver of story, cadence be damned. U4 had perfect rhythm and pace, and it "leveled me up" to keep a much more elaborate storyline going. I'm aware that I enjoy the narrative part better than many other gameplay elements, so it's easy to see why I enjoyed U4 more, but I'm worried that every AAA game now is becoming and endless level up grind with barely any story, sacrificing any shred of narrative pace that can make its story memorable.

I've been playing videogames for the past 25 years. Been building my PCs for the past 20. And it is now that I'm noticing a strong, pervasive generational change that very clearly demarcates the game types we're getting in the late 2000s/2010s. Heck, I remember the Half Life 2 story better than many games I've played in the past 2 years. And so I'm wondering, do you feel similarly unexcited about this endless grind to level-up tendency? Or have I just become a dinosaur of decades past, who enjoyed videogames for the same reason I enjoy movies, for their story, with the added benefit of exciting interaction? Because I can assure you, after killing the exact same robot-animal on HZD for the trillionth time to get a little more XP, it's not exactly my idea of fun.
 

Armenius

Extremely [H]
Joined
Jan 28, 2014
Messages
35,377
I know what you're saying, but when it specifically comes to your Horizon example, I never felt the need to grind. In fact, I often found myself overleveled most of the time. To be fair, I did think the story was superfluous, as the world they created is robust enough to be told through the environment. But the narrative that is there isn't overbearing once you get past the trials at the beginning of the game. One of the mechanics that I think could be considered grindy is the equipment upgrade system, but I think it was more designed in a way to make sure people experience all of what the game has to offer. The good part about the system, though, as I thoroughly enjoyed hunting for the various machines that dropped the required materials with the tight movement and shooting mechanics in this game. On the flipside I found much of the gameplay in Mass Effect: Andromeda superfluous, getting in the way of the story it wanted to tell.

One of the issues with the grind is that even in this day and age people complain about how long (or in this case, how short) a game takes to complete. By the same token, people will often throw out an arbitrary number of hours for them to feel like they got their $60 worth out of it. So developers spend an inordinate amount of time trying to create a huge world and filling it with content to keep people busy. Unfortunately there is only so much one can be creative with within the game mechanics and engine they're working with. So often that results in the grindy mechanics that are prevalent especially in open world games. In the past few years microtransaction have exacerbated the issue, as developers are compelled to design game systems to try and force people to spend additional money.

It's all a balance, though. I honestly do not mind a grind if what I need to do keeps me engaged while at the same time maintaining a steady feeling of progress and advancement for my character.
 

Shantarr

Limp Gawd
Joined
Mar 28, 2016
Messages
318
It's a balance; Because, if you are given the end goal, it won't be appreciated.
 

Westwood

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Nov 17, 2012
Messages
8,386
It's a balance; Because, if you are given the end goal, it won't be appreciated.
I think that can vary from person to person. After a nearly solid 14 years of World of Warcraft, I cancelled my sub and picked up Far Cry 5. I'm ~26% in. And honestly, its refreshing to know there is a 100% and I'll end up knowing what happened at the end. Its nice knowing that I'm not on some form of gear treadmill experiencing regurgitated content.
 

Flogger23m

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jun 19, 2009
Messages
13,099
Games these days feel too much like work. Too much running around, fetch quests, finding crap, collecting crap or doing repeating quests with little value. Assassin Creed Origins is a good example of this. Half the game is utterly boring, filled with quests that feel pointless. The game, outside of its garbage mechanics, can be pretty fun when the story picks up. But it fades off for hours at a time and the game becomes dull quickly. There is no consistency in these games anymore. Mass Effect 1-3 weren't as long as more recent titles, but 90% of what you did had meaning. That is how games should be. Everything should be fun, feel important and have a purpose. Otherwise its junk filler content.
 

M76

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
Messages
13,145
I know what you're saying, but when it specifically comes to your Horizon example, I never felt the need to grind. In fact, I often found myself overleveled most of the time. To be fair, I did think the story was superfluous, as the world they created is robust enough to be told through the environment. But the narrative that is there isn't overbearing once you get past the trials at the beginning of the game. One of the mechanics that I think could be considered grindy is the equipment upgrade system, but I think it was more designed in a way to make sure people experience all of what the game has to offer. The good part about the system, though, as I thoroughly enjoyed hunting for the various machines that dropped the required materials with the tight movement and shooting mechanics in this game. On the flipside I found much of the gameplay in Mass Effect: Andromeda superfluous, getting in the way of the story it wanted to tell.

One of the issues with the grind is that even in this day and age people complain about how long (or in this case, how short) a game takes to complete. By the same token, people will often throw out an arbitrary number of hours for them to feel like they got their $60 worth out of it. So developers spend an inordinate amount of time trying to create a huge world and filling it with content to keep people busy. Unfortunately there is only so much one can be creative with within the game mechanics and engine they're working with. So often that results in the grindy mechanics that are prevalent especially in open world games. In the past few years microtransaction have exacerbated the issue, as developers are compelled to design game systems to try and force people to spend additional money.

It's all a balance, though. I honestly do not mind a grind if what I need to do keeps me engaged while at the same time maintaining a steady feeling of progress and advancement for my character.
The hours played are put out because it says something about the value of the game. It is not a judgement in of itself, it's just additional information some might find useful. A game can still be grindy if it's 5 hours long. But I for one feel that anything under 10 hours is kind of a ripoff for an AAA game.
 

M76

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
Messages
13,145
Games these days feel too much like work. Too much running around, fetch quests, finding crap, collecting crap or doing repeating quests with little value. Assassin Creed Origins is a good example of this. Half the game is utterly boring, filled with quests that feel pointless. The game, outside of its garbage mechanics, can be pretty fun when the story picks up. But it fades off for hours at a time and the game becomes dull quickly. There is no consistency in these games anymore. Mass Effect 1-3 weren't as long as more recent titles, but 90% of what you did had meaning. That is how games should be. Everything should be fun, feel important and have a purpose. Otherwise its junk filler content.
Mass Effect 1-3 weren't really open world games. They had linear levels, interconnected by some exploration in hub areas. So it's not really an apples to apples comparison.
 

Flogger23m

[H]F Junkie
Joined
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Messages
13,099
Mass Effect 1-3 weren't really open world games. They had linear levels, interconnected by some exploration in hub areas. So it's not really an apples to apples comparison.

And that is what made them so fun, and what makes a game like Origins crap.
 

euskalzabe

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
May 9, 2009
Messages
1,478
This post may have been fueled by the specific few games I've played back to back. They are, essentially, the same game. Different characters, worlds, textures, music... but the exact same gameplay. HZD is certainly not the worst offender, I mentioned it because as I was playing it the other day is when this realization dawned on me. As Flogger23m said, many of these games are starting to feel like work, instead of fun. This is obviously a collateral effect of me no longer being in my teens or 20s. As I progress through my 30s, the job, family, house, friends... they all are excellent options to invest time on, and more rewarding than videogames for sure. So, when one at this point in life wants to enjoy 10-12h of videogame where they tell you a good story that's fun to play, that's become impossible.

These new games require you to allow a 30-40+ hour time investment to tell you the same that would've been told in 10h a decade ago. They're unnecessarily stretched to create "value". Yet, not being able to finish a game in 2 weekends holds less value for me, for my current situation in my life. 10h on a weekend for myself? wonderful. 40h that become stretched over 4 months because I have other obligations? Well, if I ever even bother to finish those games, I barely remember what the story was about. Which means I tend to not finish them at all, having lost interest.

Quantity (amount of hours) does not equal quality (a well told and paced story). I'm not saying these open world games are bad, but they require a very different perspective, one that dominates much of one's free time. That's making them considerably less valuable for me. A movie ticket is, say, $10 for 2h. I'm happy to pay $50 for a game for 10h of entertainment. When I can't finish the story after 20h because I'm not at level XYZ and it'll be impossible to do, I paid money to NOT enjoy its content. Here's an idea: decouple the open world part from the story part, let people progress through the story without needing to level up so much, and leave difficult missions for those who can spend countless hours grinding. After all, a studio just needs to jack up an enemy's level to 99 or whatever, make its attacks more powerful, call it "legendary fow" or whatever, and boom, narratively justified (however cheaply) to become a high level reward mission for high-level grinders.
 

horrorshow

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Dec 14, 2007
Messages
8,473
This post may have been fueled by the specific few games I've played back to back. They are, essentially, the same game. Different characters, worlds, textures, music... but the exact same gameplay. HZD is certainly not the worst offender, I mentioned it because as I was playing it the other day is when this realization dawned on me. As Flogger23m said, many of these games are starting to feel like work, instead of fun. This is obviously a collateral effect of me no longer being in my teens or 20s. As I progress through my 30s, the job, family, house, friends... they all are excellent options to invest time on, and more rewarding than videogames for sure. So, when one at this point in life wants to enjoy 10-12h of videogame where they tell you a good story that's fun to play, that's become impossible.

These new games require you to allow a 30-40+ hour time investment to tell you the same that would've been told in 10h a decade ago. They're unnecessarily stretched to create "value". Yet, not being able to finish a game in 2 weekends holds less value for me, for my current situation in my life. 10h on a weekend for myself? wonderful. 40h that become stretched over 4 months because I have other obligations? Well, if I ever even bother to finish those games, I barely remember what the story was about. Which means I tend to not finish them at all, having lost interest.

Quantity (amount of hours) does not equal quality (a well told and paced story). I'm not saying these open world games are bad, but they require a very different perspective, one that dominates much of one's free time. That's making them considerably less valuable for me. A movie ticket is, say, $10 for 2h. I'm happy to pay $50 for a game for 10h of entertainment. When I can't finish the story after 20h because I'm not at level XYZ and it'll be impossible to do, I paid money to NOT enjoy its content. Here's an idea: decouple the open world part from the story part, let people progress through the story without needing to level up so much, and leave difficult missions for those who can spend countless hours grinding. After all, a studio just needs to jack up an enemy's level to 99 or whatever, make its attacks more powerful, call it "legendary fow" or whatever, and boom, narratively justified (however cheaply) to become a high level reward mission for high-level grinders.

tenor.gif
 

DrBorg

Gawd
Joined
Jan 22, 2005
Messages
555
Games used to be a story YOU unfolded; look at Quake, Q2, Halflife, et al.

You were dumped into a scenario where you had no fucking idea what was going on, the cut scenes were minimal info about what you needed to do to progress.

Now, videogames have all these unskippable movie scenes I could give a fuck about, (Yeah, I'm talking about you, DOOM,) and have to sit thru, and god help you if you get up and go get a sandwich, because at the end, there's no pause, it dumps you into combat.

WTF.

Level up to have to get the toys everyone else grinded to get, just to be competitive.
That's due to the microtransactions, because you can pay money to skip all the grinding... Fuck that.

Every game I've played lately has been console translated crap; it's been over 10 years since games were released for PC, and ported to console, the money from idiots is too much.

Crysis et al were the last set of games that didn't Feel like console ports; maybe that's why I've replayed them so many times.

FC4 was such a grind, it really want fun; the moral BS was just tacked in crap, and if not for the grind, it could have been played in an afternoon.

I only paid $9 for it, so I don't feel ripped off, but I would rather replay Fear2.

Or anything else. :(

BTW, Doom3 is WAY more replayable than DOOM 2016
 

Jumpem

Gawd
Joined
Dec 1, 2000
Messages
972
This post may have been fueled by the specific few games I've played back to back. They are, essentially, the same game. Different characters, worlds, textures, music... but the exact same gameplay. HZD is certainly not the worst offender, I mentioned it because as I was playing it the other day is when this realization dawned on me. As Flogger23m said, many of these games are starting to feel like work, instead of fun. This is obviously a collateral effect of me no longer being in my teens or 20s. As I progress through my 30s, the job, family, house, friends... they all are excellent options to invest time on, and more rewarding than videogames for sure. So, when one at this point in life wants to enjoy 10-12h of videogame where they tell you a good story that's fun to play, that's become impossible.

These new games require you to allow a 30-40+ hour time investment to tell you the same that would've been told in 10h a decade ago. They're unnecessarily stretched to create "value". Yet, not being able to finish a game in 2 weekends holds less value for me, for my current situation in my life. 10h on a weekend for myself? wonderful. 40h that become stretched over 4 months because I have other obligations? Well, if I ever even bother to finish those games, I barely remember what the story was about. Which means I tend to not finish them at all, having lost interest.

Quantity (amount of hours) does not equal quality (a well told and paced story). I'm not saying these open world games are bad, but they require a very different perspective, one that dominates much of one's free time. That's making them considerably less valuable for me. A movie ticket is, say, $10 for 2h. I'm happy to pay $50 for a game for 10h of entertainment. When I can't finish the story after 20h because I'm not at level XYZ and it'll be impossible to do, I paid money to NOT enjoy its content. Here's an idea: decouple the open world part from the story part, let people progress through the story without needing to level up so much, and leave difficult missions for those who can spend countless hours grinding. After all, a studio just needs to jack up an enemy's level to 99 or whatever, make its attacks more powerful, call it "legendary fow" or whatever, and boom, narratively justified (however cheaply) to become a high level reward mission for high-level grinders.
I understand where you are coming from with work and a family. I consider a thirty or forty hour game relatively short. For a lot of games, that is just scratching the surface.
 

wyqtor

Limp Gawd
Joined
Dec 30, 2011
Messages
474
I think this is the reason why games like Factorio are so popular. The goal of the game is to automate everything and get rid of the grinding.
 

Armenius

Extremely [H]
Joined
Jan 28, 2014
Messages
35,377
It's a balance; Because, if you are given the end goal, it won't be appreciated.
Games should have an end goal, but it's all about pacing and context. In an RPG it's important to introduce the world on an individual level for your character and slowly open it up and reveal the ultimate conflict as the player progresses through the game to keep them from being overwhelmed while at the same time keeping them engaged. Mass Effect is frequently mentioned here, and the first 3 games are paced perfectly in this way.

On the other hand in an FPS it's important to know what your ultimate goal is from the very start, as there is not going to be time for a narrative or else you're going to lose the attention of the player. DOOM 2016 was mentioned earlier. One of the biggest mistakes was having that long unskippable cutscene later in the game with Samuel Hayden right after the level opened up with high intensity. To have that feeling of adrenaline sucked out of you makes the next platforming section feel especially tedious as you're coming down from that high. Other parts of the game have frequent ups and downs, but they more strategically pace the action so you're not being drained unlike when you're brought to a screeching halt as you are greeted by Hayden's smiling face after opening that door.
 

Domingo

Fully [H]
Joined
Jul 30, 2004
Messages
21,599
There's a fine line between making extended gameplay worthwhile and creating a grind that feels like work. To me it usually comes down to how much fun it is.
Eventually everything gets old, but if I'm having a good time for at least a dozen hours I've gotten my moneys worth.
 

Kinsaras

2[H]4U
Joined
Dec 8, 2009
Messages
3,614
I didn't mind it in HZD. That said I wouldn't mind more games doing like Uncharted and just let you enjoy it at an even pace.

I feel Spider-man did a good balance of leveling up and just enjoying the story. Helps there is a level 50 cap too.
 

psy81

Gawd
Joined
Feb 18, 2011
Messages
529
I hear you. Grinding can be incredibly tedious and repetitive taking the fun out of the game. It can be rewarding but when all you want to do is progress through the main missions and you can't cause you're not at the right level it can be frustrating. That's why I tend to avoid most RPGs and JRPGs as I don't have the patience.
 

MavericK

Zero Cool
Joined
Sep 2, 2004
Messages
31,590
Can't disagree more about H:ZD being grindy, but in general yeah, I do agree with OP. The problem is the influx of microtransactions.

Assassin's Creed has always felt pretty grindy to me. Games like Monster Hunter are definitely grindy, but I guess the difference there is that I enjoy the grind because no two fights are ever exactly the same. Plus, there is no "pay to win" there so progression feels more or less fair.

IMO, No Man's Sky is a prime example of really bad grind.
 

psy81

Gawd
Joined
Feb 18, 2011
Messages
529
Shadow of the Tomb Raider - I know people love to bash this game for pointless level up system but it was great for someone like me that just wants to progress through the main story and not have to do most of the side missions ;) 10 hours done!

I started Witcher 3 and oh man...this game may be more demanding than I can give... I got to level 3 and can't even beat the ghouls on the side missions... I beat Witcher 2 no problems but this game...lol I don't even understand most of the dialogue trying to find girl I don't know why I think I saw hobbit at some point lol
 
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gamerk2

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Jul 9, 2012
Messages
2,033
Shadow of the Tomb Raider - I know people love to bash this game for pointless level up system but it was great for someone like me that just wants to progress through the main story and not have to do most of the side missions ;) 10 hours done!

I started Witcher 3 and oh man...this game may be more demanding than I can give... I got to level 3 and can't even beat the ghouls on the side missions... I beat Witcher 2 no problems but this game...lol I don't even understand most of the dialogue trying to find girl I don't know why I think I saw hobbit at some point lol

My main complaint with the W3 is that there's no option to force enemies to scale down to your level, forcing you to put of certain quests until the endgame for "reasons". There's mods that address this though.

That being said, combat has always been the weak point of the Witcher series, and that's the one thing that gives me pause when considering Cyberpunk. In a FPS, you really can't hide a bad combat system under story (Mass Effect 1 being a notable exception).
 

Kinsaras

2[H]4U
Joined
Dec 8, 2009
Messages
3,614
I started Witcher 3 and oh man...this game may be more demanding than I can give... I got to level 3 and can't even beat the ghouls on the side missions... I beat Witcher 2 no problems but this game...lol I don't even understand most of the dialogue trying to find girl I don't know why I think I saw hobbit at some point lol

Witcher series is more about being prepared. Knowing which signs or potions to use before you jump into a fight. That said, you can always move the difficulty to easy. All these open world 80+ hour games coming out. I have no shame changing the difficulty anymore.
 

Staples

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Jul 18, 2001
Messages
7,978
Well it is true that a lot of games are not able to be won anymore. I really do miss that.
 

Svetgar

Weaksauce
Joined
Apr 17, 2008
Messages
71
This post may have been fueled by the specific few games I've played back to back. They are, essentially, the same game. Different characters, worlds, textures, music... but the exact same gameplay. HZD is certainly not the worst offender, I mentioned it because as I was playing it the other day is when this realization dawned on me. As Flogger23m said, many of these games are starting to feel like work, instead of fun. This is obviously a collateral effect of me no longer being in my teens or 20s. As I progress through my 30s, the job, family, house, friends... they all are excellent options to invest time on, and more rewarding than videogames for sure. So, when one at this point in life wants to enjoy 10-12h of videogame where they tell you a good story that's fun to play, that's become impossible.

These new games require you to allow a 30-40+ hour time investment to tell you the same that would've been told in 10h a decade ago. They're unnecessarily stretched to create "value". Yet, not being able to finish a game in 2 weekends holds less value for me, for my current situation in my life. 10h on a weekend for myself? wonderful. 40h that become stretched over 4 months because I have other obligations? Well, if I ever even bother to finish those games, I barely remember what the story was about. Which means I tend to not finish them at all, having lost interest.

Quantity (amount of hours) does not equal quality (a well told and paced story). I'm not saying these open world games are bad, but they require a very different perspective, one that dominates much of one's free time. That's making them considerably less valuable for me. A movie ticket is, say, $10 for 2h. I'm happy to pay $50 for a game for 10h of entertainment. When I can't finish the story after 20h because I'm not at level XYZ and it'll be impossible to do, I paid money to NOT enjoy its content. Here's an idea: decouple the open world part from the story part, let people progress through the story without needing to level up so much, and leave difficult missions for those who can spend countless hours grinding. After all, a studio just needs to jack up an enemy's level to 99 or whatever, make its attacks more powerful, call it "legendary fow" or whatever, and boom, narratively justified (however cheaply) to become a high level reward mission for high-level grinders.

Get out of my head!

I'm tired of games being work. I get enough work at work. I really want to play a FF game, but I don't think I can handle the time investment.

The last game I enjoyed start to finish was Song of the Deep. 12 hours, 100% everything, cute story, fun gameplay.

Lots of games tack on extra leveling just to pad the time to complete and its infuriating. Even games that shouldn't do it, do it. Case in point: Rollers of the Realm. A simple, straightforward game where your characters are pinballs and each have differing ability, and each zone is a pinball table. Neat little concept. Except to beat the last zone, you have to go back and replay defeated zones to grind up your characters level and gear. Ugh.
 
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