I like mindless grinds

| Monday, May 2, 2011
There, I said it. I Like Mindless Grinds.

Remember Silithus? Probably not. But those of you who do, you know what I mean. Texts and twilight cultist clothes. You know. I enjoyed that stuff.

Mining? Love it. Though I liked it more on the ground, when we'd mine thorium and terrain mattered.

I think WoW's problem is that it's not mindless enough. Rep grinding from outdoor mobs is mindless. Just relax and kill things. It's trivial. It's mindless, assuming you're not on a PvP server without a truce. By truce I mean how sometimes when there are plenty of mobs for everyone and we're all just there to get our rep, we don't bother each other. Of course such complacent people make easy prey...

How do you get rep now? Put on a shirt (sorry, tabard) and queue for an instance. Then you have to work as a team. Ugh. I'm not opposed to teamwork as a general concept, but as the only thing to do? Yes.

There are dailies of course, which give rep with no teamwork, but those aren't as mindless as I'd like. I have to go places. Multiple places. It's awful. Just give me a Twilight camp and a few hours, thanks. Even worse, they're dailies. Missed today? Well it's not as if you can make up for it. Mindless grinding is accommodating.

Aha, but didn't the old rep system make no sense at all, with weird pyramid structures of fewer mobs able to give rep at each tier but needing more rep each tier, so then you're hoarding scourgestones until revered? Yes. But that's an entirely separate issue. And if we really want to get technical, and grindy, outdoor mobs can drop minion scourgestones which will always give rep on turn-in, though I'd not use outdoor mobs for long. This strange rep structure isn't directly a problem of outdoor vs. indoor, solo vs. group.

Of course there is still the problem that the previously hinted at but not actually mentioned Argent Dawn rep couldn't be reasonably maxed out by outdoor grinding, making false my entire premise that vanilla and BC were better because of outdoor mindless grinds. But there is another element to the indoor grouping: shared goals.

When players at least have the same goal, it makes it easier to deal with needing to pay attention. In the case of the Argent Dawn instances, we often had the same goals. Reputation was one, since of course we're not getting it from running some other instance. When everyone has an interest in rep, or at least enough people currently and enough people remember, we're not quite so afraid of trash. Similarly, when rep is the goal, killing all bosses makes sense. It helped that the instances in question weren't big on optional bosses and had tier items stacked on the last bosses.

Contrast this with current groups where we are likely to have different, and possibly incompatible goals. Tabard guy wants rep. Blue guy wants gear. Overgeared douchebag tank wants badges because he keeps wiping on raids because he's undergeared. Or maybe they're all on the same page: badges. In that case, speed is the only way to go, so fast fast fast but wait, things can still kill them, so if they go too fast they're dead.

Haste, anonymity, and needing to pay attention are a bad combination. Unless the goal is stress. Trying to quickly getting something complex done with total strangers is a great way to induce stress.

So I suggest this: remove badges and replace them with something better (this will be for another day); remove tabards and make instances give reputation for a specific faction and add add outdoor mobs that give reputation. But won't this make people stop running instances once they have the gear? Probably. Is that a bad thing? I don't think so. Is that going to leave new players with no groups? I don't think so. WoW isn't exactly dying and there are always alts, so with cross-server groups I think queues will remain manageable. Assuming the tanks don't all leave when bribery ceases entirely. But that's another problem for another day.


Muir said...

I agree mindless grinding can be good at times, or at least having that option available would be nice.

However, I do have to take issue with one part of your last paragraph: linking rep gain to particular dungeons. Having tanked quite a bit in BC, running the same heroics over and over just for rep got old fast. But I did like that the setup led to coherent, themed instance clusters.

I'd modify your suggestion and give rep with one faction if you're wearing their tabard in a dungeon, but if you're not wearing a tabard, you get rep with the faction linked to the dungeon. Maybe even increased rep if you match the tabard and the dungeon factions, although that would invite the "optimize everything" mindset that would scorn anyone not doubling up on rep.

Masterlooter said...

I'm hoping the first sentence of the last paragraph implies that a post regarding badges in on the way shortly. I think was a good idea that was poorly implemented (and getting worse after every patch).

One of my favorite grinds was farming level 30-something mobs for elemental fires to make Fire resist pots for MC runs. Not because it was particularly fun, but as you said, you just kinda go on autopilot; kill, loot, and relax.

It felt more "grindy" in TBC becuase if you wanted to farm Sha'tar rep, you had to do one of three instances. If you want to grind Dragonmaw rep today, you just toss on a tabard and hit the RDF.

As an average, you will run each instance the same number of times to get exalted with each of the available factions in today's tabard system as you would in the TBC system.

The TBC system was "do Mechanar 5x today, and then do Shattered Halls 5x tomorrow, then do Slave Pens 5x the next day, etc, etc).

WotLK/Cata is "do every instance once per day, just change tabards."

At the end of the week, you've done each instance 5x - and you're sick of them. The only thing that changed is the order in which they were done.

Klepsacovic said...

@Muit: Don't we run the same dungeons over and over today as well? As long as rep is normalized, so that each rep requires a similar number of runs of each instance, it should be no more repetitive than the current randoms.

@Masterlooter: The last paragraph does imply such a post, though I'm not sure how soon. I may have to break it up, but I feel like the heroic system has a lot of mechanics and rewards which overlap and cannot be easily separated.

Don't forget that BC heroics were once per day, though given that they weren't trivialized so fast, it was more likely that we'd be repeating the regulars (which didn't have the same restriction).

Tesh said...

I don't like being forced into mindless grinds... but I do like just zoning out sometimes. Usually something like Gyromancer or Puzzle Quest fills that niche, but hey, it's useful in an MMO, too.

...I just detest it when my exploration is gated by grinds, and I'm paying for time. That's a double black mark against a game in my book.

Klepsacovic said...

"I just detest it when my exploration is gated by grinds"
Could you give an example? I'm trying to understand exactly what you mean.

Tesh said...

Mostly the leveling pace, really. Have you tried to explore Silithus as a level 40 character? At some point, at least with WoW as I played it, you have to grind through some quests to level up enough to go explore some more, otherwise, exploration is mostly in ghost mode between corpse runs. I've done that, but the colors just aren't right. Flight alleviates that a LOT, but that's still 60 or so levels in.

Then there's the whole attunement nonsense, but as I'm not a raider, that doesn't bother me much. I can see where it would be annoying, though.

Klepsacovic said...

I'd not considered the level problem. But sadly, I don't think that's going away any time soon. Horizontal progression seems to be a lot harder for people to wrap their heads around. Vertical is easier to design anyway, just make numbers bigger and ignore balance before the cap.

I like attunements, but I can see how they don't make for easy exploration.

Gothie said...

mmmhhh I maxed out Argent Dawn rep with the cauldrons, outdoor grind, to get the offhand. And yes I still remember it fondly. For exactly the things you mention: gentle, mindless, pleasant grind...

Cheers for your posts & reflections,

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