People complain about grinding. You can even find hints for what to do while grinding, because it seems that the game alone isn’t fun enough during grinding sessions to require your whole attention.
Still, MMOs without grind rarely exist. There are now examples of grind-reduced games like Jade Dynasty, or games where you can buy experience potions to speed up your levelling, such as Runes of Magic. Grinding is something that players seem to hate, yet there’s barely anything the industry is doing to change this, as grinding is cheaply and easily implemented and keeps players subscribed.
So what are the alternatives?
- Long and involved quests, but they cost a lot (for the MMO developer) to design and implement.
- Minigames (as presumably used in Free Realms), but what if someone writes a bot to play them?
- Concepts like dreaming, meditating and invigorating in Jade Dynasty. With the Invigorate skill, the game even plays itself for some time while you’re away from the keyboard. The problem here is that everyone gets to meditate (and at any time), so the perceived exp gain might be offset by comparably longer exp bars to fill up. It could be that the game only gives you exp to keep you quiet, but if done well, this feature could be a grind alternative to some degree.
- Racing systems and other non-RPG elements, but would it still be an MMORPG? Ah heck, with all the stuff they throw into MMOs these days, I think the “RPG” element has been dead and smelly for a long time already.
The other question is whether people would want any such alternative. Perhaps man has some desire for punishment, and grinding in an MMO seems to satisfy. Are there any completely grind-free MMOs? Are they still MMOs? I’m curious.
I’ve been on an MMO rampage recently and have tried upwards of a dozen titles. Jade Dynasty is next. I’ll see if the non-grind exp system really makes a difference, how much grind there is in the game and how people respond to it — I’m curious. If it’s true that grinding ties players to a certain title, it should be a F2P game that finally gets rid of the grind.