I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve lamented the amount of grind present in MMO’s. But the hard truth is, almost every aspect of MMO’s and RPG’s involves some sort of grind, and yet I still play them. I’ve long enjoyed the leveling process of MMO’s and RPG’s, which at its heart is really just an XP grind. Why are some grinds more palatable, and even desirable, while others are dreaded?
At this point in the post I realize two things. First, many of my readers play and enjoy LOTRO. Second, to those who still play, this post may seem to be highly negative with regards to that game. To those of you who fall into this category, I have this to say: I harbor no ill will towards my favorite interactive depiction of Middle-Earth. I received over three years of intense enjoyment from LOTRO, and it will always hold a special place for me. That being said, in those three years I became intimately familiar with many aspects of the game that, over time, wore down my desire to play, some of which will be mentioned here. Some of these things are a product of a game developed for another era. Game systems are continually evolving, as are gamers’ tastes and thresholds for things like unnecessary grind. Some of these things are a product of (in my opinion) developing grindy systems into the game in order to sell cash shop items to decrease that grind. Likewise, many of the positive examples that follow are from Marvel Heroes, which, while not the perfect game, has the benefit of newness and of having learned from the mistakes of older games like LOTRO. It’s also technically an ARPG, so perhaps a direct comparison isn’t completely fair.