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Level grinding: what makes it good/bad?

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Posted

I don't play a lot of RPGs, but have started a fair number of them that, through frustration, boredom or picking up a different game I never wound up finishing. To this day the only ones I've beaten are Chrono Trigger and Disgaea, the latter of which is really more of a Strategy RPG, but has enough emphasis on leveling that I'll use it as an example.

 

But here I am, with over 200 hours in Dragon Quest 9, leveling my characters up in different professions to round them out a little more.

I haven't beaten the final bosses, but I'm still having fun doing everything else.

 

I don't know why I play this one over others. The graphics are simple, the story's decent, but simple and more than a little cliché. I suspect I've put in this much time because the level grinding is good. It needs to be intrinsically fun, and not something purely to pad the game.

 

Both Disgaea and DQ9 have mechanics in place that allow you to really level up characters and customize them in ways that almost feel like cheating. Is that what makes the grinding compelling on its own? Or am I just lazy?

 

Any ideas on this?

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Posted

What I dislike more than anything is when you have to grind because there's a large level jump before the last part of the game. Pokemon can be bad about this; the final battle with Red in Gold and Silver has Pokemon in the eighties but the highest level wild pokemon are only in the fifties (the remakes fix this a bit but at the same time made Red even stronger for some reason? Dunno why). The level grinds for the Elite 4 are usually bad, Ruby and Sapphire did it the Best; Steven Stone only has pokemon in the high fifties (still the hardest champion though imo, because steel pokemon and Metagross can be awful when you choose Sceptile as a starter and all the other fire/ground types are crap in the game).

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Posted

I think there are several reasons level grinding can be good or made to feel good in games.

 

Some games have really entertaining combat and it can look so great that some may not even feel like the experience is "grinding" and more so just being entertained and having fun fighting monsters in the game. An example of this for me would be Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, if it had a leveling system? If a game such as that were to have levels and experience, which the sequels on the DS do (but aren't as fun for other reasons), I feel I wouldn't be having any less fun, because casting spells, attacking, dodging, and such all in real-time is very fun and engaging which is enhanced when playing with friends.

 

I've only seen Earthbound do this, but if more games had you automatically receive experience from foes weaker than you without fighting them, this would be another reason to grind and would leave the later areas/the current area free of interruptions which is sometimes nice in case you want to either enjoy the setting or because the more annoying enemies that cause status effects or cast instant death spells wouldn't be any trouble.

 

I guess the general feeling of becoming better is appealing to a lot of people, even if it's just numbers, it's an accomplishment to people to be able to level up and be stronger. Be able to take on bigger foes and in-game help the characters that need helping or whatever the story calls for. Just a sort way to escape from the real world if not everything is great in that person's world.

 

Some games have also either tried to take grinding out of the game or provide alternatives to make the process quicker such as Persona 3 and 4 where you're rewarded after combat with either experience multipliers, HP refillers, SP refillers, and most importantly the Persona cards. The Persona cards especially help to lower the grinding because they allow you to get new ones on each floor to fuse to make stronger Persona without having to fight many enemies. Grinding is even sort of bad or at least very hard as you level up one Persona more and more, so it's kind of encouraged to keep fusing your old Personas to make new ones. Then there's Pokemon Black/White 2 which have Audinos that come in shaking grass which give billions of experience because of their high HP stat while offering little challenge so they can be grinded off of, although I wouldn't say this is the best way to go about it because it encourages people to only fight this one Pokemon instead of finding out what Pokemon live in each area while also leveling up which you can't really do because they provide such a low fraction of what Audino gives.

 

Maybe another example of good grinding would be Nier. Leveling up takes quite some time after a few levels, but the fun of it is getting new Words to "rename"? your weapons, magic, and evade moves. The words add things like attack boosts, magic boosts, experience boosts, armor break boosts, etc. and you don't really have to farm enemies for them because if you kill most of the enemies in your way, you'll get them as you go along.

 

 

 

I think a bad example of grinding would be games like the original Final Fantasies that don't have much in the way of entertaining the viewer while you just farm experience? But maybe getting to the later parts of the games where they always have some awesome looking spells or weapons as well as well designed enemies would be the reward for that grinding? Although, in 2, 3, and 5 you really needed to grind a lot, so I might just change my opinion to have these be the bad grinding games. Maybe I'm just bad, but they had an unnecessary amount of grinding.

 

 

 

I probably have more examples of good and bad, but I think I put up enough even if my bad examples are lacking, I can't think of any more.

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Posted (edited)

Yeah, I couldn't play too much of Final Fantasy 4 before I got tired of it. You have to know to spend every penny on tents/healing potions before you get dropped off in the mountains at the beginning where you can't go back. I didn't want to level-grind in the earlier parts, and didn't want to restart the game, so I stopped playing.

 

I like being able to keep going through the story and just rely on strategy to keep from dying. On the other hand, if there is a level jump, there should be a way to level up quickly. Hunting Metal Slimes in Dragon Quest are good for that, since you can level up quickly, but since they're hard to hit and tend to run away it's pretty challenging.

Edited by Arachne (see edit history)

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Posted

To this day the only ones I've beaten are Chrono Trigger and Disgaea, the latter of which is really more of a Strategy RPG, but has enough emphasis on leveling that I'll use it as an example.

 

I cannot get far in Disgaea at all. I have the original one on the DS and the 4th one on PS3 and the grind is SOOOO hard! In other games, the random battles make grinding bearable to an extent, but I'm replaying each level of Disgaea over and over again just to advance past one stage. Then I havta repeat the grind. HOW DO YOU DO IT?????

 

I'm asking cause it's a cute game that i'd love to play more of

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Posted

Whenever I am stuck in an RPG and it looks as if I need to grind to overcome, I just look around for items or try different tactics in the area where I'm stuck. Like in Mother 3, I was stuck on Mr. Genetor and then I realized that I was doing it wrong. I needed rubber clothes to block his attacks.

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Posted

I cannot get far in Disgaea at all. I have the original one on the DS and the 4th one on PS3 and the grind is SOOOO hard! In other games, the random battles make grinding bearable to an extent, but I'm replaying each level of Disgaea over and over again just to advance past one stage. Then I havta repeat the grind. HOW DO YOU DO IT?????

 

I'm asking cause it's a cute game that i'd love to play more of

Well, with the original Disgaea, there are certain levels with lots of invincibility panels, so you need to throw enemies into each other to make them fuse together into a stronger enemy, then defeat it from the safety of the invincibility panels. There are also the Statisticians you can get from items that make your characters gain more experience.

Arachne and PrimaGaga like this

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Posted

Aethix knows how it's done. I think that's why I liked the level grinding in Disgaea - the game mechanics allowed for faster grinding if you wanted a challenge. Invincibility squares are a godsend, and Geo Panels are also great for getting good items

Realising how the Master/Pupil system worked was a huge eye-opener for me as well. Suddenly my healer was my heaviest hitter. He used the staff so often to heal that he had a lvl 28 proficiency, so when he learned a lvl 1 Fire from his pupil he could torch almost anyone on the board.

Disgaea has a steep learning curve, but I think the sheer depth of the gameplay kept levelling from being monotonous.

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Posted

Grind is alright when it can be done while exploring and progressing through the game. For instance, you are in a brand new area, and by exploring you can find all the treasure in the area, and kill things along the way

 

a bad example is where you have to keep killing things after you cleared the area



and Frame Griding is the best of them all

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Posted

ive had issues with pokemon in recent years, ive heard they made grinding more necessary, though im not sure how factual that is. i just know i havent been able to clear a pokemon game since diamond-ish.

 

games like tales of graces dont feel like grinding, in that like t1g said, you just explore and get the chests, and as long as you arent avoiding enemies, youre usually just fine. even more, its not turnbased, so theres dodging and a multiplayer party and such that make it fun. really, playing with your friends and whatnot. that said, when in sayuris party, wed have an issue with a boss every now and then, her roommate would come in, be like "you guys should be 7-12 levels higher, gosh!" aaaaaand then wed just keep retrying the battle till we got it through sheer will and the skin of our teeth, lol.

 

ive also never had issues with level grinding in devil survivor games, even when not using the leak experience trick, mostly because i find the battle system enjoyable. something about the FE-like strategy combined with type advantage of pokemon and moves with different properties like FF or DQ just resulted in a ball of fun for me. on the other hand, when replaying desu2, i actually wished i could set the opponent to stay within a certain level of me--keep my opponents challenging, if you will. when im one-shotting bosses left and right, it loses its tension and challenge. at the same time, the grinding is there for people that derp and need to be closer to the boss's level, or above it(???) to win.

 

mostly, though, im not a fan of grinding, insomuch that i like having a fair fight in new areas, maybe having to rely on strategy more or something. being grossly underpowered is a fine line between "challenge" and "this isnt even fun" (the same goes for having overpowered co-op partners--though thats just "not fun") but being overpowered for me is pretty boring :/

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Posted

I don't like grinding where you're aware and feel as if you're grinding. Like it's been said, if simply by not actively avoiding all quests and enemies, you can progress, and that is considered grinding, it doesn't feel like it, and it feels good and fine.

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Posted

I only have little experience with grinding in games, namely Pokemon and Paper Mario and Borderlands, if that counts. For Pokemon, I feel like it's a heavy burden - or rather, I go into the new game knowing I will spend a decent amount of time in tall grass fighting wild pokemon more so than fighting trainers. Having played gen 1 a million times, I grew used to the idea of the limited number of trainers and that every single one of them needed to be battled along with a long time of grinding; otherwise the Elite 4 would kick my ass. Now I'm playing Heartgold and it appears that there are a lot of trainers that I can come back and fight later, which is pretty cool.

 

For PM, as an RPG I reaaaallly like that they don't emphasize the numbers. Sure, in PM64 (and TTYD I think) at the start menu you can see what your level number is, but the whole focus on how badge points, HP, and flower points are distributed is really great. I think the max level is actually like 30 (?) and even then, there's maxes of each corresponding point anyway. Therefore, grinding isn't really a necessity (or rather, it happens seamlessly) because each level is 100 star points, while the game adjusts the number of star points each enemy awards after defeat. So I guess subconsciously you are aiming to battle some enemies that will give you like 40 star points, but at the same time, the storyline is the main part of the game, because your team comes from the storyline. I think PM is one of the more cleverly executed RPGs.

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Posted

I don't really understand why people have trouble with grinding in Pokemon. I honestly only do tall grass and such to catch new pokemon (which I do a lot) but i find training on trainers more than enough to prepare me for the E4. I found this especially true in gens 4 and 5.

 

Also thanks for the Disgaea tips. I played it for 4+ hours last night, died, and all my progress was lost. *sigh*

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