The Removal of Grind

As World of Warcraft and its player base age, the experience requirements for leveling have been dropped significantly.  With items such as BoA gear and experience requirements for levels being lowered, the leveling process is becoming less and less of a ‘chore’. This means more players getting to the end game faster, and I am not so sure I think that is a good thing anymore.

Arguably, the main focus of WoW’s game is the end game.  It is where most players spend their time furthering their characters.  The focus of most expansions has been additions beyond the leveling cap.  We call these vertical expansions.  Cataclysm is the first WoW expansion that is attempting to deviate a little from that path by revamping the vanilla experience. It’s a mix of the horizontal and vertical expansion models, something I think the game has desperately needed.

Blizzard has made comments about how the vanilla experience will not get faster in Cataclysm.  However, they have hinted at taking a look at where the hang ups are in the total leveling process during beta.  Undoubtedly, this will be the WotLK content.  It is only a matter of time before the experience requirements are lowered there much like they were for all of The Burning Crusade expansion.  The idea here is to help players make it through the content into the end game with relative ease.  Unfortunately, it results in a lot of content being skipped.

My recent experiences in WoW’s endgame have started to make me think if making things faster equates to a better experience.  While my guild raiding experience is absolutely fun, the pug experience is horrid.  It used to be that pugs were bad cause they lacked the same solid communication and group cohesion that a guild provided.  In addition to the old pug problem, we now have a new breed of players that have made it to 80.  These new players have had more handed to them to get them into the end game and as a result expect more to be handed to them in the end game.  It is a constant with any pug group, from my experiences, to have several people bail on a group if it fails once.  This new player mind set has turned into one that expects to have things handed to them easily without the hassle, work, and potential failure.

This isn’t that surprising though.  When I think about my generation and those that follow, I see an ever dwindling work ethic and more people and kids expecting a hand out just for making it passed a certain goal.  Assumptions that because you finished college you deserve a job, or because you were a great artist in high school, the world should recognize your talents now that you are on your own.  I’m not saying that this way of thinking is absolutely horrid.  I am just concerned that the growing trend seems to be an expectation of success and reward for decreasing amounts of effort.

Back to MMOs.  Blizzard has done a great job of implementing changes on a large scale to cater the game towards the casual player.  It has increased the players in the industry, and likewise caused the genre to grow.  Good or Bad?  Well that is subjective to the individual.  I am not saying that WoW should be the most hardcore game in the genre.  I like how easy certain things are like crafting or picking up dungeon groups.  The problem I have is with the side effect of making the journey to end game easier.  Sure it benefits those of us who leveled to 60, 70, and 80 initially and want to now level alts without repeating the work.  However, it also makes it easier for those who have yet to work towards those levels.

Take the recruit a friend bonuses.  I have a guildie, and she is great, but was able to level 4 60s this month with the recruit a friend bonuses.  Four.  It took me months to level my first 60 and still takes me about a month to really level one alt that far.  The result is a player with little experience but lots of toons. She is getting the hang of the game but still has no clue what half of her mains spells do.  In fact she has yet to train skills beyond level 40 due to lack of funds caused by a quick leveling process. That is a level 60 character with level 40 skills.  How is this helping?  With characters being handed to players this way, they cant help but think the rest of the game should operate in the same manner.  That is what they have been taught. Why stick around and die in a raid when you should be able to get all your loots the first time through?

The more and more the game is made ‘casual’ the more and more the player base is adopting the “gimme now” mentality. Blizzard is taking away the grind but grind isn’t just a term for killing a bunch of baddies outside of questing.  Its a term for work.  Quest grind is working through your quests.  Crafting Grind is working up your levels in crafting.  Gear Grind is doing your dungeons and raids so that you can buy or have a chance at winning the spoils of your effort.  Grind has a negative connotation much like work or chores.  However, in the end work and chores are what help make us better, more responsible, contributing members of society.  Ya it sucks, but it makes life better in the large perspective.  Grind sucks, yet it is the mechanic much like work in life, that makes us better, more responsible, contributing members of an MMO.

Thanks for reading.


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