Monday, January 24, 2011

Grinding away

There is one key to success in RPG type games. I know. I play a lot of them. It's grinding. If you play RPG games you'll agree with me.

Grinding is where you run around in one area just to start battles and gain experience points, items, or leveling up your characters abilities. The stronger the character the easier the battles. At some point in the story you'll sometimes find yourself in an area where the enemies are much stronger than you so grinding becomes required to get through some areas of games.

The experienced RPG player knows this so they start grinding early. There's nothing like battling low level opponents early on in the game to get your character levels higher than where they should be right off the bat. If you go to a new area with level 10 enemies are you've already gotten your characters up to a level 15 it makes things so much easier.

Unfortunately the downside to grinding is that battles can get very tedious and monotonous. It becomes the same things over and over again. And pretty soon those few experience points you get out of every battle aren't going to do much to get your character to the next level.

The RPG that I've been playing recently is Blue Dragon. I love this game . . . or at least as far as I previously got in the game. But I didn't love it at first. I found the battles tough and costly for the first couple of areas. That was because I wasn't grinding. Once I decided to grind away a couple of level increases the battles got much easier and that was when I started to get into the story . . . and when my stuff got robbed.

I've been looking for something to play by myself since a lot of my friends have gone missing on Xbox Live (or at least sporadically missing). I've tried Mass Effect but my system seems to have problems with that game by freezing up and doing weird things. So I pulled out Blue Dragon again (only because of an alphabetical order of my games).

Because I know how the game plays and what I need to do I've been able to level up almost twice as high as where I was at before. I've learned several more Dragon skills than I knew before and the large amount of gold I've collected from those battles has let me equip my characters to the max for what is available this early in the game. I've played for about 5 and 1/2 hours and I bet 2 1/2 to 3 hours of that has been grinding. And it's starting to wear on me.

I love the game but there's just so many times you can battle cute little butterflies and jumping crickets before you say "enough is enough". I want to move on with the story. I want to know what happens next. When grinding gets too tedious and I get bored that seems to be when I put the game aside and play something else. But if I want to progress the story why do I put the game aside?

Because I'm usually grinding in a place that's as far away from where I need to go as I can possible get. In order to progress the story I've got to traverse a lot of ground which means getting into a lot of battles; which means boredom. I got so fed up with trying to get back to the story line in Lost Odyssey that I picked "flee" from the command options every time, even if I knew I could beat the enemy rather easily. It just wasn't worth the effort for me.

You can't grind in shooters, racers or platform games. RPGs seem to have an exclusive market on that particular gaming ritual. RPGs are also my first love of video games (platformers a close second, followed by hack-n-slash type games, but more on that in another post). Because I love RPGs I do send a lot of time grinding. Now Blue Dragon is a 3-disk game so I don't think it will be a game I finish this year (considering my gaming habits), but I hope to get farther a long in the game than where I was before. And for right now that means I still have a ways to go in the game to get there. Maybe things will go easier now that I've been grinding more at the beginning. Or maybe I'll pull out another game and start playing.

Sometimes you grind for fun. Sometimes the grinding grinds you down to nothing. Only time (and more grinding) will tell.


Helll Weasell said...

Have you tried loading Mass Effect to your hard drive? It really is worth at least one good play through.

Pengwenn said...

No I haven't tried that but I think I'll have to. I really want to play it but it doesn't seem to play well with my machine. It's a replacement disk so that's not helping either.