The Elder Scrolls Online will move away from repetitive grinding, says dev

Thursday, 18th July 2013 12:44 GMT By Dave Cook

The Elder Scrolls Online developer Zenimax Online Studios is keen to move its MMO away from traditional grinding and repetitive actions.

Speaking with fans over on forum, creative director Paul Sage said, “I don’t know that I agree with your assessment about it being a grind, because I enjoyed the hell out of Skyrim crafting.

“That said, we are doing things to not make it a grind, by which I mean not repetitive activity with little degrees of success, but understand some people define ‘grind’ very differently. A lot of people like low-key activities they can do while they socialize in the game. We want to make sure to have those in the game as well.”

What do you define as a laborious grind in MMOs and what could be done to address the issue in The Elder Scrolls Online? Let us know what you think below.

Thanks OXM.



  1. BULArmy

    How many times we have heard that, and nothing actually happened. From Age Of Conan(still my fav MMO) to SWTOR, to yeah really almost any high profile MMO in recent years. TES Online for now just don’t feel TES game enough. I would be much more happy, if they kept the combat from the core series and just trow the massive world with players and lore. Also how can you really not have grinding when you have it to some extend in your SP games, Bethesda?

    #1 1 year ago
  2. Hcw87

    Well, SOME grind is good. Reputations for example, with big rewards when you finally max the reputation. Players need to have something to play for. No end game is the worst pitfall of an MMO.

    Bad example of grind is the Carnage quests in Rift, basically every zone in the expansion have 20-50 quests consisting of killing x amounts of enemies, with really no back story at all.

    Anyway, just by being Skyrim online gets me all exited over this. I just hope there is some kind of incentive to play when you hit the max level.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. deathm00n

    @1 Are you sure they aren’t going to keep the combat from the main series? Have you watched this?

    #3 1 year ago
  4. Gigabomber

    So an elder scrolls game without grinding? Can I see a show of hands for anyone that actually believes that? Anyone?

    #4 1 year ago
  5. Ballisticon

    I actually think the Carnage quests in Rift are a good example of grinding. They are all passive quests that you don’t have to go out and spend hours doing, they just happen in the background as you do quests, rifts, etc. Of course, you can focus on them and turn them into a grind but I like ot just let them passively progress as I do things in the world. Some I get all the kills, some I don’t.

    #5 1 year ago
  6. deathm00n

    I’ve begun playing MMOs with Tibia, then Ragnarok. THAT was grinding, anything else is child play.

    And there’s still MMOs that follow the same formula.

    #6 1 year ago
  7. TheWulf

    I always feel that grind and padding are a replacement for content, but what amazes me is that some people actually buy it as a valid alternative. This, I think, proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that operant conditioning does result in addiction. Let me put it this way — if you could be playing a game with no padding and a brilliant storyline, or you could choose to kill the same mob time and time again just by pressing the same keys, which would you choose?

    I’ve mentioned before that I see the latter as being not unlike Cow Clicker, and it is. Now, Cow Clicker, as you can read there, is pretty much a parody of certain Facebook games where you are just clicking things, but I feel that this applies to MMOs, too. To be honest, I’d choose a brilliant new indie title over something like Cow Clicker, but that’s just me.

    I could be enjoying a game that treats me like I’m intelligent via both gameplay and story, like The Swapper (you have no idea how much I loved that game), or I could be cow clicking mob grinding.

    Some mainstream games aren’t innocent of this, either. But then, others are. An example of a game which has no padding? Portal, and Portal 2 only had one repeated chamber as a joke. On the other side of the coin, you had the dwarf tunnels of Dragon Age: Origins. I actually gave up on that game because of those tunnels, because I have very little tolerance for padding, and padding is never good.

    Padding would be like a novel writer duplicating chapter two of their book a hundred times, which you have to read before you get to chapter three. If you try to skip ahead to chapter three, you get buzzed by an electrical device built into the book. At the end of each chapter two duplicate, though, there’s a small preview line from chapter three to entice you to read a little further.

    I’m very glad we don’t have books like that.

    But we have MMOs exactly like that.

    There’s just no excuse for padding, it’s just lazy game design. The only reason I managed to tolerate it in Portal 2 was because it was a very short chamber (could be completed in under a minute), and it was meant as a self-aware jab at bad game design. In that sense, it was actually quite funny, if they’d done it again though it would have been irritating since it would have gone from self-aware joke to falling prey to what it was making fun of. Thankfully they never did.

    But they did make a good point. Why do game designers do this? I would rather pay my money for a game which is the length it is with no padding than put up with endless grinding. I’m not interested in the quantity metric at all, I’m all about quality. There have been some games of late where people have complained about them being too short. Frankly? I don’t give a shit. I don’t have enough time as it is, anyway, so a four to six hour long campaign is fine so long as it’s all unique content.

    Remember Me was short, and I loved it. Portal was short, and I loved it. Deadpool was short, and I loved it. You don’t need padding to make a good game, but weak-willed people get caught up in these addiction cycles, and they don’t even realise at that point that they’re just not having fun any more. It’s just a cycle, it’s the process of grind wherein they switch their brains off and press their buttons.

    I’m sorry, but that can never be fun. If you were fully aware of what you were doing instead of slipping into a zombie-like stupor when doing it, you would never, ever find that fun. You have too many people who’re far too good at training themselves to do that, though. It’s like self-hypnosis, they’re so convinced that what they’re doing is fun, they never stop to actually question if it is fun.

    Is it? Is it really? Why is it fun? How are you having fun? How do you quantify that fun? What about cow clicking mob grinding is fun?

    And this often leads to kneejerk reactions and people getting super defensive — MMO fans especially. They get to a point where they don’t want their illusion broken, because then they actually have to stop and look at how much of their life they wasted on that game. I had to do that for a roomie once, as I’ve mentioned before, because the situation was getting ugly. He was pretty much a drooling zombie, and that’s what grinders are, they sit there, staring at the screen for hours on end, pressing their rotations.

    When a game looks like someone doing factory work (their brain has just shut off from the monotony of it and they’re trying to not pass out), something is VERY wrong. Very, VERY wrong.

    And at the end of the day, what is padding?

    Padding is just a way to artificially extend the life of a game. But why? To what end? Wouldn’t you prefer a complete experience, with an ending, that wraps up its story and leaves you with a sense of completion? Isn’t that better? Or do you genuinely prefer “c’mon mule, just read the next chapter one more time, and you’ll get chapter threeeee!“?

    I don’t understand that.

    So, no, grind is never good.

    I suppose one reason that some might think that grind is good is that it actually allows them to feel as though they’re good and special, that there’s something that they excel at. So they’ve spent years of their life glued to a computer screen in a zombie-like, unaware state, and they have some shoulder-pads with nifty stats to show for it. Well whoop-dee-doo for that! Can’t be without those shoulder-pads, now can we? Hmmn?

    That’s what ‘easy’ in normal games are for, though. If you want to play a game casually (and even I do, sometimes), then you just use the easy difficulty and you can enjoy that. Time, however, is no metric for anything other than time. And time wasted is just that. Saying that you’ve spent months glued to a monitor doing nothing but cow clicking mob grinding doesn’t say anything other than you don’t have a life outside of the game. Not even a small one.

    I think grind is unhealthy, it’s just bad for people. Give me a short game which is all unique content over one padded up to 60 hours any day of the week.

    #7 1 year ago
  8. TheWulf


    I certainly don’t! That’s why I tend to mod the hell out of Elder Scrolls games. :P

    #8 1 year ago
  9. TheWulf


    Unmodded Elder Scrolls (and Fallout) combat is bad, anyway. However, they could make it worse. They could have us stand there trading blows for 10 minutes on a single mob, like some other MMOs I could name. You kill a mob, you move on, you kill a mob, and repeat ad nauseum. I haven’t seen anything that shows that the same formula isn’t present in this MMO.

    Like I said, it’s just like a more elaborate version of Cow Clicker. We could have spectacle fighter-like combat systems in an MMO, or even good brawler systems, or the combat could be like a twitch FPS! This could happen, but it’s just going to turn out to be another Cow Clicker.

    And that is what I hate about MMOs.

    #9 1 year ago
  10. TheWulf


    Something to play for?

    How about…

    - Seeing what happens next in an engaging story;
    - Being invested in the world/characters enough to continue;
    - Keeping the game fresh with new gameplay ideas/mechanics;
    - Seeing the outcome of choices you’ve made;
    - Making the level design/areas visually unique from each other;
    - Or introducing elements from other genres to mix it up a bit?

    See, this is my contention, here. What did you have to ‘play for’ in a game like The Walking Dead? What did you have to ‘play for’ in a game like Beyond Good & Evil? What did you have to ‘play for’ in Super Mario Bros. 3?

    I think this idea that you need vertical progression, BIGGAR NUMBARS, and grind to actually make a game engaging is bullshit. You’ve just been programmed to think that way by the games you play.

    I suggest playing some other kinds of games.

    #10 1 year ago
  11. Hcw87

    Guild Wars 2 had most of that, yet it was missing heavily in its end game content, which made 80% of the playerbase stop playing and move over to other games.

    Regardless what you think games should be about, it would never work in an MMO.

    I found this video to really describe the current situation of MMO’s.

    Also fun fact for you:

    -Player A spends 1 hour grinding mobs to raise his reputation with a faction in some random MMO
    -Player B spends 1 hour playing Zelda
    -Player C spends 1 hour watching TV

    None of those players are more ”zombie-like” than the others, because if each of them is having fun with what they’re doing, it doesn’t matter what kind of activity they’re doing.

    #11 1 year ago
  12. deathm00n

    @TheWulf Have you thought that the MMOs games you are against, simply are games that you don’t like and that’s why you play them looking for flaws that aren’t really flaws, but game mechanics for that genre? I don’t like racing games that much, but I will not ask them to remove brakes and make big curves because I just wish to see speed, because speed is what makes a good racing game in my opinion. It’s the same thing you are doing here, grinding, hotbars and levels are what make an MMORPG an MMORPG, a lot of people simply don’t want these mechanics to go away. I like them, might be I’ve fallen into a Cow Clicker? Yes. But still I’m enjoying it, and that is what matter, as long as I’m not addicted (and I’m not, last time I played the MMO I’m playing right now was 2 weeks ago) and happy with the game, I don’t see the problem.

    @11 “-Player A spends 1 hour grinding mobs to raise his reputation with a faction in some random MMO
    -Player B spends 1 hour playing Zelda
    -Player C spends 1 hour watching TV

    None of those players are more ”zombie-like” than the others, because if each of them is having fun with what they’re doing, it doesn’t matter what kind of activity they’re doing.”

    What I was trying to say, but you did it better.

    #12 1 year ago
  13. Hcw87

    The thing is, TheWulf is generalizing an entire genre, making every MMO player seem like a zombie. Also, he seems to struggle with a superiority complex.

    #13 1 year ago
  14. lookingglass

    Paul Sage hit it right on the head when talking about how different this game will be than Skyrim, replying that this is also the first multiplayer, fully persistent Elder Scrolls game and things have to change to accommodate that.

    Before this interview I was playing it safe and not getting too excited. The interview screwed me as I am now in full blown hype mode. A lot of new info came out, some great clarifications were made, and some info I’ve missed apparently was consolidated. I’m too excited… Damnit

    #14 1 year ago
  15. Rosseu

    Guild Wars 2 tried it, and I still found it boring. Grind is still there.

    #15 1 year ago

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