The problem of over-grinding

Discussion in 'General Chit-chat' started by rozencrantz, May 10, 2012.

  1. rozencrantz

    rozencrantz Active Member

    I really like practicing stuff, really really like practicing stuff. All the talk around here about 1-frame links just makes me drool. But now I'm running into a problem:

    Doing something really hard always feels like an achievement, and the harder the thing is, the more of an achievement it feels like when you do it. But practice can scale the difficulty of tasks too much sometimes. I find that I often end up over-grinding so that something stops being hard, and at that point it doesn't give nearly as much of a rush when I do it. This is especially bad when I'm constantly failing at a task, and then go from "can't do it at all" to "don't have to try" without that thrilling bit in between.

    The usual thing when that happens is to raise the bar, but you still leave open the possibility of over-grinding again. You can reach a point where it isn't feasible to raise the bar, either because there isn't any higher to go or because the improvements become too subtle to form concrete goals.

    There are some tasks that seem more resistant to over-grinding, but I'm not really certain about what they are (I have a kinda crappy memory) and I don't know if there is some way to categorize them so that I would know "oh this is a X task, so I won't over-grind it."

    So what kinds of things remain demanding after intensive practice? Is there a pattern?
  2. Saturday Saint

    Saturday Saint Well-Known Member

    If I'm understanding you correctly, this is something that I've been wondering for a while myself. Not so much to prevent myself from 'over-grinding', but because I'm interested in how a game can be designed to avoid having these things. I haven't come up with a of satisfactory answer, but broadly speaking I think that having a high skill cap, and rewarding a player for continued mastery of a skill helps out a lot. The player is always able to improve at the skill, and always rewarded for it.

    I don't know exactly how to design something so that it has a high skillcap and rewards the player for mastering it, but I can think of two examples.

    The first example is any highly-interactive technical skill. This is something like spacing in a FG or aiming in a FPS. You are demanded to constantly improve because they are harder to perform as your opponent improves and they carry heavy rewards for success.

    The second example is yomi, which we all know about. In a game with strict counters, perfect yomi makes you invincible. Perfect yomi is also impossible to acquire, and you can continue to improve at it forever. So again you have something that you can continue to develop and learn, and which you are rewarded for doing.
    Ehrgeix likes this.
  3. link6616

    link6616 Well-Known Member

    Mmm, I think you've got it right there, highly interactive skills (even if just interactive with the character's own move set) . This can be something as simple as Zero's buster shot cancels in Umvc3, which can allow for a ton of really interesting things depending on when you choose to cancel, creating lots of non obvious tests.

    In Smash link and Peach have this in spades aswell, where getting to know your projectiles tightly lets you do some insane stuff, but at the same time it's mostly dynamic and improvised despite the fact you can also straight up train it too.

    Then again, some things are just plain fun to do and rewarding in their own right, like skiing well in Tribes ascend.

    As much as fighting games are about playing other people, I tend to evaluate them on the empty box idea, where just doing things with your character should be innately fun regardless of context (although for most fighting games to tinker with that requires an empty room aside from the body you are beating up)
  4. garcia1000

    garcia1000 World Champion Staff Member

    keeping your cool is an interesting thing to master. I wonder if that could be trained
    zem and link6616 like this.
  5. link6616

    link6616 Well-Known Member

    So far, I'm pretty good about keeping my cool, at least until someone who has been winning 99% of matches suddenly looses one and breaks down...
  6. Ehrgeix

    Ehrgeix Well-Known Member

    a) Competitive games -- hitting 2400 elo in LoL (or the equiv. in dota2) or something is rather difficult and constantly challenging. I think it's because you have to work on so many differnet highly related skills.

    b) Osu!: http://osu.ppy.sh/ -- I promise you can always find something hard ! (progression)

    c) As saint said - yomi.
  7. Claytus

    Claytus Well-Known Member

    It feels like you're setting the wrong goals. Like, you mention 1-frame links as a "hard task that makes you feel like you accomplished something".... but I think you're actually wrong about that. It's actually a task based entirely on timing and muscle-memory that really has no application or usefulness, but requires a lot of effort to maintain if you keep playing <insert game in question>.

    It's much more interesting to ask why you're practicing something. With a fighting game, it's usually about beating opponents. Which is a way more challenging/interesting thing to accomplish than just committing a combo to memory. I think running into your "overgrinding" problem just means you were trying to do really boring things, not that you did them " too well" and somehow missed the interesting portion you expected to find.

    I also found that useful for prioritization... I don't play 1-frame link games because the effort it takes to maintain skill at the combos isn't worth it when measured against the satisfaction I would get from winning at the game. But to each, their own...

    WTF? Someone needs to explain what I just watched before my brain explodes...
  8. Pringer

    Pringer New Member

    It's a computer game called OSU! The UI is fairly customizable, so it can look rather different. The gist is that you only have a small window to click on each spot on the screen to get the max score (30 or 300 depending on the video), and sometimes there's runners you have to follow at a specific rate to score points, that where the ball slides between two buttons in those videos.

    It can get rather hard, though this video always gave me a laugh:
    chinkeeyong likes this.
  9. Ehrgeix

    Ehrgeix Well-Known Member

    Basically osu! is pure execution challenge. I enjoy it a lot more than execution-challenge in other games, generally. It tells you no lies. It's also good focus/slowing down time practise.
  10. Waterd103

    Waterd103 Well-Known Member

    I really must not be understanding op. Constantly raising up the bar in execution skills is extremely easy. Just go play golf and reduce the amount of neccesary strokes, eventually try to do the minimum of humanly possible strokes at each hole. You won't accomplish it on any pro course. So what the fuck. Or go an try to do full court free shots on basketballs, whatever, I can always figure out a harder goal in execution. (non execution skills is even easier, but the post lead me to think you are talking about execution skills, that is if I understand your post at all)
  11. Claytus

    Claytus Well-Known Member

    I'm still confused... do you move the mouse cursor around to click each icon, and also need to time out? Or is the cursor moving on it's own, and you're just clicking something at the right times? It seems like the former would be cool to play on a touch screen, but not be fun on a PC?
  12. Ehrgeix

    Ehrgeix Well-Known Member

    You move the mouse around and press a/d to hit the notes (you can also click, but this is a trap).
  13. Waterd103

    Waterd103 Well-Known Member

    Many "serious" players use a touchpad mouse or something (i don't know the name)
  14. link6616

    link6616 Well-Known Member

    There is an iPad version of OSS, but with a limited amount of tracks
  15. rozencrantz

    rozencrantz Active Member


    Raising the bar isn't the point. If a goal is out of reach, the only thing to do is practice until it is within reach. However many times you raise the bar, you can still get over the bar (except when you can't) -- things that were too difficult to even think about doing a year ago are now too easy to keep me interested. Osu looks like it would be the same way, but I'll give it a try.

    I know how to have a goal always beyond my reach, what I don't know is how to have a goal that is just barely within my reach.



    No, I'm right about that. Accomplishing something difficult is independent of whether or not that task actually has a use. Combos are definitely something where the sense of accomplishment fades when you over-grind them. They are also for sure something where you can grind right past the hard-but-doable phase, but that does not mean that the phase does not exist.
  16. Claytus

    Claytus Well-Known Member

    ^^It's about your definition of "difficult". I guess I would define anything with a completely static goalpost as "easy". Which is to say, combos are a binary decision of "can you press a button within a certain amount of precision? Yes or No". That, by definition is easy/boring to me. It's nothing but sinking time into developing muscle memory, which is a well understood phenomenon that I've done before and could do again.

    Which isn't to say it's not fun... I'm probably going to take a look at OSU! too, because I enjoy that style of rythm game.

    A goal of "Can I do better than some friend who is also practicing the skill?" is far more interesting, and doesn't have a binary outcome, or a point at which I can consider the goal fully accomplished. (i.e. even if I beat him on a given day, maybe he practices more than me for the subsequent week, and I can lose without doing worse). Same with goals about winning tournaments, or climbing leaderboards, and so on.
  17. rozencrantz

    rozencrantz Active Member

    So just as I was walking up the stairs I had a moment of "well duh" when I realized I'd just been talking about granularity this whole time.

    Claytus I think you mostly summed up the problem I was having very well. I don't think competition is necessary though, just a lack of granularity. Competing against myself is just fine.
  18. Claytus

    Claytus Well-Known Member

    Oh yeah, I can agree with that. I was using competition as an example, not as an imperative.
  19. Avatar Z

    Avatar Z Well-Known Member

  20. Waterd103

    Waterd103 Well-Known Member

    Osu can't be a good example, is relatively easy to reach a too close to perfection state in OSU
  21. Ehrgeix

    Ehrgeix Well-Known Member

    I think this is not true when you get to maps like this - this guy is the best player in the world and still missing notes.

    edit: maybe though -- I guess it really does depend what you mean by "too close to perfection".

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