There is no doubt that MMORPGs today are getting more and more technically impressive. With every new MMORPG release developers are raising the bar higher in terms of graphics, sound and game play, but unfortunately developers aren’t putting much attention to crafting skills. An MMORPG without player interaction isn’t an MMORPG at all, and what better way to make players interact other than encouraging them to trade amongst each other. Crafting skills can add a lot of depth to a game, and quite frankly, an MMORPG without a crafting system by today’s standards is pretty lacking. My chief complaint about crafting skills is that developers don’t put much effort into them and usually end up putting something together that feels cheap and unimpressive.
Games like MapleStory and Fly For Fun are fine examples of how crafting should not be done. MapleStory has absolutely no player interaction in its crafting system. In order to craft weapons / armor players need to talk to an NPC and bring that NPC items gathered from monsters. Players don’t actually have to craft the items themselves, they simply have to bring a bunch of items to an NPC and the NPC crafts the item for you. Sure this… ‘works’ to some degree, but it doesn’t encourage player interaction and since you have to bring a bunch of items to an NPC it’s the same as completing quests for items, and because of that the game has an extremely limited number of craftable items. The system is so lousy that players rarely even participate in it.
The game that I’m most impressed with in terms of crafting skills is Luminary: Rise of the Goonzu. The game has a really simple crafting system. Collect items and use certain components to make armor and weapons. The beauty of Luminary is the significance of crafting skills in the game. In order to buy weapons / armor you HAVE to buy it from another player through the game’s auction house or directly from a crafter, as NPCs do not sell weapons or armor. This sort of system makes item crafters extremely valuable and actually useful in the game.
MMOs today need to work a bit harder on developing solid crafting skills. Too many MMO games simply have uninspiring crafting skills.