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The staff of MMORPG.com gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

Author: staffblog

Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Community Spotlight: Complex Crafting

Posted by MikeB Sunday December 2 2012 at 6:30PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight, we focus on the thread, "Will we ever see complex crafting again?" by bigsmiff. Bigsmiff asks:

I started crafting in SWG and I am now ruined with all other MMO's. After dealing with the complexity of SWG's system, I can't find anything else that is even close. In SWG, I would spend a whole day doing nothing but scanning for resources, putting down harvesters, checking my factories, crafting items and then doing my vendor work.

Do you think we will ever see anything like it again?

How's the MMORPG.com community feel about this issue? Read below for some highlights!

Keushpuppy adds:

 i hope so.  one of the best i have seen for crafting was a game called Horizon. game was bad but crafting was awesome. not only could make anything but there was no auction house. All the bigger cities had a local consignment/market house. So to make money you made different items for the different races then went around and stocked your markets. some things sold better in different towns then others. you made every thing all the way up to and including the houses, buildings. there were masons. carpenters roofers all needed to finish a building to you had to do a lot of bartering with skills unless you made lots of gold. adventurers made good gold just harvesting drops from kills for crafters or you could make a dedicated harveter to gather and make money. to bad the game suxed when trying to adventure / fight.

Rydeson isn't too optimistic:

I honestly doubt we'll see another game with crafting detailed and challenging..  EQ2's was fun, as was SWG.. Both were steps in the right direction, however both had some major mistakes as well..  From where I sit, more and more of this MMO genre just wants simple arcade hack and slash, and couldn't care less about fishing, cooking and crafting of any serious level..  As with another thread, a complex or serious crafting profession is more in line with creating a WORLD, not a game..  The content locus seem to prefer games moreso then worlds.. In fact, if done right, a solid mmorpg would be almost almost impossible for a locus to devour, because the world would be everchanging.. :) 

theAsna makes the case that 'complex crafting' isn't necessary for a variety of reasons:

I don't understand the point in crafting (actually I do, as a non-combat activity). Thus I doubt there will be a need for elaborating such game aspects in the future. Especially with all those contradicting requirements/expectations different players have.

Let's face it. In a themepark MMO this is just a waste of dev and player time. With all those restrictions on tradeability it's mainly useful to the crafter himself. Additionally better equipment can usually be found while doing group content and pvp. Anything you can possibly sell for a profit is a nice perk, but it will not last forever (this is hardly the case because of a high competition between crafters).

I understand the rationale behind rising resource requirements for higher level crafting recipes. In the beginnings it might have been used to keep stuff rare (which doesn't work in an MMO environemnt in the long run). It was always a timesink. Later it turned more into a moneysink, which is a remedy for a big flaw. Namely being able to increase in-game wealth indefinitely (leading to mudflation).

How does crafting look like most of the time?

1) You have to acquire crafting recipes.
2) You collect ingredients
3) You craft the items for which you know the recipes (requires steps 1 & 2).
4) Repeat step 3 to increase your skill with the crafting profession and raw material gathering skills.

There is nothing creative in this process (except for trying to optimize the crafting process). You can't experiment (i.e. use alternative ingredients and see what happens then). You can't determine how the crafted item looks like.

The creators of MMOs used equipment as an additional motivational factor (carrot on a stick). By this they made crafting obsolete, especially since other in-game activities offer better rewards. Equipment doesn't really last a long time. After gaining a few levels you usually can throw away your old stuff. Why craft at all under such conditions?

If equipment would last longer it would help. Of course some players would start to moan that they don't get rewarded as often as they'd like for playing a game. Crafting doesn't really need to be complex or difficult or time consuming. It would suffice to make standard equipment (with the chance on a few extra traits while experimenting with ingredients). Other in-game activities should also give standard equipment as reward. Why not allow the players to design the looks for their items themselves? Fashion trends change over time. So players would be constantly engaged in crafting (at least the dedicated crafters). Trade restrictions are really getting ridiculous in those games as well.

Developers complain that they don't have the resources to create all the content that players crave for. Why not let the players care for such in-game aspects themselves?

I honestly used to hate crafting, even back in  Star Wars Galaxies. Oddly enough, over the years my interest in crafting has grown considerably and now I pine for the days when crafting was actually interesting. I was really hopeful that BioWare's spin on crafting with Crew Skills in Star Wars: The Old Republic would end up being useful, but it really didn't. Most developers seem to add crafting as an afterthought these days, often with the sole purpose of giving a particular class something to do to add value to his character. I'd like to see crafted gear and items fill a real purpose in an MMO and serve as the backbone of a vibrant MMO economy.

Will we see that again in an AAA MMO? Maybe. There are games like Firefall, which place a significant emphasis on crafting. So perhaps it may be true that the notion of 'complex crafting' is down, but it just may not be out -- not yet!

Let us know your thoughts on complex crafting in the comments below!

kayido writes: The upcoming game Trials of Ascension seem quite interesting on crafting element ( http://trialsofascension.com/faq#crafting ) with innovation , technique and coop crafting. I am quite eager to check this out when its out. Sun Dec 02 2012 9:21PM Report
VonTakala writes: The Repopulation seems to indicate it will be doing interesting stuff with crafting. That said I'm not too optimistic, outside of a few indie games and Minecraft, crafting seems to be a lost artform. You can't have complex crafting and a cash shop at the same time, trying to shoehorn loot tables into a play-2-win (pardon, 'free-to-play') economy is never possible. Sun Dec 02 2012 10:31PM Report
tordurbar writes:

The poster who said that crafting will diminish in AAA MMOs due to the emphasis on "action" is dead on.

I have a different expectation on crafting as a solo player. I find it extremely helpful in leveling. Since I don't rush to max level and love making alts crafting has been very useful in creating items that help my toons to level. Because I don't do dungeons and don't use the auction house I don't get to make the really good stuff but that is ok with me.

As for crafting systems I like them simple though somewhat complex is ok. What I don't like is the chance that something will break. So far I am enjoying the GW2 crafting model though I expect that at the higher levels most items will be out of my reach.

Mon Dec 03 2012 8:12AM Report
LexStriker writes:

Having played Eve Online for 4.5 years and being a HighSec Carebear Producer of Tech II Ships, I can say that EO has the absolute best crafting system that I have ever played in an MMOG. The key is that 'almost' everything that is used by the players is made by the players. I have played MMOG's since 2001... doing crafting in DAoC, SWG, Horizon, WoW, GW2, and PoBS. None of these can match what Eve Online does in production and trading. It was even mentioned that CCP sells the market data it collects for study by Universities as one of the best models of a free economy.

 

I agree that many MMOG's do not take their crafting and trading parts of their games serious at all. The latest example is GW2's crafting system, which was suppose to be based on the EO design. Even though I see parts of EO in GW2's crafting and trading systems, ANet did not even come close to making the crafter and trader a viable profession in the GW2. The player made stuff has to be at a level that it is worth the crafter's time to make, use, and/or sell it. GW2 misses that totally. I was very disappointed in GW2's crafting and trading post. Just was a warmed over and beefed up version of the old WoW's stuff.

 

What makes crafting and trading so interesting in EO is that it brings in the meta-game... the game outside the game. It is not just gathering resources and building stuff. The place one builds and sells what one makes is important. Thus, one not only interacts with the game, they also interact with other players... either directly or indirectly. Unfortuately, even with Guilds/Corps/Clans some players only wish to really interact with the game when it comes to actual gameplay. What I love about EO's crafting and trading system is that it actually requires me to think and plan out what I want and need to do. However, when I do not wish to get that deep into a MMOG or just want a break to cool my brain, I play something else. But the challenge of EO is definately one that has kept me crafting my butt off there.

 

The one thing that makes EO different than most MMOG in the way of crafting is that generally one player just does not have the time to do everything it takes to build something. This requires a crafter to buy stuff they may need from other players inorder to produce an item. I build Tech II Frigates/Destroyers/Cruisers. I do not have the time to mine the moon products I need to make the subsystems for Tech II Ships... so I need to buy them off the market for a price that will still allow me to make a profit. Also, if one does not want to mess with spreadsheets, do not even bother messing in the details of EO's crafting and trading system.

 

I believe that for those of us that like also like to build, rather then just destory stuff, the majority of MMOG's just do not provide that side of the game very well. Based on my experiences, Eve Online is the best MMOG out there for this type of gameplay... if one can also live with all the crap that EO has brings along with it.

Mon Dec 03 2012 9:11AM Report
LexStriker writes:

Since I do not see a way to edit my post above, please replace the last paragraph with the one below. Sorry, hit submit beofre it was ready. I should develop and project manage MMOG's, right?

 

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Mon Dec 03 2012 9:20AM Report
LexStriker writes:

Well that did not work... will try again...

 

<span com_body"="">I believe that for those of us that also like to build, rather then just destory stuff, the majority of MMOG's just do not provide that side of the game very well. Based on my experiences, Eve Online is the best MMOG out there for this type of gameplay... if one can also live with all the other crap that EO brings along with it [shrugs].

Mon Dec 03 2012 9:23AM Report
someforumguy writes:

Crafting doesn't have to be complex to be fun and have a useful place in a game. For any questions regarding how interesting crafting (and sandboxes) can be you only have to look at how popular Minecraft is. And for what reason it is popular.

Minecraft is all about finding resouces and crafting. Players create machines to automate gathering resources. This is even more so with the crazy amounts of mods for this game.

In Minecraft crafting lets you shape it's world. When talking about MMO's, SWG came close to that. It let you build playercities, your house, anything you want to decorate your house in, vehicles, spaceships that you can actually use and decorate too (they had an interior). Crafting was actually usefull in that game and the resource gathering made sense.

In most themepark games crafting is just used as minigame that you can completely ignore as community if you want. This is why so many ppl dont even see the point in crafting.

Mon Dec 03 2012 8:16PM Report
mysticaluna writes:

Everquest 2 used to have interdependecies like Eve Online, back then it took forever to combine anything and you had to get all the ingredients from other tradeskills...

Now its rediculous how you can level 90 to 95 in half an hour... 

Unfortunately, npc name kills and raid mobs will always make crafted gear worthless, so they need to lett you just craft on top of raid gear drops with tradable click adornment like recipes... 

Wed Dec 05 2012 6:26AM Report
Rynet writes: Age if Wushu has a pretty neat crafting system that has mini-games that can increase the output. Thu Apr 25 2013 6:27PM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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