This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Crafting- Player Invention, Player Creation, Crafter Personalization" by Disatisfied9. In the thread, Disatisfied9 wonders how gamers can set themselves apart through crafting in an MMO:
Setting yourself apart to be entirely unique as a Crafter-- unlike any other.
How is any of this possible in a MMORPG?
If a game developer could focus on an incredibly extensive and robust crafting system-- making it as focused ($$$, time, programming, update importance, & art asset assignment) as any other part of the game (Combat, PvP, PvE)-- what would you want? How would it be done?
Honestly, I can't even fathom how one would take a MMORPG and allow player customization in crafter.
Let's say the game has all the works for items-- Cooks & Alchemists who supply important consumables, Blacksmiths, Leatherworkers, Woodworkers, Siegemasters-- the works.
How do you make it so that one Cook's Food is different from another Cook's Food-- to the point that someone can become famous as "The Bread Guy" or "The Pizza Master" or "The Strength Cook"?
How would you customize player-created gear to allow for someone to place their Armor or Weapons on the marketplace with a hallmark as to why they're so different? Different visuals for the gear? Different stat augments? Different custom marks? Dyes? Legendary Weapons? Extremely Cheap Prices?
"Buy from 'Player43' he has the cheapest prices on Axes!"
"Don't buy from Player43, his axes break easy! Buy my durable Axes-- they may be more expensive but they are worth every penny!"
"Forget those guys, my axes look the best and give a special enchantment!"
Sorry, but what separates these different players from all eventually being capable of making cheaply made, highly durable, specially enchanted axes?
Obviously rarity of recipes won't do much, as even with rare recipes everyone and their mom in WoW have the most desired enchants or recipes. Granted WoW is a horrible example, but still.
Boge suggests a crafting talent tree:
I've got it! To allow your crafting to be different than others...a crafting talent tree. You specify which areas will be your specialty, swords, axes, helms, bread, boats, bows, furniture, etc. Then you specialize further from there, swiftness, mass, durability, flexibility, style, etc.
This way you'll have reason to do crafting. You can customize your own crafter to create what you'd like while others will not be able to create exactly the same items as you. The deeper the talent tree, the more unique your crafter will be.
A big part for this to work would be the variety of attributes the crafted items could carry. You can't just have this profession craft this item. They're all the same that way! They need individual attributes.
So basically, depending on how you've chosen your crafting specialties, you'll have the ability to create something with specific attributes that others might not be able to duplicate. You don't craft a predetermined item, but rather a generic item with customized attributes unique to your characters crafting build.
A whole crafting class within each character.
maplestone feels that the consumer purchasing the wares shouldn't have to worry about distinguishing between two crafters, outside of the price of what they are selling:
I dislike systems that put the burden of distinguishing between two crafters on the customer. If every blacksmith has their own unique sword design and a customer needs to decide which one to get, you don't end up playing a crafter (something I love playing), you end up playing a salesman (which is something I despise playing). That's not to say I'm opposed to customization or specialization, just that in the end a buyer should only have to worry about price.
Larsa notes that Ryzom accomplished this goal many years:
Ryzom did this, what is it now, 7 or 8 years ago.
The principle of that crafting system was, like other systems, that you needed a recipe and some ingredients to make an item. The main difference however was that the recipe only specified the type of ingredient, say, as an example you needed 6 leaves, 4 tree branches, 4 medium sized bones and 2 pieces of rope to make that item. (Forgive me that I use a hypothetical example, it's many years ago that I played the game.)
Now, for that above example, in the game you could find 20 different leaves, from different plants, 10 different branches, from different trees, and likewise with all other ingredients. Those actual ingredients (not the class of it) determined the actual colour and the actual stats of the final item. It needed a large amount of experimentation from the crafters to find out what mixture of actual ingredients gave the most favourable stats for an item. Accordingly, these recipes, especially the ones with rare ingredients (either hard to find or only obtainable in dangerous areas or from boss-mobs) for high-end items became a closely guarded secret of the crafter and his guild.
The system was good - and still is I assume.
Oh, how we've forgotten. Star Wars Galaxies, as several users mentioned, did all what Disatisfied9 suggested was unfathomable and more. In fact, there was such a variety between crafters who really worked at their craft it really put me off from trying to dip my toes in as well (I was intimidated by their dedication!). On the vanity side, crafters could personalize every item with their own name and description and many even had naming schemes, going so far as to create "lines" of items to reflect their brand. For example, a crafter might have a certain line of more economical weapons for sale and would denote this with the name of the line, while a more expensive and exclusive line of items would have an appropriate line name to go with it as well.
Beyond this, crafters in SWG experimented with all sorts of components and worked hard to get the best quality resources, some of which would only spawn during certain times of the year and sometimes never again at the same quality. Many of these crafters would also specialize in making different types of gear such as weapons, bio-engineered pets, starship parts, armor, etc, and it was easy to find out which crafters were in the top of their particular field. Tthese crafters were always sought out for their wares as they really put the work in to develop their business, their craft, and their reputation.
I have never seen such a thing again since Star Wars Galaxies, but I'd absolutely love to, even if I myself would not actually try my luck at crafting in such a game. You had to have a ton of respect for these people who put so much work into their crafting; it was really something else.
Beyond the personal satisfaction it must have given these players for being able to do what the game allowed them to do, it really felt like you were part of a community when you could recommend specific crafters for certain types of gear to other players, and it was always nice having someone to go back to for all your needs and being able to trust they will complete your order to your specification and at a price that you felt was fair.
Heck, I developed relationships with a number of crafters, and as a combat profession I would help them go out into dangerous areas of the galaxy and clear out creatures so they could plant harvesters on areas concentrated with high quality resources. Of course, I would receive a discount and/or payment for my time.