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MMORPG Methodone

First post explains the reason :)

Author: tupodawg999

Crafting

Posted by tupodawg999 Monday January 5 2009 at 3:16PM
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There's an interesting site, http://www.nickyee.com/daedalus/  with lots research on what motivates ppl to play these MMORPGs. As most ppl who've played them for a while know there's a lot of different niche play styles. It's hard for a game to satisfy all the niches especially as some are incompatible e.g total PvE vs total PvP. Games can aim to create a compromise between these niche play styles or instead try to set up sections of the game that appeal very strongly to each niche. I think crafting is a good example of this conflict.

One group of players *really* like crafting. A second group enjoy crafting *a bit*. A large group, maybe a majority *really* dislike it. If I had to make a wild guess I'd say the percentages would be around 10%, 20%, and 70%. A lot of the current games seem to think that the best way to do crafting is to dumb it down to the point where the 70% of ppl who *really* dislike crafting can just about stand doing it. I think this is the wrong way round. The crafters hate it and the ppl who don't enjoy crafting still don't enjoy it when it's dumbed down, they just hate it a bit less. I think, where possible, games designers should aim to give different player-styles their own niche and crafting is one of them.

So i think the crafting system in games should be designed around what crafting fans like--or rather, the dividing line should be set at the point where players who only like crafting *a bit* are right on the edge of being ok with the system. Players who don't like crafting shouldn't feel any need to get any more involved with crafting than gathering materials. On the other hand I don't really like completely player-driven economies in MMORPGs so I'd want a different kind of compromise. The crafting system would be designed around what crafting fans like but crafting itself would be no more than half of the economy.

I think almost everything in the game should be craftable but I don't think everything in the game should be crafted. I'd want NPC merchants as otherwise the world wouldn't feel right to me but everything they sold would have a recipe and could be made. (A few objects might not have a recipe e.g items that come direct from a God or something but almost everything else would.)

Mob drops are fun. One of the buzzes in these games is getting that item from a particular mob. (Personally, I think random loot lists spoil the fun and i prefer to know a particular type of mob drops a particular item.) So there needs to be a compromise between mob dropped items and crafted items. One is to just have mobs drop crafting materials but that is very boring. I prefer "beast" type mobs to just drop materials--boars dropping swords feels stupid to me, whereas a beetle dropping an antenna that can be crafted into a sword is fun. But humanoid type creatures *only* dropping crafting materials is boring imo.

The other problem with all gear being crafted (or all the best gear) is that it drives players who hate crafting into crafting. They don't enjoy it, it spoils the market for crafters and eventually the whines about crafting being too hard get the system nerfed to the point where crafters no longer enjoy it either.

My compromise would be something like:
1) I'd separate gear into imaginary tiers and then divide up the equipment slots in each tier so some of the best gear for that slot was mob dropped and some crafted.
2) I'd try and have crafted consumable items at various skill levels for each trade that sold easily to players..
3) I'd make crafting and selling to NPCs profitable. If a player of a certain level could bash monsters for an hour and gain 4 gold I'd want a crafter of a comparable craft level to be able to gather materials for an hour, craft for half an hour and also gain four gold even if it's just selling to NPCs.

4) I'd make crafting tie in with gear drops from mobs, for example:
A certain dungeon has goblin mobs that drop "blackened iron armour" pieces.
At the bottom of the dungeon there's some mining nodes that produce "blackened iron ore".
There's a goblin blacksmith that drops a book on "blackened iron armour".
A player with enough blacksmith skill can read the book and get the recipes for making blackened iron armour from the ore.
They also get some kind of research quest where they can learn how to improve the blackened iron armour into "burnished iron armour" (or something).
So crafters can learn how to improve the mob dropped armour.

Obviously it's difficult to get this sort of thing right over all crafts and all skill levels but i think the above is a good compromise to aim for. A crafting *system* designed in the way crafting fans like but with crafting as a whole slotting in with other players liking to get gear drops off mobs. Crafting should produce a decent amount of money even if just selling to NPCs while also producing various bits of gear that are valuable to players. The profits from crafting and the difference between crafted gear and mob-dropped gear shouldn't be so high that it makes ppl who hate crafting take up crafting.

Also, I think crafting should be woven into the backdrop of the game purely for immersion reasons. For example:

Option A)
- village quest giver wanting "ten random whatevers".

Option B)
- cooking recipe that turns "deer meat" into "dried dear meat", food vendor that sells "dried deer meat", vendor gives quest for ten deer meat.
- tailor recipe that turns "deer hide" into leather armour, village tailor sells leather armour, tailor gives quest for ten deer hide.
- blacksmith recipe uses "deer horn" for dagger handles, village blacksmith sells "horn daggers", blacksmith gives quest for ten deer horn.

The quests are still the same really, kill 10 whatevers and bring back 10 whatevers but to me they are more enjoyable when they fit into the world somehow.

Similarly a mage player going to a mage NPC to learn a new spell school and the mage NPC says go get me ten blue lizard bloods. If the blue lizard blood was the main component in the ink needed to write magic scrolls then it would fit neatly and for me that makes the quests better. Plus, if you have a mass of recipes and you make collecting components for various recipes be the reason for the quest then it gets very easy to make as many as you want. That leaves most of the big story-tellling type quests for the more heroic and epic type rewards.

Something else that I think is partly related to this is I don't think there should be any items in the game that are only junk. Every game item should have a purpose even the junk. So for example, "crappy goblin sword that no player would ever use" could be melted down into metal bits for blacksmithing.

Lastly, you should be able to craft something useful straight away. It doesn't have to be uber just useful. In a lot of games, if you only like crafting a bit then by the time you can craft anything useful you've already got something better. So for example the crafting progression of the lowest tier of gear should go something like:

--> Tattered leather (uses same materials as leather but low crafter skill, less protection than leather armour but better than nothing)
--> Leather armour (standard gear, sold by merchant NPCs but also craftable with a bit more skill)
--> Reinforced leather armour (improved version of leather armour, crafted, could use either the merchant, mob dropped or crafted version of leather armour because they'd all be the same)
--> etc etc up the tiers.

--> Rough hunting bow (uses same materials as hunting bow but low fletching skill)
--> Hunting bow (standard version, same materials as rough version but more skill, sold my vendors)
--> Quality hunting bow (crafted, improved version of the standard hunting bow) etc etc

Very lastly, I think sci-fi is better suited to a completely player-made economy. In fantasy games you want Chief Bluglug to drop a cool sword.

 

ghstwolf writes:

Actually if you search for crafting on the given link 60% of players believe a "good" crafting system is either very important or extremely important.  I'd take that to mean at least 1/2 of players "like it a bit".  I also disagree that crafters should be placed at a gold/time disadvantage as you do in point 3, the crafter would need to make 6G for the 1 1/2hrs to be at the 4G/hr for grinding mats.

Removing the "worthless" grind is a great idea.  Letting crafters be more unique would be good too.  The goal of 50-50 markets is alright but it needs to well targeted to allieviate worthless grind, IMO what you outline here does the opposite.  Why would you seek out a crafter to make the same piece as an NPC can provide?  In the end it simply becomes a price war against both the server (NPCs who I'm assuming would have a limitless supply) and players making everything worthless.  See this is why crafting fails in most games.

Mon Jan 05 2009 4:02PM Report
tupodawg999 writes:

"60% of players believe a "good" crafting system is either very important or extremely important"

Yeah but I think some player's definition of a "good" crafting system is one where they can macro to grand master overnight while they're asleep. My guess, and it is just a guess, is based on if there was a game where you could learn a maximum of 50 skills and that included craft skills. I think about 10% of players could happily have a main with 40+ crafting skills. About 20% might have a main with 10 crafting and 40 combat / magic skills. The rest would have all combat / magic skills. That's mostly just based on playing these games for a long time with different ppl. Not scientific at all.

I think crafters could have a small gold / time disadvantage if it's an investment which will lead to a gold / time advantage at higher skill levels. In practice though i wouldn't actually try too hard to balance things like that. The main point was that in a lot of games you lose money crafting at low skill levels which is annoying. I'd want to be making *some* money from grind crafting.

The main reason for making NPC gear also be craftable was just to make the world more logical. I'd also have crafters having recipes that takes standard NPC gear and makes an improved version. So they'd have a recipe for taking standard leather armour and some other components and making an improved version.

Mon Jan 05 2009 4:38PM Report
ghstwolf writes:

"I think crafters could have a small gold / time disadvantage if it's an investment which will lead to a gold / time advantage at higher skill levels."

OK so there would be some point at which the gold/time dynamic would switch.  But between that and the skill limit you propose is it any wonder that so few ever become crafters?  You gimp them twice, forcing them to pick crafting or combat and then make it a long haul to benefit from choosing crafting.

The equal money system (combat/crafting) the whole way  would probably change what you'd see greatly.  Crafting would be on equal footing the whole way, preventing some of the more rediculous costs at the upper end.  As a crafter you'd no longer need to recover for the costs of bringing a skill up, 1 part of why this method would be superior.  Part 2 is that a larger group of "endgame" crafters would be there, competition always brings prices down.

BTW the question for those results was "How important is a Robust Crafting system?".  I'd probably be inclined not to consider an easily macro'd system very robust.

Mon Jan 05 2009 5:25PM Report
dcostello writes:

I like the issues brought up, even though I don't totally agree with your solutions.  Don't be discouraged by the lack of comments because you're definitely getting to a good idea here, you just to develop it some more.  

Mon Jan 05 2009 7:24PM Report
tupodawg999 writes:

@ghstwolf

"You gimp them twice, forcing them to pick crafting or combat"

I think that's the core of it though. Some ppl would feel gimped by that whereas some ppl just like crafting and would have no problem.  You do have a point about the numbers though. If it was 60% of ppl who liked crafting *a bit* then making the crafting just to suit the 10% of ultra-crafters would be a mistake.

@dcostello

Ty

Mon Jan 05 2009 8:46PM Report
dlunas writes:

Ok, this article is damned fine, but you guys commenting added even more to it.  I've been tinkering with the idea of starting up my own(probably start off not even as good as those crappy free Korean games), and this has given me something to think about.  Thanks, guys.

That said, I think the percentages are about 10% 45% and 45%, maybe 10% 55% and 35%, but that's just from playing games since I've been able to afford internet.  I think the numbers might be different in the more or less 'hardcore' games, with the more mainstream/casual games tilting more toward the noncrafters, but that kinda works out for the crafters, anyway. 

I think I just wrote the most pointless post in this conversation....

Mon Feb 02 2009 12:00PM Report

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