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The Secret World Column: The Shape of Crafting

By William Murphy on January 12, 2012

It may seem that with all the faction talk lately, that we’ve actually learned a lot about The Secret World in recent months. Which we have, truth told.  But one area of the game that still remains a complete mystery in terms of its functionality is crafting.  There hasn’t been but a hint of talk surrounding any sort of trade-skills and what, if any, form they’ll take in TSW.  With that in mind, let’s briefly ponder the subject and see what kind of system might make sense in Funcom’s upcoming MMO. 

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Level-Less Crafting

If the game itself doesn’t have levels, neither should its crafting.  The upside to this is that players won’t be forced to “grind” recipes to raise their skill level.  Instead, if they can figure out the recipe itself and accommodate the materials, they can make the item.  You won’t make people craft junk just to level up, and ostensibly the crafting could actually become the driving force behind the economy, and not just dropped gear.  Items made by people can become one of the best parts of the game, instead of something only those who have the patience or desire dive into.  Hell, like in Anarchy Online, you could find someone that can make you a new pair of swords infused with chaos magic, bring them the materials and pay them a fee.  Players could truly run their own services.  The key to this though, is that the recipes for items aren’t just world drops, they aren’t learned via some skill trainer… they have to be discovered, like everything else in the game.  Which brings me to the next topic.

Crafting Can Be a Puzzle Too

If Funcom is spending so much time on creating content that causes players to think, I really hope they do the same with crafting.  The large problem with most MMO crafting lately is that it’s just a bunch of checklists with a “make dis nao” button that players press.  No skill is needed, next to no thought is required, and the result is a “feature” that’s often just filler material for players who love the idea of making things.  But it can be so much more. 

Why can’t we find pieces and parts in the world, be told simply “You can make stuff with this.” And be left to our devices?  Give us the tools, and see what we can make.  Now, I know we won’t be able to make a “Trident-Grenade-Launching-Garden-Gnome-Chucker”, but what I mean is put the recipes in the game and let us discover them.  Let us tinker and try to something out of bits of rubbish.  My general thought on crafting after 2011 is: if I can do it in Skyrim, let me do it in an MMO. 

Gear is Progress? Make it!

Lastly, and possibly most importantly, if we’re going to see progress in terms of stats come from the gear we wield… please, for the love of all that is good and happy and pretty in this world: let us make the gear that can do so.  Let’s not have TSW be entirely about raiding this, or dungeoneering that.  We can get this kind of experience in any other MMO.  What makes TSW so exciting is that it’s trying some wildly different concepts.  Why not let crafting be a part of that?  Skills give depth to our characters, and gear gives us strength.  Let us use our depth to create our strength. 

What about you guys?  Did I hit any nails on the head for you, and did I leave anything out?  We’re liable to learn about crafting in The Secret World over the next few months, so what are you hoping it involves?  Let us know!

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