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Community Spotlight: Personalization in Crafting

Posted by MikeB Friday July 22 2011 at 11:14PM
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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.

Kalafax writes:

For the years that I played SWG this is exactly what I did, while on a smaller scale, I was a Master Smuggler and the resources and crafting materials you had all effected the slicing tools and therefore their chances of great success, and spice materials and therefore their ups and downs. It definitly made the game seem like a real economy, you had to compete with other crafters/slicers and you were always trying to figure out the secret spots for better materials, I've been blown away by the fact that not a single other game has even scratched this surface of crafters, while SWG did it so flawlessly and its such a dated game.

For those Customers who didnt like having to be smart buyers, which in itself is just mindblowing to me, you didnt have to, there was the Galactic Bazaar you could buy from, which had all everything you could want, but mainly on an average level. If you wanted the specilized stuff you had to find the town, or house, that the crafters had their own Shops and Vendors. You feel like your really in a world when you need to locate a certain vendor in this town, on this planet far away for the best materials, that the majority of players know nothing about.

Sat Jul 23 2011 10:14AM Report
SirDerp writes:

Didn't Warhammer have some robust crafting system? I never played, but I think I remember something from when the game was new. The only problem with having a system that is life-like (which is what it sounds like you are going for), is that for there to be enough types of raw materials and combinations to make it very difficult for two people to happen across the exact same recipe, there would literally have to be thousands, and every outcome will have to be encoded. You could have some randomization system and let the players discover what happens when you mix item X and Y, but you would have to guarantee that everytime you mixed those items, the outcome would be the same, and someone would have to monitor what was being created to keep some form of "balance" in the game. Also, that doesn't protect people from having that awesome recipe they made posted all over the internet, and eventually someone will discover the ideal recipe, and that will be the standard for everyone to use. (follow me on this loose comparison... take the skill system in Guild Wars, there are hundreds of thousands of skill combination that you could use in your build, and therefore the developers constantly have to nerf skills to keep the new hot build from being way too OP, and eventually it becomes futile to use anything else besides the mainstream builds because they are largely recognized as being effective)

Sat Jul 23 2011 10:33AM Report
maplestone writes:

As a little caviate to my comment quoted here, I should mention that I did enjoy the vanity "crafted by <NAME>" mark when I played UO and some players who enjoy the marketting side of crafting more than I do used this to create a brand name that could command a premium (despite the fact that names are not unique).

Sat Jul 23 2011 1:41PM Report
Timacek writes:

swg crafting alone was more complex than some full games nowadays sadly

Sat Jul 23 2011 3:45PM Report
Khalathwyr writes:

Having been one of those crafters in SWG, I can concur hands down there has never been before and, considering the design trends MMO companies are following now, never will again be a crafting system as detailed and fully realized as SWG prior to the NGE.

Such a system being designed and being such an integral part of the overall game was groundbreaking My Bothan Doctor/CombatMedic was the most fun I've ever had playing an MMO.

But, maintaining such a system requires skill and hard work, two things most companies are very short on these days. There are easier ways to do crafting and players still buy the games (while grumbling how sub-par they are) so the developers aren't going to step up and raise their crafting bars.

Sat Jul 23 2011 4:26PM Report
MumboJumbo writes:

I've never got into crafting but resource gathering for setting up colonies in Outer Empires and manufacturing things for economy/empire/management definitely seems worthwhile as it seems to encompass: exploration-collection-transport-processing-manufacting-economics-munitions&construction.... That's a nice extension of possibilities and reward for efforts. Something I've previously not worried about farming stuff to sell on a market.

Sat Jul 23 2011 6:38PM Report
maplestone writes:

I notice that a lot of people randomly praise SWG pre-NGE crafting without offering any detail or comparison/contrast to other systems.

Sat Jul 23 2011 6:41PM Report
Kalafax writes:

Well there isnt a comparison, if you didnt take part in the SWg crafting then you really cant know what we mean unfortunatly

Sat Jul 23 2011 6:53PM Report
kjacob98 writes:


Sat Jul 23 2011 8:36PM Report
maplestone writes:

Forgive my skepticism, but I find that "you had to be there"-type responses tend to be a symptom of overactive nostalgia.

Sun Jul 24 2011 12:43AM Report
Kalafax writes:

I forgive you, Have you taken a chance to go check SWG out while you've been being a skeptic? Its extremly overcomplicated to explain while trying it would give you a better picture quicker.

Sun Jul 24 2011 11:09AM Report
Khalathwyr writes:

That and maplestone if you were seriously interested you could find all kinds of descriptions just by using Google. Just saying.

Sun Jul 24 2011 2:53PM Report
G2GTech writes:

I've always been a huge fan of crafting in MMOs, and there seems to be few that put a focus on this aspect.  I'm sure crafters aren't the small minority, as the mechanics of MMOs tend to draw players to solo activity.

Some games had realistic crafting mechanisms, such as ATITD or Wurm.  Others had intricate systems that required teamwork to achieve, such as Eve and Entropia.  Some had unique crafting systems, such as the aforementioned SWG.

I believe the big problem with MMOs is the resource gathering system.  SWG had it down pretty well, but it was easy to macro.  Eve online had a good system with planetary interaction, but the eagerly anticipated comet mining never happened.

Most other games have 'point-and-click' resource mining (no names, WoW).  Some, like ATITD, was an exercise in carpal tunnel syndrome.

I've had the idea for a crafting-based MMO with multiple levels, but it's on the wayside.  If any coders want the concept, I'll give it up with a simple name reference (I'm more interested in a good crafting MMO than I am with money or acclaim).

In either case, I'm still waiting for that Holy Grail of a crafting system.  Perhaps, in time, the market will get one and it will be the diamond in the rough.

Sun Jul 24 2011 6:31PM Report
ZagavaVonn writes:

My fav will always be Satr Wars Galaxies, even with unattackable harvestors it will always be the greatest. In EVE they allowed you to get the best resources.... if you traveled to 0.0 space where you risked being ganked to bits. SWG just needed to figure out a way to disseminate player wealth a little better, so that it wasn't so lucrative to be a trader at the expense of everyone else. The 'trickle down' economy didn't work in SWG any more than in real life.... :)

Mon Jul 25 2011 8:54AM Report
Rinna writes:

I remember hoarding 1000 pt copper in SWG for my 98% swoop bike production on Bria... I made SO many credits!  And Med kits... almost forgot making the best med kits on server ;)   SWG, pre CU is the best complex crafting system in any game I've played to date.  You could craft lightsabers based on the Krayt (sp??) pearls you put in em and you could only get pearls from killing huge Krayt lizards.  The pearls were a rare drop.  

OOH that game was so fun... I still miss it 7 years later.

Mon Jul 25 2011 6:13PM Report
Roccprofit writes:

Sadly most games are moving away from any sort of complication, SWG had the most indepth crafting system I had ever seen. It got luicrous at times having to find a extreamly rare ore for a basic craft but, by far the most detailed system to hit the market. 

 It was also nice that the items wore out sending you back to the crafter to get another one, in most cases there was little to nothing different about the items them selfs, one dl44 blaster pistol was the same as the next providing you had a experinced crafter with the good ores making it. Making a high durablity swoop meant something back then.

 Eventually SOE gave into the whiners and durablity on a swoop or any bit of gear made no difference A quick stop at the cloner and all was well.

 1 of two things has got to happen before we will see indepth crafting again, 1. the whiners go away, find them self's a nice rock to hide under and leave the rest of us alone. 2 The gaming company's make crafting useful and unique and when the whiners start crying turn a deaf ear to most of them, I say only most of them because from time to time one of them MIGHT make a vaild point but, rarely does that happen.

Tue Jul 26 2011 6:04AM Report
MurlockDance writes:

I liked SWG's crafting (still do though the economic component is sort of missing nowadays).

Here is why:

-resource complexity: sure you can find copper resources that change, like every other resource, once a week. But that copper will have different stats. Some properties will be of high quality, others of low. These properties can affect the outcome of the product you wish to make with that copper. If you have a copper that is say of low quality overall, but of high conductivity, it might be a great choice for building certain item components that require great conductivity rather than quality.

-resource gathering: it was one of the few games that allowed people to gather while being offline, but you had to grind out survey skills first in order to be able to use harvesters. You could have up to 9 harvesters out and you had to go out to put credits and fuel in them. This could be a source of excitement since often good harvesting spots were out where there were nasty beasties. The scout gathering profession was also nice for combat guys. They got involved in the crafting economy by selling hides, milk and meat to traders, doctors, etc.

-manufacturing: once you got to a certain skill in a crafting profession, you could use factories. You could design your own blueprints for items, put the blueprints and the required ressources in the factory and turn it on.

-experimentation: with the difference in properties for resources, you could achieve different properties on your items. However, there was an added level of complexity in that crafters could choose to tweek certain properties while making the blueprint or item. This could provide lots of different kinds of items even if they looked the same.

Then there is the whole trade aspect itself where traders had their own stores, vendors, ads, etc. in order to sell their wares.

I'd say that SWG's was the best outside of A Tale in the Desert of all of the games I've tried. I haven't tried Minecraft or some of the more recent trade MMOs however. EVE's is also pretty good, but blueprints will always produce the same product everytime, for example a Dominix blueprint will always produce a Dominix that is exactly like any other Dominix.

Fri Jul 29 2011 3:22PM Report
UnsungToo writes:

In-game patents

Sat Jul 30 2011 5:18AM Report writes:
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