I have never been one for crafting in MMOs. Quite honestly, I usually go to the marketplace and buy the best stuff I can find. It makes things easier and I don’t have to waste time making useless stuff. My approach to crafting somehow changed drastically with one game, Skyrim. For some reason in Skyrim I took my Blacksmithing and Enchanting all the way to max levels and got every single recipe I possibly could to make some amazing epic weapons and armor.
Perhaps it was that I was playing an Orc and wanted Orc armor? I am not sure, but Skyrim did something very cool: it made crafting relevant and extremely easy to access. For MMOs crafting never adds up to the amazing raid gear or dungeon items you can get. However, the times are changing. So after hearing Elder Scrolls Online Developer question of the day: "If you could craft an artifact what would you make?", I decided to tackle crafting for this week’s topic.
I personally would love an MMO that gave you basic item drops in the beginning and then only had NPCs drop materials from level five on. This would truly force your character to craft their own personal weapons and armor, or buy from other players. But enough about that, let’s take a look back at what ZeniMax has revealed as far as crafting goes. Here is a lost of the crafting professions: Provisioner, Armorsmith, Weaponsmith, Alchemist, and Enchanter. All of these seem very promising for making extremely useful items in game. Too many MMOs drop the ball by making crafting an afterthought. I think ESO should make it the absolutely epicenter of its online economy. Seriously, if you are going to have a subscription based game, then make crafting the centerpiece.
If you go by the normal Elder Scrolls rules then Alchemist, Enchanter, Armorsmith, and Weaponsmith are fairly easy to figure out. From what Paul Sage has said you can also craft race specific weapons and armor just like the lore. This is where the real fun begins because I want specific weapons and armor for my character. I want things that reflect who I am in the world. As much as I like getting loot drops, having personal items really does keep you invested in the game. For me I really love the combination of Enchanter and Weaponsmith. I just love making insanely deadly weapons which blast magic at my foes. In Skyrim, the Daedric Greatswords I made were brutal. More than anything they need to make the weapon and armor system extremely customizable. Players can spend hours making their stuff look cool. That is where the real joy is.
The Provisioner tree is somewhat new. It adds the ability to brew ales or cook food. Like any MMO this will likely play out to be your bread and butter of recovery after and during fights. This tree needs some great recipes in it to make it worth taking, especially when almost everyone will go with some form of blacksmithing. Hopefully the system gives players a fundamental reason to go this route.
Now to move on to the idea of crafting your own artifact as suggested in the question of the week. This would be something really amazing to add into the game. It's not just about making something personal for the character. You should also be given the tools to make it look exactly how you want. With more games giving creation tools to the players, there is no reason we shouldn’t be able to design our own specific weapon or armor. If that is not your style, then perhaps making a unique necklace or ring which would be much more subtle to see on your avatar.
There are certain features in an MMO which really do add to players returning and sticking with a game and crafting is a big one. It is just frustrating that so many games do not give it the love it truly deserves. Hopefully this beloved game system takes center stage in Elder Scrolls Online and players can build and run a massive economy. It worked very well in EVE Online and Ultima Online back in the day. Perhaps the developers will look back and see how important crafting really is to players. The true design of a good system is when non-crafting players actually find themselves masters of different professions. Elder Scrolls Online has big expectations to meet with crafting. No one wants to see this system fall short.
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