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Debate: Crafting

Editorials By Frank Mignone on February 11, 2006

Debate: Crafting
Crafting Debate – by Frank Mignone and Garrett Fuller

Frank Mignone: I have a rather unpopular confession to make…I hate crafting. Primarily, I hate having to rely on other players for 'the best' items in a game where I cannot compete without them. It can drive the economy crazy because greedy gatherers charge whatever they want for their recourses, and crafters pass that extra expense, along with their own need for greed, along to me, the poor sap who need weapons, armor, bullets, guns, etc. Frequently, the crafter is the gatherer, meaning they answer to no one but themselves. Next thing I know, I have to farm for 2 days to make enough gold to buy a piece of armor that will last maybe 2 levels!

Garrett Fuller: How can anyone hate crafting? Crafting allows players to really customize and enjoy their own in-game economy. Let’s look at World of WarCraft. Potions, engineering, and enchanting are fantastic. The armor and weapons that players can make cannot compete with things that players find raiding. Which is a problem with that specific game in general. Still the other areas for crafting offer players a ton of options. Engineering is so much fun and can be used to enhance any character. Potions obviously are used by everyone in the game and are a necessity. Also, Enchanting really adds to the ability levels that players can enjoy. With these professions in the game, players have much more options to work with. Also, it is a fun way to develop a character when time is at a premium.

Still crafting is a fun way for players to spend downtime and help their community along. Let' s say you wake up early each morning before work and have only one hour to play. Perhaps that time can be spent crafting items for the upcoming weekend raid or PvP fighting. DAoC had an excellent crafting system that allowed players to compete with both crafted and found items. The only issue with that system was the time and error involved with crafting. You could spend hours, making items and only make the best 100/100 gear some of the time.

Crafting in these two games gives players a way to upgrade themselves. Yes, you do spend time farming for ingredients, but many players find that to be a fun part of the MMORPG experience.

Frank Mignone: Hey, if people's idea of fun is to collect a bunch of useless crap, press a button and wait until it reads success or failure, more power to em. I don't understand why lemmings like to run off cliffs either, but whatever makes em happy. Now, once that free-falling rodent nails me in the head on the way to his death, now his pleasure is my pain and it’s no longer just his business!

As I see it, when you make those crafters 'special' by giving them exclusive rights to create Items that the rest of us need, that’s a problem. Some people have a life, and can't spend it in a game, farming for in-game money to afford the over-inflated prices that crafters can demand. If we're talking about items that both the crafter and a NPC merchant can sell, the crafter now has competition; A competitor who is driven by the need for economic balance, not greed. All to often, we do not see this, and crafters become the only means to gain powerful weapons, armor, and ammunition that become mandatory if you wish to be able to compete in the game.

They help fuel inflation with their obscene pricing demands! We know that 'Ebay’ gold is a large reason for inflation, but let's face it, no one would be farming in-game money to sell it for real cash if no one were buying it. So why do people need to buy in-game gold from Ebay-farmers or IGE in the first place? Because they cannot afford items in the games nor do they have endless hours to work for that cash themselves. Crafters are a big part of this because they actually do not compete with each other as much as you’d think. I know crafters who, when they see someone is charging ten gold for something on an AH, he will charge eleven G, and soon enough, the other crafters follow suit. They say "Omg that guy is getting 1 more gold than I am!" and raise their prices, thinking they are otherwise missing out. In some games, crafters buy out all the items an NPC vendor has and then sell them for twice his asking price!

If there must be crafting, put a leash on them by making NPCs sell everything that can be crafted. Please don't 'inflict' crafter greed on me by making them the only source of important goods required to play the game effectively.

Garrett Fuller: Crafting still remains a great way for players to develop different elements of their characters. Many players enjoy making good items and building the economy. My biggest complaint with "World of WarCraft" is that the crafting system does not match the raiding rewards. Also, many of the recipes for different items are faction-based.

Games that allow people to build there own in game economy work very well. Dark Age of Camelot, and EVE Online offer great character built items. WarCraft did do something right however, they did lower the time it took to craft. When done correctly like this, crafting is great for players. They can make their own weapons, armor, equipment etc.

As for the prices and the gold sales on sites like eBay and IGE, that can be another issue entirely. Does it impact the in-game economy? I don't think it is as much as some people think. There are many sites that sell in game money, but many players refuse to use them. Sadly, online games are a business. Eventually, people will make gold farming or power-leveling part of that business. If players choose to use this method to boost the in game economy there is very little people can do to control prices. Still, I think crafting remains an essential part of any online game to keep the community acting together.

Frank Mignone: Interdependence is a great thing when it works both directions. However, the crafter-combatant relationship is usually one-way. A warrior, who wants to be competitive in many games, like FFXII, must buy gear from a crafter to play the game effectively. This means combatants need crafters to do their job. However, crafters can often trade crafted items to NPC merchants to get the parts they need to craft more items, even without selling their goods to player characters. While I expect many of the crafters reading this cringed at the financial prospect of doing this, it’s possible none-the-less. Since most games make it so crafters are able to fight, they can gather any resources that an NPC does not sell. This means that crafters do not need combatants to craft. Here lies the imbalance.

Methods for balancing this equation could be as simple as making crafting a stand-alone job, no more capable of wielding a weapon then a 3-year-old. This means that combatants only would do all gathering. Now the crafter needs the combatant just as much as the combatant needs him. Alternatively, allowing all items to be supplied by NPCs at competitive prices also removes this imbalance, meaning the warriors and wizards now have a choice in where to purchase there wares, and how much it will cost them.

If you want to craft, do it because you enjoy the process of crafting, not because you love ripping us fighters off. If the above steps were taken, how many crafters would stop crafting, citing the practice as ‘not profitable enough’

Am I alone here? I want to know what do you, the readers, think? It’s so politically correct to say “sure let people craft” then turn around in the game and say “you want how much for that shield!?” Here’s your chance to really put it out there, one way or the other!

Do you agree with Garrett? That crafting is too important and therefor should have a central dependence in our games? That farming for the funds to afford those items is part of the game? That crafters should get items that only they can make, giving them a sense of importance?

Do you share my view thinking that crafting is just to unbalance? Do you feel you shouldn’t have the cost of playing your character determined by what the crafters financial needs? Would you be happy if they equation were balanced better, making crafters need you every bit as much as you need them?

You've heard what they have to say. Now it's your turn. Cast your vote and leave your comments here

Frank Mignone / Currently Art Director with an Orlando Simulation Company using Cryengine 2. Graduated Valedictorian from Full Sail with a Degree in Computer Animation. Already did College for Aerospace''s more fun in video one really gets hurt. Freelance writer on the side. Designed some ships for ''Pirates of the Burning Sea'' ...argh!