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All About Crafting with Mark Jacobs

Tim Eisen Posted:
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Today, the folks behind Camelot Unchained at CityState Entertainment unveiled their master plan for crafting in their upcoming MMORPG. Ahead of that, Mark Jacobs was kind enough to share said plan with MMORPG.com, and we went right back at him with over a dozen questions about the systems therein. Read on for all of MJ’s thoughts!

The crafting document was huge and detailed, and while we can’t share it with you hear, suffice it to say we think crafting fans will be pleased with what Camelot Unchained has planned. If you want to catch the full recap of the game’s crafting reveal, be sure to tune into their Twitch channel for the VOD.

MMORPG: What is you core philosophy when it comes to crafting?

Mark Jacobs: LOL, I could probably fill several interviews just answering this question. I’ll try to keep it simple by answering in the negative form. Let’s just say that my core philosophy for crafting revolves around creating a system that is NOT dependent on: button-mashing, creating 1000s of useless items, boring and repetitive gameplay, or on having a non-crafter main to support a crafter alt.

MMORPG: Is there still a desire out there for a full time crafting profession? Aren’t you concerned that those people are out knitting sweaters and not interested in playing a MMO with a focus on RvR combat?

MJ: Based on everything I’ve heard from our Backers on our Forums and elsewhere, yes, I really, really believe. OTOH, I also clapped my hands when I was watching Peter Pan as a very young child, so I might be wrong, who knows?

In all seriousness, yes, I do believe that there is a desire for a full-time crafting profession. Now, how large is the crafting fanbase exactly? I don’t know, but since Camelot Unchained™ is not a game that needs to reach even 1M subs in order to be successful, I’m not losing any sleep over it. I think the most important question is whether I believe that a game that features a class that can be played as a solo crafter and doesn’t have to participate in RvR battles, can bring new blood into the market. I think the answer to that question is yes.

MMORPG: It looks like at the moment auction houses are not part of your plan. When Final Fantasy XIV 1.0 launched Square Enix left out AH’s and then added them in for their launch of A Realm Reborn. Elder Scrolls Online left off Auction Houses and then had to go back in and add a version of them in later patches. How do you plan on keeping buying and selling from becoming a giant pain without auction houses and the market manipulation AHs can introduce?

MJ: Well, a certain other game idea of mine never had an Auction House, and it did just fine, right? However, I do think there are a number of important differences between ESO, FFXIV, and Camelot Unchained, and not just the budgets, huge IP, big teams (now I’m getting depressed), and/or long development cycle. :) First, both of those games were trying to reach a much broader market that we are. ESO was hoping to be the next WoW-like (not WoW-killer, not WoW, just WoW-like) financial success in this market, and I’m sure that they made the decision based on attracting and retaining the broader demographic.

In our case, we don’t care about the broader demographic. We aren’t trying to make a game for them because frankly the broader demographic doesn’t love RvR, let alone PvP, in an MMORPG. I’ve said the same thing in 1999, 2005, and again, now. Second, both of those games weren’t really designed around the concept of “no Auction House, not now, not ever.” So, when those games needed to add them in order to keep their demographic happy, they did. The players we’re looking to attract, as well as our Backers, know going in that there won’t be an AH, and that building the social network in-game (and not through Facebook, Twitter, etc.) is what we are going to focus on. Our demographic and Backers know exactly what they are buying into, and we’re going to give it to them.

MMORPG: It seems like crafters will be dependent on other players to help them gather materials. Will this keep anything that is able to be gathered from becoming bind on pickup? 

MJ: Correct, there is no BOP for materials. Also, I expect crafters to gather materials themselves in safe/owned areas and, as the document points out, there will be the use of PCAs/NPCAs to help gather materials for them as well.

MMORPG: How interdependent will the crafting professions be on one another? As a blacksmith can I also farm to raise some of my raw materials or will there be farmers that I need to depend on for that?

MJ: Well, first, you are starting with the wrong assumption that you can’t be a crafter who is working on multiple progressions at once. If you want to have a farm and also make swords, you can. We are not currently setting up our progression system in that sort of “pick two and you’re through” for this game. Now, will you have the time/desire to gather all the materials yourself and then go back to your shop? That’s up to you, but if not, I expect that there are a lot of people who won’t be sad about having the opportunity to follow multiple progression tracks, especially if they don’t feel like they are forced to do so.

MMORPG: You said "I believe that the vast majority of it will be embraced by our full time crafters. This will be especially true with people who loved SWG, EVE, Vanguard, and other more robust crafting systems." You also said One of the goals for your concept is “to design a system that ensures that the crafters weren’t spending all their time crafting since we need them for Realm defense”. You seem to be targeting pure crafters, but your system nudges the crafter away from crafting, which those mentioned games did not. Is targeting full time crafters then nudging them to engage in fighting counterintuitive?

MJ: Honestly, I don’t think we’re trying to nudge them away from crafting, but just giving people different options to fit their different playstyles. What you are saying is essentially the same thing as saying to a combatant “Do you think asking people to be involved in sieges will keep them from roaming in 8-man groups?” You can play as a full-time crafter and never Take (gather, harvest, mine, etc.) a single item if you want, or you can participate in RvR too. The key is that I’m designing this system so that a crafter doesn’t have to spend all their time making items in order to be competitive. There’s a huge difference there. For example, if there was no Vox Power (similar to an energy system but with no cash shop nonsense or hard cap), the most efficient way for a crafter to progress might be making items until they ran out of raw materials or got carpal tunnel, whichever came first. Here, by slowing the flow of finished goods to the economy, and by offering other ways to have your character progress, we are giving crafters options to explore.

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Tim Eisen

I roleplay a wordsmith that writes about the technological and social evolution within the game industry