Where crafting fits in the grand scope of WildStar has been unclear for some time. While we have seen numerous outflows of information about itemization, we haven’t seen much specific to crafting. There is a prevalent feeling of dissatisfaction within the crafting community with regards to specialization, craftings place in the economic footprint and the burden of the RNG monster always affecting the output of items more than the skill of the craftsman.
Looking to get a better understanding of on where in the general item spectrum of power crafted items fit and the road map ahead. I reached out to Noah Slater, the Crafting Lead at Carbine Studios to get his perspective on crafting and hobbies now and as we move into the future.
MMORPG.com: So Noah, can you help us understand the state of crafting fits in the grand scope of the game and the changes that will get us there.
Noah Slater: We are not done flushing out crafting. Unfortunately when we shipped there were things that just weren’t done like the Expert Research for Technologist for example. The team has gotten together and generated a big hit list of 20-30 things we need and want to do. We meet weekly to adjust the priorities based on what needs fixed and the resources needed to implement them. Some fixes can be handled internal to the team but some require multiple teams to address and take more time.
While I can’t speak about specifics at this time, we have a lot of exciting changes in the works. The next big drop you will get to see just how much we have been able to accomplish already that we just haven’t been able to talk too much about.
MMORPG.com: Realizing that balance is an issue, how can crafting help maintain it while still being a part of the players’ quest for relevant items?
Slater: Balance of power in an item is partially based off what we call “Effort Metric”. Items obtained from adventures, quests, vendors, crafting and raiding all have a value within the effort metric. Who should get a better reward is easy when you think about how many players spend many hours in the group to obtain them. We want the level of effort to match up with those rewards. Some match up better than others but is something we are constantly reevaluating all the time. Hours spent in a raid group clearing content warrants the best gear because you are taking a lot of different players’ effort to get the item to drop.
Combined effort metric vice solo effort metric is also a factor that has to be considered. Purchasing top shelf crafted gear from the auction house introduces a level of disparity in that effort metric that we want to address in the future because it bypasses the effort metric. While the level of effort to get an item you want from crafting can be much harder than some five man content.
MMORPG.com: What is being considered to actually have specialization within the Trade skills?
Slater: The goal with specialization is to actually make you a sought after crafter for your skill in a special area. Currently the system allows you to get everything with enough time and that is not what we wanted it to be. We want to reward people that do specialize within their chosen Trade Skill. A certain prestige is tied in with your crafting specialization that we realize is missing.
We are looking at ways to control specialization besides talents. Talents were designed to make certain areas of crafting more efficient and in some cases have some items be more powerful. We are examining the effort versus reward to obtain crafted gear and how Specialization can fit into it. Specialization plans must account for that effort to build crafted gear. We need to develop a wider diversity in the power and effort metric. We are looking at a number of things like potential group content to support the crafting effort as an example to feed into the effort metrics. Nothing is currently decided but definitely something being investigated.
It is also on the hit list to address the excitement factor of getting a catalyst or having a point to spend in the Talent tree and feeling good about the choice you make. We have heard people are usually disappointed when they find out the blue or purple in your inventory is a Catalyst and that needs fixed.
MMORPG.com: The Action House and Commodities Exchange can be difficult to find crafted goods, thus affecting the economy of those goods. Is there anything in the works to improve the functionality?
Slater: Definitely, we have been brainstorming what we want to build next for the AH and CX. We now have two lists, the short term adjustments and the long term changes to address improvements to functionality. Things like searching for food by stat are very high on our list of future fixes. Keeping in mind the AH is designed for things that have variable stats and CX for stuff that doesn’t, we have to compartmentalize items into the right areas and make the changes that are best for each bucket. This is not a small task but we are discussing and making adjustments as we can.
MMORPG.com: What was the thought behind having so much overlap between crafting and merchant purchased items?
Slater: We didn’t want to force players to acquire play made consumables during the leveling process. We misjudged how much a part of WildStar combat the food and buff items would be. Feedback and observation showed us the negative effects on Technologists and Cooking.
In the next big drop you will see the Technologists versions of Medishots will be superior to those you can buy from vendors. This will give the option for a cheap vendor item or a more powerful player created version, the choice will be yours. Cooking is all about out of combat healing with an option of an added buff in the variant recipes. One of thing we are doing to address the vendor overlap is to ensure only base recipes will appear on vendors in the future. This will also address the fact that cooks can’t craft as cheaply as a variant can be currently purchased on a vendor.
MMORPG.com: RNG penalizes players regardless of how well someone knows how to craft. Are there any plans to address or reduce this in some way?
Slater: The next large drop does contain a series of improvements that will make it easier to hit targets more consistently. Cooking, Technologist and Architect all went under the knife to address the RNG involved. We are also working on more ways to get more consistency in crafting. We understand that making 10 orders of scrambled eggs, once you have the skill, you would likely only mess up 1 order in 10 by spilling too much salt, not the 4 or more out of 10 times that RNG currently can cause.
MMORPG.com: What can be done to add more relevance to in the world gathering vice housing plot gathering?
Slater: We are gathering metrics on the comparative of Housing gathering to world gathering before we make any adjustments. Keep in mind that the rare events do not happen in housing and those are the incentives we have in place to get people out harvesting in the world.
The rare moments for Relic Hunter will have the potential to evolve over the next couple months and there is some excitement to prototype more stuff like that. We will just have to wait and see how far we can go into that arena. We are also working on a rare moment for Survivalist that will give you the excitement you find when mining or relic hunting but may not be of a similar nature. I Can’t elaborate more at this time but we are looking in to something.
MMORPG.com: Is there a path within Raid based mats and schematics that there will be a single 'best crafted item' option?
Slater: In the next big drop, the best ways to acquire the high end hybrid power cores is to mine essential components from raids. There will be multiple ways to get them but the most consistent will be the raids. Technologists will also have the Lumanite Hybrid Power Core available to them so they can make the best power cores.
MMORPG.com: Thank you Noah for taking the time to talk with us. I am very excited to see what incentives are coming in the future to make ALL the crafts and hobbies feel important beyond just crafting items and selling the end product. It appears your team has been hard at work to bring relevance to crafting and we can’t wait to hear more as you are allowed to share.
Slater: The Devs are listening so let us know what is sounding good to you and also what is not sounding good to you or if you're not hearing what you were hoping to hear.