Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Crafting Needs More Crafting

Darren over at Common Sense Gamer has sparked more conversation on a new topic. This time it's on crafting in an MMO. I've posted my thoughts on the issue there, but I liked em so much, I thought I'd repost them here. Let me know what you think.

I think the IDEA of crafting is great. It just needs as much attention as dungeons and combat get, is all. It needs to be made more dynamic and more interesting. Let’s back pedal a bit 1st.

I was playing LotRO the other day, and I’m also playing EQ2 on and off right now. Both have similar systems in just about every way. But one thing, and it’s about harvesting, that stood out to me in LotRO’s crafting was that no matter what I harvest I get something back. No failing to mine something. No failing to gather wood. No failing at all really when it comes to harvesting. Then I played EQ2, and often times you don’t get squat from what you’re harvesting.

My point with this is that there are lots of little things that can be done to make the current crafting game better. Things like the afforementioned gathering fix. Or say that you could name your crafted gear (with filters of course) so that you could make it unique and truly your own. Right now, most of what one makes in a game can be made by just about anyone, making you feel about as “cool” as line manufacturer. But give one the option to name their shiny sword the way they see fit, and suddenly you can put a little character into it.

Going one step further, give a broad range of options for the look of a crafted item. The better someone’s skill at crafting an item, the more options they can choose from for the looks of the item. They could change the hilt, the shape of the blade, or whatnot. More ways to make a crafter feel like they’re actually “crafting” the item would be superb.

And going in a gameplay direction, why not put a little skill into the action of making something? Instead of just a click and point window-based procedure, why not put a little gameplay into it.

My proposition would be to make it somewhat of a rhythm game. Timing the beat of your smith’s hammer with an onscreen display. Harder rhythms for harder items. Special items could be made when a player nails the beats perfectly, with added stats persay. When sewing a robe, the same interface could be used, or even mixing potions. Suddenly what was once a very non-interactive “activity”, becomes a very interactive game. That *gasp* can take a small bit of skill to be good at, not just diligence in harvesting or buying mats.

Those are just a few of my ideas. What have you to say?

6 comments:

Tipa said...

A couple of issues with that.

First, if you can make custom items, your game engine has to support that. You can't make an item that is not in the database in EQ2. I suspect WoW would be able to, but in WoW, you get what the recipe makes and that's that.

Secondly, how often do people want non-pristine crafted items in EQ2? Never. How often do people buy those Apprentice II and III spells you can make? Never. If you can make better items, then only the people able to make those better items (better sense of rhythm, harvest by the light of a waning moon, or whatnot) will be able to sell anything.

If you want crafting to actually be a part of gameplay, you have to be able to make crafting something with some benefit to regular people, and able to be done by regular people. Make it extremely difficult to make good items, and you restrict crafting to the very few.

LotRO has fairly nice crafting; if you have achieved mastery in your tier, have the special crit items, are using high level crafting tools, are attuned to the superior crafting stations, and have gotten some high level lore for your profession from a scholar, you can significantly increase the chances of getting a very magical item. But that makes those items so rare that the people who can use them can't afford to buy them. This shows the downside of elite crafting very well.

wldwlf said...

I am not sure a rhythm game or anything like that would work in an mmorpg. I think that many people play mmorpgs because they really don't like those kinds of ideas and struggle with them. I know a few people that are good at mmorpgs but are horrible at playing action games or anything that requires alot of coordination. I am not saying everyone is like this but I know a few people that are.

Bildo said...

I'm just tossing out ideas, Mr. Wlf. I think we can all agree that crafting is sort of "meh" as it stands now.

Some might like the boxes with clickies presentation that it has now, but I can't help (as a non-crafter that knows why he doesn't craft) to try and imagine what WOULD get me crafting.

Rhythm games, timing a bar like in old golf games, or anything more interactive would go a long way towards enticing me to give a damn about crafting.

Just my opinion. I'm glad there are those who like it as is, but as long as I play games, I'll always feel free to think of things that could make them better.

YOU know that. (Wldwlf is said friend who wants me to convert to EQ2ism with him.)

My problem, as it were, with crafting doesn't lie in the proposition of crafting. I really love that, but as you and I were discussing before it needs more "pop". It needs something to make it feel worthwhile.

Crafting the same items over and over to get your skill up is not fun, it's monotony.

Bildo said...

"First, if you can make custom items, your game engine has to support that. You can't make an item that is not in the database in EQ2. I suspect WoW would be able to, but in WoW, you get what the recipe makes and that's that."

Definitely agree, Tipa, as I always seem to. But I'm going with the assumption that such a feature would be planned and made into the game. I know nothing of the technical design problems, I just know what I'd like to see.

"If you want crafting to actually be a part of gameplay, you have to be able to make crafting something with some benefit to regular people, and able to be done by regular people. Make it extremely difficult to make good items, and you restrict crafting to the very few."

I agree here as well. I don't want it to be "difficult", I just want it to be more interactive.

Tipa said...

Well, I also agree with you; I'd love to make MY things MY way. If I want to make my armor in camo colors so it blends in better, or if I want to make my sword a little faster, I can do that. Of course, EQ1, EQ2 and WoW all support to a limited extent. But if I want to make something new, I have to go to places like Second Life. I used to be a crafter in a PernMUSH. I made very intricate things from glass. And each was a unique creation -- of mine.

But I guess to see the downside of creative crafting, one need only again look at Second Life, where it is used largely for porn.

Still. Why can't I make my ogre friend a shield that looks like a torn out section of wall, and a weapon that looks like a gnome on a stick?

I don't really care if crafting is more interactive. I don't have any real problem with WoW's click and walk away approach to crafting (nor do I have a problem with EQ2's button mashing approach). I just really want to make stuff of my own, that can be used in an MMO as if I really were a crafter in that world trying to make better weapons and armor for my clientele, instead of being a vending machine "insert rare metal, some wood, and fuel, out comes item_0104768".

Bildo said...

"insert rare metal, some wood, and fuel, out comes item_0104768".

Nail on the head, Tipa. Whether or not my ideas could even feasibly work, we can all agree that the "gameplay" aspect of crafting needs work. Polish, polish, polish... even that crafting system you're putting in. That's what developers need to hear and remember.