Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

My Crafting System – Part 3

Welcome to part 3 of my open-ended series on my own personal crafting system. If you missed the other parts, check out part 1 here and part 2 here. Today I’ll once again start with a roundup of comments and decisions from the last post, followed by a discussion on how to actually implement skill-based crafting.

Comment Roundup

Both my fellow blogger Klepsacovic (check his writing out over at Troll Racials are Overpowered) and faithful reader Liliel commented on the idea of skill-based combat. Both liked it, but Klepsacovic suggested to give little to no importance to twitch while Liliel suggested  that there should be such a thing as failure in crafting (which should allow players to learn) and wear-and-tear of items.  Both also mentioned that spam-crafting (the process to make one item over and over again for the purpose of levelling up your crafting skill) wouldn’t have much place in such a system.

Decisions

I have decided that I will follow Kepsacovic’s suggestion and focus on creating a non-twitchy crafting system for now. If crafting is the main focus of your game, a fully viable alternative path, or just not very interesting, adding twitch components might be a good idea. For now, I’ll try and see if we can’t come up with something that doesn’t require users to click really fast.

Skill-based Crafting

So, with Twitch excluded from the equation, crafting will have to rely upon decision making if we want players to be able to influence it. My favourite way of doing this would be an actual simulation of the crafting process. Such a simulation wouldn’t necessarily have to be realistic, but it would have to be plausible. When crafting a sword you might not only be able to influence the type and amount of materials you are using and the shape that the final product should take, you could also be able to modify the heat levels throughout the crafting process, use differently weighted hammers to beat the metal into submission, determine how often you want to fold the steel you are working with, etc.

Just like cooking in real life you might have a certain recipe detailing the steps needed to reproduce something interesting but you would be able to modify amounts and actions throughout the process to suit your needs (or available materials.) Imagine having awesome recipe for a dragon bone breastplate but dragons being a bit out of your league. A traditional crafting system would require you to collect some amount of dragon bone and various other ingredients and tools in order to craft the thing. No dragon bone, no dice. In my version you would instead be able to use those old dinosaur bones you found in the attic but could realize that those are better to cut with an ordinary steel knife instead of the silver one needed for dragon bone.  Dinosaur bones might also be a bit heavier and you’d have the choice of cutting them down a bit for lesser protection value or adding a couple of leather straps for stability and accepting the higher weight on the bearer.

Just like in cooking, the basic skill in this crafting system would come from the ability to follow the instructions in the recipe well. Once you’ve mastered that you can start experimenting and improving on existing recipes. The exact look of such recipes would differ depending on your implementation of course, with the main difference being one-time or continuous decision making.

In most contemporary crafting systems you make a set of decisions all at once (mostly what materials to use) and then hit a button to make your character follow your instructions. Sticks, bird feathers, and flint stones will always turn into makeshift arrows in such a system, unless there is a random component that lets you receive something different from time to time. Continuous crafting would instead require you to first break the flint stones into arrowheads, then carve the sticks into straight aerodynamic pieces of wood with cut-outs to fit the arrowhead and the feathers in and finally to combine all three parts to gain the final product.

The two types of crafting aren’t as different as one might think – it is simply a matter of preference whether you want to make all your decisions at one time and then let the game do its thing or whether you would rather be more involved in the process of crafting itself (even if the number of decisions taken might be exactly the same in both cases.)  I think the former is more suited for games that focus mainly on combat or similar activities and allow players to craft a bit on the side, while the latter might be a bit more interesting in a game with a real focus on crafting. What do you think?

  • What if you didn’t cut down the dinosaur bones and instead left them full size for full protection? Is there a downside beyond the higher material requirement? Adding some sort of encumbrance, based on the gear you’re wearing (so none of that old inconvenience of not being able to carry all your gold) could allow for meaningful decisions. Thicker armor would be stronger, but you’d move more slowly.

    Giving it more thought, maybe twitch isn’t so bad, but the consequences of twitch or lack of twitch would need to be carefully controlled. Maybe no twitch crafting could make anything, but twitch crafting could be used as a way to recover materials. I’m reluctant to suggest twitch giving better items, since if the economy ends up anything like WoW (not that it must, but if it does), there would be barely any market for non-twitch crafted items. There would have to be enough demand for crafted items that even the slightly less good items would still be purchased.

  • The problem i see with this in a game like wow is that people won’t settle on the dinosaur stuff if shiny dragon stuff is in the game. as games go today everyone has a RIGHT to have the best item in the game accesible. so there is a certain danger that even with many available decisions there will be that one path that leads to a super dragon armor of the gods.
    so i think you need to find a way to make a broad variety of items attractive if you want a system like that to work. like the dragon armor with a bit more dodge since its lighter then the dinosaur one that gets more armor in return. The more and more I think about it I like a system where all items are equally good. maybe put a good enchanting/ upgrading system on top of that so you dont need to have super crazy items in your basic crafting system. Then people could add the “super” and “of the gods” later while the blacksmithing system stays clean and straight forward. then you can also limit the drops from creatures radically so that people use crafting for a more basic armor that can still customize your character like you want. it doenst make any sense to drop platemail from your average wolf anyway. I am very sure that people would even start collecting different armors that have the same strength just because its pink or they feel they have a tough or dodgy day. this would net a lot or work for the crafters. ofc you also have to have achievements for someone that bought 200 different types of body armor^^
    also you need to solve that people could read up how its done on the internet. at least it wont make much sense if silver works on dragonscales for one char where another needs a gold or crystal knife for it.
    maybe you should sketch the game you are talking about a bit after all or at least point out an audience.