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.
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.
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.
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?