Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

Re: Crafting Cooldowns

I’ve disagreed with Tobold a lot lately1 and I can’t help but vehemently disagree with what he said once again. This time he suggested that a crafting system based on cooldowns would make crafting more interesting, more fair, and wouldn’t kill the economy. I think crafting based on cooldowns is awful and in fact fails on each of the three criteria he mentioned.

But first here’s a quick recap of the suggestion: Instead of basing crafting on resources as it is done in World of Warcraft today, Tobold wants crafting to be based on cooldowns. In his suggestion, players would only be able to craft one item per day (allowing for even larger time periods for more complicated items) and, as a result of that, only level up in their their chosen profession once a day.

It’s not more interesting

Log in, fly to the moonwell, hit transmute, log out. Yawn. (image: wowwiki)

A crafting system like that in WoW, while far from optimal, allows players to focus on crafting if they so desire. If a player enjoys, say, enchanting, she may stand around in Ironforge all day advertising her services, buying up cheap materials, and thinking of new ways to lure in customers. Players who are not interested in crafting can either ignore it completely, or level up a profession in a day in exchange for money to get what they need. In Tobold’s system, the first type of play would be impossible because you can only make one item a day anyway. Obviously you would make whatever sells best, sell that and be done with any crafting for the day. That’s not interesting.

The other player would be off worse as well. Instead of doing what she finds interesting (not crafting) she needs to craft an item every day for 80 days to get to the top of her profession so she can continue doing what she really likes to do (i.e. raiding).  Furthermore, the cooldown-based system would remove various other kinds of gameplay from the equation. No longer could you calm yourself by mindlessly flying around a zone, gathering materials while listening to music. No longer could you keep your hands busy during a long meeting on Ventrilo doing the same.

Tobold’s approach takes features out of the game that are definitely interesting for some part of the player base and replaces them with one that I can’t imagine being interesting at all. WoW already has some cooldown-based crafting recipes and they are boring and tedious as hell. Logging onto all my alchemists every day to transmute a ruby held absolutely no interest for me and I can’t imagine how someone else could find it interesting. There isn’t even really a choice involved, you just craft whatever sells best that day. Lame.

It’s not fairer

In World of Warcraft, crafting at the low level is pretty much only done to level up as the raw materials required cost more than the final item sells for. Players may still craft items for personal use or even acquire crafted items from other players if those are useful enough for levelling, but in a mature economy in WoW, you will always make more money by selling the low-level raw materials than by crafting. The net result is that crafting while levelling up on a mature server will not make you money. Tobold’s system doesn’t change this. On a mature server, the demand for the low level crafted items will be virtually zero. Just as in current WoW, players will therefore craft to level up and then either wear the item themselves or sell it to an NPC for a pitiful amount.

I said “mature server” above, because economies work differently when most of the players are still at low levels. The demand for low-level items will be higher, but so will be the supply of raw materials (if they exist at all). In WoW, a sort of balance is achieved when players pick one gathering and one crafting profession. On a mature server, gathering will make them a lot of money, easily allowing them to fuel the money sink that is crafting. On a new server, crafting will be able to provide some income, while gathering can be used to keep the crafting engine running. In either example, players who put more time into crafting will get better results there while lagging behind elsewhere. In Tobold’s suggestion on the other hand, players who want to focus on crafting will be just as handicapped as those who don’t. How’s that more fair?

It does kill the economy

Low level raw materials in WoW are expensive. So what? (image: wowconfidential.com)

In Tobold’s system, each player could sell an item a day, period. There would be very little wiggle room in the economy, as everyone would just craft whatever sells best that day and sell it slightly cheaper than the next guy. A purely cooldown-based economy would not allow for anyone making profit through the sheer amount of items they are selling or through cheap acquisition of raw materials, as those won’t exist. Hell, the whole market for raw materials (which is an absolutely massive part of WoW’s economy) would simply disappear. Furthermore, those interested in buying low-level crafted equipment would be absolutely shafted on a mature server, as no one would waste their cooldown on producing something of lesser value. A level 2 item would therefore cost just as much as a level 80 one, if not more. A level 2 player would never be able to afford that.

Furthermore

I hate when MMOs try to make me log in every day. Logging around the alts every day to use my transmute cooldowns, organizing replacements for when I would be without internet for a couple of days, and being annoyed when I forget a cooldown for a day are all things I can very well do without. I want to be able to take a break and then come back with a vengeance, I want to use my time as I please. I definitely don’t want game mechanics that make me log in every day. Daily quests were already awful when they only provided money and vanity rewards. Dungeon dailies that reward real high-level gear are even worse, exactly because they put a gun at my head, telling me to play every day or else. Tobold’s suggestion would be another big step into that direction.

1 That’s not because I have anything against Tobold, on the contrary. I like reading his blog and it often provides me with food for though (and topics for my own blog). He’s simply hit a streak of saying things that I find to be wrong.

  • Well, you took the easy way out, just complaining about what you don’t like in my suggestion. How about you post YOUR solution next on how to make crafting an interesting and valuable part of the game for a *new* player, and not just for some twink who has no problems buying resources at 10+ gold a stack?

    I recently started a new character with the Single Abstract Noun blogging community guild on a different server than I usually play, and I must say that WoW crafting in its current form sucks mightily for low level characters without financial support from a high-level character.

  • Absolutely true.I have some ideas for crafting and I have a half-finished post (alright, more likely quarter-finished if that is even a word) lying around. So I will post my suggestion at some point, though I definitely doN#t have the perfect solution either.

    That said, what exactly is your issue? Is it that crafting mats are too expensive for you to buy or that you can’t sell your finished product?

  • I think one of the problems is that the crafting professions get you benefits. thats makes them mandatory for everyone and not just the poeple who enjoy crafting to make money or so.
    While leveling up i do not like that the materials do not gather themselves so i often have to do extra farmin to level my prfessions and i can only sell the stuff that i make to a vendor.
    in the endgame i think it is sad that crafting is so static. back in the days i made abaout 200 nightscape headbands a day only for disenchanting… why can i not improve them while doing so? why can’t they become lvl 80 and orange after i perfected them in about 20k tries? something like that would make me a special leatherworker. it would require a shitload of well balanced items ofc but that is also something that wow is greatly missing.