CraftCraft

A few weeks ago, Gevlon had an interesting post on how crafting in MMOs is fundamentally broken:

If you fight monsters or players, you must constantly cast spells. If you gather, you must move between spawn points. Both needs you to sit at the computer and press buttons (unless botting). But to craft, you just press a button and maybe wait and you are done.

Basically, crafting is broken because all other options available to get in-game currency take keyboard effort (gathering, grinding mobs) whereas crafting does not. And, having reflected on that, it is 100% true. Just as in real life, the people making bank aren’t those doing the work, but the ones working the bank.

Gevlon concedes that there really isn’t a solution to this problem, mainly because “active crafting” would essentially be a grindy minigame. Well, he says the solution is to make it so that everyone can craft everything, thereby hopefully making the crafter-class irrelevant. I’m not so sure, considering how much gold people already make from selling vendor mats in WoW. Any knowledge gap is enough space for the Bourgeoisie to pop up like mushrooms.

Would a minigame really be that bad though?

Maybe. I remember getting pretty frustrated with Wildstar’s crafting system, which was essentially a lot of RNG and wasted mats. I did not spend a whole lot of time in FF14, but I recall a similar minigame there that required button presses for optimum results. Based on the comments on Gevlon’s blog post, it seems there might be other, older MMO examples as well.

Still, I’m thinking that that pretty much has to be the “solution.” This is assuming that you believe there is a problem to begin with. But crafting has felt divorced from the general MMO gameplay experience for ages. Even Fishing in WoW feels more interactive than the normal sort of insane grind (or extreme automation via addons) that is, say, prospecting stacks of ore and/or creating Glyphs. Running around Herbing on a toon feels fun. Smelting ore and transmuting it does not. And yet one of those is much, much more lucrative than the other.

A more active crafting overhaul would require a fundamental rebalancing of the sort of boilerplate crafting experience though. Most crafting systems are predicated on you crafting hundreds of redundant items, for example. Skill-ups – assuming they still exist – would perhaps need to come from successful strikes on the anvil, rather than just one for the finished product. Or perhaps simply an offline system ala EVE.

In any case, I do feel like active crafting is the way forward. There would still be a goblin-esque master class, as I find it unlikely A) even an active system would be slower at gold generation than grinding mobs, and B) a good 80% of the player population is too lazy to craft their own gear. Maybe the right system hasn’t been found yet. Or perhaps the right system is trapped on an older MMO?

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Posted on April 27, 2017, in Commentary and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Three games have interestng craft :
    – The discovery phase for cooking in gw2
    – Minecraft especially with all automatisation coming from the mods.
    – chemical factory ( trying to remember rhe name )

    I think the minecraft mods approach would be interesting. Creatting huge system will allow to separate the crafter from the casual player while still making it fun.

    To analyse a bit deeper the fun is mostly coming from creating / inventing more than from repetitive task. By transfering the gameplay from the repetitive task to the creation one.

    Some player ( thinking Baghpus) also love the low stress repetive activity and find it relaxing.

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  2. If it was broken so many people wouldn’t do it in so many MMOs. It’s like saying themepark combat is broken because skills on hotbars are boring. That might be someone’s opinion on it, but clearly the genre as a whole disagrees.

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    • That’s kind of a specious argument – a lot of MMOs do terrible things for sacred cow reasons and happen to be successful in spite of it. And while there are redeeming features to hotbar combat for some people, who is actively defending the process of selling WoW Glyphs on the AH? Nobody. Not even the AH Barons who construct entire addon suites to automate the process.

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  3. Ettesiun is right, at least to a degree, to give me as an example of someone who likes low-stress, relaxing content in MMOs. It does depend on mood, of course, but I play a good deal of my MMO sessions in the evening after work and I do appreciate some kickback downtime then.

    That doesn’t mean crafting has to be literally “collect mats, click “Combine””. I don’t mind that but there are better ways to do it. By far the best crafting system I ever saw was Vanguard’s, where crafting was a genuine full progression and development path with all the elements you’d find in adventuring – questing, faction, gear progression, “combat” (as in manipulating skill against things trying to stop you succeeding). EQ2 is similar.

    These systems aren’t “mini-games” – they are games. In both those MMOs it’s entirely possible to be only a crafter and put in as many hours and complete as much content as someone who is only and adventurer. I prefer crafting systems like that, really.

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  4. There are many problems with crafting, which in part relate to its usefulness for the rest of MMO play. One of the big deals is that if you want to turn it into some kind of “puzzle game” it lasts only as long as you google the solution for it…. this is why the “preparation” part of MMOs is dying. In WoW, choosing the right gear is trivial, because in reality it was trivial even before: you just went to a website and used the gear they told you. So the game has moved from “preparation” to “execution”. This is difficult to do for crafting unless you want to turn it into a minigame, which risks ending up as a bad copy of the general MMO combat gameplay.
    The only interesting crafting I found in MMOs is Ryzom’s, but its “puzzle part” didn’t survive the internet and you can now find solutions for more or less any recipe you want (even if getting the materials may be hard). But at least it’s relevant: gear cannot be repaired in Ryzom, so you better know how to craft it……

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