I believe that dedicated crafting classes are one of, if not the most, important features in a MMO. If a game can sustain multiple play styles, that game will have far more depth than a game where crafting is something anyone can pick up and max.
Something about crafting relaxes me. For over a month now I have been playing a pure crafter role in UO. I log in each day, visit my vendors to see what other players have purchased, head back to my workshop to craft items, then revisit my vendor to restock. When I have stocked my goods for that day, I spend the remainder of my time gathering resources, crafting inventory to have on hand, and finally I come up with ways to market my goods to gain an edge against the competition. As you can see, my daily agenda is quite full. I can easily spend 2-3 hours stocking my vendors and preparing for the next day. I recently wrote about having to rely on other players to provide me materials, and the biggest reason I choose to buy so much from other players and cut into my profits is because I don’t have enough time.
Playing a pure crafter is a fulfilling experience for me. In fact, although it may sound like I have a fairly regimented and monotonous schedule, I find playing a vendor to be more dynamic than playing a company character. I’m always having to worry about inputs from other players. Have prices dropped? Is there a new hot item in demand? I’m constantly adapting and changing in ways other players who go out each day to slay monsters can’t even imagine. Keeping up with the trends is precisely how I built my immense crafting empire in SWG: I found a need and filled it before anyone else — it just happened to be food and drink which provided stat bonuses no one knew they needed until they met someone who was way better than they were because they consumed my goods. Consumable + can’t live without = rich Keen.
Camelot Unchained is going to have a crafting system which sounds, so far on paper, like what I want. According to Mark Jacobs’ Foundational Principle #7, the fundamentals for a good crafting system are there: Item decay, dedicated crafting classes, everything you make is useful (instead of making 50 widgets you’ll never use), no AH (you have to come to me or my shop) and you can customize the look of the items (hopefully). There’s one feature, however, that makes this system more impressive than even the one used by UO: All items come from crafting.
When I craft in UO, I’m constantly having to compete against these rare magic drops that are sometimes better than anything I can make. That’s aggravating because my entire reason for existing is to provide players with things they need to go out and hunt monsters. If they can remove me from the equation, suddenly my reason for existing comes into question. If players are forced to turn ot crafters for everything, suddenly there will always be a reason for a dedicated crafter to exist. Combat classes will be forced to rely on crafting – whether they do it themselves via journeyman crafting or turn to dedicated crafters for more illustrious items.
So far I see two potential issues in Camelot Unchained’s plan. First is item decay. There is no full looting in PvP; the only way an item will be replaced is through item decay. Items will need to decay fast enough to generate enough demand for potentially hundreds of dedicated crafters. If there are 1000 combat characters, even if only 100 people play dedicated crafters (10%), that’s not a lot of business. It’s even less business if those people only need to replace their items once a week.
Second, why am I making gear? Realm pride is one reason. I want my realm to win and I want them to do so using my stuff. If realm pride can boost personal pride, that’s awesome. But I also want to get rich and have nice things. In UO I work so hard to sell sell sell because I want to be able to decorate a custom house and help my friends. Those things cost a lot of money due to money sinks. Hopefully Camelot Unchained provides me an outlet for spending my wealth, and sufficient cash sinks. Furthermore, I hope combat characters earn enough cash to bring it my way.