Dedicated Crafting Classes

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.

My custom house in UO is currently under construction. I have converted the second floor into one giant workshop where I spend most of my day tinkering.

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.

  • Spoken like a true crafter! Let me give an alternative reading.

    When I discovered MMOs through Everquest I had never heard of or thought of crafting having any part in a roleplaying adventure. Never even came across the concept in all my years playing tabletop rpgs or single player crpgs. The nearest I ever saw was where your character would give some item he’d found in a dungeon to an NPC and the NPC would craft something super-magical from it.

    The idea of making your own gear was weird. The idea of buying your gear off another player was weird and annoying. I wasn’t paying $15 a month to play Customers and Craftsmen. Luckily, when I started EQ crafters didn’t make an awful lot that anyone really wanted so I was able just to ignore them.

    Over the years crafting grew like mold on a damp wall. It got harder and harder to ignore. Crafted gear became easier to get and almost as desirable as dropped gear. I loathed that. I still strongly dislike it. It was one of the reasons I quit pre-Hartsman EQ2, although god knows there were plenty of reasons for that.

    As time rolled on I realized it was a case of “if you can’t bet ’em, join ’em”. At the same time crafting got democratized to a degree, making it something less attritionally miserably and more just-about-bearable. I learned if not to enjoy then at least to tolerate. The frog was being successfully boiled.

    Nowadays I feel there is something missing if crafting isn’t in the MMO I’m playing. This is not a good thing. I want to play fantasy roleplay adventure games where my characters wrest magical gew-gaws from the death-grip of terrifying monsters, not spend my evenings in a medieval blacksmith sim.

    I’m prepared to stretch a point for woodsmen and ranger types whittling their own arrows or curing hides to make rustic armor but the idea of a knight buying his armor from a tradesman is an anathema. I’m all in favor of MMOs for pure crafters but I feel they need to be kept very far away from MMOs for pure adventurers.

  • @Bhagpuss: You’d think I wouldn’t be surprised anymore, but dang if you don’t surprise me every time Bhagpuss.
    – You want to be told where to go and when
    – You don’t like choices
    – You don’t want options for character customization
    – You don’t like socializing with people and prefer to solo or play alone
    – You hate relying on people

    And to the list we can add:
    – You hate the idea of players being able to craft items which are by nature, even in fantasy genres, player-made.

    I totally respect that you have a type of game you want, but I’m curious if this is even a MMO? Can you give me an example of an MMO that meets your criteria?

    SWG did something for the ‘pure adventurer’ that compliments a pure crafter. Combat classes could bring in rare items and provide them as inputs for crafted gear. These inputs would provide extreme boosts to the item, but the item still required massive input from the crafter. That requires people working together, though. Is that still a bit too social?

  • That’s aggravating because my entire reason for existing is to provide players with things they need to go out and hunt monsters.

    Alternatively, your reason for existing is to usurp the reward structure for killing monsters in the first place.

    I am not as against trading/crafting as Bhagpuss, but I definitely recognize the tension that always exists between players playing the “real” game and those playing the unconnected and arbitrary economic game. Having room for both type of players is good, because that means you can sell a subscription to twice as many people. But the problem is that the more popular the game, the worse the economic portion becomes. It’s fun being a big fish in a small pond, but competition always eventually makes crafting pointless; there is always someone willing to craft for less than you. And that, to me, does not suggest there is a healthy relationship between dedicated crafter and normal player.

  • I was glad to read that Mark will be using many of our recommendation we posted right here on K&G.

    I, like many others who crafted in SWG, have never had the same experience since. I am waiting on my crafting pins and needles for the game to release.

    Keen, Mark said he would not release the game until the crafting is right. I am sure the decaying gear will be as equally important.

  • Didn’t think what I was saying there was all that controversial! The opinion I expressed on crafting there would have been quite understated on the old SOE forums unless I mis-remember them. Crafting was very unpopular with a large segment, from memory the majority, of EQ players back in the day.

    Of the list of things I like that you allocate to me there I only recognize the last. It’s true I don’t like relying on people because in my experience people tend not to be very reliable.

    I thought I’d said pretty consistently that my gameplay is whim-based, meaning I do what I feel like when I feel like doing it, which would strongly suggest I don’t like being told where to go and when (something I can’t abide). Being directed does feel comfortable, it’s true, but that comforting feeling soon turns to claustrophobia if it’s more than a vague wave of the hand and a “go thattaway for adventure”.

    The choice thing comes from being in my mid-50s and having grown up in Britain in the 1970s. In most circumstances choice was not on offer back then and how that affected that society and those who grew up in it is a well-known and well-mined field of sociological study. People of my age and background tend to be very uncomfortable with choice, which we perceive as both alien and threatening.

    That obviously has implications for character customization but as a rule I appreciate options in that regard so long as they coincide with character creation. I can deal with making quite a lot of choices if they are one-offs to which I’m committing myself. It’s difficult and uncomfortable but I understand it as part of the process of building a character. (This applies equally in real life – I can make a choice that has very significant implications so long as when I make it I believe it will be permanent). What I don’t like is for choices to be undermined and made meaningless by frequent, even perpetual, re-negotiation. Make your bed and then lie in it, in other words.

    My issues on socializing in MMOs come from a long line of unpleasant experiences, largely received at second-hand. I’m not going into detail, but on a number of occasions things that have happened to people who aren’t me have resulted in me having quite a difficult time for quite a while in real life. I’d prefer to avoid a repetition. If I only had myself to consider my view on in-game socializing would be different. Possibly.

    @Graev – I’ve played ProgressQuest and I think it’s quite brilliant. For years I’ve suggested that a full AAA 3D graphic quality version of PQ, taken slightly more seriously, would sweep the world. Can’t understand why no-one’s made one yet. Include advertising and it would not only find itself, it’d be a money mine.

    @Azuriel That about sums it up. I like crafting now, too, god help me!

  • @Bhagpuss: What you’re saying isn’t controversial; It’s just peculiar. The list I attributed to you is a compilation of your responses to various subjects.

    To me, it sounds like you want to play Super Mario World. You get to go level to level, playing by yourself, jumping on bad guys, save the princess, and deviate little (if any) from the prescribed path.

    MMOs aren’t about playing by yourself or not having to interact with others. You may choose to play them that way, but MMOs are supposed to represent an environment resulting from the inputs of many players. Often the difference between a successful MMO and a one that fizzles is how much other players interact with each other.

    You can be as anti-social as you want, but there are far fewer people seeking MMOs to satisfy their single-player xenophobic experience. Your peculiar tastes are absolutely valid, but they’re extremely hard to align with any MMO design I have ever seen. Granted, like I said before, you can play any MMO and bend it to your style.

  • You do not need to have stuff decay very fast if making stuff takes a LONG time. Let’s say it takes multiple hours to make a sword starting from ore, to making steel, to forging to heat treatment etc same with armor pieces.. add consumables and you can support a world where item can be used for a couple month before needing replacement.

    This is also where the crafting process comes in, process has to be fun or crafting game becomes a pure sell/buy game and that while fun is kinda shallow.

  • @Thelg: If making it takes a long time, and the only way to get an item is from a crafter, you’d have people standing around waiting for weapons. Am I understanding what you’re saying?

  • EVE does it right again. It can take 10 – 20 minutes to whip up a single basic item like a bit of ammo or the smallest ships. Mass producing ammo for sale can be an order that takes a day or two. Building bigger ships can be hours to days. Making more than one could take weeks. One crafter can not support the masses, there is room for many to prosper. One crafter can have multiple orders going though, their system is a little weird in that you don’t actually have to craft the items yourself, you just provide blueprints and materials.

    EVE’s system shouldn’t be copied completely but it would help if you spent 5 – 10 minutes making a hilt, then 15 minutes or so forging and tempering the blade. The crafting process should be challenging, like combat. You should be able to direct your blows as they land on the blade and you should be skilling up various skills in the process. You can use a number of abilities you’d have learned to counter problems that arise. Like EVE crafting stations should have limited slots to encourage players to build their own crafting stations but also people should be able to watch the scene. High level crafters should send fire and sparks raining around as you can actually see the mighty weapon they are forging on the anvil.

  • I guess some trades would be unimpressive to watch, like tailoring or jewelcrafting but oh well. If you could see the end result slowly coming together that would be cool. Seeing a glowing robe coming together on the loom could be worth a passing look.

  • I’m don’t really want to get into a prolonged session of MMO psychoanalysis, but I do find it quite hard to see how you’ve come to that particular assessment of what I do and don’t like from the comments I’ve made here and elsewhere and from what I write on my own blog. One or two of the things you ascribe to me seem to be mirror-images of what I’ve actually said, repeatedly and tediously and at great length over many years.

    I did think I’d made quite a stand against the entire concept of “prescribed paths” in MMOs, going all the way back to the days of the Kunark Kiddies in EQ. My whole gameplay has always been based on “what d’you reckon’s over that hill?”. The only thing a path is good for is going off of. Clearly I can’t have been expressing myself as clearly as I hoped.

    I’m also puzzled as to why you think I play exclusively solo, or in an anti-social manner. Not that I expect to you read my blog, but in the first two months of this year I’ve posted about doing 5-man dungeons in GW2 and DCUO, spending a whole day doing big group events in GW2, and about how much I enjoy WvW, which involves me talking to and co-operating with people all the time. I’ve also mentioned my EQ2 guild and of course my regular and ongoing duoing with Mrs Bhagpuss.

    True, I’m no longer active in medium-size (25 – 75 member kind of size) the way I was consistently from around 2002 to 2007. An excess of guild drama finally put paid to that and I’m very wary of re-opening that particular can of worms.

    Doesn’t mean I never speak to anyone though!

  • I can completely see where Bhagpuss is coming from with crafting, adventuring, and loot. There is something valid about wanting to play an MMO where the best stuff is found at the bottom of some deep, dank dungeon and you are rewarded for being the most bold and dangerous for exploring and finding that loot. Hell, I don’t know why someone hasn’t capitalized on that concept already and made an MMO all about random dungeons with random rewards (or they may have and I just haven’t heard about it.) That would be a very cool idea.

    If we are talking MMOs in general, good point by bhag and I’d love to play that too. If we are talking about CU, I don’t think that’s the game Mark and Co. are building and that may be a big indicator that someone like bhag may not enjoy it. That’s okay though, and the whole thing behind niche gaming.

    Back to the main topic, I think a crafting system like Horizons would be perfect for CU, except with the no option to change to an adventurer class. Horizons did many, many, many things wrong, but imo they nailed the crafting system. Same thing as Mark was saying: no loot from mobs, all loot is player crafted. Plus, they had it where crafters were needed for their monthly events and for items like bridges, which had to be repaired before certain areas where accessible.

    Anyway, TL;DR version: I agree with bhag but CU may not be the game for him, and Mark and Co. should just steal what Horizons did and plop it into an RvR environment, imo.

  • @Keen you would need logical progression of items so sword might take a day but something like a simple spear could be much less, in MJ system maybe basic weapons could be made by journeyman. So anyone can make a spear, wooden shield and go kill people. But specialzed crafter would be needed for swords, mail, or good materials in general

  • I think one of the biggest philosophical problems that I have had with crafting is its relegation to an ancillary minigame status.

    I would make them each a true class of their own, balanced for PvE and PvP, modelling along the lines of the engineer class.

    Armor crafters should be able to use armor in superior ways and have ability/spell effects that run within sensible related areas such as damage mitigation trees for example.

    It just take a bit of creativity and the ability to not be mentally constrained by current paradigms.

  • Although the first set of armor I received in EQ was crafted (banded?), when I think back to the early days of commerce in EQ the most exciting part of the EC tunnel trading experience was loot that had been pulled out of the deepest dungeons. WTS Yak for 5k plat! I don’t remember very much crafted loot being sold there at all, except the occasional ring or bauble.

    I start out gathering in every new game I play now. And after about 10 levels I’m sick to death of gathering and my bags are full of useless items I will never use. So I spend a day crafting, which tends to bore me to tears. And then I just stop gathering and crafting for my remainder of playtime in the game.

    I agree with Bhagpuss. Making crafted loot the best loot in the game directly robs that pleasure from PVE dungeon exploring. Fortunately, this game won’t have PVE dungeon exploring so I’m not concerned.

  • EQ was entirely about dungeon diving. If a game is designed entirely to get people into dungeons to find loot then of coarse a pure crafting class making the best gear in the game doesn’t align with the rest of the design.

    If a game is designed to get people fighting each other, or to get people ‘living’ in the world and doing a breadth of activities, then having players ‘make’ the best things works out perfectly. Let the adventurers provide inputs for the crafters to use, have the crafters give the gear to the adventurers, and suddenly the whole system is complete.

  • Interesting the things people find enjoyable. Personally that all sounds way too much like a real life job to be enjoyable to me. Still it looks like you have a very promising future in retail 🙂

  • Much of the battle vs the Adventurer and Crafter lies in the fact that the adventurer does not want to go kills stuff and win battles only to have the geek in the village that sewed leather for months save up his gold to buy the parts to have the best gear in the game because he created it without having to fight through all the competition and just purchased the parts from the adventurers and is now walking around town like King Shit in all his glory crafts that are so powerful.

    An MMO where you have to earn your own parts to craft isn’t bad, but anytime the rewards of the crafter outweight the guy who killed all the crap, complaints are going to occur.

    And UO was the same, you craft crap then save your gold and put on your crafted gear and run out like a badass wanting to fight.

    They just need to balance both out, make people have to earn their own parts to craft.

    If they made a character class that couldn’t trade gold to others, and couldn’t wear their own gear but could only craft and buy a nice place, who would play it? People just want an advantage over others and crafting the best gear without taking the time to have to gather the parts themselves is a desire to many crafters I’ve met.

    So which do you want, a game where you craft or a game that lets you have an advantage by getting parts from players allowing you to craft and skip content to go directly to other content using your crafts?