Games

Synchronicity.

posted: June 26th, 2006


So completely unknown to me as I was writing up my posting about Something for Everyone on Friday Steve Danuser, Ryan Shwayder, and Aggro Me got together to post articles about crafting (I feel so left out).

This is funny to me because a lot of what inspired my post was thoughts about crafting and how adventuring players can be ‘forced’ to craft while crafting characters are ‘forced’ to adventure. All three articles are good but I think I need to (respectfully) disagree with an underlying assumption made by both Steve and Ryan.

Both Steve and Ryan talk about the difficulties of balancing looted items against crafted items. Make the crafted more powerful and you remove the impetus to slay monsters and collect loot. Make the looted items more powerful and you remove the value of crafting.

So why not make them equal? Pure madness, of course, because if they were equal then the market would be flooded with crafted goods and no one would go on a raid because craftsman could make items just as good but far easier.

Of course that’s the problem. There’s an assumption that crafting has to be easier than adventuring. I think Steve touches briefly on a solution when he points out that plenty of crafters spend as much time and attention on their crafting as adventurers. So why not design crafting rewards around similar lines as adventuring rewards? There could be solo tasks which can be undertaken by a single character to produce a certain class of item, serviceable and solid but by no means the top of the line. Then there could be group tasks which require the simultaneous efforts of several characters (as soon as we find a decent iron worker well be ready to go) to produce a better quality of item. Lastly there could be ‘raid’ content that requires the efforts of very large groups of crafters to make the most potent of items.

And just as there are often gating events that prevent to farming of high quality loot there can be similar restrictions to prevent players from producing massive amounts of crafted items, especially at the upper ends. There could be the equivalent of zone lock-outs that prevent characters from working on top tier items without a reasonable delay. Perhaps such tasks need to be started or finished (or even more difficult, both) at certain times, much like players might have to wait for a certain creature to spawn. It would even be possible, though I think undesirable, to make the equivalent of ‘contested’ content where a task can only be started at certain times but once one group has completed the task it becomes unavailable to all other groups (sorry guys, all the special spring water is gone. Come back next week when the spring starts flowing again).

Of course this would probably require a crafting system fairly different from any we have seen so far. Not only would there need to be a way to have multiple people working on the same task but there would need to be some way to make crafting events that had the same tension factor as raid content, with characters having to stay alert and do various things to keep the task on track and the possibility of complete failure at any moment. Some of Aggro Me’s ideas would probably be very helpful along those lines.



20 Comments »

Note: Given that the assumption of the above post is that a tradeskill system is being created for a game that is both adventure and item-centric, my response assumes the same.

I have a limited view of crafting, I admit. In my mind, crafting with other players would rarely, if ever, be fun. Part of the draw in crafting for me is the ability for me (and me alone) to create something. I like taking materials and applying my expertise to craft something worth using, whether it’s for me or for someone else. If I have to gain the aid of other players to make such an item, who would get it in the end? What is the reward for everyone who didn’t help out?

You could, of course, create an apprentice system for masters of their art. You might need one or two other players to help create pieces of an item, or to keep the fire at the right temperature, while you’re creating a masterpiece work. In the end, it is your item, your creation. Those who helped you, though, would get excellent experience and skill gain for observing you at your best. Feasible, yes, but that is still a license to print currency (whether it’s coin or items), given that you could guarantee the cooperation of certain people (or second boxes of your own).

Yes, it could require extremely rare items to create masterpieces worthy of the finest adventurer. But, then, where is the fun in creating the run-of-the-mill items that you can create with everyday materials? Is the fun just in making an item, breaking it down to its components (minus fuel), then remaking another item to gain experience and master your craft? I’d believe in that up until the end game, when the master crafter has little to nothing to do unless he obtains those extremely rare items, and in order for those extremely rare items to remain extremely rare, that master must remain extremely bored a majority of the time.

I’ll tackle each of the points listed in order:

There can be solo tasks undertaken that produce a useful but standard item.
I’ll buy that. I’ve never argued against allowing crafters to making useful items, even in adventure/item-centric games.

There can be group tasks that require multiple people to make a better quality item.
Perhaps, but you’re still giving players a guaranteed method of printing currency outside of the designer’s control.

There can be raid content that requires very large groups of crafters to make an item.
I just don’t see how this could be fun, to be honest. OMG someone quell that fire! OMG someone hammer out that nick! OMG someone kill the fire daemon that spawned from the forge! You get my point. To me, cooperating with a large group of players to make an item isn’t fun. I want to make items by myself, because that is the way I feel I have achieved something, and there’s no way I would help someone make an uber rare item unless there was some chance that I would be the one who ended up with it.

There can be gating events that prevent players from making huge amounts of crafted items.
One, I hate artificial restrictions. If you’ve read some of my posts on such things, you know that I despise them. Additionally, this idea seems to go counter to the vision of crafting you present–you see crafting as an integral system in the game. The only way crafters are truly going to feel rewarded is when they are producing the excellent items. If you artificially disallow them from doing so, they aren’t having fun, and you are then restricting crafting from taking place as an important and always-present factor for a single character (i.e. a character that is exclusively a crafter would have a ton of forced downtime, which is not fun).

This would be a different crafting system from any we have seen.
Quite true, and I think there is a reason: nobody has found a way to make this really fun just yet. I’m not saying group crafting can’t be fun, but it’s definitely not my bag.

Most crafters that I have encountered over the years fit a couple of stereotypes that would indicate that group crafting wouldn’t always fly: First, they are players who feel the greatest sense of achievement by creating something special. When I make a full suit of hard-to-craft armor for a large amount of coin and it has my name on it, I feel rewarded as hell. Second, they don’t like relying on other people. A player with a crafter mindset (in current games) is often someone who enjoys soloing, because they trust in their skills and gain a sense of achievement by accomplishing tasks by themselves. Finally, they are social creatures, but they often don’t like sharing–I want to get top dollar for my items, and anything I make I’m not giving away for free unless I owe someone (hence why I don’t think “raiding” an item would go over too well, since only one person would end up with the result).

I’m not trying to bag on all of your opinions, because they are surely valid and I’m confident that many people share your beliefs. My outlook, of course, is from that of someone who enjoys accomplishing tasks by himself, which naturally pulls me away from being attracted to this type of crafting system. I also detest artificial restrictions, which this type of system calls for. Finally, I have to be constantly concerned with a game’s economy. In a system in which items are extremely important in a game, and players have permanent access to creating awesome items, you’ve given them a license to print money and it would be difficult to control that flow without pissing a lot of people off.

Now, for all my arguing against crafters making incredible items, I will reveal to you something: My ultimate game would have crafting as an integral part of the game. Crafters would perform tasks that are essential to the well-being of every player, and their weapons and armor would indeed be some of the best, if not the best, in the game. The caveat? My ultimate game isn’t item-centric; yes, items are used very often and are quite versatile, but the difference between a player in crappy armor for their capabilities and amazing armor for their capabilities might be a 20% effectiveness divergence.

Finally, I challenge you to a debate at work, and when the heck did you make a blog? 😛

Comment by Blackguard — June 27, 2006

[…] In response to my post, Moorgard’s post, and (to some extent) Aggro Me’s post last week on crafting, Evan Sampson provided his opinions in a post entitled “Synchronicity.” Before I begin, I must first comment that I work with Evan at SOE, and he never told me he made a blog. For that, I give you a wag of the finger, Mr. Sampson. For daring to challenge the mighty ego of Blackguard, however, I give you a tip of the hat. Make sure you read Evan’s post before this one, and it would do you well to read all three of the other posts I linked before reading his. Moving on… […]

Pingback by Nerfbat » Crafting: My Argument Against Synchronicity — June 27, 2006

Your challenge is accepted! D20’s at dawn! Oh, wait. You said debate, not duel.

At any rate, I’ve been blogging for about a month now. For the most part I haven’t been saying anything because I was still polishing up my theme. I’m still not entirely happy with it since IE 6 seems to be messing up some things, but it mainly seems to be behaving.

I also didn’t want to tell people only to have them log in to my entire three posts.

Anyway, I’ll reply to your post in the morning since it’s getting a bit late. 🙂

Comment by Evan — June 27, 2006

Well, I’ve got more to say soon enough, but regarding the “teamed crafting:”

I think there IS some room for such truly epic ‘raid” content that synthesizes adventure and crafting. Imagine artifacts that must be crafted in dangerous, mystical places… Defended by adventurers, supported by a team of crafters, each crafting session draws a little more energy into the item. Every imbuing awakens something from the depths.

Forged in the mountain of Mount Doom.

Granted, SWG had something like this- the “death watch bunker” where Mandalorian armor could be crafted, IIRC. It was a notable attempt, but revealed the weakness of trying to tack such a collaborative process over a traditional crafting interface.

I guess that shows the difficulty of such a project.

Comment by Chas — June 27, 2006

When I refer to ‘raid’ crafting I’m not really talking about synthesizing crafting and adventuring. In many ways ‘raid’ is a poor term to use since there’s not necessarily any combat involved. However ‘raid’ does conjure up the image of multiple groups forming up, planning out their strategies, and going through the various stages necessary to reach the best items, so it’s the term I used.

I did toy with the idea of referring to it as ‘epic’ crafting, but since epic has it’s own meaning, and it would be possible to create crafting quests that follow that model, I didn’t.

That said, there’s no reason there couldn’t be hybrid tasks in which you need a crafter or group of crafters to work while a group of adventurers kill things. The only danger with such a system is that you run the risk of making some crafters feel as though they are being forced to do something they dislike (adventuring) so you would have to balance it with something that was more pure crafting with a similar reward.

Comment by Evan — June 27, 2006

I think this is perfectly viable.

Let’s use EQ2 as a basis.

First you have to calculate at what rate you want these uber items entering
the game. Lets say 1 unit per crafter per week for legendary crafted, and 1
unit per month per crafter for fabled crafted. I say units because for
provisioners it might not be a single item but a handful of drinks and food.

Next, create an instance that crafters must enter and participate in to get
those items. Set the lock out on this instance based on the rate you want
items to enter your world. I don’t think this is unreasonable because
adventurers face the same mechanism when raiding. An example would be a
Spelunking expedition instance.

The lore behind the Spelunking expedition goes as follows.

“The Drednever Expedition has found a new vein of ore and needs your help to
help mine it. They request the aid of 9+ crafters to aid them in their task.
This vein of ore is found in an abandoned cave (RE: NO MOBS TO KILL) however
it has various environmental dangers that must be overcome.”

There are two steps that crafters must accomplish in order finish the
instance.

First, the crafters must make some equipment and provisions ahead of
time to overcome the environmental dangers such as gnomish environmental
suits, hemp rope, mining picks etc. Yes, instead of wearing adventure gear,
crafters will have to wear a seperate line of gear for these adventures. This
gear will reduce the chance of falure on tasks they must complete in the zone.

Second, the crafters must aid the gnomes while in the zone by harvesting,
making and repairing items. If they fail to provide the requested materials,
the gnomes will be unable to proceed with their mining operation. Some of the
fun things they may have to make could include exploding barrels to pass
obstructions. To increase the challenge, provide the crafters with a list of
items they can make and let them figure out which are needed to overcome which
obstacles.

When the crafters have manage to solve all the puzzles and provided sufficient
materials, the gnomes leave a chest containing odds and ends they found during
the expedition that they have no need for but thing the crafters might figure
out a use for.

Every tradeskill class will be able to make something that is needed in the
instance. For example, provisioners can make food for the beast of burden. No
food and the beast of burden don’t pull the ore out of the mine.

If you want to further restrict the availability of items, you can make the
very best tradeskill instances only accessible after a raid of adventurers
temporarily secure the area. The raid that secures the area is given a token
so that the tradeskillers can form a raid and enter it to get tradeskilling
materials back out.

Existing instances can double as tradeskill adventure instances buy having the
boss mobs drop the token granting one time access to the tradeskill version.
In doing so, you make it possible for tradeskillers to explore these zones
however they might require the help of adventures to get safely to the zone in
point thus providing even more interaction between tradeskillers and
adventurers. Obviously the people that get the most benefits would be those
that max both tradeskill and adventure levels.

Comment by Zygwen — June 27, 2006

I like the overall idea and this is the sort of thing that I’m talking about. However this example has everyone making separate crafting rolls. Obviously since you were trying to make all this fit under the current EQ2 model this is necessary since EQ2 doesn’t support combined crafting tasks but I think it could make the ‘raid’ pretty dull a lot of the time (when it’s not your turn).

Freeing ourselves from the restrictions of fitting within EQ2 I would envision things more along these lines:

For the first task the group has to reduce the raw ore to refined components. As the metallurgists tries to heat the ore and burn off the impurities the craftsmen are stoking the fire, trying to keep it as hot as possible but steady. The less controlled the fire is the harder it is for the metallurgist to heat the ore precisely. While they are doing that the scholars have to add components to the fire to counter the various impurities. Adding the wrong one’s at the wrong time will throw off the temperature of the fire, decrease the quality of the ore, and possibly have other negative consequences. All of this happens simultaneously so that no one is left out.

Then when the ore is refined the blade can be forged and a similar process begins.

Comment by Evan — June 27, 2006

Even with the EQ2 system you don’t have to force people to wait. Why can’t the provisioner make food to feed the gnomes while the tailor works on asbestos gloves and the weaponsmith works on tongues? Do not think of the tasks as a linear progression but as concurent goals. Unless you want to add parts of the zone where subcomponents from each class are required.

A crafter instance should be one third gathering components, one third making things and one third interacting with the environment. I am fairly certain that this can be done in EQ2 in such a way that crafters will want to participate. The basic tools to make this possible already exist in EQ2. The building of griffon towers and teleportation spires are one shot examples of involving harvesters and crafters. Frostfell was an example of inovative ways to interact with the environment. The next step is to weave these basic components into a believable instance zone experience where crafting and harvesting skills are used instead of combat skills to achieve a goal.

Imagine that raiders have just cleared the Labs of Lord Vyemm. For a limited time, it is possible for crafters to go in and appraise items to be removed and used for further study, eventualy resulting in new crafted gear. Due to the “time limit” they will only be able to remove 5 items but which 5 items is up to the crafters. There are actualy several dozen interactible objects they can choose to remove but they can only work on 5. In order to remove the 5 a combination of tradeskills are required. Which tradeskills and how are left to the tradeskillers to discover.

Comment by Zygwen — June 27, 2006

You can certainly set up various concurrent tasks that have to be done and you won’t have people waiting at the beginning. The problem comes later on when one person or one group of people are finished with their tasks and end up needing to wait for the others to catch up before they move on. A combined task system would make sure that things like that don’t happen.

Another consideration is that because of required sub-combines it can simply become impossible should someone go line dead or if the proper crafter can’t be found. With a group task it would still be possible, albeit difficult, to finish the task in much the same way as it is possible to have an adventure group without a healer or without a tank.

Finally the social aspect of multiple people working on the same task rather than separate tasks which are combined to finish the final task probably shouldn’t be overlooked.

This isn’t to say that the scenario you laid out isn’t any good. With a bit of balancing you could probably make it so that everyone finishes up at close to the same time and even though the sub-projects are independent there will still be a strong social aspect. I’m simply saying that if a designer were to build an entirely new crafting system from the ground up then combined tasks would probably be a better way to go.

Comment by Evan — June 27, 2006

I think your idea has merit now that I understand it better. However, I don’t see it as something people would want to spend an hour or two straight doing. To me, a combined task would be something that the event leads up to. So you start with people doing simple individual task and you gradualy build up to the final assembly which is a combined task.

Comment by Zygwen — June 27, 2006

[…] Sychronicity. (Evan Sampson) […]

Pingback by IGDA SAN DIEGO » Crafting in MMOs — June 28, 2006

Going back to EQ2, I hope you don’t mind, the alternate crafting skills of geocraft, binding, woodcraft etc provide some degree of flexibility. It can allow a group of crafters to continue through an instance even if they loose one of the primary classes or gives the opportunity of making instances that only require 3 crafters, scholar, outfiter and craftsman. Point being that the necesary tools are already in place to make crafters equal to adventurers. It just requires the dedication of people with dreams like yours to convince others that this is worth doing. 🙂

Comment by Zygwen — June 28, 2006

I don’t think I can agree that all the tools are already in place to make crafters equal to adventurers. The tools are there to make crafters much more than they currently are, but I think just using the current tools things would come up a little short.

As an example in your suggestion it is true that the alternate crafting skills provide some flexibility, but if you those could be used then couldn’t you do the whole thing with a single player? Even if you figure out tricks to prevent that you still have the issues of people completing tasks at different times and some of them having to wait around for others to finish up.

Don’t get me wrong, your suggestion has huge merit because it can be fit into the existing systems but I am trying to look at building a complete system from the ground up, rather than trying to fit within an existing one. My feeling is that once I have these details figured out then I can work on changing it to fit within an existing system, making the necessary compromises (with the bonus that it can be carried over to a new game without such compromises).

What I am trying to work out in my head is some kind of combined system with four different roles that corresponds roughly to the standard group model of tank, healer, damage, and utility. These positions would be filled by four general classes like Craftsman, Tradesman, or Scholar (yes, that’s only three). Then the individual classes would break to subclasses (Craftsman has Provisioner and Tailor, Tradesman has Armorer, Weaponsmith, and Woodworker, etc.)

The ‘tank’ would be the lead for the task, someone who is controlling the overall progress. The ‘healer’ would be someone who keeps the durability (to use the EQII model) high. The role of damage would be to generate more progress.

Unlike combat the roles people would fill would be dependent upon the task. For making armor a Tradesman would be the best lead and a Scholar would provide progress while for making a scroll a Scholar would be the best lead and a Craftsman would be a better choice for progress.

This would make it so that it’s entirely possible to succeed in a task without a crafter in one of the roles (except for lead, of course) and even allows people to solo craft what would essentially be group or raid content, if their skills are high enough. However crafters will be more successful with a properly balanced group.

This is, of course, only a really rough sketch. I still need to work out lots of details. What’s the fourth class? Is it really necessary to have a utility role? What are the subclasses? How do they fulfill their roles in the various tasks? I envision the lead as spreading successes between the various attributes of what is being crafted (as an example for a weapon he would have to choose how to split the successes between damage and attack speed) but how exactly does that work?

Comment by Evan — June 28, 2006

“I don’t think I can agree that all the tools are already in place to make crafters equal to adventurers. The tools are there to make crafters much more than they currently are, but I think just using the current tools things would come up a little short.”

Perhaps, but so far the developers have surprised me with some of their innovations.

“As an example in your suggestion it is true that the alternate crafting skills provide some flexibility, but if you those could be used then couldn’t you do the whole thing with a single player?”

iirc when we rebuilt the spires, only scholars where able to do the geocrafting combines. A similar limitation was imposed on craftsman and outfitters.

“Even if you figure out tricks to prevent that you still have the issues of people completing tasks at different times and some of them having to wait around for others to finish up.“

And raiders don’t wait several minutes at a time while raid leaders set up for boss mob pulls? Or when doing loot split after a chest drops? I think there needs to be an ebb and flow to the activities and challenges provided. I was suggesting that tradeskill instances are broken up into harvesting, tradeskilling and puzzle solving to help provide an flow. Crafters that finish their tradeskilling task can work on other non tradeskilling tasks.

“My feeling is that once I have these details figured out then I can work on changing it to fit within an existing system, making the necessary compromises (with the bonus that it can be carried over to a new game without such compromises).”

Heh In other words, you propose a revolution while I propose an evolution. The goal is the same but the method to produce the result is different.

“What I am trying to work out in my head is some kind of combined system with four different roles that corresponds roughly to the standard group model of tank, healer, damage, and utility…”

In EQ, we used to talk about the holy trinity, Warrior, Cleric and DPS. Or Warrior Cleric, crowd control. In EQ2 we had Tank, Healer and DPS with most people discounting the fourth category of utility. As a result it is sometimes difficult for “utility” classes to justify their existence, which might be why you have trouble fitting them in you scheme.

When I first started raiding in EQ2 I used to think that raids where much like an inverted pyramid. There was one and only one Main Tank. If the Main Tank goes down, everything else falls apart like a house of cards. That was a bit of a culture shock because in EQ we used to rotate tanks all the time. My current guild and possibly the change in how EQ2 raid instances are done has proven that this is no longer the case.

If we transpose that to tradeskilling I would picture the master crafter as the Tank/Leader but after that, I’m not sure how well the analogy works. If we took a swordsmith for example, a Master Swordsmith would have several Apprentices. These apprentices would do the grunt work and most of the mass production. When it came time to make a master piece, the Master Swordsmith would be involved with the overall management and the final assembly. However, after a master blade has been created, it would still need to be engraved and otherwise embellished which would be equivalent to having a scholar enchant it.

An in game example would be that the lead weaponsmith does the final combine. The subcomponents must be made by other players and the final enchantments are done by a scholar. For added effect you can have someone work the bellows and someone tending the coals in the forge.

Unfortunately, this is only one of many views on how a weapon is forged. In traditional fantasy there are often stories of a single smith creating a legendary blade out of rare star metal or the reforging of a fabled blade. The details as to the exact logistics tend to be fuzzy however. This is both good and bad. It means that if you come up with a system not everyone will be happy with it because it does not conform to their idea of how crafting should be. However, it also allows you a degree of artistic license.

Comment by Zygwen — June 29, 2006

[…] Anyway… crafting! Aggro Me, Moorgard, and Blackguard (the members of the Round Table) kicked off the tradeskill discussion with Craft This, Crafting in MMOs (Or, “Can’t We All Just Get Along?”), and The Role of Crafting in Massively Multiplayer Games respectively. With Synchronicity, MadScientist negates the Round Table’s postulate that mob loot must be made better than crafted items. Wondrous Inventions (”me”) then chimes by posting Crafting in Today’s MMOs just before Blackguard returns to further debate Synchronicity. To finish, West Karana dumps The Crafty Adventurer on the rest of us, who by that time I am sure are just about sick of reading about tradeskills. […]

Pingback by Wondrous Inventions » On Crafting, Linkage, and Gold Selling — June 29, 2006

iirc when we rebuilt the spires, only scholars where able to do the geocrafting combines. A similar limitation was imposed on craftsman and outfitters.

All right, but now we are back in the situation of needing a certain class or else the task is literally impossible. I will admit that it is better than needing a specific sub-class and that without a healer a raid is practically impossible, but in your case if you can’t get a scholar you are completely shut down. No chance to see how far you can go. No way to try and compensate by having non-healers (monks and paladins, for instance) take a stab at healing, knowing it probably won’t work. You simply can’t proceed. Do you see the difference?

And raiders don’t wait several minutes at a time while raid leaders set up for boss mob pulls? Or when doing loot split after a chest drops?

No. You are absolutely correct. They do sit around and wait, but during that time everyone is sitting around and waiting. It’s not an issue of a few people being forced to wait while others are active.

If we took a swordsmith for example, a Master Swordsmith would have several Apprentices. These apprentices would do the grunt work and most of the mass production. When it came time to make a master piece, the Master Swordsmith would be involved with the overall management and the final assembly. However, after a master blade has been created, it would still need to be engraved and otherwise embellished which would be equivalent to having a scholar enchant it.

Actually that can already be handled simply by having other crafters make sub-combines and the master craftsman making the final combine (though the ‘apprentices’ in such a case still have to be in the same tier as the item being made). In a group crafting effort multiple characters would be working towards the same task. This is why one character supplies control while another supplies success and a third supplies durability. As the smith is forging the blade the craftsman maintains the fire, providing successes, and the scholar adds chemicals to burn out impurities, supplying durability. Of course the smith is also providing some progress and durability on their own so it’s possible to complete the task without one of the other classes, but it will impact the final results and can drastically increase the chance of failure.

I should also say that group crafting doesn’t mean one task and everyone is done. Just like groups, raids, and even solo players have to complete multiple encounters projects would be composed of multiple tasks. Ore would have to be refined, a blade would need to be forged, a scholar would place runes upon it, and the hilt would need to be made and attached.

Again, this is just my view of a way to create some interesting and complicated crafting tasks that would be comparable in difficulty to a raid and so would be able to generate raid level loot. There is an attraction to keeping things simpler, such as you suggest, but I worry that the more different you make adventure raids and crafting raids the more likely it is for one group to complain that the other group has it easier.

In traditional fantasy there are often stories of a single smith creating a legendary blade out of rare star metal or the reforging of a fabled blade.

This is true, but there are also plenty of tales about how a hero slays a mighty dragon single handed or with a handful of companions. Tales where twenty people get together to kill a dragon are few and far between. We make certain concessions for balance.

Comment by Evan — June 29, 2006

My intent was to show that your dilemma could be solved, not to provide a full blown solution. My viewpoint is that a compelling and complex system is built up from simple building blocks. It is how they are put together and interact that make the system complex. Let us step back for a moment and try to string some of the ideas that we threw around together.

First, I would like to look at how solo, group and raid play is done for adventurers in EQ2. In EQ2 a group can have up to 6 players. This means that you can have 1 of each type, Fighter, Mage, Priest, Scout and 2 spares. In raids, there are 24 slots that are ideally fit with one of each of the 24 classes but I suspect that raids should be doable with just 12 or 16 of the 24. A balanced raid would have 6 fighters, 6 mages, 6 priest and 6 scouts but if only 12 or 16 of the classes are needed, you have 8 to 12 spares. We could apply the same idea to crafting groups where the maximum number in a group or raid is greater than the minimum to cover all skills needed. Let us say a group would have 6 with 3 spares because the 3 types needed are scholar, craftsman and outfitters. Raids would have 18 maximum with 9 being a minimum, one for each class.

The second idea I would like to use it the idea that pristine is very hard to accomplish. I would weave this in the following way. Each task is broken up into parts that require specific classes. If the specific class is working on that sub-task then they can achieve the maximum progress. Let us say the maximum progress for a sub-task is 1000 for simplicity. If there isn’t a member of the specific class available for that sub-task, someone of the same archetype (scholar, craftsman, outfitter) can complete the sub-task but the maximum progress they can achieve is only 900. If the correct archetype is not available, any other crafter can fill the role but the maximum progress they can reach is only 750. Thus it is still possible to finish the task if you don’t have the correct class but you pay a penalty for doing so.

So if a task required a weaponsmith, a tailor and a sage, having a weaponsmith, tailor and sage would mean you could make a perfect combine worth 3000 progress points. If you didn’t have a sage but had a jeweler instead you could only max out at 2900 and if you had no scholar you would max out at 2750. If you had only scholars in the group your max would be 750+750+1000 or 2500 and if you only had craftsmen your max would be 750+750+750 = 2250. Note it is still possible to make an inferior product even if you have all the right classes if they use up all their durability before they reached the max progress available to them.

In this example, only 3 crafters were needed but the group can have up to 6. The question would be, what do the rest of the crafters do. Well, I would propose that the other crafters could help speed up the process. You can have 2 crafters work on the same sub-task. You could either have the max progress set to that of the crafter whose specialization matches closer to what is needed or you could average the two. In the first case if you had a sage and a provisioner working together on a sage combine it would still have a maximum value of 1000. In the later case you would have a maximum of 825. The balance would need to be worked out. I am not sure people should have to trade speed for quality.

Finally, we would have to decided how to split the rewards. I would suggest that if a combine required 3 classes then 3 items would be created. So if 6 people worked on it, they would have to do it twice to be able to distribute the result evenly. The same idea applies to raids that require 9 classes. 9 items are generated even if more than 9 people worked on it. This is not a perfect solution but it is a starting point to give some idea of what could be done with what we have discussed.

Comment by Zygwen — July 1, 2006

I think overall we are on fairly similar paths. We’re simply quibbling over some of the smaller ‘fiddly bits’. We agree on the benefits of creating group tasks and what the outcome should be. We are simply taking different ideas as how to have a group work together.

That said I’m not really crazy about the idea of splitting up the results. Unless an adventuring group has a similar mechanism so that everyone gets a sword when a sword drops I think there should only be a single item produced. Again, it is a matter of preserving parity between the two groups.

Comment by Evan — July 3, 2006

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

Why shouldn’t crafters makes batches of legendary items when they combine their efforts.

I wouldn’t necessarily advocate that each tradeskiller get an item but I would not omit the possibility that more than one item was generated just like when we raid we sometimes end up with more than one fabled item before leaving the instance.

Comment by Zygwen — July 19, 2006

I absolutely agree. One thing I try to hold to in game design is the idea that it is the players who are special, not the NPC’s. This means that anything an NPC can do a player should be able to do, at least in theory. Thus, if it is possible for NPC’s to create items of great power then it should be possible for PC’s to do the same.

I think we are on the same page about the ‘raid crafting’ rewards. I think I mentioned in one of my comments somewhere that such huge efforts would produce not just the final product but some additional byproducts (most likely components that could be used in other crafting efforts), similar to the way that a raid will usually produce one ‘raid’ level item and then some lesser items. I’m just against the idea that everyone who participated must get a full reward. Since that doesn’t happen in adventuring raids why should it happen in crafting raids?

Comment by Evan — July 20, 2006

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