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.