Tobold's Blog
Thursday, May 29, 2008
WAR crafting

The latest Warhammer Online video podcast is out, and it talks about a subject dear to my heart: crafting. So how does crafting in WAR work? Glad you asked. :) In the video podcast Mark Jacobs, in spite of not being quite the showman that Paul Barnett is, explains the basic principle very well: Crafting in WAR is not based on recipes. Instead it is simply based on ingredients and skill. Thus if you have the ingredients for example for a healing potion, and the skill to make one, you can make that healing potion without having to go to a trainer or find a rare drop with a healing potion recipe. I find that a big improvement over the WoW system, where for example my mage has his enchanting skill maxed, but still can't make many useful enchantments, because the recipes are all rare drops from places nobody goes to anymore.

Mark presents only 2 crafting skills in that video, plus 4 gathering skills. The two crafting skills are talisman making and apothecary (alchemy), which work in a very similar way: you take one container, one main ingredient, and three other ingredients and mix them. The type of main ingredient determines what exactly you are making, whether it is a healing potion or a potion that gives some stat bonus. The other ingredients either increase your chance to succeed, or they modify the recipe, for example making a healing potion that heals more points, or a stat buff potion that lasts longer. There is also a chance to get critical successes and making unusual potions or talismans. Talismans apparently work like gems in WoW, some items have slots into which you can add them.

The four gathering skills are unusual insofar as none of them involves searching for resource nodes. There are two skills that work like skinning in WoW, that is you get something from dead mobs: Scavenging for humanoid mobs, butchering for animals. One skill works like disenchanting in WoW, you take a magical item and extract a magic essence from it. Mark stresses the point that unlike WoW the essence you extract is related to the bonus the item you disenchant has. So if you disenchant an item with a strength bonus, you'll get an essence which would confer a strength bonus to a talisman you made with it. The last gathering skill is called cultivation and apparently works a bit like growing plants in Final Fantasy XI: You put together a seed, soil, water, and nutrients, and some plant or fungus grows out of it, which can then be used as apothecary ingredient.

The system looks quite interesting, but I'd sure hope that there will be more crafting skills in the final game than just two. It should be possible to design a system to craft weapons or armor with the same principle of mixing ingredients instead of using recipes.

Disclaimer: The above information is all based on publicly available information in the video I linked to, and does thus not fall under the NDA. As much as I would like to respond to some commenters spreading false negative rumors supposedly "leaked" from the WAR beta, I'm under a legal obligation to stick to publicly available information, and can not confirm or deny any rumors. I'd just ask you to treat the WAR beta leaks like the WotLK alpha leaks and not put too much credence into them until at least an open beta is available.
4 Gathering Skills, one Crafting skill. So your crafting must be based on player economy. Oh bad decision.

No Weapon or Armor making? Means equipment is totally based on drops. Bad decision.

Only 2 skills basically, thats not enough by far and economy will fail as everyone has it.
correction: two crafting skills
Sounds like they will have to make a somewhat randomized result, or the players will quickly find the optimal use of the system.

The deterministic structure of the WoW game design is one of the strongest aspects of the whole product.
Things that I yearn for in a MMO crafting system:

- player crafters able to make equipment or consumables that are competitive (preferable slightly better) with loot drops or NPC vendors.

- a high turnover of equipment that necessitates combat player/crafter player interactions.

- a robust auction/vendor system

- crafting xp that is not based on how many useless items I churn out but based on other players using my craftables.

- I'm not a big fan of recipes. Rather I would love to see crafters have to specialize and have a limited amount of items that they could make. I love the metagame of being a crafter, trying to find a niche market that fills a need on a particular server.

- an element of luck/chance when crafting. If combat players get to play 'slot-machine' with loot drops, why not give crating the same?

Crafting should be an art. The most valuable thing as a crafter should be the recipe and the way he makes things. I see here just basic MMO crafting 1.01. Innovative? Hell no!

1. Why gathering is not random and skill based where you can find exceptional items based on a combination of your skills not just linear skills that make everyone about the same gatherer as everybody else.

2. Why crafting is so simple? Are they making asumptions this has to be for everyone? even the supreme dumb players?
Crafting should allow you to create your own unique recipes which could be your trademark, with results that are sometimes better or worse but are always predictable considering the ingredionts and lets say order you put them together.

3. Ingredients should not be translated into effects they produce but rather general things they do and different combinations of them should produce those effects and there should be so many of them people wont ever make a list of all possibilities that way your recipes could be really your own and your items could make you famous. For ex. nobody makes swords like XXX that cut so good I think YYYY one was his masterpiece.

I want to see that happen. Because I can already see those crafting listings "all items you can do in WAR, skill range can vary on your skill and luck". Thats just bollocks.

If more things are like this in WAR I thing one of Tobolds last topics could be a real question. Would we play a new shiny world within WOW engine?

cheers everyone
Well, I'm not in the closed beta, so I can safely say that the leaks from the latest phase of testing look like a massive improvement on the last phase, which looked like an equally impressive advance on the phase before that. I'm pretty confident that EA Mythic can realise their ambitions, given enough time (I'll believe a 2008 release when it actually happens).

Ok, so the graphics and UI are looking more than remarkably like WoW at the moment, but I'll be delighted with that as long as the actual content is new and interesting. With RvR, Public Quests, the Tome of Knowledge and this distinct crafting system on the table, I think WAR is shaping up very well.

Lets face it, if WAR ends up playing anywhere near as well as WoW, but with a robust RvR end-game, it's going to be a huge success.
SWG crafting was excellent in certain ways.
This sounds very interesting ^_^.

So basically you would make a healing potion that healed for 40-50 or if you mix it up a bit the same type of potion could heal for 60-70.
the crafting system sounds pretty good, and even though I'm a bit disheartened by that It only seems we'll have two crafting skills at launch (unless we get another releasedate pushback O_o), I ultimatley feel that It's one of those things that can be added more of later on.

So far the both crafting systems seem to contribute something useful, in an unusual and not-very-grindy way, and that's good enough for me at launch!
I could live without these sort of professions, to be honest.

Just as in WoW, you will either have to skill up a profession and spend your time grinding ingredients, or you will have to go to the AH and spend money buying them (and thus spend time grinding gold in order to pay for them).

Then all raid encounters will have to be tuned to account for all the players using the best dps/healing/tanking potions or enchantments, and if you are not using them, you might not get through the encounter, therefore you will have no choice but to buy them/produce them.

I am not saying crafting is only tedious and can't be fun, but don't make my use of such products a necessity.
Wait until you find out the high level ingredients can only be found in certain instances....

Its also a terrible system as nothing distinguishes one crafter from another, meaning tradeskills have a an even lower importance than they do in wow.
When you drop the craft, you're left with WAR :P
This seems like a pretty good system, if nothing else, it will increase the possibilities for amounts of potions and such.
1. WAR is primarily a PvP/RvR game. Crafting exists solely to add some flavor to the game, if you want hardcore crafting you're not WAR's target audience.

2. The game is still in beta. The fact that they've only revealed 2 crafting professions so far doesn't mean there won't be more at release, or more still post-release.

3. WoW's crafting system is static, tedious, grindy, and REQUIRED. WAR doesn't have end-game raids like WoW, potions and such won't have to be a balancing factor because the main enemy for concern with balance is the opposing realm -- and they have potions, talismans, etc., as well.
I don't mind dropping the recipe system, but there should be some way of making it interesting/difficult to craft.

You know how WoW has a sharp increase in difficulty between the leveling game and the endgame. Right now WoW crafting is just a parallel easy leveling game. With enough money and an active AH, you can buy the ingredients to level any crafting profession to the skill cap. The only thing distinguishing crafters is the types of recipes they acquire through a combination of AH, random world drops, and farming. That's the "endgame" of crafting and doesn't require any skill beyond running certain instances and hoping for drops.

If WAR wants to make a better crafting system, it needs to offer challenges toward improving your skill. Otherwise it just won't be fun.
In terms of crafting, to me...

Variety and being useful is much more fun than leveling up/grinding.

This system sounds like it will compliment the rest of the game well, rather then being a game in itself. That is fine by me. At least it is different from WoW/LoTRO.
Mt only real requirement to crafting in an adventure game is that it's optional. I never enjoyed it in any of the implementations I've seen, and it always felt like a timesink and a distraction from more enjoyable activities. Typically, after trying it in any given game once, I'd skip it on all my subsequent characters.

There seem to be 2 kinds of people that like crafting: those that just want to make useful items, and those who want room to be creative in a game. I think the 2nd kind of crafting is more interesting, but doesn't fit the mold of a formulaic stat-based combat-oriented game. Some niche virtual worlds (I hesitate to call them games) -- most notably Second Life -- have extensive user content creation capabilities.
Pretty similar to how things work in Asheron's Call
Personally, I would have to experience this in action. When I look at it critically, it sounds like a slimmed-down, simplified crafting system. I even wonder why it's even in it; I remember Paul Barnett's famous remark, answering a question about crafting, "that this is Warhammer, not Embroideryhammer".

Well, actually I don't wonder at all. It's probably in it because resource-gathering is in it. And resource-gathering is in it because...

...certain other games have it.
I think I prefer either a good but extensive crafting system or no crafting system at all. In the Warhammer context, which is supposed to be a PvP-centric (though not PvP-only) game I feel that it would have been a better use of resources to design a shitload of arms, armour, clothing etc. which you can buy from traders (or get as rewards for "combat mission"-like quests).
I guess I can be glad no one has commented that this crafting is another WoW rip off, because honestly like so many things in WAR, it is not a rip off of WoW.

Mythic has stated from day one that crafting was not going to be a completely seperate system in WAR. This system fits right into WAR and its design. It isn't overbearing, adds to the main combat oriented gameplay, and most importantly is really meant to give the players something to do with the copious amounts of "junk" loot they acquire.

Instead of collecting a thousand pieces of trash a player can never do anything with other than sell to a vendor, gathering skills will be required to extract additional value from fallen enemies. In turn, what is gathered will primarily have value to crafters.

The overall effect that I see from this is that the system encourages, not forces, interaction. It will be unlikely that crafting components will be easily gathered by a single player en masse. That means, OMFG, that they have to interact to get new ingredients to play with. However, it is not forced, and the ingredients a player has ON HAND can be used to make something USEFUL.

The only point I wonder about is whether results will be random or rigid, because if they are rigid then there will be "recipes". Players will just be going to a website to get them instead of having them in game.

Overall, I like the simplicity of the system. For the average player it is just a matter of tossing together items you find in the world and getting something from them. For the dedicated player, there is hopefully an endless world of possibilities. And with just two professions, there isn't that great of a chance of either one sucking, unlike most crafting systems where there is ten skills, but only one or two that are worthwhile.
I must admit to liking combine crafting systems, but I still think there's room for recipes in the game - just make the recipes available by more than rare drops in adventuring. Discoveries, teaching, etc.

Additionally, as heartless mentioned, if the results of combines are non-random (and it sounds like they are), then there will be recipes available on the web ... which is an immersion breaking design.

This would especially be the case if the player interface doesn't have any support for remembering combine sets. If every time you want to craft a Potion of Uber Healing you have to refer to some notes outside of the game, then that's a fail. A recipe system, despite it's other flaws, does let you see what you can make in a list.
Personally, I hope they never include solid item crafting armor/weaponsmithing. No matter what people think, player production of armor/weapons creates an inbalance.

Some aspects of certain systems are OK, like sharpening stones, weapon chains, etc., from BS'ing in WoW. But I think in general, armor and weapons should be outside the realm of crafting.

Also, I love crafting, it can be a total blast, and I'm completely stoked about the WAR system. It sounds like gathering mats is going to be as exciting as making goods!
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