Tobold's Blog
Friday, October 24, 2008
 
Ixobelle on crafting

Ixobelle, previously from NotAddicted, has an own blog now, with an interesting article on crafting interfaces. The principal question is whether crafting in its current form is too easy, just click a button with the ingredients in your inventory. I don't know if Ixobelle's crafting interfaces are the best solution, but I sure would like to see more crafting systems like in Puzzle Pirates or A Tale in the Desert, where you actually need some skill to craft something, and the better your skill, the better the item you craft.
Comments:
Yet...what about the EQ2 system?
I never really felt there was some formulaic way to make these items...I pressed certain buttons I thought worked..and it seemed to fit.
But, it was more entertaining than the one click options of WoW, LOTRO, etc.

But, right now, I am enjoying a little mini game in Fable 2 for crafting.
Simple, yet effective, where a sliding bar has a ball that moves back and forth like a pendulum, with a shrinking hotspot. You must hit the hotspot or fail on that piece.
Simple, yet more interactive than click and watch.
 
Complicated 'fun' new crafting system = great stuff!
Complicated 'no-fun' new crafting system = ignore.

My point? Just like the Zombie event, YMMV, and people's opinions will likely be all over the board when it comes to a complex crafting system.
 
The EQ II system is fun at first, but becomes just as mindlessly easy as a "click a button" system once you get it down. In the end the only difference between EQ II and something dead simple like WoW is that you have to watch the screen to craft. It took me about 20 minutes to get comfortable with the system, and after that I made literally hundreds of items without getting less than a pristine on any of them. Still, EQ II does have my favorite crafting system among the "big 5" fantasy MMOs.
 
I posted over there, but in a nutshell, I'm all for more complex crafting, so long as it's fun, as sumdumguy states, and as long as they are optional. I don't mind the mindless crafting of WoW, and I'd like to have it for basic items. If involved crafting created better items then basic crafting (rewarding skill and attention), I'd be all for it. (The notion of skill is why Puzzle Pirates is so great.)

Atlantica Online has some weird crafting, but it's good to see experimentation. Anyone can learn anything, but you actually do "work" to craft the items by going out and winning fights. Also, crafting "experience" can be earned with any crafting, but skill levels are only advanced by trainers, whether they be NPCs or other players. Of course, crazier items grant more craft experience. All in all, it's a nice system, but strange.

A "crafting interface" that required some work would be a great minigame, there and in most other MMOs. I'd like it for the chance to make skill important, rather than grinding or lucky loot drops.
 
World of Warcraft has 10 million subscribers precisely because for the vast majority of the game they eliminate differences in skill from effecting outcomes. Only in the arenas and high end raiding do you see skill as a determinate of reward. As each new expansion rolls in Blizzard nerfs the high-end raiding game and as each arena season comes in they put better and better rewards into the BG's. These evolving changes are intended to guarantee that skill will not lock out players. I can't think of anything that would be worse than a "skill" based crafting system. You essentially would be eliminating players not skilled from crafting rather than building the system up.
 
Personally I like push-button crafting because it makes it a nice side activity rather than one that requires my full attention, thus it's something I do during downtime.


Of course, people who JUST want to be crafters dislike this. The problem is if you make them happy, I'm probably not going to be happy. If you make me happy, they're not gonna be happy. It's a catch-22 :(
 
Eliminating skill is eliminating one of the selling points of an MMO, though. Competing against other players is silly when it's just a number grinding game that rewards time spent rather than skill. I know that WoW has banked largely on such illusions, but if we're going to look at MMO design as a whole, player skill has to be the backbone of the genre. Otherwise, why play with other people at all?
 
Sorry for the double post, but to clarify, if we're just going to use grinding time as a metric of success, we may as well just be playing an offline game with point total (or time total, or max HP/armor, whatever) leaderboards. I like some mindless grinding as much as the next Zen gamer, but if I'm playing with other people, I either want to test my skill against theirs, or use their skill with mine against the game. Why else would eBay WoW characters be so reviled when they apply to raiding guilds? Skill is important, and it has to be in a multiplayer game.
 
I'd love to see such a system, preferably supported by an economy in which the top items are player-crafted
 
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