Monday, December 19, 2011

Crafting a Role for Crafting

Through the wonders of Archeology, I can actually make my gnome smaller (as well as trapped in the block of Amber for 5 minutes, or until I click off the buff).
The Winter Veil holiday got me to take another look at Cataclysm's new archeology profession.  Effectively, it's a means of turning time into cash, a snippet of lore,  and the occasional unique cosmetic item as you travel the world. 

Archeology is an odd gathering profession where very little of what you gather can actually be sold to anyone - you will sometimes harvest tradeable "keystones" that allow you to spend fewer of your soulbound fragments on soulbound (or sometimes account bound) items.  For the most part, though, it's a crafting profession without either the crafting (there are no choices, your fragments can only turn into the next item the RNG offers you) or the profession (due to the lack of stuff to sell). 

Today, I get to use my fragments on a "rare" item.  Note the option to use up to three keystones to remove the need for 12 fragments (1-2 harvests, with three harvests per node) each.
In some ways, that doesn't make it especially unusual in the modern World of Warcraft.  The two actual tradeskills on my character at the moment are tailoring - whereby I turn valuable cloth into junk that I immediately disenchant in exchange for a cloak enchant and discounted leg enchant - and enchanting (which gives me ring enchants, the ability to disenchant my old soulbound gear rather than vendor it, and the right to spend a lot of money on enchant recipes that I will likely only use once or twice more this expansion depending on how much loot I get.

Overall, my LOTRO character is looking much smarter.  Allarond has been an avid crafter, mining various metals, placing them on the auction house, and turning the resulting gold into a wider variety of items than he could possibly craft for himself.  There are some games where at least we see quest storylines that can be solved via crafting - EQ2 and maybe Vanguard probably take the top honors in this genre.  SWTOR has tried to spice it up a bit by outsourcing your crafitng labor to your NPC companions, which I suppose at least puts some story behind the endeavor. 

As is, I suppose the modern crafting system is something of a form of alternate advancement, whether actually tied to stats (as in WoW), content (as in EQ2), ways to counter the random number generator (as in DDO), or acquiring achievements/deeds/etc (all of the above).  Sometimes (again, as in EQ2) a game will physically force players to seek out crafter intervention in the course of obtaining an item, but this just gives the crafter a cut of the economy, which has little to nothing to do with the actual crafting of stuff. 

Overall, it feels like MMO crafting systems could stand to craft themselves a better role in their games.


Ahtchu said...

Great post. To be, the best crafting I had witnessed was tBC WoW (never experienced SWG pre-NGE, but I hear it was the epitome). Dragonmaw was a weapon that followed you during progression, and was an equal consideration (sometimes even better) to items of similar level. Granted, this is an isolated example, about one specific item, in a throwback period, in one game in particular. It's obvious that crafting doesn't live up to a potential outside of 'means to an end', but just wanted to chime in with where and why and how it can/has been done proper.
Make crafting be an equally viable form of progression! It's truly not hard, change a couple '0's to '1's in the database and voila!

Mike ... said...

"It's truly not hard, change a couple '0's to '1's in the database and voila!"

Ah, but the trick is knowing which 0's and 1's to change!

Yeebo said...

Crafting in pre-MoM LoTRO was a really great way to gear up. It was a deep and serious pain in the ass to get together a full set of critted one shots, but the gear was on par with raid gear. Heck, up until you pass 50 crafted gear is still some of the best in the game. However, the last two tiers of crafting have consisted of me spending a lot of time leveling and buying recipes for gear that mostly sucks. It feels very much like WoW in that regard.

I actually like the crafting in EQ II quite a bit. I don't know if it becomes irrelevant at higher levels like it does in LoTRO, but at low levels it feels quite useful. The fact that everyone can gather everything without having to be specially trained to do it also keeps the price of crafting mats low. It's one of the few games I've played where crafted items can very often be auctioned for more than the price of the mats that go into them.

The crafting in SWToR is bothg familar an odd. The gathering/ production comboes are reminicent of most MMOs. I have one skill to harvest plants and animal corpses. My production profession lets me make health kits and stim boosts out of those parts. Of course given the fact that stim boosts last an hour and everyone has an out of combat heal, you don't need a ton of either. It's also a little odd to be able to order up stims from the robot on your ship while you are out running missions ("Yeah, I'm running low on adrenalines boosts, could you magic some into my back pack for me? Thanks.")

For my third crew skill is more oddball: Slicing. It lets you send the robot on your ship out for free money every 3-4 minutes while you are out questing. It also lets you open up boxes of free money you will find out in the wilderness (?!?). I think the mechanic is supposed to represent your character slicing into a computer network and finding valauble information.

I mainly took slicing so that I will have enough for my vehicle when I hit 25. I may swap it out at a higher level.

Anton de Stoc said...

I've played vanilla WoW, and Eq2, and Lotro and Fallen Earth ... and pre-NGE SWG kicks it all into a cocked hat.

If you want to experience pre-NGE crafting in SWG, have a look at the SWGEMU project - as I type this, my character is busy gathering the quality 491 fiberplast that will go into his new rifle, which I plan to spend a half hour or so experimenting with designs till I get it right (and grind some more crafting experience).

The Liberator server is incomplete, and will be wiped once the server code is completed ... but its playable (and housing and factories are currently having bugs squashed on the Test server).

While skilling up the grindtastic grind, I'll be Experimenting for a better rifle model.

Oh, and they officially have to tell you to use real disks, but the ones I downloaded from p.r.t. b.y and have running on Magic ISO work fine.

Id recommend it to anyone looking at what crafting can be.