Moo Tang Clan: crafting some amusement

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

crafting some amusement

First, consider a crafting system where the skill for each item is arranged into a multi-branching tree, rather like the tech-tree of Sid Meier's Civilisation games. In such a system there isn't the need to segregate crafting into separate professions, while the more advanced item skills would require learning related item skills and thus there would be "professions" as such. Some item skills are to produce items, and some are simply knowledge skills (to help pad out the tree).

Not all skills lead to dependent skills. Some skills are dependent on more than one skill, some dependencies have alternatives (eg. cannon might require skill in any one of rifle, shotgun, or pistol .. but not necessarily all three or any specific one).

Next, have each item skill be separately improved - apprentice, journeyman, expert, artisan, master. The items you craft could vary in their quality, depending on your skill level. A basic Sword of Striking might net you a +1 bonus at apprentice skill, +2 at journeyman skill, all the way up to +5 as a master. The level requirements to use the item would remain the same however, and thus you're not simply crafting a weapon for higher level toons but instead crafting a higher quality weapon for the same level.

While you are still apprentice skill, there's a strong chance your crafting attempt will fail, consuming the required materials but producing only grey junk. You would however have a strong chance of earning a skill point, learning from both your mistakes and your successes.

Once you have journeyman skill in an item you can reliably craft items without failure. As journeyman, this would also unlock any dependent skills, which you would need to find a trainer for. You could at this point then move on to dependent skills deeper into the skill tree, leaving your skill at this item at the journeyman level.

On the other hand, you could strive to become an expert in crafting that item. Again, the attempts might fail, but at least this time the failures wouldn't be total junk, just slightly degraded efficacy. Sometimes you'd fluke a slightly better quality result too.

As a master craftsman of an item you could also train others in that item skill too. Also, being master skill in an item can also result in discovering one or more of the dependent skills, instead of having to train in it. Interestingly, this means the game wouldn't need to provide trainers other than as necessary to kick-start the crafting ecology/economy. There could even be entire technology branches which remain undiscovered.

Producing the items using those skills can improve your skill rating in that skill item, so long as you are striving to produce the best quality you are capable of. Producing lower quality items won't result in any chance to improve that skill. To improve knowledge skills involves a studying activity instead of producing something and would involve material requirements. You might also gain a skill point in a knowledge skill when producing an item which is dependent on that knowledge skill.

Thus, you don't need to be fully proficient in every item skill to progress up the tree, and you can skill up in any item at a later time as desired. It's quite possible many players will just get to journeyman in many of their item skills, and only excel in the items they particularly care for. This leaves open opportunities to become the only master craftsman of a particular item, carving out a particular niche for yourself. As a master craftsman in some obscure item you might even discover a new branch of technology .. one which you'd keep secret the pre-requisites so as to maintain a monopoly.


The actual act of producing an item or studying a skill would be a mini game, one which affects the quality of the produced item, the chance of earning a skill point, and extent of wastage of materials (less wastage means you don't use up all required materials). There should be some way of automating the workflow administration of a production that involves sub-units (learning from the tedious and fiddly process of the engineering skill in WoW).


Inevitably, players will grind their production skilling in pursuit of earning skill points, producing a massive excess of stock which the market would not support. It would thus be useful to provide faction NPCs which accept turn-ins of various crafted goods in exchange for reputation, the same way there is a Cloth Quartermaster for each faction. After all, the town guards need to be equipped, don't they?


In addition to the skill points/levels per skill, keep track and display the average or recent trend of quality of items someone produces. A bit like maintaining a "high score" for skill in playing the production mini-game. Maintaining a high average might well also accrue bonus reputation with your faction, as a further reward. Remember though that producing high-quality items isn't a one-click grind, you'd have to work at it.

(I also have a followup post on random discovery of new crafting recipes)


Garumoo said...

Syncaine of Hardcore Casual has an excellent entry up about how he would handle "crafting" in an MMO. I especially like how he factors in durability and ”permadeath” for items.

Garumoo said...

sid67 at confessions of a serial ganker also weighs in on the crafting debate, pointing out how crafting in WAR uses a combine system instead of set recipes.