Wednesday, March 26, 2008

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I got to thinking about crafting, and how WAR would implement it. Of course crafting has to be in the game, we need it, we want it. It’s a great way to play the game when you don’t feel like playing the game. I have only really experienced crafting to its max in two games, Dark Age of Camelot and World of Warcraft, so my writing will be limited to those 2 crafting styles. I’ve heard that Star Wars Galaxies has a great crafting system, but I’ve never played it so I can’t speak on that one, although I’d like to hear about it.

What we don’t want, is a huge money sink. We don’t want to spend thousands and thousands of hard earned gold on recipes and materials. But then again, we, or at least myself, don’t want it to be so easy that it’s completely mindless either.

Dark Age of Camelot’s crafting system was kinda funny. Because they had limits on how much weight you could carry, and everything in your pack and on your toon had a weight value, it was easy to start crafting and find yourself in a position where your character was too overloaded and you couldn’t move even a step.

Dark Age’s crafting was fairly easy, but gaining skill points was not a guarantee regardless of what level of difficulty the item was. The higher the difficulty of the item (going from grey, blue, yellow, orange and red if I recall), just meant the higher the chance was that you’d fail an attempt to create an item and could lose materials.

Every item that your crafting profession could know, could be learned from a trainer. As well, almost everything you needed to craft an item could be purchased from a merchant. There were only a handful of ‘special’ items that were required to craft certain things and these had to be farmed from specific mobs within the game. They were usually deep in a dungeon somewhere and difficult to kill or even get to.

So the basic breakdown of crafting in Dark Age was, pick a profession, train to make things, buy materials from merchant, make things, skill up, rinse, repeat. Making a top level crafter in Dark Age took a long time, lots of patience and many plats. However, when you finally hit that last point, you really felt as if you’d accomplished something.

World of Warcraft’s crafting system was a little more complex, but even easier to hit top level in your craft. Your trainer would teach you certain recipes on which you could skill up in, and you could purchase limited supplies from merchants, which you would quickly skill out of needing.

Almost all materials required materials that were collected from the world and in some cases, needed refining, such as ore to make metal bars, and to prospect gems from for jewel crafters. Leather could be skinned and herbs could be picked. Cloth could be collected, but then must be refined into bolts of cloth. Still, there was no shortage of crafting materials and if you weren’t lazy, they were all free. Or at least low cost if you didn’t pick up the collecting skills needed to collect the items you needed.

Difficulty was pretty much the same as Dark Age, grey, green, yellow, orange. There are no failures in crafting, but there is in collecting. For instance, if you’re trying to mine a silver deposit, and it’s orange to your skill level, you could fail on an attempt. But as far as crafting items such as armor, weapons, potions and such, there’s no failure involved.

Getting to be a top level crafter in Warcraft is fast, easy and cheap. Providing that your characters level is high enough, you can hit max level in crafting in a matter of a few days. The challenge after that, is getting ahold of high level, rare recipes for your craft. This is where crafting in Warcraft becomes difficult and expensive.

Most of the end-game recipes are BoP (bind on pick-up), which means that once you pick it up, you own it and can’t give it away or sell it. If you happen to be in a group, and say you’re an Alchemist, and a BoP recipe drops, only you and any other Alchemists in the group can see it in the loot window and only those people will get a chance to roll on it.

Other recipes that are not BoP, but are only dropped in high end instances and perhaps a random world drop, but are rare and sell for several hundred gold can also be found.

With all that said, here is a quote from Mark Jacobs on crafting from an interview he did back in November, 2007.

Mark: Here is my thinking on crafting. I don't like recipe based systems. If it's just pure recipes, it usually means a lot of hunting and pecking for the player, or it means a lot of confusion. I wanted in this crafting system to design something that was more imaginative, more interesting for the player. Was absolutely geared to WAR, So that's what we've done. And that's what we're working on. This is going to be a more open ended crafting system than other games. It's going to allow for more experimentation by the player than other games. And it's going to allow for more interesting results.

So, with that being said. What should the crafting system be like in WAR? I don’t think it should be so easy that you can get top level within a matter of days. However, it also shouldn’t be so difficult that only a handful of people will ever be able to craft all the items.

What about crafting materials? Personally, I enjoy being able to collect materials from the world via picking herbs, skinning animals or mining ore. I think many people like being able to just go to a merchant and buy 20 pieces of leather. So is there something in-between?

Mark has said that he doesn’t like the recipe based system. However, I feel that a recipe based system is good if it’s done differently than it currently is in Warcraft. Regardless, it sounds as if Mythic is trying to come up with something that is unique. I can’t wait to see it!

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