Saturday, November 1, 2008

MMORPG's and Crafting - How and Why and WHO?

Some comments came up in a previous post here about crafting and that posters blog is tracking our bits of the conversation..here...

@Letsnothaveabreakdown

But, lets take this subject of crafting and discuss it for a moment in detail.

In my comments I alluded to the fact that PvE and Crafting seem to go together, and then even used the dreaded "Casual" wording.

I first need to retract that as I found this blog post at Mobhunter.com. It clearly states....

"In truth, dedicated crafters are every bit as hardcore about what they do as raiders are, often spending just as many hours each week fixated on their trade. While in most games crafting is something that can be done in one’s spare time, it can also be the complete focus of a person’s online experience."

Which makes me think of Stargrace, who is a hardcore crafter. (/wave)

So, is Crafting really a PvE based system mainly?

Shamutanti at Breakdown states in his comments...

"Crafting is a different issue. In my mind crafting isn’t PvE/PvP/RvR but its own separate section and in truth I would happily do away with crafting all together."

And the mind started to wander over this.

What has crafting been like?

EQ2 right now I consider to be the most interesting crafting system in any game, and is somewhat mirrored in Vanguard. Yet, one is like a mini game and the other is more detailed.

The system in place is well made for a dedicated Crafter.

Yet, why is it that every game since EQ2 relegates crafting to a non-consequential system of either not being well thought out (WAR) or not even available until midgame (Age of Conan).

Why has no one taken the EQ2 system of crafting and worked on this mechanic to enhance it, and instead go for the simplified systems of WoW.

I noted in my second round of Age of Conan, I decided to skip the crafting system.

The way it works in AoC is starting at Level 20, you may enter dedicated instances for resources. You do quests that help you gather specific items like wood, stone, cotton, etc.
Once you have mastered these you then must wait until level 40 before you may even craft an item. Then you are again forced to wait another 10 levels to gather upper tier materials for building guild keeps, armor and weapons.

The first time I played it seemed fun, because as you enter these instances, and gather, you have a chance to be attacked by prospectors and other animals (bears, etc..) while in the wilds.

And the crafting itself took the "drop items into a link and hit craft button" approach.

Fairly straight forward.

But, AoC was the first time I saw my disconnect with crafting.

Same in EQ2. At first it was VERY cool, but as it took longer to do and became more detailed, I was done.
But Conan really hit it home, because the second time into the game, I was not even interested.

I was having more fun adventuring.

Now, lets step back and look at an alternate system.

Guild Wars.

In this system, you can ONLY get your armor through crafting shops. You MUST gather the materials needed to make your new armor...armor NEVER drops in the world (unless it is a piece of broken armor from a mob).

Then the way this worked is you broke down various "junk" loot as you find it (as you have limited bag space anyways...who has not dealt with that?).
This then goes into stacks of material that can be placed in storage in town in a special section just for these materials.
Once you reach the goals for the armor, you could take the materials to a crafter and get your armor with a small fee.

With this system, you become unaware of the crafting system as it becomes part of the adventure, and is very simplified by just taking out the silly "drop items into a link and craft" system.

So, we have two systems described here.

Basically our "How" of this subject.

Now...WHY.

Why would I consider crafting to be PvE. Especially when PvP/RvR can use it.

Maybe the answer is in Shamutanti's comment. "Get rid of it".

Would he consider himself a PvP'er? or PvE'er? Yes, he can play both, but would he play JUST a PvE based game?

I am hoping maybe to get the PvE crowd to chime in more on this subject.

But, as a PvE player, we must look at the meaning.

Player Vs. Environment.

The player tackles the environment or setting of the game, and when we look at crafting it is just a another "piece" of the environment.

I think this is why it is usually associated with this type of player.

PvE players also look for the game to entertain them, and as such it makes crafting a part of that game "entertainment".

I still honestly believe we can make the argument that crafting is a PvE mechanic.

If we look at the PvP player, they are expecting another "player" to entertain them. The game mechanic exists for players to "fight" each other. There is no "crafting" competition among players (even though one could argue this point by stating the Auction Houses and Brokers are the battlegrounds of the crafter as they fight for the other players money...lol).

This is why I continue to stack the Crafting into the PvE game systems.

Ok, so I have swerved off track quite a bit here with so much discussion.

Lets look at this, and let me ask you, the smartest part of my blog...the reader.

Why does crafting even exist?

Maybe we should ask, why do we need crafting?

Who decided crafting must exist for the game to be an MMO?

Can you think of a better way to do crafting in game? Or do you like it as is?

And which system is your favorite? and Why?

11 comments:

Tipa said...

Robust and useful crafting is one of the many ways EQ2 is different from other MMOs. Would it really make sense to remove one of the fairly unique bits of their game just so they could be more similar to other games? Is this what you really want in an MMO -- a decision to be made as to what the best design is, and then all other MMOs either follow it or explain why?

You do a good job of explaining the different systems (though you don't mention WoW and LotRO's fire and forget method, which is likely most people's sole exposure to crafting), but you should have stopped there. There is no best system, just different systems. A lot of people get a lot of pleasure out of making things. What's wrong with that?

In EQ2, crafting was meant to be as difficult as fighting a mob, with similar xp rewards so you could level in either (or both) paths, and a max level crafter would have as much access to the game as a max level adventurer -- something they didn't really fully accomplish, but that was the plan.

Openedge1 said...

@Tipa
I did not want the post to be a history of crafting (even though I started there with this post, but stopped..)
This is the reason I did not go into detail of the WoW/LOTRO systems (which are pretty much the same anyways)of crafting.

I think the main gist is "Can you think of a better way", as in, not the BEST, but what would you as a reader like to see..
Or should it be removed...
Or do you like it, and which DO you like...
And the MAIN point is really WHO (which is why I changed the title..)

Is this a PvE mechanic? Is crafting an "environment" feature?

If the EQ2 system is fine for you, then cool. But, the post is speculative, and not an ultimatum as you make it sound.

Shamutanti believes it should be removed, I think it needs some updating or variation.

But, I do not see it getting "better" either since I played EQ2.

And like I said...who decided MMO 101 should involve crafting?

Speculation is key, and the commenter I was hoping would be free to speculate, not denigrate.

Tipa said...

Many MUDs were almost entirely about crafting... I was a glasscrafter in a Pern MUSH.

I'm not sure I ever happened upon a MUD where you actually killed anything. Mostly it was RP and crafting.

Openedge1 said...

Ok..

So the belief is based on this "original" MUD system, that crafting was maybe a mainstay.

But, is it also not a fact that D&D was the major influencer of the MUD and MMO's of today.
I NEVER crafted in D&D (at least I do not remember that when I was 15...then 25, then...ok...I played a LOT)
Shadowrun, Vampire, and Pen and Paper RPG's in general did not consist of ..crafting.

So, this must have been a major mechanic created to wile away the time in the online chat area of the MUD's?

But, then we could argue RP is also not relevant in todays MMO's.

The developers seem to be going out of their way of eliminating features of our old RPG ways.

And thus we could argue that maybe the developer is making crafting such a bore or a pain to eliminate PvE thinking.

I am unsure...but it is why we are discussing this.

I just do not see where the origin, besides the MUD, that said...Crafting is a must.

Bards Tale did not have crafting...did original Ultima? (not the MMO)...I am unsure...

The Gold Box TSR games also did not (Pool of Radiance)

This is how I remember RPG's.
Maybe this is why I LOVE Fable 2 so much, as it really is RPG, not mechanics..

Tipa said...

Aside from D&D Online, I'm not aware of any MMOs based on D&D. EQ was based off TorilMUD. That's how it became the way it is. TorilMUD was based on D&D, but if the classes in EQ are at all comparable to the classes in TorilMUD, then they did not take their classes from D&D. The magic system is also entirely different. As is most everything else.

You can't compare modern MMOs to D&D, they have nothing in common.

Scott said...

I just wrote a wall of text comment and effing Blogger sent it into the ether...

When I get my temper settled down maybe I'll come back and re-write it. Or not.

Openedge1 said...

Boy...when people hate blogger...they really hate it.
I have never had an issue.
But, I HAVE had issues with Wordpress....lol

Anyways, @Tipa

Historically speaking, when playing RPG's from the computers past, Commodore 64 and up, something has always prevailed.
A sense of the Dice rolls, the Creature Combat, questing, story, etc.

These all derived from D&D.

When you play EQ or EQ2 or any MMO, it does some type of "dice" roll to help the system approximate everything from a sword swing, spell cast to damage calculations of some sort.

Lets look at wiki to describe the MMO...
In nearly all MMORPGs, the development of the player's character is a primary goal.[3] Many MMORPGs feature a character progression system in which players earn experience points for their actions and use those points to reach character "levels", which makes them better at whatever they do.[3] Traditionally, combat with monsters and completing quests for NPCs, either alone or in groups, is the primary way to earn experience points. The accumulation of wealth (including combat-useful items) is also a way to progress in many titles, and again, this is traditionally best accomplished via combat.

Sounds like D&D to me.

Yes, "Online" was not added until the advent of the computer, but the FACT remains that MMO's, and RPG's are derived from this basic premise.

D&D

To think of NOT comparing MMO's to D&D makes sense in the fact that in todays MMO they have strayed from the RP formula and turned it more into the mechanic of the "dice", which still screams D&D. But, it has lost contact with the "person" on the other side of that character sheet.
At least someone was there in the PnP game to make decisions on if maybe the player DID strike when the dice say no.
So, yes, I also agree, MMO's are so much more rigid than D&D also, as the rules were guidelines. MMO is strict, unless balancing takes place...i.e: patching could be thought of as the DM of a game...hmm..

Anyways...MUDs... wasn't that what the MUD's were?
Guidelines. Players STILL had to make decisions and choices that the game could NOT calculate?

TODAY's MMO is so far removed from D&D thanks to the robotic formula's all of them approach the genre with.

I digress....lets get back to the beginning, and the fact that crafting was an addition within the "online" part of the genre.

Maybe if the game had a way to go back to the "people" aspect of these games, this could create a more enjoyable MMO in my opinion.

Who knows what would happen with crafting then?

Maybe we should be discussing player run crafting systems...?

Thoughts?

Shamutanti said...

I'm retaining my thoughts for the moment - currently collating an essay in my noggin for this in particular. Still, some of the things said have either raised an eyebrow, brought a smile to my face or made me blink in suprise.

Tipa said...

Just curious if you played the real D&D much. If you say that any game that uses random numbers to judge the outcome of an action is based upon D&D, then I can't argue with you.

D&D for me mostly is a melange of roleplay, companionship, pitting wits against against the DM, creativity, THAC0 and d20, painstakingly drawn maps and poorly painted miniatures that, for a few hours, are you -- and you're in danger, but you're never going to be given a problem without a way out.

That's D&D. Modern MMOs have nothing like it. D&D did have crafting; you could learn it through feats.

Openedge1 said...

Feats were introduced in 3rd edition of Dungeons & Dragons

Crafting WAS NOT in D&D when I played.

I was 15 when I played to start...
Then progressed to ICE crown enterprises, Shadowrun and Vampire.

As to Dice mechanics, no I will not state it was the original place they were introduced.
It WAS the first place that Dice mechanics to represent an RPG setting was introduced.

Not in a board game fashion either.

D&D for me mostly is a melange of roleplay, companionship, pitting wits against against the DM, creativity, THAC0 and d20, painstakingly drawn maps and poorly painted miniatures

Still sounds like an MMO. Except now we pit our wits against Dev AI, We RP (which is not done as much as in the past), creativity is gone, D20 done secretly with a random number generator in the code.

I would argue that MMO's DO have most everything D&D had.

adingworld said...

Going back a bit to the original topic, I think the crafting game play of Star Wars Galaxies (pre NGE and CU) was pretty neat. The system to mix various resources to get the item was quite nice, in combination with how you searched and extracted resources.

That was certainly a game play that people could and would play without bothering with any fighting etc.
Too bad though that the skill point gain became quite a grind in many cases. Also that you basically had to be a master in your skill tree of choice to be able to sell anything of what was crafted, pretty much.