But then another explanation for this wildly inaccurate statement came to me; perhaps the speaker had actually never seen -- let alone experienced -- real, meaningful crafting in a game! After all, there has been a serious dearth of deep, involved crafting systems where skill and dedication are valued for quite some time in MMOs. Crafting, if it exists at all, is often relegated to some mechanic that can be slept through that results in uniform, standardized products. It's no wonder that some folks might not realize that crafting is gameplay.
But change is a-comin'! Some upcoming games are returning to the idea that robust crafting systems are a deep and engaging part of games. Heck, the whole premise behind one is crafting! Two titles, The Repopulation and Pathfinder Online, seem to have really hit the nail on the head when it comes to developing sophisticated crafting systems that have purpose and meaning. Today in Some Assembly Required, we'll take a closer look at how both are putting the "craft" back into crafting.
- Craft \ˈkraft\ noun: 1. an occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or skilled artistry; 2. skill in planning, making, or executing.
- Craft \ˈkraft\ verb: to make or fashion with skill, especially by hand.
But all is not lost. Though this malady has been plaguing MMOs for quite a while, there is hope on the horizon. The Repopulation and Pathfinder Online both appear poised to reintroduce the skilled workmanship of artisans back into virtual worlds.
But an economy alone does not an artisan make; the crafting system needs to be complex enough that it accounts for the effort and talents of a crafter, rewarding those who put more into it. Again, The Repopulation scores big. TR's crafting has both the grading system, which allows crafters to learn higher-quality recipes, and the progression system, which increases the quality of frequently crafted items. So those who specialize will continue to improve the quality of their products, whereas someone who just dabbles will not make such high-quality goods. Focusing on specific areas is also important in Pathfinder; those who wholly dedicate their skills will create the best of the best.
In Pathfinder, the quality of the final product is determined not only by the quality level of the resource but by the skill level of first the harvester, then the refiner, and finally the crafter. At any point along that line, if someone has lower skills, the final product will be adversely affected. So maximum-skilled refiners and harvesters are just as important as the weaponsmith in making a high-quality sword. The same principle holds true in The Repopulation; the skill of the one who assembles all of the components in the end is no more important than the skills of those who created all of sub-components.
What does this mean for crafting? It means there is plenty of room for players to become experts in different areas, making themselves valuable to the crafting process in a variety of ways. Not everyone has to be a prized armorsmith to be valued; in fact, not everyone can, else there won't be the necessary components to make the impressive armor! Players have the chance to carve out their own niches and really take pride in their roles. Crafters can become true artisans, contributing significantly to the world by creating items of value. And that's something many of us want to see more of in our MMOs.
Every two weeks, Jef Reahard and MJ Guthrie take a break from their themepark day jobs to delve into the world of player-generated content. Comments, suggestions, and coverage ideas are welcome, and Some Assembly Required is always looking for players who'd like to show off their MMO creativity. Contact us!