The Field of MMO Crafting Gripes

I always end up crafting in MMOs.  Something within me likes the idea of reducing my dependency on other players and the market when it comes to providing for my characters.  So it was with some skepticism that I read the post “Craft Be Gone” over at The Common Sense Gamer

The general gist of the post is that Darren wants to see some fresh ideas about crafting.  However, I think his question is a bit premature.  It assumes that his readers not only think there is something broken with crafting, but that they all agree on what that broken part is.

So I am going to try to write what I feel should have been the prelude to asking for ideas to make crafting in MMOs better.  I am going to try to list out some of the things that I see people complaining about when it comes to crafting.  Not all of these are universal to all trade professions in all games, but they seem to me to be applicable.  I have divided these into two areas.

Making Stuff – Show me your skills as an artisan! 

  • Harvesting is boring/difficult/competitive – Some jerk stole my node while I fought off a bear, now I need to find yet another one.
  • Harvesting requires adventure levels at or above the level of items you wish to make – Harvest tier 5 raws with my level 24 weapon smith?
  • Crafting useful items requires craft skill levels beyond which your current skill level can support – I need to be a level 49 armor smith to equip my level 40 guardian.
  • Can only make a small number of actually useful items – I have 63 recipes, but only two are worth making.
  • Drops from adventuring of better quality relative to crafted items – The bane of early EQ.  Armor items I could make even at high skill level were usually worse than drops from mobs I could kill with a harsh look.
  • The best recipes are drops or otherwise not readily available – The stingy artisan crafts NPC won’t teach me purple recipes.
  • Crafting is boring and repetitive and takes too much time – Maybe I just don’t “get” crafting?

Selling Stuff – We all want to get rich by crafting, right?

  • Most items crafted are not in demand – Nobody will buy my crappy silken hoods.
  • Market is over saturated – Nobody will buy my 100 crappy silken hoods.
  • Market prices are too low – People will buy my crappy silken hoods, but only at a price that is almost break-even.
  • People are always undercutting my price – Damn that guy who is now listed his crappy silken hoods 1 copper below mine!

So that is my little list of things I hear or experience on a regular basis when it comes to crafting.  Before we try to fix crafting, what else do people think is broken in the realm of MMO trade skills?

19 thoughts on “The Field of MMO Crafting Gripes

  1. Cameron Sorden

    I hate interdependency in crafting. It’s a road block to my fun. If I’m just going to get what I need from an alt or a guildie, what’s the point?

    Also, I don’t see why I can’t train every single crafting skill if I have the time, money, and desire (like in EQ1). This drives me crazy. Why limit the number of craft skills you can take? People will make alts with craft skills anyway to do all of them. Why can’t we consolidate all of it on our one master craft character should we so desire?

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  2. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    Damn, I should have thought of that first one, having lived through early EQ2 crafting, which was interdependency hell.

    Good call on the second. I cannot delete any of my alts now because they all have crafting skills I want to keep! You would think that this would appeal to the developer too because alts take up a lot of database space.

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  3. kendricke

    The original intent with Everquest 2 crafting (I believe) was because you were only going to be able to be a crafter OR an adventurer. The Artisan archetype was originally to be its own stand alone class – not an additional class you could take.

    Also, the original plan for Everquest 2 was very limited characters (it launched with 4 characters total, and at one point, there was discussion on the EQII.com forums about 1 character per server).

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  4. Yunk

    You have to make tons of crap to level: You have to make 100 crappy silken hoods before you can make a nice silken hood, and you have to make 100 nice silken hoods before you can make a crappy felcloth hood. I can understand “practice makes perfect” but practicing making crap only makes you good at making crap.

    Everything you make is a commodity: you can’t differentiate your wares from your neighbor.

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  5. brackishwater

    Cameron, thats a good point man and I’m trying to remember the last game I played that you could actually do that… Saga of Ryzom?

    I honestly think Vanguard and SWG had some elements that I really liked and would like to see again, but in regards to gripes…
    * Why is it that I can craft the item but I am unable to repair it in some games?
    * Customer tools could be better. Finding offline merchant players or a WTB bulletin board.
    * Merchant tools could be better. Games with an overabundance of customization for crafted goods sometimes offer less than adequate ways to advertise this information. “Selling 2h/1h Mace/Sword/Hammer with Will-Vit-Dex-Str-Con-Int +Dam, +spell, +headache for new players.”

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  6. Kilanna

    Well I am very much a self confessed Tradeskill a holic. I enjoy both harvesting and crafting – although I do find some tradeskills much more bearable than others. I really find Weaponsmith, Armoursmith and Carpentry quite grindy due to the very small number of recipes per lvl.

    I think that, particularly for EQII, the merchant patterns are influenced by the fact that the communities and economies are very well established. You can bet that the economy would not have supported 40-60gp per piece of rare T3 ore when the game was new. Now people use their mains to bankroll alts and heaven help someone that is new to the game. This then really drives up the price of mastercrafted gear.

    I love the idea of being able to develop as many tradekills as you want to – I was thinking that very same thing just the other day when I was playing. What a pain in the butt it is to transfer stuff between characters sometimes. You would still be limited by time and tradeskill vitality, so it is not as if anyone could or would grind all 70 levels of all 9 tradekills easily.

    I also love the idea of being able to be able to customise the recipes that are available – eg Tailors could customise trim colours on clothes, carpenters could add different flourishes to the basic recipes such as embossing on tables and chairs. That might make it feel less grindy.

    I dont know if crafting is all that grindy really – to go up a level in crafting say I have to make 30 or 40 items. At worst case you get 5% for first pristine for only 3 or 4 recipes and then 2% or so per additional combine – that is without using any mastercrafted recipes which tend to give a little bit more xp for first pristine. How is that any more grindy that killing 1000 sentient beings for Claymore? or 60 owlbears and 60 zombies for first step of shiny halberd? or clearing the same placeholder again and again to get that named to spawn for quest update? I guess different things appeal to different people.

    One thing that is a right pain is when you have difficulty getting enough of even a common harvest that you need. I know I spent an hour harvesting for T6 roots recently and only managed to gather not even 2 stacks – barely enough to craft a dozen tailor combines requiring 7 raw roots per item.. That is without having to worry about fighting off any aggro beasties, and I had done research to determine the best places to find T6 root nodes. It should not be so difficult for someone who is happy to invest the time and effort – dare I mention problems locating Ore nodes in Zek?

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  8. kendricke

    Now people use their mains to bankroll alts and heaven help someone that is new to the game. This then really drives up the price of mastercrafted gear.

    I’ve never really accepted the argument that a established game’s economy is somehow harder to get into for new players. When I joined old Everquest, Luclin had just released, but by the time I hit level 25, I’d made my first 10,000pp. I knew players who were level 60 who had never seen 10,000pp all at once. By the time I left Everquest to move on to Everquest II, I was sitting on a couple million platinum, which I was using to bankroll not only alts, but half my guild as well.

    In Everquest 2, I spend a great amount of time just playing the markets, and have found it quite enjoyable to start up on a new server, see how many platinum I can rack up in a week with a level 10 character, then dump all the coin on some lucky player before deleting the character.

    So long as the tradeskilling system is built in such a way as to allow for free or relatively inexpensive entry, I’m all for it. That’s how I see Everquest II. You only need the minimum coin necessary to pay for fuel costs, so long as you’re willing to go out and find the necessary harvests yourself.

    I’d personally like to see a more robust entry level questing system (and really, a more robust questing system overall) for tradeskilling. I’m talking about the same type of quests that adventurers get – but only in this case, I could see the “kill 10 rats” or “fedex” quests making more sense.

    The system would need to be built around the idea of tradeskilling being out in the world, however. I’ve never been a fan of concentrated tradeskilling “instances”, and certainly I haven’t been a fan of each instance being identical, with immediate access to all tradeskilling devices in a neat little mini-city hive set up (a major problem, in my opinion, with Everquest 2’s design).

    Tradeskilling is quite often treated as a secondary function to adventuring; given second billing and second class citizenship, as it were. I’m not necessarily stating that tradeskilling should be a primary profession, but it should be set up in such a way that players who would like to see tradeskilling as such are given such an option.

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  9. kendricke

    …and of course I forgot to close out a blockquote. *sigh* My kingdom for an edit or preview button.

    [Edit June 16, 2016: I fixed the block quote… only 9 years late. Sorry. -Wilhelm]

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  10. Kevin

    I think Vanguard gets around some points raised by using the Work Order system for crafting advancement. To level, you don’t actually have to produce a million silk hoods that have absolutely no market value. Instead you do work orders, using vendor provided materials, and the work orders reward coin, so you can pretty much cover your cost of leveling up, just by leveling up.

    It doesn’t speak to the “63 recipes, most of them garbage” point, however. The only time you would probably want to produce low level stuff is for gearing up and alt, or perhaps helping to gear up lowbie members of the guild.

    Vanguard also ends up making adventures also be harvesters. Crafters (the hardcore variety) then end up buying the required raw materials off of the broker, and pass those costs back to the adventuring/harvesting community via the price of crafted goods. I haven’t paid too much attention to the system, but I *think* it is working well so far.

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  11. Tipa

    Okay, in early EQ1, crafting was VERY valued PRECISELY because armor drops from mobs were rare, and when they did drop, were likely to be non magical stuff which you’d wear anyway because it was better than being naked. Patchwork, banded and bronze armor were uber, fine steel weapons were to die for and everyone was saving for their very own combine weapon so they could kill wisps for gold.

    They gave everyone newbie armor quests a few years back. But early EQ… crafters were VERY valued. You couldn’t just run around harvesting, either. You had to kill stuff for components.

    High level crafters are still vitally important in EQ1. There are some things you can make where you can charge 150K plat for a combine, and get it. A hurdle for guilds making the push into the Plane of Time could be stalled by not having a high level potter…

    All that said, I really hated EQ1 crafting precisely because it was so necessary and so expensive. You could fail and lose everything. That really bugged me. Maxing out a craft could take 200K plat. Maxing ALL of them… well… millions of plat…

    If you leveled up in crafting from the start, everything you would be making, you could sell. Of course now nobody wants your banded armor, but they’ll still buy your OoW magnetized armor.

    Compared to the stress of wondering if an expensive combine will work, the easy harvesting, interactive crafting and crafting writs are positively relaxing in EQ2 and get you to the level where you can make things people will buy without any great cost to you.

    WoW adds timesinks by putting subcombines on a timer of a day or more (my mooncloth took me three days to make, each piece). Both WoW and LotRO tie crafting to adventuring. In neither game is it really possible to have a crafter as your only character, and as their skill increases (in LotRO) they are required to kill mobs of higher and higher level to progress. There’s no reason to do it except to make it hard for people to focus on crafting.

    Some of the crafting design decisions seem positively random. I can see the reasoning — control the flow of worthwhile items into the world — but where monsters just drop craploads of fantastic gear, is it really fair to put so many barriers in the way of crafters?

    The number one change to crafting in all games past EQ and UO is to allow anyone to learn any craft. If someone wants to put that effort in, why not let them? I have to have two crafter chars on Nagafen to support my fury (who is also a crafter). I could ask someone else, sure, but I like making my own gear because I am a crafter at heart.

    At least EQ2 doesn’t force you to level to craft.

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  12. Kilanna

    Thank you for commentary regarding part of my post Kendricke.

    In an effort not to sidetrack Wil’s topic I have posted a comment on your linked article. As always I am interested in your views.

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  13. sithload

    How many people here are both fans of crafting and played any significant length of time in SWG?

    I really enjoyed the crafting in SWG. I haven’t played another game that’s had a crafting system that got me as excited or as involved. In fact, I spent the vast majority of my time working on crafting, harvesting and selling. I haven’t played EQ2 or Vanguard, so I don’t know if you can go pure crafter in either of those games, but damn, SWG was a great system for crafting.

    I loved harvesting, searching for good deposits of resources. I loved selling lots of what I made. Tradeskill interdependence actually worked in SWG, at least before the Combat Upgrade and the NGE, when the economy wasn’t as robust. I loved how active my vendors were, and how you could develop regular customers if you were a dependable crafter keeping items in stock.

    I see a lot of people posting here that they want to be able to craft anything in the game and not depend on anyone else. I can see that point in games that aren’t rabidly social, like WoW where it can be tough to find someone to craft you a bronze tube for the Darkshire quest your alt is doing…and you KNOW there are 20 people in Ironforge at any given moment who could make the damn thing.

    But in SWG, the one character per server rule and limits on how much crafting you could learn really encouraged interdependence between crafters. Setting up vendors who would stock items needed for other tradeskills allowed you to depend on strangers who seemed to keep stocked shops, and who eventually weren’t strangers any more. Business ventures hatched, malls created, friendships forged…I still miss what SWG managed to create there.

    Granted, plenty of the game sucked, but I miss the harvesting/crafting/selling system there a lot.

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  14. Sente

    Good reading. Looking at the list of “complaints” on crafting I pretty much agree, which also brings me to a system which I think works pretty good – at least in the category “side activity to fighting mobs” rather than “seaprate advancement path” as in SWG for example. That is the crafting and trading systems in City of Villains/Heroes.

    Crafting:
    * Crafted items are basically a bit better than those that are dropped by fighting mobs or bought from vendors (enhancements). Some items cannot be obtained in any other way than by crafting or buying the crafted item (e.g. costume pieces).

    * To craft an item you need a recipe, some ingredients and some currency. Everything is dropped by fighting mobs, or bought from the consignment house, (auction house) except the currency of course ;) Recipes are one use only, but it is possible to learn some recipes permanently.
    * Ingredients (invention salvage) and recipes fall in common, uncommon and rare categories, reflecting their chance to drop. Basically all recipes in level 1-29 range use ingredients that may drop fighting mobs of those levels, same goes for levels 30-53. So it is possible to make items at higher or equal level to yourself.

    Selling:
    * Consignment house is used to sell and buy items – pretty much everything can be sold and bought – enhancements, salvage, inspirations, recipes, costume pieces (crafted), temporary powers (crafted). All of that could be sold to an NPC vendor as well.

    * Bids and selling is anonymous – one can only see the number of bidders and items for sale, and the 5 last transactions.
    * If the sell price is lower than one or more bid prices, the item will be sold to the highest bidder and the selling will get that money, regardless of what the sell price is – minus a transaction fee. There is also a transaction fee for putting one or more items up for sale.
    * Consigment houses are separate for villain and hero sides, but are cross-server – shared by all servers in that region.

    All-in-all it is a good system I think which fits well in with the existing game mechanics. It is not an alternate advancement path, but it adds another, optional, dimension to the regular gameplay.
    And with the new crafted enhancements and enhancement sets, customization of your character powers and number of more variations and it can get a bit intricate.

    In short, I enjoy it very much.

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  15. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    I think it is interesting, and a somewhat illustrative, that Tipa and I have such strongly divergent views of crafting early on in EverQuest. I suppose there are enough possible factors to explain it though.

    First, I started in Qeynos, which was the wrong place to be if you wanted to get into armor crafting. You had to be able to get to Highpass Hold to get the basic ingredients.

    Second, because of the first I did not start my crafting for several months after game launch, not until July ’99 if I recall correctly.

    Third, once I fumbled around and spent enough time and money to be able to craft enough pieces to be useful, making my way to the Commonlands bazaar I quickly found no market for anything I could make. However, for all the money I spent on learning the trade, I could have easily bought myself a cool set of Rubicite armor which was being farmed heavily in the Rathe Mountains. (And I did buy such a set eventually.)

    And, finally, this was all on the E’ci server, and the economy on every server was at least slightly different, so there is no saying that reality there reflected reality elsewhere.

    Still, I did end up making a lot of pieces for my friends who joined the game later, and for alts, so nobody ran around naked.

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  16. bbilbo1

    As a crafter. I think the 2 greatest MMOs for that style of gameplay was Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies (pre-NGE)

    Ultima Online has a grand non-combat-centric style of gameplay. If you wanted to chop trees, fish, cook, mine, or craft things your entire character’s life, then god-bless and good luck. The only down-side was that I dont recall there being a formal public auction-house type system. But you did have the opportunity to set up and customize NPC vendors in player-housings. Other than that, you had to have a good arrangement with a guild. Or scream at people to at town banks to buy your crap. Good times, good time.

    Star Wars Galaxies (pre-NGE) with all it’s flaws and such, had a GREAT crafting system. IT was also Non-combat Centric. Just run around, harvest, and craft if you want.The harvester system was great, just plop down a big harvester building outside the city limits, pay maintenance, and then come back later to collect your materials. And the items you could craft in the game were as good, if not better than drop items (depending on the type of materials you harvested and used), not to mention that a large majority of the world’s items were craftable. That, combined a galaxy wide, bazzar terminal databases to look up players items (either public, or in their housing). Made crafting a very enjoyable system. If it wasn’t for the god-awful “Hey, WoW made alot pf money, we can too!” NGE, I’d STILL be playing Star Wars Galaxies.

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  17. Ericson

    The best crafting in an mmo I’ve ever done was with Istaria (aka Horizons, empires of Istaria). You could learn any school (crafting or adventuring), but only have two active at a time. No penalties for switching between schools, I loved it!

    Crafters weren’t only needed for making usable items, but also for building player owned buildings. There was a really cool system where you could set how much you were willing to pay for crafting work on your plot, that way regardless of you being online crafters could come do work on your building and get payed. There were also world events were the entire servers would try to kill some encroaching horde, and at the same time crafters would be trying to build some huge project (bridges to unlock new areas, defensive buildings, etc).

    I really loved playing that game, the community was great too. I enjoyed being a gnomish engineer in wow, but lately I’ve missed crafting in istaria. I would have re-subscribed if the game wasn’t incompatible with vista :(

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  18. LeAto Zill

    SWG imo has the most user-friendly crafting system for its complexity… Which means it was not overly user friendly to the individual whom has never played a crafter in their life… Resources changed location once a week, the quality of the resources varied dependant on where you were gathering the resource. Each resource had a number of stats, 15 I believe. When crafting items specific stats increase the effectivness of the item your crafting… Better conductivity in the copper you used to make your blaster can increase its dmg and durability(not by a set in stone amount but through an equation), then toss in your personal experimentation skills and your CDF Pistol can become a rather deadly blaster… Now this didn’t just apply to weapons… Crafted Foods, Medicines, Construction Terminals, combat pets, clothing, were all effected by your skills, the quality of the tools you use to construct them, and the quality of the materials you had placed in them… Now this created a need for PC Harvesters along side the crafters… Having to go out and search for the best quality copper so he could chard 10credit more a unit for it… http://www.swgemu.com :: shrug :: it was a solid system before the cu and nge updates, not perfect but far better than eve’s current system which I rank as the best active crafting system in a game at current for its complexity, interdependance, depth, and scope…

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