In the ongoing “Crafting: What is it Good For?” thread Tobold has added his voice with the suggestion that the focus on recipes is a false path and that perhaps there should be no recipes.
My initial reaction to this was to RUN SCREAMING FROM THE ROOM!
Later, after breathing into a paper bag, I was able to calm down.
You see, I played EverQuest early on, back when trade skills were new and the standard formula for them had not been laid down. There were no recipes. You “learned” how to make things by experimenting. You put some materials and a mold into the crafting station, pressed the button, and either got something or lost all of your materials.
Not fun. Very expensive. And in the end, somebody compiled a list of combinations that worked, so there was a defacto recipe list, but only if you knew where to find it. I dislike something that requires special knowledge outside of the game to use effectively or efficiently in its most basic form.
And even in a better version, where you at least do not lose your materials if you choose poorly, I am not sure that a Horadric Cube style of crafting is a good plan.
Yes, eventually somebody will create a 3rd party guide on the web that may or may not be complete, accurate, or up to date at any given time, but I hate to depend on external sources like that when you want to make something. You should be able to learn at least the basics within the game without a huge effort. You should be able to make something pretty quickly, lest the average player get frustrated and give up.
Recipes (or blueprints) for creating items have become standard in games for a reason. I would argue that I was in no way “welded” to recipes in my previous post on the topic, as I was exploring what people did not like about crafting, but the more I think about recipes, the more I am inclined to stick with them. They are something we all tend to understand. Why change something that works?
That said, I do rather like the idea of an archetypical recipe, such as gloves, where that recipe, plus the materials you choose, plus your skill level, dictates the output. Expanding the variety of crafted goods would be a big plus.
I only have to think back to my days playing Toril MUD, when I was very aware of what boosting a particular stat or attribute would do for me, to see the benefit. Like many players there, I would try to optimize my equipment to get just the right balance. On my druid I would, for example, toss over some +wis and even some +hp to get an item that had enough +con to notch my hit point bonus to the next level.
Take that and add in some control over how the end item will look through dyes for color and perhaps styles or adornments to and the crafting market suddenly begins to blossom. In addition to stats, people like to control how they look. Imagine if you had a market where you could control stats, color, style and cut of said glove. I know more than a few people who would love to be able dictate those details when they order up an outfit.
I think Tobold might well be on to something with that idea.