[MUD-Dev] Crafting systems

Björn Morén <bjoernen@hotmail.com> Björn Morén <bjoernen@hotmail.com>
Thu Jan 15 10:27:31 New Zealand Daylight Time 2004


I've noticed that crafting systems has been discussed before (2002
Q3), I just want to add my view on how it maybe could be
implemented. What do you think about the following?

Crafting seems be of low priority when compared to combat when
MMORPGs are designed. Most crafting systems I've looked into are
kind of second rate, boring to use. I get the problems, players want
a great diversity of items they can create, and they want to be
engineering new items, maybe so new that the designers didn't even
think about them. How can that be done and still have a game that's
properly balanced? They also want to spend less time actually
working, and greater time engineering, finding/buying source
materials and understanding what items are in demand in the
community. And the RPG aspect demands that the player can identify
with the crafter in that he performs meaningful tasks and his life
is somewhat realistic and interesting. I know, I'm assuming stuff
that maybe not fits *every* crafter, but hopefully the majority.

The warrior usually finds games of this type rewarding, since their
game mechanics are so developed. Why not use similar mechanics for
both of them, taking inspiration from the warrior? Why not look at
*skills* in a unified way (some skills excluded). A simplified
example: in combat the avatar struggles with the right strategy to
defeat a clever enemy, in the smithy the avatar struggles with the
right strategy on "clever" materials to create a great sword.

Solution:

  Items/materials need to have a lot more attribute values than most
  RPGs, in order for this to work. A piece of iron is not just a
  piece of iron, it has attributes and those attributes will change
  in a complex way when it is heated, hammered, etc. Two seemingly
  identical pieces will respond differently when the same operation
  is applied (just as with combat opponents). Of course this also is
  the case with the resulting items (weapons, etc).

Killing an opponent will require a strategy, not a recipe, because
you don't know exactly how the opponent will react in all
situations. The same goes for crafting: you need a strategy, not a
recipe, because materials will not respond in a 100% known way. And
the reactions can be lethal just as for the warrior.

In order to produce certain items, perfection in certain skills is a
must. Skills are used to operate a tool on the source materials,
which in turn reshapes and combines them and gives them modified
attribute values. The more perfected a skill is, the faster the
operation goes, and the more modified the attribute can become, if
the avatar wants to. While there is a range of resulting item
qualities (depending on materials, skills, etc), many item
properties follow zero sum rules in order not to break the
game. Improving one aspect of an item often weakens other aspects,
etc.

For both crafter and warrior the strategy is an iteration between A)
Analyze the "source(s)" at their current state, and B) Given the
state, apply an appropriate operation as a step towards the final
result. The strategy is not a simple recipe; it's a guide on how to
act in different situations in order to reach the final
result. Given a specific situation, one can never know if the
applied strategy is the most optimal. It is all about learning by
doing. Intelligent conclusions will hopefully lead to refined
strategies.

/Björn Morén
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