[MUD-Dev] Blog about GDC implies changes to MMORPG population

Kyle Leithoff kleithoff at yahoo.com
Thu Jun 2 14:28:17 New Zealand Standard Time 2005

Raph Koster writes:

> The difficulty with the Piles of Junk model is that it assumes
> that crafters are factories.  That's why crafters don't have
> inherently entertaining activities.  Push a button and blammo - a
> shirt.  Push a button and blammo - a house.  I doubt that it's
> possible to have time-consuming and entertaining tasks for
> crafters and also crank out goods for the masses so that they can
> have their piles (unless producers massively outnumber the
> consumers).

> Out of a desire to broaden the entertainment experience of the
> genre, I'm theorizing that slowing the rate of production to a
> trickle makes accumulating items a sidebar to the mainstream game
> experiences of whatever.  Part of the whatever is the slow
> crafting of items.  I look to a crafting experience such as is
> found in colonial Williamsburg, Virginia and its crafters.  They
> make items at a trickle pace.  *I* find that experience
> fascinating, as do the many visitors there.  Whether or not that
> experience is viable in a game setting is a speculative guess.

I'm not sure if it's something you have looked at it recently, but A
Tale in the Desert currently has a system similar to what you
describe for crafting. As far as I know, there's only three areas,
blacksmithing, gem cutting, and glass blowing.  But in each, you
start out with a pure raw material, which then from hitting the
block in the right spots for blacksmithing, changing the angle and
depth of cut, or rotating and blowing the glass blob, you try to
match your object up to an ideal.  The closer to the ideal, which
you can toggle back and forth between, and your object generates the
quality.  For certain fragile objects, there's a time limit before
the glass falls into the flame, or how many whacks you can put on
the metal before it becomes worthless and brittle.

It's quite an interesting system, and the player base is quite
friendly. With the 24 hour free trial I'm sure you could find
someone who'd be more than willing to show you the basics and let
you get some time on the anvil if you wished.

However, it is a very time consuming system to produce items in, as
almost every step in the chain from gathering the raw materials to
final production is a sort of mini-game.  It's also the sole focus
of the game, so I'm not sure how such a system would integrate into
one with a focus more on combat and leveling.

I must admit that I got frustrated rather easy with both systems,
though I knew people who would hammer at the same object for 2 or 3
days to get it perfect.  So in such a world, quality crafters would
definitely find themselves in a position of value and regard, and
those that just wanted to do the factory works still could, as any
average joe could spit out mediocre objects with almost a minimal

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