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

Sean Howard squidi at squidi.net
Fri Jun 24 18:35:00 New Zealand Standard Time 2005

"Michael Hartman" <michael at thresholdrpg.com>
> Amanda Walker wrote:

>> This still strikes me as a puzzle game, not a crafting game.  I
>> would call "real" crafting a way to create a new object, where
>> "new" means "new in design", not "new copy of standard template".

> It sounds to me like you are deliberately pursuing this narrow
> definition of crafting in order to exclude every other game that
> doesn't do crafting like Second Life and its ilk.

I think you are putting some sort of malicious intent where none was
intended. Think of it this way: there is only one solution and one
reward, of which the player has no control over either. It is a
logistical puzzle.  You need to find the pieces and put them in the
right places and you "win". It's really no different than a jigsaw
puzzle, only you have to find the jigsaw pieces first.

I think she was perfectly justified in her comment, and in all
honesty, that's by far the best description of most crafting systems
that I've ever heard.

> I could agree with you if you said a crafting system that allows
> new items as well as copies of existing templates is better. But
> to say crafting from templates is not crafting is just being
> deliberately unfair in an effort to diminish other games on the
> market.

What you two are doing is essentially projecting your own
preferences on the single, broad word "crafting". For instance, a
lot of crafters don't harvest their materials, and there are quite a
few harvesting players who don't bother crafting. Both building and
harvesting are directly related and fall under the "crafting system"
umbrella, but they aren't the same thing. The same with design and

  Design (strategic).
  Gather (tactical).
  Build (logistical).
  Sell (diplomatic).

Those are the full steps to every crafting system. They are separate
stages that could be conceivably done by four different people (and
in fact, are probably preferred by four different people - some
people would rather gather resources than build intermediate items
needed to craft a complex weapon, and on SWG, you've got merchants
who only sell goods that other players craft).

Many mmorpgs have at least two or three of these steps (usually
design and build) controlled completely by the game developer. SWG
is the only mmorpg I can think of that has all four steps player
controlled (even if droid engineer, the only design heavy crafting
profession, is so shallow and grotesque that I could not discuss it
without liberal use of profanity).

Ironically, the upcoming Ryzom Ring, it appears, has design without
gathering, building, or selling (it seems like all the pieces are
freely available to world builders, rather than, for example, having
another player train up a pet spider and sell it for use in the
designer's world) - and it isn't considered a crafting system at
all. I'm not sure that Second Life's system would be quite
considered a crafting system either.

The design phase of crafting is woefully under realized. This is
partly because giving people the tools to design is asking for
trouble, and in general, it's not worth the problem. But why
reinvent the wheel if you are only going to make the stuff that
works more complicated without addressing the stages which are under

Anyway, crafting encompasses all four steps, though not all steps
are usually player controlled. it's all crafting, but I would say
that a "real" crafting system is one where the players have options
in all stages of the system. Whether or not that is preferred or
even worth it is up to the individual. I'm guessing that you've
found what you are looking for out of the current system of
crafting, but people like me feel ignored or even insulted (stupid
droid engineer) by the status quo.

I will go on the record and say that any crafting system that
doesn't at least pay lip service to the design phase deserves all
the unfair diminishing it can get.

Sean Howard
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