I often craft in games, and when I look for a new MMORPG or single-player sim, I look for reviews of which ones have the best crafting (and/or pet breeding/plant growing, which is mechanics-wise a form a crafting but not usually labeled as such).
Ideal properties of a crafting system IMO:
- It is not possible for a crafting attempt to fail in a way that destroys materials. Worst feature of crafting systems like those of WoW and Dofus.
- The player is encouraged to craft one of each item for their own use, rather than try to craft in bulk and sell to other non-crafting players. Soulbound or bind-on-equip items are good for this, as well as restrictions on trading captured/bred creatures. The core concept is that each player should be encouraged and rewarded for being a "do-it-yourself-er", not for being a factory, and players should definitely not be discouraged from crafting by unfavorable economics.
- Crafting is not based on grinding crafting XP. Instead the player unlocks new types of crafting by crafting appliances which allow new processing techniques to be used. For example, crafting a stone crucible allows metal ore to be melted and refined. Then crafting an anvil and a hammer allows metal ore to be cold-hammered into poor blades. A Tale In The Desert is one example of an MMO with this sort of crafting tech tree.
- Additionally or alternately, crafting should be influenced by minigame play. For example, getting a high score on a tetris-like game simulating mining would be the only way to get a rare gem needed for special crafting recipes. Or a familiar example is an MMO or RPG which includes a skill-based fishing minigame, then the fish are used as crafting materials and more skilled play results in more rare and valuable fish. Or an item such as a sword (stats portion not looks portion) could be selected as the subject of a minigame, then the score in the minigame would give the sword a stat bonus. Beating the previous score on that item would raise the bonus, but scoring worse would have no effect. The main point of including minigame/sim play is to replace/eliminate grinding of boring crafting gameplay, such as loading ingredients into a gui and pressing GO then waiting for a progress bar - ew. Both realtime sim play and turnbased sim play have great potential for fun crafting. This is where trading is really useful in an MMO, because players who are good at one minigame can swap their prizes for those of a minigame they are bad at or simply dislike. The Harvest Moon series and the Plant/Fish Tycoon series are examples of sim gameplay to create crafting mats (the fish and plants aren't used as craft ingredients in that game, but it's easy to compare to another game where fish are used as crafting ingredients, such as Gaia Online).
- Crafting recipes are at least 40% focused on aesthetic customizations - clothing and jewelry, clothing dye, hair style patterns, hair dye, tattoo patterns, tattoo ink, dragon dna used to cause your character to grow dragon wings, mount dye and customizations, weapon shapes, metal and wood types affecting weapon color, weapon engravings, magic SFX like glowiness, etc. These are superior to gear which is all about stats because appearance is relevant to players of every level and players will happily work hard for a long time to make themselves look awesome. The recipes/patterns themselves make great quest rewards.
- Stat-based gear or recipes for it should never be droppable, instead the mats to craft it should be what's dropped. No droppable mat should be ridiculously rare, and anything dropped only from a dungeon boss should have a 100% drop rate. Stat-based gear need not have any appearance, it should be visually covered up by statless clothing.
Edited by sunandshadow, 30 June 2012 - 04:52 PM.
I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me.