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Girsanov

What is fun about Trading and Crafting in an MMO?

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What makes trading and crafting fun for you? Personally, I hate the way trading and crafting is done in a lot of MMORPGs: I farm raw materials for hours, leveling up my harvesting skills. Then, I craft useless items for hours, leveling up my crafting skills. Then I dump everything to NPCs. After weeks or months of doing this, i finally can craft those items which people want. If i choose to just farm loot off mobs, i earn just about as much as a dedicated crafter/trader. I sort of like how trade is handled in free roam space simulators like X3: everything has to be produced. raw materials are harvested automatically, hands free.

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Crafting is great if it improves your stats or makes you look cooler. For an example of making you look cool, suppose all gear loot is dropped in random colors, and anyone with alchemy level 10 can make color potions and anyone with tailoring/leatherworking level 10 can change the color of any piece of gear. Or to make it a bit more complex, brown is level 1 for both professions, then gray is level 2, etc up to the popular colors like crimson, black, electric blue, royal purple, and sparkly gold. Improving your stats is kind of obvious - either you can craft for yourself gear that you can't buy or drop, or you can change and add to the stats on dropped gear, or both.

Some games (such as A Tale In the Desert) take a more RTS approach - most of the objects you need to acquire in the game are not buyable at all, from npcs of other players, you have to climb the tech tree yourself much like doing a chain of quests. The only problem with this kind of system is that if items are needed for progress but not buyable or droppable, that makes crafting them essentially a mandatory quest, and mandatory anything in a mmo is usually a bad idea. So possibly it might be craftable at lvl 10 but not buyable from an npc until level 15, or there might be 4 different recipes to craft it so players can choose the easiest, or the crafted item might be available as a reward from a fighting quest instead of xp for that quest...

(That's what I'd really love to see in an mmo, a system where you can buy and sell xp so that fighting ceases to be mandatory for leveling.)

Can't believe I forgot to mention this, since I always mention it in threads about crafting, but I love systems where you play a minigame to craft items. Currently I have only seen this done that playing the minigame results in money/tokens which can be spent on items, or playing the minigame results in a prize item corresponding to the score, but I can imagine a much more complex and rich system of crafting by minigame.

Also a little comment on crafting in Dofus - crafting in this game had several problems, but it had 2 excellent points - on every item's information page you could see its crafting recipe, and almost every drop was used to craft something or other.

[Edited by - sunandshadow on March 3, 2008 12:02:26 PM]

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As per the title, I would say nothing. The idea of grinding (which is not fun) for meaningless "items" for hours on end, and paying for this privilege is a complete waste of time, which is why i don't play such games anymore.

Quote:
I sort of like how trade is handled in free roam space simulators like X3: everything has to be produced. raw materials are harvested automatically, hands free.


I don't mind going out and gathering the resources needed for crafting, so long as i don't have to gather an exorbitant amount of materials or trek halfway across the world for what should be common items.

I like the idea of producing everything but often find crafting systems to lack nuance/depth (*click*, wow i just made ultra scale plate!). Its the difference between running all over the map to pick up a medkit in Quake, and a game like Trauma Center.

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I agree with what Gyrthok says about the simplicity of crafting mechanics. I enjoy crafting in games such as Arx Fatalis, Dark Messiah (same company), and the Gothic series, where some effort goes into putting together ingredients/components and coming up with a pie, sword, etc. These games have a "workshop" environment with "appliances" and tools you must use individually, and in a certain order. After the hundredth or so sword, obviously the trade becomes boring — which is why people play adventurers and not craftsman, but I greatly enjoy having the ability to make my own things. It instills a greater sense of investment and, thus, ownership for players.

I'm fleshing out ideas for a similar system myself, for both crafting and research (which, in my case, is the opposite of crafting — taking things apart rather than putting them together). I'm thinking of using a sort of simple "puzzle" approach like hacking in System Shock 2 or BioShock, but with a wider variety of puzzles that are, hopefully, at least somewhat relevant to what is being researched.

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Original post by Gyrthok
I don't mind going out and gathering the resources needed for crafting, so long as i don't have to gather an exorbitant amount of materials or trek halfway across the world for what should be common items.


That's actually one thing that I enjoyed in WoW. I had this gnome mage who did herbalism. I got my skill so high for my level that for me to find the new herbs to pick I had to venture to the the other continent and travel through dangerous territory. It made it almost more fun than all those generic "Kill X number of Y" quests.

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EVE Online does the trading and crafting well (But sadly the resource gathering isn't the best) as it can easily be done as a side project, and just about everything you can craft is in demand. Their market system works well.

Being a full time trader in that game is very possible, as is being a full time warrior with some trading on the sides.

It really is the only game I can think of that does crafting in a fun manner. Anyone have suggestions for other games that you enjoyed crafting and selling stuff?

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Original post by Talroth
EVE Online does the trading and crafting well (But sadly the resource gathering isn't the best) as it can easily be done as a side project, and just about everything you can craft is in demand. Their market system works well.

Being a full time trader in that game is very possible, as is being a full time warrior with some trading on the sides.

It really is the only game I can think of that does crafting in a fun manner. Anyone have suggestions for other games that you enjoyed crafting and selling stuff?


I am sorry! I don't play EVE Online. :(

Do you mind giving a brief outline of the trading and crafting system, particularly focusing on the fun aspects? Thanks for the input! :)

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EVE online is a space combat/trading game, divided into systems, each system has one or more stations usually, and a few 'points of interest' but basically it is all just simple nodes in a graph.

The fun aspects of Trading in EVE Online is that you're a trader. You're not a sweatshop laborer, you're in charge. You say what you want built, then go off and do your thing while it is being built. You still need your skills and stuff to have things built fast, cheap, and good, but you're not stuck there grinding for hours on end to make a sword.


Most of the items in the game are built by the players from what I remember. And you can spend a lot more time thinking like a trader, try to find your part of the market to exploit. A lot of little things are sold in bulk every day, such as ammunitions for weapons. People go through a lot of these, and while they're not all that expensive, you can make a nice deal selling a lot of them to a lot of people. People also go through a lot of ships in that game, they're fairly easy to get blown up if you do something foolish.

The market was setup so that each station could sell things (you fly there, put your stuff up for sale) and people could watch the markets for their region of systems. Where things got kind of interesting, because of how the game world is setup it is possible for one region to have vastly different prices from another. (If you're in region A, you can't easily see that what you want to buy is actually cheaper in Region B, unless you go to region B)

You can buy stuff from any station anywhere in the region, from another station. BUT you have to go pick it up. (There might be a skill to let it automatically transfer, but I forget)

There is a 7 or 14 day free trial, I suggest you play it and see what it is like.

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I've often wondered about the idea of basing a game on crafting, or at least the idea of a more involved crafting system.

I just wonder if making crafting more akin to what is being represented could actually help make it more fun...

Instead of click, click... you made an item, ding.. fletching skill increase, would it not be more fun to actually use a series of appropriate tools, perhaps as mentioned previously, somewhat along the lines of Trauma Centre in how it uses gestures. You could have players actually working at a forge, trying to build a cool item using well placed hammer strikes, etc.

You could also allow players to make repairs and reconfigure items to make improvements.

The difference between what I'm suggesting and what Tom has already mentioned is that instead of players doing lots of items, the player may instead only ever make a small number of items, but they can come back to the items to improve tem in future. I haven't played the games mentioned, so I could well be wrong, but I also suspect that these workshop crafting systems mentioned are still a little too quick, simple, repetetive and unfulfilling.

My possible standalone game idea from this would perhaps be to have two crafters both given a set of components and having to assemble the components in such a way as to best outfit a gladiator they sponsor. The gladiators could then duke it out with your weapons to determine who is the most resourceful craftsman.

anyhoo, just my 2 cents :)

Steve

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I think crafting should have many different parts meant to appeal to different ways of playing the game. One thing that I really liked about WOW was that as I went to do a quest I would come across a mineral node to mine and then be off on my quest again.

This gave me the enjoyment of finding and getting an item combined with the potential use of that item whether in trade or crafting. Basically I was multi tasking but didn't have to go out of my way to do it.

Having a lot of things happening at once is a good thing, especially in an MMO where concentrating on just one thing can get tedious. The WOW system was well suited for that person who wants to primarily partake in combat and have some crafting on the side. It is not as well suited for someone who wants to concentrate on crafting or a larger economic game that is happening in EVE.

Puzzles are one way to make crafting interesting but I think a process of investment in infrastructure and machines could be a better alternative, especially if these investments involve a group effort and can be fought over and in some instances be stolen/captured or destroyed.

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Quote:
Original post by Girsanov
What makes trading and crafting fun for you?


Nothing, because that would imply that I am a Diamond, when in truth I am a Spade.

There's a modicum of psychology that goes behind the design of games: finding out what people want (achievement of tangible goals, social atmosphere, one-upping fellow players, exploring what the game has to offer, or whatever), and making it available in such a way that it keeps players hooked. In such games as WoW, it appears as though the game primarily caters to the 'goal achievement'-type and the 'one-upping'-type (though of course other outlets for entertainment exist within the game).

I would highly recommend reading the article I linked above, because it might give you an alternate perspective on the goals of players in games.

Cheers,

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Quote:
Original post by Girsanov
What makes trading and crafting fun for you?
Nothing in current games... although I didn't play much lately.

Better hype or stats is absolutely something which would make sense for both trading and crafting. Nowadays that real resources are used (typically €$) I believe there could be alot of incentive since players would be producing content after all (virtual ebay? not to this degree).

A really limited example from the past:
About two years ago me and a friend tried to design a spellcraft language which was exactly aimed at providing "real wizards". We really couldn't stand some click-to-kill behaviour. The bottom line of this was that scrolls "on market" would have been sub-optimal and hi-chance to cast.
Writing scrolls would have increased the overall quality (better damage, range etc) but as spell complexity goes high it would have been consistently harder for other players to read the same scroll.
In this sense, it was crafting-oriented but not really market-oriented. The main goal was essentially giving "self-producers" a consistent edge.

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This may have already been stated but if you want to see how NOT to do crafting look at the most horrible craft system out there: Final Fantasy XI. In a game where you never get money, any craft item is very rare and you have to find LOTS of it and spend hours of mundane clicking to try and get your skill up only to need to find harder items that can only be gotten by people well above your skill level so you can continue crafting to the next level blah blah blah no thanks. Very very poor system. Shame on you Square.

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Quote:
Original post by NickGravelyn
Quote:
Original post by Gyrthok
I don't mind going out and gathering the resources needed for crafting, so long as i don't have to gather an exorbitant amount of materials or trek halfway across the world for what should be common items.


That's actually one thing that I enjoyed in WoW. I had this gnome mage who did herbalism. I got my skill so high for my level that for me to find the new herbs to pick I had to venture to the the other continent and travel through dangerous territory. It made it almost more fun than all those generic "Kill X number of Y" quests.


WoW did herbalism and alchemy right, any smithing was done horribly. Most items were weak and could be replaced by low tier raids. the only advantage of it is if you were unable to play very often, couldn't raid, couldn't pvp for arena rewards. If you couldn't put the time in to do either of those, why are you playing a MMO?

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These kinds of threads come up a lot (what is it about X that you like) and it strikes me that the replies fall into some common categories:

1. People that dislike X, but also dislike X's game genre in general. Typically there is also a comment that explicitly or implicitly claims that if X were better than they would like the genre (MMORPG's being the most common example). My instinct is that the claim is generally false or at most wishful thinking. Not all people like all types of games. Occasionally they have a valid comment but for the most part they simply are not the target audience.

2. Min-maxers. These people dislike X because they can achieve thier goals faster via Y. There isn't really anything you can do to please such people. If you improve X then Y now becomes "useless". You may even foster resentment because now the time spent on Y was "wasted".

3. The obsessive. These people typically claim to like X in general but dislike aspects of it - usually those that prevent them getting more/better/faster/cheaper. This can probably be viewed much the same as min-max except in this case the goal is actually X instead of X being a stepping stone to something else.

4. Single-issue voters. What these people really like is Y, they feel that X would be much improved if it was more like Y. Anything that is not Y is "boring".

5. The dabblers. This basically corresponds to "explorers" in Bartle's categorization. These people want to do X because it's possible to do X. The fun is in doing something you haven't done before, not the mechanics of doing it.


Enough theory you probably don't care about. I like crafting simply because it gives me something else to do. Sometimes I want to do something other than kill monsters. Occasionally I also get to help myself or somebody else. It's also a diversion while I'm doing other things - e.g. finding a node while grinding. In the above categorization I'm mostly a dabbler with a bit of obsessive thrown in.

In general I don't like trading. I have this somewhat irrational feeling that if I don't make it with my own skills, get it from a quest (without high-level assistance), or loot it from the bloody corpse of the mob I just helped to kill, it just isn't worthwhile. I regularly turn down hand-me-downs from guildees or offers of "help" doing quests (unless the helper is level-appropriate). I will sell things in the AH (to use WoW terminology) but I essentially never buy anything given any other reasonable option and my money goes to waste.

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Being a WoW addict, I can say that the fun thing about Trading is making money - you need money to up your mount skills and other hugh level stuff. Crafting is fun because it lets you make cool gear to sell, but often takes so much time, money and materials to skill up. Often, at the higher levels of crafting, the payback seems to be nought but 'better' gear that is ok until a certain point in the game. For me, crafting is a way of making money in the middle of the game - the grinding for mats and constant cost of skilling up is a downside, especially as often you end up with "good" stuff that you either don't want and can't sell, or is outdated by the time you've got there.

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Quote:
Original post by Anon Mike
Enough theory you probably don't care about. I like crafting simply because it gives me something else to do. Sometimes I want to do something other than kill monsters.
We could say it's content. It could be exploited to build content... like in 2nd life? I would find this nice. Some people like to have transparent cases: they're mostly useless (the involved LEDs just eat watts for eye-candy) but they go for it anyway.
Minigames could probably be the solution. Have you ever been at a forgery? I did, there's plenty of content here and they have the opportunity to move large amounts of virtual hobbists (have a trip to the forgery mecca JSW)! Next-gen controllers would be lovely!
Quote:
Original post by Anon Mike
In general I don't like trading.
Nor do I. In general I have the impression most people would agree with us. It's unfortunate because I believe trading could really improve the quality of a virtual world...

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Quote:
Original post by Girsanov
What makes trading and crafting fun for you?

Personally, I hate the way trading and crafting is done in a lot of MMORPGs: I farm raw materials for hours, leveling up my harvesting skills. Then, I craft useless items for hours, leveling up my crafting skills. Then I dump everything to NPCs. After weeks or months of doing this, i finally can craft those items which people want. If i choose to just farm loot off mobs, i earn just about as much as a dedicated crafter/trader.

I sort of like how trade is handled in free roam space simulators like X3: everything has to be produced. raw materials are harvested automatically, hands free.




It generates some 'missions' which are often more flexible in their solution than most 'quests'.

Its also 'additional' missions/goals in games which have such limited selection of the typical scripted quests.

It makes the game less one dimensional in giving players more activities to persue (when they feel like it)

Trading is often interacting with real players which often is more complex/interesting than the one dimensional quests.



Unfortunately most games do NOT have a good carfting/trading system and are often as tedious/pointless/limited as (or more than) the rest of the game.

Usually the compexity of the ineteractions between the players and player/environment are too limited and the crafting/trading follows suit.

All round the systems poorly exploit the players use of their imagination.




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I've never seen a game employ a fun way of farming mats and crafting weapons. So what better than have that stuff done by bots?
The Map could be split into territories which each contain different types of materials, enclosed in a camp, which are gathered by workers (bots) that are employed by the guild/faction that owns the territory. A guild or faction could then try create a market monopoly for a certain material by owning most of the land containing a certain type of material, then be able to trade their exclusive material for a higher price.
Alternatively, competing guilds/factions could rush a camp of workers or equipment factory and steal the day's materials farmed by the bots in the camp or in the case of a factory, the equipment in production. Guilds/factions attempting to do this would however, have to beat high level guards protecting the site.
For crafting, equipment could be crafted by factory workers which require of you certain tools and materials to make the equipment. The tools required to make high grade equipment must be obtained by completing challenging quest. Factory workers work for whoever is willing to pay them the most.

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When you look at it distantly, it seems stupid that is fun. You sit down on your computer, farm FAKE resources, to make in to FAKE items to either keep for your FAKE avatar or sell for FAKE money. However, it is fun. I think it is the sense of reward similar to the feeling you get after doing a "hard days work"

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For very socially 'dependent' games like The Sims Online, crafting and trading can be a very nice thing, in that it allows you to give gifts to other people on special occations, or gain new friends in the game by helping newcomers by giving them some tool(s).
But it can also have this effect in more 'teambased' games like WoW, though the social impact might be a little more lax. But hey - at one time you might give a 1000 DPS sword to a dwarf when he needs it, and then you become friends (or you already are friends), and then next time you need 1000 gold, he'll carve some out the mountain for you!

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