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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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Quote:
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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