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Creating a fun, simple, yet complex crafting system....

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Hi Everyone, I'm currently working on, what I call, a mult-single player RPG. The basic premise is the game world is single player but there are interactions and outside forces that effect this game world. The biggest interaction is with the economy. Everything is going to be player created - potions, weapons, armor, everything. Combat does not reward the typical items, but instead rewards money and resources that can be used to buy new stuff and/or craft new stuff. There is also a pretty in-depth harvesting system planned - more on that later. Since crafting and harvesting are as big of a part as combat, if not bigger, I decided I'd start the programming there. I have the whole game designed out, but now that I've got into creating the crafting system I've started to wonder if it's as good as I envisioned it. With that said, I hope to turn to the members here for some feedback on the system I'm creating. I'm going to keep the harvesting description a little high level. If anyone feels more information is needed on that subject please let me know. Harvesting Players must harvest their resources for crafting. The harvesting is not like the typical harvesting system you see these days. You don't go to a node, click a button, and wham - you have resources. Instead it is sort of reminiscent of the SWG style of harvesting. Players can buy and/or build gathers. These gathers take fuel (besides Water gathers, they are powered for "free" by the water) to operate. These gathers can be placed anywhere in the world, and where they are placed defines the type of resource that's gathered. Players can survey the land to determine which resources are near by, the quantity of that resource and the quality of that resource. The gatherer then sits there, on the world, gathering resources. The speed at which the resources are gathered is determined by the fuel used and the gatherer used. These gathers are not stationary. Instead they travel a few squares on an invisible grid gathering resources from each square. Each harvest from the gather depletes it's durability. It is up to the player to retrieve the resources from that gatherer before the durability is depleted or when all the resources have been gathered. Resources There are many different types of resources: Metals, Woods, Fabrics, etc. They are gathered from different areas on the world map. Resources also have three different stats that effect the final crafted item: Quality, Refinement, and Element. The quality is a randomly generated number (from 1 - 100) that's generated when that resource is generated. The refinement value determines how many times the part that the material is applied can be refined. More on this later. The element attribute determines which element the final item will have. The element of the resource is determined by the weather at the time the resource was gathered. For instance, if it's raining when the resource is gathered it will have the Water element. Likewise, if it's stormy out the resource will have the Thunder element. More on elements later. Crafting - The System Crafting starts with a Plan. The Plan defines the item being made. It's important to note here that there are very few "base items" that can be created. These base items are very vague, things like a Gun, a Bow, Chain Armor, etc. Each of these base items have a set of base stats that they start out with. These stats are then modified based on the resources used, the player's skill, and the crafting process. A plan is made up of Components. Components are made up of Parts. Parts - Each part has a Primary Material and (if required) a Secondary Material. The materials used here determine the final quality of that Part. Each part also has a stat that it governs. This stat can be things like Min Attack, Max Attack, Armor, Dodge, etc. The final quality of the part determines how much the stat it governs gets modified. Components - The final quality of the Component is determined by the sum of the final quality of it's parts. The final quality of the Component further effects that stats that are governed by it's parts. Plans - The final quality of the Plan is determined by the sum of the final quality of it's Components. The final quality of the Plan further effects the stats that are governed by it's Component's parts. The element of the final item is defined by the element attribute of the resources used. The most prominent element found is the element of the final item. The strength of that element is determined by the percentage of that element found in all materials. For example, if 100 materials are used and 25 are Water, 25% of damage dealt with that item will be Water damage. Refinement is the process of refining a part to further increase the amount it modifies it's governed stat. The number of times a part can be refined is determined by the Refinement stat on the resources used in that part. The total amount of refinements allowed by a plan is determined by the MAXIMUM refinement value found on the materials used. For example, if materials with the refinement stat of 0, 0, 1, 3, and 2 are used the number of refinements allowed would be 3. Each refinement decreases this value by one. This means that a character can only refine, in this example, a part (or different parts) 3 times. The player must chose careful which stats are most important in this item. A player can chose to take skills that increases his/her refinement of a certain stat. For example, a player can chose to specializing in refining the Max Attack stat. This would increase the player's success rate at refining that stat and the amount that stat is modified by. Crafting - The Process The player opens up the crafting interface and selects the plan. He/she then applies materials to each part required by that plan. He then clicks the "Craft" button. This starts the first cycle of crafting. The length of this cycle is determined by the crafting time defined by the plan, which is modified by passive skills and player skill level. After the first cycle is complete, if there are refinements possible, the player is then given 10 seconds to chose a part to refine. A crafting cycle starts again. This continues until all possible refinements are used up. In the example above this would be 4 cycles (the initial cycle + 3 refinements). Each cycle has a chance to fail. The initial cycle's success rate is determined by the player's skill and the plan difficulty. The refinement cycle's success rate is determined by which refinement cycle the craft is on (the higher the number the less success chance) and the player's skill. On failure the player is forced to chose which resources are lost. The number of resources lost is determined by the level of failure. A level 1 failure would result in less resources lost than a level 5 failure. Once all the cycles have been completed, the player can chose to add things called "Crystals" to the Plan. These crystals can add actual stats to the item. Things like +10 Accuracy or +100 Hit Points. These crystals can be gathered and/or won during combat. The number of crystals that can be added is determined by the player's skill in that craft. The success rate of adding these crystals and the amount added is determined by the player's skill and the actual crystal used. The item is now created, branded, and can be used and/or sold. Branding an item just adds a "Built By: Player's Name" tag to the item. Invention Because of the vast amount of customization allowed in this system I have decided to compliment it with an invention system. This system is actually fairly system. If the player is the first to create an item (an EXACT item.. stats and everything must all be unique), each subsequent item that is an EXACT copy of that would also be branded with an "Invented By: Player's Name" tag. If the player is lucky enough to invent an item he can also name it. Naming the item is also a simple task - he selects an item name from a list of canned names. From that point forward that item would be known as that name in the game. I have one major question I would like advice/feedback on in addition to feedback/advice on the actual crafting system. In a system like this do you think it would be best to have crafting by a separate skill set that compliments the combat character or should crafting be an alternative to combat? Basically, should a player be able to craft fully and combat fully or should a player be forced to chose between a combat or crafting character? ANY thoughts, advice, and feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!!

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If you can see other people's gatherers, that could make the gameworld ugly fast. They have this problem in A Tale In The Desert, because players can see all of each others' buildings only one person can build on any site and the landscape gets cluttered, especially with the abandoned stuff of people who quit playing.

Are you making raw resources unsellable? If they are sellable their value will plummet to almost nothing really fast unless they are rare for some reason. If they remain valuable, you will get players creating mules and/or botting to get more resources and/or money for their main character.

Where do players get plans, and are they rare or common, single-use or infinite use?

Can you sell items to NPCs? To other players?

Can you disassemble an unwanted item to get materials and/or the plan back?

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Original post by sunandshadow
If you can see other people's gatherers, that could make the gameworld ugly fast. They have this problem in A Tale In The Desert, because players can see all of each others' buildings only one person can build on any site and the landscape gets cluttered, especially with the abandoned stuff of people who quit playing.

Are you making raw resources unsellable? If they are sellable their value will plummet to almost nothing really fast unless they are rare for some reason. If they remain valuable, you will get players creating mules and/or botting to get more resources and/or money for their main character.

Where do players get plans, and are they rare or common, single-use or infinite use?

Can you sell items to NPCs? To other players?

Can you disassemble an unwanted item to get materials and/or the plan back?


Ahh, I knew there would be details I left out. :)

You cannot see other people's gathers. The game world is single player - NOT a MMO. The concept is a little different. Once again, all crafting, gathering, and combat happens in a single player game. The selling and buying happens in "online" mode. The game will basically generate a list of open shops and show them to the player. There are no game controlled shops.

Resources can be sold. Because each player has a copy of their own game world, the resources available at any given time are different for each player. This means Player A may have resources Player B needs but cannot be gathered in his game world.

I'm worried about mules if I don't allow people to craft AND combat. The way I have the class system setup, each character can master each class. If I do this for crafting as well then there is no real difference between people anymore. This is the area I'm struggling with the most.

Plans are learned by leveling up your crafting skills. There are also plans that can be found during combat and sold/used. They are infinite use once learned.

As I said, there are no NPC shops so items cannot be sold to NPCs. The whole "economy" (if it could be called that in a single player game) is driven by other players. Sounds strange for a single player game, I know.

I've thought about item deconstruction and am on the fence about it. Not sure if it'll be implemented or not yet.

On a side note, the back story ties in these different game world. There is a reason for them according to the story. There is also reason to buy/sell/trade with other players - story reasons and reasons built into the game.

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If the gathering is all single player, I think I would have more fun picking coconuts off trees and gathering reeds by a river and finding feathers where a bird colony nests than by having automatic gatherers. Also I personally would definitely want to be able to level crafting and combat on the same character - although I'm not entirely sure what the point of the combat would be if it doesn't get you any resources or gear. Do you get money from it? Faction rep that allows access to special plans or the right to wear special gear? But at any rate, isn't it lame if the 'real' difference between people is a single choice they make to be a crafter or a fighter? Instead, shouldn't the real difference between people be their chosen gameplay style? The more options you give people, the more diverse they will be in their choices among those options. Also if appearance customization and/or forum posting are part of your game, players will probably consider that the real source of their identity. (I'm thinking of Gaia Online now that I understand your game's structure better.)

Having a player's economy be dependent upon other players... Seems kinda odd that the one feature of traditional MMOs you left in is the hardest one to balance. It's a natural problem of all MMOs that the longer you have been playing the more money you have, and whatever brand new players can get/make to sell quickly becomes valueless (unless for some reason people who have been playing longer need it in mass quantities and/or can't get it anymore). Also if there are no NPC run stores, what is money for? If it's only for buying stuff from other players, why bother if you can gather the stuff yourself? Why bother selling if you don't have things you long to buy?

Actually, this sounds like something you could playtest if you could get 5 or 6 people to sit around a table for a few hours and pretend to play this game.

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Let me touch on some of the points you raised, and then I will go into some of the backstory and mechanics in the game, in hopes it paints a larger and brighter picture of what I'm trying to accomplish.

The automatic vs. manual gathering is some what of a personal preference choice. I hate going to a node, clicking a button, and gathering. I've never enjoyed that system. What I've always enjoyed is going out into the world and looking hard for the best resources I could find. I never wanted to sit around gathering those, though. I would much rather a gatherer do it for me. The others who helped me flesh out the game design felt the same way, so we settled on this system. Maybe it wasn't the best way to come up the system, but it worked.. for now anyways :)

Combat is not pointless. Combat will net you money and resources. Combat also nets you crystals, which play a much bigger role in the grand scheme of things - not just in crafting. I'll touch more on this soon.

I'm not sure I'm convinced being only a crafter or only a fighter is lame. In today's market, however, it may be lame. And, as I said, this is one of the biggest areas I'm struggling with. I want to make people support the economy by buying and selling from each other but I don't want to lock people into one play style over another.

I also want to create a unique crafting system where people can really effect the outcome of the final product. I envision a system where two crafters are NOT alike at all. They may both be Swordsmiths, but they both have different skills for refining different attributes. They both may have different skills for harvesting that allows one to gather different/better resources then the other. This could lead to both people crafting a sword, but one is more focused on attack and the other more focused on speed. I also want to allow each and every crafter to specialize in a specific area of crafting. Not just the item, but a stat or two on that item.

On an economy level, it's not the player's economy.. It's still a global economy with money sinks and all that you typically see in an MMORPG. You may understand better if you know more about the game.

The backstory goes something like this -

Three nations are fighting for control of the land (Typical, I know). They are all working towards building a super weapon that could knock the other two nations off the map. To build this super weapon they need to gather a resource that's been spoken of since the ancients. This resource is "Reality Crystal". These crystals are gathered by defeating enemies and harvesting in what is known as "Reality".

Reality is different for each and every character. Reality is also defined by each and every character. This means that you can have two players who see and play the game totally different. One may chose (through a series of questions) to have a more fantasy based reality - He has mages, and arches, and elfs, and all that stuff. One may chose a more sci-fi based reality. His reality will have gunners, robots, and explosions. The classes may sound different, but for programability, they are exactly the same under the hood.. just different names and different skill names.

The reality also defines the resources that can be gathered and the items that can be crafted. It doesn't make sense for someone playing in a fantasy reality to craft a gun, likewise it doesn't make sense for someone in "sci-fi" to craft a bow.

These crystals I spoke of can be gathered in your "Reality" and brought back to the here and now. They can then be donated to your nation or used in crafting. They can also be broken down into currency. You must chose wisely how you want to use your crystals.

Every week the national tally will be calculated and the nation in control will have new areas and plans open up to their players. For the next week players from that nation can explore those new lands, gather items, and craft the new plans. Once that nation loses control, the plans are no longer available and the items they have that were made by those plans are destroyed. There is a story reason for this, I'm just trying not to get too deep into it :)

There is also a "sink" for these crystals. In order to power your reality generator you must supply it with Crystals. Your nation donates you enough to power your generator enough to bring yourself and four other people (controlled by you, not actual player characters) to your reality and back. You don't HAVE to pay this debt off, however the donation comes from the nation reserve so not paying it off means your nation could fall out of control.

The areas, resources, and plans that open up to the nation in control will be random. I plan to create a bunch of "un-used" maps, resources, and plans that will then be unlocked randomly when a nation takes control. If you are in control one week, and in control next, the areas that were previously opened stay opened AND new ones open up.

The incentive to fight AND gather AND craft is pretty big, I think. Now, the real purpose of the game is just to get more loot.. as it typically is. There is story to follow, but it's a completely open world and it never ends (much like an MMO).


As you can see, I'm attempting to do something a little different. I'm really trying to create an MMORPG atmosphere without the over head an MMO requires. What I'm really trying to do is take the idea behind web RPGs and turn that into a living, breathing, single player world.

I was trying to avoid getting into the whole mechanic behind the game, as I think that's a little off topic for the question asked.. but I'm hoping knowing how the game will run/act will help shed some light onto the how and why of the crafting system.

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In a system like this do you think it would be best to have crafting by a separate skill set that compliments the combat character or should crafting be an alternative to combat? Basically, should a player be able to craft fully and combat fully or should a player be forced to chose between a combat or crafting character?


I didn't read your post word by word. I think you have these design goals:
o Interaction among players, especially trading of materials
o Combat is significant part of gameplay

The following are parts of a particular design:

1) The PC can level up crafting skill by both crafting and by combat, in the sense that all crafting skills are derivatives of combat skills. For example, to refine something in 3000oK temperature, the game requires a fire power that a PC with high fire-type combat level would naturally have. The player would still need to transcent that skill (which was trained through combat) into a crafting skill. This detailing of skill for crafting purpose is the crafting skill training. But it can only occur when the PC has the fire power to begin such training. In some situations, you could imagine that crafting involves the PC bring the item to a powerful monsters, and that the PC would borrow the power of the monster to do crafting. Only the players strong enough or skillful enough could get back the item (without getting KO). Players who can fight are candidates to perform intense crafting actions. But they are not automatically crafters.

2) The game world evolves as the game progress. This could be that resources deplete. Or that certain types of monsters would be cleared as the game progress. Depending on how the player chosen to play the game different type of resources would be depleted from the world. For example, some resources can only be found in the world of a low level PC while those low level monsters last. The objective is to require a diverse materials and crafting skills required to complete an object (from start to finish), such that it would be normal for a player to buy and sell parts and processed but incomplete parts online.

3) A player can only transfer material from one character to another that do not share the same physical game world through the online market. The meaning is that, while you are playing in your own world, you could create as many characters as you like and let them level up at different speed. You could transfer items among them all you want. However, if you start another world you cannot transfer the stuff from your old world without going through the online market. When you put something online, there is a chance that some other player could buy it.

4) This point is about balancing the economy. The fundamental idea is that the newbie world has the most important resources that deplete as the game progress, while the high level world has the most important processes in order to craft high quality stuff. High quality stuffs span all levels. For example, a level 60 PC (in a very battered game world), would place a buy order online requesting a herb to revive one of his other character in the same game world, but that herb would only grow in the level 5 world while the game world was still relatively peaceful. To complicate the matter, the part of the level 5 world that would have such herb was not normally accessible until the PC is about level 15, but by the time the PC would be level 15, those herb would have gone extinct. The resulting dynamics is that the high level players would craft high level items specifically to help other level 5 players in the community to take on the quest to adventure inside the realm of level 15 monsters to get those herb. Once those herbs are available in the community, the high level crafters could use their crafting skills to make the resurrection potions.

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Instead of inventing weird crafting mechanisms, why not try to be a little realistic?

For example, what matters for a chainmail is the material, the size of the rings, the type of weave, and its cut (whether it covers the whole torso, arms, and hood in a single piece or just the torso).
This will affect weight, encumbrance, joints, and protection.

For a two-edged sword, there a lot more of parameters, for the blade only: materials on how they were hardened, length, width, cross-section, type of fuller (grooves removed from the blade to lighten it without compromising strength), type of point, etc.
This will affect weight, rigidity, thrusting power, sharpness of the edges, etc.

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I think creating an "all-crafting" RPG in which all the items the player uses are crafted might be a bad idea. Don't get me wrong - it could be really fun and if there was a game that executed it properly then I would probably play it.

I don't want to insult anybody here, but I think a lot of people in the game industry (especially the art staff and level designers) will agree with me that a sizable part of the audience is stupid. Now, I don't mean that they all-around incompetent people, but when it comes games they don't pick up on a lot of things that others do. That said, if the crafting system is a large part of the game like you're proposing, then it needs to be somewhat simple so that anybody who plays the game can use it.
As far as I'm concerned, the potion crafting system in Oblivion was pretty much gimped. I hated it. But you didn't have to use it at all - you could buy, steal, or find potions throughout the game.

There are other forseeable problems when you make this sort of mandate.
Unless they just sell items to craft items, vendors will be pretty much useless.
Also, with games like Diablo, a lot of the "positive feedback" (if you will) for fighting monsters is a crapload of dropped loot and items, and the hope that with every kill you're closer to getting a great sword or wand or something. In my opinion, the combat needs to be visceral and visually/aurally self-rewarding if there are no dropped items and loot (besides components and materials).

On another note, the materials that are used to make a certain item need to more or less represent what is actual used to make such an item in the real world. I guess this is sort of obvious, but it helps not to stray too far. The player should be able to make an educated guess of what any item is made with.

It'd also be cool to have several "levels" of an item you can craft.
For example, say you start out with a steel longsword. It takes two steel plates (the blade itself) and 1 piece of leather (for the handle/hilt). Then you can add heavy gem to the pommel, which makes the sword more balanced and in turn adds to the damage rating. The player could also add a "frost gem" or something to cause frost damage on strike.


Yeah, I kinda went crazy there. Hope you can get something good out of that.

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I want to add some more to my own post.

About "The audience is stupid" - Well, I agree.. lol. I'm also not targeting the masses with this game. Maybe I should be, but I'm not. What I envision is having a little niche market - not unlike those who play web RPGs and/or text RPGs. I'm NOT expecting to bring in mass people. I'm more expecting to bring in the people who enjoy crafting and full player ran economies. That's the reason for the heavy focus on crafting and player shops.

One thing I've been tinkering with a lot and hope I can work it in is Plan's that actually level up. Say you start with a rusty sword. As your craft level increases, so the plan for the rusty sword - it's now a plan for a steel sword. The first "Rusty Sword" plan will require few components and the materials needed will be those that can be gathered by low level characters. As the Plan levels up, more components and more higher level materials are needed. However, the original components (complete with the low level materials) are still required.

Resources will also "level up" in a sense.. well, not really.. lol. The resources that can be gathered is effected by your harvesting level. Some resources will only be available during certain levels. As your harvesting levels up, you stop gathering the lower resources needed for plans and start gathering the higher level resources.

This is my attempt at basically keep everyone (no matter their level) an important part of the economy. The higher level characters count on the lower level people to get the materials needed for their plans.

Make sense?

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Does it bother you at all that you just suggested upgrading a Plan used to create a rusty sword into a Plan to create a nice new steel sword?

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Original post by JasRonq
Does it bother you at all that you just suggested upgrading a Plan used to create a rusty sword into a Plan to create a nice new steel sword?


I was going to mention that but I think that was just an example and isn't going to be in the game.

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Does it bother you at all that you just suggested upgrading a Plan used to create a rusty sword into a Plan to create a nice new steel sword?


I understand the point you're trying to make, and I can appreciate that. However, as I said in the post, that was an example of how a system might work. As I said, this is an idea I've been tinkering with so no (ZERO) details have been worked out.

With that said, is it really all that lame that a plan for a Rusty Sword can be upgraded to a plan for a Steel Sword? Because, really, don't both swords start off with the same base? A handle and a blade. The materials required for a Rusty Sword would be of a lot lower quality and there would be fewer parts required. Why is it lame that using better materials and more parts on that same plan could create an end product that's of higher quality then the original?

After all, it's not the plan for a Rusty Sword is being upgraded into a plan for a nice new Sniper Rifle.

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People don't make rusty swords. Swords eventually get rusty.
Crafting a rusty sword just doesn't make sense. Or it's not crafting, it's makeshift work.

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I really like your ideas for a all crafting game. i just wanted to comment on the previous thinking that end users are stupid. thinking in those lines alienates people and potential customers. I think it would be more fair to classify them as horribly impatient. year after year games are constantly "dumb down" and catered to the lowest common denominator.

if you build a good, solid game they will come in groves to play it. be bold, make people engage more than their fingers for a change.

also RyanG, when did the art staff suddenly become a good judge of a person intelligence.

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Original post by MrBob
also RyanG, when did the art staff suddenly become a good judge of a person intelligence.


Well, I mostly meant level design but I mentioned art as well since the two overlap a lot and must communicate where the player has to go and what the player has to do visually. I've heard people like Cliff Bleszinski mention that they can't add a lot of things to the progression of a map or level that they would like because through playtesting they've found that it's too subtle for a large part of the audience to pick up on.
And as I mentioned before, I'm not talking about a person's "in real life" intelligence - I'm just talking about how people play games and the level of "in your face" they expect.

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I really like your ideas for a all crafting game. i just wanted to comment on the previous thinking that end users are stupid. thinking in those lines alienates people and potential customers. I think it would be more fair to classify them as horribly impatient. year after year games are constantly "dumb down" and catered to the lowest common denominator.

if you build a good, solid game they will come in groves to play it. be bold, make people engage more than their fingers for a change.

also RyanG, when did the art staff suddenly become a good judge of a person intelligence.


I would not say the game is all crafting - there is a combat system that plays a pretty big role in the grand scheme of things. However, crafting is a huge part of the game. Just as big of a part as combat is.

The goal I'm shooting for is the combat people support the crafters and the crafters support the combat people. That's my reason for combat not rewarding usable items, I want those combat people to have to goto the crafters for it.

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Well, I guess I understand the game concept now. My opinion is that although I would love an MMO that is half about crafting, this particular design is not going to result in a fun game - the economy just isn't going to work and the combat is going to seem pointless, and if only combat-related items are craftable that will in turn make the crafting seem useless. Players are definitely going to want to create mules for several reasons, the only limiting factor would be if it was a subscription based game and you could only create one or two characters per subscription (which is not what I would call a _good_ limiting factor).

Sorry to be negative. But if you want to make a crafting-focused MMO, that's great, but maybe you could go back to the drawing board, use surveys and brainstorms to get an idea that will be fun to play.

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Original post by sunandshadow
Well, I guess I understand the game concept now. My opinion is that although I would love an MMO that is half about crafting, this particular design is not going to result in a fun game - the economy just isn't going to work and the combat is going to seem pointless, and if only combat-related items are craftable that will in turn make the crafting seem useless. Players are definitely going to want to create mules for several reasons, the only limiting factor would be if it was a subscription based game and you could only create one or two characters per subscription (which is not what I would call a _good_ limiting factor).

Sorry to be negative. But if you want to make a crafting-focused MMO, that's great, but maybe you could go back to the drawing board, use surveys and brainstorms to get an idea that will be fun to play.


I apologize if I was not clear before, so I'll try and be more clear this time. I am, however, try to avoid geting into a whole discussion of how combat and crafting work together in this thread. This thread was about a crafting system I'm designing, not about how combat plays a role in all that. While we can argue the importance of combat on crafting, I'm just looking for is feedback on the actual crafting system itself. We'll cross the "how does it fit together" bridge when we get there. If changes are needed at that time, then so be it.

Anyways, as I was saying... Combat is a big part of the game. In fact, combat and crafting play just as big roles in the game. Just because combat does not reward with "uber loot" does not mean it's pointless. Combat plays a big role in terms of the story and game mechanics, it just doesn't play a role in terms of getting items and weapons. People are rewarded in other ways for taking part in combat - resources that can only be gathered through combat, helping their nation unlock new areas, plans, and resources, etc.

Also, you are of the opinion that an economy supported by a crafting system like this won't work. Can you explain further why that is, please? Do you have suggestions on how I could make the crafting system better support an economy?

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I don't think you were unclear, sorry if I got off-track. I'm not sure I could pronounce a verdict on your crafting system itself since the details aren't in this thread; probably you don't have specific plans or numbers yet. The plans aspect seems fine to me, although I'm not quite as sure about naming plans after the first person to manufacture them - they would all get named right away, several by the same few crafters who started playing right when the server opened, and they would probably stay named after these players who might not even still be playing 6 months or a year later. I guess I already said the gatherers concept is not personally to my taste, and I think there should be a lot of craftable vanity/appearance customization items, not just combat-related ones.

The reason I was saying I thought the combat would seem kinda pointless isn't because of the no gear drops, I don't like dropping gear, it's because of the no/few crafting ingredient drops - when I'm playing an MMO, other than quest-required combat, the usual way I decide what to grind on is what I want crafting ingredient drops from. Crystals are kind of interesting but you'll have to make them a rare drop so you don't flood the market, and rare drops aren't as motivating as common but useful drops. And the problem is not the crafting supporting the economy, it's the economy supporting the crafting. It's an _extremely_ common problem in MMOs that the market gets flooded with crafted gear, such that the price of the crafted items is worth less than the ingredients needed to craft them. And with no npc buyback to maintain a price floor, when supply exceeds demand prices will just fall and fall and fall.

Actually, random thought: could you reverse the crafting items, such that gatherers gathered only crystals and all the other crafting drops came from monsters? That seems like it would work a lot better. And the way gathering crystals could work is, you would get some common types of crystals that would be used for crafting consumable items like potions, plus one or a few of these crafting bonus crystals per day. Like mining quartz and there's one random emerald in it. Another thing that would improve the economy is if patterns were consumable and only obtainable by combat, specifically non-quest combat (perhaps you get a guaranteed one for completing any dungeon). And, whatever you do, don't make the crafting level increase by the sheer amount of stuff crafted, that makes players craft a zillion of whatever is made of the cheapest ingredients, and if npcs won't buy them they are just going to sit in people's inventories like trash; or if they can be recycled people will make a batch, recycle them all, make a batch with the salvage, recycle them all, etc, totally boring and grindy.

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I would just like to point out that your original post had this prompt:

Quote:
In a system like this do you think it would be best to have crafting by a separate skill set that compliments the combat character or should crafting be an alternative to combat? Basically, should a player be able to craft fully and combat fully or should a player be forced to chose between a combat or crafting character??


The choices of your suggestions were:

1) Crafting is a set of skills that a character could learn in additional to combat skills, while combat skills are essential.

2) Crafting is a set of skill alternative to combat. Combat is optional by design.

3) Crafting and combat skills are two exclusive sets of skills. A combat character cannot craft; while a crafter character cannot combat.


My post a few posts back was similar to your idea. For instance, I don't believe that killing monsters should drop you a sword (where was the sword before you kill the monsters? In its [body]?) So I am completely okay with combat only yielding crafting materials. But by the way your question was originally posted, it is normal for people to discuss the role between combat and crafting.

I would just like to point out another fact that there is no reason to assume that the crafter population and the combatant population need to be the same (in general game, I am not assuming this about your game, as you might have the goal to make both population about the same). You could have a design where you expect 90% of players (or playtime) to be combat, and 10% being crafting.

So in some sense, crafting does not need to be fun by design, but fit a certain type of player such that those player actually enjoys crafter (while the other players don't actually find it fun since it could be to detailed or technical, but those that love crafting likes it BECAUSE it is so technical.) This is just an example how different aspects of a game do not need to be symmetrical or be enjoy by all types of players by design. The point is that some players could find something enjoyable in the design while ignoring the parts they don't want.

In your game, you could design it such that combat and crafting are both meant to be fun for the average player. If you make the two sets of skill exclusive, you are inviting each player to have at least 2 characters. To some players, that would become an arbitrary restriction. This is not necessarily a bad design. For example, if your game has permanent death, it would actually make a lot of sense for the crafter and the combatant to be two characters.



Silkroad Online is a free MMORPG that has crafting, combat, trade routes, PvP, ...etc, in particular, it also uses crystals for crafting. The way balance is done, is that you get a fixed ratio of crystals when you fight kill a monster around your level, and the type of crystal you get is associated with the level of the monster, for instance:

(Approximately)
At level 1-10, you get Level I crystals (You get Fire I, Water I, etc)
At level 11-20, you get Level II crystals (they are called Fire II, Water II, etc)
etc...

So at high level, you can never get Level I crystal anymore. Because the monsters you could fight only drop Level X crystals. The recipes are done such that in general, you need some type of crystals that you can no longer get. So you need to buy crystals from other players. In addition, new players usually don't know what to do with their crystals so that would sell them to vendors (and when they do discover that they could sell crystals to other players, they discover that crystals sell for A LOT of money).

In that game, the success rate of crafting is low. So crafter was an expensive game. To increase the success rate, players buy "crafting potion" online using real money.

A crafting example:

1) The player buys a blank item from vendor. This obviously cost $$$. The starting weapon only comes from vendors. These items are poorer than those dropped from monsters, because monster drops have stats.
2) Through combat, players of various level obtain crystals of various levels
3) Also through combat, players of various level obtain unrefined tablets of various levels. Each tablet correspond to some sort of stats increase that could be crafted into a weapon.
4) To refine a tablet, you need crystal. For example for a Level V +DMG tablet, the crafter might need 100 FIRE I crystals, 20 WIND III crystals, 20 FIRE V crystals.
5) Since no crafter could get all necessary crystals at their level, they must buy crystals from some one else.
6) Crafters could also extract refined tablet (disenchant) from items with stats.
7) Enchanting and disenchanting have pretty high chance of failure. When it fails, you could lose any number of enchantment on the item, and also the item itself.
8) Any player could decide to craft at any time.
9) The way to get a lot of money fast is by transporting a load of cargo from one city to another. The father you travel, the more you profit.
10) Trade Goods are special items that you buy from trade shop. These are items like vases that have no function in other part of the game.
11) When you are carrying your trade goods (with your mule, camel, ox, etc...) you could be attacked by thieves.
12) NPC thieves spawns to attack. If you are not a newbie trader, player thieves can also attack you. So trading is mainly a PVP environment.
13) To reduce player anger against you, when you play as a thief, you get a fakename and a ninja-like suit so that other players couldn't identify you to take revenge when you are Off-Role.
14) Players could also decide to enter the PVP environment by playing the role of "Hunters". Hunters are like the police, they level up by killing thieves, and unlike the traders, they do not need to stay within a radius of the cargo, they could chase thieves to the end of the world if they want.
15) Any player could choose to play any role (Trader, Hunter, Thief) by changing in the city.

Quote:
It's an _extremely_ common problem in MMOs that the market gets flooded with crafted gear, such that the price of the crafted items is worth less than the ingredients needed to craft them.

On one hand this is not true in Silkroad online. The reason is that crafters don't level at all. But approximately only the paying population of players are crafters because it costs so much and it is easy to fail, so crafters are those that spent real money on crafting potions and other means of assistance.

On the other hand, I don't contest that it is a common phenomenon, but I don't register it as a problem in its economy. There is in general no problem in the economy if prices don't keep on inflating or deflating. Prices of items could settle at a level contrary to your believes, but it is not necessarily a problem.

[Edited by - Wai on January 14, 2009 12:48:02 AM]

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There is one other common problem with crafting economies besides runaway inflation and deflation. The third problem is total lack of availability. Dofus is a game where you see this problem a lot. In that game crafting does level, and crafts also fail (I personally hate random fails in crafting.) Crafting goes in 10-level increments, up to level 100. Also gear has a specific required level to use. It is only possible to craft gear about 10 levels higher than the crafter's level, and only 100% success to craft gear 10 or 20 levels below the crafter's level. For gear level 100 or higher, it is never possible to craft it with 100% success.

Compounding the problem of risky crafting, some crafting ingredients are only available in dungeons. High-level dungeons cannot be soloed - they are designed for a maximum team of 8, so in order to solo one you must be at least twice the level of the characters the dungeon was designed for; in addition some monsters are simply impossible for some classes to fight, and some dungeons require multiple players to stand on targets to unlock doors. On top of that there are 'prospecting locks' which mean that rare items cannot be dropped at all if the party's total prospecting is less than 400, 500, 800, and a character's base prospecting is only 100, and the absolute maximum for a single character is about 300. Then, as is an issue in every MMO that has dungeons, some dungeons go 'out of fashion' because they are buggy or really annoying or less rewarding than other possibilities.

Result: a rare or prospecting-locked drop from the boss of a high level dungeon is almost impossible to buy, when they are available at all the prices can be more than a million gold. Secondary result - gear requiring these items is almost impossible to create, and has a ridiculous cost if the crafting fails. Crafters simply won't craft these items on spec - the burden of both acquiring the materials and assuming the risk if the craft fails is shifted to the person who wants to wear the gear. This sort of works in Dofus because of their excellent cooperative crafting interface and the less excellent but passable ability to look up players with an appropriate crafting level and IM them to request a craft be created. Sometimes though there were simply no characters with an appropriate crafting level in a desired weapon or armor type on a server; or if there was one, they were likely to be busy (in the middle of a dungeon) and the customer wanting the item crafter might have had to wait hours or even days to get it crafted, by which point they might have out-leveled the item.

Another facet of the lack of availability problem is when patterns simply aren't available to craft an item with an appropriate level and type of stats. This can be disastrous if a player has built their character by permanently investing stat and spell points, and suddenly the build is handicapped compared to other builds due to lack of gear supporting that build and wearable by that class. This is a problem in both Dofus and WoW, even though both games allow some stat modification of items, especially at higher levels. Perhaps it won't be a problem with the design under discussion if the patterns are flexible and numerically balanced through playtesting.

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sunandshadow - Thanks for clearing up some of what you said. It think I understand your points a lot better now :)

The invention system is applicable on more than just the first plan. It applies to ever item crafted, so long as it is unique. For instance, let's say there is a plan for a "Greatsword" and both Crafter A and Crafter B go to craft this item. Crafter A comes up with a Greatsword that has these few stats "Attack: 23-40, Speed: Very Slow, +150 Hitpoints", while Crafter B comes up with a Greatsword that has these few stats "Attack: 23-40, Speed: Very Slow, +150 Hitpoints, +15 Strength".

These two items are very similar, but Crafter B was able to get +15 Strength onto his sword as well. Because there was already a Greatsword (Crafted two weeks ago by Crafter C) with the stats "Attack: 23-40, Speed: Very Slow, +150 Hitpoints", Crafter A does not get any Invention bonus. However, Crafter B was able to make an item that's unique (His has +15 Strength) so he does get the Invention bonus and is able to name that item. Make sense?

On the point of what combat rewards, the more I think about this the more I believe you have a valid concern. If combat doesn't reward anything but the occasionally rare crystal, what's the point? So what I'm thinking is, not as drastic as sundandshadow proposed (materials only from crafting), maybe splitting the materials up and having only some come from harvesting and some come from combat. These resources could be split into logical ways. You wouldn't expect to find a chunk of metal on a bear roaming the forest, but you would expect to find some hides that could be turned into leather. This way combat rewards stuff that's actually needed on a regular basis, and no longer seems pointless. This will also further "force" people into buying and selling everything over the market, as a full crafter will not be capable of combat while someone who focuses only on combat has no need for the materials. I'm assuming no mules with the above statement :)

As far as resources being available in dungeons that aren't soloable - the game I'm developing is a single player game, at least when it comes to combat. The game world is a local copy and you are the only person inside of it. This means everything will be soloable, as long as the character is high enough skill to kill the monsters. This should help alleviate the problem of dungeons and such being too hard and/or going out of style, as the player is the only one who decides which dungeon he wants to clear - not the 9 other people in his part :)

Wai - Thanks for your replies as well. You bring up some good points, just like your last post. I tried to reply directly to your first response, but maybe I wasn't as clear as I'd like :)

The three "designs" you listed are pretty accurate to what I've been trying to decide on. I've come up with a system that I think will work well in terms of fitting with the game mechanics. Basically Combat, Harvesting, and Crafting are three base skills. The player has two mastery points that he can use to learn Combat, Harvesting, and/or Crafting. The player must learn one, but does not need to learn the second. Instead, the left over mastery point can be turned in for more skill points (details not yet finalized).

So what you have in this system is people are not forced to participate in Combat, Harvesting, or Crafting. It is entirely their choice which area they want to invest in and how much effort they want to spend in that area. I also plan to design it in such a way that players are rewarded for only taking one mastery just as much as they'd be rewarded for taking two masteries. For instance, the Crafting sub-tree will have a butt load of skills inside of it. The player will never be able to earn enough skill points to master every skill.. However, if he chose to take only crafting and turn in his second mastery point, he would have enough skill points to learn everything inside the crafting sub tree.

While a big part of me would like combat and crafting to be fun for all, I've realized through my many years of gaming/developing that it's pretty impossible to accomplish that. The type of players that enjoy these two things are usually very different and usually like combat and crafting to be implemented in different ways.

The goal I've set for myself when I started this project was to create a very fun, simple, yet complex crafting system. I want to create something where there is a crap load of variety in item appearance and stats. A system where JoeBob142 could become renown (within this game) because he's taken the time to master the crafting and harvesting processes - and is able to build very powerful items. I understand it takes a "special" type of player to really enjoy this type of crafting system, but that's sort of what I'm targeting with the crafting.

The combat, in my opinion, is a much simpler matter to solve. This is a turn based RPG. I chose that route because people are familiar with it and I've learned through the years that people who typically enjoy those games would also be the type to enjoy an in depth crafting system. Maybe I'm wrong - wouldn't be the first time my experiences/research was :)

The biggest problem (outside the crafting system) I've always seen with this project is getting the two to work together well. I've been trying to avoid touching on that subject in this thread, and I'll continue to do so. It is, however, a problem I know I'm going to have a hard time overcoming :)

You guys touched on making crafting not level by just creating items. Great idea, but how would you implement such a thing? In combat, you get rewarded for killing a monster. In crafting, you usually get rewarded for making something. That always seemed to make sense to me. While I agree fully that the market will become flooded with useless crap because people just ground their way to the top, how could it be stopped?

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Re: Jaylach

[ The content of this post is written before I read you previous post, but I think the content is relevant enough that I would post it even if it is not exactly your area of interest. ]

Suppose your design goal is to maximize material exchange among players, and require that all items (both essential or luxourious) need to be crafted.

So there are a few fundamental effects to implement in your economy.
0) The crafting process of any product must require at least one change in ownership.
1) No character can be completely self-sufficient in any time in the game
2) No player can form a group of self-sufficient characters in any time in the game
3) No players can form a coalition of that is self-sufficient, if such a coalition exist, the coalition would equals the entire player population.

These are fundamental dynamics because if any of these fail, you open a gap where a player or players no longer need to exchange materials. So given the goal (suppose that is what you want), the question is not whether these three dynamics should exist, but how they should/could be implemented.


One way to implement (1), (2), (3) is to disable material transfer, and only allow material transfer on your online market using a common currency. (There are possibly other ways, this is really just one of them.)

Example:

Suppose your first character has a nuclear warhead and you want to give it to your other character that could use a warhead. Now, the game does not give you any way to transfer the item unless you list it on the supermarket. The moment you list it on the supermarket, anyone in the player population could buy it if they had the money. So if you the supermarket is implemented as a timed auction (say the item would stay on the list for 1 day, and it would go to whoever pays the most), then the availability of that item would be governed by the supply and demand of the economy. You cannot guarantee that your other character would be the buyer, because you have no way to discriminate anyone in the transaction:

L1) no discrimination in the form of currency;
L2) no discrimination in the form of trade location; (anyone can trade with anyone anywhere)
L3) no discrimination in the form of player time zones; (you can't list the item just for 1 minute, just enough for your other character to login and buy the item at very low price.

There are many ways to implement (0). But without added complication, it could be implemented like this: Results of a crafting action automatically lists the item on the market. This works, but this might not be the experience you want. Of course you are free to implement any rule. I am just suggesting this idea because it is easy to implement. The effect is that there is in general no reason to craft the intermediate parts for a plan if the stockpile has those parts, and the price of that part would settle at the fair price for that part. This is a simple implementation because you no longer need to balance which character should be eligible to gather what resources and to learn what skills. The economy is self-regulating. A crafter cannot craft and assume ownership of the product at the same time. Every product, intermediate or not, goes to the market. You could theorically require each recipe to require a diverse chain of production and material requirement, and to impose some restriction on the character such that no character could do all, but this implementation is much simpler, if not the simpliest.

I believe that this particular implementation would satisfy the 4 dynamics. I am saying that if my representation of your goal is correct, then you need to check your proposal against the three laws listed above, which are actually the basis of a free market. Your choices of implementations could change, but the laws are fundamental.


[Edited by - Wai on January 14, 2009 11:47:34 AM]

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Wai - You seem to be much better at expression my goals then I am... I've always had a problem getting my thoughts down on "paper" :/

While combat and exploration are big parts of the game, the fundamentals of game mechanics revolves around a system that maximizes the exchange of resources - materials, items, weapons, etc. That means that all parts (combat, harvesting, trading, crafting, etc) need to work together in a way that makes sense and is best for the game. Maybe I was mistaken for trying to avoid including that interaction in this discussion :)


Your bullet points 1 - 3 are items I definitely agree with and want to create rules that control these things. What worries me, however, is the '0' bullet point. I do not want to force every crafted item to hit the market, however I want to avoid items being cycled through the market. I don't want Player A to sell an item to Player B and then Player B turns around and resells that item after it's been used for a few weeks.

To try and stop that I've included a durability mechanic into the crafting and combat system. The more you use an item the less it's durability is. These items can be repaired but the more an item is repaired the lower it's max durability becomes. This should help reduce items being used, repaired to max, and then resold.

I've also toyed with the idea of implementing a "Bind on equip" type system instead of the durability system. However, I'm not sure I like a "Bind on equip" system. While it achieves the goals I'm going for I'm not convinced it fits in my whole game design. I could work it into the back story why "Bind on equip" is plausible but I'm afraid it would feel like a quick fix/hack.

My plan to help control items 1 - 3 is basically what you described: Items cannot be traded through any means other then the open market. This means that if you want to get 500 resources to your mule you'd have to put them on the open market. Now, you could put them up for very high amounts of money that only your mule could afford but that wouldn't be wise because money can't change hands other then through the free market either. This means that the money you spent to buy your main characters resources is "lost" for that character. That money cant' be used to buy items for the main character and sent back, as those items would again have to enter the free market.

Now, I want to touch on your laws to make sure I understand them correctly.

L1) Each and every player is able to acquire the same currency. Currency will be readily available to everyone. The currency may be gotten through different means (Crafting, trading, combat, etc) but it's all the same and will all be worth the same. This should take care of Law one, correct?

L2) This is going to be a little harder for me to describe, so please bare with me :)

There are three different nations in the game. Each nation is competing to be the global power. The nation that's in power has access to different areas, different resources, and different plans. Players MUCH chose a nation to join. There are no mercenaries.

To make this part of the story work I wanted to restrict trade to only your nation, however the more I thought about that the more I disliked that idea. If you restrict trade then it's no longer a free market. I've come up with an idea to keep with the story but also allow full free trade -

You can buy items from anyone, no mater their nation. However, if you chose to buy an item from someone who's not part of your nation you must pay a "middle man" fee. This is basically a higher tax. The reason behind this could be that because you cannot interact with the other nation (wouldn't make sense in terms of the story) you must by a mercenary to travel to that nation, buy the item, and bring it back. The mercenary doesn't work for free, so you must pay him for that service.

This should help keep the trade free while still keeping with the story. The up side to this is that it also introduces a new money sink. Sinks are typically bad when they are visible, however this should be an "invisible" money sink and offer a means to help control money in and out of the economy.

L3) The auction system is going to work much like ebay works. Each auction must be up for at least a day and the item will go to the highest bidder. There will also be a "Buy Now" option. This would allow the player to buy the item for the set price right now. There will be a fee to both the buyer and the seller for using this option.

Now, the buy out would allow a player to put some items for sale as buy out and then log on with his mule to buy those items. However, this would cost him extra money (fee for both buying and selling), the items would still be on the free market and could be purchased before his mule got online, and the above statement about "lost money" would still hold true.

As I said, I'm still torn on how to handle item 0. I don't want to force a crafter to buy an item on the free market when he could craft the item himself. However, I want to force use of the free market. These two items kind of contradict each other so I'm rather torn how to handle that.

Maybe there could be a "decision" step after the crafting is complete. The player must decide if he wants to keep the item he just crafted or put it on the market. If he chooses to keep the item then the durability or "bind on equip" rules (which ever I go with in the final cut) apply. If he chooses to sell the item then that item goes on the free market.

Last minute thought: If I chose to allow people to have multiple characters, would it be bad practice to restrict buying items from any characters on your account? For example, if Player A has two characters - Character A and Character B, would it bad to restrict Character A from buying from Character B, and visa versa?

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I think that your interpretation works because in implementation, the adjective "No" is equivalent to "with max penalty". The difference is that you introduce a variable that you need to tune, and you may not get the 'optimal' effect. But other than that there is nothing wrong with it (the system does not need to be optimal). You could add durability (I was assuming that there was a fix amount of world resources, but durability is equivalent). I just want to comment on (0) and your last minute thoughts.


You don't need to restrict transfer from this one character to another character of the same player. The market takes care of it. Character A could post an item with an arbitraily high price to give Character B, but B actually has no reason to buy that item from A since the market price would be lower. The reason is that, by the way you might implement skill levels, intermediates are easier to craft than the final products. So for some crafters, those intermediates are the most advanced things they could craft, and they need to sell them to continue their crafting endeavor. So there is no economical reason B should buy the item from A, as he could have brought it cheaper from the market. (Intermediate items are not necessarily unusable items. They could be a sword+1 instead of a sword+3. But some crafters could only craft up to sword+1.)

In the auction system that I imagine, in the general cases, you could not transfer item to your mule by pricing it arbitrarily high. This is explained below:

Suppose you try to give the uranium to your other character and and the current fair price of uranium is $40. You don't want anyone else to get that uranium, so you price it at an absurd value of $4000. You log in with your mule a day later and pay $4000 for uranium. You got the uranium. Everything seems cool. Now you log in with your gather character, and you will see that his uranium has not been sold. You say, "What the hell?"

The reason is that, unless the auction house is completely out of $40 uranium units, the auction house would always sell you the cheapest uranium listed. So B actually bought the uranium gathered by another player that was willing to sell it at, say, $30. That desperate (or efficient) gatherer got $30 for selling his cheap uranium. The auction house ate the $3970 difference. So the Auction house is an Auction, but it is not like ebay. There is only one Auction line per item. And the house always sell the cheapest unit in the list. The item you list is not available for purchases for one day, but the purchase is instant for entries that had been there for more than one day (so that would be the Buy Now option). This Buy Now option is subjected to the supply of that item, not to the choice of the buyer. (The buyer cannot discriminate against other sellers of the same item).

The auction house would wait until uranium below $4000 run out before it would sell the uranium posted by A.

[Edited by - Wai on January 14, 2009 2:10:01 PM]

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