A Crafter's Journey, Part 3: What I'm hoping for in Pantheon

Nephele

Administrator
Staff member
Hi everyone, this is the third and final installment of this post series. If you haven't read Part 1 and Part 2 yet, I hope you will. They sort of explain where I'm coming from.

Just like the other two posts, I'm not only posting this to talk about myself - I am hoping that it encourages other crafters to talk about themselves too. So far that hasn't happened, but I guess we have a long way until Pantheon launches still.

When it comes to how crafting will work in Pantheon, I tend to think much bigger than the actual act of crafting an item. That's important, but there's all kinds of other things that go along with it that are important too. So, in order to talk about what I'm hoping for, I have to talk about all of that stuff as well.

Purpose and Meaning

The first and really most important thing to me for Pantheon is that everything should have a purpose and a use, and feel meaningful. If there's a resource I can gather, or something that comes from a mob I kill, it should be used in crafting somewhere - and not just in a single recipe either (unless it's super rare). Likewise, if something is craftable, it needs to be economically viable. It needs to be something that other players want, need, and use. I say this because crafting items that serve no purpose isn't fun for me at all, nor is looting or gathering things that I'll never actually use.

When it comes to the loot/gathering aspect, some people like the idea of selling excess stuff to NPC vendors for coin - that's not me. I don't really feel like those vendors should be willing to buy a bunch of useless monster parts, not unless those monster parts actually have a use. To me, it speaks to the believability of the world when I know that those bat wings are actually used in levitation potions or dexterity charms, and they're not just there to be vendor fodder.

As far as crafted items, there aren't many worse feelings as a crafter than spending time and effort to make something, only to find out that no one will ever buy or use it. This is an itemization problem that comes up in a lot of games. Crafted items are too weak compared to loot, or rare resources are too easy to get, or even sometimes, no one seems to like the model that goes with an item, or the effect the item generates. The result is a lot of wasted crafting recipes, and that's something that really grates at me. So my hope for Pantheon is that it does a good job in itemization. There can't be so much loot or rare materials entering the game that normal crafted items are worthless, and there can't be such a different in power or desireability between the two categories that crafted items are second-class either. In order for crafting to be a worthwhile thing for players to do, it needs to provide things that people can't get easily elsewhere.

Along these lines it's also important that crafted items be actual items. A system where we're just adding bonuses to someone's loot isn't fun for a lot of people. Most fantasy blacksmiths are there to forge swords of power, not set gems into pommels. That's not to say that there can't be an augmentation system or re-crafting system or whatever, but that system absolutely cannot eclipse crafting original items.

Viability

The second area that's very important to me is insuring the system remains viable over time. I've played a lot of games where players who started at launch gained an insurmountable advantage over anyone who came later. While I do think time invested should matter when it comes to crafting, things need to be set up so that new crafters can get into the economy and compete while they build their skills, learn more recipes, and start accumulating more and better things to craft with.

I think there's a few components to doing this right - one is definitely insuring that recipes don't get trivialized as crafters progress. If I start out making iron swords as a new crafter, and that's all I have to compete on, then someone who's progressed a ways into crafting should never get to the point where they can bang out dozens of iron swords without an appropriate investment of time or effort. That doesn't mean that we can't get better at making iron swords as we gain in skill, but it should never be a trivial exercise to the point where we can flood the market with superior iron swords and lock those new crafters out of being able to sell anything.

Another component of viability is insuring that there's still a market for those iron swords over time. One of the great risks of any level based game is that players pool at the top end, and all that lower level stuff quits mattering. Obviously Pantheon is trying to mitigate that with the Progeny system but either way, it's still likely to occur to some extent. So, there probably needs to be some higher level recipes that take an iron sword as a component, or quests where we arm all the guards with iron swords, or something to help generate demand for those lower level items.

Finally, a third component is making sure that the more powerful and exotic stuff requires powerful and exotic materials to create - and that those materials are much more than simply rare. If creating an adamantium sword just requires me to go to a high level area to farm up adamantium, then eventually, the market will be flooded with adamantium swords. On the other hand, if high level crafted items all have unique and very rare requirements, and finding the materials for those items is not as easy as just going to a place and hitting a node, then that keeps supply of those items low - and it allows new crafters who level up into those recipes to be able to compete with the established folks who are already there.

Accessibility


The third area that's very important to me is that the system is accessible to players regardless of how much time they can spend. I'm not saying time invested shouldn't matter, or that we need instant gratification but people who only have a few hours to play or who are busy with other aspects of gameplay should still be able to participate in crafting and the economy. For me in particular the biggest component of this is the ability to sell items while offline. Whether it's through some sort of game service like an auction house or an NPC vendor that we hire and place and maintain (which is what I'd prefer), the game can't require someone to be online to sell the things that they make. All that will do is push people out of the economy and likely out of the game altogether.

It goes beyond just buying and selling though. It also means that resources and components need to be tradable. If every carpenter has to go out and chop down trees themselves, then only people with the time to go chop down trees will succeed at being carpenters. However, if the game allows for players to be lumberjacks without also having to be carpenters, and allows them to sell the wood they collect, now every carpenter has a choice. They can spend some time and save some money and collect wood on their own, or they can spend the money and purchase the wood they use. It probably sounds silly to bring this up but it's something that not every game seems to understand. Some games seem to assume that everyone has equal amounts of time to invest.

Depth

Fourth, the crafting game needs to have a lot of depth. This means a few things. To start with, the act of crafting can't be a simplistic process or something that just requires muscle memory or hand-eye coordination. Crafting an item should be a challenge, not just in terms of success percentages, but in terms of how you go about it. Do you use this ability or that ability? Do you push for more quality or progress the item closer to finishing it?

Another aspect of depth is customization. If every steel longsword is the same as every other steel longsword, not only is that kind of boring, but it also limits the number of people who can effectively sell steel longswords (because there will almost always be more sellers than there are buyers). So there needs to be a way for crafters to make their own versions of steel longswords. Maybe mine do slightly more damage but they weigh a bit more. Maybe someone else's have a dexterity bonus but they hit for slightly less.

Depth also means there needs to be a real sense of having to work to progress as a crafter. I'm not talking about huge grinds, but more about having to hone my skills, pay attention to my tools and equipment, and venture out into the world to learn the lost knowledge needed to make the most exotic recipes. There should always be something new to learn or discover or acquire - it should never simply be a matter of maxing your level or your skill number.

Interconnectedness


The fifth and final thing I want to see in Pantheon when it comes to crafting is interconnectedness. That might sound like a weird word to use but what I mean is that crafting can't just feel like a tacked-on aspect of character progression, no matter how involved it is. It needs to be part of the world of Terminus. It needs to matter just as much as killing monsters does. And more importantly it needs to matter for every other part of the game, and those parts of the game need to matter for crafting. Obviously, adventurers will (hopefully) buy and use crafted items, but crafters should need things that adventurers bring back as well. Rare resources and recipes should be hidden in the troves of bosses and the depths of dungeons. Keepers should be able to leverage the perception system to find fragments of rare recipes and lore about how to craft exotic items. The NPC factions of Terminus should have quests for crafters - not simply a means to earn some crafting experience and coin, but ones that actually lead to new recipes or equipment for the crafter to use. Crafting should be a portion of adventuring epic quests and adventuring should be a portion of crafting epic quests. In addition to all of that, crafters should be making things for each other as well. Not just components that are used in crafting other items, but tools and equipment as well. Need a new apron for the forge? Talk to your outfitter friend. A new set of cooking pots? The blacksmith can help.



I realize all of this was long and wordy, but I didn't want to just point a list of bullets or say "it should be like X game". Not only would that be really limiting, but I think I'd have ended up missing something important that way. That's not to say that I probably can't add more, but I've gotta stop somewhere :)

Like I said at the top, half the point of me posting this is an attempt to get everyone else to talk about where they came from, and what they want to see. I hope some of you will indulge me.
 

DesignOTG

Novice
Great series, Nephele!

While I am no where near the accomplished crafter you are, I agree 100% with your views on what would make a crafting system valuable and enjoyable. I've dabbled in FFXIV crafting and did a fair amount of it in WoW back in the day. I tried crafting in ESO for about 5 minutes before giving up. :)

Viability and Interconnectedness are key for me, personally. I want my efforts to mean something, for me and for the people who use what I create. My focus would be on helping guildies gear up and get prepared for their adventures, and less on becoming a powerhouse in the in-game economy. I have great memories of things like farming leather to create leg armor in WoW to help prepare for raiding. It's one more way to build up those around you and provide a key role in your group's life, even if you aren't leading groups -- or even joining in!
 

Nephele

Administrator
Staff member
Just bumping this back up since I just tweeted the URL. Would love to see more folks respond with their thoughts :)
 
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