Challenging crafting content

Barin999

Journeyman
Generic vs Customized. Another way would be the generic versions most people skill up on or use at early levels will be a base item with no customization. Mobs will only drop generic versions. Once a crafter gets a hold of it the base item can be configured in different ways, possibly without it being obvious just looking at the item. Custom items will then have Makers Marks on them and the crafter will have a record of what they did to achieve that item assuming a widely interchangeable ingredients system. Mastering the generic item could be required before you can begin customizing it and the challenge quests could be one of the methods of being officially recognized as mastering a generic item and open it up for customization.
That's very similar to what I was thinking of last night as wel.
Costumizations that ones earned, achieved or obtained can make you stand out. If I knew that there are various design choices out there that can make my creations stand out more, I'll work to get them. (sadly this might only work for gear or house items?) That to me is a subtle challenge and a good motivator to go that extra mile. The requirements might be through the roof, but that would be fine with me. I'll take up that challenge.
 

Barin999

Journeyman
I'd be ok with offering a visual difference in the item nameplate that's earned. Everyone gets the basic information on the items they make but if you want one of the fancy ones, you have to earn them.

I'm also ok with item appearances being earned as well. Vanguard had armor and weapon styles that you had to learn through a quest. You got the one from your base continent but had to earn the others. ESO does the same thing with rare drops that let you learn new styles. They don't change the stats of the item but do change the look. Both are valid in my opinion.
Ok, so we've gotten to the point where we've got a agreable reward here. But that still leaves us with, what would you find challenging enough to venture out and get that reward? With the OP-listing 1-7 in mind. Something that entices you or motivates you.
So far it still reads as, a common crafting quest, just with a different reward. You might be able to by those different appearance of the merchant at the city.

I'll try to give an example here: The crafter has gained enough faction to talk to an npc that directs the player to the top of a mountain. On their way, there are a lot of aggro mobs, but with very skilled sneaking, they manage to get past it. The player might need to pass beyond several acclimation points and needs gear for that, so they ask around in their group of crafters to have some stuff made for them. He's a wealthy fellow and is able to buy all the resources for it if not he might be required to venture out to collect resources that are hard to come by. OR he actually needs more players to join him in the ascend to the top. So now we're talking about a adventure party to help 1 crafter get that recipe, where the others have no direct benefit from.
This to me now reads as, yes it's obtainable, not all players will want to do it or succeed in it. But you'll have those that accomplish it. It will require the crafter to plan ahead and work on this for multiple gaming sessions, reach out for aid or look to the community market for things. (You get where I'm going with this..)
 
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Barin999

Journeyman
I understand the perspective of: If I do something extraordinary, I should be rewarded exclusively. Yet, affecting that argument is subscriber retention, and the fact that people are paying a subscription "to see the entire game".
Any time you limit content, you have to be cautious about how much that will limit subscriber retention. It could be argued that limiting access by character, rather than player, narrows the target demographic. How much? Is any amount "too much"? Depends on your role in a company. :)
If I am the type of customer that is going to complete everything to get everything, then I don't particularly care if the challenging crafting recipes or rewards, or distinctions are character rewards. I am going to do it all anyway, so why should I care?
If I am the type of customer that has less free time, yet, I still want to be a crafter, being unable to invest the time, I don't like being excluded from that part of the game I am paying for. So, yes, you can say "sucks to be you, I have more time", yet, there is a financial consequence to that design that can't be ignored, if the consequence is large enough.
So how would you scale things or should it be a level playing field for all? Similar to the automated escalators, hop on and you'll all get there?

Apologies for the late continuation of this reply, if you have a 2 year old pushing buttons like daddy, you just have to call it a break and continue later.

Although I understand what you're saying about players who having different timetables or playschedules. I find that it can still provide that difference in a game. Players with different characters can still play their own chosen playstyle. But if one player just wants it all for all characters, they'll work towards that goal. Some just want a main and some dabbling alt characters. Here is the part where it's up the player to make that decision and experience the game with it's consequences. You just can't be it all if you're not willing to invest in it (or able to). It then comes down to adjusting your demands and your playstyle accordingly so that you can still enjoy the game. Does it have to work the other way around, where the game adjust their goals and challenges in order to get in every player to all corners of the world?

I hate to go back to a raiding example but it seems fitting here. If you like to raid but don't have the time to do it or skill up to that point, who's shoe is acking then the player's or the game's? This may sound harsh and odd, but if you get into a game and notice that you just can not invest enough to reach where you want to be, you might need to look for other games? Mind you, this thread is all about ADDITIONAL content besides the common accessable stuff. Now you can let the game shift towards facilitating the needs of these players, but to smells a lot like themepark/powerlevel/paytowin mechanics. And this bit, does not seem to align itself to Pantheon (at least thusfar).
In Pantheon, I think, there should be content present, that really pushes certain players to another level of challenge. I'm not saying specific players, but rather players that decide for their own to dive into this deeper, longer, challenging stuff and be rewarded for it. Even in such a way that, you will not find 10 the same players in 1 town with these achievements. Again, based on the choices players have made, not because it's inaccesable to most by hard boundaries. All can reach it, but depending on your playstyle it would take you considerably longer to reach it.
 
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vjek

Novice
If you have multiple paths to the same reward, then people can get it several ways, and there's less complaining.

As an example, say you there was a sword recipe, per tier, for every race in Pantheon. So, at launch, that's 9 races, 5 tiers per race, so 45 different styles. In your own race, 5 recipes to get. So, here's a few ways you could make it challenging:
Socially. You get your friends, and you get it as phase 3 of a city/village event. Or, potentially, so you may have to do it a few times, with friends.
Temporally. You get it by completing tasks or donating the appropriate personally-crafted items with the appropriate NPC's over several minutes, hours or days, whichever is challenging enough.
Diplomatically. You have to have the knowledge, lore, faction, rank, influence, social currency or similar to obtain it.
Geographically. You have to go out into the world, with friends or not, to get it. In a dungeon or risky area, with enemies.

While it's true the technology to do encounter scaling has existed for ~20 years (it's just a value check + value mod), and I personally love that kind of feature, it's unlikely it will make it into Pantheon. As such, most of these would be "scaled" by level alone, I suspect, as far as difficulty goes. Either tradeskill profession level, diplomat level (if such a thing exists), or adventurer level.
 

Nephele

Administrator
Staff member
Ok, so we've gotten to the point where we've got a agreable reward here. But that still leaves us with, what would you find challenging enough to venture out and get that reward? With the OP-listing 1-7 in mind. Something that entices you or motivates you.
So far it still reads as, a common crafting quest, just with a different reward. You might be able to by those different appearance of the merchant at the city.

I'll try to give an example here: The crafter has gained enough faction to talk to an npc that directs the player to the top of a mountain. On their way, there are a lot of aggro mobs, but with very skilled sneaking, they manage to get past it. The player might need to pass beyond several acclimation points and needs gear for that, so they ask around in their group of crafters to have some stuff made for them. He's a wealthy fellow and is able to buy all the resources for it if not he might be required to venture out to collect resources that are hard to come by. OR he actually needs more players to join him in the ascend to the top. So now we're talking about a adventure party to help 1 crafter get that recipe, where the others have no direct benefit from.
This to me now reads as, yes it's obtainable, not all players will want to do it or succeed in it. But you'll have those that accomplish it. It will require the crafter to plan ahead and work on this for multiple gaming sessions, reach out for aid or look to the community market for things. (You get where I'm going with this..)
My answer is that instead of trying to define a structural approach to how you create unique challenges in the game, simply allow for the designers to create them.

Think about the feedback the Pantheon team has seen about adventuring quests over the years. About how we don't like "small" quests that are very common, or quests that don't feel like they fit in with the world. About how we want to see "epic quests", or multi-part quests that really tell a story and result in something amazing at the end. About how we want quests to challenge us to think, to learn, to reach out to others for help, and not simply be a golden path (visible or not) that we follow until it's done.

Why should crafting content be any different?

I'll give you three scenarios that illustrate what I think Pantheon should be aiming for in terms of crafting content. They don't share a common structure, and that's on purpose. Content doesn't need to follow a template to be good, and following a template can also limit designers from doing really cool things.

Scenario 1:
The Dwarves of Khadassa tell of a great forge located in the icy depths of Amberfaet. Once, many legendary items were created at this forge, but over the years and with the war against the Revenant, control of the forge has been lost, as well as many of the techniques used to create those items. Lost, but not forgotten. Were one so inclined, an enterprising smith could research these lost techniques through various means. Some may still exist in the form of ancient inscriptions in dangerous places overrun with foul beasts. Others may still be known, jealously guaraded secrets whose owners share them only with proven and trusted allies. And perhaps it may even be possible to speak to one of the smiths of old, whose ghostly presence is said to haunt his old workshop near the forge itself. Through time, perseverance, and great peril one may learn these techniques, recover recipes, and even acquire the special tools needed to work at the great forge of Amberfaet. With all of that accomplished, all that would then be required is a treacherous climb through the icy abyss, following a path beset with danger, to reach the forge and create an item of power.

Scenario 2:
The lands of Terminus are vast and untamed, and often stymie travelers with rugged terrain and harsh weather conditions (not to mention the monsters) but the oceans of Terminus are worse. Unpredictable and unforgiving, prone to violent tempests, teeming with pirates and fell beasts that lair just beneath the waves, crossing the seas of Terminus requires great skill, great courage, no small amount of luck - and a craft capable of enduring the journey.

The Nine major races of Terminushave learned over the years since their arrival how to construct such a craft, but it is no small feat to accomplish, and help is always needed. While techniques vary from one continent to the next, one thing they share in common is that they all require craftsmen at the pinnacle of skill, and difficult-to-acquire materials in large quantities. As an example, when a Kingsreach Galleon is commissioned, groups of lumberers and their guardians may labor for weeks to find and retrieve the ironwood needed for the masts and the keel. The ribs and planks that form the hull of the ship are no less troublesome, requiring sturdy yet flexible silver ash that grows only in certain valleys high in the mountains. The fittings and farings must be very strong and durable, and the sails created only from the sturdiest valeweave silk, harvested at great peril in Wild's End. Then there must be the protection - plates of mythril and adamantine to deflect crushing blows, great ballista with diamond-tipped spears to drive back attackers, and various supplies and equipment to support the crew and passengers. Even with all of the materials at hand, a team of crafters will labor for days or weeks in a special drydock to build the vessel and complete the project, working towards the day when their creation can take to the open ocean. Painstaking care must be taken with every detail, and every component must be flawless - for one in eight ships that leave the sight of land never return again, broken, ground up, and swallowed by the raging seas.

Scenario 3:
While it is commonly known that there are nine major civilized races on Terminus (though no one is quite sure how anyone calls the Skar civilized), there exist many other sentient races in varying numbers. On Kingsreach, Ratkin and orcs seem to be everywhere, while on Reignfall the Khaga have been enslaved and hunted for decades. Scholars of the Deicide War may remember tales of the Ginto, now lost, many of whom became the Revenant. And throughout the lands, many other races can be found. Some may be simple tribes, others the remnants of once-great societies. And yet, one thing they all have in common is that all of them know secrets that are unknown to the major races.

The Ginto were once renowned for creating blades of surpassing strength and sharpness. The Khaga speak legends of how their finest bakers once created special waybread for travelers, easing their journey across the desert sands. The Ratkin, despised as they may be, are rumored to have created clockwork marvels, hidden away from the prying eyes and snatching hands of others. And the Orcs, much to the chagrin of all who face them, have found ways to create uncommonly sturdy armor from seemingly simple materials.

Through guile, through study, or through might, the possibility exists that a craftsman or craftswoman might somehow learn this knowledge, and incorporate it into their own work. Exactly how that happens is a closely guarded secret, and no two tales told in the taverns of the realms appear to be the same - but the fact remains that it is possible. For some, it started with an ancient scroll or crude stone tablet. For others, they were able to somehow study the creations directly and glean some insight. At least one Myr is known to have gained knowledge by somehow living among the other races for several years without being killed or eaten, although the resulting dishonor saw him banished by his family in spite of what he learned to create.

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My point with posting these example scenarios is simply this: Don't try to create a structure or a template, because it will limit you. Content design (at least for good, memorable content) in MMOs is not about following a formula - it's about building a narrative, and that narrative can and should be different from one piece of content to the next. Challenge does not have to take the same form or work the same way from one piece of content to the next. If you want to think of suitable challenges for crafters OR for adventurers, first be a storyteller, and think of meaningful stories that will interest them. Once you do that, coming up with ways to make the experience challenging will be easy, and the result will be a far more compelling experience for everyone involved, because each one will be unique in some way.

The three scenarios I posted were fairly tame mechanically, all relying on concepts that are generally familiar to most crafters. So, here's a bonus scenario just to illustrate that there's a lot more that could be done that might not be so familiar to people.

Bonus Scenario:

Deep in the Icy Peaks of Whitethaw there lies an ancient fortress known as Winterclaw. No one is quite sure who built it or why, though whoever they were, they were large in stature. Walls of stone inscribed with strange runes tower above the mountain, while reinforced metal doors easily twice the height of the largest ogre guard the path. Atop the towers and parapets stand siege engines, ready to repel invaders - though who or what they were guarding from is unknown.

Despite its formidable appearance, Winterclaw has lain abandoned for decades, perhaps longer. A few expeditions have sought to reclaim and repurposes it, but none has ever returned, and subsequent groups have reported finding supplies left behind, and signs of struggle, but no bodies. Over the years, Winterclaw has acquired a reputation as a cursed place, to be avoided at all costs. Travelers are advised to steer clear, and most do, for the ruins were thoroughly plundered long ago.

Though the citadel may be cursed, the valley it watches over is teeming with resources, and a small settlement has sprung up to take advantage of that. It is this for this reason that adventurers and craftspeople may find themselves drawn to the area. And it is for this reason that they may be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The real secret of Winterclaw is not that the fortress is cursed. It's that the valley is. When the right conditions are met, ghostly armies rise up from the valley floor, with the sole intent of purging the living from their domain. When this happens, the only place of refuge available is the fortress itself, its ancient wards able to hold back the armies of the dead, and its ancient weapons able to hurt them.

Of course, the fortress is in terrible disrepair. To protect any refugees, gates must be reinforced, weaponry must be mended, runes must be restored. To push the ghostly foes back, the ancient magical power source of the fortress, a machine of crystal and steel, must be repaired, along with the relays that channel power into the siege weaponry atop the walls. And all of this must be done quickly, before the fortress is overrun.

If the right people are in the right place when this occurs, and are able to repair the fortress and turn the tide of battle, perhaps they may unlock a secret long forgotten. Or perhaps they may merely survive to see the dawn.
 

Barin999

Journeyman
My answer is that instead of trying to define a structural approach to how you create unique challenges in the game, simply allow for the designers to create them. … About how we want quests to challenge us to think, to learn, to reach out to others for help, and not simply be a golden path (visible or not) that we follow until it's done.

Why should crafting content be any different?

I'll give you three scenarios that illustrate what I think Pantheon should be aiming for in terms of crafting content. They don't share a common structure, and that's on purpose. Content doesn't need to follow a template to be good, and following a template can also limit designers from doing really cool things.

If the right people are in the right place when this occurs, and are able to repair the fortress and turn the tide of battle, perhaps they may unlock a secret long forgotten. Or perhaps they may merely survive to see the dawn.
This is indeed, the kind of can I wanted to open with this thread.
I agree, when you say that there doesn't have to a be a fix structure to how challenges will occur. The examplary stories are fun to read, every story however still has that underlaying structure/design or mechanic however you want to call it. So the examples you've given are spot on to what I was asking here. And you're more then welcome to mention other stories with other underlying mechanics. Obviously it's not up to us to do the writing of Terminus' lore. The overall use of this and (most likely) all threads on the official or other forums is to sprout ideas and voice out what the community shares. Together we have a lot of minds that can be used to bring forth things that the few minds of the devs themselves have not thought about yet. (EQ landmark is a good example: it's the players that came up with use and new mechanics the devs didn't even come up with and it impacted development greatly at the time.)

Your Amberfaet example with the forge is something I would like to continue on. I was planning on writing something similar but less elequantly. A challenge could be to have a workstation somewhere rather visual in the world. But it just is not interactable at the time. Everyone can see it, walk up to it, stand on it, but not use it. However by some reason and a lot of investment you have the odd crafter who manages to complete content and is able to interact with that "mysterious" workstation. Now, crafting at that workstation will take a long time, A VERY LONG TIME, (thinking 15-30 min's). He might even need assistants to work specific parts of that workstation in conjunction. Because it's such a publicly visible station and very few know or are at the stage that they are able to interact with it, you'll have many players who might notice that 'odd' crafter working on it. The animations of that workstation could be so different than the common version of it, that it is truely a spectacle to witness. (Sound effects, visual fireworks, perhaps even npc's that come and do something as wel).
So what you now have, is this impressive sight of a crafter (and assistants?) slaving away at the unique station. And passers by, might become intrigued to see what they can construct from such a station or how they themselves would be able to work at it. It's a big tease for many. And what you've done is just used a station that is positioned in a very public place. Simple by design, no?

The work station, does not have to be in a deep down dungeon far far away from prying eyes, it can be just very testing to work at it. Heck that brought me to another idea, similar to the sword of Arthur in the stone. How about a "Legendary" station that is just very difficult to be succesful on? At certain times of day/season/whatnot you'll have crafters lining up to have a go at it, to construct something unique.

A complex version of this is, that a rare but indeed public workstation requires a crafter working on it, in order for other players to receive a p-ping from standing nearby. So the crafter has its questline to get access to the station, but parallel to it you'll have a possibly none crafter who storyline has led them to that station, but they've been told to be present when someone else is working at that station. They could even have it written so that it's the crafter as wel who needs audience when working on that station in order to proceed. (this audience can walk or interact with something in the environment during the craftingprocess for example) So now you have a requirement from two parallel storylines that connect for that moment with one another. So the challenge for both is to find a crafter or other player that are on that same step or work in group towards that step.
 
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Barin999

Journeyman
If you have multiple paths to the same reward, then people can get it several ways, and there's less complaining.
That approach speaks to me as wel and that seems something that Pantheon could also be interested in.
I like the idea of racial differences, as is already talked about in other threads. To me, it's nearly a must. And although each race has it's own, there is a way to get all the other races' recipes. (some or most, but preferrably not all, but you'll risk losing the unique feel of each race) Or perhaps there is a way to obtain recipes from other races that are perhaps 'grand' but still uniquely linked to that specific race. So the hoarder of recipes will manage to get race specific recipes from all races, but perhaps not every single racial recipe, per se. ...anywho… By providing multiple paths, you indeed open up the floor for players with different playstyles or approaches to the game and that can only be beneficial.

The idea of acquiring the recipe specific to your own race for example, could already offer multiple paths to obtain those recipes.
Diplomatically. You have to have the knowledge, lore, faction, rank, influence, social currency or similar to obtain it.
This is something that already could give the player many different choice to which path they want to take in order to get those recipes. But like you said, which ever path you'll take, you will receive the same recipes of your own race. Merely giving players a choice can already be perceived as being challenged. "Will I take the path most familiar to me or dare I take a less traveled playmethod?"
It could be as simple as that.
 

Barin999

Journeyman
As an example, say you there was a sword recipe, per tier, for every race in Pantheon. So, at launch, that's 9 races, 5 tiers per race, so 45 different styles. In your own race, 5 recipes to get. So, here's a few ways you could make it challenging:
Socially. You get your friends, and you get it as phase 3 of a city/village event. Or, potentially, so you may have to do it a few times, with friends.
I really like this option. It's an intriguing design for challenging a crafter. A path that at least to my experience, has not been omnipresent in games.
So we're here looking at a crafter who's getting challenged and the social/community aspect of the game is part of his challenge.
Perhaps in the way of; obtain products from X-amount of different crafters through commission work? Or indeed find X-amount of crafters of the same class but different race and bring them together for Y-reason.
The crafter could be challenged to construct a certain item or amount thereof for players, so in this scenario it's the crafter who's doing the commissioning? It wouldn't need to require players themselves but require lots of npc spread out in various towns and cities. This means, you'll have crafters running through the world and indirectly cause more 'life' on the server. (If you get what I'm saying?) Those crafters will be passing by other players standing and working at public stations across Terminus for everyone else to see. In a way it has a indirect social benefit.
Like you suggested, it could simply require a crafter to team up with other crafters of the same or different classes to work on something. Groups of crafters will be running around in settlements to work at smaller stations etc.

A little anecdote here from EQ2, I recall a time where a guild had a theatre (opera style) where they would act out a story of their own concoction. And they would announce the starting hour in chat and give players the time to find a seat in front of the stage. In Pantheon, a crafter could be challenged to gather an audience while they craft and everyone in the audience would get a benefit after his crafting session is completed.
 

Autherial

Apprentice
Staff member
Staff Writer
I am a big fan of crafting quest, one thing I would really like to see is quest that send you out to ancient locations and ruins for rare crafting recipe's or skills. There could be a skill line dedicated to just this, and as you progress you have to use those new skills to craft the tools needed to solve the higher level puzzles. It would be neat if they had this for all the crafting professions and each was unique to that profession.
 

Barin999

Journeyman
There could be a skill line dedicated to just this, and as you progress you have to use those new skills to craft the tools needed to solve the higher level puzzles. It would be neat if they had this for all the crafting professions and each was unique to that profession.
That does sound very intriguing. It becomes a pickle when it can not be a gamechanger. Hereby I mean, that it should not be obligatory to participate on this "dedication skill-line". So the benefits or features one might get from it and the abilities or other you'd need to engage in this content should not be class defining or overpowering in comparison to crafters who don't engage in this content.
Personally, I too would find it fun to go out of my way to engage in crafting content that is not for your day to day crafter. I think you described it best on a global scale; A skill line for dedicated crafters with it's own skills, abilities or other requirements.
What came to my mind was; "Crafting Explorer", something in the lines of puzzles meets crafting.
However, I do believe the game already has a some sort of thing going on already with their ; investigation and perception...but no one is stopping them to add a section for crafters only that is founded on the same principals or design. (As we've already discussed with the threads concerning perception and crafting.)
Saying this brings me straight back to your suggestion. A crafting perception ping with its own storyline and none-combat requirements, conundrums, obstacles and puzzles.
Or would this deviate too much from the greater design goal of the overall game. Afterall, it's not a crafting only game...
A concencus might be if your suggestion is modified a bit into; unique skill lines, that IN COMBINATION with other players' skill lines can unravel content specific for crafters. But content that is just not possible to consume without a group.

What do you think? @Autherial ? A crafter skill line that only works in combination with other players. But it's still an option for a solo player to "spec into" depending if they are up for groupcrafting.
Going a bit deeper into this, the abilities or skills do not have to be that different than the "solo" version. They would just be skills only used in group for example. A crafter can still craft for solo purposes, but those groupskill can only be used in content that provides that option (aka groupcontent). A groupcrafter (someone who's chosen to skill up in that unique tree) will still progress as a solo crafter, but somewhat slower because they are spending skillpoints into the groupskill tree.
For me that could work, because you'll see a specific kind of crafter/player chosing for this (slower?) approach to crafting. They might get more gratification from crafting because they will encounter more options to groupcraft and interact with the community. The pure solo crafter can still have his fun, but he'll have chosen not to engage in this groupcrafting stuff. (Similar to a player choosing not to raid or grind dungeons, but rather play at their own pace.)

It's a simple adjustment, but it already can provide a challenge in some way. Do you choose the fast high road or do you engage in more content and risk having to spend more time online?
 

Autherial

Apprentice
Staff member
Staff Writer
I like the idea of it being a group effort, and that keeps in line with the core principle of the game, community. There is a lot they could do with that and it would make it fun.
 
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