Contested crafting content for years to come

Barin999

Journeyman
I would like to discuss options to implement this idea into a crafting sphere.

In eq2 you have a contested dungeon around lvl 92-100. It used to be very difficult. One item you got from it was a "shattered hearstone". Collecting 7000 of them would allow you to purchase a guildhall. Similar to the contested dungeon itself.
Killing nameds and completing certain quests will render those hearstones. In general one full run through the dungeon will result in around 20 heartstones.
At first, not many players were bothered do get 7000 as it was a near impossible thing to do. It would take ages and there was other and new content to discover after all.
So now, years after that contested dungeon was the perceived end content, you still have people running the dungeon farming those heartstones. The value of those heartstones is still quite high. Where the price was lower back in the day, because there was more supply then demand.

My question; What suggestions would you have to translate this into crafting content.
Content that is challenging to complete, would take years and devotion, a lot of investment. But years after, it is still viable and provide some kind of goal for crafters.

The obvious reply here: faction. But that's not what I mean. Crafting in a sense of, it's obvious that you'll be craft-farming. The tokens themselves don't have to be on broker either. So it would only be obtainable by the player itself, but the setting is in a group/contested crafting setting.

If my question isn't clear, let me know. Otherwise, I'm curious to see what things you can come up with.
 
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vjek

Apprentice
I would say use the context of the previously theorycrafted idea of: group events triggered after you spend social currency in a particular location in a particular tier.

The group-content reward would be style choices of that race, for that tier, being unique.
It would mean, for example, if there are 9 races, and 5 tiers, at least 45 different style recipes to chase down, per visible output item. Say, for example, each tier has a base dagger you can craft. One per tier, one per race. 45 different dagger styles.

In a single tier, that would mean 9 styles per visible output item. You'd need to gain enough social currency to trigger the event (at it's tune-able frequency interval) in that tier, after gaining the required faction necessary to even interact with the race at all, and likely very high faction.
If you didn't want to use triggered events, you would likely be tying it to a turn-in RNG, or tying crafting to adventuring level, if not within the cities/peaceful areas. (not ideal, imo, but a possible implementation)
It's possible some players at Max Tier would be able to complete the previous tiers group content alone or in a duo/trio, unless those encounters or events specifically required 5 other unique participants to complete tasks.

And of course, the same could be true for quality, effects, output quantity, or other facets of an item, not just visual styles. But essentially, a very long term recipe/blueprint challenge. :)
 

Nephele

Administrator
Staff member
I'm not really sure if you're looking for "contested" content or if you're really just looking for long-term, non-combat goals that take potentially years to achieve.

If it's the latter, certainly there are many potential ways to achieve this in Pantheon. For example, legendary recipes that you have to painstakingly research piece by piece and fragment by fragment, or mythical materials that are extraordinarily hard to come by that are used to make supremely rare items. Or perhaps long crafting-centric storylines that involve travel, adventuring, perception, and many, many faction requirements.

As you know, I am a big proponent of depth within the crafting sphere, so I think that all of these are worthwhile things to have. I also think there's a case to be made for collaborative crafting projects that you might work on over a period of weeks or months with guildmates or friends in order to complete.

The key for all of this, however, is that there needs to be more than just one thing for players to "sink their teeth into", so to speak. If there's only one crafting "epic", then eventually, no matter how difficult it is or how long it takes, the players who are willing to put forth the time and effort will complete that. Even if that thing (whatever it is) is repeatable in some way, the first time is always the most memorable. I think that what players really need to stay invested in the gameplay over the long-term is a combination of both meaningful and worthy challenges within their immediate future, but also for there to continually be new challenges popping up - things that they have not yet done or attempted. This is why in many MMOs we all get excited when there are new crafting recipes introduced, even if we know exactly how meaningless they'll end up being in a few months. It's because they represent a new goal for us to pursue.

So, what I think you're really asking for here is depth, challenge, and goals that are sized appropriately to keep players interested and active in the game for more than simply a few months. Broadly, I agree with that ask. I don't think that we necessarily need to try to pin it on one system or type of crafting content, but rather, it should be something that is available in all types of non-combat content (as well as combat content).
 

Barin999

Journeyman
A weekly or monthly marketplace
Traversing commerce with limited amount of time to gain faction/items or related assignments.

A restricted area opening it's doors for a limited amount of time.
Where you can craft, trade or do assignments. Workstations are limited or have other requirements that demand for the crafter to remain within the confinement.

When handing in or trading with a merchant within that area, the npc might become unavailable for X time. (because they are processing the commands/goods which they received from a PC-crafter.

A fix amount of goods becomes available for a certain amount of time. Only crafters who manage to meet the temporary requirements have access to a (minute?) portion of the goods for a limited time. (this 'event' reoccurs within certain timeframes).

A certain situation calls for a collaboration of several crafters (same or different class). With the crafting group formed they can proceed on unlocking a template or push guildtargets forward (status or other).
 

Barin999

Journeyman
What can be considered as worthy contested for crafters?
Access to an area for restricted amount of time (reoccuring or not).
Access to limited goods.
Access to npc's within a certain area.
Access to workstations.
A massive amount of reward(s) required to make progress as a crafter or reach certain crafter specific goals?

Other ideas; a reward because you managed to complete the most trades with npc's. Or constructed the most products.
Something similar like a relay design. Crafters have a communal starting point, as as crafters progress through the relay, they can obtain or access limited things. Who ever comes after them might not be so lucky and might need to craft other items or at different workstations (that do not render the same quality of items?).
The contest is the progression of crafters within that area and going from one place to another. They could experience the competition between crafters as one tries to get past another. A factor could be, how fast, how many or what kind of goods they gather along the way. Or what kind of techniques they use during crafting.

I believe when you design an area that really restricts how prepared crafters can be before engaging in this content. You can level the field. Where crafting level could impact how fast you progress but perhaps also how big your group of crafters is.
You might opt to form a group where you have several players gathering resources and others doing the crafting.

Another take could be to allow crafters to craft, but with a cooldown as they've completed a product at a workstation. This cooldown prevents the crafter from running to next craftstation and hugging the bases. And it could be factored in with the time it takes that crafter to gather or obtain certain goods for their next craft. So here is the contested factor, when do you craft, at which craftstation, how long do you take to complete a craftsession and how big is your group.

If this contested content is publically known and occurs at certain times. Crafters could gather in wait for the content to show itself (be that a market to open up or an area to open it's doors). And the more crafters await at the starting line, the more they'll experience that contested factor. Similar to an actual contested dungeon, the experience of it being contested and competition between players directly relates to how many players are participating.
 

Barin999

Journeyman
What makes it long term?
What features would a crafter want for a long duration or throughout their carrier as a crafter?

- Access to increased broker slots. (like a lease or a rent)
- Access to npc's bringing in goods to the pc.
- Special agreements (price deals or access to goods) with npc's for a certain duration.
- A public spot to display their goods or advertise their shop?
- The important or high value assignements in towns or cities? For example there are only 5 assignments that give the largest rewards. The assignments differ throughout the year or seasons. So if you manage to get a fish assignement during summer you'll be better off for example. The point here, if the 5 are taken by players, others will need to wait for the assignments to be put up on the board again by the npc's (aka design).
Perhaps crafting assignments will move from town to town or region to region. So when certain assignments are available in your region, it will take a very long time before the same ones return to the area.
There might be other assignments, but the return might be less, different or more difficult to complete.
- Access to public workstations or specific workstations.
- Special techniques with limited use that are used for specific crafts or improved abilities.

All these are things beside rare recipes or blueprints that a crafter might want multiple times during their carrier. Or these are ideas/things that a crafter might want to profit from multiple times. These also provide scenarios where the reward could be something to be farmed for (like the 7000 guildhall tokens I referred to in the OP).
So you have the possibility of direct competition (aka contest) with a long investment design.
 
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Barin999

Journeyman
When you consider Quality if life features as a possible design for contested crafting design.
You've got a lot of options.
Of course it mustn't be overpowered. And you can't undermine this contested content by launching public features or ajustments to public quality of life features that compete with this.
You can keep it local/region or within a guild.
 

Barin999

Journeyman
Competition could be to the access to npc's. In the sense that in order to access an npc you need to wait for certain craft-related opportunties (the stars to align) and handle quickly. If you manage to get the skoop, you'll progress beyond that npc and into content that is available for specific times within that region. (Seasonal crafting, goods, gathering, recipes?) For those players that didn't get to that npc first, they might have other options but the return might be less. Or they might have a more dangerous path to take, etc.
 

vjek

Apprentice
Just had another thought. If recipes were considered like spells, and some could be put into the codex, and had cooldowns, but the codex permitted multiples, you could have several different sources for the same recipe.
That way, a crafter who wanted to just craft for themselves could make the items they wanted, but someone serious or dedicated would want to get all versions of the recipe, to ensure they could make multiple per hour/day/tune-able interval.

If a permanent/cooldown/non-consumable version of each recipe came from varying factions, either races, deity temples, NPC adventure guilds, NPC crafting guilds, diplomacy, enemies, some-other-game-loop, then you offer players many paths.
Of course, you then have to consider the pros and cons of recipes with cooldowns, which not everyone would enjoy.

Although, you could have professions like copyist or scribe that made consumable recipes from originals, and/or modifiers to cooldown timers based on skill, and/or skill disparity. Similarly, consumable recipes could be available for purchase with social currency from the different races, deity temples, NPC adventure guilds, NPC crafting guilds, diplomacy-loop-NPCs, previous-enemies, some-other-game-loop NPCs. This also leads to copyist or scribe skill optionally producing multi-charge consumable recipes.

Also, recipes of this type (consumables) would fall nicely into the loot output category of the adventure loop. That way, adventurers could provide this to PC and/or NPC crafters with raw materials, and the PC and/or NPC crafters could then produce the items, consuming/destroying the one-time consumable recipe.

Thinking on it from the other direction, multiple copies of various recipes from various sources could be combined into a permanent version with cooldown, for the codex. So, perhaps you need to collect 5 copies of the tier 1 dagger recipe from the adventure loop, then take it to an NPC or PC scribe who provides you with the codex version for that source and it has a 1 RL hour cooldown. Yet, you can also obtain 5+ copies from completing tasks or providing desired items to factions, deity temples, NPC guilds, diplomacy NPCs, and similar, and eventually that codex entry would be multi-charged, so you would have say ultimately 5 or 6 uses per hour for that recipe.

Yeah, I think that would work, and would keep me and mine chasing those crafting goals for quite some time. It also makes the adventure loop only one of many sources of codex recipes. As far as making it contested, you could put tune-able and/or dynamic existence timers on all consumable recipes from the adventure loop, and even make them unique and no-rent. Tuning those existence timers could provide indirect PvP opportunities, if that was a design goal. 😈
 
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Nephele

Administrator
Staff member
Reposting this from the pantheon forums just to keep it in both places :)

Bluntly - I don't think contested content works as an incentive for many players, full stop. While there is certainly a thrill in beating someone else to the prize, too much of that *will* take the game in a bad direction by promoting toxicity and hyper-competitive behavior among the community. On the adventuring side, there have been countless debates on these forums about things like training, kill stealing, steamrolling, content denial, and so on. You want to introduce that stuff to crafting too? Count me out.

This isn't to say that some aspects can't be competitive by nature. For starters, any crafter attempting to sell goods within a region is automatically competing with other crafters selling those goods in that region. So if I open up my weapons shop right next to yours in Faerthale, you can bet we're going to be in competition. I don't see this as a bad thing as long as there is enough space in the game for everyone to have a fair shot. Where it would become a bad thing would be if I was there first, and was able to build such a commanding lead in terms of quality or quantity that you could never realistically compete with me, simply because you came later. As much as we like to laud SWG's crafting system this is one of the big problems that it had over time (although a lot of that was due to SOE giving people free things and making the game more convenient as well).

Likewise, if you have materials that must be obtained from difficult adventuring content - such as rare resource drops from bosses, etc - those things will naturally be contested, just like any other drop is. Whose guild took down the dragon and got the dragon scales for crafting armor this week? Are they selling them, or are they using them? If they use them, are they keeping the armor or are they selling it? A little bit of this is absolutely fine and can increase the value of the content that it's attached to. However, basing most or all of crafting around this sort of thing is a recipe for disaster: Only crafters in top-end guilds will be successful, and those guilds will routinely work to lock others out of the content to prevent competition.

If you want to talk about contested content, whether it's adventuring or crafting, you have to start talking about exclusion. You have to start thinking about what players will do when they realize that only a portion of them will *ever* be able to achieve that goal within a reasonable timeframe. You have to consider the way that players behave in competitive situations in these games where most of them are only concerned with the success of themselves and their guilds.

Be careful what you wish for.
 

vjek

Apprentice
Sure, but if there's multiple paths to get the exact same thing, and only the adventuring loop has direct exclusion/competition, would that implementation be reasonable, in your opinion?
 

Nephele

Administrator
Staff member
A couple of additional thoughts (just for this version of the thread):

1) Forcing crafters to compete on the quality of the same finished item is a bad idea because once non-crafters figure it out, the demand for high-quality versions of items will skyrocket, and the demand for not-high-quality versions of the items will fall to zero. While this is a great experience if you happen to be able to consistently make those high-quality items, any crafter who is either starting out or who simply doesn't have the same ability to get the resources or whatever needed to make the high-quality items, will be shut out completely from that market. Long-term, this creates a massive barrier to entry for new crafters and drives any sort of casual or time-limited player away from the crafting sphere in general.

Practical examples:
  • Earth and Beyond had this exact system. Within the first year (the game only lasted for about two years, really) you couldn't succeed as a crafter unless you could make 200% quality items. Nothing less would sell.
  • SWG: Legends has developed this problem over time due to the way the game handles resources. In several segments of the economy, the only items that will sell for an appreciable amount are those utilizing "server best" resources. Any crafter wishing to compete in those segments either needs to have been lucky enough to catch the resource when it was spawned, or have the money to purchase it now (as a note, in the original design, resources would get used up and go away, but players in the present day have a way to get moderate quantities of any resource they want simply by creating characters over and over).

2) Setting up situations that are time-sensitive penalizes players who are unable to be online when the situation is occurring, as well as players who simply can't log in as often. This sort of content favors the people who can no-life a game or those who can log on at any point during the day provided someone batphones them. If you're going to have events that pop up in random times in places then a) they need to truly be random and b) they need to be accessible to everyone so that you don't end up with only a portion of the population ever being able to do them.

Practical examples
  • Prior to the launch of the Kingdom of Sky expansion, EQ2 ran server events for players to "rebuild" the various wizard spires found around the world. These events were set up so that players had to come together and craft and gather things to complete the work. In practice, the first 30-40 players to arrive were the ones who got to participate - everyone else was too late. This ended up disproportionately favoring people who could sit online all day and wait for one of the events to pop up.
  • In FFXIV's Ishgard reconstruction, player crafters have been working together to rebuild a housing area (which, when completed, will presumably allow player houses to be built). Crafters contribute items which moves a meter along, and when the meter is full, a dynamic event is scheduled to happen 30 minutes later. Sometimes there are follow-on events as well. While this allows the entire server population to contribute (which is good), the way the meter works has led to situations where the events only happen at off-peak hours (for example, 4 in the morning on a US server). Players who can play at off-peak hours have in many cases been the ones who get to do the events, while players that play within the server's normal time zone and peak hours often log in to find out that the event already happened.
3) Any time you have a situation predicated on limited space or access to an area, you are setting the stage for ugly competition between players. People will do things like camp out in the area to prevent others from getting the content or resource, or try to find ways to force others out.

Practical examples
  • Almost every item camp in EverQuest - especially lower Guk - at one time or another.
  • Housing land rushes in Archeage, FFXIV, and other games.
4) Situations predicated on alternative currencies and/or faction are often seen as meaningless, tedious grinds by players because they involve a repetitive activity. To make these things appealing you have to provide multiple methods to acquire them. They also won't affect players equally. Players who have more time to spend, or who simply have a higher tolerance for repetitive gameplay, won't be as affected by these things as players who are time-limited or who like to play more organically. This is especially true if you put limits on how fast players can acquire these currencies or factions.

Practical examples
  • Daily and Weekly quests in almost every MMORPG.
  • Faction grinds in EQ and other games.

I realize that this post seems very negative and so I want to be clear that the above strategies, used very sparingly, can add some interesting and fun content to a game. However, it is very easy to cross the line and implement something that isn't really fun for the players pursuing it.

We should want player experiences in Pantheon to be both meaningful and fun, for all players. Not just a small portion of them.
 

Nephele

Administrator
Staff member
Sure, but if there's multiple paths to get the exact same thing, and only the adventuring loop has direct exclusion/competition, would that implementation be reasonable, in your opinion?
Sure - I mean, the devil's in the details, but if you have a contested way to get something that is (as an example) a 100% success rate, and then non-contested ways to get the same thing that are a 10% success rate, that's probably fine. The people doing the contested thing will likely get their drop first or whatever, but people who can't do that will still be able to get it over time.

That said - the devil really is in the details on this one :) Multiple methods is good, but tuning and balancing is required.
 

vjek

Apprentice
... That said - the devil really is in the details on this one :) Multiple methods is good, but tuning and balancing is required.
For certain, 100% agreed.

On the subject of quality of items, I've observed the same. Eventually, when you have common, rare, legendary quality, and they can be crafted, everyone just wants Legendary. Because it can be crafted. :cool: There are solutions to these problems, but they have all have trade-offs and consequences, and I'm not personally aware of a completely positive design that addresses the "critical is the new normal" item quality issue.

While it's possible to attempt to design a system whereby all quality levels have varying purposes, ultimately, I think rewarding people for a greater time investment is a hallmark of the MMO genre. I mean, from a RL financial perspective, you want people to sink an inordinate amount of time into the activities of your game. That makes sense, from a subscription retention point of view.
On the other hand, you also don't want people walking away or not even attempting to achieve certain goals due to the apparent or actual time investment required.
 

Barin999

Journeyman
@Nephele I hear what you're saying.
This topic is to provoke ideas and discussion. I did mention somewhere the outcomes should not have an OverPowering impact on the players or on competitive content.
None of the suggestions should be considered as absolete design nor should they be implemented on a continous scale.
Like you said, some bits and pieces from time to time.

One thing, I want to stress on, although I'm giving examples or choosing certain words. The major thing is to approach this topic with an open mind and not stumble over my choice of words.
I believe that what the end result is or the goals are that are derived from participating in contested content for crafters, is still open. It can be anything you can think of.

You have a world called Terminus. You have dungeons, open world dungeons with "indirect" blocking mechanics to prevent abusive stealmaneuvres when it comes to bosses or specific encounters.
Why would it be difficult to imagine this to be the same for content build for crafters?
You have the world designed in such a way that having a certain class with you can be beneficial to make progress (vertical progression using the Rogue's robe).
Why could one not envision similar scenario for skills or abilities of specific crafters.
For all I know, crafting abilities, skills and techniques are not set in stone, just yet. This is after all a thinking excercise.

I think you're hung up on my example a bit too much, when you say; "Where it would become a bad thing would be if I was there first, and was able to build such a commanding lead in terms of quality or quantity that you could never realistically compete with me, simply because you came later. "

Also contested doesn't mean, let's present a ratrace event one time only occurance. Rather have reoccuring circumstances where competition is higher within those periods compared to the rest of the year. I get what you're saying with your eq2 kunark example, I was there, litteraly. To me that's not what I'm aiming when I'm talking about contested. I would classify those under something different (world events or sorts) but that's an entirely different topic.
 
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Barin999

Journeyman
Also when I say that one goal of a succesfull contested crafting run would be to craft an item. It goes without saying that it should be competitive. Perhaps with other crafted items. Or just in general, on par with adventure gear.
Again, let's not get hung up on what's already out there. Perhaps the output could be something very different. (long term goals for example) Diplomacy, status, anything with commercial flavour.

It's understandable that if you present an option to present Best Gear outcomes, you're destroying everything below it for generations to come. And that is obviously something to prevent.
 

Nephele

Administrator
Staff member
Maybe the conversation would be best served if we stick with one type of goal at a time rather than tryng to generalize across them. For example, acquiring new recipes would seem like an ongoing goal for every crafter. Would you agree?

If so, how would you set up the acquisition of new recipes within the game? What methods would you use?
 

Barin999

Journeyman
4) Situations predicated on alternative currencies and/or faction are often seen as meaningless, tedious grinds by players because they involve a repetitive activity. To make these things appealing you have to provide multiple methods to acquire them. They also won't affect players equally. Players who have more time to spend, or who simply have a higher tolerance for repetitive gameplay, won't be as affected by these things as players who are time-limited or who like to play more organically. This is especially true if you put limits on how fast players can acquire these currencies or factions.

Practical examples
  • Daily and Weekly quests in almost every MMORPG.
  • Faction grinds in EQ and other games.
This one seems to be the most common player when it comes to thinking about contested crafting content.
Now let's take the main idea behind this and add in some other flavours or ideas.

Let me turn the question around for you @Nephele . If you were to design contested content. (so not only player versus player commercial competition, but by game/world design)
How would you do it. What are you incentives?

Crafting will be a portion of the game that already doesn't relate to the entire playerbase.
As we talked about earlier, we have many different kinds of crafters.
The end goal or highest goal for crafters shouldn't always be to have the rarest, highest recipe and sell things for the highest value.
Many other feats or things can be contested for.
 

Barin999

Journeyman
Maybe the conversation would be best served if we stick with one type of goal at a time rather than tryng to generalize across them. For example, acquiring new recipes would seem like an ongoing goal for every crafter. Would you agree?

If so, how would you set up the acquisition of new recipes within the game? What methods would you use?
Recipes are one of those things, I wouldn't use within a contested design. Because it becomes omnipresent over time or the recipe/item value decreases as expansions are rolled out beyond that point.

But I'll try and roll with it. Let's say, we're in an open crafting area. Where several npc teachers are present. Each npc can teach a player a certain recipe or several recipes. The recipes themselves can be temporary and no-sell no-value (within the process, not the end result).
A player approaches an npc, they state: well if you can offer me X within Y time. I'll teach you Z recipe. You can use this recipe for X amount of time. I only offer this great recipe only X-times a day/week/month. I do present other recipes, but they offer less return or take longer.
The player can choose to solo it or form a group. A group is beneficial in both recipe-scenarios. He'll meet the requirements quicker, gain the recipe quicker and obtain the resources for that specific recipe quicker aswel.
In case of the other recipe-scenario. He'll meet the requirements quicker, gain the recipes quicker and can count on the other groupmembers to participate in finishing the different items together.
What makes it a contest....if you want to obtain that first scenario, you better step it up. You will always be able to get the second scenario, but there is just a bigger return with the first. (Killing a boss vs killing trash)

The end goal could be a temporary technique that temporarily facilitates their crafting. So some sort of consumable for example. This is a very basic example. But it can be more subtle or more in depth. (influence on trade, prices)
The entire idea of a major faction build required to obtain a recipe, is an option. But I wouldn't enlist that as a real competition per se, rather just a long term goal. The race to be the first, is not what I'm going for when I say "contested".

If you really want to consider recipes to be contested. Turn them into temporary things, limited use or recipes that NEED to be used X time after obtaining them. (This last one to prevent, monopolization or stacking up (like guilds did with guildstatus tokens in order to powerlevel after each expansion.)
The greater scheme here could be to end up with a pieces of the puzzle idea to create a blueprint that needs to be hand in or something.
Again we shouldn't restrict our selves to what we are familiar with here.
 

Barin999

Journeyman
Obtaining batches of resources at lower cost, could be a thing. This might not be as epic as doing a first kill on a server. But I can see many crafters going for this on a frequent basis. It will have an impact, but more subtle. The player will still experience the return from this. And players that do not participate in this content, will manage without it, all be it more timeclostly for example.

Like with adventuring, you can have rare, legendary items (or other) that crafters could obtain. These items could be found in scenarios that puts the crafter right along side other crafters. Willingly (group vs group or solo vs group or solo vs group). To "farm" these items, could very well be a thing, where the majority of the return would be of lesser value, but you'd have that 1% chance of encountering that unique item and call it your own. How? By completing orders, tasks or other where others couldn't get to in time. (again this reoccuring content, publically accessable)
 
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