designing an mmorpg

Designing an MMORPG: Crafting Systems

Crafting is a core component of MMORPGs these days, the few MMOs that don’t have any kind of crafting system in place feel like they’re missing something. This week we’ll not only be looking at what kinds of things we should be able to craft, but also how complex the system should be. So brush up on what games have done before because we’re about to dive into MMORPG crafting systems.

Before we can do that, we have to take a look at last week’s poll on factions. There was a lot of discussion about different ways of doing factions ranging from not having them at all to letting players pick which faction they’re in without it mattering what race you are. Ultimately though, a three faction system won the poll with 50% of the vote! We’ll be exploring what all of that means more in the future when we get to PvP and story details. For now, though, keep in mind that factions now look like this:

Dragons Dwarves Vampires
Fae Shifters Shadows
Lalers Hellspawn Dark Elves
Humans Humans Humans

 

Crafting in Two Parts

As mentioned in the introduction, we’re actually going to be looking at two different things in this article which means for the first time, we’ll have two different polls. This is because crafting is more than just the traditional “walk up to the station and push the button” that most MMOs go with. Also, you have to decide what kinds of things will be craftable.

Crafting Mechanic

When it comes to deciding how the crafting mechanic will work, it seems like the complexity is what you should be looking at most.

 

Realistic

A realistic crafting system is a complex crafting system. It’s almost a mini-game in its own right. It’s a time-consuming system that could if you wanted, take up all of your in-game time. In this system, you’re limited in the number of crafting skills you can have and the types. For instance, if you decide to become a smith you only work with metals and limited amounts of wood or leather to create armor and some types of weapons. If you decide to become a woodworker, your skills are gathering wood, making staves, and other things using wood. Potions and cooking can go together, so can fishing and cooking. Basically, crafting is thematically appropriate and requires cooperation. Once you’ve finished making your items it’s time to set up shop. Yes, taking a page from Star Wars Galaxies and giving you a table or two in the town’s market.

Traditional MMO Crafting

You have your workstation being manned by master crafters where you simply click a button to craft your item. This is the system you see in most MMOs so much so that it’s considered the traditional way of doing things. You can spice it up a little though. Guild Wars 2 reduced the number of recipes you’re automatically given in favor of a discovery system. Place random items in the workstation and see what you make. This route is taken because it is hands-on without being too complex for casual users to use, a nice middle of the road option.

Hire a Guy

Maybe you want to be almost entirely hands-off with crafting. That’s an option too. Don’t bother spending more than a couple of seconds in game on crafting, you know a guy. Hire an NPC to craft the items you desire. All you have to do is provide the materials, which you can either gather yourself out in the world or buy, then wait a certain amount of time before the item you wanted is mailed to you. Making a simple health potion might take only 5 minutes while the most exotic armor in the game could take days to be completed. The game that most comes to mind with a system like this is Neverwinter, which also allows you to do crafting without even logging into the game. For added complexity, you could send in armor and weapons you aren’t using to have them broken down to make the item you requested. This will add to the crafting time, but also makes it cheaper.

Vote for which of these sounds most appealing to you in the poll below.

 

Crafting Skills

So, now we’ve talked about how crafting will work, we need to look at what things we’ll be able to craft. Below is a long list of crafting skills that you can find in other games, as well as some ideas I came up with on my own. For the sake of ease, I’m leaving out armor and weapon creation, along with food as those are a given. But after that, it’s up to you and your vote. You’ll be able to vote for as many of them as you like.

Fishing – Create lures and bait to go out to catch yourself some fish. Minor skill advancement comes from catching fish, most comes from the creation of lures and bait. Depending on the complexity of mechanic chosen, you may or may not be able to create poles and lines. Additionally, you’ll either be able to buy a pole or make a rudimentary one that is nothing more than a stick with a string.

Hunting – Leather will drop from some creatures in combat for all players, but those with the hunting skill will be able to harvest more, like eyes, guts, and even meat. Trapping is also a key component which allows hunters to catch creatures out in the world.

beginner crafting MMORPG Crafting Systems

Alchemy – Create potions and medicines to aid in fights. Everything from healing potions to anti-venoms. Also able to create items that aid in combat like smoke bombs and venoms.

Runes and Glyphs – Craft magical enhancements for gear that can boost stats or have interesting effects.

Scrolls – Create one time use magical scrolls that allow you to cast a magical attack you couldn’t otherwise perform. Short term stealth, summon a small elemental creature, and more.

Foraging – The world is filled with edible foods hanging on trees and growing out of the ground. It just takes someone with the right skills to recognize them. You’re also able to collect items for alchemists to use.

Mining – Only you can identify and harvest metals and gems from the ground. You might even get lucky and find a good place to mine salt. Maybe you’ll have to go into mines to get them, or maybe you’ll get lucky and see a little shimmer next to the road. This crafting skill is a great one for those who like to go off the beaten path.

Timber Harvesting – Go out and chop down some trees, you’re a lumberjack! But, you’re a responsible lumberjack, so every time you cut down a tree you’ll plant three more. Once you’ve harvested your logs it’s time to drag them to a mill to make planks. As your skill advances, you can start creating things with the wood you’ve got like bowls and spoons. You also have a vital role in regional crafting projects.

Archaeology – Make a small plot of land yours for a short time and start digging. In the beginning, you might only find arrowheads and pottery shards but as your skill increases, you can find old armor, runes, and much more. Grow your skill high enough and you may even be able to successfully uncover cloth and books.

Jewelry Making – Jewels are for fashion and have magical uses which is why jewelry making has two branches. You can make things that look pretty but have little use or you can make things that look less pretty and give you some fantastic benefits. Need a personal shield for a couple of seconds? There’s a gem for that! Want to increase your stamina slightly, wear this bracelet.

Gardening – Instead of going out to forage for materials find them in your own backyard. Travel the world to find exotic seeds to bring home and grow into exotic materials alchemists and chefs will love. As your skill increases, you’ll be able to add trees to your garden.

Guild Crafting – Large scale buildings, boats, and other things that benefit the whole guild.

Regional Crafting, aka City Crafting – Build a town from the ground up with regional events that go on for months. Start by building the crafting stations themselves then move on to building taverns, markets, and more. You are building a city of out of nothing. Requires a lot of participation.

What do you think of the crafting options? Leave a vote below for your favorites. If there’s another crafting skill you’d enjoy seeing leave a comment here, on social media, or on Reddit. If there are any popular choices that keep coming up, we’ll add them to our final list. How many will we end up with? That’s anyone’s guess. We’ll go with the most popular ones that are within a few percentage points of the others.

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About Shannon Doyle

Shannon first discovered MMOs in 1999 when she picked up the newly launched Everquest. This started a lifelong love affair with online gaming that has taken her around the world and brought her to MMOGames.com. While she still pines for the streets of Paragon, the City of Heroes, today she spends most of her gaming time walking across Tyria in Guild Wars 2, roleplaying with anyone who says hello.