ID:151283
 
Well, since my last topic on Inventory display didn't go anywhere, let's get some thoughts on craft systems. Generally speaking, craft systems allow players to turn game objects into other (generally more useful) objects. Implementation can vary widely and I would like to see some opinions on what works, and doesn't work, in craft system design as well as interface. After all, the best craft system in the world is useless if hidden behind a horrible interface.

Ultima Online had a simple craft system that was enjoyable. For most crafts you had a required tool, material, and possibly external object such as a heat source. Crafting generally consisted of double clicking the tool, then clicking the material which would then either complete the task (such as heat on ore produces ingots or scissors on cloth produces bandages) open up a selection if multiple items could be produced by the action (say when forging ingots- you could make a variety of weapons and armor). The advantage was it was quick and simple, the downside is that it didn't really allow for much customization (though you could change colors certain thing afterwards with a dye tub).

Star Wars Galaxies has what looks like a neat system where you can gather all sorts of different raw materials that have different intrinsic properties that are used to craft components to build items. Since there are no "best" properties, different materials are better or worse for different applications. Additionally, there is a process for experimentation that apparently allows the crafter to modify the crafting even further. It all sounds very detailed, but I have never played so I have no idea if in practice it allows alot of variety, or just creates a tedious process.

Minecraft has an interesting approach to crafting. Like most games you gather raw materials to craft items. What is interesting about MC's approach is that items are formed based on the correct materials being laid out in a certain pattern on a crafting grid. The size of the grid also varies based on whether the crafter is utilizing a crafting table or not. Without it, he only gets a 2x2 grid, making only simple crafts such as torches, shears, and a craft table possible. It's also interesting in that raw ore is processed by placing it inside a smelter with fuel and waiting for the ore to transform into ingots. Cooking is done the same way (no ovens in MC :)).
Let's try and get the discussion going.

I think the approaches you described can be divided into two "schools of thought": the way Minecraft and UO have it, a crafting system matches recipe with item, so there's a specific way to create what you want. Star Wars Galaxies seems to spice things up a bit, and lets players make their own 'recipes' based on properties of the material rather than specific combinations of it.

Both approaches have their advantage. Generally speaking SWG crafting allows for more creativity and player freedom, but at the expense of the unique combinations and recipes that Minecraft and UO allow.

I think you can try and take the best of everything. Minecraft seems to have it best as far as interface goes, i.e. the way you place the materials determines the purpose of the tool you're crafting. This allows one to discover various applications for the same kind of materials, which is very interesting, and I don't see any reason to aim for something simpler. At the same time I like the idea of being able to customise your items SWG-style, so you should have it such that as long as materials have the appropriate intrinsic qualities, placing them in a specific shape Minecraft-style allows one to create the tool he desires.
In response to Toadfish (#1)
I was working on a crafting system a while ago. It used various crafting benches/tables to allow the player to create different things.

For example, the tools/weapons table had 3 slots, one for the base material(blades, shovel head, etc), one for the secondary material(handles mostly), and one for whatever was going to bind them together(rope, vines, sinew, etc). When you put something into a slot, it showed a list of all the things that object was used to create. When you added another ingredient, it showed all of the ones that used both, etc. until it showed a list of things that could be constructed with what was in all of the slots. From there you select the tool and it's created from the ingredients.

The other tables worked in a similar manner, allowing the construction of a rather large variety of items and tools. I personally like this option better than something like Minecraft's crafting setup because it doesn't require you to look up guides or spend 20 minutes trying random combinations for the more advanced stuff. This was fairly important for my game as it did include the creation of electronics and machinery from the base parts, which would be incredibly confusing without a way to see what you needed.
Jmurph wrote:
Star Wars Galaxies has what looks like a neat system where you can gather all sorts of different raw materials that have different intrinsic properties that are used to craft components to build items. Since there are no "best" properties, different materials are better or worse for different applications. Additionally, there is a process for experimentation that apparently allows the crafter to modify the crafting even further. It all sounds very detailed, but I have never played so I have no idea if in practice it allows alot of variety, or just creates a tedious process.

The SWG system at it's prime was probably the most in-depth system I've seen in any game, and it wasn't just crafting, it also had a very well fleshed-out resource system. It wasn't just "Dig until you find a cluster of diamond". You actually had to go around sampling material on different planets, and once you found something worth gathering, actually find high concentrations of it.

So the materials themselves played a HUGE part in the crafting system. A basic stimpack (healing potion) could vary from say 10hp up to 90hp, number of uses could vary from 1-10, etc. based on the quality of materials. Experimentation by the crafter could also push it higher, so they could maybe add 10-20hp, or an extra 4-5 uses.

Now while that is all fine and well, you end up with some interesting situations. Someone doing PvP or high-end PVE for example, would obviously want the most HP and not really care about uses per stimpack. Someone just farming somewhere, would probably not need as much hp in one shot, so would prefer more uses (giving more overall healing per stimpack).

That's just a simple example. Armor and weapons got even more complicated. Do you want high resists of a particular type? Decent resists across all of them? Do you want to trade off a little bit of resistance and double to durability so they last way longer?

Now what ties it together is the resource system. Resources would switch around pretty frequently (As little as a day, or as long as 2 weeks). There were times when a resource would spawn that was just the absolute best for some particular item but would be gone again the next day. So for a while you'd have some REALLY nice things to buy, but it would get used up until it was only a select few crafters who had any left and would charge a high premium for items made with it.
I was recently researching this myself. I've never played those MMOs, but I've read about their crafting systems. I've also read that people enjoy crafting as a nice pass time and find it relaxing. I later learned that some crafting systems were like click this and this and you get that, but I could never understand how that's relaxing. It sounds repetitive to me that you would spend hours: Click, Click, Clicking to raise your crafting skills. That MineCraft crafting system sounds interesting, but other games seem somewhat the same with the click here and here.

People always talk about a MMO's crafting system as if that was a highlight, so I guess their is a "clicking" audience out there. I don't think I'm part of that audience, what I would find interesting in a crafting system is at least some sort of neat animation on my character and a nice large sized image animation on the edge of my screen (Like a gear turning.) with slow easy music or tune playing and the sound a muffled soft sound of a hammer hitting rock with a soft background noise of the simmering heat coming from the forge, that sounds relaxing to me. Then I'd like something easy to do as well like that minecraft crafting grid. The complexity of the Star Wars Galaxies crafting system sounds like a dream come true.

That would be a "perfect" crafting system to me.
In response to Robertbanks2 (#2)
How did you design the lookups for that? It seems like that even with three components, it could be a large number of lookups.
In response to Jmurph (#5)
It was quite a few. As I recall(I worked on this almost a year ago and haven't touched it since) every ingredient item had a "type" that defined what it was used for. A branch, metal rod, and long, straight bone were all considered to be the same "type." They had various attributes that lend themselves to different things, but they can all be used in the same combinations.

When you put something in, it added everything in that type's associated global list to the table's datum for sorting things. The datum kept track of how many different types were in the bench, and how many copies of each object reference were present. If there were fewer copies of a reference than there were types, it would remove all of that reference, thus taking it off of the creatable items grid.

So really, it was a datum with a variable and an associative list that looked like: items("ref1"=2,"ref2"=2,"
ref3"=2,"ref4"=1), where ref 4 would be removed after the current operation, because it only has 1.

I imagine there are probably better ways of going about it, but this was the least processor intensive method I could come up with short of creating lists of every viable combination, which would have been ridiculous.