Crafting: My Argument Against Synchronicity

In response to my initial crafting post, Moorgard’s post, and (to some extent) Aggro Me’s post last week on crafting, Evan Sampson provided his opinions in a post entitled “Synchronicity.” Before I begin, I must first comment that I work with Evan at SOE, and he never told me he made a blog. For that, I give you a wag of the finger, Mr. Sampson. For daring to challenge the mighty ego of Blackguard, however, I give you a tip of the hat. Make sure you read Evan’s post before this one, and it would do you well to read all three of the other posts I linked before reading his. Moving on…

Note: Given that the assumption of the above post is that a tradeskill system is being created for a game that is both adventure and item-centric, my response assumes the same.

I have a limited view of crafting, I admit. In my mind, crafting with other players would rarely, if ever, be fun. Part of the draw in crafting for me is the ability for me (and me alone) to create something. I like taking materials and applying my expertise to craft something worth using, whether it’s for me or for someone else. If I have to gain the aid of other players to make such an item, who would get it in the end? What is the reward for everyone who didn’t help out?

You could, of course, create an apprentice system for masters of their art. You might need one or two other players to help create pieces of an item, or to keep the fire at the right temperature, while you’re creating a masterpiece work. In the end, it is your item, your creation. Those who helped you, though, would get excellent experience and skill gain for observing you at your best. Feasible, yes, but that is still a license to print currency (whether it’s coin or items), given that you could guarantee the cooperation of certain people (or second boxes of your own).

Yes, it could require extremely rare items to create masterpieces worthy of the finest adventurer. But, then, where is the fun in creating the run-of-the-mill items that you can create with everyday materials? Is the fun just in making an item, breaking it down to its components (minus fuel), then remaking another item to gain experience and master your craft? I’d believe in that up until the end game, when the master crafter has little to nothing to do unless he obtains those extremely rare items, and in order for those extremely rare items to remain extremely rare, that master must remain extremely bored a majority of the time.

I’ll tackle each of the points listed in order:

There can be solo tasks undertaken that produce a useful but standard item.
I’ll buy that. I’ve never argued against allowing crafters to making useful items, even in adventure/item-centric games.

There can be group tasks that require multiple people to make a better quality item.
Perhaps, but you’re still giving players a guaranteed method of printing currency outside of the designer’s control.

There can be raid content that requires large groups of crafters to make an item.
I just don’t see how this could be fun, to be honest. OMG someone quell that fire! OMG someone hammer out that nick! OMG someone kill the fire daemon that spawned from the forge! You get my point. To me, cooperating with a large group of players to make an item isn’t fun. I want to make items by myself, because that is the way I feel I have achieved something, and there’s no way I would help someone make an uber rare item unless there was some chance that I would be the one who ended up with it.

Gates can prevent players from making huge amounts of crafted items.
One, I hate artificial restrictions. If you’ve read some of my posts on such things, you know that I despise them. Additionally, this idea seems to go counter to the vision of crafting you present–you see crafting as an integral system in the game. The only way crafters are truly going to feel rewarded is when they are producing the excellent items. If you artificially disallow them from doing so, they aren’t having fun, and you are then restricting crafting from taking place as an important and always-present factor for a single character (i.e. a character that is exclusively a crafter would have a ton of forced downtime, which is not fun).

This would be a different crafting system from any we have seen.
Quite true, and I think there is a reason: nobody has found a way to make this really fun just yet. I’m not saying group crafting can’t be fun, but it’s definitely not my bag.

Most crafters that I have encountered over the years fit a couple of stereotypes that would indicate that group crafting wouldn’t always fly: First, they are players who feel the greatest sense of achievement by creating something special. When I make a full suit of hard-to-craft armor for a large amount of coin and it has my name on it, I feel rewarded as hell. Second, they don’t like relying on other people. A player with a crafter mindset (in current games) is often someone who enjoys soloing, because they trust in their skills and gain a sense of achievement by accomplishing tasks by themselves. Finally, they are social creatures, but they often don’t like sharing–I want to get top dollar for my items, and anything I make I’m not giving away for free unless I owe someone (hence why I don’t think “raiding” an item would go over too well, since only one person would end up with the result).

I’m not trying to bag on all of your opinions, because they are surely valid and I’m confident that many people share your beliefs. My outlook, of course, is from that of someone who enjoys accomplishing tasks by himself, which naturally pulls me away from being attracted to this type of crafting system. I also detest artificial restrictions, which this type of system calls for. Finally, I have to be constantly concerned with a game’s economy. In a system in which items are extremely important in a game, and players have permanent access to creating awesome items, you’ve given them a license to print money and it would be difficult to control that flow without pissing a lot of people off.

Now, for all my arguing against crafters making incredible items, I will reveal to you something: My ultimate game would have crafting as an integral part of the game. Crafters would perform tasks that are essential to the well-being of every player, and their weapons and armor would indeed be some of the best, if not the best, in the game. The caveat? My ultimate game isnt item-centric; yes, items are used very often and are quite versatile, but the difference between a player in crappy armor for their capabilities and amazing armor for their capabilities might be a 20% effectiveness divergence.

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