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Crafting Energy, a compromise between time and materials

    • 1019 posts
    February 12, 2019 8:13 AM PST

    Crafting Energy, a compromise between time and materials

    Ultimately the only resource that cannot be farmed (without violating most EULAs) is time.  As such time is the most powerful tool to use to make something valuable, everything else including the most rare of items is simply an output of time spent.

    One of the main reasons crafting becomes worthless in many MMOs is that it takes too little time to max crafting skills so long as characters have adequate material resources on hand.  If any adventurer with enough money saved up can become a master crafter in one afternoon then the supply of master craftsman is too high for there to be any real demand. Outside of the first couple crafters to receive a BiS recipe each expansion there is no reason to seek out a specific crafter, anyone will do.

    The second main reason crafting becomes worthless in MMOs is that crafting is not included in item progression except for a few one off crafter only BiS items.  It is simply too easy for a crafter to crank out items between mastery being common and all items needed for crafting being by nature tradeable. If an adventurer could spend a weekend farming rare ingredients to get a BiS item why would they bother to raid week after week for a small chance at having the exact similar item they want drop.

    For crafting to be meaningful it must be a conscious choice of how a player spends their gaming time to craft vs adventuring.  Crafted items must also be comparable to the items in the same area that the materials come from. For balance reasons near BiS crafted must be made with materials from the zones where other BiS items drop and preferably involve defeating the same mobs that drop the BiS items.  This makes the crafted items technically harder to get than the mob dropped items as they take a second step. Ideally the crafting process of a BiS item would be significantly more challenging than your average item of the same level.

    The crafter/simulator nut in me ultimately would love to see a set of minigames that closely  mimic the actual crafting process including opportunities for creativity and utter failure. This would make the crafting system engaging, responsive and time consuming.  It would also be a bloody nightmare to create and frankly many gamers are just not that interested in full immersion. A similarly distasteful system is the dreaded one click and wait system where players are forced to sit still and watch a time bar burn down to completion.  This does limit the rate at which you can level crafting but its play experience is so bad that it does not bare considering.

     

    A system that I feel could balance the positive play experience with the need to make leveling crafting time dependant while also making crafting the most desired items tactically challenging is crafting energy.

    TLDR: Crafting Energy System

    1. Crafters have an exponentially increasing Energy Pool based primarily on their crafting class level (each level would add the crafting level 10s to the base pool of the previous level).

    2. Crafting Energy regenerates at an exponentially increasing rate based primarily on their crafting class level.  For example a level 1 crafter will regenerate their entire 10 energy pool in 1/50th the time it takes for a level 50 crafter to regenerate their 12750 energy.

    3. Crafting classes gain experience based on the amount of energy spent on a completed crafting.  The amount of energy required per tier of advancement stays relative to the base energy pool (the amount of energy that needs to be spent to go from level 49-50 is 1225 times the amount needed to go from 1-2).

    4. Each sub-combine and assembly process has its own turn based or long timed tick mini game.

    5. The number of turns/ticks required to complete a process is based on the difficulty of the process vs the crafters skill in that specific process. (I invision each crafting class having between 20-50 total individual processes that share maybe 10 ui minigames)

    6. The target quality of the process will act as a multiplier on both the number of turns to complete the process in the minigame and the amount of resources need. (a crude iron dagger would only take one bar of iron and take half the number of turns as a normal iron dagger.  A Mythic iron dagger (Crude->Normal->High Quality->Exceptional->Masterwork->Mythic) would take 10 iron bars (2 for normal times 5 for 5th tier) and a terrifying normal turns^5 (yup a base of 10 turns for normal would required 100,000 turns for a mythic dagger if your small blade crafting was at skill rank 1)

    7. Item power level is a function of the base material and process quality with additives from optional materials that also increase the energy required to create the item.

    8. The amount of energy consumed per turn/tick is based on the crafters mastery of that specific base material from 1% to 100%.

    9. Masteries for both processes and material are improved by the amount of energy used while working with them.  One can reach maximum crafting level without having mastered all processes or base materials available to them.

    10. All processes will have variable but non optional base material slots and optional material slots (possibly increasing with each Crafting class tier).  These optional materials will have many different possible effects including; additive increased item power at the cost of an increase in number of base turns, base material modifiers that multiply the energy cost per turn will adding material qualities, consumables that decrease the number of turns to complete an item, and consumables that improve the workability of materials dropping the per turn energy cost.

    11. Each turn/tick has a chance for one or more events.  These events are either opportunities that can improve the final product or decrease the total energy required to craft the item or mistakes that must be corrected or the quality will drop and the energy cost to complete the item will increase.

    12. Event response abilities cost energy to use and also have levels and are acquired in a variety of ways from crafting class progression, master teachers, special tools or special crafting stations.  Each crafting class has event response abilities common to all crafters and class unique responses that can be either soloy focused on their own class or beneficial to another crafting class.

    13. GROUP CRAFTING:  Crafters of both the same crafting class or different crafting classes can group up to craft an item.  By grouping up crafters are able to pool their crafting energy. Very advanced crafting may have events that can only be countered by other crafting classes who have access to the response.  Crafters will earn crafting experience based on the energy they provided to the crafting process both from responses and base drain.

    14. Crafters will have opportunities to gear themselves with items in various ways.  Items will affect Energy Pool size, energy pool regeneration rate, grant access to responses, and give skill modifiers to both processes and materials.

    15. Top tier items will require the right combination of gear between all the grouped crafters, job assignments, the right crafting stations, high levels of coordination and a degree of luck.

     

    I apologize that my TLDR is still a wall of text.  It is difficult to condense a system into a list of bullet points without leaving out key points that balance the system vs other systems.

    For those of you willing to read the system I hope you enjoyed it and might open your eyes to the possibilities both for Pantheon and crafting in other MMOs that might be able to adopt a similar system.

    Trasak

     

    • 1658 posts
    February 12, 2019 9:39 AM PST

    Sounds very similar to how ArcheAge did things.  They had "Labor" points that you generated every 5 minutes, and all crafting skills required labor points to create items.  Although, to keep things fair, looting monsters and harvesting also required labor.  So no matter how you attempted to make money, it required labor.

    • 1019 posts
    February 12, 2019 10:20 AM PST

    I can see some real value in having harvesting skills having their own mini game and energy pool.  It could be a tool to represent harvesting a big object for a lot of material and having rare and valuable materials require multiple harvesters working together.  I never played ArcheAge as I heard it was a micro transaction PTW.  Did the labor system seem overly restrictive?

    Interesting tying looting into the system though I have a feeling that would only be an issue for high level players farming low level zones.  That being said high level characters farming low level zones and locking low level players out of those zone is a real problem with limited content choices so I applaud an attempt to deal with it.

    • 1522 posts
    February 12, 2019 7:56 PM PST

    I replied to Trasak on Pantheon Crafters, but just to further the discussion here, the gist of my response to him was this:

    I think a design goal for your system needs to be to set things up so that the player who wants to spend their time crafting is never prevented from doing that. It's ok to put in minor waits in between individual crafts (ie, taking a minute or two for that bar to refill before you start the next one), but if you put them in a position where they can't do anything for multiple minutes or hours, you're just going to make them unhappy by breaking their groove.

    Here's the link for anyone who wants to see the entire conversation there.

    • 1019 posts
    February 13, 2019 5:40 AM PST

    Nephele’s point is a good one and worthy of working into the system.  In my mind’s eye I was envisioning the time to regenerate your energy bar to be roughly equal to the time it takes for a caster to regenerate their mana bar.

    A few concepts might help alleviate the down time.

    1)      Pure crafters will need to rely on crafting writs of some type to maintain a flow of raw materials to support their craft.  The time required to run back and forth and pick your next writ could be a good time to regenerate energy.

    2)      You will not always use your entire energy pool to craft one item, material efficiency to crafting experience wise it will likely to be best to make objects that use your entire mana bar.

    3)      Some of the sub processes may not require energy if they are effectively no fail with no quality variation.  This can be another activity that can be done while waiting on your bar to refill.  For example you could either buy your consumable materials or refine them yourself for little to no cash cost but the process would take time.

    4)      General commerce actions such as vender dumping/purchasing, auction house listing, trading with players and running to the bank/material warehouse to retrieve stored materials are all tasks that can be done while waiting that still fit into the overall flow of crafting though they may only need to be done once or twice per session.

    5)      The biggest time consumer will likely be designing your item either within a UI or on paper to know which combinations of materials and processes you wish to use to fulfil your customer’s needs.  This is a step the simple one input one output recipe system lacks.

    My hope is that crafting writs will allow for a pure crafting character to craft generic items at a net neutral material rate.  These items will not be valuable to players as they will not include the optional materials that are required to make the items comparable to dropped items.  The writs themselves will award enough materials on average to complete the next writ and so choosing the right writ for the materials you have will be important.  This will be a significant portion of the pure crafter play style and will make the energy system almost a non-impact on their throughput.

    The primary goal of the energy system is to prevent high level player from purchasing everything and just hammering through recipes to rapidly grind up a crafting profession.  Just like it should take a long time to level to max level and raid gear it should take nearly the same amount of time to max out all aspects of a crafting class and have all the best tools and support gear.  Only if it is a real achievement to master a crafting class will crafting class masters be valuable.