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Crafter's Roundtable: Meaningful choices in Crafting

    • 1528 posts
    February 19, 2019 9:26 PM PST

    (note:  The title of this post was too long for these forums - the full title is "Crafter's Roundtable:  Meaningful choices in Crafting Progression".  Just in case anyone saw the twitter announcement and was confused :) )


    Hi everyone, and welcome to another Crafter's Roundtable discussion, where we ask all of you for your thoughts on something that will be important for Pantheon! Our goal in posting this is to get people talking, so we hope you'll indulge us.  Just like always, to help get discussion started, we ask some of the Pantheon Crafters staff to contribute their thoughts to start us off. Take a look at what we said, and then tell us your own thoughts in a reply.

    Here's the Question:

    What we know so far about Pantheon's crafting progression is that players will choose a profession to start, and then later on they will likely choose a specialization within in that profession. So for today's Roundtable question, let's talk about whether that's enough to really feel meaningful and create diversity among crafters. Should crafters be able to "re-spec"? And if so how easy or hard should it be? Should there be other choices you have to make along the way, in addition to your profession and specialization, such as emphasizing certain skills or different abilities? What do you feel would be right for you, as a crafter, and for the game at large?

    Here's what we had to say. Take a look, and then let us know what you think:

    Trasak said:

    I am a big fan of skill web/tree based games over class level based games. To that end I would rather see a specialization web that you can both unlock access to nodes through crafting goals and gain specialization points through leveling your base crafting class as well as doing crafting assignments. I would have the specialization tree be very large with many ranks to each node such that a virtually unlimited number of specialization points could be spent. Likewise I would not put a limit on the number of points you can earn but each point is sequentially more time and resource intensive to earn. Resetting points spent would lower your current total specialization points so re-earning them would be cheaper than gaining additional points but the previous effort would be wasted.

    The specialization web will grant access to mini game abilities or upgrades to base abilities, passive bonuses to work with materials or types of objects manufacture able by that crafting class, and access to art styles. For reasonable amounts of play time you would really need to focus on one area to reach the most desirable special abilities or you could be a relative generalist that lacks any of the top level abilities.

    Khaleesi said:

    A profession with specialization will be excellent for distinctiveness, but is going to have to be done carefully.

    Interdependence among craters (such as an outfitter who needs a blacksmith to create a metal utensil) will be a boon for the community, providing the needed supplies can be acquired reasonably quickly.

    This interdependence may work well, if the blacksmith knows ahead of time that an outfitter will need something and can prepare it ahead of time. However, if the outfitter is stuck at outfitting "level 5" (arbitrary numbers) and cannot move from mixing eggs and flour in a bowel because he doesn't have a pan - then it will be both discouraging for the outfitter and possibly a loss for the whole crafting segment of the game. The player may stay "stuck" there for weeks, occasionally asking around for a pan, but all of the blacksmiths are busy grouping and hitting mobs with swords instead of metal with hammers.

    Even if the outfitter doesn't get stuck at "level 5", and eventually gets up to "level 30," now specializing as a baker, she may suddenly run in to the same problem, no alchemists to make the magical leavening. Maybe by that time, she will find out that her own class and her guild at large would be better off with a stonemason.

    I think it will be important to be able to 'start over' or re-specialize somehow, but maybe the experience gained could still transfer into some ability to learn the new skill faster. I would argue that it would be more harmful to the crafting side of the game to disallow people from changing professions.

    Autherial said:

    I am a big fan of skill trees like in Path of Exiles, the more options you give the more unique and interesting builds people can come up with. Having a spec tree with hundreds of nodes would help keep crafters unique and different. You could have large nodes for the main crafts like blacksmithing and alchemy etc. Then smaller nodes that could improve success chance or cost reduction etc. Then you could have some that would allow you to craft with a much higher stat. Let's say you wanted to specialize in creating weapons with high crit percent. You could go down the path of the skill tree and spend points in the nodes that increase the cap of how much crit percent you can put on an item. So I hope you can see where I am going with this.

    With this system you can have many different things you can specialize in. This would allow a lot of uniqueness, and not bind everyone to a cookie cutter build. I can choose to specialize in weapons, now I want to focus mainly on crit and possibly delay reduction as well as strength. With the right skills purchased I would be rather unique and valuable in the crafting community.

    Nephele said:

    Anyone who's talked about the adventuring classes with me knows that diversity is something that's really important to me. I don't like feeling the same as other players who happened to pick the same class as me. Thus, it should come as no surprise that I feel the same way about crafting professions. I strongly support the idea of choices that you make during your progression that stick with you as you advance.

    That said, I don't know that I want to see Pantheon go with a full-on skill tree. I say this for two reasons. First, I feel like it might actually be too much on top of existing professions and specializations. Second, I strongly want for crafters to get out in the world and continue to discover new and interesting things they can do, even after they hit whatever the maximum rank or level is for their profession. As an example of that, I believe that there should be very rare recipes that you don't earn through normal progression, but that you obtain via adventuring, or via "epic" crafting quests, or even just by closely allying with a particular race or faction.

    We still haven't heard much from VR about how the actual process of crafting an item will work, but we can assume it will be more involved than putting your materials in a bag and clicking a button. If we use Ceythos's work on Vanguard as a guide, it's likely that we'll have abilities we have to use during the crafting process in order to complete the item. That being the case, here's an idea: What if there were "journeyman" and "master" abilities that you had to seek out and learn - better than the basic ones you get, but you have to go find some NPC crafter to teach them to you. And further, what if you can only have, say, three of those at any given time - but there are as many as a dozen you could go out and potentially learn. Which three do you choose? And how does that give you an edge in crafting that someone who picked a different set of journeyman or master abilities might not have?

    This is all just an idea of course, and the crafting process we end up with might not even support doing that. But I think it's a direction that might give us interesting and meaningful choices, based on what we already know about there being crafting specializations. I think the key for me is that I want those choices to be something that you actually have to earn, and not just a box that opens up when you get a new rank or level or whatever that says "Pick option A, B, or C".

    I'd be remiss if I didn't mention respeccing, since it's part of the original question. I think respeccing is something that the game should support. If someone starts off as a blacksmith and then later decides that they'd really rather be an outfitter, they shouldn't have to reroll their character to do that. However, respeccing should not be as easy as visiting an NPC and paying some gold to move all your points over. If you want to switch to outfitter, fine, but you need to work your way up through outfitting just like you did blacksmithing. And if you decide to switch back to blacksmith, you're starting over there as well. I'm not talking about just progression here either, but all those recipes and abilities you had to go out and learn, that weren't just handed to you, you have to do those again too. This should be true whether you're going form one profession to another or even just changing your specialization within the profession. This may sound harsh, but I believe that if it's not that involved to switch, people will find ways to trivialize the switch and then that will hurt interdependence within the crafting sphere as a whole.

    So now you've heard our thoughts. Tell us yours! What do you think would help bring diversity and meaningful choices to the crafting sphere in Pantheon?

    • 36 posts
    February 20, 2019 3:11 AM PST

    Skill trees will add uniqueness to the crafters but that can only go so far as we are still limited on how many options there can be.  There would also have to be demand for the products of the different specializations. It's so easy for things to settle in where a certain path is "the best" path to take.  I'm not saying that skill trees won't work just some obstacles.

    Further uniqueness could come from class and racial limitations and bonuses.  Similar to certain religions have dietary restrictions, a crafter of a particular race may be restricted from working with a certain material but will have access to something else that can make a comparable but unique product.  

    Most if not all choices starting with profession then specialization and skills should have a quest or simply dialog with an NPC crafting master or trainer.  This could be diversified with race, religions or classes as well.  When a crafter gets to a certain point where a choice needs to be made, by choosing to follow a human master, the options would be different from an elven master.  With this there could be some faction work required.

    I think being able to respec should be an option.  This should not be as simple as resetting and reselecting where all your points go, and starting from scracth again would just be obnoxious.  Again, there should be quests involved and possibly losing some points or whatever counts towards advanciment, but the points should shift and you train from one spec to another.  Using alchemy as an example, if I wanted to respec from elixers to poisons I would slowly lose proficiency in elixers as I train poisons.  The quantity of skill doesn't decrease it just shifts from one for to another, kind of like the 1st law of thermodynamics.

    Slight off topic, most items made that are needed by other crafters should be able to be made at the most basic levels by the majority crafters in a profession. Only items meant to be rare should require compontents from particular specs.  The more rare the item is meant to be the deeper down the skill tree you will need to go.  I love the interdependency among crafters, it is it's own subculture in the game.  But it shouldn't be so restrictive that it causes some simple tasks to become a major hassle.

    • 1820 posts
    February 20, 2019 7:15 AM PST

    Nephele said:

    Here's the Question:

    What we know so far about Pantheon's crafting progression is that players will choose a profession to start, and then later on they will likely choose a specialization within in that profession. So for today's Roundtable question, let's talk about whether that's enough to really feel meaningful and create diversity among crafters. Should crafters be able to "re-spec"? And if so how easy or hard should it be? Should there be other choices you have to make along the way, in addition to your profession and specialization, such as emphasizing certain skills or different abilities? What do you feel would be right for you, as a crafter, and for the game at large?

    First and foremost, I'm quite opposed to the single tradeskill with the also single specialization tied to it. While I understand VR's hoped-for outcome, that of true interdependence between tradeskills such that no single player can do everything, it still like an solution in search of a problem.  I would hazzard to guess that most people will not delve too far into tradeskills, with only those people who are really into tradeskills taking the deep dive to master everything.  For me, it wasn't until the Coldain Prayer Shawl quest in EQ1 that I really became enamored with tradeskills and realized far too late how much fun they added to the game and could be undertaken while adventuring, basically accomplishing two things at once.

    But now, with Pantheon, I'll be forced to choose one thing.  And with all the other limitations forced upon me (some good, some bad) I just do not want to see yet another.

    As to your other questions, 're-spec' should be allowed, basically resetting your specialization skill to 0.  So if you' take up Alchemy (which I will) and I choose Toxins as my specialization only to realize later on that Potions would prove more valuable to my class I would need to undertake some task to wipe all my specilization skills such that I return, skillwise in Alchemy, to the point where I had to choose a specialization where I could then go with Potions.

    I would be against any further restrictions but would be a big proponent of some of the recipies be obtained through adventuring (a recipe drop off a Shaman NPC), a reward for a quest or as a random 'discovery' through the normal skilling of Alchemy.

    Tying some class specific skills into a tradeskill could be interesting though somewhat problematic if, using Alchemy as an example, you decide to take up Alchemy as a non-Shaman class.  How might a Dwarf who cannot be a Shaman employ Shaman spells/abilities into their Alchemy training?  This might require limiting some skills to specific classes. Again, using Alchemy, limiting it to only Shaman and Rogue (Rogue due to the possible Toxins specialization).