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Crafter's Roundtable: Crafting Progression

    • 1522 posts
    November 12, 2018 2:48 PM PST

    It’s time for a Crafter’s Roundtable!  For those who haven't seen these before, Crafter's Roundtable threads are something that the stafff at Pantheon Crafters puts together on a regular basis.  We ask questions that are intended to get the community talking, and help VR see what we'd like for crafting in Pantheon.  This is our first Roundtable in the new format, so it bears some explaining.  Like always, we ask a question, and we want to hear everyone’s thoughts on that question.  But this time, to help get discussion started, we asked all of our staff writers here at Pantheon Crafters to weigh in on the topic ahead of time.

    The question:

    Many of us are used to MMOs where we have to grind up levels or skill by making lots of items. Some games have given us NPC writs or work orders, or crafting quests to help advancement, but it still ends up being a repetitive activity. How can Pantheon improve on the way that progression works for crafting, to make it both meaningful and fun?

     

    Here's what our staff had to say.  Check out their opinions, and then post your own below!

    From Khaleesi, our advocate for casual crafters

    I'd like to see a means of skilling crafting by becoming actually more skilled at the given task. Maybe a crappy shield can be made with rough cuts of old re-used wood and hammered together with rusty nails that bend more than they go in straight or one could take the time to find better materials, new strong nails, hone the wood, harden the wood, use complicated joinery and expensive adhesives with strong metal bands and fine leather straps, and an enameled emblazoned painted set of arms to make something truly grand. Skills would be learned through progression and learning, by traveling to other lands where other old techniques have been used. The skills could be transferable across projects. Then woodcraft goes from using a "recipe" to using a set of steps and skills to make a new item. Learning would take time, effort, practice, travel. Master artisans could teach young apprentices.

     

    From Trasak, our resident process engineer on the team

    Trasaks ideal Crafting Progression:

    a) Each Base recipe must be practiced from Apprentice to Mastery to create higher quality levels of the Base Recipe.

    b) Each quality grade increases the number of optional ingredients and their maximum item level that can be added to the base recipe in the second stage of crafting and the scaling values in the first and second stage.

    c) Increasing your crafting class rank is based on a certain number of Base recipes reaching Journeyman, master, and grandmaster respectively.

    d) Advancing to the next mastery tier will require X number of variable results at the quality tier higher than the recipes current mastery tier.

    e) Each skill used in the crafting mini-games must be learned from a master and practiced just like the base recipes to improve the variable results of the mini games.

    f) An Apprentice crafter can make items for all level ranges with the Base recipes by consuming more raw materials proportional to the target level range of the item. If a character is below the target level and or skill level of the item then the stats scale down based on the difference (wearing a level 40 item at level 30 is worse than wearing a level 30 item)

    g) Each material also has its own mastery rating and specialized skills used in the crafting mini-games when crafting with that material.

    h) Different materials will provide a net positive balance of pluses and minuses for each set of raw materials used [see f)]

    i) The variable results of a recipe is limited by the lowest mastery level used in the recipe with higher mastery in the other areas improving the chance for a higher tier results thereby speeding up the advancement of new recipes and materials when compared to the initial material and recipes.

    Using my earlier example an apprentice could use 5 worked iron plates (vs 1 worked iron plate for a level 10 version) to make a 75AC Iron chest plate that required lvl 50 heavy armor defense skill. A journeyman could make a 100AC chest and add a +10 strength Gem. A master could make a 125AC chest and add a +10 strength and +10 dex gem which would both be +12.5. A grandmaster would be able to make a 140AC chest and add a +10 strength, dex and con gem which would end up with a 140AC +14 strength +14 dex +14 con Iron Breastplate that requires lvl 50 heavy armor defense skill to get the full benefit from.

     

    From Autherial, who spends his time thinking about how to fit crafting into the rest of the world

    I think realistically you have to think of a system that works in the confines of the game engine and is not so complicated that it is difficult to code and implement, or you will get a buggy mess that you can never fix. I would rather see a basic system that they already have code for and just try to expand on it in a unique and exciting way.

    I don't find just repetitive crafting to skill up very fun, for example this recipe difficulty is even or hard so I will get a good skill up from it, so I make it until it is easy or very easy. Then move to the next recipe skill level of even or hard. This gets pretty boring and you feel no sense of accomplishment. I like a system where you have crafting adventures and timelines like in Everquest 2. Those tell a story while you craft unique items for a lot of experience to advance in the story. This feels like a much better and natural progression system. You could have a unique story timeline for each profession.

    Now to add to this, I am a big fan of experimentation. I think mixing odd ingredients to see if they go together is fun and should have great rewards when it succeeds. It would be fun if on one of these successful combinations triggers a quest and takes you on a unique adventure to craft some mythical key and armor for a long lost dungeon etc.

    This kind of system they already have code for, it would not be overly complicated and I feel would be a fun progression system that could easily be expanded upon.

     

    From Tragic, who keeps our staff grounded on risk/reward and utility

    There are several reasons why skilling up a craft is what feels like a meaningless grind. One will craft many items that are virtually worthless utilizing burning through materials with little thought because they will not be worth anything at end game anyways. Most games will give you some means to recover some of the materials back either through small quests or deconstruction of some kind. Once you reach a certain level of crafting, these materials will no longer be useful to the crafter and will be sold or passed down. For most artisans, this is mind-numbing and boring, but necessary to get to the endgame to make the real items that can be used and sold to aid the players. In order to make Pantheon leveling meaningful, I believe they need to make all of the items crafted relevant, or at least most of it.

    First, I would like to see a process of traveling the world and completing training and work orders for the various factions throughout the game. This will allow crafting to be more of an adventure and not just sitting at one station the entire time. Once you have gained these abilities, one could come back to their comfort zone and craft these items, but they would have to possess the skill they learned from another faction or artisan. These quests would not be a simple "Craft 3 breastplates," but a series of events that will allow the crafter to transform their current knowledge into something more specialized.

    Next, Make lower level crafted sets that can only be made by crafters and can act as BiS for leveling. Many games worry about making BiS end game items due to balance; however, having these items for leveling will allow players to level at a safer and more rapid pace while giving the artisans the ability to make capital to further their craft when needed. Most people when leveling receive quest rewards that are barely their level and low quality. If crafted items were on par with the leveling dungeon equipment this will allow players a choice in their adventures and not make them grind dungeons solely as a means for gear while leveling.

    Next, I am also a fan of experimentation at a high risk, high reward process. Crafters can experiment on gear with the possibility of destroying the item (most of the time) or gaining higher levels of stats, perhaps 10% (rare occasion).

    Furthermore, I think that each dungeon should have a specialized crafting area where certain items may only be crafted there. This encourages crafters to be more social and get together in a group to make said items. These items should be high in quality and on par in item level to the dungeon they are working in. To ensure that the market is not flooded with these items, only one may be made per dungeon completion.

    Lastly, each crafted item should say clearly who crafted the item. This could open up the possibility of a reputation system. Each time that a crafted item is used by another player it could bolster the crafter's reputation. Create a ladder system that is tracked in-game and via the website to know who the highest reputation crafter is on the given server.

    In conclusion, allow the crafters travel and adventure to find all of the secrets required to make the best items. Make crafting viable for leveling and not just end game. Allow crafters to experiment to make the best items possible and allow them to earn reputation as their items are used. These interesting dynamics will make crafting in Pantheon much more interesting in my opinion.

     

    From Nephele, Pantheon Crafters Co-Admin and General Editor

    I’d love to see Pantheon get away from the idea of repetition as the most efficient method of advancement.  In so many games, advancing as a crafter is always about finding whatever items you can create most easily/cheaply for the greatest experience or skill gain.  I’d much rather see a system that encourages crafters to make items for other players, and that encourages to make lots of different items in order to advance.  So instead of making 100 swords to level up your blacksmithing, you might be encouraged to make swords, hammers, axes, daggers, shields, and cooking pots too.  Not only is this good for the game economy (it helps prevent the market from being flooded with swords), but I think it’s good for players too.  It helps us broaden our perspective of the usefulness of crafting.  It’s not just about leveling up to make those BiS gloves, but instead it’s about all the useful items we can create.

    I’d also like to see crafters encouraged to travel and interact with the world more.  In too many games, crafting is a thing you do in between adventures – instead of it being part of the adventure.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you should need to descend into a dungeon just to craft (though I like Tragic’s thoughts about having special crafting stations in dangerous places).  What I’m saying is that you shouldn’t be able to progress easily as a crafter if you just stay rooted to one place.  You should have to travel to gain skill and learn new recipes, and you should have to go out in the world if you really want to progress your trade beyond the basics.  There’s lots of ways to achieve this that I can see, but the goal really should be to make crafters feel like what they do is an integral part of the game, and not just a side activity.

     

    Now let’s hear from everyone else!  Post and let us know how you think Pantheon should handle progression in crafting.


    This post was edited by Nephele at November 12, 2018 2:50 PM PST
    • 422 posts
    November 14, 2018 3:03 AM PST

    I would consider a mechanic where crafting gives you xp. But each time you make the same item you gain less and less reward from it. It makes sense in the way that, making that item is becoming less and less challenging for you and thus it should not be as rewarding as the first time you made it. Now that sounds a lot like penalty. If you think how xp gain and leveling works, it actually is quite similar. You need more xp each time you level, each advanced craft gives you more xp but you need even more xp to gain another level. So seeing it from that perspective, my suggestion is not as harsh as you might think. Adding on to that, I would still fit in an achievement system. So if you manage to craft 1000 coarse wooden shields, you'll get a 1 time achievement for it (a title, consumable item or other). This way eventhough you have cut in your own flesh by crafting the same item over and over again, it still can be an achievement. Obviously achievements can be as broad as you want.

    The idea that one would become better at a certain recipe is a nice one. Perhaps it can be linked with one skill or a combination of various craft specific skills.
    For example the easy version would be: first craft= coarse wooden shield +1 block. 10th craft, your woodworking skill improved by 5 and thus your coarse wooden shield now has +5 block. At 20th craft your coarse wooden shield has a maxed out stat of +10 block, because your woodworking skill has improved by another 5 and is maxed out for that recipe.
    The complex version would be: first craft = coarse wooden shield +1 block. You learn a new skill called joinery. 10th craft your woodworking skill increased by 5 and your joinery skill improved by 5. Because of both these skilled reaching skill level 5 your shield now shows +5 block. You again learn a new technique Sharpen Chisel. At 20th craft your sharpen technique has improved by 5 and so did your woodworking and your joinery. This in turn allowed your shield to provide a stat of +10 block. Thereby maxing out the maximum amount of stats available. This purely based on skill points and techniques, picked up along the way. I am not even talking about enchantments, or adornments.
    It could feel like a living story this way. A pathway you're following or finding out at your own pace. It could be that you venture to another starting zone and learn a new technique there. Who knows what sort of combination you can make then. Perhaps your maxed out shield will now have +5 block and +5 mitigation increase...
    Allowing for different techniques to be found in the world, opens up a whole different experience for the crafters. As not every blacksmith on Terminus will grow in the same way, maybe they would not even make the same items depending on their available techniques. This will give a lvl 10 human blacksmith a copper sword with +5 slashing and a lvl 10 dark myr blacksmith a copper sword with +5 damage over time.

    The idea of NPC writs and work orders can still be valuable for me. You still need to be creative to remove the grind factor from it. NPC can start of by asking you to gather resources => later on ask you for a recipe to be found/learned => items to be crafted => items to be placed or installed => skills to be learned => skills to be taught or displayed => items to improve => venture out to inform others of these developments => return to be guided towards more an elite assignment=> gather or sell resources at a certain market or price=> inform the result of the trade and get a reward based on the % of succes of that last assignment. If the last step wasn't 100% to your own or the npc's satisfaction you could retry from a certain stage and adjust where you think you can improve. ALL of this entire story is from that 1 npc giving you so called "writs or work-orders". But by the time you're finished, you've explored the world, you learned skilles, you made items and "worked the markets". For me that's a tasty story for a crafter.

    To prevent things from becoming boring or treadmill-ish. One could tie in the "world of consequences". So instead of having large storylines that you need to follow through, you can have shorter quests with several possible endings. Even for crafters. For example you could choose to hand in less then pristine items, you could try and negotiate or bargin with npc's along a certain quest to get more or better items or even items your initial questgiver didn't ask for. Trying to hand in other items to your first npc, could open up a different quest all together.

    As a crafter in Pantheon I would want to have that desire to become skilled in what I do. So definately there should be skills that improve over time. Different degrees of craftmanship could help me feel satisfied along the way. Watching the outcome of my craft becoming better and better (for example statwise) would also be a proud experience. It makes sense to me that I as a crafter should travel and explore to improve with the goal to become a master at my trade. This could mean that I start in my hometown, venture abroad and end up in my hometown again because my progression has unlocked a tradespecific option/wing within that town. That is at least one of many options.

    I'm not a fan of Best in Slot (BiS) crafting. It limits the loottables and crafting recipes very much. And almost by definition you limit the usefulness of your crafters. As they would only be worth those BiS items they can make. I would rather see, ingame items being altered by crafters based on their skills and crafspecific abilities. (example: blacksmiths can sharpen metallic weapons and thus improve dropped items or crafted items, scribes can enchant magic related items or further down the line even imbue none magic items, tailors can fortify armor etc.) You'll want to bring your looted wooden shield to your guild's woodworkers and ask them, "Hey, what can you do for me with this shield?". Different woodworkers might offer you different boosts. As stated in the streams, and I agree with it, altered items will become no-trade. But I'm derailing here.

    Lastly and perhaps a bit contradictory I would like to say;
    Progression doesn't have to mean, leaving things behind ones you have leveled up. Progression could mean, you're becoming even more valuable the better you get, but you become more Reliant on crafters of lower level. This would have to relate to use of materials and the reward you'ld get as a high level crafter for making low level content. It could be necessary to craft low level content, but it too time consuming for yourself to put in the time or other then the item itself would give you no reward. In this scenario, you'll want to look out for lower level crafter and interact with them. To speed things along as it were. It's a small incentive but it's a win-win situation there with an impact on progression.

    • 269 posts
    November 14, 2018 9:54 AM PST

    Very interesting posts. This exact topic has been on my mind lately as I recently started plyaying Final Fantasy XIV while I wait for Pantheon. I'v been doing a lot of crafting in that game and I really hope that Pantheon's system is much different since FF's crafting system basically encourages you to make a macro and watch TV while crafting. I also find that there is very little reason to interact with other players, in fact, it actively keeps me away from other players as so much time is spent either harvesting or grinding out recipes to level up which are both solo activities in FF XIV. So my hopes for Pantheon crafting are as follows:

    1. A crafting sytem the requires some skill or strategy to accomplish that can't be easily macroed

    2. Some results that are not easily achieved, either through different crafting qualities or through customization (the more customized a piece is, the harder it is to craft)

    3. Does not require repeatedly grinding the same recipe to level up

    4. Encourages player interaction with adventurer's

        On this point I need to clarify. I dislike crafting system's that force crafter interdependance, especially when you are limited to the number of crafting skills you can have on one character as VR has stated will be the case. There is nothing worse than trying to level up and finding you can't because you don't have access to some necessary component from a different crafter.

     

      Some ideas on how to encourage crafter/adventurer interaction.

    A. Through the ability to craft customized gear

    B. Being able to offer small, temporary buffs through crafting (A weapon smith could sharpen weapons so they do a little more damage for a short period or an armorer could bolster armor to provide a little more protection) I understand how balancing these buffs would be tricky but if done right I think crafters could see a steady stream of adventurers looking to get a slight edge out in the world. It would also keep the market from getting flooded with goods.

    C. Similar to above, but consumables that would offer simiar buffs. I would see the consumables requiring more mats to make than the on the spot buffs.

    • 167 posts
    November 16, 2018 6:58 AM PST

    Gonna stay out of this one mostly. As long as it is engaging, it can be simple or complex but must be engaging.

    I can jump on the Diminishing Returns boat though. If you sit at the same crafting location for hours on end instead of maybe exploring the world and other crafting stations in other towns/cities/caves.

    I can get onboard with an idea of the better or higher your crafting skill the more perks (maybe a slightly better sell price with NPCs) or slightly improved perception, a speedier harvest skill, or salvaging skill.

    I do want to see crafted BiS items otherwise crafting is just playing second fiddle to raiding. Not everything for sure but a few things. But the secret is to make crafted items have value at all player levels not just end game.

    Edit: I just had a thought as I posted this. In the event that we have housing, and in the event that we have crafting stations in housing: Diminishing returns or even eventual slowing down (taking longer to make 1 item) occurs if over just a trivial amount of crafting in a house. Why you ask? There are those folks that seem to believe that one must be FORCED to socialize and they are dead set against housing and crafting in housing because it "takes away" from the forced interactions of a city. I am pro housing and if it takes finding a middle ground, so be it.


    This post was edited by Dashed at November 16, 2018 7:09 AM PST