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Crafter's Roundtable: The Recipe Book UI

    • 1528 posts
    December 11, 2018 7:13 PM PST

    It’s time for another 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.  As part of our new format, 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. Please feel free to agree with us, disagree with us, tell us we're all nuts, react with appropriate expressions of fright or horror to our ideas, or simply tell us what YOU think!

    The question:

    When we think about the crafting recipes we have in most major MMOs, they very clearly lay out for us exactly what we need to make an item. Part of advancing as a crafter is, of course, learning more and better recipes that you can make. We've talked about this topic a couple of times before, but today let's talk about the recipe book itself - that is, the UI element that holds all your crafting recipes and gives you those handy lists of what you need to make an item. How should that window work? What convenience features should it have to make things easy for a crafter, and what things should it *not* have that might make things too easy or too automated?


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

    From Khaleesi:

    Even though, I hope that we will be able to build a very useful database of reference materiel here on Pantheon Crafters, I don't ultimately want to have to remember things and end up looking them up out of game.

    - Certainly, once I've made something, I want to be able to reference it in game to decide what I need to go obtain in order to make it again.

    - Even if it is not part of the 'crafting table' or other similar implement, I would be quite amenable to having the opportunity to learn about potential new provisioning recipes by reading a cook book that I had to travel some distance to obtain.

    - I would even go as far as to say that when I harvest bear liver meat while adventuring, I would be able to inspect the meat and would be cued with a memory that I have used this before or if my provisioning skill is high enough... maybe with some perception mixed in here... I would be able to consider that this liver may make a generous stew if added to broth, carrots, and potatoes.  (a terrible idea in real life, by the way, bear liver has enough vitamin A to kill a person)

    These systems just become too complex and vast.

    I'd rather actually obtain skill at utilizing the crafting equipment and learn new techniques - baking, broiling, boiling, chopping, frying, mincing, sauteing .... and decide how to make something better, rather than just tossing a list of crap into a container and magically having something edible appear.


    From Autherial:

    I would like the recipe book ui to have a good filter or search system. For instance you could put maple in the list and then it would give you a list of what requires maple to make. This would be very useful when looking for what requires a particular rare harvestable. The main feature I would like is purely for aesthetic reasons, I would like the actual recipe to be in a font and stile like cursive maybe, denoting that it was handwritten rather then just typed text.


    From Tragic:

    When I think of a crafting UI, I want to see something that is highly customizable, intuitively organized, and systems in place to prevent someone from botting.

    When I speak of highly customizable, I want to be able to organize my recipes in any order I see fit. First, I would like to have the option to put the recipes at the top that will clearly give me the best chance of gaining skill. Next, there should be a way to choose what recipe order based on my own preference. Another way would be to do alphabetical order to quickly find the item. Having more options for customization would be a great quality of life upgrade for any crafter. As for the intuitive organization, I would also like to see clearly what I can craft and organize based on the materials I possess. Not only enough for the entire craft, but have it where I can sort recipes based on certain ingredients. This would allow crafters to see what can be made based on materials they may have in abundance. When it comes to botting, there have been so many different things tried to avert this. I believe that having to carry all of your materials on the character and limited bag space will have a decent aversion to botting built in. Another way is to have a randomly placed craft button when opening the recipe book. Make it a dual check feature that makes the crafter confirm each craft session with a randomly selected pop-up somewhere on the screen.


    From Trasak:

    My ideal crafting system focuses on a relatively few number core recipes that can then include a myriad of different ingredients sorted by category. The core recipes are really just the final step in the crafting process where you assemble all your components into a finished item. To that end I would have a simple drop down menu attached to your assembly crafting station that will let you slot your ingredients, with both optional and mandatory slots, based on your mastery of that core recipe. I would have basically a crafters encyclopedia accessible from your pseudo inventory that showed you all the core recipes you know and your level of mastery and the different categories of ingredients you can use.

    The sub combines I would like to see much more process driven rather than recipe driven. Depending on your crafting station, starting ingredients, crafting actions and additional ingredients through the process you change raw materials into the worked product. The sub combines you learn and the steps to complete them show up in your personal crafters encyclopedia that you can have open while crafting but does not need to be. As you discover different sub combine stages they are added to your encyclopedia.

    This would make for a really hardcore interactive crafting system without hand holding. The mini games would need to be extensive with a lot of options and opportunities to fail, but hopefully with a way to backtrack without wasting resources.


    From Nephele:

    So, maybe I've been spoiled by some games somewhere but the first thing that jumps out to me is that the recipe book should be searchable and sortable in various ways. Whether that's skill level or resulting item level/tier, materials needed, or something. I almost want to sit down and write user stories for it like "The recipe book needs to make it easy to find recipes that use component X in their construction".

    At the same time, I also want it to be a reference. I'm the kind of crafter that always - ALWAYS - forgets something I needed in the bank. So I would like the recipe book to tell me very clearly what I need to make something. That way when I'm all set to make that uber breastplate of awesomeness, I'm not halfway into the crafting process going "ack, where'd I put the leather straps!"

    I totally agree with Autherial about look and feel - I would love for it to actually look like a crafter's journal, with little sketches and notes scrawled in the margins. Not just yet another window full of icons. There's a balance here between form and function but I feel like instead of it being a window, it should "feel" like a book that our character keeps their crafting notes in. It would be very cool to see that pulled off.

    Finally, both Khaleesi and Trasak touched on making recipes less about "combining" items and more about using tools and methods to manipulate them. So it's not enough just to have that clump of ore for your breastplate - you have to smelt it to remove the impurities, then cast it into sheets, and then hammer those into the right shapes. Like a lot of people, I tend to think about final assembly when I think about recipes, but I totally support and agree with what they're saying too - and, if Pantheon crafting is at least partly based around learning techniques that allow you to manipulate materials, then I think the recipe book should play a role in that too. Even if it's just to help you remember that to smelt coldark steel properly, you need one part whitefire coal for every three parts shale coal in the smelter.


    Now let’s hear from all of you! Post and let us know how you think Pantheon's Recipe Book should work!


    This post was edited by Nephele at December 11, 2018 7:19 PM PST
    • 1528 posts
    December 11, 2018 7:17 PM PST

    Just as a note, when this thread was posted on Pantheon Crafters, there were two links in the body of the text that for some reason didn't come across here.  It's something wierd about the post editor for these forums.  If you'd like to see the other two discussions that we linked to (about crafting recipes), here are both of them.

    • 422 posts
    December 12, 2018 1:53 AM PST

    Let's start of by not calling it a UI-window but a Book. (you'll see why in the arguments below)

    I agree with Autherial concerning the appearance or overall look of 'Recipe book or craftrelated tomes'.
    So far, an adventure skill or ability book looks a lot fancier then a crafting book.
    What I've encountered up till now, is that when it comes to recipe books it quickly turns into a plain pc-program appearance. Very dry and with not much dept into it.
    So yes, change the choice of lettertype (perhaps allow option for player to choose one themselves?), colour and background of the book, sound when opening the book or turning pages.
    A crafting ability book or section could be usefull if the dev's go as far to develop craftingtechniques. This should be a book aside the recipe book itself.

    The UI should allow to change size, shape, transparancy. Perhaps, this could be made, so that you end up with an action costumized recipe book that you can use from your inventory? As if you have written it yourself. It's just a template or selected version of the entire recipe book, or the layout is just specific to your likings. Or beyond the common lay-out and pages of the recipe book, there is room to add eddited versions. (Similar to how eq2 allowed players to edit and store several versions of their aa-trees.) (see video example below, after 57 seconds in the movie)
    www.youtube.com%2Fchannel%2FUC-D3513RKiv0RmULLTst5XA&hash=0e1be2e2036c470dafa2e91ecbdc2d65" target="_blank">SharpTony Explaining Alternate Advancements in EverQuest 2

     

    So the reason of linking this video is to show, that it is possible to design, costumizable "empty books" for players. So think about this in our crafting setting here.

    BUT if possible I'll divert here.
    Why are we not sticking to actual books becoming visual? With pages and a nice looking bookmark?
    Perhaps you could change the style of your book's appearance. (leatherbound, colour, choice of bookmark, lettertype)
    *Example see video below at 4.10 from an ESO example of add on questjournal ui.
    www.youtube.com%2Fchannel%2FUCrVBB-ecSJdwHGYH264c6mA&hash=5dc75264cf06a15b5c628465bfe2e5aa" target="_blank">Miss Bizz Harven's Quest Journal | ESO Addon Spotlight | Elder Scrolls Online Best Addons

     


    Yes, one should be able to search quickly and easely in their books.
    However, the use of tabs, although handy, is NOT something that feels natural. I have NEVER used tabs when searching a recipe in a book in real life. So please, be creative here !!
    There are many options to make it different:
    One of them would be to have a Table of Content at the beginning. And page numbers on the side of the book or chapter names.
    Just like in real life books (who would have thought eh?!). From the Table of Content, one could click on a word and it could directly take you towards a list with recipes that use that word. Or even better, it shows which 'page' it's on and you can click on a chapter/section on the side of the book. This feels very much like I'm actually turning pages. (Many of us recall this experience perhaps when reading online documents or e-books.) MMO's already use something similar for their questjournals...so it's nothing new here. (check 2.17 in this video for example of a tome)
    Quest Design - I: Why Many MMOs Rely on Repetitive Grind Quests - Extra Credits https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otAkP5VjIv8&t=137s

     


    Another method to search, is by dragging a resource item onto a location and from there on, a list of recipes or themes of chapters will become visible. I prefer the chapter thing, as it still works from the Table of Content suggestion. Because it (for me) would feel a lot more natural. And the search for a certain item or recipe would feel much less like a I'm using Microsoft Word or Excell. It gives me the sensation that I'm actually reading in my book, rather then working behind a pc.
    This might seem a detail, but think about what a different experience one would have.

    I agree with @Tragic here, that there should be some mechanic that avoids botcrafting as much as possible. This could indeed be by using pop ups that players need to answer before starting the craftsession. Ideally, this message would still make sense while you're reading your recipe book and start crafting. So it doesn't take you out of that experience.

    From what I gather from Trasak suggestion, I can agree up to the point where one has subcategories based on some core recipes. I would however not go for drop-down menu's..you just don't have that in books. Sorry. But perhaps one can use Icons/emblems on the side of the recipe book. So if a blacksmith opens its recipe book, they can choose based on the Sword Icon...yes I want to create some kind of sword. From there on, his chapter about swords comes into view. And again with icons/emblems, they can view different subcomponents or ingredients that are known to them. (Things might expand as they learn new advanced recipes or new materials or subcomponents. Similar to new spells or abilities in your knowledgebook for adventuring.) If they are in the Chapter: Swords. The book could still show subcomponents that they might buy from npc's or other crafters, items that a blacksmith can not create. There is no harm in that.
    Personally, I don't see, why there couldn't be a section/chapter called Subcomponents in my recipebook. This could be linked using the Table of Content and could be present at end/front of every chapter (core recipe) or it could be a chapter on its own at the end of the book. It would make sense to have it in every chapter though. This would be similar to what one finds in actual crafting books in real life.. You read about techniques or items one should make or have before continueing to the next pages in your real life crafts book. Eventually, you get to the creation of actual items, dishes etc. So yes, it makes sense to have this subdivision and knowlege in the recipe book AND within proximity of the related recipe.

    @Nephele I actually like the fact that you can forget to bring some ingrediënt. As I'm proud when I don't forget. In a way that too, makes a Master Crafter. They just know their recipe thoroughly. Of course at some point it should be Obvious what is required for a certain item/recipe. I'ld say, allow recipe books to be open even when away from the craftstation. That could solve your problem already.
    Lastly, perhaps techniques could ones again, have their own chapter in your recipe book. And by use of bookmarks/icons..the crafter can turn to the page of that technique. From there on, the crafter can view what outcomes are known to them based on this technique.

    A wild suggestion here; Let's have a section were the player can add pieces of parchements. So as they explore and find bits and pieces of recipes...they can add them into their book. When they found all pieces of the recipe, it can be "transformed/translated" into a genuine recipe. This could be a nice aspect of tradeskill and exploration. It gives an element of discovery, progression, direction to crafting. I'm not talking solely about; let's make a quest where one needs to find all pieces. No, these pieces can already be "written down" into their recipe book. So players might have various pieces of different recipes written down, but uncompleted. It could be a motivation and overview of what's still undiscovered. In the end, it could feel that the player has actually "written" the recipe themselves. That's a nice feeling of achievement, I'ld say. A proud moment and possibly unique compared to players with the same craft.

    What do you think about that?


    This post was edited by Barin999 at December 12, 2018 1:55 AM PST
    • 11 posts
    December 15, 2018 3:54 PM PST

    So.  Just brainstorming here.  It seems like you can go the route of making it and UI or making it true to immersion.    My real life "crafting books"  are organized basically in the order that I learned to do things.  A few pages reserved in the front for an index and then start to finish how to make the thing.  Starting with raw material prep, including options for different treatments (harder and stiff or soft and pliable) all the way down to how to dye, lace, and seal it.    The next recipe in the book is how to make leather gauntlets and half gauntlets.  After that is the hardened leather coat of plates.  Once I have a bunch of recipes and notes in a book I might start a new book and transer the recipes and notes to a new book.  I might change the order they are in, add or expand on existing sections as I learn new techniques and methods (Wax hardening with different blends of wax, immersion in hot wax vs brushing melted wax on and heating) so on.....

    Maybe make the book an actual item.   A book with all your sword recipes in it.  One for all your leather armors.  Maybe make recipes transcrible to scrolls to sell or transfer into other books. Or magic em so when you transcribe it onto a scroll it disappears from the origional book.  How combersome that gets would depend on how many recipes there are.  In Vanguard there were relativley few recipes and the variations came in using different mats (different mat for each stat or special ability).  In FF14 it would be ridicilous to do in that manor though due to the number if recipes. The tangable book method would be great for immersion but maybe not great for utility.

    If we are going for utility:  Searchable by key words, ingredients, item type, item level or level range if things are organized by tiers.  Links from one recipe to the next recipe you would need in the item creation chain (refiening to finishing so to speak).   Don't make us drag the trash consumables to the table every time.  That just gets irritating.  In Vanguard we just made a macro to do it for us.  Lets skip that part and just have it do it.  Maybe an indicator on the recipe of the mats you have and are missing (blue for have, red for missing).  

    Know what would be really cool?  Being able to make a "Shopping List" Quest.   Tag one or more recipes you want to make and it pops up a "quest" tracker with the items you need and how many you have of each.

    Ok.   I think thats all I got for now.


    • 422 posts
    December 15, 2018 9:03 PM PST

    @Thothmose I like your suggestion about the recipes. 

    Perhaps it could be an option to scribe a recipe from your permantent/general recipe book. From there the player can choose to sell that recipe or if it's player-bound, they could have the option to make their very own recipe book. Selling recipes could make you as a crafter less desirable ingame though.

    That's a lovely idea.