Starfield | Not Wanting Involvement
As someone who enjoys crafting and gathering with a whole host of other mechanics in games. I find many games out there just lack any fun in these kinds of activities. Many times the crafters and gathers are more like the second class citizens. You would even go years of having no real need for them other than an odd item or two. While I understand sometimes you just need 100 generic vials of a base ingredient to craft a potion. Something truly amazing should take time, knowledge and effort by the crafter. Just hitting the crafting button and its now done is so 1990’s.
Crafted Player Economy
One of the things games like Eve Online and Wurm Online have always done an amazing job is making the crafter have importance in the game. Over the years Eve Online has moved from NPC market like a lot of games have to players being able to craft everything or near that. Wurm Online just about everything expects a couple remaining items that can be bought off a trader have to be crafted.
To be able to pull something like that off you really need to ensure no matter what happens the players always have the means to rebuild themselves up and get into crafting on their own. While the game will start you off with a couple of basic tools that is it. From there on out you have to discover where the resources you need to craft upgrades, how to refine them down, and finally assembling them.
The only way to ensure a player created economy game works is by having item durability. Most games make this a nightmare on the players themselves and not even any fun for the crafters. It is either pointless or to the point that you can’t do anything without requiring 100 weapons to do anything as they break every other action. I’m not sure how game developers can go so wrong on so many fronts when implementing such a system into a game.
While a game like World of Warcraft simply allows you to repair all items at certain NPCs for a price in gold. I have no interested in creating a failed gold sink. That is the old school way of trying to create a consequence for deaths or excessive usage of an item. Once a player becomes rich enough the costs are rarely ever relevant again. No one cares if it costs 100 gold to repair all your gear if you have 100k gold. Not to mention many games deploy such measures as a failed economic policy to try and combat inflation. It is really just silly and a pointless annoyance.
Other games you have short durability and afterward you either need an entirely new item or it has such a high cost of repair that you tend to only use your best to make the best. In a game like Conan Exiles, you don’t even want to use your best tools, weapons, or gear unless you have to since they expensive to repair requiring harder to find resources. Makes me think of only taking the fine china dishware out once a year for that special occasion. Otherwise, it sits in a protected container collecting dust. What a waste.
Instead, I want to borrow a little bit from Wurm Online. More importantly how things like hides are treated in some ways. That item itself cannot be improved and while you can’t repair them either outside of magic I’m going ignore that part. It just makes sense you can only repair an item so many times before it’s worthless. Which is what happens to hides in the long term in that game.
As such a hybrid model between the various ways of dealing with durable is needed. One where the player can still repair their own tools and items but there is diminishing returns after a while for doing so. Excess repairing will simply compromise over time the items effeteness in both time usage and the capability of the item. The repair itself will require some of the base materials it took to craft the item. It only makes sense if you are using a metal hammer it should require metal to fix any cracks or other issues in it.
The items themselves would also have different parts of the item fail on them just like in real life. You could swing your hammer so many times while the head of the hammer is a bit dinged up you snapped the handle off the sucker. As such now you need to craft, or repair, or buy from another player a handle to attach to for using it again.
Tools are always important to both the crafter and the gathers out there. It simply would not make sense for a low-quality sowing needle to knit the finest silk wardrobe in all the lands. Sure you could try that and it would be a very tattered item with barely any usability left on it. Which would be a rather waste of expensive material and the player market might not even want to spend on something so poorly made.
One of the more interesting things you will find in some very niche games out there is that fact you need a hammer to improve or craft a hammer. That is quite a mind-blowing revelation to think about that can start one on a tangent of paradoxes and another such thing. The same is true in real life for a blacksmith wanting to make or improve a hammer. Yes, while you could first lash a rock to a stick and call it a hammer. Over time you will have to improve one hammer to be able to better improve or craft the other.
The evolution of your crafting and gathering tools will be very important. A lot of modern day games require you to follow a path they have set out before you. You start off with something like a wooden pickaxe, and then unlock the recipes and move forward into stone. Then you are followed up by metal pickaxe and much deeper resources. I find that model to be a waste of time forcing people to craft up a bunch of items that no longer have any value as everyone had to mass produce them in order to level up and unlock better items.
Instead, if you can discover on your own from trial and error what was needed I don’t see why you should be held back from attempting it. Even if the chance to fail is very high due to having a very low skill and lacking the proper game knowledge and good tools to make it an easier process. Yes, I’m sure many will use the wiki to cheat but that is like a mentor passing down knowledge to a mentee.
While games like Life is Feudal try and combat things like that by making the ingredients you need to craft a potion player specific where everyone else can be different. I find that just kills any lore of the item and if you have real-world knowledge of a herb that just leaves you confused why something used for medical purposes is now creating explosive powder!
While most players will still end up following a certain path in upgrading and improving their own tool that is more of a limitation on them and their own resourcefulness and not the game saying –no. The free market of knowledge and trading can more than allow you to skip ahead. That will also be costly endeavor where the player might not be able to learn how to craft on using much cheaper resources and tools. It will be up the player and the markets to determine the cost of production per item with a few variables in the mix so the player some control over it.
I really like the idea of a workbench or workshop that each crafting profession works from. While I’ve heard about some games going this style I’ve never played one to the extent I would like to see. You should also have to interact with the items to craft them but that will only increase or decrease the quality of the item being produced. It should not be an endless chore either just for the basics in crafting.
Starting off with a bench and seeing it evolve over time into a workshop itself would be the main focal point of crafting. Unlike most games where you just see things on that workbench and don’t do anything with. This game would not only allow you to fill the slots you wanted to but you also had the opportunity to use them.
For instance, in blacksmithing, you would have an area set up just for doing that. In that area, there could be a forge, different kinds of avails, hammer, tongs, water, chisel, and other shaping tools. It could be as basic as using the center of a town with basic already in place like a forge where you bring your own tools. To something far more complex as renting out your own space or having your own player workshop to choose where everything goes and have the flow of workspace you desire.
I could see a player wanting to have a few forges. From low burning heated ones to target certain metals to high heat ones for harder to melt stuff. Even a cooling forge to not damage the product while trying to control the cooldown cycle of the item. There are so many options and ways to go about something as simple as this.
Once an area was set up players liking if they have that option they would need to know how to assemble and craft something. While you could just click an auto craft button and be done. The yield would be basic and you would never create anything amazing from that. Such an option is just for mainly the basics. Why should a player spend 10 hours handcrafting basic crafting supplies when it really does not matter on the end result? Sometimes games just making it really boring for no reason.
When it comes to the important stuff you would prefer to get invoked with the process to yield the best possible items at a better price. This would be in the form of mini-games of assembling or creating the item itself.
A hammer would require you to draw metal from the forge and to shape that lump by hammer it on the anvil to the shape of a hammer. You then would have to create the hole in the metal for a handle to fit into. After that, you would attach a wooden or better handle onto the hammers head. How well you did these would affect the quality and the over the life of the tool or item crafted.
A poor result could be something along the lines of crafting a hammer with a head shaped like a triangle. While putting the hammers head in the middle of the handle instead of the top like any sane person would do! That would yield a very poor quality item that would be near the end of life. You would be lucky to find a buyer on the open market for such a monstrosity of a junk item! Perhaps it's best to just smelt down the metal and toss out the damaged handle and try again.
While there would be over a dozen or so gathering profession there are two I feel would lay the groundwork in how the rest of the game would for gathering. That would be mining and skinning. Both are quite different in how you would approach them and even the tools that could aid you in your journey.
One of the things I miss most about the game Entropia Universe is the mining system. No, you did not go out to a copper node that you could see and swing some pickaxe at it like you would in World of Warcraft. You had to spend resource called probes while using a tool where you set your own risk and depth ranges in what you wanted to target. You had to have knowledge of the resource mining table for an area along with a few other things. It also had a massive drawback of mining frequency which was annoying when you minded in an area that someone within a couple of hours o you already was there.
Instead of having you require a bunch of different finder tools all with different depths I simply would allow the player to set their own range. They could either set a massive range like 1 to 10,000 depth where you give up accuracy to have a wider depth range. On the other hand, allowing a player to target something more in particular that they have prior knowledge about such as a range of 1,000 to 1,500. Where they give up the wider range but have increased accuracy. As a player becomes more knowledgeable of an area they can target what ores and other materials they want better.
There would also be surface mining and cave mining. This would really add some depth to the overall game mechanics of mining in general. During the summer to springtime, you might find it better to surface mine. While during the winter months of snow-filled landscapes you simply would not get a very good reading on the scanner. So, you would go spelunking and have to deal with more confined areas in the caves.
The process itself you would go out and drop probes to scan the area. Once in a while, you would get a hint of something in the area. On the display of your finder, you would see a list of ores that it found. Sometimes there will just be one. Other time there will be a mixture of different ores just like in real life. You then have to take a risk at what you wish to extract first with your drilling equipment.
It would be played out as a bit of mini-game. You look at the screen and see there is a 66% chance you will get the copper and only a 4% risk of the vein you found collapsing and being lost. Meanwhile, you have a 10% chance of recovering the gold but a 50% chance of the vein collapsing. You could get both the copper and the gold but you first have to choose what you wanted to go for. As you are drilling for the resource you also have things like pressure, heat, and possible damage to the drill to take into consideration with how fast or risky you want go in extracting different ores.
The really neat thing about a skill like this is you are not forced just to go farming for hides. You could also focus on the meat or bones, or whatever crafting ingredients you needed from what you killed. You would have a couple of different tools that would be specific to what you wanted to gather. They also would cause damage to other parts and decay what you were farming as well.
I find games like World of Warcraft approach to this to be rather boring. Most games sadly have a similar model. You hunt something, you click gather, you acquire items from the gather loot table for skinning or whatever the gathering profession is. Your skill determines how much of something you get and that is it.
Instead, I want the player to pick what they want to go for. They could either try and move slowly and preserve everything possible and collect it as crafting resources. Perhaps what they are hunting just has one very key crafting ingredient they want. The hide, for example, could be worthless and they just wanted the meat for cooking. As such they would not care about spending the time to preserve the hide they simply would damage and destroy it to collect the meat. They would also want to collect as much meat as possible so damage another gathering area on the target would also not be a concern.
The nice thing here is you would not have to gather alone or even do the gathering part right away. Maybe that day you just wanted to go out hunting. So you take your mode of transportation that can hold a decent amount out and do just that. Along the way, anything you want to gather form, later on, could just be stored in your transportation for a few days. Then you simply bring it back you or a guild member could gather the resource they wanted. This would not be for everything as some raid quality monster would be far too big to bring back with you. You would need a gather on site to do their thing.
This is also just one way to bring hunters and gathers together. You could even try and sell what you hunted to the gathers but there is a shelf life to keep in mind so sales would have to be within a couple of days of each other. This to me is always important to think and understand how to engage different parts of the economy with each other. Not everyone who likes to gather wants to hunt and vice versa.
I’ve already brought up seasons somewhat in mining. They should have an impact on the world and cause different crafting resources to go in and out of season. Create easy of access or hardships to gather amounts and even cause tools to decay faster in harsher conditions. This will also mean the player markets can expect price changes depending on seasons due to overabundance or shortages.
While you could try gathering honey in the winter that really does not make sense. As such your yield amounts would be rather low. On top of that, you are also damaging the ecosystem somewhat since now the bees don’t have enough to make it through the winter. This now means for a while in that area gathering yields will be slightly lower due to a player's actions. While it would be nice to make it server wide or region-wide for everyone that is just opening the door to trolls. Instead, this simply creates incentives for guilds and friends to teach those around them not to do such a thing unless the price is worth it. As they will be the ones affected by that player's actions.
You also might find that certain things are just not growing what so ever during the summer or winter months so there not even an option to gather. While hunting will see certain upticks in pack sizes of creatures to farm during some seasons and a decrease in others.
In the end, this is just one way to add some variables into the economy of the game. Each season, spring, summer, fall, and winter would only last 2-3 weeks. With the warmer months lasting longer and the colder ones last shorter.
While I could go into much deeper detail about all the different crafting and gathering profession and many other things that would make my dream amazing. I feel this just set a decent little ground for something to be built on. Perhaps one day I’ll attempt more than just a post on my thought here.
In the time being they can remains dreams. For all I know such a game is already out there or in the works and I’ve yet to hear about it. There are many similar ones and yet so many just make me disappointed in how crafting and gathering works.
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Content written by @enjar about my dream game. Screenshots were taken by @enjar and the games they were taken from are included below each screenshot. The cover screenshot was taken from a game called Life is Feudal: Your Own.