Crafting sucks?

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by V_Aero, Jun 9, 2019.

  1. Touchfuzzy

    Touchfuzzy Rantagonist Staff Member Lead Eagle

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    I love crafting systems. I've liked them in most games that have them.

    My favorite two are probably Skyrim and Dragon Quest XI.

    Skyrim's crafting system is super open with enchanting. You could make gear with the enchanting system that was very unique to your character. Smithing was fairly linear, but it was always the path to the strongest weapons/armor you could have available at the time.

    Dragon Quest XI's crafting generally the crafted items were the best equipment you could have at whatever point you were in the game, and in addition to that, was the only way to get +1-+3 Items. For items you found/bought, or ones you had made that were a lower plus, you could always use perfection pearls to try again to get a higher pluses. In addition, it had a really fun minigame associated with it.

    Also, the thing you are missing @Tai_MT is that making enemies drop materials gives the player choice.

    If you have 3 metal ore and 1 beast hide, and you can make a helmet and a belt with it, or a chest piece, then you get a choice in what equipment you are getting.

    If I just make enemies drop it, its no longer a choice, its just "Here, have this".

    And a lot of games let you buy crafting materials, just probably not the highest end crafting materials. I know in DQXI there is actually a point where you can buy the materials for Feather Hats, and that the Feather Hats actually sell for more than you can buy the materials for.

    In addition, isn't most of RPG challenge just busy work? Isn't going to that extra dungeon busywork? Aren't most encounters busy work? Grinding is busywork?

    Might as well just make the game a straight line to the boss where everything you need is handed to you on the way.

    Crafting gives a lot of player choice, and another form of player progression outside just XP/Gold. When implemented correctly (and very few games do it actively badly), it let's people choose where they want the resources they find to go.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019
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  2. Milennin

    Milennin "With a bang and a boom!" Veteran

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    Outside of Minecraft, which isn't an RPG, I can't recall playing a single game in which I enjoyed crafting. Sure, there's been games I found it to be tolerable, but usually it's just a pain. Too much item clutter. Too much menu browsing. Too much stuff to keep track of. Either too simplistic that it's super linear and items might as well be sold in the shop, or too complicated with a bunch of useless stuff to make it seem like there is a lot to make, but in reality, only a fraction of those items are worth making.

    Not sure how I would do crafting, if I had to make it in my RPG, and not make it suck, to be honest. I think having a visual aspect would be cool, like if you could mix armour pieces together for a unique look (and maybe stat variations), but that wouldn't be very doable in RPG Maker or work out well on tiny sprites in general.
     
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  3. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    The thing I like in FO4 crafting system is it has a lot of quality of life (even I wish Starbound, a game that focused on crafting, has a similar feature). You go out to explore the world and you can highlight the important item you want. If you're lacking oil, just mark the material and any material that has oil component will be highlighted. Additionally, you can just lump together the junk items in any of your settlement, as long as it's connected to the trade route, the item will be available to all of your settlement regardless of where you placed it. Not to mention, you get exp when doing crafting, so more reason to craft something regardless whatever I craft. Most of the game doesn't even bother to let you gain exp while doing crafting. Well, some do, but they're mostly like EXP exclusive for crafting for a tiered item. As far as I know, there was never been this quality of life in any crafting system in a game out there.

    Skyrim was good, but I ignore a lot of alchemy crafting because it gets tedious fast. I only enjoy customizing my gear enchantment because it's only one time craft. Same goes to Kingdom of Amalur. It lets you put something on the weapon socket. But somehow, I don't really consider that as a "crafting". It is more like ... weapon customization?

    Also, another thing I hate from crafting is when I need material crafted in another station. And there was no indicator on where I craft that material in the game. It's either I need to figure out where it creates it by checking one by one or just quit the game and read the wiki. Frankly, I hate the guessing game, "guess where you get these materials". Just give me the location. I don't mind grinding the material, after all, that is what I do in games, just don't make me guess. Oh, I also hate when the item drops by chance. Which was the reason why I quit a lot of online games.
     
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  4. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    If you want to have the enemies drop the items as well as another way to get those crafting materials (I prefer purchasing them), I don't mind that at all. But only having those items drop from only those monsters...

    Enforced grind?

    Thanks, but no thanks. I have better things to do with my time.

    This assumes the game with the crafting system has those options. Several that I've played have materials useful for about half a dozen items, and then those crafting materials fall into obsolescence. And those are the systems that are GENEROUS. The vast majority, however, let you use materials to build 1 item... maybe two... then you don't use those resources again. Because building the same item for 4+ people is already enough of a grind.

    On top of which, no player is going to "make the choice" there. They're going to make the helmet, the belt, and the chest piece. The only difference is in what order they do it. On top of which, they're going to do it for every character they have, provided the equipment is better than anything you can obtain at that point. I don't know a single player who would ever choose one option over another and then keep moving. They'll stick around, grind the materials, so they can craft every option, for every character. Because that is what the Crafting Design tells them that they should do.

    So, even with a party of 4 people... you're looking at grinding 27 Iron ore and 9 Beast Hides. How much combat is that? Is it more or less than if you'd just let me buy the materials and craft the items in town?

    The same could be said of your crafting material drops. "Here, have this, you can use it to craft the gear I expect you to have at this point in the game. You aren't going to get drops for superior crafting materials to make broken or OP stuff". Literally the same thing, except with a Crafting System... It's far more steps for the player to get to the same place, with more enforced grind, and little actual "the player feels good about doing this, and it's fun" reward.

    I haven't seen many games allow me to buy crafting materials. Except, of course, the handful that allow you to buy the stuff that's worthless after Level 10 or so. At which point... why bother even teasing the player? Just let me buy all your crafting materials if I have the money to do so. Seriously, it doesn't hurt your game at all to let me do this. In fact, it makes your currency actually valuable, and makes me actually use it beyond getting the next set of gear in the shop and moving along, to hoard hundreds of thousands of Gold Pieces at the end.

    If your RPG Challenge is "busywork", I'm not sure what to tell you. I do not recommend designing any aspect of a game to be "busywork". I recommend designing aspects of your RPG to be engaging with clear goals and desired player behavior in mind. Combat for the sake of combat, to be busywork... is bad combat. Ideally, your combat should engage the player. Going through the storyline should serve the purpose of providing an enjoyable journey with a satisfying conclusion. If you design it, your dialogue, your quests, and your NPC's as "busywork", then you need to work harder. They should not be busywork. Hire a writer if you have to. Hire actual people to design your quests if they're just "busywork", so maybe they can be more than that.

    As for handing everything to the player along the way... That's literally what 90% of all RPG's do. Here's some free consumables in chests you never have to buy. More than you'll ever need! Here's a dedicated healer that's so powerful, you'll never need to use consumables and never be in danger of losing the game unless the dev put in some unfair nukes on their bosses! Here's a ton of money you'll never spend, so you'll never have to worry about being able to afford the best equipment in the game! Here's all the best equipment in the game just sitting around in chests in each dungeon, to make the dungeon design "interesting"! Here's all the best skills in the game to let you steamroll any and every enemy so that no challenge exists! Just mash attack to win!

    Giving the player crafting ingredients for grinding enemies as the only means to obtain this stuff does not "denote" challenge any more than everything I just listed above. It is pure and simple busywork for the sake of it.

    As a player, I engage in grind on my own terms. Namely, if I'm enjoying your story, I will spend a few hours gaining extra levels to steamroll your content, so I can get to the parts I care about. If you are telling me, "if you want to craft, you have to grind enemies", then I don't want to do that in your game. I do not want to be FORCED to grind. Leave grinding up to my choice. If I don't want to spend money on your crafting materials, maybe I'll go grind them. Because, hey, maybe I want a few levels too. But, if I don't care, and already have the levels, just let me buy what I need so I can move along to the parts of your game that are actually engaging and interesting to me.

    As for player choice... yes, if the crafting system gives you choice, I'm all for that. Most, do not. My initial post advocates for all the things you shouldn't do with a crafting system and all the things you should do in order to promote player choice. If your crafting system actually offers me choices, I may enjoy engaging with it. I've yet to interact with a Crafting System that offers any kind of real choice. Some are pretty handy at faking that choice, but none offer actual choices. Not from indie devs. Not from AAA devs. Not even from MMO's, where they can play a lot more fast and loose with crafting rules and roles.

    The choice offered by a Crafting system is literally, "do you want decent equipment? Go fight monsters for an hour, the come back here, and navigate some menus for 5 minutes to get it". It is the same as simply decreasing XP gains to a player to force them to kill monsters for a while so that they can tackle the next section. It isn't something done interesting. It's typically a more convoluted system than the default systems we already use in game. Namely the XP/Gold system you think isn't as interesting as Crafting. Crafting is pretty much the same system, except done to a worse and less streamlined degree with excess busywork.

    Why would any player want to grind a third, fourth, fifth, thirtieth currency to make progression? We already have two. XP and Gold. Why would I want to also have to grind Iron Ingots, Leather, Bronze Ingots, Hardened Leather, Magic Crystals, etcetera on top of those two currencies? Especially when those currencies become obsolete the further you get into the game?

    XP never goes obsolete. Currency only goes obsolete in RPG's designed without gold sinks (namely, designed not all that great).

    I prefer Crafting Systems that give me actual choices. Not the fake kind of "do I want a helmet or a belt". But, the kind like, "Do I want a Helmet that has +3 Speed or a Helmet that has +3 Attack? My character can only equip one of these... and they offer the same defense... but require a slightly different crafting recipe for each..."

    I also prefer a crafting system wherein the crafting materials I get at the beginning of the game are as useful all through the game, even up to crafting the best equipment in the game. If they are not... why bother? I'll skip all your crafting until the end of the game, when I need a small amount of materials to get the best stuff... only grind for that, get the equipment, and beat your game, with my comment on the crafting system being, "I didn't really bother with it."

    At least with a dungeon to kill monsters and get to the end in, for guaranteed loot, these are often optional to an extent. They don't require grind all that much. They offer the promise of something new to explore, mysterious equipment you've never seen or heard of before, a boss you've never fought before, and maybe some neat story. A crafting system only offers, "Here's some new currencies to craft the end game stuff".

    There's no mystery about it. No sense of wonder or exploration. Just a checklist.

    Milk, Bread, Eggs.
    Sort of feels like a grocery list.
     
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  5. Touchfuzzy

    Touchfuzzy Rantagonist Staff Member Lead Eagle

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    Crafting encourages players to explore and diversify the areas they travel to. If you can buy all crafting materials, the ONLY thing people need to do to progress is find the place that gives the most gold and the most exp and grind that one spot. Even worse if there is some trick that gives you WAY more money or XP, then those two things become the only worthwhile thing to do, and anything else starts feeling like a waste of time.

    Having to go to other places and having to find specific enemies breaks up the monotony of just doing the same things over and over to progress your characters.

    You say you want choice in how you grind, but removing one system that lets you grind and saying "ONLY GOLD AND MONEY" removes a third option. (And I've generally found that most crafting systems let me progress FASTER strength wise than gold and xp do if I pay attention to them)

    Also, crafting in Skyrim gives you a MASSIVE amount of choice. Enchanting in Skyrim is bonkers open in choice.
     
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  6. Lornsteyn

    Lornsteyn Sleepy Dragon Veteran

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    I dont like crafting, there should be always a way to buy most of the material you need.
    Hated the crafting in Monster Hunter and only did it in Skyrim if I couldnt find the stuff in shops or elsewhere.
    Have no problems with simple crafting, but If I need to go to 6 different region to find stuff, no thanks.
     
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  7. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    @Touchfuzzy

    I don't want "choice in how I grind" as you describe it. The choice I want in grinding is whether or not I decide to do it. When it becomes enforced (as in your example, where it gives you the best gear), then it's grinding for the sake of grinding. It exists to artificially inflate play times of your game at that point. "Deep" crafting systems don't really exist. They're linear "grind constantly" affairs that over-level you quite often for the content you're doing. So, by and large, you've got a ton of gold you're not using anyway.

    I want alternatives to the "go grind mobs" system of crafting. Why? Because it's primarily VERY BORING gameplay. Tell me, who plays an RPG and says, "Yep, I want to play this game because I get to click on rocks for an hour!". Nobody. That's who. It's why the only people who engage in Crafting in MMOs do so as a means to obtain a lot of money... by selling crafting supplies and finished products to people who don't want to do the crafting. In a singleplayer RPG... you lose that. It doesn't exist. In a singleplayer RPG, the only reason to do crafting is "because the dev is forcing you to engage with it in order to be more powerful". Not because, "It's fun". Not because "it's interesting". Not because "it's deep and engaging". No. You must interact with it, because otherwise, you'll be undergeared. You'll grind monsters for either levels or for materials to craft with. Enforced grind all around.

    Also, the "enchanting" system in Skyrim is NOT the crafting system. Enchanting in Skyrim is akin to just socketing jewels in every other RPG. It is limited in its usefulness except in certain builds as well. I never found that enchanting my weapon was worthwhile in Skyrim. Charges run out too fast if you want something powerful, and if you want charges to last a long time, the damage dealt is negligible at best. The only enchants really worth putting on any of your equipment is things that increase your skills. Sneak enchants... combat skill enchants... etcetera. I didn't even bother doing this until I already had the best gear in the game, because the enchants are so weak unless your level is 100 in Enchanting in the first place. Besides, Skyrim only ever allows you to reduce all incoming damage by 80%. So, at some point, even defensive enchants and really high crafting to improve equipment becomes worthless.

    As for "having to go to other places". What keeps the dev from having the player to go to other places to seek out people who sell the materials? What keeps you from doing that? Nothing, you say? Then why aren't you doing that? Why is it, "go to this location to seek out new monsters for new materials" and not, "go to this new location because you like exploring and want to see what's there, and leave when you're done"? Why is the only answer, "go to this new location, and stay here longer than you wanted to, because you need these mats to even make this trip worth it"? I don't understand that type of philosophy. There is nothing that keeps you from putting a shopkeeper anywhere in your game. At the end of a dungeon to sell you mats... Near the entrance to sell you those new mats... In a town near the new location... Nothing at all to keep you from letting the player buy your mats except stubborn refusal to allow it. And why is there stubborn refusal to allow it? "It makes the game too easy". Oh? Does it? Wouldn't that be a problem of how your crafting system is designed and not a problem of whether or not you can trade mats for money you can't use? Wouldn't that mean your Crafting System is strictly linear with tiers and is thus a pointless system that adds busywork to a game? Especially one which could replace that busywork by just having the player earn the weapons and equipment after tough fights instead? Eliminating all grind?

    The player is already going to go to other places in your game. That's what players do. People typically play an RPG to explore and get a story. They aren't playing it for the combat. I don't know very many people who boot up an RPG and go, "Man, I just want to engage in the combat!". Most often than not it's about the exploration and the story. If you tell a player, "Hey, there's a mysterious cave over at X location", the player will go. To check it out. To satisfy morbid curiosity. You don't need a silly hook like, "There's a specific monster there you need to find and kill to get a specific crafting material to make this specific weapon". Players are already engaging in that behavior WITHOUT a crafting system. "A new location. There's probably a boss there and a lot of good treasure. I'm going to go." Bam, done. No crafting system necessary. No "Hunt specific monster using RNGesus" required.

    As for the comment about finding the most gold and XP and only grinding that one spot... Players do that regardless of if you have a crafting system or not. Because, frankly, levels are faster than getting crafting materials... People don't really grind gold in an RPG because after the early game, you'll never spend it all. Even if you didn't grind. Most devs don't install enough Currency Sinks into their game (or any at all). Have you ever beaten an RPG with less than 500,000 Gold? I haven't. It just sits in my pocket for most of the game. Each new shop is just, "i'll buy everything I need and move on" and I'll get all that money back in the next 15 encounters in the next dungeon.

    Now, imagine you can sink some of that money by allowing players to purchase crafting materials. They could buy the items in the shops... which might be inferior or not specialized for 500 Gold a piece... or they could craft the specialized items themselves for free.... or they could buy the crafting materials to craft the specialized items themselves for about 800 gold per piece of equipment. Sure, it might be easier on your wallet to just go grind the monsters... But... what if I don't care, 'cause I've got the money? Well, then I can skip your grind, spend the extra money, sink it, make it useful in your game, and keep moving along.

    I'm not sure why you keep thinking that buying the materials is some kind of bad design choice. It's actually a very good one. If you don't have the money, you can't buy the materials. If you don't want to spend the money, you can go grind the monsters. You are trading money for time. Something that a lot of players are quite happy to do in real life, with real money. Moreover... in a system that allows you to trade your currency for the crafting materials... When the player goes out to grind the money they want, they're also simultaneously grinding the crafting materials as well. They're engaging in the same grind, regardless. Except now, currency is valuable, and if the player has enough of it, they can trade it for the materials they need. Even better? If you can sell your old crafting materials you're no longer using, you can effectively turn them into money, then turn that money into the newer and more useful crafting materials. It's a built-in upgrade system that also eliminates clutter from your inventory.

    What's the argument against doing this, again?
     
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  8. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    @Tai_MT : Why do you assume all crafting is go grind it for hours? Why can't it be here's a finite economy of items you can craft with, choose what to make with it? Then it goes back to touchfuzzy's example of here are 3 ingredients, choose whether to make the helm, the shield, or the sword with them, but you have to choose well as you will never get the other items.

    In that case your argument about going back and grinding enough for everyone doesn't apply, as in that case there is only those items, choose what to do with them, but your choice will lock you out of the other choices forever.

    Oh, and as to who would just go on and not stop to grind the other items, hello!
     
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  9. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    Because I've never seen a crafting system not do these things. I've never seen a crafting system only give you a "finite amount of items and pick something you want to craft with them, 'cause you'll never get more". Never seen that. Ever. Also, Touchfuzzy never said that's what kind of system he was talking about. So... unless he wants to clarify that what you mentioned is specifically what he was talking about...

    We'll have to fall back on the whole, "Every Crafting System operates this way, so the example is simply shoved into the way all crafting systems are designed since no exceptions or caveats were ever specified".

    Perhaps. Or, players will do the other thing they commonly do in such a situation... The best equipment goes on their favorite (see also, Most Overpowered) character and everything crafted will be for them. Which means... it's not really a choice at that point, but still an "illusion of choice". The player won't have to think long and hard about it using your example either. They'll make the item they'd planned to make, for the character they'd planned to use, right from the start.

    I mean... crap, that's what EVERYONE did in Chrono Trigger. Oh, you can make X or Y with the Rainbow Shell, what do you want? Pretty much everyone picked equipment for Chrono. It wasn't a hard decision. Defense equipment for Lucca and Marle? Why? Who cares? It's decidedly not worth wasting the materials on stuff for them. Not when Chrono can easily 1 shot everything and Defense isn't an issue.

    I suspect you'd run into the same thing in such a system. Namely, the character perceived as "the strongest" or "most overpowered" will get equipment crafted for them, and everyone else will get it as "hand me downs" if they can, and there isn't going to be a real choice there. Just a pretty spiffy illusion of one.

    While there are exceptions to every rule... An exception does not negate the rule. You'd be one of the few who would play that way. Most everyone else likes to "min/max" and "feel powerful". Which is... in essence, the fun part of combat in an RPG. The power fantasy. Without it... combat feels less fun and engaging.

    I think most players stop and get all the new equipment they can get before moving on. Because, frankly, it makes the game easier to play. It makes boss fights not as hard as they could be. It reduces overall frustration in a game.

    It is what it is.
     
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  10. Kupotepo

    Kupotepo Fantasy realist Veteran

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    Is everyone here write an essay? I think your ideas are good, so you might want to write in a tutorial.
    My response would be the characters are hoarders with unlimted stroge. What do you expect?When a crafting system becomes annoying , it is when you collect hard owned items and then crafting unsuccessful.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019
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  11. empresskiova

    empresskiova Untitled Project1 Veteran

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    A lot of whether crafting is worth it just depends on the theme of your game.

    In the Elder Scrolls series you’re supposed to be whatever fantasy trope you want to be. An Alchemist, Enchanter, etc. Blacksmithing never made much sense to me (even in Morrowind days when it was used to keep gear in combat ready order) but it is what it is.

    In Minecraft its literally the name.

    In the Fallout series, its a skill that can help keep you alive in the unforgiving wasteland. Surely someone was smart enough to boil Cactus Juices to make clean drinking water. Settlement building in Fo4 was a bit of a stretch, but sort of made sense. The Player was from
    a civilized time, it makes sense they’d want to carry that over into post apocalyptic boston.

    Games that do crafting or “crafting-lite” should have a good reason why it’s a thing. Dragon Age Inq basically pulls the masters of their trades to your cause, so a blacksmith who gets you super weapons makes sense. Dragon Quest letting you plop a scythe and a tail into an alchemy pot doesn’t make much sense, but that series is kooky in its own ways anyways.

    In my next project (whenever I get a working computer), I’ll be using lite crafting. It’s in the post apocalyptic world a la Fallout, so the logic is there (why *wouldn’t* you make something that might potentially help you not die?). But, I’m just keeping it to really simple things that anyone can reasonably make, like Molotovs from Liquor/Oil or Bayonets for rifles from Scrap Metal. That and repairing broken guns. Everything is old and worn down, so it makes sense your firearms will need some TLC. There will be a few things that are unique to the crafting-lite experience, but mostly that’s stuff is just for fun. It helps that there’s only a few crafting materials too. ;)
     
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  12. ShadowHawkDragon

    ShadowHawkDragon Veteran Veteran

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    Just to add, I'd recommend taking a look at the Atelier series.

    These are games where crafting has been grafted into a significant part of the core gameplay loop (explore -> fight -> gather -> craft -> explore).

    The main thing to note with these games is that recipes are not the standard, 3 dryad leaves + 2 bee stingers. But rather, any 3 'nature' + any 2 'insect' materials. Which materials you use can also potentially effect the outcome due to elemental affinities and ingrained (inheritable) traits.

    All in all the crafting systems the Atelier series use are more like a puzzle in balancing material type for their elements (needed to unlock certain effects of the newly made item) and the ingrained traits on the individual item (random when first gathered). It effectively becomes a management mini-game where you craft earlier items with the desired traits, even combining them into new traits, only to use those items in another recipe to pass traits further down the line into something that normally wouldn't be able to acquire them from its base materials.
     
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  13. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    I wouldn't call the Atelier games though shining examples of how to do crafting, as the last two I've played were set up in such a way that if you didn't have the PERFECT equipment with the absolute best traits in the entire game you had 0 chance of winning the last couple boss battles to complete the plot. And getting those perfect equipments turned into a grindfest of try to get his and hope it has this trait, which is exactly what @Tai_MT is talking about, grind all day until you just happen to get it because the RNG finally loves you.
     
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  14. ShadowHawkDragon

    ShadowHawkDragon Veteran Veteran

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    Well I didn't say they were 'shining' examples, they have their flaws by all means and I was referring more towards mid-game than end. A faulty finish does not make the entire system redundant, rather think of it as an example of how any semi-decent system can be ruined by bad end-game pacing with forced stat maxing (especially if rng is involved).
     
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  15. encapturer

    encapturer Veteran Veteran

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    With Atelier's end game, I find that you only need perfect gear if you wanted to do the "Post Game" dungeons, which were not required to finish the game (I really only played Iris 3, Mana Khemia Series, Annie, Arland Series, and Dusk Series). It'd be like complaining that the post-game Sphere Grid in FFX made characters too alike, ignoring how one uses it in normal gameplay, before reaching the post game. So instead, I'll go ahead and extol the virtues of my favorite crafting systems. ShadowHawkDragon already noted a few, so I'll expand of some and add a few more here, in hopes of showing what crafting systems could be - and maybe give ideas to people interested in doing their own.

    1) You make personalized stuff. You don't just make an item, these items gain features - they even have a general "quality value" that shows how good of a job you did, that affects how well the item functions. Outside of starter gear and a few raw materials, the player is in full control. Do you want your sword to flat extra damage or extra damage specifically to birds? Are you fine with a healing salve that's just *really good* at healing a person, or do you prefer it to heal a bit of MP on the side? Do you want an armor that has nothing going for it other than the fact that it is really pretty, significantly raising its selling price? Or maybe you want to make a bigger container for that salve so you can use it more times before it empties? This does scale into bigger and better traits as you get further into the game, and you don't feel like the game is just handing you the items. You put in the legwork, correctly make the submaterials, and you too can forge your very own elixir - that fully heals the entire party's HP and MP, revives them if they are dead, has infinite uses, and also automatically activates if your main character gets hit by an attack. But it won't be easy.

    2) Crafting is the only way. Out in the world, you'll only find materials for the most part. Sometimes you'll find actual usable items, but they'll usually be plain compared to the stuff you can make yourself. Recipes are the real treasure out there, and they expand what items you are able to craft. This goes for gear as well, though they often allow you to use your old gear pieces as materials for the new one, letting you keep the best parts of your old equipment. Many side quests have you making items for others - after all, *you* are the item shop. And as noted, nothing is set in stone, so it is up to the player to determine how to make those pies the lady down the way needs for a party.

    3) Engaging crafting system. You don't just pick the item you want to make, add some ingredients, and out pops an item. The (more involved) games give you an entire crafting RPG inside your battle RPG. Your level determines how much 'mp' you have for your skills, which you learn as you level up as well. You level by crafting harder and harder items. You have crafting 'gear' - homemade, of course - which increases you effectiveness. Your skills can do simple things like make the resulting item higher quality, to manipulate the traits going to said item, to cloning that item. You set out to make one sword, but now you have three. Some early items may have hidden traits that you can't unlock early on due to your inexperience - just come back when you are better. Most likely that trait is something useful for the items at your current level.

    4) The clock is always ticking. Now this is a contentious one, but one I think needs to be addressed, because it may be useful for a game you are making. I prefer the games with a time limit to those without. In the games with a time limit, both crafting and exploring take significant amounts of time. This means the player needs to plan their actions carefully and make the most of what they have. This makes the fact that you can 'recycle' items even more important; as those scraps you didn't use last month can be useful this month. If you do this, give the players goals to meet, as well as various ways to do more with their time - hiring a helper, for example. In this environment, making that god elixir to trivialize the last few encounters truly feel earned if you did it in your limited free time. (If you do this, then for the love of god, if you have a post game, make it endless!)

    I'll stop here, because I truly believe that these crafting systems are some of the best, for the kind of player I am. The more control over my party the better, and Atelier offers a crazy granular approach to gear and items, and in action it doesn't feel like the game is holding your hand - all of the items you make are unique to you and your playstyle. Since crafting is an expression of creativity, I feel this is the highest praise I can give a crafting system in a battle RPG.

    Maybe I can figure out how to have a quality-and-traits system in RPG Maker someday.
     
    #35
  16. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    @encapturer : To me, it started to become an issue with Atelier Escha onward. In fact it's gotten so bad I'm not sure how interested I'm in the newest ones anymore, I've got 3 on my wishlist now (Firis, Lydie, and Lulua) that I haven't bought as I'm just afraid it's just going to be a non-stop grind + RNG to continue after my bad experiences with Escha, Shallie, and Sophie.

    For Escha, the final boss flat out cheated in my game and spammed heal for more than I could do in damage. all guides suggested equipment I couldn't get as I needed to beat the boss for the ingredients to even show up. Shallie I was getting 1 EXP from all fights as I was supposedly overleveled, but the bosses were just HP sponge nightmares. Sophie...that one was better and I might have just had bad RNG on my boss attempts but I got fed up with it and went down to Easy as I got better things to do than fight the RNG all day.
     
    #36
  17. Eschaton

    Eschaton Hack Fraud Veteran

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    I feel like games include crafting for cynical reasons, such as putting the bullet point on the sales pitch, padding out game runtime, or nudging the player toward buying an OFFICIAL STRATEGY GUIDE.

    That being said, some games do crafting right. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a game about finding your way and thriving in a wild, ruined world in which nature is taking back what man abandoned. The Fallout games are similar. Those experience are about foraging for the things you need rather than gleaning them from an established in-game economy.

    Open-world games lend themselves to crafting, again if it makes sense within the game's world and core gameplay experience.

    I don't think top-down RPGs with limited environments lend themselves to exploration and foraging. There's nothing wrong with good old fashioned treasure chests and item shops. With crafting, you're adding extra steps to the process of discovery and those steps could be unwelcome if they hamper the experience.
     
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  18. encapturer

    encapturer Veteran Veteran

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    Guess it might be the way I play... In Escha & Logy I haven't had any issues outside of the superbosses, but I tend to spend an inordinate amount of time in front of the cauldron, haha.
     
    #38
  19. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    Either that or the final boss didn't constantly heal for 3000 HP a turn on you as it got 3 turns for 1000 heal on me all the time. I couldn't even do that much damage to him, I think I did a 1/3 of it per turn, as it got 3 turns to my party's turns once I got it 50% wounded.

    The closest I got was the time I made an Elixir that auto-triggered when the one carrying it had 50% or less HP and it had a trait that made it not consume that auto-use, but it even overcame that with all the turns it got. And the trait to have it trigger more often than at 50% HP didn't exist in the game yet, as that spawned once you defeated the boss. And same with all of the traits suggested for my armor or weapons, the ingredients with them just didn't exist in the game world yet.

    Either that or I just had bad RNG, as I went to the suggested locations for them, used the suggested items, and one full day of that I NEVER got any of the items to spawn with those traits. Ever. And if the RNG is so bad you can spend a literal full day of your life trying this and get a 0% spawn success rate, it's too low.
     
    #39
  20. Touchfuzzy

    Touchfuzzy Rantagonist Staff Member Lead Eagle

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    I think quite a lot of people on here go with the "THE WAY I PLAY GAMES IS THE ONLY WAY THAT IS GOOD" and decide that should be how all games are designed.

    Personally, I wouldn't much care for a game where I never had to do anything to get my characters better. If I never had to bother with trying to craft, if I never had to go out of my way to level, if every single thing was just handed to me... like to me, I start questioning: why play it? I would get zero sense of accomplishment to playing that game.

    Crafting is in tons and tons of games, and many reviews will mention crafting systems and praise the deeper/more interesting ones.

    But some people seem stuck on "If it isn't engaging ME then it is bad design."

    Also, enchanting in Skyrim is absolutely still part of the crafting system. There are three crafting skills: Smithing, Alchemy, Enchanting. The first time I played Skyrim I broke the game because Vanilla crafting without mods is super super broken, specifically because I, in a single player game, find being a crafting character fun and cool so it was the first character I made (guess I'm just CRAAAAZY, rather than just being a different person who enjoys different things).

    And yeah, enchanting weapons isn't that great, but enchantment on armor/jewelry was insanely good. Usually the enchants I ran on my weapons were soulbind ones for filling more soul gems.

    Also, I think you misunderstand the crafting system in DQXI too. Often you find enough materials to do a decent amount of crafting just from playing the game normal. Then when you go to craft you get choices: Do I make the sword I can make, do I make the armor I could make, or do I go back out and find the materials to make both?

    In most cases unless you are playing on the Draconian Mode difficulty its not like you need the absolute best in every bit of equipment in the game, so it isn't like you need to have it all. You go "well this is what I have now, so I'll make what I find useful with it" and whatever you don't have you decide yourself if it is worth finding more materials.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
    #40

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