Crafting & Economy
- What is the vision behind the crafting and economy systems for Crowfall?
- What kinds of resources are in the world?
- Where do the resources come from?
- What is a point of interest?
- Are there differences between resource factories of the same type?
- How are resources and materials used?
- How important is crafting to Crowfall?
- Why do I want to craft in Crowfall?
- How does the crafter role differ in other MMORPGS?
- What do you propose to “bring back” crafting as a primary role?
- How do you ensure demand for goods?
- How do you determine who can craft?
- How are Crowfall’s recipes different than other games?
- How much can you modify each recipe?
- Can reagents be combined to create other reagents?
- Do items require sub-components?
- What is a thrall?
- How do you bind a thrall into an item?
- How do players get access to advanced crafting recipes?
- Do I have to take a specific class if I want to craft?!
- Won’t this encourage a lot of people to make alternate characters for crafting (alts)?
- Is there interdependence between the crafting types?
- What does increasing a specific crafting skill do?
- How do you plan to prevent “I only want the best!” syndrome?
- What do the crafters do with all their rejects?
What is the vision behind the crafting and economy systems for Crowfall?
Our vision is a player-driven economy where the best items in the game are created by other players -- not from farming monsters! Building on ideas from some of the greatest (and oldest) online games, we are creating a new experience that we believe will be incredibly unique and engaging for crafters.
What kinds of resources are in the world?
There are two primary types of resources in Crowfall, those used for personal crafting and those used for building and conquest. Internally we call them RESOURCES and MATERIALS. The base unit is thematically the same (stone, iron, wood) but they differ in scale: resources tend to be smaller in form factor (like ‘rocks’ or ‘wood’) whereas materials are large (‘blocks’ and ‘timber’). Materials are designed to take up a LOT of inventory space, making it a challenge to transport them without the use of pack animals.
Our crafting system generally uses recipes that call for a ‘general’ type of resource, with the expectation that the crafter can slot in a specific type of stone (or wood, or metal) to adjust the properties of the item(s) created.
For example, crafting a bow requires the use of ‘wood’, a particular type of wood (i.e. ‘yew’ or ‘oak’) is not specified. At the time the bow is created, the decision to use ‘yew’ instead of ‘oak’ will have an effect on the statistics, such as durability, critical hit chance or attack power.
Where do the resources come from?
Resources can be harvested from the environment and sometimes found on certain monsters. These can be found in both Eternal Kingdoms and in Campaign Worlds.
Materials can only be found at particular points of interest (POIs) known as ‘resource factories’. These locations (such as quarries, lumber mills and mines) are found in the Campaign Worlds and, due to their intrinsic value, we expect them to be highly contested by player factions.
As a general design philosophy, higher risk Campaign Worlds will offer better quality (and more) materials and resources than lower-risk worlds.
What is a point of interest?
Our worlds contain many structures that have strategic and/or economic value. We call these structures “points of interest” or POIs. There are other types of POIs, as well: strongholds, temples and graveyards. Each serves a different purpose, but all of them fall under the “POI” designation. Some of these POIs are for personal use while others are more strategic and really exist to facilitate (and, in some cases, fuel) the game of territorial conquest.
Are there differences between resource factories of the same type?
Yes. First, the proximity and location to other POIs makes a huge difference. Second, we’ve also put balance settings in place to increase (or decrease) the quality, quantity and type of material that each factory produces. One mine could produce high quality iron, while another produces low quality copper -- but at a much higher rate.
Quarries located in a remote area will typically produce a higher volume of materials (and at a greater frequency). This was designed so that as the risk of transporting those materials goes up, so does the potential reward.
How are resources and materials used?
Resources are the base ingredients for crafting equipment items and some very small structures. Materials are the base ingredients for building and repairing all large structures (buildings, castle walls, towers, etc).
How important is crafting to Crowfall?
Crafting is a central part of the player-driven economy in Crowfall. Open-ended economic systems are tough to design. The closest model to ours is probably EVE Online, though you can see our design is built on ideas that were originally surfaced in early MMOs like Ultima Online, Star Wars Galaxies and Shadowbane.
The most obvious goal of crafting in Crowfall is to enable players to create amazing items that tie directly into the different systems like equipment, city building and sieging. The less obvious but equally important goal is to create interlocking behaviors that drive players to engage with other players
Why do I want to craft in Crowfall?
The benefits of crafting include: generating wealth, provisioning your guild or faction, or becoming well-known for your craft. If you are a talented crafter, your items will be sought out from other players, and your impact on the game universe will be impressive.
At the core, crafting is really an exploration game that includes testing and tuning and managing production resources. There is also a strong social component, building a presence, reputation and products that other players can rely on.
How does the crafter role differ in other MMORPGS?
Unfortunately, the genre has largely gone away from the idea of the dedicated crafter, mainly because a player-oriented crafting system doesn’t mesh well advancement loops centered on raid bosses and (extremely rare) epic loot drops found in PvE-centric games.
Additionally, the design trend for MMOs over the last decade has been to de-emphasize player interaction, with systems like automated auction houses and a heavy reliance on instanced dungeons.
If every player can play the game completely independently, then it stands to reason that crafting should be a “secondary activity” for everyone, not a primary profession for anyone. If you wanted to be a master crafter, you had to do that in addition to gaining combat levels through fighting monsters (in fact, your ability to craft items is gated by your PvE advancement!)
What do you propose to “bring back” crafting as a primary role?
In the early days of MMO development, games allowed for a much deeper degree of role specialization. The design of our crafting and economic systems are similar to early MMO titles titles (such as Ultima Online, Star Wars Galaxies, Eve Online and Shadowbane).
From a very high altitude, crafters need:
- To be able to craft unique items, explore new recipes,
- To be able to create customized items for all different styles of play,
- To have an audience to buy their goods, and
- Need the ability generate a profit (or a loss) from these efforts.
This requires an interdependent loop between crafter(s) and combatant(s). Additionally, we want to make sure that crafters can “mark” their product, so that they can build a social reputation and a following.
How do you ensure demand for goods?
To ensure continual demand, item decay (and loss) is a core requirement to drive the economy.
The very concept that players will lose their items at some point is required, otherwise the game loop breaks. It is a very controversial topic for those who don’t like the potential of losing their gear, and we understand that -- but remember, we aren’t going to make you farm a boss mob a thousand times to get that ‘perfect’ item drop. Instead, we are making a robust economy that expects (depends, even) on items flowing back and forth between crafters (who create the items) and combatants (who have access to the best resources and materials).
How do you determine who can craft?
Every character has the ability to craft some items from the beginning of the game. Further crafting requires you to elect to train in crafting skills (at the cost of not exploring other skill trees), the accumulation of recipes (via discipline runestones and other gameplay mechanics) and an investment in your shops and/or factories.
How are Crowfall’s recipes different than other games?
Most crafting systems recipes are very specific: three iron ingots + two wool cloth = iron plate helm. This recipe is repeated up the chain, mapping each tier of metal to a unique recipe. At the end of the day, the crafter has 500 recipes, most of them unused due to the fact that the game design made them obsolete.
Crowfall’s recipe list is tighter because the ingredients are not as strict. A sword requires units of ore, and the type of ore that you decide to use will affect the characteristics of the crafted weapon. This approach leads to a higher degree of system exploration.
Here is a more detailed example: You have a single recipe for “plate helm” in your list. The resource requirements are: three metal, one cloth, one leather and one (optional) additive element. The player can choose the type (and quality) of the resources to put into each slot. As long as the slots are filled with something valid, the recipe will work. The crafter can even plug something special into the additive slot to alter the item in a significant way.
This system has some significant advantages:
- It greatly reduces the overall recipe count (we estimate by more than 90%),
- Every recipe in the Crowfall player’s book remains useful, and
- The results of crafting are more varied, which means more exploration and experimentation. It’s going to be up to the player to figure out the “right” combination of reagents to produce the desired result.
How much can you modify each recipe?
While the recipe list is shorter, the possible outcomes from the forging stage alone are MUCH greater than a standard crafting system. This is because you get to decide which resource(s) to use for each ingredient. A single requirement of ore could potentially hold any number of different ore types, each of which can have a significant impact on the attributes of the item you are crafting.
Also, remember that there are additional stages that can enhance the item. If we look at the whole process, you might: refine your alloys, create the base parts, forge those parts into a finished blade, and then enchant it by binding the spirit of a legendary elven blademaster into the blade.
Can reagents be combined to create other reagents?
Yes. For example, metal alloys are made from combining various types of ores in the crafting process. Each ore combination produces either a pure metal or an alloy. Pure metals grant a statistic to an item, while alloys grant multiple statistics. Commonly found statistics would be Attack Power, Critical HIt Chance, Critical HIt Damage, etc.
Ores from all resource tiers are used throughout the entire crafting tree to ensure that no ore becomes obsolete. By mixing and matching reagents and combining them to form new reagents, the players are given a gigantic palette of options to customize their crafted items.
Do items require sub-components?
Yes, in fact, the whole system is based on the idea of combining reagents and sub-components to make better components. This is the “secret sauce” of our system, which gives a crafter a wide spectrum of experimentation and customization!
To continue the example from above: the plate helm recipe has a resource slot that requires three metal. The crafter can use any three metal they want in the recipe. Want to focus on a single statistic? Use three pure metals. Want to go multiple statistics? Use three alloys. Smiths can make their weapon (or gauntlets, or helmet, or…) as custom or as simple as they want.
And remember, this is just one stage of crafting the item. These decisions are independent of any enchantment(s) that you decide later to place on the item. This same system applies to other craftables as well: food, leather, woodworking, architecture, you name it!
What is a thrall?
A thrall is basically a ghost or spirit. The Dying Worlds are filled with thralls; they are the souls of fallen warriors and craftsmen, left behind and awaiting judgement before they can move on to the afterlife.
As a champion of the gods, part of your job is to capture thralls and allow them to pass into the afterlife in exchange for rendering service(s) the gods. You can recruit them to act as a guard or a shopkeeper or even bind them into your weapon to give it magical properties. (Narratively, this is similar to the magic used to create Stormbringer, in the Eternal Champion series.)
How do you bind a thrall into an item?
You capture the thrall, binding them into a material object. You can then use this material object in various enchanting recipes that will grant magical properties to that item.
For example: imagine a smith’s hammer that has magically been enchanted (possessed by) the spirit of of a Dwarven Forgemaster. His skill and life experience is being used to make that hammer stronger and more precise with every swing.
Every item in the game has decay. When an item is destroyed, the thrall will have served their penance to the gods and be released into the afterlife.
How do players get access to advanced crafting recipes?
Our system is very freeform! Each of the classes in Crowfall has an initial package of skills, and some of the classes have specific crafting skills in their package. (Generally speaking, each class will have recipes to create basic versions of the items they will need to play.)
To create better versions of these items, however, you’ll need to have access to advanced crafting skills and recipes. These will require the character to have trained certain skill trees on their account and in some cases a discipline runestone in their current vessel. Crafting disciplines allow the player to take on unique roles in the game. With the right discipline, you can become an Alchemist or a Siege Engineer, for example.
Disciplines are applied to your character via runestones, which can be found in campaign worlds (or crafted via a series of skills in the runecrafting skill tree).
Do I have to take a specific class if I want to craft?!
No. The crafting disciplines are intended to be used by any class as we don’t want people to have to play a particular archetype to be an effective crafter. (That felt too limiting!)
Each character will be limited as to how many disciplines they can use (we’re currently planning on three maximum), and remember that we see crafting as as a fulltime playstyle, not a secondary skill to be used when you aren’t in combat.
Crafters will fill a valuable role for your guild or kingdom, just as critical as a tank, scout or damage dealer.
In addition to being able to enjoy the “meta-game” of interworld trading between worlds, crafters also have a specific niche role -- every faction/guild will need to recruit them to turn resources into valuable equipment within the campaigns.
Won’t this encourage a lot of people to make alternate characters for crafting (alts)?
Probably not. We want to encourage players to play a single character within a campaign, so we’re putting design rules in place to encourage it. An upshot of this design is that the best crafters won’t generally be alternate characters because (due to the limited ability to train skills in parallel) treating crafting as an afterthought will not be a very effective strategy.
Recruiting proficient and dedicated crafters will be one key ingredient to waging a successful campaign. The same can be said of recruiting players who specialize in scouting, raiding or sieging.
Players (and guilds) will need to make smart, strategic choices about skill specialization - and even team composition, before entering a campaign.
Is there interdependence between the crafting types?
To make great equipment will require multiple stages. This means that you can focus on a particular area (“I make the best sword hilts!”) or you can collect components from other players and combine them to create really awesome gear.
Most recipes that create equipment will require components from each of the crafting styles. Each guild should encourage their members to take a spread of crafting disciplines to cover all the bases.
What does increasing a specific crafting skill do?
Every recipe requires a specific crafting skill (such as Blacksmithing for metal crafts, or Woodworking for wood crafts). Raising this skill will decrease the amount of crafting failures, and potentially increase the quality of the end piece of equipment. That said, we are trying to allow the player to mitigate the amount of pure randomness (RNG) in the system via increasing skills and using high-quality resources. Finding the right balance will require some design iteration on our part.
The crafting skill acts as a soft gate on advancement; it is more open than what you might normally see in most crafting systems.
For example, in most games, a crafter won’t see higher-tier recipes until they hit a certain skill level and players are often forced to grind out thousands of needless items to get to the point where they can make quality goods.
In Crowfall, each crafter starts with the same set of key recipes; the challenge is going to be getting their hands on enough upper-quality resources for crafting. If they can get these resources, they CAN craft the item -- but the chances of success are very low.
Based on their skill, it becomes a judgment call for the crafter as to when they should start attempting to craft more difficult items, and a risk/reward calculation for how much loss (of reagents) they are willing to sacrifice.
How do you plan to prevent “I only want the best!” syndrome?
Part of the reason that other games suffer from this is because items are largely permanent – once you gain a particular weapon, you usually don’t give it up (or lose it) until you find a better weapon. This cycle could take months, or years.
One of the core elements of Crowfall’s design includes item decay. By using an item, you are depleting it, and eventually it will be destroyed. This mechanic means that items will turn-over much more frequently.
Decay and item loss will factor heavily into Crowfall’s economy, so gear that isn’t “the best” might be acceptable for a night where the player expects multiple deaths storming a castle.
We also see this as a way for the crafters to gain a reputation as one who only sells a certain quality of item. The crafter who really wants to be known for their crafts might craft the same item multiple times and only sell those which they are proud of and then salvage those that don’t meet the quality mark.
How quickly an item decays is also driven by its durability value, another factor over which the crafter has some control.
What do the crafters do with all their rejects?
Since there is no vendor with an endless supply of coins to buy items, crafters can salvage any items they don’t want to get some of the resources back.