Howdy, folks! Jack here with another early look at an upcoming system. We've talked a few times about days and nights, and briefly about biomes and the cycle of seasons. Naturally, we need things to populate these different Crowfall® world states and make them feel distinct and alive. Creatures are an important part of that, but something just as critical is often overlooked: plants!
Plants bring a sense of depth to the world, and work in unison with the environment and NPCs to unify the feeling of exploration. Types of foliage can immediately communicate the biome, season, and even time of day. Fat, spiny cacti elicit a totally different feeling from a forest of trees dressed in red and gold leaves.
An added layer of interaction and dimension can be achieved when plants are made harvestable. One of our design goals that there will be many layers to the strategy of winning a Campaign. One of these layers is the reality of keeping a regiment of fighters fed and healthy. An army that isn't fed can't fight, and Campaigns aren't won on empty stomachs. To that end, we'll have a variety of crops available growing throughout the world. They'll be used in alchemy, necromancy, and, of course, cooking.
Keeping a stock of vegetables and herbs will prove to be an important resource, and something that becomes even more vital as the seasons progress and food becomes harder and harder to find. A cook could be just as important as a blacksmith, a gatherer as necessary as a miner.
That’s it for the “what is wildcrafting” portion of the update, so now I’ll let Todd take over with (read this next part Draxx's voice) “I’ll do you one better: WHY is wildcrafting?”
WHY IS WILDCRAFTING IMPORTANT?
Hey gang. So, time for another quick peek behind the designer curtain.
First, recognize that this isn’t “harvesting” in the traditional Crowfall sense, meaning that the collection of plants, herbs, and reagents (the technical term is “wildcrafting”) won’t require the same level of effort or tools. This system is more akin to grab-and-go: you see a spawned resource and you can run up and grab it with a single button press. (For those of you who have played it, Zelda: Breath of the Wild does an excellent job with this type of activity. Fun, easy, and often done with a slight vector adjustment as you run from point A to B – without even slowing down.)
The design of Crowfall (any MMO, really) is about overlapping and interlocking engagement loops. Engagement Loop is a fancy term for the simple process of setting a goal, performing some action that results in failure or success, and then getting a reward if successful.
When we design foundational systems, we try to architect a hierarchy of engagement loops for that activity, with the time required to perform the activity and success rate determining the value of the reward. For example, killing a hellcat is a minute-to-minute activity, which gives you an OK (but not amazing) reward. Sieging a keep is a week-to-week activity, and engagement requires some investment, so the rewards are higher (you get to own the keep, and a ton of Victory Points). To get even more fancy, you try and loop the smaller loops inside the larger ones, so that doing a bunch of smaller tasks helps you achieve the larger goal (for the next larger reward), and on up the chain – and you bridge between systems, so that killing a creature (combat pillar) bridges you (find a rare reagent) into another system (crafting, or player economy when you sell it to someone else).
If you look at our game right now, most of our effort has been in the minute-to-minute loops, and it shows. We still have a fair amount of work, however, on the ends of the spectrum: the second-to-second loops and the month-to-month loops. That’s by design; m-2-m loops (like combat) are vital, because if we don’t get it right, the game doesn’t work.
Wildcrafting is a second-to-second exploration and harvesting engagement loop. Is it the most important system in the game? Nope! But as we get closer to launch, you’re going to see more of these loops come online and engage, and as that happens the gameplay experience is going to become more well-rounded, immersive, and engaging.
That’s it for today! See you in game,
J Todd Coleman
Creative Director, ArtCraft Entertainment
Utility Infielder, ArtCraft Entertainment
P.S. I want to also say thank you for all the help with 5.6 testing! It’s going great so far and helping us to make some really big strides in both bug fixing and performance.