Monday, September 03, 2012

A Crafting Mistake

I recently realized that, when it comes to crafting, I always make the same mistake in every MMO I play. At first, I always choose a profession that makes armor or weapons.

This is a predictably bad choice. Armor and weapons are almost always given as loot. Indeed most people will level up and gear out from quest rewards. So as a gear crafter you are left with two outcomes. Either your crafting always lags behind your level, and you never actually craft usable gear. Or you keep your crafting up to date and end up vendoring your quest rewards.

Then when endgame comes around, because no MMO implements the "crafting BoP gear for other people" verb, gear crafting really does not happen.

Essentially, when you pick gear crafting, you end up in competition with the game itself. And because not everyone is a crafter, the game usually wins.

The much better strategy is to pick crafting professions which do not compete with the game. Examples are consumables, enchantments, glyphs. Things where the crafter, and not the game, supplies the vast majority of items. These professions tend to be much more useful than gear crafting, because there are always other sources of gear.

Ironically, I realized this before I started GW2. Yet when I looked at professions, I still picked armorsmith and weaponsmith. It's a hard habit to break. The lure of being a master craftsman is strong.


  1. You've put your finger on the problem here.

    In the BC WoW days some of the crafted gear was too good - the cloth crafting gear was better than the tier stuff certainly at T4 and some of T5. Since then raid gear, and by extension badge gear, was generally designed to be better (removing non tier set bonuses was a big part of that).

    It seems like a relatively simple solution would be to split professions into 3 categories - crafting (LW, BS, Tailoring), gathering (herb, mine, skin) and enhancement (insc, enc, and eng) - and allow everyone to have 1 from each category.

    It could then be reasonably expected that all raiders could also craft equipment and that would mean that you could actually make crafting useful.

    There is a lot more you could say about this but really, it seemed to me the wow crafting system has been broken for a long time.

  2. I pick the 'useless' professions because I find it more fun. I like the idea that I made my own weapons, in the case of GW2, a pair of pistols.

    Perhaps crafters should be able to modify found items. Since I don't yet know enough about GW2, let's go with WoW and say that reforging could be a tailoring/LW/BS ability that slightly alters the armor to better suit the player.

  3. Like Klepsacovic, I like the idea of wearing armor that I've made. In GW2, my Elementalist main is a tailor and artificer. Her artificer skills are way behind her level but I've just managed to get the tailor skills up to her level. It's nice to be able to craft a replacement piece when the quest rewards / drops have been stingy.

    However, I'm probably not going to engage in "endgame". Instead I will be rolling alts to experience the personal stories of the other races.

  4. The other thing I wanted to mention was that in GW2 it's possible to switch to another crafting profession and then switch back to your original *at the same level it was previously* for a cost of 10 silver per original level.

  5. About BC cloth being better than some Tier stuff...I sort of liked it that way. Multiple avenues to power and all that!

    The first time I played a character in WoW, I did skinning/leatherworking and became a Dragonscale leatherworker for my shaman, while occasionally kitting out my friends in blues if they would bring me the special mats, etc. Instead of the products of my profession being in conflict with quest rewards, I felt more like it was a nice way to fill in the gaps, rather than relying on random greens or the AH.

    In a sense, patches, threads, etc, are a way to execute Klepsacovic's idea. It would be neat to take it a step further.

  6. EQ2 has had "crafting BOP gear for other players using their BOP mats". It's pretty pointless.

    Yes, you have just created something that crafters can do to earn money - to be precise, the only thing that most crafting classes can do for the same reasons you discuss in this post. At the end of the day, though, crafters are still in competition with the game, and they're still unable to make any sort of living plying the trade they thought they were getting into. There's just effectively a tax in which group content players are required to pay a crafter before they can equip gear they earned in group content. If anything, all it does is amplify the adversarial nature of the crafter vs non-crafter relationship.

  7. I'd be curious to see what kind of effect it would have if gear did not drop as loot and was not rewarded from quests. The only rewards you get from those would be raw materials and money. Then the only way to get new gear would be from crafting. I wonder if that would work?

  8. I think one of the better crafting system (in terms of keeping it relevant) was from DAOC. There was a cap to the bonus you could get to each stat (+75, iirc). So initially, people would craft weapons/armor (weapon/armor crafting), then enchant it (spellweaving?), then add procs (alchemy) while hitting as many stat caps as possible.

    Dungeon drops (not as big a deal in DAOC or as frequently run, as they required 40-80+ people, no joke) generally had things that you couldn't get normally. Things like special procs, on use abilities, or sometimes +MaxStat that let you get more than the normal +75.

    Good as those were, you still needed crafted stuff to fill in the gaps.

    Having said that, tradeskills were *painful* to level, and armor/weapons had a quality to them. Generally people used 98-100% quality gear. So you could craft things multiple times in a row and not hit the quality threshold, forcing you to craft some more.

    (There was also permanent item decay, too. If you used something long enough, it would eventually break. Personally, I never lost any items this way, but there were people who have.)

  9. I do the same thing. It's interesting that designers feel its OK for drops to compete with crafted gear (for blacksmiths, tailors, etc), but they don't have random glyph, gem or flask drops to compete with other crafters.