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Okay, here's my spin on crafting, for what it is worth.....
I hear alot of players say that want a more realistic economy that is player driven. many offer up EVE as an example of a working player economy. However, any working player driven economy must start with a working crafting community.
Vanguard appears to be offering co-operative community crafting, something like the early EQ 2 in which a weaponsmith would need to obtain a hilt from a tailor to manufacture a sword. Now, EQ 2 backed off on this and changed the crafting not because the sytem was too complex and failed, but because the player base never fully understood how it was designed to work.
Think of the weaponsmith as an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). No OEM manufactures 100% of their finished product, not GM, not Toyota, not Ford, not Honda, not Chrysler, not any industry. They all rely on what are called Tier 1 suppliers for subcomponents that will be assembled into the finished product. In requiring this interdependance of crafters a game designer is applying the aspect of community to the MMORPG crafters. Generally we think of community as something belonging to the adventurers. "Hey, we killed skeletons together last night, we are in the same guild, let's get together again tonite and kill some more skeletons." Now, in the early EQ 2 crafting, the community went like this: I would log, and immediately start getting messages, "Hey, I need 20 sword hilts at the usual price, when can you have them for me".
Now, it seems like everyone wants to feel like their character can make a difference in the game world, but doesn't see it happening, as we get lost in the masses. This is where crafting can be special. I don't develope one crafting character, I take a page from Legends game developer Edi Birsan and create a crafting position. You study the crafting tables and look for what common subcombines are needed by the OEMs. Thus, I may have four crafters, a weponsmith, armorer, tailor, and woodworker all working as Tier 1 suppliers to various OEMs. One of my position's characters will run the retail outlet. In the case of Vanguard, that would require developing a diplomat to purchase that house to run the outlet out of. Another thing necessary to develope a crafting position is the ability to transfer completed components to the retail character. Price structure is easy, modern price structure is generally three times the material cost. First, you want to cover your material cost, second you want to cover your labor hours, and third you want to cover your overhead/materials gathering time. Any higher prices and you're price gouging, and pissing off the consumer base. If you've played before, you know what I mean.
Ok, now, you ask, how does this position make a difference in gameplay? Well, let me explain. In EQ 2 pre-server merge Nektulos my prices were the lowest on the server. I supplied scribes with paper, pen, and rare inks, weaponsmiths with hilts, furniture makers with dowels, struts, studs, every crafter with oils, resins and washes, plus much, much more. I used the price structure as described above, and I was the market for subcomponents in Freeport. Everyone knew my retail character, when she logged in, orders poured in, she had invites to group, OEMs gave her gifts of large capacity boxes so she could have more sales slots, basically, she was the market for subcombines. She couldn't walk the streets of Freeport without stopping to actually talk to someone. Players even emailed my home computer until SOE introduced the in game mail concept. In all the time I have played MMORPGs never have I had a character of such high profile, and never have I had a character make such an impact on the in game economy. The OEMs I supplied made money also, they were able to undercut the competition. It was fun, it was fulfilling. It was not about the rush to level, it was not about the phat loot.
My hope with Vanguard is that Sigil games is trying to achieve that sense of a crafting community, as well as of an adventuring community. Crafting needs to be interdependant, and Sigil needs to discuss what it is trying to achieve so that players understand how they can make the most of the crafting aspect of community play.
Of course, secretly I hope that Sigil will allow me to transfer my subcombines between my characters so that I can once again set up my market stall, and sell like I did in pre-tradeskill change EQ 2. If they do, and if you follow my advise and think of the game not as one character, but as a position of characters, you to can be a major impact on your servers economy.
Just some food for thought....let me know your ideas on community, and how to make an impact in a game.