In most games, crafting consists of a skill, or set of skills, used to create new items using old ones or different kind of ingredients. Crafting is a feature usually reserved to RPGs ( MMOs or not), where some specialized classes have the unique ability of using basic materials, like iron, wood or even pure magic, to devise new equipments and potions for the rest of the party or for himself to use. Crafting can also be found on several other game genres, like the FPS Team Fortress 2, where the player can combine different weapons to create new ones, or the sandbox Minecraft, a game centered in the crafting skill. This skill allows the players to create unique weapons and equipments, and sometimes also allows him to repair broken or damaged items.
Usually, games will split the crafting ability in several different skill trees, like smithing, tailoring, alchemy and fletching, it all depends on the complexity the game is trying to achieve. It is also important to note that most games, mainly those with a level system in place, will require the player to train his crafting skill in order to be able to create more advanced items. This leveling up usually occur while the player is crafting lower tier items, although some games have items that increase any particular skill, like the roguelike Dungeons of Dredmor, where some items give bonus to Smithing and Trap Affinity.
Crafting often plays a pivotal part in player driven economies, which are typically found in MMORPGs. This is due to the fact that players in games with player driven economies are generally only allowed to train a few of a game's tradeskills. Therefore, there will in most cases be items which are only attainable through crafting but the players without the required crafting skills still need. In these situations, players who are proficient in the crafting skill in question are able to trade these items to the other players in exchange for other items or in-game currency. Such transactions are often handled through auction houses.
Usually before any crafting can be done, the player has to have obtained the proper materials. Sometimes the player would have to learn a second profession, or sometimes it is already known right out of character creation, but it is usually referred to as gathering.
Gathering professions range from activities like:
- Woodcutting (wood gathering)
- Mining (various stones and metals)
- Skinning (material to make cloth or leather)
- Hunting (meat used in cooking)
- Fishing (more cooking)
- Herb Collection (usually used in alchemy)
...or sometimes simply buying the ingredients from vendors.
Types of Crafting
Each game has its own set of crafting skills: some will have half a dozen of them separated by classes, whereas another will have one single crafting skill open to all. Despite that, the most common crafting skills are usually the following:
Featured in games such as Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates and the Might and Magic franchise, this skill allows the player to create his own potions, either by mixing different ingredients toghether on a bottle, or by mixing different potions to create more powerful ones. The ingredients used can go from mushrooms found on the woods to pieces of defeated enemies, like a bat's wing, or a dragon's tooth. In most cases having the ingredients is enough to craft the potions, but some games will require the player to be standing near some cauldron or a table with alchemy-related items. Mages are the preferred class associated with this skill.
One of the most common crafting skills, mainly in medieval-themed games. Players using this skill are able to craft their own weapons and armor with different kinds of metal, going from copper up to diamond or sometimes unique metals. In most cases the player will need to be near an anvil to be able to use his metal, as well as have a hammer of some sort with him. Another peculiarity of this skill is that many times the player will have to smelt the ore in metal bars in a furnace prior to creating the equipment, which adds one extra layer of complexity. On top of that, games like RuneScape and World of Warcraft also require the player to mine the ores. This crafting skill is usually linked to the dwarf race, as they are known in the fantasy world for being the best smithers.
Cooking is exactly what it sounds like - the ability to cook and prepare food to improve a characters health, stamina, or magical potentional - i.e. mana. Cooking uses raw meat and allows the player to create a campfire (or use an already bult fire source), ingredients (that are bought or found), and prepare a meal. Some of the end results consist of meat, bread, or drinks that cannot be found any other way - thus making this craft a highly trade-able/profitable profession.
The ability to add or create magical enhancements onto items is called enchanting. This crafting profession is usually a highly expensive, but extremely useful craft that may sometimes make profit. The higher the crafting profession is, the more money there is to make.
This craft usually uses outside materials out of blacksmithing, alchemy, and make an item more powerful than it was.
A unique, and usually inventive, crafting profession that allows the player to invent trinkets and various devices that perform wildly imaginative actions for the MMO worlds that they are created in. For example, in World of Warcraft most of the advanced technology devices like: motorcycles, helicopters, rocket boots, and more are created through engineering. Most of the time, games will only allow engineers to use their created items - making it more of a personal crafting profession than one that is mainly for trading and selling goods.
To most, it is characterized as the most fun and rewarding profession due to the amount of goofy/useful inventions that are more for experimentation at times than actual player benefit.
Tailoring and Leatherworking
These crafts often appear in fantasy themed MMORPGs, but in different forms. In some games, such as World of Warcraft, they are considered separate, but in others, such as Everquest II and Rift, they are combined.
The common purpose of the two crafts are to create clothing and armor out of various materials. But the two differ both in material and products. In tailoring, the player will use fabrics like wool and silk to create robes and cloaks - often of a magical nature favored by wizards and clerics. And in leatherworking, the player uses animal skins to create light armors suitable for the agile rogues and rangers.