#1 Edited by Aterons (198 posts) -

I can't help but notice that more and more RPG have a crafting system and the trend doesn't seem to stop.

As RPGs with a crafting system that were released in the last few years go the following come to mind:

- Kingdoms of Amalur

- Skyrim

- Dragon Age:Origins

- Dragon Age 2

- The Witcher

- The Witcher 2

The above, if paired with Dark/Demon souls, Persona, ME and Fallout are pretty much the "top" choices for most people and reviewers when it comes to big budget RPGs released in the last 3 to 4 years.

So why is it there ? Do any of you find crafting to be fun/interesting ? Why are devs so convinced that system needs to exist ?

For me I really fell like it ruins part of the wish to go looting dungeons and killing bosses for loots, because it all of those games with the exception of DA:O, Witcher and DA2 the best of the best gear is actually obtained via farming a few mobs and crafting.

Skyrim best items can be obtained dozens of levels before the mobs that would drop them spawn and can be made even more op if you have 2 crafting skills so you can "enhance" them using one another thus rendering craft items strictly superior to anything else.

KOA is in the exact same place as Skryim.

DA:O while not having an armor crafting system felt the need to introduce potion crafting that pretty much broke the game if you decided to use it due to the ability to make hundreds of potions with very little money

DA2... they handled it pretty fine, but that game is so fucked in 1 million other ways it's not worth talking about

The Witcher is a good example of crafting system that was good and didn't overlap with anything in the game, but the game itself had 3 armors 1 of which is clearly the best and is given to you by a mandatory quest and very few ( useful ) weapons which are bought via buying/finding runestones and completing quests... so the item aspect was very limited.

The Witcher 2... the game introduced a lot of armor and weapon variety and decided to basically ruin most of it with giving you the ability to craft all the best armors and weapons if you had the material and/or gold to buy the materials.

I can't think of a single example where i felt like crafting added to the game other than the first Witcher, on the contrary most of those games completely removed any joy I got from looting and killing bosses because that was basically trash to sell to vendors.

So why the fuck is crafting still there ? Does anyone fell like there is any good argument for crafting to be in RPGs ? I feel like it ruin the fun of dungeon crawling for loot.

#2 Edited by AlexW00d (6065 posts) -

Dark Souls very much did have a crafting mechanic.

And crafting mechanics are great. I would much rather collect a bunch of shit I can turn into weapons and gear than collect a bunch of shit I merely sell to the nearest vendor.

#3 Posted by Benny (1938 posts) -

@aterons: I've always felt crafting was a good way to make it so you can choose specifically what kind of loot you wanted to make rather than killing the last boss of a dungeon and getting a staff you have no use for. Pretty sure all the games you mentioned have a lot of regular item drops from enemies too.

#4 Edited by believer258 (11061 posts) -

It can seem kind of superfluous sometimes but it can also be a fun part of the game when it allows you to personalize things a bit. For instance, what if in Skyrim you want a suit of light armor where each piece enhances part of your magic? Gauntlets that do destruction, a helmet for Illusion, a chestpiece for restoration, etc.? That is something that can be awesome.

#5 Edited by Arabes (332 posts) -

No, everyone hates crafting with a passion. They only add it to games to fuck with us. Well mostly to fuck with you Aterons. They really don't fucking like you...

#6 Edited by TobbRobb (4417 posts) -

In all of the examples you gave. I agree. Crafting was an unneccessary distraction and timesink, that I frankly didn't feel like bothering with. Especially in Witcher 2, where it screwed with the urgency of the questlines. Though I think the weapons and armor in Witcher 1 where handled well, since they were all linked to some kind of lore or quest, they felt bigger and more important than just some crap you found/made.

But I definitely think there is a place for crafting in rpgs. You just have to make it feel natural and fun. Like if the main characters profession is a blacksmith, or a hunter. The story can be something along the lines of a survival situation on an island, or a quest to be the richest and most successful craftsman. I just don't think it's really been explored properly yet, outside maybe Monster Hunter.

Also I'd argue Dark and Demon's Souls does have a very simple crafting system. Taking the weapons you find up different upgrade paths and all that. But that felt like a natural way to customize your character. So I'm all for it.

EDIT: While writing I forgot you mentioned Skyrim.... What happened there was that they wanted more ways to distinguish your character, which is good. And the crafting wouldn't feel any fun unless you could do better than the current loot, which is also fine. But Bethesda are fucking terrible at balancing their games for well. Anything. So it got kind of broken.

#7 Posted by Demoskinos (13907 posts) -

Dude Dark Souls as well as Demons Souls both have crafting.

#8 Edited by HH (527 posts) -

you don't have to use it. i have skyrim characters that are just crafters, and avoid fighting, it's for roleplay, it's for alternate approaches, it's another thing you can use to define your character. we need more ways for the player to have input into the experience, not less.

#9 Edited by EXTomar (4129 posts) -

Part of the reason why these systems exist is another way to add value in "loot drops" without just giving the player cash.

#10 Posted by Nickieroonie (140 posts) -

I think that crafting systems in RPGs are a result of overlapping genres and/or mechanics. While the combination of different genres/mechanics can produce great results, it can also bog games down. RPGs are no exception -- crafting systems can go wrong in a lot of different ways (repetition, unclear rules, inventory management, etc). I don't tend to enjoy them, but I'm sure that a good crafting system will show up eventually.

#11 Posted by Aterons (198 posts) -
@alexw00d said:

Dark Souls very much did have a crafting mechanic.

And crafting mechanics are great. I would much rather collect a bunch of shit I can turn into weapons and gear than collect a bunch of shit I merely sell to the nearest vendor.

Did it ?

I only played around 8 hours in or so and all i saw was upgrade systems... :/

Tho i never got into it so i never even got to the underground bell, and a quick google search did show crafting, so excuse my sillynes...

#12 Edited by Tennmuerti (7726 posts) -

I loved the crafting in Witcher 2, the truly best gear had to be created from items that you found in the world or obtained from monsters. It made both the loot and the crafting valuable together. As well as fitted within the world. Crafting and drinking potions also is a big part of witchers, it gives you a sense of preparation for difficult battles, having a stock of various potions and grenades and then selecting the combination you might need for what's ahead.

I feel that DA:O potion craftrign is so marginal it's hardly worth mentioning. Any decently specced/geared group never needed to use any potions at all ever, except maybe some mana pots for tougher boss fights. And there were plenty of those to be found around anyway.

Bethesda can't balance their games for shit anyway. Crafting is a great way to make yourself powerful in a game that is essentially a power fantasy in the first place. Unless you're forcibly role playing, in which case crafting falls by the wayside if you want it. It's a win-win situation really.

KoA: Reckoning tried to merge too many different game mechanics under one roof never getting any of them right, either the open world of ES games, or loot aspect of dungeon crawlers, nor dialogue of older rpgs, not combat of action games. Crafting is just another one on a long list of half baked features.

If you are including such minor stuff as DA:O potion crafting, then Souls games upgrade systems should fall under crafting too. And those are really well don, especially in Dark Souls.

Darksiders 2 had a neat idea for crafting system to customize possessed weapons. But it was undermined by an overall bland loot system.

Arcanum had a good crafting system, especially for the technically oriented characters, as well creating technical armor/weapons/devices out of found parts and existing gear was kind of their thing.

Evil Islands: Curse of the lost soul also had a well done crafting system, some fo your gear came from crafting some was found, and it varied from time to time. Even crafted spells.

There is more examples in old school rpg's im not recalling clearly now. So yes to a lot of games crafting can be a great addition, and an important part of some even.

Tho I feel like you need to look at MMO's to really dig into the truly big and ingrained crafting systems, as those are the games that utilize them the most rather then more traditional rpgs.

#13 Posted by kortex (441 posts) -

I freakin love crafting. Why do you hate my life?

#14 Edited by MideonNViscera (2257 posts) -

I assume it's there for a few reasons. One is busywork obviously. Another being an excuse to have useful drops off monsters instead of vendor trash. Another being a more involved way to get new gear beyond killing a boss or visiting the merchant in the next town.

If it's an MMO there's even more reasons, like crafting being a viable source of income.

#15 Edited by djou (829 posts) -

Besides the points mentioned above, crafting is also a way to force the player to explore the environment. eg Far Cry 3, you roam the jungle hunting, looting, spelunking the caves to gather loot for crafting. These may be bits that a player may have missed on story quest.

It a cheap way to make a player feel like they customized their character while still offering functionality that character/weapon skins don't provide. Again going back to FC3, my weapon of choice is a red sighted rifle with a silencer. I crafted this gun in the most base sense, buying parts from a locker with money I earned from selling skins and looting, but it provides simple customization.

A good crafting system can often mask a mediocre main story or extremely linear game. FC3 isn't strictly an RPG, but I think most people would agree that the story is inane and the most fun parts of the game play come from running around collecting loot, specing out your skill trees, and causing mayhem. This can be said about Skyrim, Amalur, and a group of other RPGs.

#16 Posted by Nekroskop (2786 posts) -

Crafting in Dark Souls is great. If they removed that system PVP on lower levels would not be possible.

#17 Edited by Saethir (353 posts) -

I enjoy a crafting system if I think it's done well. If you have to explore out of the way caves or forests, it gives you a reason to explore an open environment. If you have to kill monsters, it gives you a reason to do your job ( like a Witcher should be doing.) It also makes it so they don't have to litter the world with chests that don't belong, or have a 2 foot monster carrying around human sized armor for no reason. And like others have said, I would rather craft a piece of cool gear than sell a ton of garbage to a vendor and buy one.

#18 Posted by rebgav (1429 posts) -

I like the crafting in The Witcher games because it's such a deeply ingrained part of the mythos, the potions and that you are crafting are central to the witcher lore and essential to the gameplay.

At the same time, I kind of enjoy the busywork crafting in Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory. Crafting is used to expand the item list at the store and to make new weapons but it's also how you get collectibles (in the form of useless aesthetic add-ons) of which there is a modest set which is then replicated per character and is broken up into chains in which a previous crafted item is an ingredient for another item, so you require multiples. They've basically repurposed the crafting system to be a(nother) reward system which distracts from the grindy structure of the game.

#19 Edited by MildMolasses (3197 posts) -

@benny said:

@aterons: I've always felt crafting was a good way to make it so you can choose specifically what kind of loot you wanted to make rather than killing the last boss of a dungeon and getting a staff you have no use for. Pretty sure all the games you mentioned have a lot of regular item drops from enemies too.

But doesn't it just replace farming and hoping for a good weapon drop with farming and hoping for the right material drop?

#20 Posted by Veektarius (4164 posts) -

@mildmolasses: Usually crafting is not particularly loot based. Usually crafting materials are gathered from loot 'nodes' that contain a predetermined material and do not change over the course of the game (so you can return to them when you need something in particular). Or if you need to kill a particular monster for a kind of crafting item, it'll drop pretty often. In general I think single player crafting is pretty harmless, but I can see how it would get a bad name from MMOs, which are very grindy and to a much greater degree require you to craft things that you don't need.

#21 Posted by Ares42 (2448 posts) -

@aterons said:
Do any of you find crafting to be fun/interesting ?

Yes. Give me a game with ore deposits and I will mine them. Give me enemies that drop creature parts that allow me to wear armor and weapons that shows off my heroic deeds and I will love it. I'd say over half my time spent in Skyrim was spent gathering and crafting. I played SWG for years and the single objective that kept me going was crafting.

While it's definitely true that many modern RPGs have poor and unbalanced crafting systems that's not a problem with the concept, it's an execution problem. It's quite rare to find games that have actual good crafting, but when they do it's really rewarding. The fact that you can invest time and work towards a goal makes it so much sweeter when you finally get that awesome item, rather than just blindly grinding while hoping for RNG to be nice to you.

#22 Posted by Village_Guy (2410 posts) -

Crafting is great as it can be an alternative path to gearing up in an RPG instead of relying completely on loot/quest rewards.

#23 Posted by Benny (1938 posts) -

@benny said:

@aterons: I've always felt crafting was a good way to make it so you can choose specifically what kind of loot you wanted to make rather than killing the last boss of a dungeon and getting a staff you have no use for. Pretty sure all the games you mentioned have a lot of regular item drops from enemies too.

But doesn't it just replace farming and hoping for a good weapon drop with farming and hoping for the right material drop?

Depends on the game and the implementation. I guess I see it as breaking up an objective (acquiring a weapon for example) into smaller steps and usually you can make a lot of things from one type of material (e.g. iron sword, iron mace from iron ore etc.) and have more flexibility. Sure some games get it wrong and make it so you have to farm a mob endlessly for a special drop anyway and I agree that's equally as infuriating.

World of Warcraft changed their system by making bosses drop tokens that you trade for pieces of armor but to me it takes a bit of the fun away. I'm sure there's evidence to back it up from studies and such but I think people prefer the RNG element when getting rewards. Makes them feel like they got one over on the system.

#24 Posted by MikkaQ (10227 posts) -

I don't like dungeon crawling for loot, takes out a boring part of the game and lets you get cool shit faster. Sounds like a win/win for me.

#25 Edited by Pazy (2553 posts) -

I love a good crafting system in an RPG. Though I appreciate for some people its not something they want to do so I like when its a balanced thing.
I probably spent more time in WoW gathering materials for crafting than I did actually Dungeoning. At a certain point I was gathering and crafting for the fun of it.
In the same way taking down a Dragon to earn a piece of loot I find it rewarding to gathering materials and craft my own loot.

#26 Posted by Jams (2956 posts) -
#27 Posted by casper_ (883 posts) -

i dont know dude i thought enchanting (and to some extent smithing) in skyrim was pretty badass as you could make gear specifically tailored to how you want to play. ive got a nightblade so i've got magic regen, a shit load of archery dmg, illusion fort, double backstab damage etc.

#28 Posted by thomasnash (407 posts) -

I guess for me it all comes down to whether you're making interesting choices with your crafting. To that end, I think the crafting in the Witcher 2 was really good because it had a pretty punishing economy, so it always came down to "do I want this slightly better armour now that will make the next quest a bit easier, but quickly be obsolete, or do I want to save up, make things a little harder on myself now, but then be able to make this super awesome armour at the end of the chapter." I guess you could devolve that back to just being money, but because that system relies on a limited economy of items as well as money, it does sort of make sense to limit your ability to move sideways down the path, if you get my meaning?

Likewise the "crafting" system of Dark Souls only works for me because there is only one of each colour titanite slab in the game, so you have to decide whether you want a raw +10 or normal +15 weapon, a fire +10 or a chaos +5, and so on. And then on top of that there's the unique weapons which often have a similar choice, where most boss souls can form two weapons (Moonlight Greatsword or magical bow, for example) or in one case the way you tackle the boss decides what you can craft.

However there are a lot of games (skyrim and Kingdoms of Amalur being prime examples) where the materials are so ubiquitous, and the products so generic, that eventually it feels rote and tedious. For me I didn't feel like the variety of effects that you can craft into weapons in those games, wide though they are, really improved that system over being able to find unique weapons, especially as I never really found the whole "do I need fire or ice damage" to be an issue in those games.

Someone mentioned Arcanum and I also enjoyed crafting in that, although that may be more due to the setting, and the items being different to the usual RPG fare. I suppose I also enjoyed that you found schematics in a loot-like way, making it feel a bit more quest-like? It's a similar system in Dungeons of Dredmor. One thing I enjoy in both of those games, thinking about it, is that (unlike TES and KoA) it's more of a path; first you make an iron sword, then upgrade that to a steel sword and then a three-pronged sword, or whatever.

So yeah, I dunno. I do like crafting systems as a rule, but it's really difficult to say sometimes why it isn't just a straight substitute for a cash economy. Like most things it comes down to whether you're making interesting choices, like I described earlier, but also I suppose you could have something like - am I going to go straight for these high-level components which might be more challenging, or craft up the tree from basic components, the farming of which might take a lot of time. I suppose you might even have something like in BG2, where you craft a small number of specific, high level gear, but getting all the components requires making certain decisions that have challenging encounters, or may mean you don't get other rewards, or even just mean that you have to act out of character.

This is a really interesting question, great thread.

#29 Posted by StarvingGamer (7581 posts) -

Monster Hunter is the best game ever made

Monster Hunter is all crafting

I prefer crafting to loot tables. I'd much rather acquire materials at a consistent rate while working towards a goal than blindly grind until a loot table just happens to work in my favor. I've never been a gambling man.

#30 Edited by SomberOwl (518 posts) -

Honestly I think some of it might have to do with Minecraft. Ever since the success of that game crafting seems to be popping up everywhere. I actually don't like it in my RPG's. It makes it less rewarding finding good gear/loot in the game world when you can just craft something better. I hope it's a trend that dies out.

#31 Posted by Ares42 (2448 posts) -

@jams said:

Star Wars Galaxies: The only game that did crafting right.

I would kill for a game with great gameplay to embrace a world/gathering/crafting system like SWG. If it wasn't for WoW completely derailiing the MMO and RPG space =/

#32 Posted by TheHT (10312 posts) -

I enjoyed crafting in Dark Souls and Demon's Souls. Didn't feel out of place there.

Crafting in Guild Wars 2 was alright too. Discovering new recipes was made simple there.

Online
#33 Posted by crusader8463 (14326 posts) -

As long as getting the materials for the items don't become some maddening quest that requires me to alt tab/shift tab and open an online guide to try and find the stuff I need I'm all for it. Most of the time sadly they are not rewarding at all as the grind to find the items is far more tedious than the reward I get out of crafting the item at the end. So I avoid it. I avoided crafting in Skyrim for example because it was just too much of a grind to level up the skill by making junk items that it was not worth the time to put into it. Plus it's hard to get motivated to invest time into crafting when you will find much better gear from killing MOBs out in the world or completing quests for NPCs.

Also, any game that requires me to kill a monster and doesn't have a 100% chance the item I need from it to drop can go fuck off. I don't mind needing to kill 5-10 of something to get enough of an item, but I refuse to stand around killing tons of them for a chance the item will drop.

I prefer crafting to be limited to buffing stuff you have. One major aspect of RPGs that has always been there that I think needs to go away is the idea of stats being linked to the look of gear. There's nothing I hate more in a game then needing to pick between making my character look the way I want and having the stats I want. I hope it becomes a standard that games get a vanity item slot that overrides what items you are wearing for stats and lets you toggle between which of the two is viewable. Or just go the City of Heroes route and have you design the way your guy looks from the get go and stat buffs are just invisible items you equip and change in a menu.

Online
#34 Posted by Aurelito (721 posts) -

Designers are uncreative bastards. They just copy everything in D&D handbook and smash it with an action-oriented game play.

#35 Edited by Ravenlight (8033 posts) -

Crafting is okay if it's implemented correctly. I didn't like it in The Witcher 2 because I ended up with an inventory of random crafting junk but the gear I had was better than all the other stuff I could craft. Every couple levels, I'd unlock a bunch more crafting but I'd only ever craft the stuff that gave the biggest benefit.

Crafting in the Fallout games is sort of iffy. For the most part, the most useful crafting was upgrading ammo or repairing armor and weapons; stuff you would have on hand anyway. I never crafted anything that required me to pick up junk like vacuum cleaners or tin cans or whatever. I guess the point is that crafting is cool when you don't have to explode your inventory with junk.

Dark Souls handles crafting a bit differently. Crafting/upgrading armor/weapons usually offers better progression than just spending your souls on attribute upgrades. Crafting felt tied to character progression in this way. Requiring exploration for Embers which enable different upgrade paths adds more than it takes away. Instead of twelve rat pelts and eight pieces of ABC gum, you need to explore a cool side area and defeat some interesting monsters standing in your way (or not, you only really need to actually fight boss monsters technically). The only part where I became frustrated with Dark Souls was when I needed to farm one of the rarest drops for max-level upgrades; not required to beat the game but I'm never satisfied with just +14.

I don't really remember crafting in DA:O. Probably because it was either boring and stupid or I avoided it because it was boring and stupid. I never really fell in love with that game the way most of my friends did, so maybe I'm misremembering.

Skyrim is the poster child for uninspired crafting. I shouldn't have to grind out 90 daggers just so I can craft Dragon armor. There's got to be a better way to handle stat-based crafting.

#36 Edited by Hunter5024 (5180 posts) -

I don't have a problem with the concept of crafting because it allows the player to have some creative freedom over the equipment they get, which I think can be pretty fun. However I agree that crafting in modern games isn't fun. The problem is that it's a very tedious mechanic that almost always involves grinding against specific foes for random item drops. Also the fact that crafting often allows you to break a game is kind of a problem for the difficulty curve. Plus most crafting mechanics are designed to encourage experimentation, which doesn't work because everyone uses a walkthrough.

#37 Posted by TobbRobb (4417 posts) -

@crusader8463:

I hope it becomes a standard that games get a vanity item slot that overrides what items you are wearing for stats and lets you toggle between which of the two is viewable. Or just go the City of Heroes route and have you design the way your guy looks from the get go and stat buffs are just invisible items you equip and change in a menu.

Or even better, make it go the Souls route where you pick stuff based on preference of look and feel, and then upgrade/modify it with stuff you find.

#38 Posted by GERALTITUDE (2812 posts) -

Ehhh I dunno.

I think loot is bullshit mostly, and kind of wish everything in RPGs *had* to be crafted outside of basic weapons and armor, but I don't expect many people to agree with me. That's not to say I like how crafting is handled in most games.

Riffing off what @tobbrobb said, I'd like if the loot you found was really generic stats wise but you could craft upgrades to power them up/change visuals a little.

@aterons: I really enjoyed crafting in the Witcher, and Witcher 2 (though to a lesser extent). It was awesome in the game because it made sense how you were harvesting organs and then turning them into potions and salves and whatnot.