A while back, I remember having a discussion with a reader about crafting in MMOs where I was arguing that having good crafting is pointless without a good economy. And I still think it’s true. A crafting system without a solid economy is just a minigame. And that’s fine, but a truly full-bodied MMORPG needs the economy part too.
That said, as a crafter who is really a trader at heart, I am first in line to admit that most MMO crafting sucks whether or not it has an economy to feed into. My home, for example, is Star Wars Galaxies, and there are so many things in that crafting system to love, like the constantly changing resources, the resource caps, the experimentation lines, the effort required to do even One Thing Well. You need a spreadsheet! But at the end of the day, you’re still just clicking combine. The systems around crafting are far more detailed and complicated than something like World of Warcraft’s, but the arc is the same: get resource, combine resources into thing. Consequently, I’m sure I’ve noted on the podcast how I don’t like hand-crafting in SWG. It’s just as boring as in other MMOs – worse, since a lot of times you still have to experiment. It’s the gathering and trading and all the stuff around the crafting there that I love (and it’s why I focus on factory production crafts).
Maybe there’s no way to fix this or rethink this. Maybe by definition crafting is always going to distill into clicking-to-make-thing unless you’re in one of those MMOs where you’re dispatching NPCs to do that part. So maybe I really don’t like crafting after all. You tell me: Which MMO offers the best crafting – not trading – experience?