Columns: Crafting Demonstrated

(Gets out podium and climbs on up.) This column is special and insignificant at the same time. It’s a tiny foot note among millions of foot notes pointing out that on this day, a day that I’m sure will live in infamy-justified or not, all our fates are intertwined-at least a little bit.

Maybe more than any in a very long time, this election will have worldwide ramifications and I’m not just talking about the mass hangovers from people celebrating its end! I’m not telling any Muricans what to do but I will say I vote so I can complain about it later. It’s a rule I have. If I don’t vote I don’t get to bemoan the consequences! It’s like complaining about a MMORPG I didn’t play. It just feels less justifiable. Now who is with me? I mean that literally…like, who is left? If I was you I would have tapped out and ran away from this column screaming. If you didn’t I give you a nod of respect and a fist bump of fortitude.

Speaking of worldwide ramifications (relating transition sentence level up achieved) testing of Crowfall’s persistent world has begun! The first test, while small in number, went off without a hitch. The game world lived for 27 hours before it was taken offline. This was one small test for Artcraft, and one giant leap for Crowfall’s future. Wasting no time developers ran more tests and scaled up the number of testers to include all backers with the Pre-Alpha1, Pre-Alpha 2 and Alpha 1. It only gets bigger from here!

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Almost as exciting we were treated to a 40+ minute harvesting and crafting demo I’ve graciously linked for you. While it was rough, early and raw it was satisfying. For years, I’ve heard rumors of development test areas and in the demo we got to see one. In a strange way, it resembles some kind of avatar purgatory. A similar universe where things are familiar but different at the once. It gave me the creeps but watching Blair craft was exhilarating.

Yes, I said exhilarating. I’ve finally gotten that MMOld. Seeing crafting now excites me more than combat! Why? Because, as many of you know, I firmly believe Crowfall will succeed or fail based on its meta games, meta games that will rely on crafting for their backbone. I’ve had “crafted concerns” since the beginning of development. Seeing 40 minutes of it was a relief. The resource popcorn popping out of nodes was still odd but at the same time it was very “loot droppy” in an instinctively MMORPG way. Personally, I can’t wait to try ninja looting harvested stuff THEN ganking the crafter! Who am I kidding…I’ll be the one getting ganked.

He has said it before but this time when Blair said Crowfall was heading down the Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies paths of crafting I got chills. Him saying it while showing us a similar system to what I vaguely remember in Galaxies made me think it might actually happen. They might be able to pull this off.

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Asking themselves what those systems would have evolved into then trying to create them is exactly what many crafters have hoped for since those two games declined. That said trying to live up to them is as dangerous as coming between a mother bantha and her calf! If this was coming from younglings I’d write them off and admonish them. How DARE you think you can live up to those legendary crafting systems! The nerve!

The fact that it comes from Blair with Raph Koster on speed dial makes me raise an eyebrow and offer very Denzel “my man”. I’m not saying I think they can do it. I’m saying I think they have as good of a shot as anyone and I respect them setting the bar so high. I assumed they would name drop those games for some hype then quickly shift away from their shadows. I was completely wrong. They are flat out challenging themselves to match or surpass them! Let us hope, unlike so many times before in MMORPG history, the shadow doesn’t prove to be too long.

What did I see in the demo? Custom naming, experimentation, stat sliders, resource quality mattering, blue prints and even an unplanned failure or four. It took him quite a while to select stats, craft all the pieces, then combine them into an item. For most of us resource gathering scrubs that isn’t appealing. For min/maxing crafters its bliss. If you are reading this thinking I’m not getting deep enough about what Blair said or did then you are likely one of those players and far more skilled in MMORPG crafting than I am. I’m just a guy who sells resources. I leave the high IQ stuff to the crafters. Understanding its relevance and understanding it’s details are two different things!

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I’ve always held a great respect for dedicated crafters. It seems to natural, so easy to want to go fight stuff in MMORPGs. To dedicate the time and resources to becoming a skilled crafter and, if you want to take it further, using your acquisitions to fund and influence the conflict is next level gameplay! That seems almost foreign now, the art of crafting requiring real skills beyond those trainable in game, oh how I miss it and welcome its return.

My natural skepticism is holding but seeing 40 minutes of early crafting has certainly dented the wall. Seeing the look in Blair’s eyes as he showed us his baby gave it another. I may not be one but I recognize a min/maxer when I see one! I could tell he was proud of his system and more importantly, he was having fun using it. Let’s hope crafters feel the same.

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