Professions in MMO’s – Some hit, but most miss.

Some people ignore them, some people dabble in them now and again, and there are others (like me) who treat crafting as an important and unmissable part of any MMO. Most MMO’s have a crafting system of some kind, yet some are dull, or even pointless.

Why can it be so difficult to get it right? What have the MMO games I’ve played the most done to fill that crafting gap and how effective is it?

World of Warcraft
Arguably the biggest MMO ever, so surely with the serious bucks that Blizzard are raking in, the crafting system must be seemless and perfect, right? Well no, with the new game, there is little-to-no point in crafting. I ranted earlier about this (here) and it remains true. Apart from the gathering skills being used as a quick way to make some money, there’s little to no utility in any of the crafting professions. At top level, by the time you have gathered the materials to make something, chances are you’ve picked up something better in any of the dungeons or quests.

On the plus side there are lots of different options to choose from, if you did want to pointlessly craft then you’re not stuck for options.

What I would do…
The easiest solution would be to rescale the crafting skills so that they improved as your character improved (rather then 10 levels afterwards) and throw in some items at the top that are actually almost lusted after.

Final score: 6 out of 10

Everquest II
Everquest took crafting and added an element of mini-game to their crafting. So, rather than just watching a bar change colour over a number of seconds you can actually interact with it, which in turn could alter the quality of the item created. It all does seem quite well put together. The entire crafting skill is divided into three tiers, with each tier increasing your level of skill in a reducing field of expertise. You are free to craft anything within the confines of your chosen tiers. Plus, every character can gather everything which seems to lead to a much busy and affluent auction house.

It must have a down side, well yes at higher levels in certain areas it can suffer from the same level of pointlessness as the WoW crafting system but to a lesser effect. For example the non-combat related professions such as furniture making never degrade in importance.

What I would do…
Honestly, probably nothing the Everquests crafting system is still one of the best out there in my opinion. Throw in a few more high-level items and you’ve probably covered it.

Final score: 9 out of 10

Lord of the Rings: Online
Turbine created a crafting system which forced people to trade items in order to use one of their tradeskills. You can find a more in depth description in the review here. Though in essence, you had two skills which worked together and a third which either just gathered you materials you couldn’t use, or required materials you couldn’t gather.

You find nodes, harvest them and then make your items. It doesn’t differ much from the standard, so not a huge amount of points for originality. The one thing I don’t like about their crafting system is that you have to buy too many additional crafting items from vendors if you want to do anything. Of course, the items that you have to buy do make sense, like buying Pork to make the stock for soup; or water and fertiliser for growing the crops. It’s a minor niggle and it’s no worse than the endless amounts of items you need to buy in other MMO’s yet for some reason I feel that the entire system would be a lot smoother without it.

What I would do…
The vocation system is quite a nice idea, but I find myself just not caring about that third skill. The constant need to trade and buy from the auction house seems quite distracting when I could be doing it for myself. Other then that, the system is nicely thought out and I like the way you can improve the chance of creating better items by using rare crafting components.

Final score: 7 out of 10

Champions Online
A great example of trying to crowbar a crafting system into a game because they think that one should be there. Unfortunately, from a logical standpoint, superhero’s on the whole do not craft things. The whole ‘making-things’ side, seems more akin to villany then heroism. With the exception of Batman, Xavier from the X-Men and maybe the Incredible Hulks, Bruce Banner I struggle to find any other hero who actually crafted anything. Oh wait, Iron Man, yeah he did too, but they’re still few and far between.

Anyway, once you get past this, what you have are three different crafting trees; Arms, Mysticism and Science. Each tree focusing on improving different statistics. If you want to craft, and improve your character, then you have to choose the appropriate tree for that characteristic regardless of whether it actually makes sense for your characters lore/story or not.

What I would do…
Being able to choose a primary, secondary and tertiary characteristic for your craft, should take the nonsense out of the choice. Make the choice be around what you want to make rather than what you want to improve. Arms will always create equipable guns, rockets grenades, physical weapons; Science could create healing potions and other chemicals, or protective vests/visors; mysticism on the other hand will allow you summon mini temporary demons, protective wards. Just an idea and of course it needs some work, but it has to better then what’s there at the moment.

Final score: 3 out of 10

Final Fantasy XIV(Beta)
Ok, so bypassing the fact that in my Opinion FFXIV is a giant pile of used under-garments like the rest of the skilling up process, you could dictate the crafting you performed simply by equipping the right tool. What ever you wanted to make with enough time you could level up all the craftig skills needed to make it.

Gathering was a little curious in that you would choose a place on the rock or tree to aim your axe or pick at. Then you had a handful of attempts to hit the perfect place judged on the comment for the previous swing (Similar to the hot/cold locational system). Which was rather hit and miss in my opinion. Plus, others could gather from the same node as you while you were. Now, I’m quite protective of my nodes, I guess that stems from the endless amounts of node ninja’s I’ve had to endure at the top end of Wow. On the plus side though, the nodes to regenerate quickly and there are loads of them.

Other than that, my foray into FFXIV was relatively short-lived, as I couldn’t understand the instructions in the practically helpless BETA (I don’t believe it’s got much better)

What I would do…
Its a nice idea and you are in no way restricted in what you can make, but you still have to play the bilge of a game to get to the crafting. The crafting method does have an original feel to it, but original does not always mean well thought out and planned. Though I guess that should be expected in Beta testing.

Final score: 4 out of 10

Jim Franklin

Jim Franklin

Jim Franklin is a freelance writer, living in Derby UK with his wife and his player 3. When time allows he likes nothing more than losing himself in a multi-hour gaming session. He likes most games and will play anything but prefers MMO's, and sandbox RPG's.

So what do you think?

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