The very first game I remember crafting anything in was Ultima IV. In the game you had to craft your spells. So one part of X and two parts of Y created Spell Z. In most cases you purchased the ingredients but there were one or two you had to go "harvest". It was simple, but I call it elegant simplicity.
Fast forward 20 years, the next game I played with crafting was Star Wars Galaxies (SWG). For each thing that game did wrong, I think is something they did right in crafting.
So when planning out how crafting would work in this game, I wanted both elegant simplicity and a system that could allow some crafters who take the time, the ability to create things better than other players. I wanted to avoid two issues with SWG:
- Players new to crafting should have the same ability to craft as advanced players. In SWG, the only crafters worth buying from spent all their skill points in a particular crafting line of skill boxes. Players wishing to dabble in crafting found that they could only make junk not worth selling or even using.
- Players should not have to "grind" crafting by making thousands of useless objects or just wasting resources.
- Crafting felt redundant after you made 5 things
- Crafting some parts required crafting other parts, makes sense but adds an unnecessary time sink
Some additional goals:
- players should have the ability to experiment beyond the typical "roll of the dice" style experimenting. This means altering a known formula by changing things to see what happens.
- players should be able to sell formulas they've created/discovered
- players should have the ability to take an existing object and either copy it or make it better
- the whole process of crafting should not be overly complex but offer the ability to utilize a very complex system behind it
- all crafting actions can be automated using the in game terminal/writing software in game
Schematics versus Formula
Simply put, every item in the game has a predefined schematic, or general list of necessary resources. If you include all the resources in the schematic when you craft, you create an object. Oberon takes a slightly different approach to this standard method in most games. If you wish to build a laser canon for a spaceship, you open your catalog of schematics and learn that it requires six different components. It does not tell you how much of each, nor is there a requirement that all be present. So instead your schematic simply states that to make a laser canon, you need:
- Gas - toxic
- Liquid - anomalous
- Mineral - ore
- Mineral - silicate
- Mineral - carbonate
- Mineral - oxide
Without the details of the crafting process, you would select this schematic, then assuming you have resources in these classifications, you would then decide how much of each to include. This is where some true experimentation comes into play. There are dozens of types of laser canons that you can craft, some better than others.
This is kind of like baking a cake. At a very high level you know you need flour, sugar, eggs and milk. But there's millions of ways to measure and combine these four simple ingredients resulting in hundreds of kinds of cakes or in some cases, things that barely resemble cake. Oberon is similar. Just because you know what goes into a laser canon does not mean you can just build the best one.
Formulas are more valuable than schematics. All players can use the game guide to get schematics of any type. A player just starting out can craft everything the most advanced crafter can craft, maybe just not as well. Formulas can be obtained in a few ways:
- missions/quests will reward players with formulas
- players can buy/sell formulas
- players can experiment with a schematic and through trial and error, come up with their own formulas
Some additional notes about formulas:
- players store formulas (success as well as failures) in their main computer terminal which can be edited/viewed outside of the game client
- formulas are the core of using factories to mass produce products in the game
- some formulas expire or are designed to only work one time, for the entire population in Oberon
- formulas may include resources or objects not listed in the schematic to create mutants of the original schematic
- formulas when reverse engineering only list the high level classifications of materials used, not the named resources
Players can use experimentation to improve an object they are crafting. This is an optional step that takes place after an object is crafted. Besides using high quality resources, this is the area of crafting that allows players to create exceptionally better (or worse) items during the crafting process. There are risks to experimentation, but these can sometimes be mediated by using various items or buffs that provide bonuses to the crafting process. A hidden attribute on all resources is the experiment bonus, savvy crafters that take time to work with the in-game computer system will learn how to unlock these hidden attributes to also give hints for which resources to use.
How To Craft
placeholder, this is where, with screen shots, the crafting process will be explained