Comment Spotlight: Fun Economic Activity

sid67 comments at Hardcore Casual:

My criticism here is that [developers] usually don’t try to make the getting or the making [of items] itself very fun. For example, EVE has a great economy but the *doing* of it is about as fun as pissing on a flat rock.

This is the other reason I do not play EVE. I could have a merry time being a middleman and playing the spreadsheet. You see a 20% price differential between stations five jumps away, and you can capitalize on that. The actual gameplay involved in that is filling a cargo hold, waiting for a half-dozen jumps, and emptying a cargo hold. I decided not to pay to pretend to be an intergalactic trucker (in an environment where pirate attacks on your truck are surprisingly common).

Before that, I was drawn to the notion of mining. It sounded like a rarefied version of the MMO crafting I often enjoy, being the backbone of the economy, and potentially going from the very rocks to final production. The actual gameplay involved in that is activating a mining laser and waiting for the hold to fill. I decided not to pay to be mostly AFK (in an environment where pirates make a hobby of harassing miners).

And I have paid to pretend to make charcoal, flax, and linen in A Tale in the Desert. The actual gameplay of Facebook games often rivals the crafting in most MMOs.

: Zubon

15 thoughts on “Comment Spotlight: Fun Economic Activity”

  1. I’ve long held the view that it’s not the activity of gathering/crafting that should be the game, it’s what you do with it. I’d absolutely hate to have mining in EVE be a ‘better’ FB game. I’ll buy a real mini-game collection for the Wii if I want that kind of gameplay.

  2. EQ2 has improved its crafting a lot since I played in 2009. You now have to watch quite closely for crafting events which require the pressing of appropriate counters. On top of that there’s a strategic element – it’s not just the pressing of counters, it’s the management of buffs. It’s quite tricky to maintain buffs (which are the same buttons you use to counter) without accidentally hitting one at the wrong time and messing up a counter. On top of that there’s a gear collection element as you progress and get gear that helps you craft. AA points (talent points) can also help.

    It’s a lot to think about and I’ve been really enjoying it.

  3. Strange that more don’t do more. Then again whenever crafting systems beyond “watch the progress bar” are suggested, I see cries of “zomg no don’t make me play tetris to craft a sword” or whatnot. Maybe EQ2’s addition of quicktime events is about the best that can be done within expected conventions. :\

  4. The best crafting I’ve ever seen in a game is ATitD’s blacksmithing. You start with a chunk of metal and can hit a button to be shown the ideal shape for the object you’re trying to make. You then use four tools with different impact patterns at different strengths to try to approach the ideal shape. The number of hits allowed is determined by the quality of the base material used.

    It’s fairly difficult to do well, and has results based on player skill/understanding rather than an incremental use counter. I would love to see more games where crafting and other alternate game mechanics provide opportunities for advancement based on player development rather than character development.

  5. Just out of curiosity(I’m sorry if you mentioned this in a previous post I missed or forgot about) but how would you design a better crafting system?

  6. /agree

    ATitD is a great example of crafting. Make it mainstream!

    @ Anthony

    I’m not the author, but I’ll throw in my 2 coppers. Invention crafting, where you follow a set of known rules (in the real world this would be like physics… etc) to produce items that have never been seen before, but do different things using those known rules. Be able to invent things. That’s my ultimate crafting.

  7. “The actual gameplay of Facebook games often rivals the crafting in most MMOs.”

    Ha! Wait…that’s so true it makes me sad, because i always craft in the games I play if its an offered feature. Whats more important is if the end result adds to the game in a significant way. Saylah at Mystic Worlds has created an in-game furniture shop for those that want to enhance their in game homes. So if crafting is an end game in itself, this is what will make it successful, moreso IMO then the actual act of crafting itself.

  8. Sometimes you just wanna craft those ****ing five blades and keep going and not honor the memory of the Dwarves by doing with the exact, traditional procedure, you know.

    1. In early Galaxies the people who just wanted the damn blades became customers and the people who got heavily into it were the crafters.

      Not every game needs to make all its players Master Crafters.

  9. EVE made mining boring mostly because they expected people to mine where others can shoot them. A minigame then would be the most annoying thing ever. However, CCP made mining barges flimsy, slow, and defenseless, and miners don’t like getting shot at, so they stay in hi-sec.

    In general, crafting and the economic game were designed from day one to be pure timesink. You slow the player by forcing him to make money or arms. I never see why people enjoy it.

  10. Surprised no-one’s mentioned either SWG or Vanguard yet. Those are the two that usualy come up over and over in crafting discussions as top-of-the-line for MMO crafting.

    I can’t speak for SWG but I made 46th (out of 50) leatherworker on my Raki disciple and it was the only crafting I’ve ever done in MMOs that could genuinely stand alone as a game in its own right. It looms superficially like EQ2’s system, but I have two max level crafters in EQ2 and EQ2’s system is Battleships to Vanguard’s Chess in terms of complexity.

    (Which isn’t to say I don’t like EQ2’s system).

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