… women are from 19th. century Britain. Or so I’ve found out. Allow me to relate to you a conversation I recently had with my amazing spousal unit. It will be summarized and paraphrased, of course, but I’m sure you’ll get the idea. Even if the names have been removed to protect the innocent.
Developers, designers and psychology students take good note, because this is how deep the rabbit hole goes sometimes.
I had a light bulb. Comic book light bulb, you know. Over my head.
“Hmm. You know what would be cool?”
“What’s that?”, she says, not really taking her attention from whatever it was she was doing. I simply smiled, softly and wryly, as I chewed the idea in my head and replied.
And at that point right there I knew something was wrong, and that perhaps I shouldn’t have said anything. All it takes sometimes is a little “Huh?” for the umpires in your mind to start tossing flags all over the place. No, this is wrong. I can’t be getting “Huh?” at this point, I thought. Not so early. This is basic. Player-owned stores. We hold these truths to be self-evident and all that.
I felt like a dealer in a corner, peddling my stuff, and instead of “How much?” I’m getting “Cool. What does it do?”. You know something is wrong because this stuff sells itself. And yet, I charged. I charged like the Light Brigade.
“You know. Player-owned stores. As in… instead of just normal, boring old crafting you would be able to get your own store. Instead of training for tailor, or blacksmith, or whatever you would get a license, invest some currency into setting it up…”
“I’m not quite getting it…”, she dropped nonchalantly.
“… and you give the store some raw materials, and plans or recipes to start working. All automatic. As long as it has the materials and the plans, you tell the store how many items to produce, what price to sell them, all that.” I concluded.
“I don’t know,” she said, “I don’t like that.”
My eyelid might have twitched at some point, but I’m not sure. I kept on going.
“What’s not to like? I mean it’s… it’s basically the automation of the most griefy parts of crafting, and the streamlining…” (I actually used that word) “…of the whole process of selling to market. Automatic money generation as long as your store has the mats in stock while you do something else. You’d still have to replenish the raw materials when they run out, feed it new plans for items as you buy or find them, but essentially it runs itself.”
“I don’t really dig that”, she commented. Dissecting my exposition while it still was alive. A barbaric practice.
“Well, part of the joy of crafting for me comes from the sense of accomplishment. Of leveling up. It’s like an investment.”, she asserted. And I believed her.
“Well I suppose it could be that if your store does well it could ‘level up’… kinda… be able to produce more or different items.” I argued, “In fact, it could be that if it does really well and you have a good business going, you’d be able to issue and offer stock, trade with the store-as-company in the game’s stock market, things like that.”
“I wouldn’t craft in a scenario like that. I might not even play the game”, she concluded. I could see her soul frowning. I just sighed to myself.
“What… is it too detached from actual character advancement so you don’t like it?”, I asked.
“I don’t want to own a store”, she said with a hint of disgust at the idea, “I just want to make things. A lot of crafters don’t do it for a profit…”
Okay. Stop. Second flag. Defensive foul, for talking crap. I’m pretty much sure that there’s a difference between “Not doing it for a profit” and “Not being able to make a profit”. Right? Because if you give people the option to make things and not make a profit, or make things and make a profit, they’re gonna head to the hills and reject the tenets of the free market or whatever just to make the point that crafting ‘comes from the heart’. Come on now. Making things is nice, but don’t come tell me you wouldn’t take the profit if you could sell them. Still, I let it go.
“…the accomplishment of learning certain patterns. Whatever.”
“But, by Crom, woman… nothing stops you from walking into your own store, or access it however, and craft something manually there. Why couldn’t we have that functionality? This is just the automation of the most tedious parts of cr…” I realized at that point she wasn’t listening. What gave me the hint was that she kept going.
“… I was about as excited in WoW to hit 300 in crafting as I was to hit 60. The store thing wouldn’t bother me if it was optional. Like, you could choose to have a store or not. I would choose not to.” she finished proudly. Almost raising her left fist to represent crafters everywhere and send a clear message to ‘The Man’.
“Yes. I understand. Yes, it can be optional.”
“Would I be able to set my own prices?” she asked.
“Well, yeah, what do you think this is? Vladivostok under Stalin?”
“Yes, you can set individual prices, dammit.” I explained didactically.
“Like… I don’t know you, so I’m selling you this belt for 30g. But this other guy made me something at a discount, so I wanna sell him the same belt for 15g.”
“Sure. Why not. There are a few ways to do that, I think.” I concluded. Or, rather, I should have concluded. But no, of course another idea popped up that I just had to share, with disastrous consequences.
“Now that I think about it…hmm…”, I rubbed my chin, “What if there was some sort of directory for established stores. That you can browse in-game. Check their stocks, prices, even order from there if you want without having to go over to the store itself. That’d be neat.”
“Why? What would that do?”, she asked.
“Well, it’d eliminate the need for a Trade channel for one”, I smirked, “imagine the bandwidth savings”. I thought it was nice. A nice little joke to finish matters. But then… then she said something that chilled me to the bone. With all the naturality of a cold-blooded killer that shoots someone, turns around and embraces his mother.
“There has to be a Trade channel”, she simply said. And broke my heart.
I had no will to continue.