[GW2] A Crafting Recipe, Revised

ArenaNet came back and clarified some of the mis-assumptions and issues people are having with the crafting system reveal in two forum posts, which Vulturion graciously copied in to the comment’s on yesterday’s post. First, given that so many ArenaNet employees were mid-flight to PAX East, or preparing for the journey, it was pretty awesome of ArenaNet to so quickly respond. In lieu of the response, I want to hedgingly retract my position from calling the discovery system to learn recipes “superfluous.” I am still going to grill whoever gives me a demo at the NCSoft Meet and Greet, but at least I see where ArenaNet is trying to come from.

Stupidly enough, I think they added the discovery system not so much for their initial reason, but for fun. I mean really, how often do you compare your recipe list with another crafter’s to reinforce your self-worth as a crafter? You know what’s scientifically proven to be fun? Surprising rewards. Mess around with a few materials, and surprise, you found a new recipe!

In the case of the “discovery system” within Guild Wars 2 crafting they’ve removed seemingly every punishing aspect of a vanilla MMO’s crafting system. Experimenting will not waste crafting materials. Leveling up to get access to new recipes does not require creating boat loads of items nobody wants, and if a player does create an item through experimentation that she feels is vendor trash, she can salvage it instead to get some crafting material back.

I was so conditioned to crafting, which I do “enjoy” in vanilla MMOs, being an achievement-based chore that I viewed ArenaNet’s offering with extreme prejudice. The stupidly part comes in that I did not even consider that they were trying to add a bit of fun. Crafting in those vanilla MMOs is like running a long marathon, plodding along for quite some time. Except for A Tale in the Desert and Puzzle Pirates, I have never had actual fun crafting in MMOs because it’s watching a progress bar complete hundreds of times. The “fun” came from watching raw materials get turned into more salable items while my crafting skill slowly rose.

So, ArenaNet took a vanilla MMO crafting system, fixed many problems, and then tried to add something fun. It won’t be fun for everyone, and for those people there will be the wiki. However, with so much of the system geared towards accessibility, there should not be as big of a pressing need to have all the recipes. In other words, it might be a lot easier to just lighten up and enjoy crafting since my character will not have to churn out a village’s GDP worth of copper swords. So many people, including myself, were viewing the Guild Wars 2 crafting system through the dirty lens of a vanilla MMO crafting system, that this point was pretty much lost in the article.

There are still many, many questions, and many, many assumptions. Hopefully we get many more of those answered at PAX East, but I feel until we have time for an in-game economy to form, much will remain unknown.


24 thoughts on “[GW2] A Crafting Recipe, Revised”

  1. I think the discovery system is an excellent thing for crafting. This mean you could be “unique” for a certain amount of time, while others figure out the recipe for what you’re doing/selling.

    At least that was my initial impression of the system, and why I really liked it.

    Then I thought, wait this is the internet, you’ll have guides for every recipes on every wiki.
    So goodbye being unique, sucks that the internet will ruin the point of this system

    1. Which is why I think so many people were put off by the system, when we found out from the ArenaNet blog article. It really doesn’t help being “individual.” But, if you look at it from purely the fun point of view, like when you unlock an achievement or get an artifact in Rift… I think the system makes a lot more sense.

      1. too bad though, because it would’ve been cool being exclusive with a recipe for a certain time, until someone else finds it.

        Can’t wait to try it out Friday night

  2. I find it curious that in the 2 posts you haven’t touched the “critical success” mechanism used in GW2 crafting. This was for me, next to the “discover your recipes” the other great thing they did exactly how I think it should be done.

    In GW2 there is a chance on a “critical success” when you craft an item. That’s also some form of surprise reward like you mention in the post above. However this quickly turned against lots of crafting systems in other MMO’s. If a “critical success” improves the stats of the crafted item… people will expect to receive the critted version of the item. They don’t want the normal one… they want the BEST ONE with that +0.1% extra damage or whatever it gives.

    A system that should make you happy you have a “critical success”, instead made you sad you didn’t had it. It’s even more anoying when you craft items for someone else with his materials. In Aion for example some crafters crafted for free, but if it critted they took the item and they would refund you your materials. Other crafters would charge some fee for crafting but also return you your crafted item even if it procced tha critical success. In the end, it was bad. You had to craft the items over and over again and hope you’ll get something back from the auction where you would sell the normal items (considered trash).

    GW2 however does it exactly perfect to my taste. They know “critical success” mechanisms are broken in other MMO’s. Yet they don’t want to remove it (the easy way to fix something). Nope, they changed it and you’ll get some other form of reward. A “critical success” will result in a bigger experience gain for the crafter, and also sometimes in a return of some of the materials you used to craft the item.

    In other words, crafting for free for friends & guild mates could be profitable, and you always craft the best result possible.

    It’s a subtle change, yet with such a big impact on how people will look at crafted items and meanwhile promotes everyone to help each other with crafting the wanted items.

  3. Systems that rely on the players doing something for the pure fun value never work out in an MMO. That’s basic MMO 101.

    The execution of the announcement was poor. The discovery system will be over a few hours into beta, and the devs know that. The mistake was making an announcement about it and getting people excited about being ‘unique’ or crafting something ‘special’. The AH/market will be flooded with the min/maxed items long before the average player creates a character, and they either wiki to catch up, or have fun playing in a massively un-optimal way, something that very, very few players ever do (though lots talk about it pre-release, the whole “going to play for fun” thing).

    1. i think the whole point of GW2 as a B2P game is lost when i try to follow your thoughts! I can follow that the execution of the announcment was poor! But after that i am bewildered.
      Powergamers will min/max and use the wiki and so on! they always do. NO matter what system.
      But with Ravious showing how conditioned we are in our thinking, just try to turn you mindset a little. What about all the gamers that doesn’t go on wiki, what about the ones playing for fun, what about explores that like to eksperiment and discover all aspects of the game for them self.
      Crafting is forgiving, not grindy, and it isn’t like you loose anything by playing with ingrediences instead of powercrafting!
      discovering recipes is a possibility for immersion. Wiki is a way to avoid it! it’s your choice. But the reason many of us do like ArenaNet is we know what kind of player they do try to make the game for!

      1. “What about all the gamers that doesn’t go on wiki, what about the ones playing for fun, what about explores that like to eksperiment and discover all aspects of the game for them self”

        Unfortunately balance patches and hotfixes are not based around those players, and those players are not the ones who hit the forums proclaiming item X or system Y is broken and needs fixing NOW.

        In other words, you can’t design a game around the best-case scenario (player who is just there for fun), you have to design the game around the worst-case (min/maxer driven to break the game).

        The guy having fun is having fun on his own, not drawing attention to himself. The min/maxer is abusing everything right in front of the guy having fun, ruining his experience.

        The impact of a min/maxer is far greater than that of the average player. Ignoring them has a long history of disaster in this genre.

        1. As one of those who do play for fun, I have to ask… how will the min/maxer abusing the discovery system imact me negatively?

          I won’t be trying to make a living selling my wares on the Auction House, so their items flooding the market won’t cost me sales. Alternatively, I’ll always be able to make what I need, so I won’t go bankrupt trying to buy their wares if they’re overpriced. It won’t be an expensive grind to level crafting, so them beating me to it by 2, or 6, or 8 months won’t affect me either.

          I readily admit to lacking the imagination a min-maxer posesses, but I guess they’ll only ruin the game for themselves, because the only people who will participate in the kind of activity you describe will be the ones who care so much about that sort of thing that they can’t resist. Since I don’t care, they can’t impact me.

          Am I missing something?

      2. Um… until you have a guildie that would like for you to craft something for him, and you’d like to help him, and you don’t have the formula yet.

        So do you tell him “Sorry, I play for fun, so no item for you!” or do you go and look it up on the wiki? You go and look it up on the wiki.

        Do that three times and soon you will just go to the wiki, do all the formulas that are listed, and go on with your life so that the next time a request comes in, you can, y’know, actually do it.

        For many (maybe most) of us, the “fun” is in helping our friends, not the minigame of “try every combination hoping to find the formulas.”

        1. offcause you look it up on the wiki , and so what! It doesn’t take anything away from the fun of discovering, that you can help a guild friend, if you are not a min/maxer.
          Basicly all that is said here is that achiever, socialiser and explorer do have different game goals. Now I ask why should the crafting process not have something for the explorer?

        2. What happens instead is, you say to the guildie, “Sure, but I don’t know the recipe for that weapon.” Then the guildie either knows it or looks it up on the wiki and tells you. He’s asking you for a service, anyway.

    2. I think it’s more that you tend not to meet the players who play for fun. If you’re one of them, you meet quite a few, but by definition they tend not to be in the places that play-to-win players are, nor do they talk in the same channels or blogs or forums.

      There are quite a few of us out there, though.

  4. ANet has been truly excellent with their followup on this announcement – as always, they’re amazing when it comes to interacting with the fans and players.

    That said, I’m still not impressed by the actual system. Perhaps my perception is still colored, since I’m the sort of person who won’t find the discovery system “fun” even given the best implementation of it. I understand many people like them, but Surprising Rewards do nothing for me; I want to be rewarded for being above average in my execution of a challenging task, or for being clever or having done my research, not because I spent a bunch of time mindlessly trying every combination of components in my bag.

    My biggest question is whether there is some sort of logic puzzle, or any kind of structure or reasoning underlying the system. If there is a pattern to what materials create what kinds of items, then cool, I think it’s an OK idea. But the fact that they haven’t mentioned anything along those lines leads to me believe this is unlikely.

    Man I just feel relenetlessly critical about GW2 recently. Perhaps I’m getting jaded… :/

  5. This kind of reminds me of the GW1 dye system before the dye preview window was enabled. Several players were known for their ability to combine dyes to make very specific colors. People would offer their dying services on guru and people would pay lots of gold to get their armor dyed a specific color.

    I think we will see this for a while until the wiki is saturated with recipes. In the beginning stages of GW2, some players will focus on crafting a great deal and they will be the experts and they will fill the niche of knowing recipes. It would behoove them to not post on wiki.

    Which brings up another point. I think we will see a lot of “general” recipes show up on wiki but the rarer recipes are likely to trickle in. People who have rarer recipes are likely to delay or avoid putting them on wiki to make some gold crafting for others. It’s the same reason food and beverage companies keep their recipes locked away.

    1. Yeah, this is something I think a lot of people aren’t taking into account when they say that the entire system will be worthless within a week or whatnot. The average player isn’t going to be spending all their time in the vast new world of Guild Wars 2 checking possibly thousands of potential item configurations, and those who do will be the hardcore crafters–who are also often the hardcore economists–looking to gain an early economic edge.

      We also don’t know how uncommon some of the materials might be. If I discover a tiny underwater cave that contains a dynamic event that yields one Pearl of Greater Sparklies, I can be pretty sure that it goes into a recipe, but what if I’m the only one who has found that particular event? What if I can’t predict when the event will reset, or how to trigger it again? What if the recipe requires me to find other Greater Sparkly things from similar events?* And what if I just don’t tell anyone about this because I want to figure it out on my own?

      *Note: I can honestly see them doing this, because they’ve talked about making hard to find DEs for the explorer crowd. The item this kind of scavenger hunt might yield wouldn’t have to be especially powerful, since it’s mostly the journey that matters.

  6. I’d love to see a game that had a crafting system like A Tale in the Desert. I loved crafting there. Or even one like EQ2 where you actually had to respond to something appropriately or you just didn’t craft it. But I doubt we’ll get either. Still looking forward to hearing how PAXe goes. I’m just on the wrong coast.

  7. Agreed. A lot of my complaints are from me comparing to other games because I think other ideas are better. The simple thing is that Arena Net knows what they are doing and there is a reason for everything. Obviously if a bad community response arises from something they are quick to modify or change it completely. This crafting system seems different and I shall keep an open mind.

  8. Why did you take back your previous blog entry? It doesn’t seem like this changes any of your arguments about why discovery isn’t fun for crafting (not different for each person + wiki = WoW crafting). Once the game has been around for more then a few days there will be many recipes higher level the most people currently are. They could experiment, but most will just look up the answers because it is faster.

    Either crafting will get us items that do more damage or it wont. Most people won’t spend time making 100 different swords to figure out which is best. They will make one sword and the internet will tell them which is the cheapest for the best stats. I don’t see any improvement in this system over Wow. It is definitely not something to get excited about.

    That said I’m very excited about GW2 combat and skills. It is just crafting that seems pretty lackluster so far.

    (P.S. Thank you for the great blog. I’m a daily reader=).

    1. Well I don’t think I took it back, I just kind of stepped back from the “extreme” position that the feature is superfluous. I can see the worth now, but I don’t think it is for the reason they stated, originally. Does that make sense?

      1. Yeah that makes sense. Thanks for responding.

        I guess I’m disappointed because I find crafting in current MMOs to be hard in the gathering instead of the making. Once you have the ingredients it is a done deal and the announced GW2 system doesn’t seem to change any of that. There is some added flexibility but I want to see people heralded as great crafters not just because of time invested but skill.

        Perhaps I dream too big?=)

  9. Personally, I appreaciate the efforts of the ANet DEVs to come up with a crafting system that doesn’t force folks to grind until their heads pop like squeezed grapes.

    Admittedly, I’m NOT a “crafter” type in MMOs… the best I’ve been able to manage in previous games is to gather items to sell to crafters to use. Everytime I’ve attempted a crafting profession in previous games the mind-numbing sheer boredom associated with it was so profound I feared for the health of my mental faculties.

    MMOs have always been more about adventure and exploration for me, and standing in one place, staring at a “work” table feels very, very far from anything I would associate with entertainment. However, I do recognize and appreaciate the usefullness of items created by such systems… So, I’m quite happy that the DEVs seem to be at least trying to create a system that I might be able to supplement my equipment with… and not feel like I’m spending my gaming time watching paint dry… or worse… feeling like I’m “working.”

  10. There is still a giant problem with this, even though they’ve taken steps to reduce the pain, and that is the Tragedy of The Commons.

    Based on what we know now, the crafting system is basically “common land”… everyone has access to it. In a commons (like a pasture that everyone can graze cattle on) you are either a Cheater or a Fool. Cheaters put as many cattle on the land, destroying the common pasture, but they have many fat and healthy cows. Fools respect the commons, and don’t overuse it, but all they have to show for it are poorer cattle, and the same destroyed pasture that the Cheaters ruined for everyone.

    In GW2, there is no penalty for experimentation…. when you randomly try the indgredients and nothing is crafted, the ingredients don’t go away. But the ingredients will still be used if you craft something.

    So the cheaters will go on the internet, identify what they want to craft, and become richer for it, because they dont have to waste time and money gathering ingredients. The Fools will be in the discovery system, mostly avoiding spoilers, and will be using far more resources (copper hooks, Iron ore, wood, etc) along the way. They will discover more recipes, but most likely they will also make more items of limited use.

    I’ll be a fool, to see if its fun. I admire what they’re doing here, even if its in a way like saying “we created it this way, the people who find it fun will like it and use it like its intended” which is either brilliant or tone deaf arrogant.

    The other nagging thoughts are that I want people to like the game, and I want people to play it, because I want people to play with, and a lot of gw2 seems uber casual. I don’t want to run out of content, and I also don’t want other people to run out of content because then they won’t play the game. So, some dark and malicious corner of my mind is begging for grind! Force people to play a long time, like other games do!

    the other problem, is with a system like this, you really need a lot of different interesting recipes to make it worthwhile, and chances are those recipes are scattered in obtuse corners of the tech tree, making discovery marginally more important (someone needs to discover it) and greatly increasing the importance of the wiki (few will ever know of it unless its popularized!)

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