I am going to date myself here and ask … did you ever play the game Populous from Bullfrog Productions? It gave the player a feeling of omnipotence that was different from any game I had played up until then. Crowfall‘s Geomancy profession tugged at this once-buried feeling all over again. Giving the ability to shape something of your own, not just from default structures or things you buy from a store, but from your hard work and smart play, Geomancy enables a player to impose their will upon their Eternal Kingdom.
With the recent launch of the 5.0 patch, the community has seen an amazing change in their combat efforts. The shift to races and classes combined with the introduction of the long-awaited Discipline Stones has all but consumed the player base in testing all of the possible combinations. With such a large content drop it was easy for many of us to miss something else that was added. Deep within the Profession options of Crowfall, below the MMORPG common staples like Blacksmithing, Alchemy, Jewel Crafting, etc., there lies a seemingly boring profession called Stonemasonry and within it, there is an option that adds a layer to Crowfall that was just hinted at in the studio’s Kickstarter dialog.
Crowfall’s designers have stated that the only sense of permanence that players will have in Crowfall will be in their passive training skill choices and their Eternal Kingdom. For many PvP-centric players, their skill trees will be enough, but for the rest of us ArtCraft’s Eternal Kingdoms have been a bit nebulous until this most recent patch.
Like the image above from the FAQ states, Eternal Kingdoms are where the player has control of their lands to craft, explore, build structures and more. Ever since the J. Todd Coleman mentioned the concept of a Crowfall store, there has been a low-level but consistent chatter of Pay to Win. Those that spend big dollars in the game will have these powerful Eternal Kingdoms, and even though the import rules in the campaigns create a limited interaction between Eternal Kingdoms.
In videos, in tweets, and in forum posts, the entire Crowfall team has stated repeatedly that anything on the store should be able to be crafted with in-game effort and resources. Some players and Guilds want to expand their personal or shared Eternal kingdoms above what their packages already got them, many have plans for offline PvE content like dueling arenas, and some like me look to create mercantile empires.
Crafting Raw Earth
The introduction of Geomancy has enabled the studio to clearly show their player base the in-game mechanism of crafting the same parcels that can be purchased from the store.
The first section of Geomancy is tied to the creation of land parcels and is where my nostalgic feels were triggered. A player (if you are a grinder like me) or more likely a guild can save up resources in the game and craft land. It’s a mountain of effort and takes resources from three of the main gathering professions (I expect it to change and become even more difficult) but with just under twelve hours of in-game effort, I was able to craft the parcel below. (At the end of the article I have the YouTube video of me creating the plot. My concerns and worries are easily readable on my face)
One last implication I discovered about Geomancy is that it allows players to flip (think HGTV) their existing parcels. A player/guild can take an existing parcel and expand it to a larger parcel capable of handling more structures/density. A two square Hamlet Parcel can hold more buildings, walls, structures, etc than 2 Single Square Farm parcels placed next to each other. By working up the quality of their parcels a player/guild can maximize the use of their Eternal Kingdom as the total number of parcel squares are a locked quantity. (special thanks to Srathor, IHeartFargo, Coolwaters, and others who helped me joust at this windmill of a craft)
The second section of Geomancy that players should take a deep dive into is Architecture. The Crowfall store not only sells parcels of lands, but buildings to be placed on them. These buildings are not just for the aesthetics (though they are damn pretty), they will also have areas to place crafting benches, and Thralls to be used as crafting NPCs. So the larger the building the more cool stuff you can jam into it.
The crafting of buildings is even more nuanced than parcel creation, which leads me to believe another pass could be coming on land parcels, adding some more complexity and gathering interdependence. Where land parcels require materials from three of the gathering professions, buildings require materials from four different gathering professions and the amount of sub-component work for buildings far outpaces parcels.
Insulation? My first college apartment did not even have insulation, but my Villa must have it. The insulation is one of the places where animal hides are used; likely so that they force in that extra dependency to another gathering skill or other more direct means (like murdering someone carrying them). This all begs the question: who is in charge of the building codes for Crowfall‘s Eternal Kingdoms: the Marquis de Sade?
It is encouraging when a studio shows players that they have had a plan all along and it aligns to many of the hard questions they were asked early on. More than two years ago, the team clearly stated that player concerns about the studio offering a store were unfounded, as the players would have a path to use in game effort to create what others can buy. The launch of Geomancy is a solid delivery on this promise and will be an incredible resource/material sink for the game that allows certain types of players and guilds to spend their time and loot on something that will bring them many, many hours of enjoyment.
(NOTE: Stonemasonry will be far broader than just Geomancy, and once we see more information on how it will impact campaigns I will circle back and deconstruct it some more.)